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Sustained anti-Trump Hysteria in major neoliberal MSM

The main issue in this election is that the Neoliberal Imperial Oligarchy has now taken off the mask, they have abandoned the pretense of "Coke Pepsi" two party competition to unite behind the defender of status quo interests, with WikiLeaks detailing the gory details of their corruption and malfeasance

"Terrible things we expect from Donald Trump, we’ve actually already seen from Hillary Clinton" Jill Stein

The neoliberal MSM are completely dedicated to defeating Trump and do not even pretend to be objective anymore. As Trump mentioned they are enemy of the people (that does not mean that Trump is people's friend ;-). They fan out anti-Russian hysteria and want to "kick the can down the road" despite the crisis of neoliberalism

Russiagate actually is IntelliGate --  the story of “a stab-in-the-back” plot of neoliberal elites, trying to steal the election using Deep State capabilities. 

Version 2.1 (June 10, 2017)

Is the curse of the TIME magazine cover helped Trump ? The neoliberals have the ultimate Super PAC: It’s called the mainstream media.

News Donald Trump -- an unusual fighter against excesses of neoliberal globalization Recommended Links Purple revolution against Trump Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Color revolutions Foreign Agents Registration Act Predator state Control of the MSM during color revolution is like air superiority in the war
Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak: switfboating Bernie Sanders and blaming Vladimir Putin Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Trump economic platform Trump foreign policy platform Trump on immigration Presidential debate trap staged by neoliberal media Trump GroupingGate Swiftboating: Khan gambit against Trump at Democratic Convention
Obama: a yet another Neocon Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS  Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Hillary role in Libya disaster  New American Militarism Media-Military-Industrial Complex American Exceptionalism  Blowback against neoliberal globalization
Neocons The Deep State Predator state Election Fraud Populism Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Protestant church on danger of neoliberalism
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Myth about intelligent voter   Libertarian Philosophy Nation under attack meme Pluralism as a myth Bernie Sanders betrayal of his supporters
  Corporatist Corruption   Myth about intelligent voter Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Corporatism National Security State Non-Interventionism
Libertarian Philosophy The Iron Law of Oligarchy Principal-agent problem Neoliberalism US Presidential Elections of 2012 Paleoconservatism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin

In the “democracy” that America has evolved to, money counts more than people. In past elections, the votes were counted, now they are going to start weighing them.

America The Counter-Revolution - Salem-News.Com

(T)he rich elites of (the USA) have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.”

-- Mike Lofgren


Introduction

"Terrible things we expect from Donald Trump, we’ve actually already seen from Hillary Clinton,"
Jill Stein

Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Joseph Welch’s famous confrontation with Joe McCarthy

Looks like the US elite is now split, with a smaller, weaker paleoconservative faction (that enjoys popular support) promoting Trump, and a larger stronger neoliberal faction staging anti-Trump hysteria in controlled MSM. So the USA now have its own version of competing oligarchs clans (and their own version of Yeltsin with his failing health, if you wish), like in post-Soviet Russia.  That's why we have anti-Trump hysteria from neoliberal "anti-Trump brigade"

Being Trotskyism for the rich, neoliberalism not only reuses all Soviet propaganda tricks on a new technological level, it also inevitably creates a new aristocracy ("masters of the universe" or top 0.1%), similar to Soviet nomenklatura, which controls more a half of national wealth (redistribution of wealth up is the goal of neoliberalism) and are above the law. Which in turn leads to the systemic problem of corruption and degeneration of the political elite.

And Hillary campaign bears a striking resemblance not only to dynastic succession, but also to the election of the General Secretary of CPSU (actually even age and health are quite appropriate) with its typical stabbing in the back attacks against opponents for own party. With the help of intelligence agencies (and especially Brennan (Steele dossier, DNC hack exploitation for fueling anti-Russian hysteria via 17 agencies memo, etc) and Comey (suppression of emailgate) Hillary derailed Sanders

The other important tendency is that the neoliberal propaganda is losing the grip on hearts and minds of the US population. You simply can't hide disappearance of good jobs any more.  After more then 36 years dominance (with bipartisan support) Soviet-style brainwashing of population by the neoliberal MSM and TV by-and-large lost its effectiveness. Availability of alternative media (aka New Samizdat) is one factor. Like Voice of America and BBC for Soviet citizens, it provides information that makes possible to create a mental framework which allow one to understand what is really happening and why. That does not mean that they are 100% believable, but they provide a good starting point for critical thinking.  

The period of 2016-2018 is characterized the higher then usual level of hate of the neoliberal establishment toward any opponents that try to revise Washington consensus in foreign policy, even if he/she does weak and inconsistent steps. They want continue  to rule as they did since late 1980th do not want to bear any responsibility for multiple sins, such as the destruction of the middle class and, especially, for destruction of "full-time" good paying jobs with benefits in the USA. All this happened due to neoliberal globalization, which includes offshoring of manufacturing, elimination of full time jobs and replacement then with contractor jobs, outsourcing  of IT and "white collar" specialties.

Crystallization of the protest around such candidates as Sanders and Trump and the resulting split within Democratic and Republican party between rank-and-file members and party leadership,  are just signs of a more general tendency of rejecting neoliberal rationality and neoliberal ideology by the majority of US population. Ideology, which paradoxically is very close to Soviet ideology as neoliberalism is just Trotskyism for rich and includes the same dream of global (neoliberal instead of communist) empire, the same false promises of well-being for middle and lower classes, the same wars for neoliberal expansion in which US solders get into meat grinder to provide transnational corporations with another market.

This process of decline of neoliberal ideology started only recently (say, after 2008) and neoliberals are still very strong.  That's why Democratic Party brass managed to squash the revolt eliminating and then co-opting Sanders (sheepdog tactics). Paradoxically Trump manage to became the Presidential candidate from the Republican Party despite all attempt of the republican establishment to derail his candidacy.

It is quite clear the Trump election might mean difficulties for the US neoliberal elite in continuation of  permanent wars for the expansion of neoliberal empire ("neoliberal globalization"), dismantling of New Deal protections for working class (elimination of Social Security and weakening of labor laws), increasing financial deregulation and implementing policies that have systematically gutted the middle class, screwed and jailed the poor (especially poor blacks), increased inequality to the level above the level that existed during the Gilded Age, outsourced manufacturing out of the USA, and made neoliberal politicians like Hillary Clinton filthy rich. So it is natural that they fight Trump like crazy and neoliberal MSM is just of the perfect tools to achieve their goal of derailing his candidacy.  That's why Obama administration swiped under the carpet the dirt connected with Hillary private email server, the scandal, which would derail any other politician. Instead FBI was forced to invent false premise of "not sufficient evidence of criminal intent" bogeyman to let Hillary walk free.  In realty the criminal intent was written all over this sordid "bathroom server" saga, especially if you connect the dots with Clinton Cash scandal (the reason of using a private email server  was to hide activities connected with Clinton Foundation fundraising and other shady deals; as Trump said that's RICO staff) on one hand and DNC email hacks scandal on the other (if DNC email was so easily hacked, why would one assumes that Hillary server was not? The most reasonable assumption in such cases is that is was and all sensitive emails were exposed)   

The current situation in Democratic Party, which became a wing of a single "the Neoliberal Party of the USA" (much like the Communist Party in the USSR) is completely absurd. There is nothing even remotely Democratic in its platform. This is a pure neoliberal party.  Since Bill Clinton administration the elite game plan as for trade unions and democratic working-class voters was: "they have nowhere to go, so let's f*ck them hard".  And this game plan was executed perfectly fine for 25 years or so (since Bill Clinton presidency). No more.  enter Donald Trump, the first challenger of neoliberal status quo. Now voting against Clintons became middle class version of showing middle finger to official Washington or  a good practical joke on a sick neoliberalism-dominated political system. In other word, the dominant vote in November 2008 election will be the protest vote.  The vote against, not for.  They do want to show the middle finger to neoliberal establishment. That means voting against Hillary.  That's the main distinction between 2008 and 2016 elections. Obama was still able to fool the voters with his "change we can believe in" crap and sell the middle class down the river to neoliberals the day after elections.  But as unforgettable George W Bush uttered: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." 

That's why Hillary now is struggling to be elected on the same "let's kick the can down the road" plus "identity" (as if electing using gender as the main criteria makes more sense the election based on platform the candidate is trying to implement), making an attempt to became an Obama II.

different clue , August 21, 2016 at 2:15 am

The Clintonites are selling First Woman President as an Identity-Progressive goal and achievement. Just as the Obamazoids sold First Black President as an Identity-Progressive goal and achievement.

Her failing health and semi-criminal past does not help iether. The key message of Hillary to US "peasants" is that same as Marie Antoinette ("let them eat cake" -- all is good in this, the most blessed, nation on the Earth, just let the elite to rule as they wish). For obvious reasons it does not resonate too well. The emergence of Trump with his anti "neoliberal globalization' stance and promising to stop outsourcing of the US jobs,  reflects the level of discontent with such policies. See also Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA, Secular Stagnation under Neoliberalism, and  Over 50 and unemployed

So it is natural that emergence of Trump created a real hysteria in neoliberal MSM which again (you can get neoliberal out of Trotskyite cell, but you can never get Trotskyism ideology from neoliberalism) repeats achievements of Soviet propaganda is silencing the dissent and blackmailing anybody who stray from the official Party line.  Soviet propagandists would approvingly nod at the efforts of ABC, CNN, MSNBC to blackmail Trump.  This is a clear case when a student outperformed the teacher.  Not that Us propagandists were not sufficiently "sophisticated" (let's put is this way ;-) during the Cold War, but at least during this period they were fighting for the right cause. Now they changes sides with Soviet propagandists and try to defend indefensible using all the spectrum of dirty tricks in their disposal: to defend the interests of tiny percentage of population (0.1%) against the interests of common people. 

Reading this page might help US voters get over the fear of voting for Trump instilled by neoliberal MSM. Maybe the US voters should consider the possibility that they have nothing to fear but fear itself. That warmonger Hillary is like absolute zero in temperature  --  the point after which politically you just can't be more evil.  By Nierenberg court standards, no less. 

But after so many years of blatant Soviet-style deception about "shared prosperity" via "trickle down economy" people now start to understand that they were taken for a ride and resist neoliberal propaganda. Emergence of Web pages like this is a clear sign that people are fed up. That the middle class is fed up. Majority of Americans now clearly understand that nothing is going to change for the poor and for the middle class if Hillary is elected. There will be deeper involvement in Syria and possibly a confrontation with Putin. Wall Street will be happy with her, no matter what she says now.

That's why paleoconservative (and this page represents paleoconservatives views), who were written off from the mainstream of the USA politics long ago, are again in vogue. They are against the wars of imperial expansion, while neoliberal are neocons in foreign policy (see Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA), are hell-bent on what Professor Bacevich called the "new American militarism", and want expansion of the USA global neoliberal empire at all costs to the US middle class and poor, essentially promoting hardship and impoverishment of the US citizens in order to enrich themselves. For neoliberals the USA is just a host, a squirrel carcass, on which this colony of bacteria parasite. They are cosmopolitans by definition, and have no real affinity to the USA (look how many of the are "Israel first" crowd), and try to hide that with fake patriotism, jingoism, military adventurism in Middle East and Eastern Europe, and keeping the population content with their policies by exaggerating and misdirecting the treat of Islamic terrorism (it is Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies that is the main promoter and financer of this politician movement; they are also major contributors to Clinton foundation)

Like communists before them, neoliberals are not loyal to people or anything once they lost its usefulness, and definitely not to the nation state or the flag.

Thomas Frank in one of this books described the scene where the Bill Clinton figure tells a bunch of laid-off workers that now they need to buckle down and get an education so that they can get better jobs (as if they exist). this scene tremendously helps to recognize what neoliberalism is about: redistribution of wealth up. Everything else is just a lie.

In this circumstances, the only chance for Hillary to win election is to completely demonize Trump, to make him unacceptable for the most of the US population. Sometimes pack of neoliberal MSM which are essentially Hillary cheerleaders reminds me a pack of rats attacking a cat. They want to crown her, despite her criminal record, bloodthirsty jingoism, character flaws, initial stage of Parkinson disease and her other health problems, as well as Bill Clinton criminal past including possible sexual abuse of teenage girls. And to achieve this goal they resort to the campaign of demonization on Trump (such as Khan gambit), which sometimes borders on a real character assassination. Constant use of epithets like "crazy, reckless, ignorant, unqualified, unhinged lunatic, nuclear weapons trigger happy, narcissist, xenophobe, anti-Muslim, racist, misogynist, buffoon" are the most benign forms of this character assassination. Just guess how many of those epithets are applicable to Hillary and you understand the difference in neoliberal MSM coverage of two candidates. There are other, more sinister, parts of this neoliberal MSM demonization process...

What we now call "Khan Gambit" to be a part of a larger  campaign of demonization of Trump.  Other parts of this neoliberal MSM demonization process include:

  1. The "revolt of diplomats" gambit. On March 3, 2016  neocons staged 40 "national security leaders" (read dyed-in-the-wool neocons) open letter against Trump. Trump is ‘fundamentally dishonest,’ say GOP national security leaders in open letter - The Washington Post. This panic at neocons Jurassic park is pretty telling. Among 40 neocons who signed the letter we see only few diplomats. The list mostly composed of second rate "security establishment/foreign policy" players. There are some exceptions -- recognizable names -- such as Robert B. Zoellick (the eleventh president of the World Bank), Ken_Adelman (former deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations),  Robert Kagan  (Counselor of the State Department appointed by Hillary Clinton, co-founder of PNAC), Eliot A. Cohen (Counselor of the State Department appointed by Rice), Daniel Pipes (famous Israeli lobbyist) Michael Chertoff (the second United States Secretary of Homeland Security under Presidents George W. Bush, co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act), and Dov S. Zakheim (Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Planning and Resources from 1985 to 1987).  The major neocon players in George W Bush administration such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Elliott Abrams are not in the list. "The letter comes just days after Michael Hayden, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, said the U.S. military might disobey orders if Trump becomes president. "

    We know that such letters are a standard part of "color revolutions" (including but not limited to Libya, Ukraine(The Revolt of diplomats) and Syria ), but in this case this trick was used preemptively against a leading candidate from Republican party. It was followed by Khan gambit.

    "Revolt of diplomats" from the perspective of propaganda is a very powerful weapon in the Arsenal of "soft coups". It can, if you want to ask Leonid Kuchma, that could confirm "the  Colonel Kaddafi", and Mr. Yanukovich. But in order for bomb to explode more powerfully you need that the revolt of diplomats  was (as in the era of Orange Revolution, in Libya and in Syria) is involve the diplomats of the highest rank, preferably the level of acting heads of diplomatic missions. In this case it produces an avalanche style affect de-legitimizing the current government. and then can serve as a starting point for the further de-legitimization.

     Looks like US neocons now use the color revolution playbook against Trump.  This is a technique of "soft coup".
     

  2. "Waving the flag attacks".  Typically they are switfboat style attacks. This is what this page is about.  Khan gambit opened Trump military record to investigation and blackmailing by neoliberal MSM.  It also facilitated the attacks design to put a verge between Trump and military voters.
  3. Creating a false image of Trump as a fascist authoritarian (with the goal of blocking voting for Trump of Sanders supporters after Sanders betrayal of his political platform)
     
  4. Fanning anti-Russian hysteria and accusing Trump of connections to Putin (Putin stooge gambit). This is a typical cold war trick that works very well because of demonization of Putin in neoliberal MSM.  Neocons, as former Trotskyites, were the propagandist warriors of Cold War and are very skilled in below the belt blows of this kind (searching for  "communists under each bed"). As such this can be viewed as a variation of  McCarthy-style attacks -- a witch hunt for Putin supporters within Trump close cycle of advisors. Anti-Russian and pro-Israel stance is a part of neoconservative ideology (and is shared by a large part of Washington elite), so for neocons (and neoliberal MSM) this type of attacks are as a natural as breathing. McCarthyism  painted liberals as soft on Communism, now neocon paint opponents of Warmonger Hillary,  as soft on Putin.  When in reality the main danger is not softness, but the danger of nuclear confrontation with Russia. Neocon demagogues, such as Robert Kagan managed simultaneously accuse Trump of being Putin stooge and a fascist.  It is well known that chickenhawks are rabidly jingoistic, so this theme also is played as a part of "waving the flag attacks" such as Swiftboating Trump: Khan gambit against Trump at the Democratic Convention
     
  5. Projecting on Trump accusations of racism ( a variant of Gaslighting) with the goal of eliminating Trump voters among minorities. In reality Bill Clinton, as a staunch neoliberal,  initiated the largest program of incarceration of black men in history.  He also substantially cut federal support to poor families.

     Indiscriminate killing of brown people (including many woman and children) supported (and in case of Libya pressed) by Hillary is not considered racist by neoliberal MSM, but Trump suggestion (note suggestion) to limit Muslim and Mexican immigration to the USA is the crime of the century, because such a measure limits inflow of cheap labor for transnational corporations. What is interesting in this "identity politics" attack deployed by Hillary camp is that often they misdiagnose the problems pretending that nothing, but racism matters and that this is automatically thee root cause. For example for excessive police violence against blacks. Sometime the root cause is different: it can be stereotyping, or that people are frightened, they can behave stupid, or they are evil. No, all such cases are automatically classified as racists. Police misconduct is not a problem solely about race and racism. Here’s a thoughtful blogpost about the problem of police misconduct in certain kinds of fatal shooting incidents and what can be done about it, both politically and in terms of reforming police training and administration: http://sociological-eye.blogspot.com/2016/07/can-war-between-cops-and-blacks-be-de.html
     

  6. Creating an image of Trump as an unstable maniac who can't be trusted with important assignments, such as control of nuclear button (and forgetting that Obama is a former cocaine addict and marijuana user, who might not completely abandon this habit in the White house) . An Bruce Wilder ( Crooked timber, Aug 13, 2016) aptly noted: "People, who argue Trump might start a nuclear war out of personal pique because he insults people on teevee might want to examine Clinton’s bellicose foreign policy record and positions on, say, Israel, Iran, Ukraine, NATO expansion or the South China Sea. ". Or, as Ian Welsh pointed out, her position on Syria is nothing but reckless. She seems to have advocated for a no-fly zone in Syria, which would presumably means shooting down Russian warplanes.
      
  7. Denigration Trump personality by constant using in neoliberal MSM coverage of Trump such epithets as "crazy, reckless, ignorant, ignoramus, unqualified, unhinged lunatic, nuclear weapons trigger happy, narcissist, xenophobe, anti-Muslim, misogynist, buffoon, chimpanzee-level " 
  8. Distorting his views, despite some of them have strong connection to reality. Please read 6 Problems With Media's Reaction To Trump's ISIS Comments by Mollie Hemingway. This is a very important article and I strongly recommend to read it in full to understand how neoliberal propaganda works. This is a nice example of how difficult is for an ordinary person to cut through media lies and get to the truth. So some level of brainwashing is inevitable unless you use only alternative media. Neoliberal MSM are disgusting and are lying all the time, but they are called "mainstream media" not accidentally. Unless you use WWW and foreign sources (like people in the USSR did -- substitute radio for WWW, as it did not existed yet) you will be brainwashed. Like Margaret Thatcher used to say "there is no alternative". They did the same dirty tricks with Bernie Sanders to derail his candidacy.

Here is one example. Please note that Trump foreign policy stance is more realistic then bloodthirsty warmonger "We came, we saw, he died" Hillary; it just goes against neocons military adventurism (Salon.com)

Take, for example, the comments by GOP strategist Mike Murphy on MSNBC earlier this week:

I think he is a stunning ignoramus on foreign policy issues and national security, which are the issues I care most about. And he’s said one stupid, reckless thing after another, and he’s shown absolutely no temperament to try to learn the things that he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t know just about everything. …The guy has a chimpanzee-level understanding of national security policy.

In reality the situation in quite opposite and Trump foreign platform can be viewed as the last, desperate attempt to save the USA from facing consequences of uncontrolled built-up of global, led by the USA neoliberal empire, which exhausted the country resources and impoverished its people, Here is one insightful comment from Crooked Timber discussion (Crooked timber, Aug 04, 2016):

Lupita 08.04.16 at 4:23 am 167

I think Trump is afraid the imperial global order presided by the US is about to crash and thinks he will be able to steer the country into a soft landing by accepting that other world powers have interests, by disengaging from costly and humiliating military interventions, by re-negotiating trade deals, and by stopping the mass immigration of poor people. Plus a few well-placed bombs .

Much has been written about the internet revolution, about the impact of people having access to much more information than before. The elite does not recognize this and is still organizing political and media campaigns as if it were 1990, relying on elder statesmen like Blair, Bush, Mitterrand, Clinton, and Obama to influence public opinion. They are failing miserably, to the point of being counterproductive.

I don't think something as parochial as racism is sustaining Trump, but rather the fear of the loss of empire by a population with several orders of magnitude more information and communication than in 2008, even 2012.

Negative information repeated many times by MSM sticks in viewer minds and creates doubts in the candidate attacked. If the race is close, that's enough to sing the particular candidate. Swiftboating Kerry proved that such attacks produce the necessary effect even if later is discovered that they are completely false. At this point, it's just too late to undo the damage. Essentially the control over the major MSM is close to controlling the results of the elections. Like in movie Matrix the majority of the US voters live by-and-large in artificial reality created by MSM coverage, which they are unable to check.

The control over the major [neoliberal] MSM is close to controlling the results of the elections. Like in movie Matrix the majority of the US voters live by-and-large in artificial reality created by MSM coverage, which they are unable to check.

As neoliberalism is the hallmark of both parties, some Republican Senators also take part in this witch hunt (you can guesses the list; it includes all neocon hawks):

Corey Robin 08.09.16 at 1:51 am

So this is another example of what drives me crazy. Susan Collins, Republican Senator from Maine, is coming out with an oped in tomorrow’s Washington Post saying she can’t vote for Trump. Because he “lacks the temperament, self-discipline, and judgment” blah blah blah. She could vote for a madman like McCain and a charlatan like Palin, but, fine, whatever. What truly kills me is that Jonathan Alter, liberal journalist, tweets Collins’s piece and says, “How can any decent, respectful Republican disagree?”

As neocons are neoliberals with the gun, the same is true about most prominent neocon talking heads, who dominate the US foreign policy discourse. A relevant example here is one of the founders of PNAC (which promoted the idea of global neoliberal empire led by the USA and the use of 9/11 style event as vital for converting the USA into national security state) and cheerleader of Iraq war Robert Kagan (the husband of Victoria Nuland, who was instrumental in bringing into power neo-Nazis in Ukraine). In his recent WaPo column he (forgetting about his own track record and the track record of his wife) openly accused Trump of fascist tendencies while being unable to use the words "neocons wars" and "neoliberal globalization" in the whole article even once (This is how fascism comes to America - The Washington Post, May 18, 2016):

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he off ers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

... ... ...

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who single-handedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.

Of course readers instantly noticed the hypocrisy of this dyed-in-the-wool neocon warmonger (who BTW became a staunch Hillary supporter -- tell me who your friends are...) :

Richard Elkind, 6/1/2016 4:06 PM EDT

Trump is a negotiator. A fascist is a dictator. They have absolutely nothing in common. The neocon who wrote this propaganda is far more a fascist than Trump could ever be...demonstrated right here with his utilizing his media platform to spread propagandist lies...which is what Hitler did.

Faustfaust, 6/1/2016 3:57 PM EDT

Kagan,

A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. Excerpts:

“Rather than pursuing a comprehensive peace with the entire Arab world, Israel should work jointly with Jordan and Turkey to contain, destabilize, and roll-back those entities that are threats to all three”.

"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambition"

“Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite”.

"Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces".

Who are those proxy forces? ISIS? It seems so. These statements put you and your ilk in the pot as corroborators for what has happened in the Middle East since it was written, and foremost for Syria and its fallout.

On issues relating to continuation of wars of neoliberal expansion, maintaining the global neoliberal empire and immigration all neoliberal MSM behave in lockstep which would make Soviet press handlers proud. Lie and distortion of Trump behaviour, create "much ado about nothing" by picking his phrase and presenting it as a is treat to world peace, dirty insinuation about impossibility to trust Trump is some critical security areas such as nuclear codes (as if person under influence of a drug can be a better choice; just look about history of cocaine abuse by previous presidents). You name it. But what can you expect from administration puppets. Actually constitutional scholar also behaved very dirty allowing himself to bash Trump in Singapore which is a clear violation of diplomatic etiquette:

"I don't doubt their sincerity. I don't doubt they were outraged by some of the statements that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about the Khan family," Obama said, speaking of Republican leaders, a number of whom spoke out against Trump's remarks about the Khan family. "But there has to come a point in which you say, 'Somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn't have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.'"

As now we know that Khan gambit was a designed by DNC trap, this is a direct propaganda attack on behave of Hillary Clinton (and, as such, represents an abuse of his position). Also this is like throwing stones in a glass house (Obama is a self-confessed former cocaine addict who might well be on high during Benghazi incident and during his Olympics' interview). Americans did elect a former cocaine addict in 2008 and then in 2012. Talk about the best preparation to the position of POTUS (Obama's Cocaine Confessional Won't 'Blow' His Chances - ABC News):

At the moment, Republican strategists and Clinton loyalists share a common dream, an identical yearning and an increasingly forlorn hope: wishing with prayerful fervor for some revelation or scandal or personal weakness that will block Barack Obama's candidacy for president.

In that context, The Washington Post raises the pre-emptive question of the senator's direct confession (in his intimate memoir, "Dreams of My Father") that he used cocaine and marijuana in high school and college.

Much to the disappointment of his rivals in both parties, these disclosures stand no chance of derailing his potential campaign and may end up adding to Obama's unconventional appeal.

First of all, Obama is hardly the first prominent politician to acknowledge youthful indiscretions involving illegal drugs. Fourteen years ago, Bill Clinton easily survived his discussions of smoking marijuana, and drew far more criticism for his dodgy, weasel-words regarding his experience ("I smoked, but I didn't inhale") than for his one-time exposure to the demon weed.

Al Gore also admitted to dope indulgence (and reportedly became a heavy user at Harvard, which may help explain the spectacularly weird workings of his mind) as did Newt Gingrich and John Kerry. George W. Bush refused to share specifics of his own drug experience beyond a general acknowledgment of a rowdy youth ("when I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid"). Still, he did little to contradict ubiquitous reports of his consumption of booze, marijuana and even cocaine.

On her own Hillary, as an establishment candidate representing Wall Street interests, has no or little chances. So neoliberal MSM, which are essentially a part of Hillary team, are using against Trump a pretty polished demonization process that they so successfully used against foreign leaders whom the USA establishment does not like. So you need to withstand a series of more and more nasty attacks by a pack of media wolfs, who are eager to devour the candidate. That requires courage. Going against establishment always requires courage, but going against neoliberal establishment with it Trotskyite instincts (and Pravda style demonization of opponents) requires double of that. But people are fed up with neoliberal globalization and no matter how neoliberal MSM try to demonize Trump, most of such attempts will fall on the deaf ears:

bruce wilder 08.03.16 at 4:41 pm

A vote for Trump is a middle-finger vote. A Trump voter does not have to believe that Trump will do anything for him, only that Trump breaking the system won’t be worse for the voter than for the system.

I would stress it again that you need to be a very courageous person to withstand demonization by neoliberal media. and this put tremendous stress on you and your family. This pack of well-paid neoliberal rabid dogs knows no mercy. This is like modern McCarthy-style witch hunt (remember famous phrase perfectly applicable to neoliberal MSM such CNN, MSNBC, etc ("You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?") The DemoRats are reenacting the worst excesses of “McCarthyism” with hysterical displays of Russophobia and swift boat style attacks: anybody to oppose neoliberal dogma is Mr. Putin sympathizer:

Joe McCarthy had been running wild for four years, wreaking havoc first on the Democrats, then the Republicans, and finally on the security establishment itself. For many people—Welch’s syntax shows, almost unselfconsciously—June 9 marked the moment when McCarthy finally revealed that he had no decency, as opposed to only a very little decency, the moment when he showed that he had no redeeming qualities at all.

Neoliberal MSM dominate the media landscape and they still sets the agenda of any debate in the USA, still sets the parameters of discourse. They can amplify or suppress any news as they like. Hackers can easily break into DNC server and steal emails, but can't steal email from Hillary "bathroom" server. It does not matter then you open CNN or other MSM website, you will always find news about some new Trump blunder, instead discussion of serious issue facing the country (I'm Sick of The So-Called “News )

It’s a very powerful, well financed, determines, highly qualified and very nasty propagandists.

You need to be a very courageous person to go against neoliberal media. They can amplify or suppress any news as they like.

Those frightened at the prospect of Donald Trump being elected need to explain precisely where they were when Clinton sold the party to Wall Street converting them to DemoRats (former Democrats, or Clinton democrats) and launched their three-decade-long class war on the side on neoliberals against the great majority of the American people. Voting for a war criminal by standard Nierenberg trials in not what a reasonable person would do.

Trump did not (yet) start any wars of neoliberal conquest (under smoke screen of spreading the democracy) so far. So whatever you ca call him, he is not a war criminal. And that's a big, decisive different. In fact, his views on foreign policy are more of less isolationists and are close to Paleoconservatives such as Patrick J. Buchanan. As Michael Hudson observed:

The platform Hillary’s running on is “I’m not Trump. I’m the lesser evil.”

She elaborates that by saying that Trump is Putin’s ploy. When the Democratic National Committee (someone within it, or without) leaked the information to Wikileaks, the Democrats and Hillary asked, “Who benefits from this”? Ah-ha. Because Trump opposes the neocon line toward Russia, and because he criticizes NATO, Russia benefits. Therefore Putin must have stolen the leaks and put them out, to make America weaker, not stronger, by helping the Trump campaign by showing the DNC’s dirty tricks toward Bernie’s followers.

Then Assange did an Internet interview and implied that it was not a cyberwar attack but a leak – indicating that it came from an insider inn the DNC. If this is true, then the Democrats are simply trying to blame it all on Trump – diverting attention from what the leaks’ actual content!

But contrary to DNC efforts, same level of anger as drove Brexit vote now is developing in regard Hillary Clinton candidacy as the establishment choice. That means that for many people voting for Trump is just an opportunity to lob a hand grenade into establishment. And you can't underestimate the number of people who would greatly enjoy this act of defiance. So in a way it is impossible for Hillary to attract large chunk of population to anti-Trump platform as Trump is automatically by people choice is running as anti-Hillary candidate.

Moreover Hillary Clinton is a war criminal, if we apply to her the standards of Nuremberg trials, so voting for her is also a crime. Yet neoliberal media tries to shove Hillary down the US voters throats, demonizing him using all dirty tricks they know. Patrick J. Buchanan put it best "This was the year Americans rose up to pull down the establishment in a peaceful storming of the American Bastille."(Yes, the System Is Rigged The American Conservative):

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged,” Donald Trump told voters in Ohio and Sean Hannity on Fox News. And that hit a nerve. “Dangerous,” “toxic,” came the recoil from the media. Trump is threatening to “delegitimize” the election results of 2016.

Well, if that is what Trump is trying to do, he has no small point. For consider what 2016 promised and what it appears about to deliver. This longest of election cycles has rightly been called the Year of the Outsider. It was a year that saw a mighty surge of economic populism and patriotism, a year when a 74-year-old Socialist senator set primaries ablaze with mammoth crowds that dwarfed those of Hillary Clinton. It was the year that a non-politician, Donald Trump, swept Republican primaries in an historic turnout, with his nearest rival an ostracized maverick in his own Republican caucus, Senator Ted Cruz. More than a dozen Republican rivals, described as the strongest GOP field since 1980, were sent packing. This was the year Americans rose up to pull down the establishment in a peaceful storming of the American Bastille.

... ... ...

Instructions are going out to Republican leaders that either they dump Trump, or they will cease to be seen as morally fit partners in power.

It testifies to the character of Republican elites that some are seeking ways to carry out these instructions, though this would mean invalidating and aborting the democratic process that produced Trump. But what is a repudiated establishment doing issuing orders to anyone?

Why is it not Middle America issuing the demands, rather than the other way around? Specifically, the Republican electorate should tell its discredited and rejected ruling class: If we cannot get rid of you at the ballot box, then tell us how, peacefully and democratically, we can be rid of you?

You want Trump out? How do we get you out? The Czechs had their Prague Spring. The Tunisians and Egyptians their Arab Spring. When do we have our American Spring?

The Brits had their “Brexit,” and declared independence of an arrogant superstate in Brussels. How do we liberate ourselves from a Beltway superstate that is more powerful and resistant to democratic change? Our CIA, NGOs and National Endowment for Democracy all beaver away for “regime change” in faraway lands whose rulers displease us. How do we effect “regime change” here at home?

Donald Trump’s success, despite the near-universal hostility of the media, even much of the conservative media, was due in large part to the public’s response to the issues he raised.

Would this really be what a majority of Americans voted for in this most exciting of presidential races? “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy. The 1960s and early 1970s were a time of social revolution in America, and President Nixon, by ending the draft and ending the Vietnam war, presided over what one columnist called the “cooling of America.”

Below the belt attacks on Trump by neoliberal MSM

You need to be a very courageous person to fight against neocons. They already launched several below the belt attacks on Trump. More to follow. some were pretty damaging:

The utter hysteria about Trump in neoliberal MSM like NYT is very illuminating. They really feel the danger to neoliberal globalization from Trump and as the result the neoliberal  media is outperforming anything envisioned by Orwell. It brazenly lies, censors the truth and spins every fact, still pretending to be objective, independent and balanced.

At the same part population, who was (successfully) fed with neoliberal lies about shared prosperity and that brazen enrichment of the top 0.1% lifts all boats for the last 35 years is  no longer receptive to neoliberal propaganda. Many Americans outside top 10% have allergic reaction to neoliberal globalization and loss connected with it loss of jobs, which destroys or at lest undermines attempts to brainwash them by neoliberal MSM.

That's why neoliberal media's engage in constant paranoid exaggeration of Trump speeches, words and twits. Nice example was hysterias about Trump  request (probably make to provoke the MSM) to Putin to provide deleted by Hillary emails. Looks like neoliberal presstitutes are getting desperate as the realization sets in: Trump 2016!

And that's why they are pushing "Crooked Hillary" (by apt definition of Trump ;-) as the only viable candidate. As if without her there is no tomorrow for them and their cushy jobs can be threatened, much like job of ordinary Americans.  If you read NYT the impression is that Trump is madman, a dyed-in-the-wool nationalist (and racist), danger of whom is equal or exceed the danger of Mussolini, or even Hitler. In reality Hillary can be considered to be a war criminal, the lowest possible type of politicians. So much like in case of absolute zero, there can't be more evil politician even in principle.

But reading NYT you will not often see combination of words a "neocon" and Hillary. She will be presented via rose grasses and her ugly personality traits (which led to multiple suggestions that she might be a female sociopath) will be carefully hidden. Any demonstration of recklessness and somewhat psychopathic personality, her pathological jingoism, will be described as an admirable attributes indicative of a strong leader the same way the psychopathic personalities of her male counterparts are described as the attribute of "masters of statecraft" (the term which under neoliberalism became synonymous with bombing small helpless nations, who happen to have natural resources, valuable for transactionals, and bailing out transnational banks, when they overpay their hand with derivatives).

Sometimes I catch myself on the thought that neoliberal MSM outdid MSM of the USSR in their ability to distort the reality and conduct vicious propaganda campaigns directed on elimination of anybody threatening status quo. With generally better success in brainwashing the population.

In foreign policy Hillary Clinton is no different than your garden variety Republican, including Senator McCain or any of prominent neocons such as Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan and his wife. In other words she is another died in the wool neocon. Probably to the right of Jeb "I like Wolfowitz Doctrine" Bush, who as one of the signers of PNAC key document is difficult to match. So, in a way, Cold War II is guaranteed if she wins, because the elite needs an external threat to keep the nation united despite economic troubles connected with the sunset of neoliberalism as well as it hallmark -- ruthless looting of the nation by financial oligarchy, who is out of control and owns the government via "deep state" structures.

Again MSM in the USA tend to personalize the most important political issues (identity politics). That gives them opportunity to hide real issues facing the nation under smoke screen of personal invectives. The real issue during this election is a referendum of neoliberal globalization. that's what MSM try to bury in the smokescreen of identity politics, Look how "Back life matters" movement was played.

Increase use of misinformation and dirty tricks as the cornerstone of neoliberal candidates campaign strategy in a post-factual world (virtual reality) created by neoliberal MSM is not new. This is how in 2004 corrupt MSM got rid of Howard Dean in Democratic Party primaries (see Howard Dean's Scream - YouTube). Directed microphones were used to amplify the scream to make it outrageous (and then neoliberal MSM pitched the hysteria to ensure the necessary effect).

But the same disinformation campaign and dirty tricks did now work recently in the Brexit vote. And those neoliberal presstitutes were really dirty --  just look at Guardian campaign against Brexit. The power of neoliberalism (like previously the power of communism) is in total monination of media space. So in case of Brexit neoliberals have betted on the power of fantasy over fact. They failed.

Now all neoliberal guns are pointed at Trump. And some of those presstitutes are pretty talented. Just look also how Stephen Colbert tried to eliminate Trump as the candidate in  Best moments from presidential debates - YouTube. If you do not understand that this is pretty similar to promoting Kerry over Dean, listen again. When propaganda is close to what you feel whatever you feel is true, you are easily deceived. and it is very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between what is true and what is not -- media creates artificial reality in which we live. They can amplify whatever they wish and present for us as facts, while they are not. That will be found much later, when it will be too late.

the hysteria with Melania speech plagiarism of a couple of sentences from Michelle Obama speech is also pretty illuminating. In both cases speeches were written by somebody else so this all the content is plagiarism -- not just two sentences. But this artificial outrage was wiped up to cosmic proportion. How they dare to take a couple of sentences from such a deep thinker as Michelle Obama and put it in their own speech (in fact those sentences reflected Melania experience pretty well - - that's why they were taken ;-)

But no, thousand of reporters from neoliberal MSM like a pack of rabid dogs started to pursue this triviality with a single goal to damage Trump campaign for President.  None of them demonstrated an equal zeal in coverage of Hillary bathroom serverClinton Cash scandals -- a much more worthwhile themes. Hillary deteriorating health is also not very interesting topic for them. Even recent sexual adventures of Bill Clinton, which would attack them like flied to honey, if this would be Trump, did not interested them much.  As Scott McConnell aptly noted (The American Conservative, July 20, 2016):

Much of the morning of the second day of the Republican Convention was taken up by the Melania speech flap. It’s an odd world. One can understand how it was news: there are thousands of reporters chasing any news, especially news embarrassing to Trump. One can imagine that if Jackie Kennedy inadvertently mouthed some earnest and eloquent platitudes that another speechwriter had previously prepared for a different celebrity, few would have noticed, and certainly few would have made a case of it. It might have been mentioned in an aside in a column.

Melania’s reading of secondhand words is not entirely insignificant. Of course the “plagiarism” case was the result of poor staff work, and it’s not unreasonable to wonder if it’s symptomatic of a more general confusion at the heart of the Trump campaign. If they can’t get Melania’s speech right, and they didn’t, who is going be in charge of implementing the Iran deal, or dealing with the Turkish coup aftermath, or trying to be a good friend to a Europe undergoing worse crises than we are? You can look at the Donald Trump operation and not come away with obviously reassuring answers.

You can see that in hunt for anti-Trump sensation MSM amplified the real but rather small problem with Melanie speech. "Lifting" a couple of sentences from somebody else speech is not a big crime. Of cause this is an immoral act, but let's see with whom we compare Melania -- with Hillary, who is a compulsive liar. Melania with all her transgressions is not. Now you see the problem. They use two difficult standard, because if we apply "Melania standard" to Hillary, MSM should bury her alive. There were a couple of sentences that closely resemble each other (so what; she is not an elected official and does not pretend on any official post; if we views this as a type of lie -- pretending that those words are your own what they actually are not -- compare with the amount of lie of Hillary Clinton. But the content of the speeches is vastly different. Still charge of plagiarism stuck. Unapt denial of Trump reps helped to amplify the issue further and exaggerations of this tiny, unimportant fact. And this hysteria was amplified by neoliberal MSM very skillfully -- this minor episode was on front pages for two days in the raw. As if there no other problems with DNC. What a despicable presstitutes --

They try to hide the danger that yet another globalist war for opening natural resources and labor resources of other countries for transnationals which will be unleashed by Hillary. Who already managed to vote of Iraq war, and royally rape Ukraine , Libya and Syria. This is real issues facing the USA, and it trivial facts about the personalities involved, that neoliberal MSM triy to present as the essence of campaign.  It is about existence of two different factions of the US elite: globalist part that now dominant and smaller weaker nationalist part what is now on the upswing and enjoys the support of the majority of the population.

Another dirty trick is bombardment of voters with the results of polls. 24 x7. It is well known that the key idea of polls is to influence electorate. Not to inform, but to influence. In the USA, like in the USSR, MSM are fully engaged in this dirty game.

The psychological mechanism behind this dirty game is based on deeply rooted human tendency to side with the (presumptive) winner. MSM fake the desirable for the elite result (or at least distort actually picture) and that automatically conditions those who is still undecided to vote for "presumptive winner", or not to vote. The latter in the spirit of inverted totalitarism is preferable for elite result -- making each elite voter (who always vote, as this is about their power) more valuable. Please note half of the US population does not vote. But anger might brings them out. John Pilger gave a good picture of behaviour of MSM in his recent article The Brexit Rejection of Neoliberal Tyranny ( Consortiumnews, ).

To this end neoliberal MSM been lying about Trump and consistently misrepresenting his statements to present them in the worst possible light.

Neoliberal MSM been lying about Trump and consistently misrepresenting his statements to present them in the worst possible light

MSM also try to co-opt Trump voters:

On the eve of the convention, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam—respected, young, mainstream conservative intellectuals—published an essay in the New York Times that was largely Trumpian in its prescriptions, calling for less immigration, less foreign military intervention, more tax policy favoring the middle and working classes. Designed to appeal to the real interests of Trump voters.

Yet the two cast their piece as “anti-Trump,” calling Trump a demagogue, and assuming that he couldn’t possibly implement their agenda. It’s a loss to Trump that he hasn’t won over people who so largely agree with him, but a sign too of the remaining power of the Republican establishment, which can make even people who mostly agree with Trump unable—so far—to see themselves as potential Trump backers.

CNN went as far as to hire Corey Lewandowski, former manager of Trump political campaign (CNN's Revolving Door of Political Hackery)

Widespread outrage erupted in late June over CNN's hiring of Corey Lewandowski, just four days after he was fired as Donald Trump's chief of staff. Lewandowski is a controversial figure, and not merely because he was heading up a campaign fueled by bigotry and fear. In March he was charged with simple battery for making physical contact with a reporter (though these charges were later dropped). Moreover, his utility as a CNN contributor is clearly limited -- if not worthless -- since he is reported to have signed a non-disclosure agreement that bars him from saying anything disparaging about Trump or discussing anything he did during the campaign.

CNN staffers were said to be enraged -- but within a week, CNN's newest contributor was on television using his soapbox to explain away another one of Trump's very public and obvious appeals to bigotry. That CNN felt it needed to hire an election commentator who can't say anything critical about Trump may seem strange, but it corresponds with CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker's stated desire to push CNN to the right. Even Fox News has taken the moral "high ground" in this situation: It has blasted CNN and the decision at least twice.

But hiring Lewandowski is not an anomaly -- it is business as usual for CNN and other cable news networks. When covering elections, CNN and its competitors rely largely on former political hacks as paid contributors. They also commonly employ active lobbyists with inherent conflicts of interest that are rarely disclosed.

What we are dealing with is a Revolving Door of Political Hackery between campaigns, the media and lobbyists. As we enter the final stretch of the 2016 election season, this revolving door has been spinning rapidly, especially with GOP staffers heading to CNN. This reliance on beltway insiders and industry surrogates is among the many reasons why campaign coverage is so often woefully lacking in substance.

At the same time the fact that some Sanders voters are inclined to vote for Trump is undeniable. And that does not excites neoliberal MSM such as rabidly pro-Clinton Wapo (which now is owned by Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos). It does not even pretend to being objective. Just look at some headlines: 

MSM ravings about Trump supporters being ‘white nationalists’ is a grotesque affront to everyone, especially the 23% of Hispanics happen to support Trump, as well as some percent of black vote and other minorities. In neoliberal MSM narrow universe the millions of American Trump supports are all either bigots, or blind, and that evidently includes a number of Americans in the US military who also support Trump. The US airman who punched out the Trump protestor wearing a KKK costume at a Trump rally happened to be African-American. Do you think he was happy being portrayed as a KKK supporter by people like you and the clown in the costume?

Khan gambit at the Democratic convention

If you look closer at what’s being said by the Democratic camp, including by no less than Obama himself, they seem to be using Kahn gambit -- a prepared, scripted swift boating of Trump -- playing a collective Joseph McCarthy at the moment. The next stage was accusing Trump of collusion with Putin and telling amusing lies along the way ( I wonder when they will discover the connection of Melannia and Putin). A prominent neoliberal Krugman has summarily denounced the whole white Christian “tribe” is unpatriotic.

I would take Khizr Khan’s speech at the DNC more seriously if he had also taken the courageous stance of calling out Hillary Clinton as a bloodthirsty neoliberal warmonger in the manner of Cindy Sheehan. Hillary’s vote for the Iraqi invasion is more relevant her in a sense of the direct cause-and-effect line of his son’s death than any actions by Trump. To chastise one candidate on trump-up charges omitting real and undeniable sins of the other candidate (Hillary) is lacking any trace of nobility or decency. This was swift boating -- a preplanned trap instantly amplified into national tragedy proportion by neoliberal presstitutes in major MSM. this was it became just another act of the campaign of demonization of Trump. Obama behavior in Singapore was especially disgusting. He allowed himself to bash Trump in Singapore on trumped up charges which is a clear violation of diplomatic etiquette:

"I don't doubt their sincerity. I don't doubt they were outraged by some of the statements that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about the Khan family," Obama said, speaking of Republican leaders, a number of whom spoke out against Trump's remarks about the Khan family. "But there has to come a point in which you say, 'Somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn't have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.'"

The most humiliating aspect of "Khan gambit" is how easily Trump was lured into this trap (essentially Swiftboating): looks like he organically is unable not to reply on false accusations, no matter how unfounded they are. At the same time understanding that Trump was lured into a trap should not be used for promoting xenophobia.

The idea of swiftboating is very simple: negative information repeated many times by MSM stick and create doubts in the candidate attacked. They produce the necessary effect even if later is discovered that they are completely false. From Wikipedia

The term swiftboating (also swift-boating or swift boating) is a pejorative American neologism used to describe an unfair or untrue political attack. The term is derived from the name of the organization "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (SBVT, later the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth) because of their widely publicized—and later discredited—campaign against 2004 U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry.[1][2][3][4]

Since the political smear campaign[2][5][6][7][8] that the group conducted against Kerry, the term has come into common use to refer to a harsh attack by a political opponent that is dishonest, personal, and unfair.[9][10] The Swift Boat Veterans and media pundits objected to this use of the term to define a smear campaign.[11][12]

Now we can tell with almost 100% certainty that Khan gambit was pre-planned by DNC as two stage swift boating style attack on Trump, similar to one of Kerry:

The subsequent neoliberal MSM witch hunt was an important part of the Khan gambit and should be viewed exclusively in general context of the efforts to demonize and discredit Trump. It was clear this swift boating attack was performed on behave of Hillary Clinton handlers (Hillary Clinton in her current health state is just a figurehead, a patsy of the forces that defend neoliberal globalization, which include Bill Clinton and Wall Street banks). They even used Obama, who forgot about the danger of throwing stones in a glass house (Obama is a self-confessed former cocaine addict who might well be on high during Benghazi incident and during his Olympics' interview). Americans did elect a former cocaine addict in 2008 and then in 2012. So why not Trump? Still Obama risked opening this can of worms by blabbing about the preparation to the position of POTUS. In reality former addict is never the best choice but look how skillfully this issue (trusting the former cocaine addict a nuclear button) was hashed by neoliberal press (Obama's Cocaine Confessional Won't 'Blow' His Chances - ABC News):

At the moment, Republican strategists and Clinton loyalists share a common dream, an identical yearning and an increasingly forlorn hope: wishing with prayerful fervor for some revelation or scandal or personal weakness that will block Barack Obama's candidacy for president.

In that context, The Washington Post raises the pre-emptive question of the senator's direct confession (in his intimate memoir, "Dreams of My Father") that he used cocaine and marijuana in high school and college.

Much to the disappointment of his rivals in both parties, these disclosures stand no chance of derailing his potential campaign and may end up adding to Obama's unconventional appeal.

First of all, Obama is hardly the first prominent politician to acknowledge youthful indiscretions involving illegal drugs. Fourteen years ago, Bill Clinton easily survived his discussions of smoking marijuana, and drew far more criticism for his dodgy, weasel-words regarding his experience ("I smoked, but I didn't inhale") than for his one-time exposure to the demon weed.

Al Gore also admitted to dope indulgence (and reportedly became a heavy user at Harvard, which may help explain the spectacularly weird workings of his mind) as did Newt Gingrich and John Kerry. George W. Bush refused to share specifics of his own drug experience beyond a general acknowledgment of a rowdy youth ("when I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid"). Still, he did little to contradict ubiquitous reports of his consumption of booze, marijuana and even cocaine.

The utter hysteria about Trump in neoliberal MSM like NYT is very illuminating. From comments in discussion of Crooked Timber:

kidneystones, 08.08.16 at 11:36 pm

The NYT argues that some truths needed to be sacrificed for the greater good of keeping the candidate ‘we’ don’t like out of office.

... ... ...

Democrats waving the bloody shirt and suddenly discovering the purity of gold-star families is very much on-topic. As is the bias of the press. Romney was deemed entirely unfit to be president in precisely the same way as the current candidate is. Romney’s great crime? Laughing about killing people? Nope. Invading nations, or abusing national security? Uh-uh. Strapping the family dog to the roof of his car.

Because when weighing the big issues in American presidential elections: Pets Lives Matter!!

kidneystones, 08.08.16 at 11:42 pm

Lanny Davis, longtime Clinton ally and DNC hack, explaining in great detail ( on Fox no less) why the Romney dog story makes the Republican candidate (is a Mormon the same as an atheist, Debbie?) unfit for the office of the President. foxnews.com

Rich 08.14.16 at 6:14 pm 855

...I have said that I could never vote for her because of Iraq. It was a political calculation for her. Never bought the bullshit about ‘if I knew then…’ Yeah sure bitch. Then, I was swayed by the lesser evil argument telling me not be an idealist asshole. Buy, now comes the Kissinger wet kiss, and the Negroponte handjob, now the Clinton campaign is seen in the hacked emails she wants to go easy on down ballot republicans. Letting them off the hook for creating the conditions for Trump to emerge. This is the last straw for me. Fuck her, I will not vote for her.

For those of you so afraid of Trump that you will hold your nose at the polls, I have only one thing to say.

Y’all a bunch a sniveling fearful pussies. We survived a bloody civil war. We survived WW2. We survived the Soviets. Was it over when the Japan bombed Pearl Harbor? No. And it ain’t over now. Yes it will be a bad 4 years. It will be an embarrassment. But Trump is a childish half-educated buffoon. Do you really think the JCS will hand him the nuke codes and launch on his order? I don’t.

So suck it up and get rid of Clinton and her destructive new democrats for good.

They are organically unable to turning a critical lens on the presidential candidate who supported the war that killed Khan's son. They really feel the danger to neoliberal globalization from Trump and at this point "gloves comes off" -- the neoliberal media is outperforming anything envisioned by Orwell. It brazenly lies, censors the truth and spins every fact, still pretending to be objective, independent and balanced. "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. -1984". And the "permanent war for permanent peace" that Hillary and other neoliberal interventionists advocate is the only viable path forward fro the nation. Bacevich discussed this issue of dominance of "New American Militarism" at length in his books, articles and speeches. See also in depth analysis of this issue by Ted Rall in his brilliant (simply brilliant !) article Khizr Khan and The Triumph of Democratic Militarism(UNZ Review, Aug 2, 2016). Here are some relevant quotes:

"... A week ago corporate media gatekeepers managed to transform the Democratic National Committee internal emails released by WikiLeaks from what it really was – scandalous proof that Bernie Sanders and his supporters were right when they said the Democratic leadership was biased and had rigged the primaries against them ..."
"... Hillary's vote for an illegal war of choice that was sold with lies, was a major contributing factor to the death of Captain Khan, thousands of his comrades, and over a million Iraqis. Iraq should be a major issue in this campaign - against her. ..."
"... Instead, it's being used by his parents and the Democratic Party to bait Donald Trump into a retro-post-9/11 "Support Our Troops" militaristic trap. Khan, you see, was " defending his country ." ..."
"... (How anyone can say U.S. soldiers in Iraq, part of an invasion force thousands of miles away where no one threatens the United States, are "defending" the U.S. remains a long-running linguistic mystery.) ..."
"... "Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son 'the best of America,'" Khizr Khan told the convention. Unfortunately, the moniker can't apply to once-and-possible-future-first-daughter Chelsea Clinton, who never considered a military career before collecting $600,000 a year from NBC News for essentially a no-show job. But anyway… ..."
"... "If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America," Khizr Khan continued. The cognitive dissonance makes my head spin. ..."
"... "Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?" asked Khizr, who is originally from Pakistan ..."
"... A good question. While we're at it, however, where does it say in the U.S. Constitution that the president can send troops overseas for years at a time without a formal congressional declaration of war? Where does it say that the United States can attack foreign countries that have done it no harm and have never threatened it? ..."
"... As you'd expect Trump, he of little impulse control, has handled this about as poorly as possible. Asked about Khizr Khan's remark that Trump hasn't made any sacrifices, he idiotically attempted to compare his business dealings with the death of a son. Still, you have to grudgingly admire Trump for fighting back against a guy you are officially not allowed to say anything mean about. ..."
"... Democrats have successfully appropriated images of patriotism and "optimism" – scare quotes because this is not the kind of actual optimism in which you think things are going to actually get better, but the bizarro variety in which you accept that things will really never get better so you'd might as well accept the status quo – from the Republicans. This is part of Hillary Clinton's strategy of taking liberal Democrats for granted while trying to seduce Republicans away from Trump. ..."
"... The Khan episode marks a high water mark for post-9/11 knee-jerk militarism. Even the "liberal" party whose sitting incumbent two-term president captured the White House by running against the Iraq war demands that everyone fall to their knees in order to pay homage to the "good" Muslims - those willing to go to the Middle East to kill bad ones. ..."
"... Next time you see a panel of experts discussing a foreign crisis, pay attention: does anyone argue against intervention? No. The debate is always between going in light and going in hard: bombs, or "boots on the ground." Not getting involved is never an option. As long as this militaristic approach to the world continues, the United States will never have enough money to take care of its problems here at home, and it will always be hated around the world. ..."
"... Most Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake . Who speaks for us? No one in the media. And no one in mainstream politics. ..."
"... Trump's proposal to ban Muslims can't possibly be racist because Muslims are not a race. If the US were to ban European devotees of a white supremacist pagan cult - such cults do exist, and the US has every right to ban its devotees if it so chooses - nobody would bat an eye. ..."
"... The vote to authorize the war in Iraq was in 2002. Khan's DNC speech was 14 years later (and 12 years after his son was killed), not 8 years later. ..."
"... "The rest of us who makes heroes of our dead…" "Perpetuate war by exalting sacrifice…" watch-v=reUstMn4bM8 ..."
"... "Most Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake. Who speaks for us? No one in the media. And no one in mainstream politics." The last sentence is incorrect. Donald Trump repeatedly said the war was a mistake, even at times when it could have landed him in serious trouble. ..."

At the same time the mood of the majority of the US population and its attitude toward neoliberal globalization changed. People no longer trust the neoliberal elite and neoliberal media. Obama was probably the last "wolf is sheep cloth" who managed to "bait and switch" the US electorate. Now the slogan as for TPP should be the same as in Spanish civil war: "¡No Pasarán!". Even on this particular topic a talk about ABC, CNN, MSNBC objectivity already invoke sardonic laugher from most people. They are all despicable presstitutes, serving to their corporate masters, devoid of any trace of objectivity in their desperate attempts to push Hillary into White House, by whatever means possible.

And this new, more critical mood of the 90% of US population means that it is more difficult to achieve a lasting effect via Khan gambit as well as to continue to sell neoliberal globalization to regular Americans despite all efforts by neoliberal propaganda honchos. Because all Khan gambit is designed fpr is to put Hillary in White House and preserve NAFTA, TPP, revocation of Glass-Steagall and other cornerstones of neoliberal globalization.

Many US citizens already developed strong allergic reaction to neoliberal MSM, much like the population of the USSR developed allergy to communist propaganda. Declining standard of living destroys attempts of neoliberal media to brainwash the population about the benefits of globalization outside top 10% of population that really benefits form it. That's why neoliberal media was forced on the "war trail" and is engaging in constant paranoid exaggeration of Trump speeches, words and twits. It is also amplifying any attacks on Trump, as is the case with Khan speech. This is a textbook example about how the demonization of the opponent works. But Hillary herself is living in a glass house funded by Goldman Sachs and should be throwing no stones.

Nice example was hysterias about Melania Trump plagiarism and about Trump request (probably made to provoke the MSM) to Putin to provide deleted by Hillary from her private "bathroom" mail server emails. But those demolishing Trump pieces have little or no effect. And neoliberal presstitutes are getting desperate as the realization sets in: Trump 2016!

The only chance for Hillary (with her mounting health issues) to win election is to completely demonize Trump. On her own she has little or no chances, as most of Americans are tied of dynasties (with Bush II being a real disaster, that got us into Iraq war). So neoliberal MSM are using standard demonization process template that is so successfully was against foreign leaders (see Demonization of Putin) that the USA neoliberal establishment does not like. This is the root of Khan gambit designed and implemented by DNC. the same DNC that stole nomination from Bernie Sanders by using all kind of dirty tricks and illegal media alliances. Now the are trying to do the same with Trump. In this sense Khan is just a pawn, used and thrown out. As Khan, who was brought to the podium by DNC strategists, he should remember this famous quote: “The Moor has done his duty the Moor can go”. (The Moors were a Muslim people who established a civilization in North Africa and Spain between the 8th and the 15th century A.D.) Like in case with DNC leaks, the Democratic nomenklatura is always evasive when it comes to answering uncomfortable questions and will throw him under the bus if uncomfortable emails surface. Clinton has never been sentimental with its allies and in the absence of vital interests or mere presence of danger were dumping them from the chess board as unnecessary figures.

You need to be a very courageous person to fight against neocons. They already launched several below the belt attacks on Trump. But his last was probably the most successful, if you can call swift boarding a success.

MSM anti-Russian hysteria as a smoke screen to mask the divisions within Democratic Party

When GOP "dirt diggers" questioned Obama academic record, his birth certificate, his strange past, and claimed that Obama was a secret Manchurian candidate injected into US political stream by CIA "very important people" in MSM guffawed and had a good laugh accusing those who hold this view of paranoia. When Dem neoliberals and their EU (especially British) pals claim that Trump is a secret Manchurian candidate eager to execute orders of Putin the same "very important people" in MSM nod approvingly and loudly worry that Americans might elect a pawn of Putin. (dailymail.co.uk)

In his post Is Russia our enemy? Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets) aptly stated:
The Democratic Party convention and the media are full of the assumption that Russia is the enemy of the United States. What is the basis for that assumption?

The Obama Administration is apparently committed to a pre-emptive assertion that Russia is a world class committed enemy of the United States. The Borgist media fully support that.

We should all sober up.

The Russian theme has become one of the most important in Hillary presidential campaign and she unsurprisingly is engaged in full-scale anti-Russian hysteria.
Hillary joined ranks with neocons, military-industrial complex and plain-vanilla Russophobes (katehon.com, Jul 28. 2016):

Speaking at a press conference in Florida, Trump called on Russia to hand over the 30,000 emails "missing" from the Hillary Clinton's email server in the US. Their absence is a clear sign that Clinton destroyed evidence proving that she used her personal e-mail server to send sensitive information. Democrats immediately accused Trump of pandering to Russian hackers, although in reality the multi-billionaire rhetorically hinted that the data that Clinton hid from the American investigation is in the hands of foreign intelligence services. So, Clinton is a possible target for blackmail.

Trump's statement that he is ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the removal of anti-Russian sanctions caused even more noise. This view is not accepted either in the Democrat or in the Republican mainstream. Trump also said that Vladimir Putin does not respect Clinton and Obama, while Trump himself hopes to find a common language with him. Trump appreciates Putin's leadership and believes that the US must work together with Russia to deal with common threats, particularly against Islamic extremism.
Hide The establishment's tantrum

Both Democrats and Republicans are taking aim at Trump. The vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, made threats to Russia. The head of the Republican majority in Congress, Paul Ryan, became somewhat hysterical. He said that Putin is "a thug and should stay out of these elections."

It is Putin personally, and the Russian security services, who are accused of leaking correspondences of top employees of the National Committee of the Democratic Party. This unverified story united part of the Republicans and all of the Democrats, including the Clinton and Barack Obama themselves. Trump supporters note that the Russian threat is used to divert attention from the content of these letters. And these show the fraud carried out during the primaries which favored Hillary Clinton.
Hide The pro-American candidate

The "Russian scandal" demonstrates that on the one hand the thesis of the normalization of relations with Russia, despite the propaganda, is becoming popular in US society. It is unlikely that Donald Trump has made campaign statements that are not designed to gain the support of the public in this election. On the other hand - Trump - a hard realist, like Putin, is not pro-Russian, but a pro-American politician, and therefore the improvement of relations with Russia in his eyes corresponds to the US's national interests. Trump has never to date done anything that would not be to his advantage. Sometimes he even said he would order US fighter jets to engage with Russian ones, and declared he would have a hard stance in relations with Russia.

Another thing is that his understanding of US national interests is fundamentally different from the dominant American globalist elite consensus. For Trump, the US should not be the source of a global liberal remaking of the world, but a national power, which optimizes its position just as efficiently as any commercial project. And in terms of optimizing the position of the United States, he says there should be a normal American interaction with Putin and Russia in the field of combating terrorism and preventing the sliding of the two countries into a global war. He claims this is to be the priority instead of issues relating to the promotion of democracy and the so-called fight against "authoritarian regimes".

Bullsh**t that the US MSM are now propagating is essentially a variation of the old theme "The Russians are Coming". Here is nice satire on the topic (washingtonsblog.com):

MC: President Putin, did the Russian government hack the DNC email server and then publically release those emails through Wikileaks the day before the Democratic convention?

Putin: Yes.

MC: Yes! Are you serious?

Putin: I’m quite serious.

MC: How can you justify this open meddling in United States politics?

MC: How can you justify this open meddling in United States politics?

Putin: Your question should be what took Russia so long. The US oligarchs and their minions surround us with military bases and nuclear missiles, damage our trade to Europe, and seek to destabilize our domestic politics. These emails are nothing in the big picture. But they’re sort of funny, don’t you agree?

MC: I’m not sure that funny is the right word. What do you mean by that?

Putin: You’ve got Hillary Clinton running as a strong and independent woman. Of course, nobody would know who she is had she not married Bill Clinton. She’s not independent. Quite the contrary. She had to marry a philandering redneck to get to where she is. When it comes to strength, I can say only this. How strong can you be if you have to cheat and create a rigged game to win the nomination?

MC: Anything else about your leak to cheer us up?

Putin: This situation is the epitome of ironic humor. After the emails were released, the focus was all on DNC Chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. That’s fine for now but what happens when people start asking why Wasserman-Schultz had the DNC screw Sanders and boost Hillary? Did she just wake up one day and decide this on her own?. Not likely. She was and remains Hillary’s agent. It will take people a while to arrive that answer. When enough people hear about Wasserman-Schultz’s key role in the Clinton campaign, everything will be clear. It’s adios Hillary. That inevitable conclusion, by the way, is the reason the DNC made such a big deal about Russia hacking the DNC. That was diversion one right out of the gate.

DNC and Clinton are going to push the Russian card very hard in anticipation of further stories and revelations of corruption, money laundering, etc. Technical analysis provided is some idiotic, entry level nonsense. And it should ne complete dulsh*t as those cases are very complex and can used smokescreen -- deflecting attention from a read source (for example Israel) to Russians (Israel has large Russian speaking population, that is well represented in security services of the country).

When the USA opened this can of worm with Stixnet (discovered around mid 2010) and Flame (discovered around 2012), they did not expect a blowback. Now it start coming: it is simply impossible to secure "normal" Microsoft-based IT system against any sophisticated adversary. Remember that we live in the period when developed by NSA and "friends" Flame and Stixnet worm are part of the recorded history. And technologies used in them are well studied by all major world three letter agencies. They became a part of their workbook. And the response to their devilishness they generated even more devilish methods of attack of any IT infrastructure based on Microsoft technologies, to say nothing about such low hanging fruit as completely corrupt DNC with semi-competent IT staff using pathetic Microsoft Exchange based email system: (naked capitalism):

However, in this short post I want to focus on a much narrower question: Can we ever know who hacked the DNC email? Because if we can't, then clearly we can't know the Russians did. And so I want to hoist this by alert reader JacobiteInTraining from comments :

Yup, as a former server admin it is patently absurd to attribute a hack to anyone in particular until a substantial amount of forensic work has been done. (read, poring over multiple internal log files…gathering yet more log files of yet more internal devices, poring over them, then – once the request hops out of your org – requesting logfiles from remote entities, poring over *those* log files, requesting further log files from yet more upstream entities, wash rinse repeat ad infinitum).

For example, at its simplest, I would expect a middling-competency hacker to find an open wifi hub across town to connect to, then VPN to server in, say, Tonga, then VPN from there to another box in Sweden, then connect to a PC previously compromised in Iowa, then VPN to yet another anonymous cloud server in Latvia, and (assuming the mountain dew is running low, gotta get cracking) then RDP to the target server and grab as many docs as possible. RAR those up and encrypt them, FTP them to a compromised media server in South Korea, email them from there to someones gmail account previously hacked, xfer them to a P2P file sharing app, and then finally access them later from a completely different set of servers.

In many cases where I did this sort of analysis I still ended up with a complete dead end: some sysadmins at remote companies or orgs would be sympathetic and give me actual related log files. Others would be sympathetic but would not give files, and instead do their own analysis to give me tips. Many never responded, and most IPs ended up at unknown (compromised) personal PCs, or devices where the owner could not be found anyway.

If the hacker was sloppy and left other types of circumstantial evidence you might get lucky – but that demographic mostly points back to script kiddies and/or criminal dweebs – i.e., rather then just surreptitiously exfiltrating the goods they instead left messages or altered things that seemed to indicate their own backgrounds or prejudices, or left a message that was more easily 'traced'. If, of course, you took that evidence at face value and it was not itself an attempt at obfuscation.

Short of a state actor such as an NSA who captures it ALL anyway, and/or can access any log files at any public or private network at its own whim – its completely silly to attribute a hack to anyone at this point.

So, I guess I am reduced to LOL OMG WTF its fer the LULZ!!!!!

And :

Just to clarify on the "…If the hacker was sloppy and left other types of circumstantial evidence…" – this is basically what I have seen reported as 'evidence' pointing to Russia: the Cyrillic keyboard signature, the 'appeared to cease work on Russian holidays' stuff, and the association with 'known Russian hacking groups'.

That's great and all, but in past work I am sure my own 'research' could easily have gotten me 'associated' with known hacking groups. Presumably various 'sophisticated' methods and tools get you closer to possible suspects…but that kind of stuff is cycled and recycled throughout the community worldwide – as soon as anything like that is known and published, any reasonably competent hacker (or org of hackers) is learning how to do the same thing and incorporating such things into their own methods. (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery)

I guess I have a lot more respect for the kinds of people I expect to be getting a paycheck from foreign Intelligence agencies then to believe that they would leave such obvious clues behind 'accidentally'. But if we are going to be starting wars over this stuff w/Russia, or China, I guess I would hope the adults in the room don't go all apesh*t and start chanting COMMIES, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!, etc. before the ink is dry on the 'crime'.

The whole episode reminds me of the Sony hack , for which Obama also blamed a demonized foreign power. Interestingly - to beg the question here - the blaming was also based on a foreign character set in the data (though Hangul, not Korean). Look! A clue!

JacobiteInTraining's methodology also reminds me of NC's coverage of Grexit. Symbol manipulators - like those in the Democrat-leaning creative class - often believe that real economy systems are as easy to manipulate as symbol systems are. In Greece, for example, it really was a difficult technical challenge for Greece to reintroduce the drachma, especially given the time-frame, as contributor Clive remorselessly showed. Similarly, it's really not credible to hire a consultant and get a hacking report with a turnaround time of less than a week, even leaving aside the idea that the DNC just might have hired a consultant that would give them the result they wanted (because who among us, etc.) What JacobiteInTraining shows us is that computer forensics is laborious, takes time, and is very unlikely to yield results suitable for framing in the narratives proffered by the political class. Of course, that does confirm all my priors!

Readers, thoughts?

Update Addition by Yves:

Another reader, Hacker, observed (emphasis original):

There is a problem with those who argue that these are sophisticated Nation State attackers and then point to the most basic circumstantial evidence to support their case. I'd bet that, among others, the Israelis have hacked some Russian servers to launch attacks from and have some of their workers on a Russian holiday schedule. Those things have been written about in attack analysis so much over the last 15-20 years that they'd be stupid not to.

Now, I'm not saying the Israelis did it. I'm saying that the evidence provided so far by those arguing it is Russia is so flaky as to prove that the Russia accusers are blinded or corrupted by their own political agenda.

Update [Yves, courtesy Richard Smith] 7:45 AM. Another Medium piece by Jeffrey Carr, Can Facts Slow The DNC Breach Runaway Train? who has been fact-checking this story and comes away Not Happy. For instance:

Thomas Rid wrote:

One of the strongest pieces of evidence linking GRU to the DNC hack is the equivalent of identical fingerprints found in two burglarized buildings: a reused command-and-control address - 176.31.112[.]10 - that was hard coded in a piece of malware found both in the German parliament as well as on the DNC's servers. Russian military intelligence was identified by the German domestic security agency BfV as the actor responsible for the Bundestag breach. The infrastructure behind the fake MIS Department domain was also linked to the Berlin intrusion through at least one other element, a shared SSL certificate.

This paragraph sounds quite damning if you take it at face value, but if you invest a little time into checking the source material, its carefully constructed narrative falls apart.

Problem #1: The IP address 176.31.112[.]10 used in the Bundestag breach as a Command and Control server has never been connected to the Russian intelligence services. In fact, Claudio Guarnieri , a highly regarded security researcher, whose technical analysis was referenced by Rid, stated that "no evidence allows to tie the attacks to governments of any particular country."

Mind you, he has two additional problems with that claim alone. This piece is a must read if you want to dig further into this topic.

NOTES

[1] More than a talking point but, really, less than a narrative. It's like we need a new word for these bite-sized, meme-ready, disposable, "throw 'em against the wall and see if they stick" stories; mini-narrative, or narrativelette, perhaps. "All the crunch of a real narrative, but none of the nutrition!"

[2] This post is not about today's Trump moral panic, where the political class is frothing and stamping about The Donald's humorous (or ballbusting, take your pick) statement that he "hoped" the Russians had hacked the 30,000 emails that Clinton supposedly deleted from the email server she privatized in her public capacity as Secretary of State before handing the whole flaming and steaming mess over to investigators. First, who cares? Those emails are all about yoga lessons and Chelsea's wedding. Right? Second, Clinton didn't secure the server for three months. What did she expect? Third, Trump's suggestion is just dumb; the NSA has to have that data, so just ask them? Finally, to be fair, Trump shouldn't have uttered the word "Russia." He should have said "Liechtenstein," or "Tonga," because it's hard to believe that there's a country too small to hack as fat a target as Clinton presented; Trump was being inflammatory. Points off. Bad show.

Pavel , July 28, 2016 at 4:01 am

For those interested, the excellent interviewer Scott Horton just spoke with Jeffrey Carr, an IT security expert about all this. It's about 30 mins:

Jeffrey Carr, a cyber intelligence expert and CEO of Taia Global, Inc., discusses his fact-checking of Josh Marshall's TalkingPointsMemo article that claims a close alliance between Trump and Putin; and why the individuals blaming Russia for the DNC email hack are more motivated by politics than solid evidence.

–The Scott Horton Show: 7/25/16 Jeffrey Carr

Carr makes the point that even supposed clues about Russian involvement ("the default language is Cyrillic!") are meaningless as all these could be spoofed by another party.

Separately it just shows again Team Clinton's (and DNC's) political deviousness and expertise how they –with the full support of the MSM of course –have managed to deflect the discussion to Trump and Russia from how the DNC subverted US democracy.

pretzelattack , July 28, 2016 at 4:15 am

and again, we see the cavalier attitude about national security from the clinton camp, aggravating the already tense relationship with russia over this bullshit, all to avoid some political disadvantage. clinton doesn't care if russia gets the nuclear launch codes seemingly, but impact her chances to win the race and it's all guns firing.

dk , July 28, 2016 at 4:59 am

"… all these could be spoofed by another party."

Well yeah, and I could be a bot, how do you know I'm not?

Absent any other evidence to work with, I can accept it as credible that a clumsy Russian or Baltic user posted viewed and saved docs instead of the originals; par for the course in public and private bureaucracies the world over. It would have been useful to see the original Properties metadata; instead we get crapped up copies. That only tells me the poster is something of a lightweight, and it at least somewhat suggests that these docs passed through multiple hands.

But that doesn't mean A) the original penetration occurred under state control (or even in Russia proper), much less B) that Putin Himself ordered the hack attempts, which is the searing retinal afterimage that the the media name-dropping and photo-illustrating conflation produces.

Unspoofed, the Cyrillic fingerprints still do not closely constrain conclusion to A, and even less to B.

Another name for the trick DNC used is "Catch a chief" -- a deflection of attention from their own criminal behaviour. But they should now be really afraid about what can come next from Wikileaks or elsewhere. I don't think Hillary was capable to understand how easy it is to find corruption, especially when there's a email trail. And this lack of understanding is a typical feature of a sociopath (http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/could-hillary-clinton-be-a-sociopath/ )

As Guardian reported (The Guardian) Clinton campaign tried old "dog eat my homework" trick blaming everything on Putin and trying to ignore the content of them and the dirty laundry they expose:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 presidential election, saying its hackers stole Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and released them to foment disunity in the party and aid Donald Trump.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said on Sunday that “experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, [and are] releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump”.

“I don’t think it’s coincidental that these emails are being released on the eve of our convention here,” he told CNN’s State of the Union, alluding to the party’s four-day exercise in unification which is set to take place this week in Philadelphia.

“This isn’t my assertion,” Mook said. “This is what experts are telling us.”

In a statement, the Clinton campaign repeated the accusation: “This is further evidence the Russian government is trying to influence the outcome of the election.”

Classic scapegoating. As Guardian commenter noted "Why is the (potential) perpetrator of the leak more significant than the content of the leak??

As life exceeds satire, one can imagine that within a week Wikileaks will produce those "missing e-mails". And later Hillary's Wall Street speeches, following the next appeal from Trump.

In any case a major US establishment party explicitly levied it's resources against a candidate it didn't fold when a Mafioso clan liked, and when caught red handed. that's why they instantly tried to change the subject deflecting attention via corrupt and subservant MSM, and focusing on possible links between email hack and Russiainstead. Great journalism!" The Guardian

atopic

I find very I interesting that, somehow, the initial DNC leak story failed to make a headline position (a day late, at that) on the Guardian, but now that it's blown up on other channels, the DNC's ridiculous conspiracy theory/distraction attempt gets top billing here. Ridiculous.

Why is the (potential) perpetrator of the leak more significant than the content of the leak?? A major US establishment party explicitly levied it's resources against a candidate it didn't like, and somehow we're talking about Putin instead. Great journalism.


Chanze Jennings -> atopic

The Guardian has sunk to a new low and has entirely no shame. It's a sad day for journalism when Twitter has more integrity than most news outlets. And they wonder why newspapers are going the way of the Dodo. Remember when real journalists presented stories with little bias and tried hard to stick to the facts?

BTW there are some real experts on this and they have a different opinion. Check comments for the blog post:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/07/nsa-whistleblower-not-so-fast-on-claims-russia-behind-dnc-email-hack.html

"Hillary as lesser evil" attack on Trump

Shills for Democratic Party try to present Hillary as lesser evil then Trump. But Hillary is a war criminal of a type that in the recent past went to Nuremberg tribunal and as such she represents absolute zero (much like Kelvin scale absolute zero in temperatures) of evilness of politicians. You just can't be more evil. She was instrumental in destroying three countries (Ukraine, Libya and Syria) and killing hundreds of thousand civilians by unleashing civil wars in those countries. Aggressive wars are simply, as Jackson said at Nurnberg, the supreme international crime. You can't go lower then this. The President does have primacy in foreign policy matter and from this point Hillary Clinton should scare an average US voter. But this is not the case because an average US voter sees the US aggressive wars as defensive. Is it fair to consider such US citizens as delusional? Or if they were merely massively and comprehensively brainwashed? Is the Trump Campaign smart enough to wage a 6 months campaign of counter-disinformation warfare? Is he and his team smart enough to "beat Hillary's teeth out of her mouth" on this topic? This is a very interesting question (sic_semper_tyrannis, July 29, 2016).

Jack said in reply to Old Microbiologist...

OM,

"delusional citizens in the US see our aggression as defensive".

This is what happens when citizens have been propagandized for so long. And folks are inherently lazy. They'll buy into whatever whoever they trust say. Do you recall the majority of Americans believed that Saddam had WMD and was in cahoots with AQ and supported the invasion where we would be treated as liberators?

The first time in the recent past there is any dissonance in public discourse has been with Trump.

This time it looks like this time the working class voters vowed to take their revenge at the polls. They now understand that they were taken for a ride by neocons and will never see promised by neoliberal propagandists "prosperity for all", only redistribution of wealth up at their expense. They were disgusted with the neoliberal transformation of the country during previous three administrations and, especially the most dishonest of them -- the king of "bait and switch", neoliberal in democrat cloth Obama, who betrays people who elected him twice in best Bill Clinton traditions. Who now wants to became a venture capitalist himself. Such a "change we can believe in" ;-).

If you did not see Trump Ad Hillary Clinton Crooked Warmonger (Youtube) I recommend you to watch it. It catches the main point: Stakes are too high to elect warmonger like Hillary Clinton

Attempt to court Jewish voters and thus Florida for Hillary

Hysteria about "Star of David" was probably one the most obnoxious demonstration of this trend. This start is commonly used on advertisements. So the ad just imitate advertisements. But they decide to make this about anti-Semitism. For example Trump deletes anti-Clinton corruption ad with Star of David The Times of Israel

Superimposed over piles of cash, presumptive GOP nominee uses Jewish star to attack his Democratic rival, scraps it after backlash

Leveling corruption accusations against rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted, then swiftly deleted, an image depicting the Democratic nominee next to a Star of David superimposed over piles of money.

Trump’s image of Clinton surrounded by $100 bills read: “Most corrupt Candidate Ever!” on a six pointed star, a common Jewish and Israeli symbol.

Hillary Clinton’s AIPAC speech was a symphony of craven, delusional pandering.

Here is the entirety of Clinton’s remarks about settlements: “Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear—I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.”

She spent significantly more time railing against the “alarming” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which is gaining traction on college campuses nationwide. Pledging to “take our alliance to the next level,” Clinton said that one of the first things she’d do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House. That was a barely veiled rebuke to Obama, who never treated Benjamin Netanyahu with the deference the prime minister felt entitled to. Before the speech, some had hoped that Clinton might offer a word of solidarity or encouragement to beleaguered progressives in Israel. She gave them nothing.

It’s understandable that Clinton would want to widen the gulf between AIPAC and Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee. “We need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday, because everything is negotiable,” she said to applause, out-hawking the man who is running on a platform of Middle Eastern war crimes. In doing so, she offered a bridge to #NeverTrump neoconservatives like Max Boot and Robert Kagan, who has already written that, should Trump be the nominee, “the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.”

Anti-Trump neoconservatives, however, are a minuscule group of people. And in seeking their approval, Clinton has further alienated left-wing voters, particularly young ones. Polls show that Americans under 30 are far more critical of Israel than are older voters. Liberal Democrats sympathize more with the Palestinians than they do with Israel. There is already deep suspicion of Clinton’s foreign-policy instincts among Bernie Sanders’ supporters; Clinton doesn’t need to give them new reasons to distrust her.

Foreign Phrase On Bill Clinton's Lapel Pin Sparks Speculation

Former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday was subject to inquiries about his pin shortly after he arrived to watch Vice President Joe Biden’s address. The Forward’s Nathan Guttman shared a Twitter photo of the blue and white pin, which sparked some discussion regarding its potential significance.

“I know it’s Hebrew,” one commenter wrote, “but I can’t make out the letters. Tovah?”

A short time later, a representative of the National Jewish Democratic Council offered some clarity. Steve Rabinowitz explained both he and NJDC Chairman Marc Stanley gave Clinton one of the pins prior to Wednesday evening’s scheduled events. The lapel embellishment reads “Hillary” in Hebrew.

“He said he’d wear it,” Rabinowitz recalled of his encounter with the former president, “but I didn’t know whether or not to believe him and certainly didn’t think he’d do it tonight.”

Bogus "war on woman" and misogyny accusations

If Trump is misogynic, Bill Clinton should be in jail. Now -- But neoliberal MSM would raise any false accusation to hurt candidate who competes with their beloved warmonger -- Hillary Clinton. Who happens to be a woman. So misogyny is a good attack tool against Trump and it is used to the fullest extent possible:

Trump Shushes Aggressive NBC Reporter Katy Tur, Media Flips Lid, Crying 'Sexism'

Every slight is sexist, racist, homophobic, you name it, in the eyes of liberals. Case in point, the media’s overblown response to Donald Trump shushing NBC reporter Katy Tur during Wednesday morning’s press conference. Journalists on Twitter were aghast that Trump dared to interrupt a relentless reporter, while MSNBC’s Tamron Hall likened the exchange to overt sexism, in the age of the first female presidential nominee.

During a press conference this morning, NBC’s Katy Tur, who had been asking multiple questions throughout, was shushed by Donald Trump at one point for continuing to press her question after he briefly answered it then shifted the focus to Hillary Clinton.

”Be quiet” he said mid-sentence to Tur as she kept repeating her question while he was still answering it. Social media blew up at this rather insignificant slight of an aggressive reporter and MSNBC’s Tamron Hall was no different, who got Tur on camera immediately at the press conference’s end on The Place for Poltiics.

Hall led by informing Tur of the “stunning” outrage on Twitter to Trump telling her to “be quiet” and insinuated this was a sign of sexism:

HALL: [B]ut on the day after we saw 102-year-old woman on the floor applaud the first female nominated to a major party, there you are being told to 'be quiet' by the nominee.

“I’m not asking you to make this personal,” Hall insisted repeatedly, (but isn’t that exactly why she brought Tur on?) before she asked her to comment on the question she asked Trump.

... ... ...

What always fails to get brought up is that Trump is universally brusque to reporters regardless of gender and for MSNBC to make this about gender is intellectually dishonest but proof that the “war on women” card is clearly still being utilized in this election.

Previous attack was atchificially inflaced and misrepresenrted remark about Megyn Kelly. Here is a pretty typical attack from POLITICO

Donald Trump cannot remember the last time he apologized.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday, Trump reiterated that he has no regrets about comments he has made early in his campaign that have generated significant backlash. From calling some immigrants coming into the country rapists, to saying Arizona Sen. John McCain was “ a war hero because he was captured,” to his unfinished remark that Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly had blood “coming out of her wherever,” Trump does not think he has anything for which he has to be sorry.

“People say, ‘He won’t apologize for anything’ — well, I was right on illegal immigration. McCain blew it because he’s done a poor job of taking care of the veterans. And then the third element so far, you had Megyn Kelly, and I think you’ve seen what happened with that,” Trump said. “I feel quite confident in my position.”

“At the same time,” he qualified, “I believe in apologizing. But to apologize for me is very difficult. I definitely would apologize if I were wrong on something.”

Asked to recall the last thing he apologized for, Trump said that “it was too many years ago to remember,” adding that he has “one of the great memories of all time, but it was too long ago.”

Trump domestic platform

Trump domestic platform is concentrated on creating jobs. The only other two areas were he has defined position is immigration and healthcare reform. In this sense Trump movement is somewhat similar to Peronism: hatred of elites combined with direct appeals to “the forgotten man,” “the silent majority” and “the moral majority”. Among them is Trump uncanny ability to bring broad sectors of US society into his political movement, using for uniting them anger against neoliberal globalization. He advocates restoration of social well being of the US middle class severely damaged during 40 years of neoliberal globalization.

Moreover Trump understands that the people of the USA are tired to pay the costs for maintaining the Global Neoliberal Empire:

It has some nationalist overtones ("Let's make America great again") but, contrary to MSM attempts to paint him black, without any racism, or nationalist bigotry (MSM now try to promote the idea that Trump is an anti-Semite, but this is clear baloney). Proposed by Trump restrictions on immigration are highly pragmatic and temporary in nature. Restriction again Muslim are partially dictated by the level of hate the current US foreign policy generates in Muslim world, so this is purely defensive measure.

Like Peron before him Trump stands far from religious fundamentalist. Peronism was based on three principles: social justice, political sovereignty and economic independence. You see the analogy. And they are actually deeper that just a fight against oligarchic financial capital (What is Peronism):

"... It was under Peron that a version of nationalized state capitalism, and an elimination of foreign investors was initiated in Argentina. He used nationalism, unlike his European counterparts, as a weapon of anti-imperialism. Peronism under Peron was Bonapartist in its manipulation of the social classes on behalf of industrializing an underdeveloped country and challenging dominant American imperialism. His style of leadership was one of a leader who took power in a power vacuum when no single class is in the position do so, and using reformist measures to win the radical support of the more populous class. ..."

"... Peron and Peronism also has to be viewed as a stage in the battle of Latin America for economic independence which is still yet to be achieved with at home the oligarchical structures still intact, and foreign manipulation in the country. ..."

Fight against illegal immigration as new abolitionism

One of the core parts of the Trump platform is restricting illegal (note the word "illegal" immigration. This is similar to fight against slavery (abolitionsm) in the past:

The movement gained new momentum in the early 19th century as many critics of slavery hardened their views and rejected their previous advocacy of gradualism (the slow and steady progress towards the goal of freedom for slaves) and colonization (finding land in Africa for former slaves). As the movement grew and became more formally organized, it sparked opposition in both the North and the South; Northern mill owhttp://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/19/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/ners depended upon slave-produced cotton every bit as much as the Southern plantation owners.

Similar any attempt to limit illegal immigration creates the same reaction of modern neoliberal "South" plantation owners -- economic insentive of using illegal immigrants labor are just too great. The current population of illegal immigrants is around 11 million in the USA or around 3.5% of population; Six states alone account for 60% of unauthorized immigrants — California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Unauthorized immigrants make up 5.1% of the U.S. labor force. About 7% of K-12 students had at least one unauthorized immigrant parent in 2012 (pewresearch.org )

That's why neoliberal politicians talk about “immigration reform” they mean three things: amnesty, cheap labor and open borders. For example, the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties. And Trump caught some important features of this situation in his statement of the subject:

Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change. Here are the three core principles of real immigration reform:

  1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
  2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
  3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

Financial transfers from illegal immigrants abroad

His position on Mexico is concentrated on illegal immigration:

Compelling Mexico to Pay for the Wall

Introduction: The provision of the Patriot Act, Section 326 - the "know your customer" provision, compelling financial institutions to demand identity documents before opening accounts or conducting financial transactions is a fundamental element of the outline below. That section authorized the executive branch to issue detailed regulations on the subject, found at 31 CFR 130.120-121. It's an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year. There are several ways to compel Mexico to pay for the wall including the following:

Conclusion: Mexico has taken advantage of us in another way as well: gangs, drug traffickers and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and committed vast numbers of crimes inside the United States. The United States has borne the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity, including the cost of trials and incarcerations. Not to mention the even greater human cost. We have the moral high ground here, and all the leverage. It is time we use it in order to Make America Great Again.

Healthcare reform

Trump position of healthcare report is based on increasing the role of states instead of federal goverment in providing the citizens with adequate healthcare protection. In other word decentralizing the healthcare to the state level:

Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again

Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare. This legislation, passed by totally partisan votes in the House and Senate and signed into law by the most divisive and partisan President in American history, has tragically but predictably resulted in runaway costs, websites that don’t work, greater rationing of care, higher premiums, less competition and fewer choices. Obamacare has raised the economic uncertainty of every single person residing in this country. As it appears Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight, the damage done by the Democrats and President Obama, and abetted by the Supreme Court, will be difficult to repair unless the next President and a Republican congress lead the effort to bring much-needed free market reforms to the healthcare industry.

But none of these positive reforms can be accomplished without Obamacare repeal. On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.

However, it is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation. We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country. By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans.

Any reform effort must begin with Congress. Since Obamacare became law, conservative Republicans have been offering reforms that can be delivered individually or as part of more comprehensive reform efforts. In the remaining sections of this policy paper, several reforms will be offered that should be considered by Congress so that on the first day of the Trump Administration, we can start the process of restoring faith in government and economic liberty to the people.

Congress must act. Our elected representatives in the House and Senate must:

  1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
  2. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.
  3. Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
  4. Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.
  5. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.
  6. Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
  7. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.

The reforms outlined above will lower healthcare costs for all Americans. They are simply a place to start. There are other reforms that might be considered if they serve to lower costs, remove uncertainty and provide financial security for all Americans. And we must also take actions in other policy areas to lower healthcare costs and burdens. Enforcing immigration laws, eliminating fraud and waste and energizing the ecoomy will relieve the economic pressures felt by every American. It is the moral responsibility of a nation’s government to do what is best for the people and what is in the interest of securing the future of the nation.

Providing healthcare to illegal immigrants costs us some $11 billion annually. If we were to simply enforce the current immigration laws and restrict the unbridled granting of visas to this country, we could relieve healthcare cost pressures on state and local governments.

To reduce the number of individuals needing access to programs like Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program we will need to install programs that grow the economy and bring capital and jobs back to America. The best social program has always been a job – and taking care of our economy will go a long way towards reducing our dependence on public health programs.

Finally, we need to reform our mental health programs and institutions in this country. Families, without the ability to get the information needed to help those who are ailing, are too often not given the tools to help their loved ones. There are promising reforms being developed in Congress that should receive bi-partisan support.

To reform healthcare in America, we need a President who has the leadership skills, will and courage to engage the American people and convince Congress to do what is best for the country. These straightforward reforms, along with many others I have proposed throughout my campaign, will ensure that together we will Make America Great Again.

Here devil is in derails: while general premise about decentralization is a valid one, federal government have far larger negotiating power with pharmaceuticals and medical providers. which pay play states, especially small one, as they wish.

Tax reform

Donald Trump tax reform is impossible without dramatic cut of military expenditures. It also closes several loopholes for large corporations. As for elimination of death tax (which is a bad move) we need to remember that this tax is successfully bypassed by very rich right now via blind trusts and other schemes. Essentially only upper middle class is paying death tax now.

Too few Americans are working, too many jobs have been shipped overseas, and too many middle class families cannot make ends meet. This tax plan directly meets these challenges with four simple goals:

  1. Tax relief for middle class Americans: In order to achieve the American dream, let people keep more money in their pockets and increase after-tax wages.
  2. Simplify the tax code to reduce the headaches Americans face in preparing their taxes and let everyone keep more of their money.
  3. Grow the American economy by discouraging corporate inversions, adding a huge number of new jobs, and making America globally competitive again.
  4. Doesn’t add to our debt and deficit, which are already too large.

The Trump Tax Plan Achieves These Goals

  1. If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households – over 50% – from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, “I win,” those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.
  2. All other Americans will get a simpler tax code with four brackets – 0%, 10%, 20% and 25% – instead of the current seven. This new tax code eliminates the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II.
  3. No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes. This lower rate makes corporate inversions unnecessary by making America’s tax rate one of the best in the world.
  4. No family will have to pay the death tax. You earned and saved that money for your family, not the government. You paid taxes on it when you earned it.

The Trump Tax Plan Is Revenue Neutral

The Trump tax cuts are fully paid for by:

  1. Reducing or eliminating most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich.
  2. A one-time deemed repatriation of corporate cash held overseas at a significantly discounted 10% tax rate, followed by an end to the deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad.
  3. Reducing or eliminating corporate loopholes that cater to special interests, as well as deductions made unnecessary or redundant by the new lower tax rate on corporations and business income. We will also phase in a reasonable cap on the deductibility of business interest expenses

Trump foreign policy platform

Trump rejects neocon platform of forcefully converting all states into neoliberal protectorates using color revolutions and brute military force. With the exception of Iran, which for some reason he hates so much, that he can risk a war with it, he speaks more like a paleoconservative. His focus in relations with China, while also hawkish in more about trade balance and "bringing jobs home" issues, not so much on military adventures (U.S.-China Trade Reform Donald J Trump for President):

How We Got Here: Washington Politicians Let China Off The Hook

In January 2000, President Bill Clinton boldly promised China’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO) “is a good deal for America. Our products will gain better access to China’s market, and every sector from agriculture, to telecommunications, to automobiles. But China gains no new market access to the United States.” None of what President Clinton promised came true. Since China joined the WTO, Americans have witnessed the closure of more than 50,000 factories and the loss of tens of millions of jobs. It was not a good deal for America then and it’s a bad deal now. It is a typical example of how politicians in Washington have failed our country.

The most important component of our China policy is leadership and strength at the negotiating table. We have been too afraid to protect and advance American interests and to challenge China to live up to its obligations. We need smart negotiators who will serve the interests of American workers – not Wall Street insiders that want to move U.S. manufacturing and investment offshore.

The Goal Of The Trump Plan: Fighting For American Businesses And Workers

America has always been a trading nation. Under the Trump administration trade will flourish. However, for free trade to bring prosperity to America, it must also be fair trade. Our goal is not protectionism but accountability. America fully opened its markets to China but China has not reciprocated. Its Great Wall of Protectionism uses unlawful tariff and non-tariff barriers to keep American companies out of China and to tilt the playing field in their favor.

If you give American workers a level playing field, they will win. At its heart, this plan is a negotiating strategy to bring fairness to our trade with China. The results will be huge for American businesses and workers. Jobs and factories will stop moving offshore and instead stay here at home. The economy will boom. The steps outlined in this plan will make that a reality.

When Donald J. Trump is president, China will be on notice that America is back in the global leadership business and that their days of currency manipulation and cheating are over. We will cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete.

The Trump Plan Will Achieve The Following Goals:

  1. Bring China to the bargaining table by immediately declaring it a currency manipulator.
  2. Protect American ingenuity and investment by forcing China to uphold intellectual property laws and stop their unfair and unlawful practice of forcing U.S. companies to share proprietary technology with Chinese competitors as a condition of entry to China’s market.
  3. Reclaim millions of American jobs and reviving American manufacturing by putting an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards. No more sweatshops or pollution havens stealing jobs from American workers.
  4. Strengthen our negotiating position by lowering our corporate tax rate to keep American companies and jobs here at home, attacking our debt and deficit so China cannot use financial blackmail against us, and bolstering the U.S. military presence in the East and South China Seas to discourage Chinese adventurism.

Details of Donald J. Trump’s US China Trade Plan:

Declare China A Currency Manipulator

We need a president who will not succumb to the financial blackmail of a Communist dictatorship. President Obama’s Treasury Department has repeatedly refused to brand China a currency manipulator – a move that would force China to stop these unfair practices or face tough countervailing duties that level the playing field.

Economists estimate the Chinese yuan is undervalued by anywhere from 15% to 40%. This grossly undervalued yuan gives Chinese exporters a huge advantage while imposing the equivalent of a heavy tariff on U.S. exports to China. Such currency manipulation, in concert with China’s other unfair practices, has resulted in chronic U.S. trade deficits, a severe weakening of the U.S. manufacturing base and the loss of tens of millions of American jobs.

In a system of truly free trade and floating exchange rates like a Trump administration would support, America's massive trade deficit with China would not persist. On day one of the Trump administration the U.S. Treasury Department will designate China as a currency manipulator. This will begin a process that imposes appropriate countervailing duties on artificially cheap Chinese products, defends U.S. manufacturers and workers, and revitalizes job growth in America. We must stand up to China’s blackmail and reject corporate America’s manipulation of our politicians. The U.S. Treasury’s designation of China as a currency manipulator will force China to the negotiating table and open the door to a fair – and far better – trading relationship.

End China’s Intellectual Property Violations

China’s ongoing theft of intellectual property may be the greatest transfer of wealth in history. This theft costs the U.S. over $300 billion and millions of jobs each year. China’s government ignores this rampant cybercrime and, in other cases, actively encourages or even sponsors it –without any real consequences. China’s cyber lawlessness threatens our prosperity, privacy and national security. We will enforce stronger protections against Chinese hackers and counterfeit goods and our responses to Chinese theft will be swift, robust, and unequivocal.

The Chinese government also forces American companies like Boeing, GE, and Intel to transfer proprietary technologies to Chinese competitors as a condition of entry into the Chinese market. Such de facto intellectual property theft represents a brazen violation of WTO and international rules. China’s forced technology transfer policy is absolutely ridiculous. Going forward, we will adopt a zero tolerance policy on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer. If China wants to trade with America, they must agree to stop stealing and to play by the rules.

Eliminate China’s Illegal Export Subsidies And Other Unfair Advantages

Chinese manufacturers and other exporters receive numerous illegal export subsidies from the Chinese government. These include - in direct contradiction to WTO rules - free or nearly free rent, utilities, raw materials, and many other services. China’s state-run banks routinely extend loans these enterprises at below market rates or without the expectation they will be repaid. China even offers them illegal tax breaks or rebates as well as cash bonuses to stimulate exports.

China’s illegal export subsidies intentionally distorts international trade and damages other countries’ exports by giving Chinese companies an unfair advantage. From textile and steel mills in the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast’s shrimp and fish industries to the Midwest manufacturing belt and California’s agribusiness, China’s disregard for WTO rules hurt every corner of America.

The U.S. Trade Representative recently filed yet another complaint with the WTO accusing China of cheating on our trade agreements by subsidizing its exports. The Trump administration will not wait for an international body to tell us what we already know. To gain negotiating leverage, we will pursue the WTO case and aggressively highlight and expose these subsidies.

China’s woeful lack of reasonable environmental and labor standards represent yet another form of unacceptable export subsidy. How can American manufacturers, who must meet very high standards, possibly compete with Chinese companies that care nothing about their workers or the environment? We will challenge China to join the 21 st Century when it comes to such standards.

The Trump Plan Will Strengthen Our Negotiating Position

As the world’s most important economy and consumer of goods, America must always negotiate trade agreements from strength. Branding China as a currency manipulator and exposing their unfair trade practices is not enough. In order to further strengthen our negotiating leverage, the Trump plan will:

  1. Lower the corporate tax rate to 15% to unleash American ingenuity here at home and make us more globally competitive. This tax cut puts our rate 10 percentage points below China and 20 points below our current burdensome rate that pushes companies and jobs offshore.
  2. Attack our debt and deficit by vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government, ending redundant government programs, and growing the economy to increase tax revenues. Closing the deficit and reducing our debt will mean China cannot blackmail us with our own Treasury bonds.
  3. Strengthen the U.S. military and deploying it appropriately in the East and South China Seas. These actions will discourage Chinese adventurism that imperils American interests in Asia and shows our strength as we begin renegotiating our trading relationship with China. A strong military presence will be a clear signal to China and other nations in Asia and around the world that America is back in the global leadership business.

Here are some additional details from Russophobic Guardian presstitute Shawn Walker (The Guardian, July 7, 2016):

Page, an investment banker who previously worked in Russia, insisted he was in Russia on a private visit, although he is likely to meet Russian officials when he gives the commencement speech at the New Economic School in Moscow on Friday. He refused to comment on whether he had any meetings with officials planned.

... ... ...

Trump himself has has often praised the Russian leader during the campaign, saying in a December interview “he’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country”.

The presumptive Republican nominee has expressed his confidence that he would build a good relationship with the Russian president telling reporters last year: “I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin.”

He also defended the Russian leader against accusations that Putin has ordered the killing of journalists, telling ABC News “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he’s killed? Because I’ve been – you know, you’ve been hearing this, but I haven’t seen the names,”

The announced topic of Page’s discussion was “the evolution of the world economy”, but much of it involved semi-coherent analysis of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

In passing, Page castigated the US for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and pursuing "regime change" in former Soviet countries. He said Russia and the US could have better relations in future, but this would be “contingent upon US’s refocus toward resolution of domestic challenges”. However, when pressed on details he was evasive.

In March, Page told Bloomberg that his experience on the ground doing deals in Russia and Central Asia would make him better placed to give advice than “people from afar, sitting in the comfort of their think tanks in Washington”. It is unclear how close he is to Trump and how much weight his advice holds with the presidential candidate.

Page repeatedly emphasised that he was in Russia as a private citizen rather than as an emissary of Trump. However, it is connections with the presidential candidate which prompted the New Economic School to invite him to give their keynote annual speech. In previous years, the commencement speeches at the university have been given by high-profile figures, including Barack Obama in 2009.

In December, Putin referred to Trump as a “colourful” person who was the “absolute leader” of the US presidential race, comments which prompted Trump to respond in turn that he was flattered by the praise. “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia,” Trump said, adding incorrectly that Putin had called him a “genius”.

Last month, Putin clarified the comments, saying he had not endorsed Trump, but welcomed his stance on relations with Russia.

“Here’s where I will pay close attention, and where I exactly welcome and where on the contrary I don’t see anything bad: Mr Trump has declared that he’s ready for the full restoration of Russian-American relations. Is there anything bad there? We all welcome this, don’t you?”

Trump on free trade and victims of globalization

From Gaius Publius When Trump Talks Trade, Voters Listen naked capitalism

Before you read, though, take a moment to watch less than two minutes of Donald Trump above, from his victory speech after winning in Michigan and Mississippi. I’ve cued it up to start at the remarks I want to highlight, Trump discussing our trade deficit.

Now Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian. He starts by noting the utter invisibility of real working Americans to our elite class, including our media elites, and especially our liberal media elites (my emphasis throughout):

Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here’s why

When he isn’t spewing insults, the Republican frontrunner is hammering home a powerful message about free trade and its victims

Let us now address the greatest American mystery at the moment: what motivates the supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump?

I call it a “mystery” because the working-class white people who make up the bulk of Trump’s fan base show up in amazing numbers for the candidate, filling stadiums and airport hangars, but their views, by and large, do not appear in our prestige newspapers. On their opinion pages, these publications take care to represent demographic categories of nearly every kind, but “blue-collar” is one they persistently overlook. The views of working-class people are so foreign to that universe that when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wanted to “engage” a Trump supporter last week, he made one up, along with this imaginary person’s responses to his questions.

When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s, which is blowing through the inherited structure of the Republican party like a tornado through a cluster of McMansions.

The conclusion of these writers is this:

The Trump movement is a one-note phenomenon, a vast surge of race-hate. Its partisans are not only incomprehensible, they are not really worth comprehending.

And yet…

A lot of people are racists, including those not supporting Trump. But people have other concerns as well, especially working people. They are dying faster than they used to, from drugs and despair, and they fear for their jobs and their families, for very good reasons. This economy is failing them.

They also hate — and understand — “free trade.”

Trump Also Talks Trade

Donald Trump talks about more than just race and immigration. He talks about trade and the trade deficit, an issue that powered Bernie Sanders to his Michigan victory as well. From the New York Times:

Trade and Jobs Key to Victory for Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate had campaigned in Traverse City, Mich., in decades until Senator Bernie Sanders pulled up to the concert hall near the Sears store on Friday. Some 2,000 people mobbed him when he arrived, roaring in approval as he called the country’s trade policies, and Hillary Clinton’s support for them, “disastrous.”

“If the people of Michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate America and against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Sanders said in Traverse City, about 250 miles north of Detroit.

Mr. Sanders pulled off a startling upset in Michigan on Tuesday by traveling to communities far from Detroit and by hammering Mrs. Clinton on an issue that resonated in this still-struggling state: her past support for trade deals that workers here believe robbed them of manufacturing jobs. Almost three-fifths of voters said that trade with other countries was more likely to take away jobs, according to exit polls by Edison Research, and those voters favored Mr. Sanders by a margin of more than 10 points.

There is no question — America’s billionaire-friendly, job-destroying trade policy is toxic — again, literally. That’s why Obama and his bipartisan “free trade” enablers in Congress have to pass TPP, if they can, in post-election lame duck session. TPP is also toxic to political careers, and only lame ducks and the recently-elected can vote for it.

Frank again on Trump:

Last week, I decided to watch several hours of Trump speeches for myself. I saw the man ramble and boast and threaten and even seem to gloat when protesters were ejected from the arenas in which he spoke. I was disgusted by these things, as I have been disgusted by Trump for 20 years. But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing.

Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame. He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about … trade.

It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.

On the subject more generally, Frank adds:

Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic power brokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.

To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico.

Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace.” A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.

Frank goes to greater length, and again, please click through. But you get the idea. This is what Trump is speaking to, whether he means what he says or not, and this is what his voters are responding to, whether they like his racism or not. After all, haven’t you, at least once, voted for someone with qualities you dislike because of policies you do like?

Whose Fault Is This? Both Parties, But Especially the Democratic Elites

One final point. Frank takes on the issue of responsibility:

Trump’s words articulate the populist backlash against liberalism that has been building slowly for decades … Yet still we cannot bring ourselves to look the thing in the eyes. We cannot admit that we liberals bear some [or most] of the blame for its emergence, for the frustration of the working-class millions, for their blighted cities and their downward spiraling lives. So much easier to scold them for their twisted racist souls, to close our eyes to the obvious reality of which Trump_vs_deep_state is just a crude and ugly expression: that neoliberalism has well and truly failed.

I am certain, if this comes up in a general election debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, she could very likely get her clock cleaned; not certainly, but certainly very likely. First, she can only equivocate, and Trump will have none of it. (Trump: “Let me understand. You were for this before you were against it? So … will you be for it again next year? I’m just trying to understand.”)

Second, this is a change election, Trump is one of only two change candidates in the race, and Clinton is not the other one.

Here’s that Carrier Air Conditioning “we’re moving to Mexico” video that Frank mentioned above. Take a look, but prepare to feel some pain as you watch:

Trump and Republican Establishment

All republican establishment candidates were neocons and die-in-the-wool neoliberals (neoconservative is just a neoliberal with the gun :-). This time this did not play well with Republican voters, who rejected them in favor of Trump. Hillary Clinton is now viewed as successor of Obama, who is the king of "bait and switch" hated by many. Both are closet "moderate Republicans", both are neocons. Actually Hillary is a staunch neocon. There is no war she did not like. May be this is an attempt of overcompensation for being a female, but this is a provable fact.

Especially humiliating was the defeat of Jeb Bush who represented old party establishment. After that the GOP establishment, confronted by an electorate that rejected its platform of interventionalist wars, neoliberal globalization and austerity was forced to bet of Ted Cruz, a man with grassroots strength in key early primary states (via his Tea Party links) but few friends in Washington. A man that they hated. That did not play well iether.

Trump chances vs Hillary Clinton

Trump really has chances against Hillary Clinton ( much less against less jingoistic candidate), because Democratic Party switched from New Deal ideology to neoliberalism under Bill Clinton and betrayed working class and large swat of working class (and probably more then 50% of members of unions) and even part of professional class squeezed by globalization. Democrat do no understand that they essentially pushed the voters to support Trump, making his victory to certain extent inevitable. They created Trump. Obama made a word "hope" a cruel joke and that means that people who have nowhere to go in Democratic Party suddenly looked at Trump and decided -- "f*ck" Obama and his successor Hillary. F*ck Democratic Party. I am voting against those bastards -- I'm voting for Trump. Union brass can't control how union members vote. The fact is that blue color workers are increasingly rejecting Democratic Party who became the party of upper professionals and financial oligarchy. They will voting for Trump. Also Obama proved to be weak, decietful president, which futher diminishes Hillary chances. After his very questionable second perm, during which he managed top betray his electorate several times (TPP was the last) to win election for Democrats is uphill battle. That gives Trump a chance. Professor Helmut Norpoth put thisa line of reasoning best in his article My model shows Donald Trump has an 87 percent chance of beating Hillary ClintonNewsday

My advice: Beware of pollsters bearing forecasts, especially anyone trying to peek into the future, especially those with money to bet.

Some 20 years ago, I constructed a formula, The Primary Model, that has predicted the winner of the popular vote in all five presidential elections since it was introduced. It is based on elections dating to 1912. The formula was wrong only once: The 1960 election. That one hurt because John F. Kennedy was my preferred candidate.

The Primary Model consists of two ingredients: The swing of the electoral pendulum, and the outcomes of primaries.

You can see the pendulum work with the naked eye. After two terms in office, the presidential party in power loses more often than not. In fact, over the past 65 years, it managed to win a third term only once. In 1988, President George H.W. Bush extended Ronald Reagan’s presidency by one more term. Reagan made this possible by winning re-election by a bigger margin than when he first got elected. That spells continuity, a desire for more of the same.

President Barack Obama has not left such a legacy for a Democratic successor. He did worse in his re-election victory over Mitt Romney in 2012 than when he beat John McCain in 2008. That spells, “It’s Time for a Change!” The pendulum points to the GOP in 2016, no matter whether the candidate was named Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or whoever.

Now add the outcomes of presidential primaries. Although some experts claim primary votes have no bearing on general elections, the fact is that primaries prove uncanny in forecasting the winner in November. Take the first election with a significant number of primaries, in 1912. In November that year, Woodrow Wilson, the winner in Democratic primaries, defeated William Howard Taft, the loser in Republican primaries; Taft was renominated since most states then did not use primaries. In general, the party with the stronger primary candidate wins the general election.

This year, Trump has wound up as the stronger of the two presidential nominees. He won many more primaries than did Clinton. In fact, this was apparent as early as early March. Trump handily won the first two primaries, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while Clinton badly lost New Hampshire to Sen. Bernie Sanders before beating him in South Carolina.

The Primary Model predicts that Trump will defeat Clinton with 87 percent certainty. He is the candidate of change. When voters demand change, they are willing to overlook many foibles of the change candidate. At the same time, the candidate who touts experience will get more intense scrutiny for any missteps and suspicions of misconduct of the record of experience.

Trump may be lucky to have picked an election in which change trumps experience and experience may prove to be a mixed blessing.

Helmut Norpoth is the director of undergraduate studies and political science professor at Stony Brook University.

At the same time neoliberals and neocons are still strong. And they have a lot to lose. There is a very powerful neocon strata in Washington DC -- the people who are essentially unregistered lobbyists for military industrial complex. They totally control DNC. So they can resort to dirty tricks.

So they have a position to put a good fight. Moreover, for Hillary personally, losing might well mean getting prison term. And for Obama this turn does not look too promising as well. He has some skeletons in the closet that Hillary will not touch but Trump might. And fear is a powerful motivating factor.

In any case election politics in America is a dirty business. The winners are the ones who play the rigged game best, who have the biggest financial backers, who are willing to do the bidding for those corporate masters. Hillary Clinton is not the peace president. She’s a militarist and hawk and never met a war she didn’t like. So she has full support of militry industrila complex (neocons are just salesmen of this complex; poor reformed Trotskyites losr any decency). Neocons are pushing the memo that Donald Trump is unqualified, Donald Trump is scary, Donald Trump is unstable, Donald Trump is crazy narrative hard. Despite the long list of Donald defects, the American electorate still likes what Trump is selling. The way that the Russia-Trump storyline has been pounded into our consciousness by the media and the Democratic Party, including at the convention in prime time, is a calculated effort to take our eye off the ball and is a classic “shoot the messenger” tactic.

This time there are issues with Hillary Clinton as a prototypical Democratic establishment candidate. She is quintessential neoliberal, like in case of Bill clinton neoliberalism in her veins. She can't change this, even if she want. She is totally brainwashed with neoliberalism, much like some bolshevisks in the past were brainwashed with Communist ideology. Since Bill Clinton such candidates attract Democratic voters because they have nobody else to vote for. Actually this was an idea of sell-out of Democratic Party to Wall Street accomplished by Bill Clinton. But this time is different. Probably half of votes for Sanders in primaries would never vote for Hillary. All she can count on are Republican votes who oppose Trump. But with her emailgate scandal she is losing them. If she lose her security clearness, or worse will face criminal changes for perjury, that will be a knockdown .

Now most Democratic voters understand that she will betrays them like Obama so successfully did during his two terms in the office. And that will happen during the first minute she is in office. So they are more inclined to vote for the third party candidate, such as Jill Stein, or can "write-in" Sanders. There are also three scandals that hurt her chances in November (although MSM tries to downplay them):

And the level of hate toward Hillary Clinton reflects the understanding of voters that she, as the establishment candidate, who symbolizes the neoliberal status quo. It's really funny that neoliberal MSM can't play the "corruption" card against Trump: it is extremely difficult to match Clintons in corruption.

Another problem for neoliberal MSM is the Dems elite corruption is much larger than just Clinton, or Debbie Wasserman Schultz. At the heart of the matter is a political party that is undemocratic and corrupt to the core – one that answers only to Wall Street, not middle class or God forbid, working people as any real Democrats should do. It's the second most pro-neoliberal party in the world, after the Republican Party. For all practical purposes is a moderate faction of the Republican Party.

Hillary Clinton stands to the right of Eisenhower Republicans in all major policy areas. Bill Clinton was a staunch neoliberal who "triangulated" (read sold) his presidency to Wall Street and deregulated the economy, empowering the financial oligarchy. He had demolished Aid to Families With Dependent Children and bought into the bash-the-poor rhetoric of the right wing. He had passed a crime bill that targeted people of color; he had destroyed FDR's New Deal legacy, notably by abolishing the Glass-Steagall Act. And he was so "tough on crime" that during the 1992 presidential campaign season, he had gone back to his home state of Arkansas to witness the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, who was "mentally deficient." Bill Clinton might not have inhaled marijuana, but he certainly had inhaled the neoliberal ideology. Hillary is the same, but in addition is a notable, pathological war hawk. Which strangely enough is a feature of all three last female Secretaries of State stating from Madeleine Albright. It would be a huge challenge to find more jingoistic women then this troika. Talk about "unnatural selection" here :-).

In comparison with her Donald Trump looks like a real statesman, who understands that "war is a racket and always was". Obomber bombed 7 countries during his presidency so those who are afraid of Trump as a president should understand that is difficult to match Obomber record. As Jill Stain said

"Trump says very scary things—deporting immigrants, massive militarism and, you know, ignoring the climate," Stein explained on Democracy Now. "Well, Hillary, unfortunately, has a track record for doing all of those things. Hillary has supported the deportations of immigrants, opposed the refugees—women and children coming from Honduras, whose refugee crisis she was very much responsible for by giving a thumbs-up to this corporate coup in Honduras that has created the violence from which those refugees are fleeing. She basically said, 'No, bar the gates, send them back.' You know, so we see these draconian things that Donald Trump is talking about, we actually see Hillary Clinton doing."

Stein also brought up Clinton's militarism. "And it's not only the militarism that Trump talks about, it's Hillary's massive record of militarism," she continued. Obama made the mistake of intervening in Libya, but in a recent interview with The Atlantic, he admitted, "It didn't work," and "Libya is a mess." Clinton, however, has never expressed second thoughts. (Why Is Hillary Clinton Still a Hawk - Reason.com )

During his recent visit to Chicago, I asked Landler about her ability to confront the possibility she was wrong.

"I don't find the same evidence of a learning curve with her," he said. "I would have liked to see a little more introspection from her on that, because I think that's the key case where she led the charge, it didn't go the way they hoped it would and there are some really important lessons to be drawn."

In that instance, she apparently didn't learn from our failed military intervention. If she becomes president, I'm guessing, she'll get another chance.

We should try our best not be victims of neoliberal MSM propaganda campaign aimed to discourage voting for Trump and for the third party.

No matter how Democratic Party loyalists try to spin it, the blame for a Trump win will fall on the corrupt Democratic Party establishment. It is no accident that the vast majority of Super-delegates have steadfastly stood by Hillary, warts and all.

Trump meme "Crooked Hillary" -- a powerful play on general distrust of Hillary Clinton Candidacy

American voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton. Trump meme "crooked Hillary is a powerul mem that suggest that Clinton is unelectable. 53.8% of all American voters have an “unfavorable” view of Hillary Clinton. 67% of American voters find Hillary Clinton “not honest and not trustworthy,” compared with 59% for Donald Trump. Yes, more people trust Donald Trump.

After all, it’s difficult to trust a politician who completely fabricated a story about being fired upon by snipers. Like POLITIFACT states, “it’s hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn’t dodge sniper bullets.”

Attempts to lure Sanders supporters71% of men and 64% of women find Clinton “not honest and trustworthy.”

Trump attempts to lure Sanders supporters

Most Sanders supporters approve foreign policy program of Donald Trump (non interventionism) and agree of some issues of domestic policy (job creation, the necessity to limit transnationals corporation and treaties like TPP that Obama pushes so hard). On other issue they are not close. Still they are united by their rejection of establishment and the establishment candidate Hillary Clinton.

Trump brilliantly played the betrayal of Bernie Sunders of his supporters with just a single Tweet, which is worth a dozen of prime time commercials: Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs

Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs -- Donald Trump

Trump also tried to lure former Sanders backers during his address to the GOP convention, emphasizing his anti-establishment stance and his questioning of free trade deals. that can sure some Democrats who are unhappy with Clinton and, especially, Kaine, a staunch supporter of neoliberal globalization who is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

"The Bernie Sanders supporters are furious with the choice of Tim Kaine, who represents the opposite of what Bernie stands for," Trump tweeted. "Tim Kaine is, and always has been, owned by the banks," he wrote, taunting, "Philly fight?"


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Old News ;-)

[Oct 19, 2018] Brexit Knives Out for Theresa May (Again) Over Extending Transition Period

UK as US hand grenade tossed at EU ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Another year wouldn't be enough additional time to achieve a trade agreement unless the UK capitulated to EU terms. And a big motivation for this idea seemed to be to try to kick the Irish border can down the road. ..."
"... Theresa May is facing the most perilous week of her premiership after infuriating all sections of her party by making further concessions to Brussels. Her offer to extend the transition period after Brexit -- made without cabinet approval -- enraged Remain and Leave Tory MPs alike. ..."
"... DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has rejected calls for the post-Brexit transition period to be extended, claiming it would cost the UK billions and not break the Irish border deadlock . ..."
"... Theresa May has conceded the Irish backstop cannot have an end date, risking the threat of fresh Cabinet resignations. The PM told Leo Varadkar she accepted Brussels' demands that any fallback border solution cannot be "time-limited". ..."
"... Merkel's effort at an intervention came off like a clueless CEO telling subordinates who have been handed a nearly-impossible task that they need to get more creative ..."
"... Emmanuel Macron, the French president, struck a more uncompromising tone. "It's not for the EU to make some concessions to deal with a British political issue. I can't be more clear on this," he said. "Now the key element for a final deal is on the British side, because the key element is a British political compromise." ..."
"... Article 50 – Treaty on European Union (TEU) 1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. ..."
"... It is accepted that all of the institutional and constitutional arrangements – an Assembly in Northern Ireland , a North/South Ministerial Council, implementation bodies, a British-Irish Council and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and any amendments to British Acts of Parliament and the Constitution of Ireland – are interlocking and interdependent and that in particular the functioning of the Assembly and the North/South Council are so closely inter-related that the success of each depends on that of the other. ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Another year wouldn't be enough additional time to achieve a trade agreement unless the UK capitulated to EU terms. And a big motivation for this idea seemed to be to try to kick the Irish border can down the road.

As we'll get to later in this post, the press has filed more detailed reports on the EU's reactions to May's "nothing new" speech at the European Council summit on Wednesday. The reactions seem to be more sober; recall the first takes were relief that nothing bad happened and at least everyone was trying to put their best foot forward. Merkel also pressed Ireland and the EU to be more flexible over the Irish border question but Marcon took issue with her position. However, they both then went to a outdoor cafe and had beers for two hours .

May's longer transition scheme vehemently criticized across Tory factions and by the DUP . Even pro-Remain Tories are opposed. The press had a field day. From the Telegraph :

Theresa May was on Thursday evening increasingly isolated over her plan to keep Britain tied to the EU for longer as she was savaged by both wings of her party and left in the cold by EU leaders

The move enraged Brexiteers who said it would cost billions, and angered members of the Cabinet who said they had not formally agreed the plan before she offered it up as a bargaining chip. Mrs May also faced a potential mutiny from Tory MPs north of the border, including David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, who said the proposal was "unacceptable" because it would delay the UK's exit from the hated Common Fisheries Policy.

From The Times, Revolt grows over Theresa May's handling of Brexit talks :

Theresa May is facing the most perilous week of her premiership after infuriating all sections of her party by making further concessions to Brussels. Her offer to extend the transition period after Brexit -- made without cabinet approval -- enraged Remain and Leave Tory MPs alike.

And Politics Home, DUP reject moves to extend Brexit transition period in fresh blow for Theresa May Politics Home:

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has rejected calls for the post-Brexit transition period to be extended, claiming it would cost the UK billions and not break the Irish border deadlock .

His comments came after Tory MPs on all wings of the party also rejected extending the transition period.

Former minister Nick Boles, who campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum, told the Today programme: "I'm afraid she's losing the confidence now of colleagues of all shades of opinion – people who've been supportive of her throughout this process – they are close to despair at the state of this negotiation."

Brexiteer MP Andrea Jenkyns tweeted: "Back in July, myself and 36 colleagues signed a letter to the Prime Minister setting out our red lines – and that was one of them. It's completely ridiculous."

Scottish Tories say they would veto an extension to the Brexit transition period in support of their fisherman.

And apparently the European Council didn't take the extension idea seriously. City AM reported that European Council president Donald Tusk said it wasn't discussed after May left .

And members of the hard-core Brexit faction are also up in arms about May conceding that an Irish border backstop can't be time limited. From The Sun :

Theresa May has conceded the Irish backstop cannot have an end date, risking the threat of fresh Cabinet resignations. The PM told Leo Varadkar she accepted Brussels' demands that any fallback border solution cannot be "time-limited".

But a fudge could cost Mrs May two eurosceptic Cabinet ministers, with Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom threatening to resign if there's not a set end date.

Merkel pushes for more Brussels-Ireland flexibility while Macron disagrees . I am at risk of seeming unduly wedded to my priors, but Merkel's effort at an intervention came off like a clueless CEO telling subordinates who have been handed a nearly-impossible task that they need to get more creative . While Merkel is correct to point out that no-deal = hard Irish border, an outcome no one wants, she does not appear to comprehend that the "sea border," which is politically fraught for the UK, is the only alternative that does not create ginormous problems for the EU. Merkel's seeming lack of comprehension may reflect the fact that EU nations don't handle trade negotiations. From the Financial Times :

At an EU summit dinner and in later public remarks, the German chancellor expressed concerns about the bloc's stand-off with the UK over the Irish "backstop", a fallback measure intended to ensure no hard border divides Ireland if other solutions fail. This has become the biggest outstanding issue in the talks.

Three diplomats said that at the Wednesday night dinner Ms Merkel indicated that the EU and the Republic of Ireland should rethink their approach on Northern Ireland to avoid a fundamental clash with London.

Ms Merkel also signaled her concerns in a press conference on Thursday, highlighting that if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal a hard border for Northern Ireland could be inevitable.

"If you don't have an agreement you don't have a satisfactory answer [to the border issue] either," she said, noting that on Northern Ireland "we all need an answer" .

Diplomats said the German chancellor was more forceful about the issue at the Brexit dinner, although some other leaders remained puzzled about the chancellor's intentions.

The Financial Times also said that the UK and Germany would meet Thursday to "discuss a way out of the Brexit impasse." Given that Barnier has offered a lot of new ideas in last month, it is hard to see how anything new could be cooked up, unless the UK hopes to sell Germany on its already-rejected techno vaporware idea.

Macron made clear he was not on the same page. Again from the Financial Times:

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, struck a more uncompromising tone. "It's not for the EU to make some concessions to deal with a British political issue. I can't be more clear on this," he said. "Now the key element for a final deal is on the British side, because the key element is a British political compromise."

Vardakar also made a statement after the dinner that reaffirmed the importance of the EU affirming the principles of the single market. From The Times :

The European Union would have "huge difficulties" in agreeing to extend the Northern Irish backstop to the rest of the UK, the taoiseach has warned. Leo Varadkar said he did not think "any country or union" would be asked to sign up to an agreement that would give the UK access to the single market while also allowing it to "undercut" the EU across a range of areas including state aid competition, labour laws and environmental standards.

"I would feel very strongly about this, as a European as well as an Irishman: you couldn't have a situation whereby the UK had access to the single market -- which is our market -- and at the same time was able to undercut us in terms of standards, whether they were environmental standards, labour laws, or state aid competition. I don't think any country or any union would be asked to accept that," Mr Varadkar said in Brussels.

Robert Peston deems odds of crash out high; sees only escape route as "customs union Brexit" . Robert Peston, who is one of the UK's best connected political reporters, described in a new piece at ITV how May has at best a narrow path to avoiding a disorderly Brexit, and that is what he calls a "customs union" Brexit. I am sure if Richard North saw that, he'd be tearing his hair, since he has been describing for months why a customs union does not solve the problem that virtually everyone who talks in up in UK thinks it solves, namely, conferring "frictionless trade".

One key point in his analysis is that the UK will also have to accept "a blind Brexit," meaning a very fuzzy statement of what the "future relationship" will be. The EU had offered that in the last month or so, presumably as a fudge to allow May to get the various wings of her coalition to agree to something. But Peston says it's too late to do anything else. From ITV :

Hello from Brussels and the EU Council that promised a Brexit breakthrough and delivered nothing.

So on the basis of conversations with well-placed sources, this is how I think the Brexit talks are placed (WARNING: if you are fearful of a no-deal Brexit, or are of a nervous disposition, stop reading now):

1) Forget about having any clue when we leave about the nature and structure of the UK's future trading relationship with the EU. The government heads of the EU27 have rejected Chequers. Wholesale. And they regard it as far too late to put in place the building blocks of that future relationship before we leave on 29 March 2019. So any Political Declaration on the future relationship will be waffly, vague and general. It will be what so many MPs detest: a blind Brexit. The PM may say that won't happen. No one here (except perhaps her own Downing St team) believes her.

Erm, that alone may be a deal killer. We quoted this section of a Politico article on October 10 :

5. Future relationship – Blind Brexit

Opposed: Brexiteers, Tory Remainers, the Labour Party, Theresa May

I'll let our astute readers give their reactions to Peston's recommendation to May:

3) There is no chance of the EU abandoning its insistence that there should be a backstop – with no expiry date – of Northern Ireland, but not Great Britain, remaining in the Customs Union and the single market. That would involve the introduction of the commercial border in the Irish Sea that May says must never be drawn.

4) All efforts therefore from the UK are aimed at putting in place other arrangements to make it impossible for that backstop to be introduced.

5) Her ruse for doing this is the creation of another backstop that would involve the whole of the UK staying in something that looks like the customs union.

6) But she feels cannot commit to keeping the UK in the customs union forever, because her Brexiter MPs won't let her. So it does not work as a backstop. And anyway the Article 50 rules say that the Withdrawal Agreement must not contain provisions for a permanent trading relationship between the whole of the UK and the EU. Which is a hideous Catch 22.

7) There is a solution. She could ignore her Brexiter critics and announce the UK wanted written into the Political Declaration – not the Withdrawal Agreement – that we would be staying permanently in the customs union. This is one bit of specificity the rest of the EU would allow into the Political Declaration. And it could be nodded at in the Withdrawal Agreement.

8) But if she announces we are staying in the Customs Union she would be crossing her reddest of red lines because she would have to abandon her ambition of negotiating free trade deals with non-EU countries. Liam Fox would be made redundant.

9) She knows, because her Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins has told her, that her best chance – probably her only chance of securing a Brexit deal – is to sign up for the customs union.

10) In its absence, no-deal Brexit is massively in play.

11) But a customs-union Brexit deal would see her Brexiter MPs become incandescent with fury.

12) Labour of course would be on the spot, since its one practical Brexit policy is to stay in the Customs Union.

13) This therefore is May's Robert Peel moment. She could agree a Customs Union Brexit and get it through Parliament with Labour support – while simultaneously cleaving her own party in two.

Finally, in an elegiac piece, Richard North contends that the UK didn't need to wind up where it is:

A reader takes me to task for making comparisons between the Brexit negotiations and the Allied invasion of Normandy

Yet it is precisely because Mrs May seems to have chosen an adversarial route rather than a consensual process that I have projected her failings in militaristic terms..

In reality, it would have been best to approach the Brexit process not so much as the end of a relationship as a redefinition, where the need to continue close cooperation continues, even if it is to be structured on a different basis

Here, though, lies the essential problem. The EU, as a treaty-based organisation, does not have the flexibility to change its own rules just to suit the needs of one member, and especially one which is seeking to leave the Union. Yet, on the other hand, the UK government has political constraints which prevent it making concessions which would allow the EU to define a new relationship

But, having put herself in a position where she is demanding something that the EU cannot give, she herself has no alternative but to adopt an adversarial stance – if for no other reason than to show her own political allies and critics that she is doing her best to resolve an impossible situation.

If there is a light at the end of this tunnel, it sure looks like the headlight of an oncoming train, the Brexit end date bearing down on the principals.


PlutoniumKun , October 19, 2018 at 6:49 am

I can't help but wonder whether the proposed time extension was proposed mischievously by EU negotiators precisely to set off divisions among the Tories. While Barniers no.1 aim is a deal, the close to no.2 aim must surely be to ensure that in the event of no deal (or a clearly clapped together bad interim deal), 100% of the blame goes to London. So far, they are doing a good job with that.

Its a little concerning that Merkel was so off-message, even though she is obviously correct that a no-deal means a hard border, which is a failure by any standard. I'm pretty sure we won't see any overt disagreements among the EU 27 as they won't want to give the UK the satisfaction of having sown dissent. However, that doesn't mean there won't be frantic background pressure from some (probably pushed by business) to do some sort of deal, even a bad one. That will inevitable mean leaning heavily on Dublin, if it is seen as the last obstacle. Any such pressure will be private, not public I'm sure.

vlade , October 19, 2018 at 7:33 am

The damage limitation is there, for sure, but it's always aimed on rest of the world (i.e. all but the UK, where the EU will be target in any outcome). TBH, I'm not sure how much that's needed now..

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 7:10 am

I wonder if the various negotiating teams are reminded of that nursery rhyme I learned as a child -- "and the wheels on the bus go round and round ".

As line one of section one of Article 50 explicitly states (and would therefore be given substantial weight in any reading of the Article itself):

Article 50 – Treaty on European Union (TEU)
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

The U.K. government cannot change the constitutional settlement for Northern Ireland without the agreement of the people of the six counties and the Republic and the rest of the U.K. "Nothing about us, without us" in popular parlance. And Republicans need to give their consent for any change affecting devolved matters (which is enforceable via a Petition of Concern). EU laws and directives are devolved matters. Constitutionally, no one can force anything on anyone in the province.

What the EU is asking the U.K. to do is impossible.

What the U.K. is asking the EU to do is impossible.

A hard border is also impossible, both as an outcome of treaty obligations and also as a practical matter.

Therefore a no-deal Brexit is inevitable. Therefore, so is a hard border. Which is an impossibility -- politically and operationally.

No wonder this can got kicked down the road last December. But now we have, oh, look, what's this here? Who left this can lying around?

David , October 19, 2018 at 7:27 am

I'm not sure. I had always read that sentence as meaning "in accordance with its own constitutional requirements for withdrawing from treaties in general" ie much more narrowly focused. Normally, any government has a sovereign right to withdraw from treaties, but it could be the case, for example, that in some countries parliament has to be informed, debates have to be held etc, and that's the case that's being covered here. Not to say that my interpretation (if correct) makes the situation any easier.
I posted a long comment on the French media reporting of Wednesday's talks yesterday. If I have a moment, I'll look to see if there's anything fresh today. One thing to look out for will be signs of tension between Paris and Brussels.

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 7:41 am

I would need a lawyer well versed in international treaty interpretations to give a proper opinion and ultimately a court to rule on this.

What the wording definitely does not say (we can all read it for ourselves) is anything along the lines of " may initiate " or " may invoke its right to withdraw " or suchlike followed by the bit about constitutional adherences. Thus the requirements to act constitutionally must likely be expected to apply to Article 50 in their entirety. Apart from any lawyerly parsing, this is also common sense.

The section says a Member State may withdraw and it has to (this is so stating the obvious the treaty drafting must have had this specifically in mind to mention it) be constitutional about it. The EU cannot ask a Member State to conduct its withdrawal unconstitutionally.

disillusionized , October 19, 2018 at 9:15 am

No, that's not what it means – what it means is that as far as EU law is concerned, EU law ends there. It's wholly up to the withdrawing state to define and consider.

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 9:50 am

Yes, and the Member State can't act unconstitutionally in respect of its own withdrawal proceedings. The EU is reserving the right not to accept any instruction in the matter of a withdrawal from the EU from the said Member State which is unconstitutional for that Member State. Nor can the EU foist unconstitutional acts onto a Member State in respect of the withdrawal. Its a basic principle of any legal system and any law and any jurisprudence that Party A cannot induce Party B to break the law as a result of an agreement between them and for that agreement to then remain valid.

As a simpler example, I draw up an agreement that says you'll pay me £100 in a week's time and you must get the money by whatever means possible. Fast forward a week and you don't have the £100. I can't use our agreement as an excuse for you to commit an unlawful act (say, go and steal someone's wallet) "because we've got an agreement you'll pay me, so that makes it okay no matter what, so long as you give me the money". Nor can you use your being party to the agreement to say "sorry, I don't have the money, but you can steal it from my Aunt Flossie, she's never gonna know you took it".

David , October 19, 2018 at 12:01 pm

I have a suspicion we are (nearly) saying the same thing. See the separate thread below. A country that signs the Lisbon Treaty accepts that any decision to withdraw will have to be taken according to its own constitutional arrangements. This is a national obligation, but I don't see how the EU could refuse to accept the notification on the basis that it had been unconstitutionally arrived at, or what standing they would have. I've never heard of anything similar happening elsewhere.
To rephrase your example. My partner and I lend you £100 and you say that we can have it back any time we want. I ask for it back, and you refuse to give it to me on the basis that, in your view, this has to be a joint request from my partner and me.

vlade , October 19, 2018 at 7:32 am

I buy this only partially, as Scotland has some freedom to set taxes, and NI has also diverged from other UK laws (the infamous abortion rights).

Of course, from that, to staying in single market is quite a jump, but one could argue that since majority of the NI voted "remain" (by some margin) they clearly DO wish to stay in the single market.

Also the "the rest of the UK" is dubious – it's really "without the say so from the Westminster Parliament". See Scottish Indy referendum – I didn't notice they run it in England as well? (if they did, I suspect Scots could have been independend by now).

That said, even the above can still be done by a single poll that NI republicans actually already called for i.e. if there's a hard-border Brexit, NI should get a reunification vote.

TBH, that's MY suggestion to the impasse. The backstop becomes a reunification referendum. Not time limited – once the transition period is done, it's done, nor really challengable. You want SM, you go European, or you stay within the UK. I'd like to see DUP to froth on that..

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 7:57 am

It's stated right at the top of the Good Friday Agreement absolutely explicitly:

It is accepted that all of the institutional and constitutional arrangements – an Assembly in Northern Ireland , a North/South Ministerial Council, implementation bodies, a British-Irish Council and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and any amendments to British Acts of Parliament and the Constitution of Ireland – are interlocking and interdependent and that in particular the functioning of the Assembly and the North/South Council are so closely inter-related that the success of each depends on that of the other.

Treaty texts rarely get so unarguably clear.

This is why I suspect there was such a push in February to get Stormont up and running again. Without it, everything was stuck in constitutional limbo and lacking any possibility of constitutionally-authenticated approvals. Similar any possibility of a border poll. Without a vote in the Assembly, how can the U.K. government have any pretence (that would withstand a UKSC challenge) that it was responding to a democratic imperative issued by NI?

Of course, the U.K. government could do whatever the heck it likes by a reintroduced Direct Rule. At which point the Good Friday Agreement is toast (and the Republic would have to explicitly buy-in to Direct Rule being initiated). This must be one of the DUP's main game plans. They really don't care that much about borders in the Irish Sea if they can get rid of the Good Friday Agreement. The DUP would be quite happy to paint the Garvaghy Road emerald green from end to end if they could rip that up for good.

PlutoniumKun , October 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

An additional complication to this though is the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference , which explicitly gives the Irish government a say in non-devolved matters, including the Common Travel area and EU matters. So at least in theory, the British government must (if the Irish government insists on reconstituting the Council, which they haven't so far) engage with the Irish government for any change – including Brexit – to be constitutional.

Its been speculated here that Varadkar has not called for the BIIC to be held in order not to inflame matters with the DUP.

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 8:28 am

Yes, I think this holds a lot of water. Especially since the Republic amended its constitution to facilitate the GFA, it shows how seriously it took the matter. While politically it may be gruesome for the U.K. to contemplate that it would not be possible to leave the EU without as a minimum consulting the Republic, I too think there is at least a possibility it was in fact legally obligated via the GFA to do exactly that.

PlutoniumKun , October 19, 2018 at 8:11 am

I read that entirely differently again – my (completely laymans) interpretation is that it means a countries request for withdrawal must be internally constitutionally based. In other words, a rogue leader can't simply say 'I'm launching A.50' in defiance of his own Parliament or courts. Or put another way – the EU can refuse to accept an A.50 application if it can be argued that it was not generated legally in the first place.

David , October 19, 2018 at 8:44 am

I think that's right, though most treaties like this contain some ambiguity in their wording. Interestingly, the French text gives a slightly different impression.
"Tout État membre peut décider, conformément à ses règles constitutionnelles, de se retirer de l'Union," which would be translated as "Any member state may decide, in accordance with its constitutional provisions, to leave the Union." The commas make it clear that, in French at least, the only decision that has to be taken constitutionally under the Treaty, is the decision to leave (alinea 1). Once that decision is taken the states has to inform the EU (alinea 2). Of course, there's a standing general requirement on governments to behave constitutionally, but that would be a matter for the domestic courts, not the EU. It must also be true that they should respect their constitutional rules during the negotiation process. Interestingly, Art 46 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties deals exactly with your point from the other end – what happens if a state signs a treaty without going through the proper procedures. I've seen some suggestions on specialist blogs that Art 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was inspired by the arguments about this point.

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 9:57 am

Agreed, except it would be a matter for the CJEU if it was the EU (e.g. the Commission) which was doing the asking (or telling) of the Member State.

jabbawocky , October 19, 2018 at 8:24 am

The answer to your question has to be those that voted Leave in the referendum left the can lying around.

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 9:06 am

Rubbish. The U.K. government had every right to hold a referendum. It was advisory of course. But Parliament had every right to invoke A50 as a result of the result.

What the U.K. government had no right whatsoever to do was to pretend that the Good Friday Agreement obligations could or should be fudged away. Nor that the EU or the Republic should tolerate this or go along with it. The fact that they did is, well, their bad. I'm still shaking my head as to why Barnier et al were dumb enough to go along with it at the time. There's probably a good reason we're not privy to.

Phillip Allen , October 19, 2018 at 9:29 am

There's probably a good reason we're not privy to.

Now there's some optimism and faith. Our erstwhile leaders have done very little to justify it, in my completely jaded and cynical option.

Clive , October 19, 2018 at 9:58 am

I was being perhaps overly generous -- there's also an awful lot of bad reasons I can think of, too.

PlutoniumKun , October 19, 2018 at 10:46 am

A year or so ago there was a little discussion of this in some parts of the Irish media. The thinking seemed to be that the government at the time (pre-Varadkar) had calculated that it was too divisive (in terms of the potential impact on NI politics) to be seen to be taking too aggressive a stance over Brexit (with hindsight, this was very naive, the DUP don't need outside help to be divisive).

FG was also very worried about giving any electoral help to Sinn Fein.

With hindsight, I think this was a major miscalculation on a number of levels – I don't think they anticipated that the stupidity of the London government would force them to take such a strong stance on the border issue, they thought it could be finessed by way of taking a more neutral stance.

begob , October 19, 2018 at 11:22 am

I think these are May's options:
1. Canada+++ with backstop – the DUP say NO! and she loses a vote of confidence.
2. EFTA + EEA without CU – she comes back in triumph – "No CU!" – but she loses DUP and Ultras so needs Corbyn, who will probably cry "No CU!" with contrary sentiment.
3. CU with backstop – Labour says it fails test #2 (at least), but she hopes their remainers defy the whip.

Peston is at option 3, but omits the backstop.

bold'un , October 19, 2018 at 7:22 am

Labour could help vote through a {blind brexit' with an extended Transition} in exchange for a post-deal General Election. This could suit May in that it would be risky for the Tories to change leaders in an election atmosphere. The British Public can then decide WHO best can negotiate the future Trade relationship (though sadly not the WHAT as it must be negotiated).

The Rev Kev , October 19, 2018 at 7:50 am

You wonder what is in it for May to stay in her job as Prime Minister. All indications are that she is a perfect example of the Peter Principle which is how she ended up with the job. You think too that she would be tempted to chuck the whole business and say "Here Boris – it's all yours!" with all the joy of throwing a live grenade. Maybe, in the end, it is like Milton had Satan say once – "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven".

PlutoniumKun , October 19, 2018 at 8:14 am

An Irish politician once said that she was advised by an experienced colleague 'your worst day in government is better than your best day in opposition' . This is why politicians are so often incapable of turning down offers of coalition.

I don't believe it has occurred to May for one minute to resign or step aside. Power is what drives people like her (i.e. almost all politicians). Its the nature of the beast.

David , October 19, 2018 at 9:13 am

Macron's official statement after the European Council is here Interestingly, only about a third of the text was devoted to Brexit, and much of that was in turn a restatement of EU priorities – especially unity and the Single Market – and confidence in Barnier. All the technical solutions are known, said Macron, and it is for the UK to come up with some new ideas for compromises. The hope was to reach an agreement in the next few weeks, including "necessary guarantees for Ireland." The French media has essentially confined itself to reporting what Macron said.
What this shows, I think, is an increasing irritation among European leaders that Brexit, which should have been sorted out long ago, has been taking up the time that should really have been devoted to more important subjects, like migration and the deepening of economic and financial cooperation The British are regarded as a major irritant, incapable of behaving like a great power, paralysed by internal political splits and capable of doing a lot of collateral damage. The EU seems increasingly unwilling to devote any more time to Brexit until the UK comes up with some genuinely useful ideas – hence the cancellation of the November summit.

PlutoniumKun , October 19, 2018 at 10:42 am

Thats probably true, but if so, its very shortsighted. If the UK crashes out, for several months there will be nothing else on the plate of western Europe to deal with, there will be deep implications certainly from Germany to Spain. And if it causes more wobbles in the already very wobbly Italian banks, it'll be even more of a headache, to put it mildly.

David , October 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm

I agree, but I think it's at least partly the UK's doing. A modicum of common sense and political realism could have avoided this situation. The problem is that Brexit, as a subject, has the nasty twin characteristics of being at once extremely complicated and politically lunatic. I think EU leaders are focusing on the second, and in some ways May has become almost light relief. But jokes stop being funny after a while, and I think Macron is reflecting a wider belief among national leaders that only the UK can sort this out: you broke it, you fix it.

If there were issues which, whilst difficult, were potentially fixable then I think a lot more effort would have gone into the negotiations from EU leaders. But they must feel they are trapped in some Ionesco farce or (to vary the metaphor) trying to negotiate with the Keystone Cops.

Except the Keystone Cops happen to be playing with hand grenades. There's no doubt that European leaders are taking a crash-out seriously (the French have published a draft bill giving the government emergency powers to deal with such a situation) but I think there's a also widespread sense of helplessness. What can the EU actually do that it hasn't already done? All they can hope for is an outbreak of common sense in London, and I think we all know how likely that is. In the circumstances, you might as well concentrate on subjects where progress is actually possible.

MichaelSF , October 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm

A reader takes me to task for making comparisons between the Brexit negotiations and the Allied invasion of Normandy

Would Dunkirk be a better comparison?

[Oct 12, 2018] 'Land of censorship home of the fake' Alternative voices on Facebook and Twitter's crackdown

Normal people do not browse Facebook, anyway.
Notable quotes:
"... "misleading users." ..."
"... Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter's coordinated 'deplatforming' of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed," he wrote. "That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history." ..."
"... "a wider war on dissident narratives in online media." ..."
"... "eyes and ears" ..."
Oct 12, 2018 | www.rt.com

Alternative voices online are incensed after Facebook and Twitter closed down hundreds of political media pages ahead of November's crucial midterm elections. Facebook says they broke its spam rules, they say it's censorship. Some 800 pages spanning the political spectrum, from left-leaning organizations like The Anti Media, to flag-waving opinion sites like Right Wing News and Nation in Distress, were shut down. Other pages banned include those belonging to police brutality watchdog groups Filming Cops and Policing the Police.

Even RT America's Rachel Blevins found her own page banned for posts that were allegedly "misleading users."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter's coordinated 'deplatforming' of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed," he wrote. "That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history."

In America, Conservatives were the first to complain about unfair treatment by left-leaning Silicon Valley tech giants. However, leftist sites have increasingly become targets in what Blumenthal calls "a wider war on dissident narratives in online media." In identifying enemies in this "war," Facebook has partnered up with the Digital Forensics Lab, an offshoot of NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council. The DFL has promised to be Facebook's "eyes and ears" in the fight against disinformation (read: alternative viewpoints).

[Oct 12, 2018] The Shaky Case That Russia Manipulated Social Media to Tip the 2016 Election by Gareth Porter

Russians under each Facebook account
Oct 12, 2018 | original.antiwar.com
adopted false US personas online to get people to attend rallies and conduct other political activities. (An alternative explanation is that IRA is a purely commercial, and not political, operation.)

Whether those efforts even came close to swaying US voters in the 2016 presidential election, as Shane and Mazzetti claimed, is another matter.

Shane and Mazzetti might argue that they are merely citing figures published by the social media giants Facebook and Twitter, but they systematically failed to report the detailed explanations behind the gross figures used in each case, which falsified their significance.

Their most dramatic assertions came in reporting the alleged results of the IRA's efforts on Facebook. "Even by the vertiginous standards of social media," they wrote, "the reach of their effort was impressive: 2,700 fake Facebook accounts, 80,000 posts, many of them elaborate images with catchy slogans, and an eventual audience of 126 million Americans on Facebook alone."

Then, to dramatize that "eventual audience" figure, they observed, "That was not far short of the 137 million people who would vote in the 2016 presidential elections."

But as impressive as these figures may appear at first glance, they don't really indicate an effective attack on the US election process at all. In fact, without deeper inquiry into their meaning, those figures were grossly misleading.

A Theoretical Possibility

What Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch actually said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last October was quite different from what the Times reporters claimed. "Our best estimate is that approximately 126,000 million people may have been served one of these [IRA-generated] stories at some time during the two year period," Stretch said.

Stretch was expressing a theoretical possibility rather than an established accomplishment. Facebook was saying that it estimated 126 million Facebook members might have gotten at least one story from the IRA –- not over the ten week election period but over 194 weeks during the two years 2015 through 2017. That, figure, in turn, was based on the estimate that 29 million people might have gotten at least one story in their Facebook feed over that same two-year period and on the assumption that they shared it with others at a particular rate.

The first problem with citing those figures as evidence of impact on the 2016 election is that Facebook did not claim that all or even most of those 80,000 IRA posts were election–related. It offered no data on what proportion of the feeds to those 29 million people was, in fact, election-related. But Stretch did testify that IRA content over that two–year period represented just four thousandths (.0004) of the total content of Facebook newsfeeds.

Thus each piece of IRA content in a twitter feed was engulfed in 23,000 pieces of non-IRA content.

That is an extremely important finding, because, as Facebook's Vice President for News Feed, Adam Moseri, acknowledged in 2016 , Facebook subscribers actually read only about 10 percent of the stories Facebook puts in their News Feed every day. The means that very few of the IRA stories that actually make it into a subscriber's news feed on any given day are actually read.

Facebook did conduct research on what it calls "civic engagement" during the election period, and the researchers concluded that the "reach" of the content shared by what they called "fake amplifiers" was "marginal compared to the volume of civic content shared during the US elections." That reach, they said, was "statistically very small" in relation to "overall engagement on political issues."

Shane and Mazzaetti thus failed to report any of the several significant caveats and disclaimers from Facebook itself that make their claim that Russian election propaganda "reached" 126 million Americans extremely misleading.

Tiny IRA Twitter Footprint

Shane and Mazzetti's treatment of the role of Twitter in the alleged Russian involvement in the election focuses on 3,814 Twitter accounts said to be associated with the IRA, which supposedly "interacted with 1.4 million Americans." Although that number looks impressive without any further explanation, more disaggregated data provide a different picture: more than 90 percent of the Tweets from the IRA had nothing to do with the election, and those that did were infinitesimally few in relation to the entire Twitter stream relating to the 2016 campaign.

Twitter's own figures show that those 3,814 IRA-linked accounts posted 175,993 Tweets during the ten weeks of the election campaign, but that only 8.4 percent of the total number of IRA-generated Tweets were election-related.

Twitter estimated that those 15,000 IRA-related tweets represented less than .00008 (eight one hundred thousandths) of the estimated total of 189 million tweets that Twitter identified as election-related during the ten-week election campaign. Twitter has offered no estimate of how many Tweets, on average were in the daily twitter stream of those people notified by Twitter and what percentage of them were election-related Tweets from the IRA. Any such notification would certainly show, however, that the percentage was extremely small and that very few would have been read.

Research by Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren of Clemson University on 2.9 million Tweets from those same 3,814 IRA accounts over a two year period has revealed that nearly a third of its Tweets had normal commercial content or were not in English; another third were straight local newsfeeds from US localities or mostly non-political "hashtag games", and the final third were on "right" or "left" populist themes in US society.

Furthermore, there were more IRA Tweets on political themes in 2017 than there had been during the election year. As a graph of those tweets over time shows, those "right" and "left" Tweets peaked not during the election but during the summer of 2017.

The Mysterious 50,000 'Russia-Linked' Accounts

Twitter also determined that another 50,258 automated Twitter accounts that tweeted about the election were associated with Russia and that they have generated a total to 2.1 million Tweets – about one percent of the total number election-related tweets of during the period.

But despite media coverage of those Tweets suggesting that they originated with the Russian government, the evidence doesn't indicate that at all. Twitter's Sean Edgett told the Senate Intelligence Committee last November that Twitter had used an "expansive approach to defining what qualifies as a Russian-linked account". Twitter considered an account to be "Russian" if any of the following was found: it was created in Russia or if the user registered the account with a Russian phone carrier or a Russian email; the user's display name contains Cyrillic characters; the user frequently Tweets in Russian, or the user has logged in from any Russian IP address.

Edgett admitted in a statement in January, however, that there were limitations on its ability to determine the origins of the users of these accounts. And a past log-in from a Russian IP address does not mean the Russian government controls an account. Automated accounts have bought and sold for many years on a huge market, some of which is located in Russia. As Scott Shane reported in September 2017, a Russian website BuyAccs.com offers tens and even hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts for bulk purchase.

Twitter also observed that "a high concentration of automated engagement and content originated from data centers and users accessing Twitter via Virtual Private Networks ("VPNs") and proxy servers," which served to mask the geographical origin of the tweet. And that practice was not limited to the 50,000 accounts in question. Twitter found that locations of nearly 12 percent of the Tweets generated during the election period were masked because of use of such networks and servers.

Twitter identified over half of the Tweets, coming from about half of the 50,000 accounts as being automated, and the data reported on activity on those 50,000 accounts in question indicates that both the Trump and Clinton campaigns were using the automated accounts in question. The roughly 23,000 automated accounts were the source of 1.34 million Tweets, which represented .63 percent of the total election-related Tweets. But the entire 50,000 accounts produced about 1 percent of total election-related tweets.

Hillary Clinton got .55 percent of her total retweets from the 50,000 automated accounts Twitter calls "Russia-linked" and .62 percent of her "likes" from them. Those percentages are close to the percentage of total election-related Tweets generated by those same automated accounts. That suggests that her campaign had roughly the same proportion of automated accounts among the 50,000 accounts as it did in the rest of the accounts during the campaign.

Trump, on the other hand, got 1.8 percent of this total "likes" and 4.25 percent of his total Retweets for the whole election period from those accounts, indicating his campaign was more invested in the automated accounts that were the source of two-thirds of the Tweets in those 50,000 "Russia-linked" accounts.

The idea promoted by Shane and Mazzetti that the Russian government seriously threatened to determine the winner of the election does not hold up when the larger social media context is examined more closely. Contrary to what the Times' reporters and the corporate media in general would have us believe, the Russian private sector effort accounted for a minuscule proportion of the election-related output of social media. The threat to the US political system in general and its electoral system in particular is not Russian influence; it's in part a mainstream news media that has lost perspective on the truth.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare . He can be contacted at porter.gareth50@gmail.com . Reprinted from Consortium News with the author's permission.

[Oct 12, 2018] if Russia is so incompetent- why are they deemed a threat? Why is NATO beating the war drums about such a country?

Oct 12, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

James lake October 5, 2018 at 4:07 am

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/05/string-of-own-goals-by-russian-gru-spies-reveals-new-trend-of-sloppiness

The secretive, daring GRU seems to have lost its way in the age of internet search

//if Russia is so incompetent- why are they deemed a threat?
//Why is NATO beating the war drums about such a country?

Moscow Exile October 5, 2018 at 4:15 am
Because it is dangerous in its incompetence?
yalensis October 5, 2018 at 1:48 pm
There is nothing more dangerous than a monkey armed with a hand grenade(?)
kirill October 5, 2018 at 6:02 am
As pointed out elsewhere there is no such agency called the GRU. Like there is no agency called the KGB. This in itself demonstrates that NATzO is spreading pure propaganda.
Mark Chapman October 5, 2018 at 9:14 am
It's probably not sloppiness, per se; it's more that Britain has reached a new level of dazzling investigative brilliance, so that normal GRU tradecraft can no longer withstand its piercing eye.

[Oct 09, 2018] Brexit Crunch Is the EU Trying to Save the UK from Itself Is That Even Possible

Oct 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Brexit Crunch: Is the EU Trying to Save the UK from Itself? Is That Even Possible? Posted on October 8, 2018 by Yves Smith The UK press is all over the map on the state of Brexit. That makes making sense of things even harder than usual.

At a minimum, it show that the EU's thumping of May at last month's Salzburg conference has led to an uptick in activity, as the EU27 leaders set an earlier deadline for the UK to serve up something realistic than the UK had previously thought it had (October versus November).

But it's far from clear that all the thrashing around and messaging amounts to progress. As we'll discuss, some press reports claim the EU is showing more flexibility, but the changes appear to be almost entirely cosmetic. If so, it would represent a cynical calculation that MPs are so illiterate about technical details that adept repackaging will get the dog to eat the dog food.

Another thing to keep in mind is that negotiators are always making progress until a deal is dead. The appearance of momentum can create actual momentum, or at least buy time. But here, time is running out, so the question is whether either side has made enough of a shift so as to allow for a breakthough.

One thing that may have happened, and again this is speculative, is that more key players in the EU are coming to realize that a crash out will inflict a lot of damage on the EU. A transition period is actually much more beneficial to the EU than the UK. It would not only allow the EU more time to prepare, but also enable it to better pick the UK clean of personnel and business activities that can move to the Continent in relatively short order.

By contrast (and not enough people in the UK appear to have worked this out), the UK will crash out with respect to the EU in either March 2019 or the end of December 2020. There's no way the UK will have completed a trade deal with the EU by then, unless it accedes to every EU demand. Recall that the comparatively uncomplicated Canada trade agreement took seven years to negotiate and another year to obtain provisional approval. And Richard North points out another impediment to negotiations: " .the Commission has to be re-appointed next year and, after Brexit, it will not be fully in operation until the following November." Now there are still some important advantages to securing a transition agreement, and they may be mainly political (who wants to be caught holding that bag?) but the differences may not be as significant for the EU as the UK. The UK will wind up having the dislocations somewhat spread out, first having to contend with falling out of all the trade deals with third countries that it now has through the EU in March 2019, and then losing its "single market" status with the EU at the end of 2020. But will the UK also be so preoccupied with trying to stitch up deals with the rest of the world that it loses its already not great focus on what to do with the EU?

That isn't to say there won't be meaningful benefits to the UK if it can conclude a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU and win a transition period. For instance, it has a dim hope of being able to get its border IT systems upgraded so as to handle much greater transaction volumes, a feat that seems pretty much unattainable by March 2019.

Two more cautionary note regarding these divergent news stories. The first is that we've seen this sort of thing before and generally, the optimistic reports have not panned out. However, they have generally ben from unnamed sources. While we do have a very thin BBC article with Jean-Claude Junkcer saying the odds of a deal had improved and Tusk making cautiously optimistic noises, Leo Vardarkar was more sober and the piece even admitted, "However, there is still no agreement on some issues, including how to avoid new checks on the Irish border."

Second, they appear to be mainly about claimed progress or deadlocks on the trade front. Recall that Article 50 makes only a passing reference to "the future relationship," which is only a non-binding political declaration. However, these issue seems to have assumed more importance than it should on the UK end, because it has become a forcing device for the coalition to settle on what sort of Brexit it wants .and it remains fundamentally divided, as demonstrated by last week's Conservative Party conference. By contrast, there seems to be little news on the real sticking point, the Irish border.

So to the rumors:

The EU has offered the UK a "Canada plus plus plus" deal . Even if you take the Guardian story at face value, there is less there there than the breathless reactions in the UK would lead you to believe.

First, recall that "Canada plus plus plus" has long been derided by the EU as yet another way for the UK to try to cherry pick among the possible post-Brexit arrangements. Boris Johnson nevertheless talked it up as a preferred option to May's too-soft Chequers scheme at the Tory conference . and May did not mention Chequers . Did EU pols take that to mean May had abandoned Chequers to appease the Ultras?

However, as we read things (and we need to watch our for our priors), Donald Tusk appears to be mouthing a pet UK expression to convey a different idea:

Tusk said the EU remained ready to offer the UK a "Canada-plus-plus-plus deal" – a far-reaching trade accord with extra agreements on security and foreign policy.

That reads as a Canada style free trade agreement plus additional pacts on non-trade matters. That is not what "Canada plus plus plus" signified on the UK side: it meant the UK getting a free trade deal with other (typically not specified) goodies so as to make it "special" and more important, reduce friction.

The Ultras were over the moon to have Tusk dignify Johnson's blather, even as the very next paragraph of the Guardian story revealed the outtrade over what "Canada plus plus plus" stands for:

Boris Johnson and other hard Brexit Tories seized on Tusk's remarks, arguing they showed it was time for May to immediately switch tack and abandon her Chequers proposals for remaining in a customs union for food and goods. "Tusk's Canada-plus-plus-plus offer shows there is a superb way forward that can solve the Irish border problem and deliver a free-trade-based partnership that works well for both sides of the channel," Johnson said.

If you managed to get further into the story, it sounded more cautionary notes:

Some Brexiters overlook that the EU's version of a so-called Canada deal incorporates a guarantee to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which would keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and single market. "Canada plus-plus-plus" is also a fuzzy concept that has no formal status in EU negotiating documents. Michel Barnier, the bloc's chief negotiator, mentioned the idea in an interview with the Guardian and other papers last year.

"I don't know what Canada-plus-plus-plus means, it is just a concept at this stage," Varadkar said, adding that it did not negate the need for a "legally binding backstop" – a guarantee to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland if there is no agreement on the future trading relationship.

EU to let UK super fudge on "future relationship." Another Guardian story reported that the EU might let the UK sign an even less committal version of the "future relationship" section , allowing the UK to "evolve" [gah] its position during the transition period. Frankly, this seems to be allowing for a change in government. I don't see this as that meaningful a concession, since this statement was never legally binding. However, given that Parliament must ratify the final agreement, formally registering that that section isn't set in stone probably would facilitate passage as well as any future change in direction. And if you suspect this is a big dog whistle to Labour, you be right:

An EU source said: "The message to Labour is that the UK could move up Barnier's stairs if the British government changes its position in the transition period. Voting in favour of the deal now would not be the last word on it."

May whips Labour for Chequers . You thought May gave up on Chequers? Silly you! She just had the good sense to go into her famed submarine mode while Boris was having yet another turn in the limelight. From the Telegraph :

Ministers are in talks with as many as 25 Labour MPs to force through Theresa May's Chequers Brexit deal risking open warfare with the party's own MPs.

The Government's whips' office has spent recent months making contact with the MPs as a back-up option for when Theresa May's Brexit deal is put to a vote in Parliament in early December, The Daily Telegraph has been told.

News of the wooing operation has infuriated Eurosceptic Tory MPs who are now threatening to vote against elements of the Budget and other "money bills" to force Mrs May to drop her Chequers plan.

If true, this is very high stakes poker. Brexit Central says there are 34 Tory MPs who have already declared they will oppose any "deal based on Chequers". And, to change metaphors, they appear ready to go nuclear if they have to. From the Times:

Brexiteers have issued a last-ditch threat to vote down the budget and destroy the government unless Theresa May takes a tougher line with Brussels -- amid signs that she is on course to secure a deal with the European Union.

Leading members of the hardline European Research Group (ERG) last night vowed to vote down government legislation after it was claimed the prime minister will use Labour MPs to push her plan through the Commons.

I turned to Richard North's site after I had pretty much finished this post, and he finds the Telegraph story as peculiar as I do :

Reporting of the key issue of our times gets more bizarre by the day. The latest contribution to the cacophony is the Telegraph, telling us that Ministers are in talks with as many as 25 Labour MPs "to force through Theresa May's Chequers Brexit deal".

That approaches are being made to Labour MPs is not news, but the idea that attempts to sell them the Chequers deal confounds recent indications that the prime minister is preparing to roll out "Chequers II", with enough concessions to all the Commission to conclude a withdrawal agreement.

If we are looking at such a new deal, then it cannot be the case that anyone is attempting to convince Labour MPs of the merits of the old deal. And, even if Ministers succeeded in such a task, it would be to no avail. Chequers, as such, will never come to parliament for approval because it will never form the basis of a deal that can be accepted by Brussels.

That should consign the Telegraph story to the dustbin now piled high with incoherent speculation, joining the steady flow of reports which are struggling – and failing – to bring sense to Brexit.

EU to announce "minimalist" no-deal emergency plans . Interestingly, the Financial Times has not had any articles in the last few days on the state of UK/EU negotiations. It instead depicted the EU as about to turn up the heat on the UK by publishing a set of "no deal" damage containment plans. I've never understood the line of thought, which seems to be taken seriously on both sides of the table, that acting like a responsible government and preparing for a worst-case scenario was somehow an underhanded negotiation ploy. 1 The pink paper nevertheless pushes that notion:

Brussels is planning to rattle the UK by unveiling tough contingency measures for a no-deal Brexit that could force flight cancellations and leave exporters facing massive disruption if Britain departs the EU without an exit agreement in March.

Subtext: it's the EU's fault all those bad things could happen .when it is the UK that is suing for divorce. Back to the story:

Against expectations in London, the plan is likely to encompass a limited number of initiatives over a maximum of eight months, diplomats who have seen the document told the Financial Times.

Notably, the EU is not planning special arrangements for customs or road transport and only limited provisions for financial services -- a decision that, if seen through, would cause long queues and operational difficulties at ports and airports.

The minimalist emergency plan, designed to be rolled out should there be no breakthrough in Brexit talks, would increase the pressure over already fraught negotiations between the UK and the EU ahead of a summit on 17 October. EU plans would then be firmed up by December .

The commission has thus far resisted outlining details of its plans for a no-deal Brexit for fear it would disrupt tense negotiations. But with just six months to go before Brexit, EU member states have pressed Brussels to speed up its preparations in case no deal is agreed in time.

Brussels will outline general principles for deciding the fields requiring special measures, which must only mitigate significant disruptions in areas of "vital union interest". The measures would be applied by the EU until the end of 2019 on a unilateral basis. They could be revoked with no notice, according to diplomats.

The plans are intended to enable basic air services, allowing flights to land and fly straight back to the UK, and to extend air safety certificates and security exemptions for UK travellers in transit. Visa-free travel is envisaged for British citizens, as long as it is reciprocated

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The commission has thus far resisted outlining details of its plans for a no-deal Brexit for fear it would disrupt tense negotiations. But with just six months to go before Brexit, EU member states have pressed Brussels to speed up its preparations in case no deal is agreed in time.

Brussels will outline general principles for deciding the fields requiring special measures, which must only mitigate significant disruptions in areas of "vital union interest". The measures would be applied by the EU until the end of 2019 on a unilateral basis. They could be revoked with no notice, according to diplomats.

The plans are intended to enable basic air services, allowing flights to land and fly straight back to the UK, and to extend air safety certificates and security exemptions for UK travellers in transit. Visa-free travel is envisaged for British citizens, as long as it is reciprocated.

And then we have the stories that are head-scratchers. The Sun reports that Barnier says a deal is nigh .based on:

Hopes of progress have been fuelled by expectations that Theresa May has come forward with a compromise solution to the Irish border.

The PM will propose keeping the whole of the UK in a customs union as a final fallback but allowing Northern Ireland to stick to EU regulations.

The EU has rejected having the UK collect EU customs post Brexit. Moreover, a customs union, as we've said repeatedly, does not give the UK its keenly-sounght frictionless trade. Making Northern Ireland subject to EU regulations means accepting the jurisdiction of the ECJ, since compliance is not a matter of having a dusty rule book, but of being part of the same regulatory apparatus. Aside from the fact that this solution won't be acceptable to the DUP, it would also result in a hard land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. So are we to take this as incomprehension on the part of the Sun's reporters, or that the Government's negotiators continue to be as thick as a brick? Sadly, the Guardian tells a similar tale :

Ministers expect to discuss Brexit in a week's time when some hope that officials will have clarified how the UK proposes to handle cross-border regulatory checks if no progress is made on agreeing a free trade deal with the EU.

There has been speculation that this solution could involve the whole of the UK agreeing to be part of a common customs area with the EU in order to avoid the possibility of an invisible border separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain, in the event that no long-term deal is signed.

Richard North has the best take. He points the rumors from the UK side come from people who present themselves as being on the inside but probably aren't, or not enough to have a good feel, and continues :

Yet nothing seems to be leaking from No.10, with officials saying merely that proposals would emerge "soon". Says the Guardian, these are likely to form the basis of technical negotiations with Brussels "as officials scramble to find a form of words for the withdrawal agreement that the UK proposes to sign with the EU".

Any such timing will, of necessity, rule out any formal consideration by the October European Council. Those who understand the detail will know that, before anything can be considered by the European Council, it must first be agreed by the General Affairs Council, meeting as 27.

Currently, this is scheduled for 16 October (Tuesday week) – a day before the Article 50 European Council which starts its two-day session on the 17th. On the face of it, there doesn't seem to be enough time to factor in any last-minute proposals from London, especially as details must first be circulated to Member State capitals for comment.

This does nothing, though, but confirm that which we already know – that if there is to be a final showdown, then it is going to come at the special meeting in November (if this actually happens), or even the meeting scheduled for 13-14 December.

Even the rumor mills don't give much reason to think there is a solution to the Irish border. If May really hasn't abandoned Chequers, all the fudging to come up with a content-free "future relationship" section will be to the detriment of UK citizens, since the Government will keep holding on to a Brexit plan that the EU will never accept. But the best interests of ordinary people have gotten short shrift all along.

[Oct 08, 2018] Hacking and Propaganda by Marcus Ranum

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There has been an ongoing campaign on the part of the US, to get out the idea that China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran have massive armies of hackers that are constantly looking to steal American secrets. The absurdity of the US' claims is pretty obvious. As I pointed out in my book The Myth of Homeland Security ..."
"... "The Great US/China Cyberwar of 2010" is one cyberwar that didn't happen, but was presaged with a run-up of lots of claims that the Chinese were hacking all over the place. I'm perfectly willing to accept the possibility that there was Chinese hacking activity, but in the industry there was no indication of an additional level of attack or significance. ..."
"... One thing that did ..."
"... US ideology is that "we don't start wars" -- it's always looking for an excuse to go to war under the rubric of self-defense, so I see these sorts of claims as justification in advance for unilateral action. I also see it as a sign of weakness; if the US were truly the superpower it claims it is, it would simply accept its imperial mantle and stop bothering to try to justify anything. I'm afraid we may be getting close to that point. ..."
"... My assumption has always been that the US is projecting its own actions on other nations. At the time when the US was talking the loudest about Chinese cyberwar, the US and Israel had launched STUXNET against the Iranian enrichment plant at Natanz, and the breeder reactor at Bushehr (which happens to be just outside of a large city; the attack took some of its control systems and backup generators offline). Attacks on nuclear power facilities are a war crime under international humanitarian law, which framework the US is signatory to but has not committed to actually follow. This sort of activity happens at the same time that the US distributes talking-points to the media about the danger of Russian hackers crashing the US power grid. I don't think we can psychoanalyze an entire government and I think psychoanalysis is mostly nonsense -- but it's tempting to accuse the US of "projection." ..."
"... All of this stuff happens against the backdrop of Klein, Binney, Snowden, and the Vault 7 revelations, as well as solid attribution identifying the NSA as "equation group" and linking the code-tree of NSA-developed malware to STUXNET, FLAME, and DUQU. ..."
"... the US has even admitted to deploying STUXNET -- Obama bragged about it. When Snowden's revelations outlined how the NSA had eavesdropped on Angela Merkel's cellphone, the Germans expressed shock and Barack Obama remarkably truthfully said "that's how these things are done" and blew the whole thing off by saying that the NSA wasn't eavesdropping on Merkel any more. [ bbc ] ..."
"... It's hard to keep score because everything is pretty vague, but it sounds like the US has been dramatically out-spending and out-acting the other nations that it accuses of being prepared for cyberwar. ..."
"... it's hard not to see the US is prepared for cyberwar, when both the NSA and the CIA leak massive collections of advanced tools. ..."
"... My observation is that the NSA and CIA have been horribly sloppy and have clearly spent a gigantic amount of money preparing to compromise both foreign and domestic systems -- that's bad enough. With friends like the NSA and CIA, who needs Russians and Chinese? ..."
"... The Russian and Chinese efforts are relatively tiny compared to the massive efforts the US expends tens of billions of dollars on. The US spends about $50bn on its intelligence agencies, while the entire Russian Department of Defense budget is about $90bn (China is around $139bn) -- maybe the Russians and Chinese have such a small footprint because they are much smaller operations? ..."
"... That brings us to the recent kerfuffle about taps on the Supermicro motherboards. That's not unbelievable at all -- not in a world where we discover that Intel has built a parallel management CPU into every CPU since 2008, and that there is solid indications that other processors have similar backdoors. ..."
"... There are probably so many backdoors in our systems that it's a miracle it works at all. ..."
"... So, with respect to "propaganda" I would say that the US intelligence community has been consistently pushing a propaganda agenda against the US government, and the citizens in order to justify its actions and defend its budget. ..."
"... What little I've been able to find out the new Trump™ cybersecurity plan is that it doesn't involve any defense, just massive retribution against (perceived) foes. ..."
"... Funny how those obsessed with "false flag" operations work so hard to invite more of same. ..."
Oct 07, 2018 | freethoughtblogs.com

Bob Moore asks me to comment on an article about propaganda and security/intelligence. [ article ] This is going to be a mixture of opinion and references to facts; I'll try to be clear which is which.

Yesterday several NATO countries ran a concerted propaganda campaign against Russia. The context for it was a NATO summit in which the U.S. presses for an intensified cyberwar against NATO's preferred enemy.

On the same day another coordinated campaign targeted China. It is aimed against China's development of computer chip manufacturing further up the value chain. Related to this is U.S. pressure on Taiwan, a leading chip manufacturer, to cut its ties with its big motherland.

It is true that the US periodically makes a big push regarding "messaging" about hacking. Whether or not it constitutes a "propaganda campaign" depends on how we choose to interpret things and the labels we attach to them -- "propaganda campaign" has a lot of negative connotations and one person's "outreach effort" is an other's "propaganda." An ultra-nationalist or an authoritarian submissive who takes the government's word for anything would call it "outreach."

There has been an ongoing campaign on the part of the US, to get out the idea that China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran have massive armies of hackers that are constantly looking to steal American secrets. The absurdity of the US' claims is pretty obvious. As I pointed out in my book The Myth of Homeland Security (2004) [ wc ] claims such as that the Chinese had "40,000 highly trained hackers" are flat-out absurd and ignore the reality of hacking; that's four army corps. Hackers don't engage in "human wave" attacks.

"The Great US/China Cyberwar of 2010" is one cyberwar that didn't happen, but was presaged with a run-up of lots of claims that the Chinese were hacking all over the place. I'm perfectly willing to accept the possibility that there was Chinese hacking activity, but in the industry there was no indication of an additional level of attack or significance.

One thing that did happen in 2010 around the same time as the nonexistent cyberwar was China and Russia proposed trilateral talks with the US to attempt to define appropriate limits on state-sponsored hacking. The US flatly rejected the proposal, but there was virtually no coverage of that in the US media at the time. The UN also called for a cyberwar treaty framework, and the effort was killed by the US. [ wired ] What's fascinating and incomprehensible to me is that, whenever the US feels that its ability to claim pre-emptive cyberwar is challenged, it responds with a wave of claims about Chinese (or Russian or North Korean) cyberwar aggression.

John Negroponte, former director of US intelligence, said intelligence agencies in the major powers would be the first to "express reservations" about such an accord.

US ideology is that "we don't start wars" -- it's always looking for an excuse to go to war under the rubric of self-defense, so I see these sorts of claims as justification in advance for unilateral action. I also see it as a sign of weakness; if the US were truly the superpower it claims it is, it would simply accept its imperial mantle and stop bothering to try to justify anything. I'm afraid we may be getting close to that point.

My assumption has always been that the US is projecting its own actions on other nations. At the time when the US was talking the loudest about Chinese cyberwar, the US and Israel had launched STUXNET against the Iranian enrichment plant at Natanz, and the breeder reactor at Bushehr (which happens to be just outside of a large city; the attack took some of its control systems and backup generators offline). Attacks on nuclear power facilities are a war crime under international humanitarian law, which framework the US is signatory to but has not committed to actually follow. This sort of activity happens at the same time that the US distributes talking-points to the media about the danger of Russian hackers crashing the US power grid. I don't think we can psychoanalyze an entire government and I think psychoanalysis is mostly nonsense -- but it's tempting to accuse the US of "projection."

The anti-Russian campaign is about alleged Russian spying, hacking and influence operations. Britain and the Netherland took the lead. Britain accused Russia's military intelligence service (GRU) of spying attempts against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague and Switzerland, of spying attempts against the British Foreign Office, of influence campaigns related to European and the U.S. elections, and of hacking the international doping agency WADA. British media willingly helped to exaggerate the claims: [ ]

The Netherland [sic] for its part released a flurry of information about the alleged spying attempts against the OPCW in The Hague. It claims that four GRU agents traveled to The Hague on official Russian diplomatic passports to sniff out the WiFi network of the OPCW. (WiFi networks are notoriously easy to hack. If the OPCW is indeed using such it should not be trusted with any security relevant issues.) The Russian officials were allegedly very secretive, even cleaning out their own hotel trash, while they, at the same, time carried laptops with private data and even taxi receipts showing their travel from a GRU headquarter in Moscow to the airport. Like in the Skripal/Novichok saga the Russian spies are, at the same time, portrayed as supervillains and hapless amateurs. Real spies are neither.

The U.S. Justice Department added to the onslaught by issuing new indictments (pdf) against alleged GRU agents dubiously connected to several alleged hacking incidents . As none of those Russians will ever stand in front of a U.S. court the broad allegations will never be tested.

There's a lot there, and I think the interpretation is a bit over-wrought, but it's mostly accurate. The US and the UK (and other NATO allies, as necessary) clearly coordinate when it comes to talking points. Claims of Chinese cyberwar in the US press will be followed by claims in the UK and Australian press, as well. My suspicion is that this is not the US Government and UK Government coordinating a story -- it's the intelligence agencies doing it. My opinion is that the intelligence services are fairly close to a "deep state" -- the CIA and NSA are completely out of control and the CIA has gone far toward building its own military, while the NSA has implemented completely unrestricted surveillance worldwide.

All of this stuff happens against the backdrop of Klein, Binney, Snowden, and the Vault 7 revelations, as well as solid attribution identifying the NSA as "equation group" and linking the code-tree of NSA-developed malware to STUXNET, FLAME, and DUQU. While the attribution that "Fancy Bear is the GRU" has been made and is probably fairly solid, the attribution of NSA malware and CIA malware is rock solid; the US has even admitted to deploying STUXNET -- Obama bragged about it. When Snowden's revelations outlined how the NSA had eavesdropped on Angela Merkel's cellphone, the Germans expressed shock and Barack Obama remarkably truthfully said "that's how these things are done" and blew the whole thing off by saying that the NSA wasn't eavesdropping on Merkel any more. [ bbc ]

It's hard to keep score because everything is pretty vague, but it sounds like the US has been dramatically out-spending and out-acting the other nations that it accuses of being prepared for cyberwar. I tend to be extremely skeptical of US claims because: bomber gap, missile gap, gulf of Tonkin, Iraq WMD, Afghanistan, Libya and every other aggressive attack by the US which was blamed on its target. The reason I assume the US is the most aggressive actor in cyberspace is because the US has done a terrible job of protecting its tool-sets and operational security: it's hard not to see the US is prepared for cyberwar, when both the NSA and the CIA leak massive collections of advanced tools.

Meanwhile, where are the leaks of Russian and Chinese tools? They have been few and far between, if there have been any at all. Does this mean that the Russians and Chinese have amazingly superior tradecraft, if not tools? I don't know. My observation is that the NSA and CIA have been horribly sloppy and have clearly spent a gigantic amount of money preparing to compromise both foreign and domestic systems -- that's bad enough. With friends like the NSA and CIA, who needs Russians and Chinese?

The article does not have great depth to its understanding of the situation, I'm afraid. So it comes off as a bit heavy on the recent news while ignoring the long-term trends. For example:

The allegations of Chinese supply chain attacks are of course just as hypocritical as the allegations against Russia. The very first know case of computer related supply chain manipulation goes back to 1982 :

A CIA operation to sabotage Soviet industry by duping Moscow into stealing booby-trapped software was spectacularly successful when it triggered a huge explosion in a Siberian gas pipeline, it emerged yesterday.

I wrote a piece about the "Farewell Dossier" in 2004. [ mjr ] Re-reading it, it comes off as skeptical but waffly. I think that it's self-promotion by the CIA and exaggerates considerably ("look how clever we are!") at a time when the CIA was suffering an attention and credibility deficit after its shitshow performance under George Tenet. But the first known cases of computer related supply chain manipulation go back to the 70s and 80s -- the NSA even compromised Crypto AG's Hagelin M-209 system (a mechanical ciphering machine) in order to read global communications encrypted with that product. You can imagine Crypto AG's surprise when the Iranian secret police arrested one of their sales reps for selling backdoor'd crypto -- the NSA had never told them about the backdoor, naturally. The CIA was also on record for producing Xerox machines destined for the USSR, which had recorders built into them So, while the article is portraying the historical sweep of NSA dirty tricks, they're only looking at the recent ones. Remember: the NSA also weakened the elliptic curve crypto library in RSA's Bsafe implementation, paying RSADSI $13 million to accept their tweaked code.

Why haven't we been hearing about the Chinese and Russians doing that sort of thing? There are four options:

  1. The Russians and Chinese are doing it, they're just so darned good nobody has caught them until just recently.
  2. The Russians and Chinese simply resort to using existing tools developed by the hacking/cybercrime community and rely on great operational security rather than fancy tools.
  3. The Russian and Chinese efforts are relatively tiny compared to the massive efforts the US expends tens of billions of dollars on. The US spends about $50bn on its intelligence agencies, while the entire Russian Department of Defense budget is about $90bn (China is around $139bn) -- maybe the Russians and Chinese have such a small footprint because they are much smaller operations?
  4. Something else.

That brings us to the recent kerfuffle about taps on the Supermicro motherboards. That's not unbelievable at all -- not in a world where we discover that Intel has built a parallel management CPU into every CPU since 2008, and that there is solid indications that other processors have similar backdoors.

Was the Intel IME a "backdoor" or just "a bad idea"? Well, that's tricky. Let me put my tinfoil hat on: making a backdoor look like a sloppily developed product feature would be the competent way to write a backdoor. Making it as sneaky as the backdoor in the Via is unnecessary -- incompetence is eminently believable.

&

(kaspersky)

I believe all of these stories (including the Supermicro) are the tip of a great big, ugly iceberg. The intelligence community has long known that software-only solutions are too mutable, and are easy to decompile and figure out. They have wanted to be in the BIOS of systems -- on the motherboard -- for a long time. If you go back to 2014, we have disclosures about the NSA malware that hides in hard drive BIOS: [ vice ] [ vice ] That appears to have been in progress around 2000/2001.

Of note, the group recovered two modules belonging to EquationDrug and GrayFish that were used to reprogram hard drives to give the attackers persistent control over a target machine. These modules can target practically every hard drive manufacturer and brand on the market, including Seagate, Western Digital, Samsung, Toshiba, Corsair, Hitachi and more. Such attacks have traditionally been difficult to pull off, given the risk in modifying hard drive software, which may explain why Kaspersky could only identify a handful of very specific targets against which the attack was used, where the risk was worth the reward.

But Equation Group's malware platforms have other tricks, too. GrayFish, for example, also has the ability to install itself into computer's boot record -- software that loads even before the operating system itself -- and stores all of its data inside a portion of the operating system called the registry, where configuration data is normally stored.

EquationDrug was designed for use on older Windows operating systems, and "some of the plugins were designed originally for use on Windows 95/98/ME" -- versions of Windows so old that they offer a good indication of the Equation Group's age.

This is not a very good example of how to establish a "malware gap" since it just makes the NSA look like they are incapable of keeping a secret. If you want an idea how bad it is, Kaspersky labs' analysis of the NSA's toolchain is a good example of how to do attribution correctly. Unfortunately for the US agenda, that solid attribution points toward Fort Meade in Maryland. [kaspersky]

Let me be clear: I think we are fucked every which way from the start. With backdoors in the BIOS, backdoors on the CPU, and wireless cellular-spectrum backdoors, there are probably backdoors in the GPUs and the physical network controllers, as well. Maybe the backdoors in the GPU come from the GRU and maybe the backdoors in the hard drives come from NSA, but who cares? The upshot is that all of our systems are so heinously compromised that they can only be considered marginally reliable. It is, literally, not your computer: it's theirs. They'll let you use it so long as your information is interesting to them.

Do I believe the Chinese are capable of doing such a thing? Of course. Is the GRU? Probably. Mossad? Sure. NSA? Well-documented attribution points toward NSA. Your computer is a free-fire zone. It has been since the mid 1990s, when the NSA was told "no" on the Clipper chip and decided to come up with its own Plan B, C, D, and E. Then, the CIA came up with theirs. Etc. There are probably so many backdoors in our systems that it's a miracle it works at all.

From my 2012 RSA conference lecture "Cyberwar, you're doing it wrong."

The problem is that playing in this space is the purview of governments. Nobody in the cybercrime or hacking world need tools like these. The intelligence operatives have huge budgets, compared to a typical company's security budget, and it's unreasonable to expect any business to invest such a level of effort on defending itself. So what should companies do? They should do exactly what they are doing: expect the government to deal with it; that's what governments are for. The problem with that strategy is that their government isn't on their side, either! It's Hobbes' playground.

In case you think I am engaging in hyperbole, I assure you I am not. If you want another example of the lengths (and willingness to bypass the law) "they" are willing to go, consider 'stingrays' that are in operation in every major US city and outside of every interesting hotel and high tech park. Those devices are not passive -- they actively inject themselves into the call set-up between your phone and your carrier -- your data goes through the stingray, or it doesn't go at all. If there are multiple stingrays, then your latency goes through the roof. "They" don't care. Are the stingrays NSA, FBI, CIA, Mossad, GRU, or PLA? Probably a bit of all of the above depending on where and when.

Whenever the US gets caught with its pants down around its ankles, it blames the Chinese or the Russians because they have done a good job of building the idea that the most serious hackers on the planet at the Chinese. I don't believe that we're seeing complex propaganda campaigns that are tied to specific incidents -- I think we see ongoing organic propaganda campaigns that all serve the same end: protect the agencies, protect their budgets, justify their existence, and downplay their incompetence.

So, with respect to "propaganda" I would say that the US intelligence community has been consistently pushing a propaganda agenda against the US government, and the citizens in order to justify its actions and defend its budget.

The government also engages in propaganda, and is influenced by the intelligence community's propaganda as well. And the propaganda campaigns work because everyone involved assumes, "well, given what the NSA has been able to do, I should assume the Chinese can do likewise." That's a perfectly reasonable assumption and I think it's probably true that the Chinese have capabilities. The situation is what Chuck Spinney calls "A self-licking ice cream cone" -- it's a justifying structure that makes participation in endless aggression seem like a sensible thing to do. And, when there's inevitably a disaster, it's going to be like a cyber-9/11 and will serve as a justification for even more unrestrained aggression.


Want to see what it looks like? A thousand thanks to Commentariat member [redacted] for this link. If you don't like video, there's an article here. [ toms ]

https://www.youtube.com/embed/_eSAF_qT_FY

Is this an NSA backdoor, or normal incompetence? Is Intel Management Engine an NSA-inspired backdoor, or did some system engineers at Intel think that was a good idea? There are other scary indications of embedded compromise: the CIA's Vault7 archive included code that appeared to be intended to embed in the firmware of "smart" flatscreen TVs. That would make every LG flat panel in every hotel room, a listening device just waiting to be turned on.

We know the Chinese didn't do that particular bug but why wouldn't they do something similar, in something else? China is the world's oldest mature culture -- they literally wrote the book on strategy -- Americans acting as though it's a great surprise to learn that the Chinese are not stupid, it's just the parochialism of a 250 year-old culture looking at a 3,000 year-old culture and saying "wow, you guys haven't been asleep at the switch after all!"

WIRED on cyberspace treaties [ wired ]

Comments
  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    October 6, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    What little I've been able to find out the new Trump™ cybersecurity plan is that it doesn't involve any defense, just massive retribution against (perceived) foes.

    Funny how those obsessed with "false flag" operations work so hard to invite more of same.

  2. Marcus Ranum says

    October 6, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Pierce R. Butler@#1:
    What little I've been able to find out the new Trump™ cybersecurity plan is that it doesn't involve any defense, just massive retribution against (perceived) foes.

    Yes. Since 2001, as far as most of us can tell, federal cybersecurity spend has been 80% offense, 20% defense. And a lot of the offensive spend has been aimed at We, The People.

  3. Cat Mara says

    October 6, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Your mention of Operation Sundevil and Kevin Mitnick in a previous post made me think that maybe the reason we haven't seen the kind of leaks from the Russian and Chinese hacking operations that we've seem from the NSA is that they're running a "Kevin Mitnick style" operation; that is, relying less on technical solutions and using instead old-fashioned "social engineering" and other low-tech forms of espionage (like running troll farms on social media). I mean, I've seen interviews with retired US intelligence people since the 90s complain that since the late 1980s, the intelligence agencies have been crippled by management in love with hi-tech "SIGINT" solutions to problems that never deliver and neglecting old-fashioned "HUMINT" intelligence-gathering.

    The thing is, Kevin Mitnick got away with a lot of what he did because people didn't take security seriously then, and still don't. On a similar nostalgia vibe, I remember reading an article by Keith Bostic (one of the researchers who helped in the analysis of the Morris worm that took down a significant chunk of the Internet back in 1988) where he did a follow-up a year or so afterwards and some depressing number of organisations that had been hit by it still hadn't patched the holes that had let the worm infect them in the first place.

  4. Marcus Ranum says

    October 6, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Cat Mara@#3:
    Your mention of Operation Sundevil and Kevin Mitnick in a previous post made me think that maybe the reason we haven't seen the kind of leaks from the Russian and Chinese hacking operations that we've seem from the NSA is that they're running a "Kevin Mitnick style" operation; that is, relying less on technical solutions and using instead old-fashioned "social engineering" and other low-tech forms of espionage (like running troll farms on social media).

    I think that's right, to a high degree. What if Edward Snowden was an agent provocateur instead of a well-meaning naive kid? A tremendous amount of damage could be done, as well as stealing the US' expensive toys. The Russians have been very good at doing exactly that sort of operation, since WWII. The Chinese are, if anything, more subtle than the Russians.

    The Chinese attitude, as expressed to me by someone who might be a credible source is, "why are you picking a fight with us? We don't care, you're too far away for us to threaten you, we both have loads of our own fish to fry. To them, the US is young, hyperactive, and stupid.

    The FBI is not competent, at all, against old-school humint intelligence-gathering. Compared to the US' cyber-toys, the old ways are probably more efficient and cost effective. China's intelligence community is also much more team-oriented than the CIA/NSA; they're actually a disciplined operation under the strategic control of policy-makers. That, by the way, is why Russians and Chinese stare in amazement when Americans ask things like "Do you think Putin knew about this?" What a stupid question! It's an autocracy; they don't have intelligence operatives just going an deciding "it's a nice day to go to England with some Novichok." The entire American attitude toward espionage lacks maturity.

    On a similar nostalgia vibe, I remember reading an article by Keith Bostic (one of the researchers who helped in the analysis of the Morris worm that took down a significant chunk of the Internet back in 1988) where he did a follow-up a year or so afterwards and some depressing number of organisations that had been hit by it still hadn't patched the holes that had let the worm infect them in the first place.

    That as an exciting time. We were downstream from University of Maryland, which got hit pretty badly. Pete Cottrel and Chris Torek from UMD were also in on Bostic's dissection. We were doing uucp over TCP for our email (that changed pretty soon after the worm) and our uucp queue blew up. I cured the worm with a reboot into single-user mode and a quick 'rm -f' in the uucp queue.

  5. Bob Moore says

    October 7, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Thanks. I appreciate your measured analysis and the making explicit of the bottom line: " agencies, protect their budgets, justify their existence, and downplay their incompetence."

[Oct 05, 2018] Opinion Russian Meddling Is a Symptom, Not the Disease - The New York Times

Oct 05, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Given the credible evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, it's only natural that Americans are concerned about the possibility of further foreign interference, especially as the midterms draw closer.

But I worry that we're focusing too much on the foreign part of the problem -- in which social media accounts and pages controlled by overseas "troll factories" post false and divisive material -- and not enough on how our own domestic political polarization feeds into the basic business model of companies like Facebook and YouTube.

It's this interaction -- both aspects of which are homegrown -- that fosters the dissemination of false and divisive material, and this will persist as a major problem even in the absence of concerted foreign efforts.

Consider some telling exchanges from this year's Senate hearings involving high-level executives from Facebook and Twitter. (Google, which owns YouTube, didn't bother sending a comparable representative.) In April, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, pressed Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, on how much money the company had made by ads placed by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll factory. Mr. Zuckerberg replied that it was about $100,000 -- a negligible amount of money for the company.

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Last month, Ms. Harris further grilled Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, on this point, demanding to know how much inauthentic Russian content was on Facebook. Ms. Sandberg had her sound bite ready, saying that "any amount is too much," but she ultimately threw out an estimate of .004 percent, another negligible amount.

The exchange made for good viewing: a senator asking tough questions, chastised executives being forced to put exact numbers on the table. But the truth is that paid Russian content was almost certainly immaterial to Facebook's revenue -- and the .004 percent figure, though almost certainly rhetorical, does capture the relative insignificance of the paid Russian presence on Facebook.

Contrast this, however, with another question from Ms. Harris, in which she asked Ms. Sandberg how Facebook can "reconcile an incentive to create and increase your user engagement when the content that generates a lot of engagement is often inflammatory and hateful." That astute question Ms. Sandberg completely sidestepped, which was no surprise: No statistic can paper over the fact that this is a real problem.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have business models that thrive on the outrageous, the incendiary and the eye-catching, because such content generates "engagement" and captures our attention, which the platforms then sell to advertisers, paired with extensive data on users that allow advertisers (and propagandists) to "microtarget" us at an individual level.

Traditional media outlets, of course, are frequently also cynical manipulators of sensationalistic content, but social media is better able to weaponize it. Algorithms can measure what content best "engages" each user and can target him or her individually in a way that the sleaziest editor of a broadcast medium could only dream of.

... ... ...

It is understandable that legislators and the public are concerned about other countries meddling in our elections. But foreign meddling is to our politics what a fever is to tuberculosis: a mere symptom of a deeper problem. To heal, we need the correct diagnosis followed by action that treats the underlying diseases. The closer our legislators look at our own domestic politics as well as Silicon Valley's business model, the better the answers they will find.

Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, the author of "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest" and a contributing opinion writer.

[Oct 05, 2018] Wilderness of mirrors MI6, the Cold War, spies and traitors from Gordievsky to Skripal -- RT Op-ed

Notable quotes:
"... What could possibly go wrong? ..."
Oct 05, 2018 | www.rt.com

Which brings me to the Skripal affair.

That the USSR was an existential threat to Western capitalism and colonialism and war – of one kind or another – between these two camps was logical and inevitable. But the Soviet Union is 30 years dead.

Indeed, Gordievsky through Macintyre can – if he's telling the truth – claim that he helped bring about the (brief) end of history and the "final" victory. His claimed role in the rise and rise of Gorbachev's relationship with Mrs Thatcher and, by extension, President Reagan certainly hastened the downfall of the USSR.

But Britain recruited Skripal in 1996 when not only was the Soviet Union dead but Russia was ruled by the West's performing bear Boris Yeltsin. And during his presidency, Russia was passed-out on the floor with everyone picking its pockets.

Why was Britain still fighting the Cold War against Russia in 1996, and why is it still fighting the Cold War against Russia now?

Just this week, the rather effete British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson – a former fireplace salesman – said he was sending 800 shivering British soldiers to the Arctic to be ready to fight Russia there. Amidst the snow. And the ice.

As both Napoleon and Hitler must have said: " What could possibly go wrong? "

[Oct 05, 2018] What I want and I am completely serious is that this nightmare about Russia's alleged interference with some election campaign in the United States ends. I want the United States, the American elite, the US elite to calm down and clear up their own mess and restore a certain balance of common sense and national interests, just like in the oil market

Oct 05, 2018 | en.kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin: What I want – and I am completely serious – is that this nightmare about Russia's alleged interference with some election campaign in the United States ends. I want the United States, the American elite, the US elite to calm down and clear up their own mess and restore a certain balance of common sense and national interests, just like in the oil market. I want the domestic political squabbles in the United States to stop ruining Russia-US relations and adversely affecting the situation in the world.

[Oct 05, 2018] How The U.S. Runs Public Relations Campaigns - Trump Style - Against Russia And China

Notable quotes:
"... I agree with Hoarsewhisperer that the elite are showing desperation but look at the sheer volume of BS they can spew out that is all over the map. ..."
"... The ... West is doubling down on Psychological Projection . Works like a charm with most peoples in the affected areas. ..."
"... A few months ago, a dozen Russian individuals were charged with cyber-crime offenses that Mueller knew would never be tested at trial b/c the charged individuals would never be extradited. However, the indictment included charges against two Russian corporations that cleverly hired American lawyers to appear on their behalf, and enter pleas of Not Guilty. ..."
"... This tactic should have set the pre-trial discovery process to begin, causing Mueller to be obliged to turn over evidence supporting the charges as well as any exculpatory information favoring the accused corporations. ..."
"... Russia has tried to negotiate with the US to avoid cyberspace being turned into another area of conflict. The US has rebuffed these requests. Likely too much money to be made by the MIC in another theater of warfare with that extortion racket called NATO and too much promise of the NSA scooping up even more data and adding it to the data already collected by the 5 eyes. ..."
"... Didn't WikiLeaks disclosed the fact that NSA can disguise any hack to look like some other actor was the culprit? All this shouting that Russia and China did these terrible deeds is to hide the fact that the west does this all the time as disclosed by WikiLeaks? And the Germans complaining? I hope they have improved security for the Chancellor's phone. Russia is a member of OPWC. Why do they have to sit out in cars in the parking lot of OPCW headquarters to hack into OPCW? Why not from the comfort of their office in the building. What is of more importance to me is an upcoming vote in the OPCW about investigation reports laying blame in the future. That will be a game changer in the false flag chemical attack be it Syria or the UK. currently reports don't lay blame. ..."
"... Going by the squealing noises coming out of the US and loyal vassals, the yanks are probably just pissed that they can't get into Russia or China's secure communications. ..."
Oct 05, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Yesterday several NATO countries ran a concerted propaganda campaign against Russia. The context for it was a NATO summit in which the U.S. presses for an intensified cyberwar against NATO's preferred enemy.

On the same day another coordinated campaign targeted China. It is aimed against China's development of computer chip manufacturing further up the value chain. Related to this is U.S. pressure on Taiwan, a leading chip manufacturer, to cut its ties with its big motherland.

The anti-Russian campaign is about alleged Russian spying, hacking and influence operations. Britain and the Netherland took the lead. Britain accused Russia's military intelligence service (GRU) of spying attempts against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague and Switzerland, of spying attempts against the British Foreign Office, of influence campaigns related to European and the U.S. elections, and of hacking the international doping agency WADA. British media willingly helped to exaggerate the claims:

The Foreign Office attributed six specific attacks to GRU-backed hackers and identified 12 hacking group code names as fronts for the GRU – Fancy Bear, Voodoo Bear, APT28, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berku, BlackEnergy Actors, STRONTIUM, Tsar Team and Sandworm."

The "hacking group code names" the Guardian tries to sell to its readers do not refer to hacking groups but to certain cyberattack methods . Once such a method is known it can be used by any competent group and individual. Attributing such an attack is nearly impossible. Moreover Fancybear, ATP28, Pawn Storm, Sofacy Group, Sednit and Strontium are just different names for one and the same well known method . The other names listed refer to old groups and tools related to criminal hackers. Blackenergy has been used by cybercriminals since 2007. It is alleged that a pro-Russian group named Sandworm used it in Ukraine, but the evidence for that is dubious at best. To throw out such a list of code names without any differentiation reeks of a Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt (FUD) campaign designed to dis-inform and scare the public.

The Netherland for its part released a flurry of information about the alleged spying attempts against the OPCW in The Hague. It claims that four GRU agents traveled to The Hague on official Russian diplomatic passports to sniff out the WiFi network of the OPCW. (WiFi networks are notoriously easy to hack. If the OPCW is indeed using such it should not be trusted with any security relevant issues.) The Russian officials were allegedly very secretive, even cleaning out their own hotel trash, while they, at the same, time carried laptops with private data and even taxi receipts showing their travel from a GRU headquarter in Moscow to the airport. Like in the Skripal/Novichok saga the Russian spies are, at the same time, portrayed as supervillains and hapless amateurs. Real spies are neither.

The U.S. Justice Department added to the onslaught by issuing new indictments (pdf) against alleged GRU agents dubiously connected to several alleged hacking incidents . As none of those Russians will ever stand in front of a U.S. court the broad allegations will never be tested.

The anti-Russian campaign came just in time for yesterday's NATO Defense Minister meeting at which the U.S. 'offered' to use its malicious cyber tools under NATO disguise:

Katie Wheelbarger, the principal deputy assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, said the U.S. is committing to use offensive and defensive cyber operations for NATO allies, but America will maintain control over its own personnel and capabilities.

If the European NATO allies, under pressure of the propaganda onslaught, agree to that, the obvious results will be more U.S. control over its allies' networks and citizens as well as more threats against Russia:

NATO's chief vowed on Thursday to strengthen the alliance's defenses against attacks on computer networks that Britain said are directed by Russian military intelligence, also calling on Russia to stop its "reckless" behavior.

The allegations against Russia over nefarious spying operations and sockpuppet campaigns are highly hypocritical . The immense scale of U.S. and British spying revealed by Edward Snowden and through the Wikileaks Vault 7 leak of CIA hacking tools is well known. The Pentagon runs large social media manipulation campaigns. The British GHCQ hacked Belgium's largest telco network to spy on the data of the many international organizations in Brussels.

International organizations like the OPCW have long been the target of U.S. spies and operations. The U.S. National Security Service (NSA) regularly hacked the OPCW since at least September 2000 :

According to last week's Shadow Brokers leak, the NSA compromised a DNS server of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in September 2000, two years after the Iraq Liberation Act and Operation Desert Fox, but before the Bush election.

It was the U.S. which in 2002 forced out the head of the OPCW because he did not agree to propagandizing imaginary Iraqi chemical weapons:

José M. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat who was unanimously re-elected last year as the director general of the 145-nation Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was voted out of office today after refusing repeated demands by the United States that he step down because of his "management style." No successor has been selected.

The U.S. arranged the vote against Bustani by threatening to leave the OPCW. Day's earlier 'Yosemite Sam' John Bolton, now Trump's National Security Advisor, threatened to hurt José Bustani's children to press him to resign:

"I got a phone call from John Bolton – it was first time I had contact with him – and he said he had instructions to tell me that I have to resign from the organization, and I asked him why," Bustani told RT. "He said that [my] management style was not agreeable to Washington."
...
Bustani said he "owed nothing" to the US, pointing out that he was appointed by all OPCW member states. Striking a more sinister tone, Bolton said: "OK, so there will be retaliation. Prepare to accept the consequences. We know where your kids are. "

According to Bustani, two of his children were in New York at the time, and his daughter was in London.

Russia's government will need decades of hard work to reach the scale of U.S./UK hypocrisy, hacking and lying.


The propaganda rush against Russia came on the same day as a similar campaign was launched against China. A well timed Bloomberg story, which had been in the works for over a year, claimed that Chinese companies manipulated hardware they manufactured for the U.S. company SuperMicro. The hardware was then sold to Apple, Amazon and others for their cloud server businesses.

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies :

Nested on the servers' motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn't part of the boards' original design.

Both Apple and Amazon denied the story with very strong statements . The Bloomberg tale has immense problems. It is for one completely based on anonymous sources, most of them U.S. government officials:

The companies' denials are countered by six current and former senior national security officials, who -- in conversations that began during the Obama administration and continued under the Trump administration -- detailed the discovery of the chips and the government's investigation.

The way the alleged manipulation is described to function is theoretical possible , but not plausible . In my learned opinion one would need multiple manipulations, not just one tiny chip, to achieve the described results. Even reliably U.S. friendly cyberhawks are unconvinced of the story's veracity. It is especially curious that such server boards are still in use in security relevant U.S. government operations:

Assuming the Bloomberg story is accurate, that means that the US intelligence community, during a period spanning two administrations, saw a foreign threat and allowed that threat to infiltrate the US military. If the story is untrue, or incorrect on its technical merits, then it would make sense that Supermicro gear is being used by the US military.

There might be financial motives behind the story:

Bloomberg reporters receive bonuses based indirectly on how much they shift markets with their reporting. This story undoubtedly did that.

When the story came out SuperMicro's stock price crashed from $21.40 to below $9.00 per share. It now trades at $12.60:

The story might be a cover-up for a NSA hack that was accidentally detected. Most likely it is exaggerated half truth, based on an old event , to deter the 'western' industry from sourcing anything from producers in China.

This would be consistent with other such U.S. moves against China which coincidentally (not) happened on the same day the Bloomberg story was launched.

One is a very hawkish speech U.S. Vice President Pence held yesterday :

Vice President Mike Pence accused China on Thursday of trying to undermine President Donald Trump as the administration deploys tough new rhetoric over Chinese trade, economic and foreign policies.
...
Sounding the alarm, Pence warned other nations to be wary of doing business with China, condemning the Asian country's "debt diplomacy" that allows it to draw developing nations into its orbit.

Pence also warned American businesses to be vigilant against Chinese efforts to leverage access to their markets to modify corporate behavior to their liking.

Another move is a new Pentagon report warning against the purchase of Chinese equipment and launched via Reuters in support of the campaign:

China represents a "significant and growing risk" to the supply of materials vital to the U.S. military, according to a new Pentagon-led report that seeks to mend weaknesses in core U.S. industries vital to national security.

The nearly 150-page report, seen by Reuters on Thursday ahead of its formal release Friday, concluded there are nearly 300 vulnerabilities that could affect critical materials and components essential to the U.S. military.
...
"A key finding of this report is that China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security," the report said.

The Bloomberg story, the Pence speech and the Pentagon report 'leak' on the same day seem designed to scare everyone away from using Chinese equipment or China manufactured parts within there supply chain.

The allegations of Chinese supply chain attacks are of course just as hypocritical as the allegations against Russia. The very first know case of computer related supply chain manipulation goes back to 1982 :

A CIA operation to sabotage Soviet industry by duping Moscow into stealing booby-trapped software was spectacularly successful when it triggered a huge explosion in a Siberian gas pipeline, it emerged yesterday.
...
Mr Reed writes that the software "was programmed to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to pipeline joints and welds".

Wikileaks list 27 cases of U.S. supply chain manipulation of computer hardware and software. A search for "supply chain" in the Snowden archives shows 18 documents describing such 'projects'.


The U.S. government under Trump - and with John Bolton in a leading position - copied Trump's brutal campaign style and uses it as an instrument in its foreign policy. Trump's victory in the 2016 election proves that such campaigns are highly successful, even when the elements they are build of are dubious or untrue. In their scale and coordination the current campaigns are comparable to the 2002 run-up for the war on Iraq.

Then, as during the Trump election campaign and as now, the media are crucial to the public effect these campaigns have. Will they attempt to take the stories the campaigns are made of apart? Will they set them into the larger context of global U.S. spying and manipulation? Will they explain the real purpose of these campaigns?

Don't bet on it.

Posted by b on October 5, 2018 at 08:27 AM


Timothy Hagios , Oct 5, 2018 8:52:41 AM | link

IMO the US Government's propaganda is structured to along the lines of a fantasy novel. The propaganda is designed to convince the public of two inherently contradictory ideas:

1) that the country is surrounded on vast sides by vast hostile empires that threaten everything we hold dear and

2) despite these dire threats, the country cannot really be harmed because of "our freedoms."

Like with a fantasy novel, the reader gets all the thrills of an epic battle while being certain that the evil empires will never triumph. An attractive form of propaganda, to be certain.

Steve , Oct 5, 2018 12:09:45 PM | link
Well, so far the propaganda is having very minor effect on the ordinary people. If you read the comment section of most of the corporate media you will see that people are just not buying the BS.
Hausmeister , Oct 5, 2018 12:22:26 PM | link
Steve | Oct 5, 2018 12:09:45 PM | 16

Indifference of the ordinary people does not mean much. Just that there is such indifference. The arguments against that claimed Chinese hardware hack are meta-arguments.

Hoarsewhisperer , Oct 5, 2018 12:25:28 PM | link
...
Got to wonder what the end game is here. WW3? Or up they expecting the Russian people to come begging for an end to sanctions?
Posted by: dh | Oct 5, 2018 11:49:07 AM | 11

Good question.

It's not WWIII. Putin has already said that if WWIII goes Nuclear, survival will be a lottery. Imo the Christian Colonial West, hypnotised by 30 years of its own bs and busily patting itself on the back and performing Victory Laps on the world stage, has been caught napping (asleep at the wheel) and now needs time to ponder the downside.

Hoarsewhisperer , Oct 5, 2018 12:48:30 PM | link
Imo this latest drivel-fest stems from the fact that Russia is now/again militarily unassailable. That doesn't mean that Russia can't be attacked but it does mean that anyone who tries it will wish they hadn't.

And it's driving the defunct Masters Of The Universe insaner.

psychohistorian , Oct 5, 2018 1:08:44 PM | link
Excellent journalism b....thanks

I agree with Hoarsewhisperer that the elite are showing desperation but look at the sheer volume of BS they can spew out that is all over the map.

The Supreme Court justice debacle is another example of so riling up the forces around the sex issue so that the rest of his moral standing that effects all of us is ignored.....the sex issue is marginalized and pop goes the weasel onto the Supreme Court to bring the US closer to feudalism.

notheonly1 , Oct 5, 2018 1:09:01 PM | link
The ... West is doubling down on Psychological Projection . Works like a charm with most peoples in the affected areas.

Although it is practically a symptom of a deeper sitting mental illness, it is still treated as some sort of cavalier's delinquency. Like it is to be expected that the rulers of said West resort to this kind of projection.

The only interesting part though - one that is next to never really understood by the gullible masses - is the Projection part of it. Because it means nothing else than the fact that the projector is the one who is perpetrating the crimes and malevolent activities it accuses the 'enemy'/opposing side of.

The West is mentally ill. Nothing new, the Eastern sages pointed to that a long time ago. Very much like the Native American Indians were flabbergasted by the moronity and cruelty the invaders displayed. The one that has adhered to my memory like fusion is: Only paleface would set a river on fire.

Last but not least, Nazi is as Nazi does. As can be verified perusing the story of this Nazi that never had to fear repercussions for his crimes against humanity. For the simple reason that the U.S. protected him to gain his knowledge about advanced biological and chemical warfare. The Nazi was Kurt Blome .

b , Oct 5, 2018 1:09:38 PM | link
@CE - There is no problem with the logo on the server side and with the clients I use. Suggestion: clear your cache.
AntiSpin , Oct 5, 2018 1:20:00 PM | link
And that's not all . . .

In early morning broadcasts yesterday, BBC and NPR accused China and Russia of projecting positive images of their countries, and of acting in accordance with their national interests.

I am so proud that my own country – USA – would never do either one of those things!

denk , Oct 5, 2018 1:33:47 PM | link
"On the same day another coordinated campaign targeted China. It is aimed against China's development of computer chip manufacturing further up the value chain. Related to this is U.S. pressure on Taiwan, a leading chip manufacturer, to cut its ties with its big motherland."

Gen William Looney, first gulf war.... "If they turn on their radars we're going to blow up their goddamn SAMs [surface-to-air missiles]. They know we own their country. We own their airspace We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need. [1]"

------------------------------------------------------

Trump the anti establishment maverick...

We'r a rule based system, Here'r the rules. We decide..... who'r terrorists, who'r 'freedom fighters. Whats a fair election, whats a farce. Whats a genocide, whats legit police action. Whats R2p, whats unprovoked aggression. Who can do biz with whom. Who's the right man for your prez. We own you. MAGA.

[1]
I dont like to use wiki but that's the only place I could retrieve this quote, they'r wiping the net clean, even images, videos.

Better be mentally prep for the day you wake up in the morning and cant find MOA,

Anya , Oct 5, 2018 1:37:06 PM | link
Back to sanctioning Russian under the flimsy pretext of Skripals' poisoning. The US has been poisoning Georgians (some died) and this is well documented. Are the UK prudes ready to sanction the US for the crime?

http://dilyana.bg/us-diplomats-involved-in-trafficking-of-human-blood-and-pathogens-for-secret-military-program/

"The US Embassy to Tbilisi transports frozen human blood and pathogens as diplomatic cargo for a secret US military program. Pentagon scientists have been deployed to the Republic of Georgia and have been given diplomatic immunity to research deadly diseases and biting insects at the Lugar Center – the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia's capital Tbilisi.

The Pentagon projects involving ticks coincided with an inexplicable outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) which is caused by infection through a tick-borne virus. In 2014 34 people became infected (amongst which a 4-year old child). A total of 60 cases with 9 fatalities have been registered in Georgia since 2009."

The above is an honest journalism and not some presstituting production by the eunuchs Luke Harding and George Monbiot. And don't forget Luke & George's comrade-in-arms, the "phenomenal expert" Eliot Higgins (a former salesman of ladies underwear and college dropout) who has zero training in engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, ballistics, foreign languages, biology, history and basically in any field of research. Zero. This is why Higgins is the best expert at the the ziocon Atlantic Council made of the scoundrels of the same caliber.

"This is a man who, with his agency Bellingcat, will absolutely always back the position of western governments, and powerful western organisations."

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/02/28/eliot-higgins-of-bellingcat-who-is-he-everything-you-need-to-know/

chet380 , Oct 5, 2018 1:37:53 PM | link
A few months ago, a dozen Russian individuals were charged with cyber-crime offenses that Mueller knew would never be tested at trial b/c the charged individuals would never be extradited. However, the indictment included charges against two Russian corporations that cleverly hired American lawyers to appear on their behalf, and enter pleas of Not Guilty.

This tactic should have set the pre-trial discovery process to begin, causing Mueller to be obliged to turn over evidence supporting the charges as well as any exculpatory information favoring the accused corporations.

As any reference to this case can't seem to be found, can anyone help with info as to the present status of the case?

Fran , Oct 5, 2018 2:01:34 PM | link
Funny how lowkey this topic is handled. It appeard in The Times. As the Times article is behind a paywall. I am linking to the Irish Times: MI5 can authorise agents to commit crimes, tribunal told . Maybe the UK should be sanctioned.

Makes my fantasy go a little wild and wonder if there might be any connection to Skripal.

Noirette , Oct 5, 2018 2:11:45 PM | link
For those who missed May's latest Brexit speech (which had zero content), here she is jiving to Dancing Queen by Abba for her glorified entrance. No need to make caricatures, she does it herself. Free of charge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbCDFNRA-Wo&frags=pl%2Cwn

The USA + GB have become totally unhinged. Seeking a 'safe' enemy *without* - as the Deplorables or Brexiteers *within* don't hit the spot, for many reasons - .. to explain and cover up Hillary's loss and the ugly Brexit mess with its clueless posturing pols, is one thing.

To continue to provoke Russia and China, particularly Russia, in this way is now skirting with danger beyond the .. ? Containable, ignorable, what ..?

Plus, the MSM, lousy as it is and was, has spinned off into even further mad realms, seemingly forced into a hyper, over-blown anti-Russian hysteria. Often far more strongly so than the pols. / others they seemingly quote.

This is all becoming seriously alarming. I'm getting very bad feelings.

karlof1 , Oct 5, 2018 2:22:25 PM | link
Seems like another episode of False Friday to bury all the crap made public during the week while pushing other news aside. Much of it's recycled crap from Obama's term and just as false.
Tent-A-Cles , Oct 5, 2018 3:03:03 PM | link
During the Cold War, the West contolled some 2/3 of the global economy.

If they again bring a "Free World" protective curtain down around themselves in defensive retrenchment, what percent would they control now? Which countries would be guaranteed to be inside the tent pissing out, and which would be outide the tent pissing in? And who would be non-aligned (with the exception of their military purchases.)

Pakistan, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Africa, etc. -- Where would the dominos fall? Is this what they are trying to accomplish? If you are not with us, you are against us, as the ever eloquent G. W. Shrub might have said. Any predictions?

james , Oct 5, 2018 3:44:18 PM | link
thanks b.. excellent information and insights as usual..

of course the USA and coalition of imbeciles are busy projecting onto Russia and China what they themselves are guilty of.. the use of propaganda has gone into overdrive and is now an accepted policy of the west.. screw facts.. who needs facts when you have a war to pursue... and that is just what it looks like to me, as there is no end in sight to any of this western madness...

the financial sanctions have not worked.. that much is clear.. another approach via propaganda is to be the new regular feature.. claim all sorts of lies and supposition on russia, china, iran, north korea, venezuela or any country that dares to get out of line with the official ''coalition'' and you will be targeted with propaganda and or worse..

is there a way to create an alternative internet??

Peter AU 1 , Oct 5, 2018 4:05:02 PM | link
Looking around the MSM, MH17 also comes into it. Dutch are accusing Russia of trying to hack the MH17 sham investigation. This propaganda attack comes only a week or two after Russia tracked the missile parts numbers, supplied by JIT, through records which led to Ukraine.
Tom , Oct 5, 2018 4:19:51 PM | link
Russia has tried to negotiate with the US to avoid cyberspace being turned into another area of conflict. The US has rebuffed these requests. Likely too much money to be made by the MIC in another theater of warfare with that extortion racket called NATO and too much promise of the NSA scooping up even more data and adding it to the data already collected by the 5 eyes.

Canada is being pressured into not buying Chinese for its military civilian hardware. Scare the politicians into buying US goods that have a backdoor for the CIA to use. Canada shouldn't complain. The Canadian government hacked into the Brazilian government computers for the benefit of Canadian mining interests.

Didn't WikiLeaks disclosed the fact that NSA can disguise any hack to look like some other actor was the culprit? All this shouting that Russia and China did these terrible deeds is to hide the fact that the west does this all the time as disclosed by WikiLeaks? And the Germans complaining? I hope they have improved security for the Chancellor's phone. Russia is a member of OPWC. Why do they have to sit out in cars in the parking lot of OPCW headquarters to hack into OPCW? Why not from the comfort of their office in the building. What is of more importance to me is an upcoming vote in the OPCW about investigation reports laying blame in the future. That will be a game changer in the false flag chemical attack be it Syria or the UK. currently reports don't lay blame.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/03/us-responsible-cyberspace-becoming-war-domain-instead-of-area-cooperation.html

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/arctic-patrol-ships-chinese-content-1.4849562

Jen , Oct 5, 2018 5:14:15 PM | link
Timothy Hagios @ 1:

An element of the Skripal poisoning saga in Britain (the Novichok) was lifted from the TV series "Strikeback" screening in the country in November 2017 and February 2018. I have seen something on the Internet (but can't find the link) that said the subplot with the abandoned perfume bottle that contained poison was also taken from a TV show.

Prepare to be unsurprised then when the people who write propaganda for The Powers That Should Not Be turn out to be the same people who write scripts for Hollywood films and TV shows. A lot of these people also write novels or teach creative writing courses.

We really do seem to be living in a society where mythology and fantasy are becoming more prominent than facts and analysis in decision-making.

Virgile , Oct 5, 2018 5:16:34 PM | link
Wherever it is the Russian government responsible or not, the UK and the Nederlands are admitting that they are impotent in front of attacks in the cyberworld. That wifi can be sniffed so easily at international organizations show total irresponsibility. These cyberattacks are simply humiliating for these countries as it shows that despite their military power, they are highly vulnerable. To dispel the humiliation, they respond aggressively by accusing countries, not to individuals, and they accuse the current boogeyman, Russia.

Maybe NATO's budget should be cut down on murdering weapons and allocate to Cyber Defense as this seems to become the new way of war.
In view of the lack of proper cyber defense worldwidee, anybody, any country can hack and play around with others. I would be surprised if Israel, the USA and the UK China are not stiffing in other countries organizations. They have not been found because they are the 'good' sniffers while Russia, Iran, China are the "bad' sniffers

Cold war is on with new technology, It is time for countries to realize that.

Considering what the military war has cost in money, death toll and destruction, maybe cold war would be less costly in human toll.

Peter AU 1 , Oct 5, 2018 8:01:47 PM | link
China has set up quantum internet via optic fiber linking a number of government departments.

Going by the squealing noises coming out of the US and loyal vassals, the yanks are probably just pissed that they can't get into Russia or China's secure communications.

[Oct 05, 2018] The USA + GB have become totally unhinged.

Oct 05, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Noirette , Oct 5, 2018 2:11:45 PM | link

For those who missed May's latest Brexit speech (which had zero content), here she is jiving to Dancing Queen by Abba for her glorified entrance. No need to make caricatures, she does it herself. Free of charge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbCDFNRA-Wo&frags=pl%2Cwn

The USA + GB have become totally unhinged. Seeking a 'safe' enemy *without* - as the Deplorables or Brexiteers *within* don't hit the spot, for many reasons - .. to explain and cover up Hillary's loss and the ugly Brexit mess with its clueless posturing pols, is one thing.

To continue to provoke Russia and China, particularly Russia, in this way is now skirting with danger beyond the .. ? Containable, ignorable, what ..?

Plus, the MSM, lousy as it is and was, has spinned off into even further mad realms, seemingly forced into a hyper, over-blown anti-Russian hysteria. Often far more strongly so than the pols. / others they seemingly quote.

This is all becoming seriously alarming. I'm getting very bad feelings.

[Oct 04, 2018] Despicable fear mongering by Bloomberg

Notable quotes:
"... Plus according to Microsemi's own website, all military and aerospace qualified versions of their parts are still made in the USA. So this "researcher" used commercial parts, which depending on the price point can be made in the plant in Shanghai or in the USA at Microsemi's own will. ..."
"... The "researcher" and the person who wrote the article need to spend some time reading more before talking. ..."
"... You clearly have NOT used a FPGA or similar. First the ProASIC3 the article focuses on is the CHEAPEST product in the product line (some of that model line reach down to below a dollar each). But beyond that ... Devices are SECURED by processes, such as blowing the JTAG fuses in the device which makes them operation only, and unreadable. They are secureable, if you follow the proper processes and methods laid out by the manufacturer of the specific chip. ..."
"... Just because a "research paper" claims there is other then standard methods of JTAG built into the JTAG doesn't mean that the device doesn't secure as it should, nor does it mean this researcher who is trying to peddle his own product is anything but biased in this situation. ..."
"... You do know that the Mossad has been caught stealing and collecting American Top Secrets. ..."
"... The original article is here. [cam.ac.uk] It refers to an Actel ProAsic3 chip, which is an FPGA with internal EEPROM to store the configuration. ..."
"... With regard to reprogramming the chip remotely or by the FPGA itself via the JTAG port: A secure system is one that can't reprogram itself. ..."
"... When I was designing VMEbus computer boards for a military subcontractor many years ago, every board had a JTAG connector that required the use of another computer with a special cable plugged into the board to perform reprogramming of the FPGAs. None of this update-by-remote-control crap. ..."
"... It seems that People's Republic of China has been misidentified with Taiwan (Republic of China). ..."
"... Either the claims will be backed up by independently reproduced tests or they won't. But, given his apparent track record in this area and the obvious scrutiny this would bring, Skorobogatov must have been sure of his results before announcing this. ..."
"... Where was this undocumented feature/bug designed in? I see plenty of "I hate China" posts, it would be quite hilarious if the fedgov talked the US mfgr into adding this backdoor, then the Chinese built it as designed. Perhaps the plan all along was to blame the Chinese if they're caught. ..."
"... These are not military chips. They are FPGAs that happen to be used occasionally for military apps. Most of them are sold for other, more commercially exploitable purposes. ..."
"... The page with a link to the final paper actually does mention China. However, it's an American design from a US company. I suspect we will find the backdoor was in the original plans. It will be interesting to see however. ..."
Oct 04, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) , Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:17AM ( #40139317 ) Journal

It's a scam !! ( Score: 5 , Informative)

http://erratasec.blogspot.com/2012/05/bogus-story-no-chinese-backdoor-in.html [blogspot.com]

Bogus story: no Chinese backdoor in military chip
"Today's big news is that researchers have found proof of Chinese manufacturers putting backdoors in American chips that the military uses. This is false. While they did find a backdoor in a popular FPGA chip, there is no evidence the Chinese put it there, or even that it was intentionally malicious.

Furthermore, the Actel ProAsic3 FPGA chip isn't fabricated in China at all !!

jhoegl ( 638955 ) , Monday May 28, 2012 @01:30PM ( #40136003 )
Fear mongering ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

It sells...

khasim ( 1285 ) writes: < brandioch.conner@gmail.com > on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:48PM ( #40136097 )
Particularly in a press release like that. ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

That entire article reads more like a press release with FUD than anything with any facts.

Which chip?
Which manufacturer?
Which US customer?

No facts and LOTS of claims. It's pure FUD.

(Not that this might not be a real concern. But the first step is getting past the FUD and marketing materials and getting to the real facts.)

ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) , Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:11AM ( #40139489 )
Re:Particularly in a press release like that. ( Score: 5 , Informative)

A quick google showed that that this is indeed the chip, but the claims are "slightly" overblown [blogspot.com]

Anonymous Coward , Monday May 28, 2012 @02:14PM ( #40136273 )
Most likely inserted by Microsemi/Actel not fab ( Score: 5 , Informative)

1) Read the paper http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~sps32/Silicon_scan_draft.pdf
2) This is talking about FPGAs designed by Microsemi/Actel.
3) The article focuses on the ProAsic3 chips but says all the Microsemi/Actel chips tested had the same backdoor including but not limited to Igloo, Fusion and Smartfusion.
4) FPGAs give JTAG access to their internals for programming and debugging but many of the access methods are proprietary and undocumented. (security through obscurity)
5) Most FPGAs have features that attempt to prevent reverse engineering by disabling the ability to read out critical stuff.
6) These chips have a secret passphrase (security through obscurity again) that allows you to read out the stuff that was supposed to be protected.
7) These researchers came up with a new way of analyzing the chip (pipeline emission analysis) to discover the secret passphrase. More conventional analysis (differential power analysis) was not sensitive enough to reveal it.

This sounds a lot (speculation on my part) like a deliberate backdoor put in for debug purposes, security through obscurity at it's best. It doesn't sound like something secret added by the chip fab company, although time will tell. Just as embedded controller companies have gotten into trouble putting hidden logins into their code thinking they're making the right tradeoff between convenience and security, this hardware company seems to have done the same.

Someone forgot to tell the marketing droids though and they made up a bunch of stuff about how the h/w was super secure.

JimCanuck ( 2474366 ) , Monday May 28, 2012 @04:45PM ( #40137217 )
Re:Most likely inserted by Microsemi/Actel not fab ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

I don't think anyone fully understands JTAG, there are a lot of different versions of it mashed together on the typical hardware IC. Regardless if its a FPGA, microcontroller or otherwise. The so called "back door" can only be accessed through the JTAG port as well, so unless the military installed a JTAG bridge to communicate to the outside world and left it there, well then the "backdoor" is rather useless.

Something that can also be completely disabled by setting the right fuse inside the chip itself to disable all JTAG connections. Something that is considered standard practice on IC's with a JTAG port available once assembled into their final product and programmed.

Plus according to Microsemi's own website, all military and aerospace qualified versions of their parts are still made in the USA. So this "researcher" used commercial parts, which depending on the price point can be made in the plant in Shanghai or in the USA at Microsemi's own will.

The "researcher" and the person who wrote the article need to spend some time reading more before talking.

emt377 ( 610337 ) , Monday May 28, 2012 @07:02PM ( #40137873 )
Re:Most likely inserted by Microsemi/Actel not fab ( Score: 4 , Insightful)
The so called "back door" can only be accessed through the JTAG port as well, so unless the military installed a JTAG bridge to communicate to the outside world and left it there, well then the "backdoor" is rather useless.

With pin access to the FPGA it's trivial to hook it up, no bridges or transceivers needed. If it's a BGA then get a breakout/riser board that provides pin access. This is off-the-shelf stuff. This means if the Chinese military gets their hands on the hardware they can reverse engineer it. They won't have to lean very hard on the manufacturer for them to cough up every last detail. In China you just don't say no to such requests if you know what's good for you and your business.

JimCanuck ( 2474366 ) , Monday May 28, 2012 @11:05PM ( #40139083 )
Re:Most likely inserted by Microsemi/Actel not fab ( Score: 4 , Interesting)
Not being readable even when someone has the device in hand is exactly what these secure FPGAs are meant to protect against!

It's not a non-issue. It's a complete failure of a product to provide any advantages over non-secure equivalents.

You clearly have NOT used a FPGA or similar. First the ProASIC3 the article focuses on is the CHEAPEST product in the product line (some of that model line reach down to below a dollar each). But beyond that ... Devices are SECURED by processes, such as blowing the JTAG fuses in the device which makes them operation only, and unreadable. They are secureable, if you follow the proper processes and methods laid out by the manufacturer of the specific chip.

Just because a "research paper" claims there is other then standard methods of JTAG built into the JTAG doesn't mean that the device doesn't secure as it should, nor does it mean this researcher who is trying to peddle his own product is anything but biased in this situation.

nospam007 ( 722110 ) * , Monday May 28, 2012 @02:39PM ( #40136445 )
Re:What did the military expect? ( Score: 4 , Interesting)

"Even if this case turns out to be a false alarm, allowing a nation that you repeatedly refer to as a 'near-peer competitor' to build parts of your high-tech weaponry is idiotic."

Not to mention the non-backdoor ones.

'Bogus electronic parts from China have infiltrated critical U.S. defense systems and equipment, including Navy helicopters and a commonly used Air Force cargo aircraft, a new report says.'

http://articles.dailypress.com/2012-05-23/news/dp-nws-counterfeit-chinese-parts-20120523_1_fake-chinese-parts-counterfeit-parts-air-force-c-130j [dailypress.com]

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