Maybe Felix Slater – the Russian-born investor/developer/shady-biznethman – is closest to the truth in an interview he had with the Daily Beast on the topic of the Trump organization’s interest in building a Trump Tower in Moscow during late 2015 and up to mid-2016. He said:

It was like, ‘OK, shit, he got the nomination, it’s not happening, it’s not happening now—that was the idea.

If Michael Cohen did indeed have far more contacts with Russia – and even with an aide to Putin – during the first half of 2016, then maybe it was true that Trump the candidate was reluctant to let slip what he considered a good business opportunity in Moscow. And it could be that while Trump was enjoying the process of campaigning for the nomination and the conflicts and the increased media storm around him, he perhaps doubted that he would make it all the way to the White House, and still largely saw himself as a businessman.

But let go he eventually did. Whether the contacts in the late spring and early summer of 2016 are a case of Sater pursuing the deal on his own, or on behalf of candidate Trump, remains to be seen. But even if true, while uncomfortable because of the lies used to cover it up, it does not represent evidence of any collusion. And as Alan Dershowitz said to Fox’s Bill Hemmer regarding the Michael Cohen accusations:

I think the weakness of Mueller’s substantive findings are suggested by the fact that he has to resort to false statement prosecutions, which really shows that he didn’t start with very much, and that the very fact that he’s conducting an investigation has created these crimes. These are not crimes that had been committed prior to his appointment, they’re crimes that were committed as the result of his appointment, and that raises some questions about the role of special prosecutors in creating crimes or creating opportunities for crimes to be committed.

So, let’s review.

  • Trump announces candidacy in the summer of 2015.
  • Trump expresses interest privately in building a Trump Tower in Moscow in fall of 2015 a few months after his candidacy has been declared. It’s hard to say for how many years he’s wanted to build in the city, but one suspects it’s been a while.
  • Trump does far better than anyone expected in the nominating process and is nominated to the GOP and the world’s shock in late spring 2016.
  • Trump’s advisors have final contacts on a Trump Tower in Moscow around June of 2016.

The conspiracy theorists will say something like: it was hinted to Trump by Putin aides or cut-outs that he could help Trump win the election. A Trump Tower Moscow was a potential prize he suggested to the candidate back sometime in early or mid-2016, or perhaps later in the year.

This is probably ridiculous.

By June 2016, Donald Trump realized he had a very real shot at the presidency. Would he invite Russian interference in his own country’s elections to get a tower built? Trump haters will jump up and down and scream: you bet! But up to now, not a shred of evidence has been unearthed to support such a quid pro quo.

Dershowitz’s words remain very relevant when thinking about the Mueller (and the Kenneth Starr) probe. A pack of prosecutors in search of a crime. And yes, when you have associates like Cohen and Sater, prosecutors can and will find crimes to prosecute. But they haven’t found any collusion yet.

Let’s see what else emerges from the charges they laid against Cohen and what kind of evidence his 70 hours of testimony brings into the light.

It’s not your wage anymore that’s the main reason you’re losing your job in places like Macomb or Trumbull counties in Michigan and Ohio as GM lays off thousands and shifts production overseas. Nope, there’s a new reason. One that’s being referred to increasingly whether in relation to specific layoff announcements by corporations like GM, or whether in relation to the folly of rising tariffs in the China-US trade spat.

Global Supply Chains.

Go to supplychaindive.com and read some of the headlines:

What is the business case for autonomous vehicles in the supply chain?

GM closes plants and lays off thousands in move to ‘streamline’

XPO integrates heavy goods last mile tracking with Google

Do you deliver supplies and/or vehicles for GM? You might think about polishing your CV a little. Just saying.

This is a process that is reaching its limits. I don’t mean technological limits. Those are practically endless – even if the rate of technological change seems to be volatile over time. I mean its limits in terms of the value technology adds to society as a whole.

No. I’m not a Luddite. No, I don’t believe more taxes and welters and welters of regulations are the answer. But I do think that a conservative can occasionally do a Buckley and ride athwart at least some small bits of technology crying: “STOP!” Even while using much of said technology.

Here’s Axios on the issue of China and global supply chains:

China has been the world’s biggest exporter for almost two decades and has poured millions into its logistics network so global companies can quickly move goods from factories to cargo ships. China also has one of the best-trained manufacturing workforces in the world.

· U.S. companies can consider moving production from China to Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam or elsewhere — both to dodge tariffs and avoid the threat of intellectual property theft, But elsewhere, they face other disadvantages like dirt roads between factories and ports and inexperienced workers, the New York Times reports.

· And China has levers to make sure it isn’t frozen out of global supply chains, Lewis says. For example, it could threaten to take away a foreign company’s access to its massive market.

China started practically from scratch back in the 80’s and 90’s when they began building the infrastructure as well as the logistical systems necessary to create what is now the world’s second largest economy. And that is an achievement that few could have predicted in terms of the speed and scope of the change China underwent.

But when you combine that infrastructure and logistics with a socialist-run authoritarian regime, you get what could politely be called immoral suasion or more bluntly, threats and blackmail.

Is President Trump guilty of similar threat-making? Yes, but not on the same level.

Trump tweets as tough as any but even as President of America he’s circumscribed by the courts and by Congress and, yes, by the endless rules and regulations that both America’s administrative state and the global administrative state (the WTO, the UN, the WHO, and the EU to name a few of the more obvious examples) wield over both corporations and governments.

China less so.

It is precisely the enormous concentration of power in President Xi’s hands that allows him to be transactional in a way Trump can never be. He will not tweet his threats. He will act on them. And Xi will act in accordance with a longer-term plan. Yes, President Trump can and does act on his promises – or at least on far more of them than anyone expected. But it’s unfortunately, often a circus driven by hostile media buzz.

So what kind of transactions could Trump and Xi reasonably agree on at the G20 in Buenos Aires?

What kind of change in behavior could President Trump reasonably demand from President Xi’s regime that would allow both countries to save face and pull back from the trade skirmishes that have been escalating recently?

Unfortunately, any deal will be about supply chains and jobs and manufacturing plants. Maybe they can reach a deal. But it should be about China’s involvement with things like: the theft of intellectual property; the bending the rules of the WTO; the State-Owned Enterprises and off-the-books debt.

And it should also be about demanding a little civics and civility in China’s inexorable thrust to create its region of hegemony in East, South, and Central Asia, as well as in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Because with China, you don’t ride athwart technology and cry: STOP!

You stand quietly and bravely in front of a tank.

And hope they don’t kill you.

And even that doesn’t work sometimes. So, Trump has a tough dinner with Xi ahead this Saturday in muggy Buenos Aires. He’ll need a little luck and a lot of skill. Let’s hope he has both.

Did Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a few weeks back fly to Saudi Arabia with a plan to help create a plausible deniability around Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman regarding the horrifying execution of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul?

As gruesome as the killing is, the battle of ideologies that are now swirling around this event are as important. That’s not to belittle a death that was apparently cruel and unusual and involved torture of the most savage kind. Technology and media and the way politicians around the globe are using media – from social media to government-controlled media – has meant that the reported details of this killing became widely available through leaks by Erdogan’s regime in Turkey and now through more discrete leaks from the CIA itself in response to President Trump’s equivocation over the issue of MBS’s possible involvement.

But what exactly are the battle lines between competing ideas on America’s foreign policy and its role in the world and competing ideas on what sort of international order should govern the world’s states over the coming decades?

It’s not merely: Trump’s America First Bad; UN and EU good. The options seem to be divided between the already overused term “tribalism” and a liberal global order, but maybe there is another way forward that needs less distractions over what any nation or politician feels about Trump, in order to be seen clearly.

Sumantra Maitra – a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham in the UK – has written a piece in The Federalist that is a plea for conservative nationalism as way past or through the liberal-global-order/tribal-nationalism struggle so prominent today. He traces the history of the European and Ottoman Empires’ collapse after WW I and the attempt after WW II to contain and reduce the nation state within a rules-based system. But empire vs. tribe has come back to haunt us and the problem is that a liberal world order invokes no true feelings of belonging or patriotism and leaves us vulnerable to atomized factions. As Maitra states:

Liberals fail to understand and anticipate the desire of normal people to feel passionately about the flag their forefathers fought for. That leads to a vacuum, which is filled by ethnocentric tribalism. If conservatives don’t reclaim healthy civic nationalism, the choice ahead is almost always either ideological internationalism and rules through institutions and bureaucrats, or atomized ethnic nationalism, tribalism, and racism. The elite abhorrence of anything that relates to flags and land and borders shows how much the window has moved in the last couple of decades.

The only unifying force is a healthy, civic, conservative nationalism, the type that stops distinguishing between tribes, races, and ethnicities and unites in a love for the land beneath one’s feet. In a world where the choice is increasingly between Antifa and Abolish ICE mobs on the one hand, and transnational open border Davos Men on the other, conservative nationalism might be the only centrist option.

My problem with Maitra’s erudite plea is that it was precisely love of land beneath one’s feet that drove the millions of young men to follow their general’s orders in WW I and to leave Europe a scarred shell that was ripe for fascism in it’s central and southern regions and communism in its eastern regions. I will assume, however, when he talks about a healthy, civic, and conservative nationalism, he’s talking about a patriotism that is both local and embodied in an idea.

Unfortunately, Europe has often been the preserve of competing empires from Rome to Charlemagne to Madrid, Paris, and London and then to Berlin and Moscow. And finally, to Brussels and Strasbourg. As he states, European politicians are calling for a European army and the French Finance Minister seems to be suggesting Europe turn to some form of empire to compete with both America and China. Hardly surprising coming from a French bureaucrat but rather less subtle than what one expects from Brussels and Strasbourg.

But maybe a conservative nationalism rooted in tradition but moderated by the caution of reasoned civics is what Europe needs. Europe will have nothing of it one fears, however. Perhaps England is returning to a conservative and reasonably cautious nationalism with Brexit, but the way it is being covered in the media suggests that Cabinet ministers heads are being displayed on pikes outside Westminster. A touch exaggerated and very hostile to any form of reasonable nationalism in other words.

So, did Trump display a reasonable and conservative nationalism with regards to his statement on Saudi Arabia and MBS’s possible involvement in the Khashoggi assassination? He’s being attacked from several sides for not condemning the Saudis and for unashamedly lauding the defense industry jobs that the promised Saudi spending will produce. But how to follow Washington’s warnings on the dangers of foreign entanglements when Saudi Arabia itself is sustained by American military support and training?

There is no optimal or easy solution in the Middle East and values such as those that Macron proclaimed might help domestically but are of little use on the ground in feudal aristocracies like the Saudi Kingdom. Because if America withdraws support and allows the House of Saud to collapse what next? A cautious conservatism would have to take into account that uncertainty even as it laid tough sanctions on the Saudis.

And remember that Iran’s belligerence and involvement in places like Syria and Lebanon has helped create the conditions where hundreds of thousands of civilians have died. Does that mean that Europe – upholding its values – has refused to do business with Iran and has applied tough sanctions?

Uhhhh, non! As the French would say.

What the liberal global order want is a dramatic but symbolic gesture against the Saudis so that a period of hypocritical condemnation can take place and then they can continue doing business throughout the Middle East. They just don’t like Trump’s brazen and crass bluntness. Or his honesty in all it’s equivocating, word-salad, ingenuousness.

Here comes Marc Elias, the recount king, as the Daily Signal has dubbed him, although one suspects Elias has been called that for a while now. He’s the lawyer people call when a vote seems close enough for a recount. But there’s a few more interesting facts about Marc Elias:

  • He works at Perkins Coie, that Seattle-based international law firm that hired Christopher Steele to put together an opposition report on candidate Trump – the infamous Steele Dossier, in other words. And Elias was the point man in that operation apparently.
  • Perkins Coie represents all but 3 Democrat Senators, the Democrat House, Senate and gubernatorial campaign committees, and 100 House Democrats. One firm with connections to every major part of the Democratic Party it seems.
  • After secret negotiations with then-House Speaker John Boehner, he managed to get hundreds of millions of dollars of lightly regulated money be approved as legitimate spending money. In other words, a top Democratic operative who pushed for Citizens United and actually helped put in place the current PACs and Super PACs while the GOP took all the heat in the media for that SCOTUS decision. Wealthy Democrats love him for this.

Marc Elias got Al Franken elected through a 6-month endless recount that may very well have relied on convicts votes to achieve a 200-odd vote margin of victory. Democrats love him for this as well. As The Hill’s article covering his past states:

Elias is perhaps best known for his role in one of the nation’s closest Senate races ever, in Minnesota in 2008. Democrat Al Franken trailed incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) by just a few hundred votes when Elias landed in Minneapolis; Elias quickly began a drumbeat, maintained at almost daily news conferences in which he answered questions directly from the media, demanding that every vote be counted.

After half a year of legal wrangling over fewer than 1,000 absentee ballots, Coleman’s 215-vote lead became Franken’s 225-vote win.

“Not all of those votes would have been counted without Marc’s strategy,” said Eric Schultz, who worked for Franken on that race and is now a senior adviser to former President Obama.

Go ahead and say it loud and proud Eric, Elias stole that election fair and square with an avalanche of lawsuits and a chain gang of felons dragging Al Franken over the finish line.

So Elias is in Florida, dashing between courtrooms as he unleashes lawsuits or responds to lawsuits in a chaotic electoral environment. He was a fairly young legal pup – although apparently already a brilliant lawyer who people were noticing and utilizing back in 2000 – but now he’s a grinning tornado ready to demolish the electoral results in Florida by forcing and bending and pleading and cajoling his way through the legal system to get the results he’s paid to get: Democrats in charge again.

As The Hill’s Reid Wilson writes:

When then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) finished just a few hundred votes ahead of then-Rep. John Ensign (R) in a costly Senate battle in 1998, Elias worked on Reid’s behalf as the ballots were recounted, ingratiating himself to the man who would later lead Senate Democrats for a decade.

The experience, along with the 2000 Florida recount that handed the presidency to George W. Bush, taught Elias that recounts were about more than just counting ballots; they were extensions of the campaigns themselves, in which battles over media narratives could determine the ultimate winner of a contest.

No system can survive such a forceful and partisan attack on its foundations. When every ballot becomes potential target of a lawsuit, the electoral process is ripped from the hands of voters and placed in the courtroom to be decided by litigation. Yes, that’s what helped elect George W. Bush in 2000 and the person studying that election the most carefully was clearly Marc Elias.

In a close election with poor control and management of the systems – an admittedly challenging task but one that is the basis of America’s republican democracy – then people like Marc Elias start taking over, one election at a time.

It’s time to stop people like Marc Elias as well as all the lawyers who helped get George W. elected and put elections back in the hands of voters. Which means the election process itself has to be clearly and carefully organized and not a partisan circus played out against the backdrop of identity politics and its goal of votes for anyone in America regardless of their legal status.

How to do that? Good question though some sort of civics lessons for all might help. Meantime, we’ve got a few recounts to get through.

It’s quite a situation when National Review runs a series of articles (two of them Morning Jolts by Jim Geraghty) that agree with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. But maybe they – and by extension Cortez, despite her we’ll-pay-for-it approach to Medicare-for-all – are onto something. An apparent waste of taxpayer money on something that needs no support from government:

Amazon’s billion- dollar subsidies handed out by Arlington, Virginia and NYC to one of the wealthiest and most profitable companies on the face of the planet.

Here’s the argument. Amazon’s key factors in choosing where to locate Hq2 clearly weren’t low taxes and regulations. NYC and the beltway are relatively high-tax and over-regulated metropolitan areas. But they are the financial and political capitals of the country and the world and contain large pools of trained and highly educated workers in finance, tech, and government. And most every other kind of worker you might need. They are transportation hubs as well with access to subways that get the thousands of promised workers to and from their jobs, should they care to forego their cars, and they are right where financial and regulatory decisions that affect Amazon are made.

Like Amazon itself, rather than the promise of a widespread cultural and economical and political landscape with hierarchies shattered by the internet, what we have is an astonishing concentration of power and wealth.

Don’t get me wrong. Bezos deserves his wealth. That is, the part of it (which is still many many billions) that comes from his ability to disrupt and provide services and products in innovative ways and not from his ability to lobby government …

No wait. It’s not even that anymore.

Bezos got Wall Street’s home and the suburbs of DC to lobby him, lavishing him with subsidies for the opportunity to have his company open a business that may very well have ended up located in those two cities anyway. Subsidies that will be paid for by cutting services and/or raising taxes in the case of Arlington (and surely in the case of New York where it might be harder to tell in the case of taxes).

Regulatory capture is a phenomenon where special interests capture government at some level, ensuring that regulations work in their favor. While one can think of it as a necessary balance to an over-regulated economy (what company of a certain size wouldn’t seriously consider lobbying to ensure its interests were at least listened to by lawmakers?) it can also become a distorting factor by perverting price signals and keeping out (or buying up) smaller and more innovative competitors.

Interestingly enough, according to the theory, regulatory capture works best with smaller government units. There were and still are a couple of hundred cities in America (and a few in Canada) that gladly would have given away subsidies to a planned HQ like Amazon’s. And Bezos played them off against each other with grinning ease.

It makes you wonder. Was Bezos always this good at manipulating governments? And how key was that ability that he has clearly developed, but perhaps had from rather early on in Amazon’s history, to Amazon’s success? Is this another piece of evidence to suggest that lobbying and bending regulations to one’s advantage was and is almost as important as technology for all the success stories in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and elsewhere?

Because Amazon is far from the only major tech (or other) corporation to receive astonishing subsidies to locate a business in some jurisdiction. Amazon just weren’t as discrete about it. The competition between cities or states is good but it should be about lower taxes and clear regulations for everyone. Not just billionaires.

Brenda Snipes. Get used to the name, you might be hearing a lot more from Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections who right now seems to be at the heart of what may turn out to be another damn vote recount in Florida.

Apparently, 24,000 votes were for governor in Broward County but not for senator. And now it appears that an army of Democrat lawyers has headed to South Florida to try and declare the elections illegitimate and to demand a vote recount and who knows – a December snap election?

Provisional ballots – where people did not have the required ID to prove their identity – must be counted by 5 PM Thursday (it’s now just past 9 PM EST on Thursday as I write this). And it seems that Snipes is slowing down the process in order for the army of lawyers to swoop down and declare the elections in Florida non-compliant or illegal or illegitimate.

Governor Rick Scott leads Bill Nelson by about 17,000 votes. While DeSantis beat Gillum by around 38,000 votes. So those 24,000 votes for governor but not senator are shining brightly in the eyes of angry Democrats ready to sue their way to a recount.

We should have seen this coming.

The Democrat wave did not break over the White House and the GOP, so now the desired outcome has to be obtained by other means. Bill Nelson has stated that a recount is coming. Representative Ted Deutch whose district includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, lashed out at Senator Rubio for criticizing Brenda Snipes and for accusing her of setting the stage for “mischief.” Deutch tweeted:

EVERY.VOTE.SHOULD.BE.COUNTED.

Thank you, Ted, I was beginning to miss the good old days back 18 years ago.

Broward County is Democrat territory of course. That means slowing down and recounting votes produces more Democrat additional/missed votes. And there’s those supposed 24,000 votes that only show a vote for governor and not senator. Why that alone should be enough to get Nelson into the Senate shouldn’t it? Goes the reasoning.

So here come the lawyers ready to stuff South Florida’s Thanksgiving full of lawsuits with demands for a vote recount. Maybe CNN can send Jim Acosta down to Broward County now that his White House gig has been sidelined.

Regardless, look for a recount of some sort in Florida. Brenda Snipes is not done yet.

With Ted Cruz winning a closer race than recent polls suggested and with Rick Scott leading (if barely) in Nelson’s Florida Senate seat and DeSantis winning the Governorship, you might be tempted to say that these two key states are staying red despite the demographics-is-destiny mantra that much of the media celebrated. This despite the hypocrisy of swooning over Beto O’Rourke who happens to be an older white male. One who looks bit like RFK (not JFK) but who appeals to the inexorable destiny of a diverse America going blue in red states.

Maybe, but one suspects that those two states are are far more complicated than merely a diversity-means-democrats formula. Maybe Texas and Florida are also politically diverse because of their very cultural/ethnic diversity. In Texas, Pete Sessions lost while Dan Crenshaw, in a nice little f!ck you to SNL, won fairly easily in the state’s 2nd district. Of course, Beto’s close loss will mean he will be encouraged to run again. Come on, he must have a few million left over and consultants would really like to get their hands on some of that. But Beto is now a feature of the political landscape and won’t be going anywhere one suspects.

But to say that Texas and Florida are going to turn Blue because of Hispanos/Latinos is to slap a demographic label on the foreheads of a very diverse group itself, especially in Florida but also in Texas as well.

Then there’s the governorship in Georgia. Stacey Abrams ain’t conceding and is stating that there may be enough ballots left for a run-off. Kemp hasn’t declared victory either, so perhaps some sort of a run-off or even recount might be coming in Georgia. Here’s some of what Stacey Abrams said:

Democracy only works when we work for it. When we fight for it. When we demand it. And apparently, today, when we stand in lines for hours to meet it at the ballot box.

Perhaps she was jabbing back at Kemp’s assertion – as Secretary of State for Georgia – that the election was interfered with, hinting at Democrat operatives without any evidence. Georgia will be an uneasy outcome, but one suspects that Kemp has the governorship, if barely.

And then there’s New Jersey. The Washington Free Beacon covered a little story about how a juror from the Menendez trial was at the Senator’s victory party on Tuesday night. Here’s a quote from Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby during the trial (which she was given leave from for a vacation but she would have voted to clear Menendez):

I feel like the government was very corrupted, not that Menendez was. What I saw, the government didn’t give me enough. So I think the defense showed me enough to say he’s not guilty on every count.

And last night here she is again:

I came out here tonight because I know Bob Menendez is a very good man, and I was in a courtroom and I saw all the evidence that they didn’t have enough evidence. What he did wrong, he did nothing wrong. He’s a great man. That’s why I’m supporting Menendez. I voted for him. I voted blue.

The jury is out on Arroyo-Maultsby’s political ethics, but Menendez will stay in Jersey.

And President Trump is going to face a Democrat House. Will it be impeachment or just investigations? And will they be able to work together? First one suspects that Democrats are going to ease Nancy Pelosi out the door before trying – yet again – to do the same with the President.

And Florida’s senate race could end up with a recount.

So can we admit that political destiny is not just about demographics? Maybe ideas matter? Is that so hard to admit?

This is probably going to be a trend, whether it’s trending on Twitter or just wallowing in the in-boxes of various media sites. The latest cyber-idiocy comes in the form of a hoax, one that seems to have one or all of the following purposes:

  • Get clicks by getting mentioned by a media site like The New Yorker, that has broken important, as well as a few unsubstantiated stories over the past few months that have had a major impact on the political landscape; all this by means of spreading unsubstantiated rumors about Robert Mueller’s personal life.
  • Try to discredit the Mueller investigation by spreading the aforementioned unsubstantiated rumors about Mueller’s personal life.
  • Try to discredit the Mueller investigation by weaponizing the rumor mill the way Michael Avenatti tried to derail the Kavanaugh confirmation process with the Julie Swetnick gang rape allegations. Or at least the way he tried to brew up some publicity for himself and his client and somehow monetize that to pay off his escalating debts.

And that latter part of the third bullet point seems to be what has motivated a couple of schmucks to try to dangle an obvious hoax about Robert Mueller in the in-boxes of a few media sites, like the New Yorker.

They didn’t bite thank goodness. Whether they would have had these two schmucks done the same during the Kavanaugh hearings is a good question. But regardless, it’s important that they crushed this one in the bud. It’s a start, a step back from the vicious weaponized rumor mill that swirled around Justice Kavanaugh a few weeks ago.

An anonymous woman in the email reportedly said she had received an offer of cash to talk about any sexual harassment she had experienced while working at Mueller’s old law firm. There is no such woman according to the records at the law firm. And the man who supposedly contacted this anonymous woman apparently named schmuck #1, Jack Burkman, as the source of this offer. Here’s the Huffington Post on Jack Burkman:

Burkman is a Republican lobbyist, conspiracy theorist and conservative radio host. He said in a Facebook video on Tuesday that he planned to introduce the first of the “sex assault victims of Robert Mueller” at a press conference on Thursday.

“This isn’t something I take any delight in. It’s

something I wish I didn’t have to do. But my viewers and the American people

need the truth,” Burkman said. “Remember, if you like us, like us on Facebook,

subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.”

The woman then began contacting media outlets saying the man had a Russian accent after her first scandal-phishing attempts fell flat. Jane Mayer, of New Yorker and unfortunate Kavanaugh-hearings fame, apparently did a little digging and found schmuck #2, Jacob Wohl, who:

appears to have been involved in the scheme to undermine Mueller with false accusations. Digital footprints suggest that Wohl created a fake private investigation company, Surefire,

which was purportedly working with Burkman, to make the claims against Mueller

appear more legitimate.

This is pathetic and can only help those who think Mueller’s probe will somehow still actually unearth some credible evidence of collusion. While one can make the argument that Trump should shut the probe down under his executive powers – an argument that could be politically costly – this ridiculous hack job by a couple of schmucks is something more typical of 4chat conspiracy mongers.

They’re already trying to weaponize Avenatti’s weaponized rumor-mongering. It’s childish and a distraction. There are far better ways to deal with the Mueller investigations.

According to “Microchip” – reportedly a software developer who helps create mobile apps – to do his Tweet trending:

You can’t take a break — you sit at the screen waiting for breaking news 12 hours per day when you’re knee-deep in it.

All in order to get those hashtags retweeted as many times as possible. When he’s too tired to go beyond 1,000 retweets he sometimes takes Adderall.

Who is Microchip aside from being a developer based in Utah?

One of the co-founders of QAnon, the crazed conspiracy theory character – Q – who is supposedly a high-ranking intel official in Trump’s administration who is leaving clues on 4chan on a grand quasi-galactic conflict between the Deep State and Trump’s presidency.

From a sort of game started by Microchip – if you believe the articles in Buzzfeed or the interview with Jack Posobiec as detailed by The Federalist’s Georgi Boorman – we now have a group of people who have turned QAnon into a profitable business with hundreds of thousands of followers, some of whom show up at Trump rallies.

This is the last thing that any true drain-the-swamp movement needs. The so-called Deep State isn’t exactly hiding in anonymous corners. It’s really high-ranking often former government officials who strongly disagree with Trump’s policies or find his style insufferable for their establishment tastes. It’s John Brennan denouncing Trump on CNN. It’s Comey asking people to vote Democrat. It’s Deputy AG’s like Sally Yates refusing to follow an executive order of the president. It’s Andrew McCabe appearing every month or so to explain something to Congress before getting fired.

They’re right there on the screen trying to convince you of the absolute rightness of their views. And when you make it about pizzagate or swimming pools that are really used to drain the blood of … never mind. You get the point. It points every which way but towards a reasoned, if angry, debate about the constitution and the powers that bureaucrats have accumulated over the years. Accumulated not from secret protocols in dimly conference rooms somewhere in DC, but rather from past presidents and Congress handing power over to the administrators.

You don’t need wacko stories that help trigger crazed lone men to pick up guns and kill elderly worshippers at a synagogue.

You need a rebuilding of civic life.

But I suspect that this phenomenon is just the beginning. Joseph Bernstein in the Buzzfeed article writes:

Indeed, in a national atmosphere charged by unproven accusations about a massive network of Russian social media influence, the story of how MicroChip helped build the most notorious pro-Trump Twitter network seems almost mundane, less a technologically daunting intelligence operation than a clever patchworking of tools nearly any computer-literate person could manage. It also suggests that some of the current Russian Trumpbot hysteria may be, well, a hysteria.

“It’s all us, not Russians,” MicroChip said. “And we’re not going to stop.”

That’s a problem, because MicroChip has basically turned a ridiculous role-playing experiment into a potentially dangerous movement that sees a grand unifying conspiracy behind everything. Even if he apparently is no longer involved.

In fact, the conspiracy is right in front of us: the lack of separation of powers that must be re-established if the constitution is not to be amended or bypassed by the administrative state until it dies a slow, agonizing death.

But to solve that takes education and persuasion and lots of sweat and effort and time. Not sitting stoned on Adderall and generating retweets. Or using the community to make money, as Microchip now suggests those running QAnon are doing.