The Missing Weapon at Dunkirk

 

©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

Although most people under 40 are astonishingly unknowledgeable about it, a great worldwide armed conflict known as World War II took place from 1939-1945 in the European and Pacific regions. It is relevant and important to know and understand because the outcome of World War II put into place the political, economic and geographical conditions and relationships that make the world what it is today. An understanding of the ramifications of WWII is central to comprehending how today’s world came to be. People under 40—heck, even under 60—would do themselves a huge favor if they learned some history and saw how that history affected today’s world.

The 1939 war in Europe was caused mostly by the consequences of the unresolved complications and volatile conditions that persisted following the end of World War I in 1918. World War I took place from 1914-1918 and was a struggle for the control of Europe, primarily between the Germans on one side against the French and British (aided by America after 1917) on the other side. Germany remained particularly unstable in the years after the end of the Great War (as WWI came to be known) and in retrospect, many historians feel that another war in Europe was inevitable.

The inevitability of another European war after 1918 became reality on September 1st, 1939 when Germany turned eastward and attacked Poland. Having built up its military forces in direct contravention to WWI treaties, Germany overwhelmed Poland in a matter of a few short weeks, using their newly-developed Blitzkrieg tactics. Unlike the ponderous, static, slow-motion trench warfare that dominated World War I, Germany saw the potential of combining fast-moving armored forces with close-support air power (dive bombers and fast low-altitude bombers) to deliver a decisive, overpowering blow to their enemy’s critical targets in the very early stages of the action. (Germany’s Blitzkrieg tactics were so successful that the term has now become part of the popular lexicon, meaning any quick, overwhelming action, whether in sports or business or some other endeavor.)

Following a relatively uneventful 1939-1940 winter (a time period that came to be known as the “Phony War”), German resumed its hostilities against Europe in the spring of 1940, turning its attention westward. German forces blasted through the “Low Countries” of Holland and Belgium and swung around to invade France from a point behind its main defensive eastern border with Germany. Following World War I, France fortified their eastern border with Germany with a massive wall of concrete and armament called the Maginot Line in an effort to prevent any future invasion by Germany. But Germany attacked Holland and Belgium to the north and west of Germany, through the supposedly impenetrably dense Ardennes forest and they swung into France from behind the Maginot Line. France’s expensive, full-proof defense against German aggression proved to be a worthless folly.

As German forces poured into France, the French military was disoriented, confused and demoralized. Despite having numerical superiority over Germany in planes and equipment, the French utterly failed to mount an effective defense of their homeland. Desperate and panicked, France pleaded with Britain to send men and materiél to their aid.

The British did so, in the form of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), consisting of several hundred thousand troops along with tanks and aircraft. It was a wasted effort, as the British could not buttress the listless and disorganized French forces against the brilliantly-trained, highly-motivated German army. Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics decimated the allied formations, inflicting severe losses and taking great swaths of French territory.

Sometimes, what might seem to be a small decision at the time can have huge long-range consequences, with repercussions that last decades into the future, even to the point of altering the course of history. Such was the case in the battle for France in May of 1940. British Air Marshal Lord Hugh Dowding made the decision to not send any of Britain’s valuable Spitfire fighter aircraft to France for the fight against the Germans. The Spitfire was generally regarded as the best fighter plane in the world at the time (narrowly edging out Germany’s BF-109 and Japan’s Mitsubishi Zero-Sen). Dowding correctly recognized that Britain would soon be in a one-on-one fight for survival against Germany and any hope Britain had of fighting off the German air force (the Luftwaffe) rested squarely on the shoulders of their small contingent of Spitfires.

As I wrote in 2008:

The British proved themselves prescient when they sent only second-line Hurricane fighters to fight against the Germans in France. In spite of vehement French protests, Air Marshal Lord Dowding (head of Britain’s Fighter Command) refused to allow any of Britain’s valuable front-line Spitfire fighter planes to be “wasted” in what he knew would be a losing effort in France. Better to husband them for England’s solitary fight to come against the Germans after France’s capitulation.

By the end of May, the German forces had cornered the remnants of the allied armies into a small, vulnerable pocket in Dunkirk, near the coast of France.  It appeared that the European war would soon be over, as the German army was poised to finish the job. Exactly what happened next is the subject of some controversy, but the lessons for military planners reverberate as clearly today as they did then, some 68 [77] years ago.

Rather than sending in their armored, tank-equipped Panzer divisions to destroy the virtually defenseless allied forces, the Germans held them back. Instead, the finishing task was given to Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe. Military historians have posited that perhaps Germany’s armored Panzer divisions were stretched too thin and had outrun their supply lines, and thus needed time for rest and recuperation. Another popular theory has it that the head of the Luftwaffe—Hermann Göring—was envious of the glory that his Army counterparts were getting from their numerous overwhelming victories, and he wanted to prove that his air force was worthy of similar accolades.

But regardless of the reason, the German air force was given the responsibility, and it failed. That decision remains one of the greatest military blunders of all time. The Luftwaffe flew sortie after sortie, attacking the Allied armies, but couldn’t finish the job. Instead, the British organized an amazing sea-borne rescue effort and sent hundreds of ships and boats of all kinds across the Channel to rescue the beleaguered soldiers. Everything from Royal Navy transport ships to private fishing boats participated in the effort. The RAF flew cover and fought off the German air attacks. Although their losses were high and virtually all their equipment was left on the beaches of Dunkirk, almost 400,000 Allied soldiers were rescued, and survived to fight another day.

The Spitfire was the missing weapon in the fall of France. If the British had sent Spitfires to France and wasted those invaluable, irreplaceable front-line fighter planes and pilots in the weeks prior to Dunkirk in a hopelessly futile effort to save France from the German onslaught, then surely the German Luftwaffe would have succeeded in destroying the Allied armies on the beaches of Dunkirk. Absent the Spitfire, there were no British fighter planes that could defeat the BF-109 in head-to-head combat. British Hawker Hurricane and Bolton Paul Defiant fighters had already proven themselves outclassed by the 109 and suffered sharp losses in direct combat. In the likely event of significant Spitfire losses in the battle for France (even if just mostly from normal high-stress military service attrition and accidents), the Germans would have ruled the skies over Dunkirk and their bombers—unhindered by numerically-significant Spitfire opposition—would have exacted a decisive, fatal toll on both the trapped Allied soldiers on the beach and the beleaguered British ships and boats that were trying to help.

But that was not the case. There were enough (barely enough!) Spitfires to keep the German air force at bay in the skies over Dunkirk. Lord Dowding’s decision to withhold Britain’s priceless Spitfires from the losing, pointless exercise in France was unquestionably one of the most important, consequential decisions in military history. Few history books even mention it and neither does the otherwise-excellent current movie Dunkirk, but the “no Spitfires sent to France” decision ranks as one of the very most important military judgments of all time.

A clear indication of the Spitfire’s unmatched excellence came from an unlikely source, none other than General Adolf Galland, high-ranking German ace, who became head of all of Germany’s fighter forces later in the war. When asked by Hermann Göring (Reichsmarschall of the Luftwaffe) what he needed to be more successful in battle, Galland famously replied, “I should like a staffel [squadron] of Spitfires for my gruppe!

At the very end of the movie Dunkirk, there is a dedication screen that reads, “Dedicated to all the individuals whose lives have been impacted by the events at Dunkirk.” It’s an intentionally subtle and brilliant statement by producer Christopher Nolan, since everyone in the world since 1940 has been “impacted” by the events that took place there. Had the Germans won the war in Europe—and they were within a hairsbreadth of doing that at Dunkirk—the world would be a drastically different place today. Everyone’s lives would have been impacted. But Britain’s heroic Royal Air Force—led by those courageous pilots flying their Spitfires—didn’t let that happen.

 

 

Who is Imran Awan? A former (he was employed up until Tuesday by Wasserman Schultz) IT employee of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and previously several other Democrat members of congress, who is now released under “high-intensity” supervision (involving curfew and a restriction on his ability to travel and including a GPS monitor he has to use). All this after he was detained at Dulles trying to flee the country on Tuesday.

But Awan has been in the FBI’s sights for some time now, for bank fraud. Last January he wired $283,000 to two individuals in Pakistan. These funds were apparently obtained from a fraudulent loan from the Congressional Federal Credit Union meant for a principal residence but used to purchases a rental property. The question is: where else might those $283,000 come from? Awan and other family members worked at inflated salaries for several Democrat members of congress, including Wasserman Schultz, since 2004-2005. Were these funds the result of overbilling? Were they the result of theft of IT equipment that Awan is accused of, involving the offices of members of Congress that he worked for as an IT consultant? Are they the fruits of a series of scams he seems to have been running?

What the heck is going on here?

Consider this: Wasserman Schultz threatened Capitol police in late May for not returning a laptop and perhaps other computer equipment that are clearly part of the investigation. Why? What does she not want investigators to find on that laptop and other devices? Why was Awan, who has been the target of the fraud investigation since at least early this year and whose wife fled with their children to Pakistan back in March, still employed by Wasserman Schultz until just this Tuesday morning when they finally fired him??

It is interesting to note that Awan had access to certain members of Congress’ email lists and even files stored on staffers’ computers. Is there blackmail involved here?

And who the heck in Pakistan received those funds? A quarter million dollars (plus 33 thousand just to top it off) goes a along way in Islamabad, for example. Is this just plain old fraud by a smooth-talking operator? Or is there more involved, given that Wasserman Schultz has kept him on the payroll until just a day or two ago?

Yes, Trump’s announcement of cancelling Ash Carter’s policy of beginning to officially accept transgendered military personnel will suck up a lot of oxygen over the next few days. And the Senate’s attempt at passing a skinny health care bill that will serve as the basis for conference with the House, is also key. But Awan’s and Wasserman Schultz’s story is one that should be receiving more media attention. Who knows where it will lead?

Never mind Anthony Scaramucci’s fairly successful transition to White House Communications Director. Never mind Spicer’s abrupt resignation. Never mind the White House’s communication team, period. They’re not the real players as far as the news cycle – especially the Russia story – goes.

It’s at communications shops like Fusion GPS with it’s co-founder Glenn Simpson, where most of the news nowadays gets manufactured.

In a fascinating piece in Tablet Magazine, The Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith details the fall of mainstream journalism (not mainstream media mind you; business is booming right now) and the rise of opposition research, epitomized by Fusion GPS. Journalism has always depended in part, and sometimes in large part, on access to important government officials. How big is your source? they ask over drinks – assuming they have the time for happy hour – in D.C. And Fusion GPS, founded in 2009 by several ex-WSJ writers with reputations as very competent professionals flipped the equation they’d been laboring under as well-paid reporters at WSJ and elsewhere. As Lee Smith puts it:

Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

That’s because most people get far more of their news from Facebook, and news organizations apparently don’t have the budget to staff the newsrooms with experienced veteran reporters. That has meant that communications shops and opposition research groups are now the newsrooms. And it’s they who manufacture and sell narratives to journalists with little experience, eager to have and to jealously protect a hot source. Those folks of whom Ben Rhodes famously said: they literally know nothing.

And Fusion GPS sits at the intersection of this new news-making network of communications firms and opposition research groups. They have been part of some of the main stories of the last several years:

  • Mitt Romney’s donors and the supposed scandal over them in the 2012 campaign
  • Panned Parenthood’s pushback after the videos were released that showed them in a rather horrifying light.
  • They have been hired to look into the affairs of Carlos Slim – The Mexican billionaire who even owns a piece of the NYT
  • The Russia probe that may bring down a president
  • And they even played the opposite side of this game by working with Natallia Velenitskaya’s project to help repeal the Magnitsky Act.

Which means they helped produce a story that makes Trump look like a Manchurian candidate owned by Putin, and at the same time they helped people with links to Putin to try and overturn a piece of legislation that Putin himself detests. That’s uncomfortably close to being both prosecutor and defense lawyer and getting paid for both roles. Nice work if you can get it. As Lee Smith writes:

The Trump-Russia story has been frequently likened to Watergate, a specious comparison since the latter started with evidence of a crime and the former with publication of an anthology of fables, pornography, and Russian-sourced disinformation put together and distributed by partisan political operatives. The salient comparison is rather in the effect – it has the same feel as Watergate. And it’s taking up the same space as Watergate – and that’s because comms shops-for-hire like Fusion GPS have assumed the role that the American press used to occupy.

It’s Private Label Rights that America’s news organizations happily buy into. Literally.

Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement a Huge Non-Event

 

©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement has been cited by his critics as proof of his callous ignorance of critical environmental concerns in favor of his big-business colleagues and partisan donors, and by implication, further proof of his generalized unsuitability to be President.

The multi-national Paris Agreement is largely based two assumptions:

  1. Mankind will continue to rely on and overuse fossil fuels as the predominant energy source for transportation and heating, thus perpetuating the problem of anthropogenic Global Warming.
  2. The Paris Agreement is central to civilization’s ability to stop and reverse climate change before it reaches an irreversible “tipping point.”

Both assumptions are demonstrably false; therefore, the entire basis for the Paris Agreement is, at best, embarrassingly naïve and, at worst, an outright fraud.

Fossil fuels (oil, gasoline and natural gas) are currently the primary energy sources for heating and transportation, but our reliance on them for these purposes is already declining precipitously, independent of any international climate “agreement.” Use of alternative non-fossil fuels has increased dramatically from less than 5% before 1990 to over 13% in 2014 and may well increase somewhat in the future as their technology improves and their cost declines. However, so-called renewables are a dead end energy solution, whether their use is increasing or not. There is a practical upper limit as to what actual portion of the world’s total energy use renewables can provide, agreed upon by most objective energy analysts as being far less than a majority—or even a significant—percentage of the total. Absent their Government subsidies, it’s questionable if renewables would even be a factor at all.

Far more important to the current energy picture in terms of reducing CO2-emitting fuels is the use of fracking (led by the United States) and the resultant mother lode of natural gas that’s been unlocked and has replaced “dirty” coal. CO2 emissions in the United States are already down to early 1990’s levels, primarily because of the increased natural gas supply made possible by fracking. The potential for natural gas to replace coal, and therefore reduce CO2 emissions, is even greater worldwide, since fracking has only just begun outside the United States.

There is a great desire among most people to choose a “green” energy source when it is close in price to a polluting fuel and an even stronger desire among 1st-world economies to be free of the shackles and whims of politically-unstable OPEC-influenced world oil pricing. The Paris Agreement is not needed to increase non-fossil fuel demand nor is its presence the reason for the already-growing use of alternative fuels. These developments are taking place now, with or without Paris. The Agreement is a non-factor.

The Paris Agreement itself is not a binding, enforceable international “treaty” of any kind. There are no penalties for non-compliance. The Agreement is strictly for show, a way for the major Western economies to make themselves feel good about leading by example and showing recalcitrant CO2 offenders like China and India that they too should take voluntary steps to reduce their environmentally-damaging emissions. For American politicians, the Agreement is a way to show their targeted environmental supporters that the Government is actively, tangibly doing something to combat climate change. The vote-influencing effect of the Agreement is probably its most substantive outcome.

However, the Paris Agreement itself does nothing to actually reduce global warming. In words spoken on December 9, 2015 by our direct representative, the estimable then-Secretary of State John Kerry,

… The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what – that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.

If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions –- remember what I just said, all the industrial emissions went down to zero emissions -– it wouldn’t be enough, not when more than 65% of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.

The second assumption of the Paris Agreement—that the earth will soon reach an irreversible, disastrous tipping point if dramatic action to halt anthropogenic warming emissions is not taken immediately— is similarly flawed. To begin with, there is no scientific proof of that, nor is any “proof” possible. The notion of a tipping point is merely a totally unsubstantiated talking point that has entered the climate dialog in remarkable coincidence to the non-fulfilment of past years’ predictions of warming-induced calamity and devastation. Shorelines have not crept miles inland, wiping out cities, ports and civilization along the way. Manhattan is still not under water. Pestilence and disease are not on the rise. If the undefined notion of a “tipping point” is valid, it would appear that we we’re not even close to reaching it yet.

It would likely require a geologically-significant time frame for a tipping point to occur—probably on the order of several centuries. As the capabilities of low- and non-carbon-based energy sources increase and their cost continues to decline, it’s quite reasonable to predict that within a very short time—50 to 100 years—the portion of energy that the world derives from low- and non-CO2-emitting sources will be large enough to make the entire emissions-caused-warming issue moot. Recent studies suggest that battery pricing is declining more rapidly than previously thought, such that electric vehicles will dominate auto sales as soon as 2040, displacing an amount of oil usage equal to Saudi Arabia’s entire output. That will cause a paradigm shift in both the CO2 emissions and geo-political components like nothing before ever has. And Paris has nothing to do with it.

Therefore, President Trump was entirely correct to see the valueless proposition of the Paris Agreement to the United States. The Agreement calls upon developed countries to come to the financial aid of less developed nations in order to assist them in curbing their carbon emissions, but the Agreement itself has no emissions enforcement mechanisms and full compliance—a very iffy proposition at best—won’t make a dent in worldwide warming anyway. It’s a disingenuous sham, designed only to make a favorable visual impression on those who don’t pay close attention and it wilfully ignores the legitimately-questionable scientific basis for the entire warming argument, the rapid technologically- and market-driven advancement of alternative energy, and the very short geological time frame before which the entire anthropogenic emissions-caused climate change issue becomes totally irrelevant.

Good riddance.

 

 

 

 

Jeff Sessions might tough it out as AG, despite receiving fire from all sides:

  • The left, especially the radical Southern Poverty Law Center, decry his supposed racism based on a biased interpretation of a decades-old comment that more than likely was innocent than revealing of any true prejudice. There’s also a rather silly and yes somewhat untactful joke about the KKK and weed, attributed to Sessions as well.
  • Limited government conservatives and libertarians (which should mean the same thing but doesn’t) are up in arms about Sessions apparent move to increase the power of civil forfeiture by local authorities, meaning that search and seizure will become even more unreasonable if Sessions gets his way on this one. The 4th amendment may very well be at stake here.
  • Experts on drug policy disagree strongly with his revoking the easing of minimum sentencing guidelines for first time offenders, and his jail-em-all policy preferences on any drug offenses.
  • And … President Trump is still really mad at Sessions for the AG’s recusal, which gave Deputy AG Rosenstein the reins, which led to Special Counsel Mueller. And Trump, of course, publicly dissed his AG for this in a recent interview with the NYTimes.

Will Sessions finally resign? Will he join Spicer as a former Trump official? An AG is much much more than a spokesman, and it is a key position given the FBI’s investigation and the Russia probes in general. One in which process is godly, and in which the independence of the DOJ is a sacred torch. At least according to anonymous, partisan, leak-prone DOJ officials.

But how much will the drama at DOJ matter? A lot? Yes and if Sessions does quit, it will cause a media storm filled with sturm und Drang. A passionate cry to the heavens about how America is drifting, divided and crumbling!

Maybe. And it will make for lots and lots of hysterical headlines.

But a more rational event is happening over at Microsoft. In a fascinating piece in The Daily Beast, (yes that hysterically anti-Trump webrag), Kevin Poulsen outlines Microsoft’s strategy against Fancy Bear, the notorious Russian hacking group with probable links to Russian intelligence and the Putin regime. And it’s both targeted, nerdy, and effective. Here’s how the Seattle Behemoth is fighting against Russian hacking:

To do the dirty work of stealing documents and hacking emails, the malware used by Fancy Bear needs command-and-control servers that provide encrypted commands to the malware sitting on your laptop, or wherever. The servers – rented from providers around the world – are the spymasters if you will that give the instructions and receive the stolen documents. So what Microsoft’s teams of lawyers are doing is going to court to gain control of the domain names that route to the command-and-control servers. Domain names like: livemicrosoft[.]net or rsshotmail[.]com. They then divert traffic from the Russian servers to Microsofts own servers, cutting off the chain of communications that provide the backbone for these malware attacks.

Not only that, Microsoft has run algorithms that predict likely new domain names that Fancy Bear operators might try next. And go to court to ensure that they are under Microsoft’s name. Thousands of them.

So who needs the DOJ or the Russia Probes? Just let a team of Microsoft lawyers convince a few judges to let them have control over domain names that are being maliciously used by bad actors to harm America.

Imagine. It’s January, 2025 and the President names his or her Deputy AG for Net Security: a former Microsoft programmer, who picked up a law degree in his spare time while working on the Fancy Bear project. It might not happen in 2024, but the way Washington is sinking into deep, partisan, swampy, quicksand, that moment is indeed coming. Just a matter of when.

What a shock. It looks like the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA, is about to be buried, along with the AHCA. Senator Mike Lee was signalling skepticism, and he has now come out against it. And so has Senatory Jerry Moran of Kansas. Both GOP of course. What Moran said was interesting:

… if we leave the federal government in control of everyday health care decisions, it is more likely that our health care system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase.

Interesting because it may be that Senators Moran, Lee, Collins, and Rand and their no votes may help pave the way for that single-payer system to become reality. May, but we can’t really say for sure. That’s because either Obamacare remains in place largely untouched because GOP conservatives and moderates are far too apart on the complex trade-offs.

Or – as Senator Moran seems to be suggesting and which may be the only alternative to Obamacare that is feasible – we will have a significant devolution of power back to the states as far as health care policy goes. Something that will take years of litigation that will end up – on multiple occasions more than likely – in the Supreme Court. And which will mean that health care will be provided in very different ways in Texas, for example, compared to California. For example.

Actually, it’s not really the trade-offs that are that complex. It’s the endless policy iterations that are used to mask subsidies and taxes under complex legal language. Because the trade-offs boil down to that cliched but still-true trinity of what is achievable under America’s (and any) health care system. There are three basic truths:

  • You can lower/raise premiums
  • You can raise/lower deductibles (that is lower/raise the amount you pay out of pocket)
  • You can raise/lower taxes/subsidies

And you get to choose two out of those three. Doing all three is impossible. Yes you could keep taxes constant and increase the deficit with more government subsidized care and lower premiums. But even there you run up against fiscal constraints built into the budget process.

Right now, polling suggests that a clear majority of Americans do not want a market based health care insurance system. The voters themselves basically hate the BCRA. And Senators will now feel even less obliged to risk their re-election prospects by voting yes, now that Collins, Rand, Lee, & Moran have come out against it. Voters are also mad at the higher Obamacare premiums that are the inevitable result of adverse selection: healthy younger voters staying away, and older sicker voters buying in to the ACA. And of course insurance companies are going broke under Obamacare’s rules and mandates.

That’s not sustainable. You either repeal and replace the ACA, or at least dramatically reform it. But reforming Obamacare is running into resistance from hospital groups and insurers – the former because the hospital business is booming thanks to the ACA, the latter because of the subsidies the insurance industry receives under Obamacare. So even a reasonable but modest reform is impossible apparently. Or you increase government involvement: more taxes more regulations, more direct federal involvement in how your health care is provided.

That means only one thing. Repeal and replace will likely fail. Obamacare will continue it’s zombie existence and it will be saved by the only way that a health care zombie plan can be saved.

A government take over of healthcare in a process that will effectively become a single-payer system over the coming years. The only place left to fight it seems to be at the state level. Would a president Kamala Harris (don’t laugh … don’t laugh!) hesitate to send in troops in 2025 to quell an unruly state who tried to provide health care in a more free market way? Or more likely, cut off all federal funding to said state(s)?

Maybe this theoretical, will remain just that, a silly theoretical. But we are now one step closer to that possibility.

There is a way around so-called whataboutism. The pointing out of similar sins committed by Democrats as a response to charges that Trump’s team may have colluded with Russia. A charge that is far more weighty now than it was a week or two ago.

And that way is to ensure that any and all actors involved on both – or all – sides of the 2016 campaign are compelled to testify before Mueller’s team or either of the two Senate investigations, or the House investigation. That will mean a significant number of key players from Trump’s campaign team. Some are even suggesting that Brad Parscale and even the Mercers should be questioned.

That is ridiculous by any standard. The Mercers did indeed fund – mostly through PAC’s – much of Cambridge Analytica’s data mining work for Ted Cruz and even Ben Carson, before the firm began doing work for the Trump campaign during the summer of 2016. To suggest that the Mercer’s are suddenly persons of interest – as some but only some have suggested – shows how partisan the Russia probes can still be.

Unfortunately if any one of the committees decide to compel the Mercers to testify, then they will have to. That’s what happens when investigations reach a certain mass, and when there appears to be evidence of attempts at some sort of collusion with Russian actors.

So we now have the media looking for and leaking information on who might somehow be involved in any aspect of any relationship that may have taken place between any possible Russian actor and anyone at all related to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Fair enough. Which means Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS’s co-founder should be compelled to do what he is apparently refusing to volunteer to do. Appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next July 19. Let’s not forget about Fusion GPS and their role in the Trump Dossier, which was another brazen attempt at Russian interference in the election and in the post-election period as well. Let’s hope that the various committees, and especially Mueller’s team are methodical and bi-partisan enough to call Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson and whoever else might be involved with the Trump Dossier.

Which brings up an interesting point. When the Trump Dossier and Fusion GPS were first becoming publicly known news stories, there was a brief news item about how Fusion GPS was initially hired by GOP opponents of Trump. Actually, the news item was more specific than that. They named Senator John McCain as possibly one of the first to hire Fusion GPS, whose shoddy and almost certainly manipulated information – manipulated by Russian intel most likely – was then passed on to Democrats and was perhaps used by the FBI as a reason to open their probe, sometime in 2016, or perhaps earlier.

Or did Senator McCain merely pass the Dossier to the FBI this past January and also perhaps help leak it? The media occasionally mentions that the dossier started out as GOP opposition research, but they don’t get specific on who the GOP opposition was who initially contracted GSP Fusion. Senator McCain would certainly have had a motivation or two to dig up dirt on Trump.

Investigate it all. Methodically and thoroughly.

The hacks on the DNC server – and the server itself should be investigated by Mueller’s team and not remain in the DNC headquarters. The hacks of Podesta’s emails. Hillary’s homebrew server. And absolutely any and everything relevant to anything that Trump’s campaign may have done with regard to Russia. All of it needs to be investigated. Not to excuse anybody, but to bring political, and if necessary legal, judgement to bear on the 2016 campaign.

So get used to learning to pronounce Russian names like Natalia Veselnitskaya (break it up into syllables, that makes it easier to get your tongue around it) the Russian attorney whose main purpose was and maybe even still is to get the Magnitsky Act (sanctions levied against Russia due to a brutal prison killing of a whistleblower in Moscow) repealed. And who was the main bait in the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. Or Rinat Akhmetshin, the former Soviet intel officer/possible spy who was also at that meeting. Or Aleksej Gubarev, an internet entrepreneur who works out of Cyprus, and who was accused of running a spy operation on the DNC by Christopher Steele in the dossier. And who is suing in the U.S. and the U.K. for damages.

Right now, any Russian name remotely related to the investigations will do. Get used to it.

There’s a horrifying article in The National Interest by Cheryl Benard, herself a refugee activist and author who comes from a rather left-wing background, on the wave of brutal sexual assaults in Western Europe. An alarmingly high percentage of these assaults are committed by young male refugees from Afghanistan. Benard goes into a lot of detail on specific assaults against all sorts of women in Austria, a country she apparently knows well. Women who were happily going about their business in shared public spaces in broad daylight usually, and who were assaulted usually by packs of young Afghan refugees. Many of them were mothers pushing prams. Yes pushing baby carriages in the broad sunlight in a park in Austria, for example.

As an advocate for refugees, Benard is compelled to seek out an answer to this disturbing phenomenon. She methodically works through and dismisses the usual cliched reasons what we would howl in outrage if attempted as an excuse by a young white male in North America, for example: provocative behavior, cultural norms clashing, drunken mob behavior. She finds most of the excuses given in court by the perpetrators are manipulative attempts to play the judicial systems in countries like Austria, Germany, and Sweden. And they work, tragically. It is almost impossible to deport a refugee who happens to be a violent serial rapist, due to current European law.

What Cheryl Benard is forced to conclude – in what she admits was a painful process – is that these young men have a violent contempt for Western values and understand perfectly that their savage assaults will never receive a retribution that is anywhere near as cruel and damaging as their violent sex crimes themselves. They will not be repaid in kind, and they full well know this. That means that there is no disincentive for them to change their behavior. And they see themselves as almost punishers of a decadent West – especially as punishers of happily fulfilled women going about their lives. A West that is doomed to collapse under the brutality of their assaults, in their sociopathic worldview.

Further, more integrated Afghan refugees who have lived for years in Europe, most of them as successful and functional citizens, are not willing to be a bridge of communication that might allow them to give these young men an example of what they should aspire to. They either wash their hands of their more brutal compatriots or implicitly encourage their behavior.

Women in Europe are thus exposed to a danger that had been apparently conquered and vanquished decades ago. Is it going to take years of take-back-the-night type of marches, to finally get legislators in Europe to admit that the violence against women is not coming from Lutheran preachers or aging Catholic priests laying on an altar in France with their throats slit, but from refugees from Afghan and other countries that treat their women abysmally?

Diversity and multiculturalism have been claimed as an absolute good in and of itself by the cultural left (which is what the left is nowadays) for decades now. It’s time they rethink this so-called truth for it is a dangerous lie. There are values far more important than mere diversity for diversity’s sake. Read the constitution for a few very good examples of these values. So this truth of diversity unleavened by other redeeming values like freedom of speech and freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness, is indeed a dangerous lie, dangerous above all to women and children. Cheryl Benard’s article is a much needed start by the left.

How long has Ben Rhodes known about the now infamous Donald Jr. emails, before he released them, or spoke of their contents, directly or through an intermediary, with the NY Times?

Ok, that question involves a couple of assumptions, it’s true. First, Ben Rhodes is probably who has been coordinating leaks of damaging information over the last 6 or so months, with the collusion of former or current Intel, State and DOJ officials. He sets the schedule, if you will, releasing the information at what he feels – and he’s very very very good at this – will be the optimal moment to do maximum damage to Trump’s presidency.

Second, Rhodes may very well have been the one who was given and thus had access to these emails. How? Well, the NSA might be a good place to start. Or as Tom Rogan in The Washington Examiner suggests, the British equivalent: the GCHQ, who were surely monitoring British go-between Rob Goldstone. Who knows? But it is reasonable to suspect this. Unfortunately, with the Trump administration it’s sometimes hard to know if the leaks are from #The Resistance, or internal.

If any of the various investigations, especially Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, find sufficient evidence to lay charges – and they very well might as a result of these emails – this raises another interesting question:

Are Bob Mueller and his top-notch legal team dependent, at least in part, on Ben Rhodes to gather crucial bits of evidence in the ongoing Russia probes? If so, that means that Ben Rhodes is even more powerful politically out of office than he was in office as Deputy National Security Advisor during Obama’s presidency. And is so at a crucial time in America’s political history. Which leads to the following question:

When the heck will Ben Rhodes be asked to testify at one or more of the investigations into the Russia connection? Are people that scared of him? Or is he seen as a very useful behind-the-scenes player? Which is what he always has been. In other words, keep Ben where he can do the most damage: on his cellphone talking to the right people with the right dirt. At the right time.

So, kudos to the GOP’s Rob DeSantis for actually saying the words: “Ben Rhodes.”

Another unusual twist on Putin’s possible interference in America comes from The Daily Signal, who report on a letter from GOP congressmen Lamar Smith and Randy Weber to Secretary Mnuchin, in which they make the following claim:

Putin is funding hard-left environmental groups in order to disrupt fracking in America, and therefore boost the value of Russian oil and gas deposits. And to therefore ensure the Europe remains beholden to Russia’s energy supplies, with all the concomitant geopolitical implications. This according to Smith and Weber.

Is this possible? Is the “keep it in the ground” movement funded, in part at least, with money funneled from the Kremlin? It has been known for some time that Soviet activity was far more involved in America’s radical movements in the 60’s and 70’s, than generally had been supposed. Despite such claims of Soviet involvement being laughed off at the time by those on the left. So it is not impossible for Putin to have added some muscle to an environmental movement which would have engaged in some form of protest regardless, but may have been given more resources to do so.

If Russia’s dirty tricks are everywhere in America, then they may be behind some of the anti-fossil fuel protests as well. This does not excuse Donald Trump Jr’s idiocy. It makes it even less excusable, to be perfectly clear. As Nixon might have said.

Let The Daily Beast gleefully call President Trump a “snowflake” president for heading to Warsaw before attending the G20 Summit in Hamburg. A more reasoned analysis comes from a former Obama administration official – Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs in the former administration. She has this to say about the president’s use of Poland as his first stop in this trip:

He is going to Poland to say ‘I favor this kind of Europe, as opposed to our more traditional allies in Europe.’ It was probably quite conscious to go there first to send a message about his priorities.

One can make the argument, as Douglas Murray does, that Western Europe is dying. Culturally, philosophically, politically. And yes it is aging demographically as well, at a rate much greater than America currently is. While Eastern Europe, having lived nearly two full generations under communist rule from Moscow, has a far different reading of the continent’s future. Unfortunately, it is true that many countries in the East of Europe tend to balance between former communist leaders and bureaucrats and xenophobic blood and soil nationalists. Exactly the way Western Europe did during the middle years of the 20th century.

Given this background, Trump’s following words from his speech in Warsaw have a double resonance:

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
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This is both a challenge to Western Europe and a cautious call to arms to Eastern Europe. It will never be compared to JFK’s Berliner speech, but it was a sweeping declaration of intent on Trump’s part. You can parse it for it’s politically impolite reprimand of countries like Germany who belatedly have realized their disastrous move in unconditionally opening up their borders was unhelpful. You can sneer that it is an embrace of nationalism in countries like Poland and Hungary where they have resisted allowing any significant number of refugees in. But you cannot ignore it’s strong call to action against Russian threats.

So how do you square that with Trump still walking back his admission that Russia could indeed have interfered in America’s election? Yes, he’s fighting a battle against Democrats and much of media who have declared his presidency illegitimate from the day after the election last November. But there may be another reason. Perhaps he’s received intelligence about the matter and has been advised not to reveal how much is known on the part of America’s intel community about Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 elections, regardless of what specific purpose Putin’s cyber agents actually had.

Neither reason is good enough to not acknowledge an attempt, a dangerous attempt, by Russia to destabilize America. Yet both are good enough reasons to word carefully any acknowledgement on Trump’s part. The problem, of course, is that by the time he actually does do that, the president will face a tsunami of questions about whether is presidency is legitimate. And that, in part at least, is his fault.

As President Trump and Putin meet in Hamburg, Germany at the G-20 summit, and as President Trump continues to resist admitting that Russia may very well have interfered, or attempted to do so, in last year’s election and during much of the 2016 campaign, there is another question emerging.

Why did the DNC refuse to let the FBI or DHS have a look at the server that was hacked to reveal Hillary’s emails? Instead the DNC turned to Crowdstrike back in 2016, to do an analysis of the server. And the DNC has still not allowed the Washington D.C. intel community to examine the server and make a determination on who did the hacking and what the object of the hack might have been.

Both Senators Lindsey Graham and Kamala Harris – two rather unsimilar senators in terms of their politics – have publicly called for the DNC to allow further investigation of the Hillary server. And Crowdstrike itself is coming under increased scrutiny. One of its main investors is Warburg Pincus, run by Timothy Geithner, the ex Treasury Secretary of the Obama administration, and also a veteran of the Clinton administration. The DNC has been a client of Crowdstrike for a few years now, but they also have the National Republican Congressional Committee as clients as well. Crowdstrike is an insider, well-connected beltway firm in other words.

Will any of the Russia investigation committees get their hands on the famous DNC server? Will Mueller send in an armed squad of G-men to 430 South Capitol Street to confiscate the darn thing? And if they finally do, what will they find? That in the process of analyzing the server, Crowdstrike had to “bleach” it? As apparently happened with Hillary’s homebrew server?

Or are the Russia investigations too obsessed with forcing any Trump associates – current and former – into perjuring themselves during the investigative process, to even bother about the server? Will the server have it’s day in court? Will they actually wheel it in on a trolley and place it near the witnesses? Like a sacred monolith?

Or more to the point, will executives and analysts from Crowdstrike be called to testify before Congress? Along with independent experts who have been allowed to thoroughly examine the DNC server?