It would be irresponsible not to speculate, right?
First: in case you missed it…
Devlin Barrett and Carol Leonnig report:
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property.
Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.
Wikipedia lists eight countries with nuclear weapons in their own arsenal, US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel is probably the ninth, but refuses to publicly comment. There are also nations that allow other countries to store nuclear weapons1 though this is probably not as valuable information to sell, as presumedly the nation hosting the weapons already knows about it.
Oh sure, why else would Trump want such a document? He’s long been known both as averse to reading and pro “transactional”. He wouldn’t have undertaken the effort and risk to evade government safeguards to steal all these sensitive documents without having a plan for selling the information in the future. He didn’t steal thousands of pages just to read them at his leisure.
So which country is this about? And who is the potential purchaser? Per the clues in the above cited Washington Post article and elsewhere, probably not the United States.
Putin would probably pay a lot to know what the US knows about Russia’s nuclear archive, and would probably like to know about all the other nuclear powers too.
China, the same. Are there US nukes on Taiwan still?
I don’t think the UK or France would be in the market for info on other nuclear powers, the US remains their ally, and the US has plenty of intelligence it shares with allies.
I’m not sure Trump knows much about Pakistan and India, nor would he have learned much over the years.
North Korea is certainly a prime Trump partner, they would find some way to pay Trump for information about all other nuclear states.
Israel is a very likely subject, there are plenty of potential purchasers for information about Israel’s nukes: every wealthy Middle Eastern kingdom, Syria, Russia, Egypt, plus many more.
Will we ever know? If Trump’s bumbling lawyers keep bumbling, maybe?
The Washington Post gives The Former Guy an unpaid advertorial regarding his never-ending search for competent and experienced legal advice.
The struggle to find expert legal advice puts Trump in a bind as he faces potential criminal exposure from a records dispute with the National Archives that escalated into a federal investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act and other statutes.
“Everyone is saying no,” said a prominent Republican lawyer, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential conversations.
…Ordinarily, the prestige and publicity of representing a former president, as well as the new and complex legal issues at stake in this case, would attract high-powered attorneys. But Trump’s search is being hampered by his divisiveness, as well as his reputation for stiffing vendors and ignoring advice.
“In olden days, he would tell firms representing him was a benefit because they could advertise off it. Today it’s not the same,” said Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Trump who was convicted of tax evasion, false statements, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress in 2018.
“He’s also a very difficult client in that he’s always pushing the envelope, he rarely listens to sound legal advice, and he wants you to do things that are not appropriate, ethically or legally.”
I suppose competency and the ability to follow the news are often related, perhaps that is why TFG cannot seem to find counsel. I mean, a lawyer could get disbarred, or worse, have criminal exposure all without the certainty of being paid. Dream job! A legal firm could potentially bill a lot of hours working on the 381cases currently being litigated, but again, with a high probability of not being paid in full. TFG expects to have the RNC pay for many of these fees, but this interesting arrangement might be unsustainable for the full docket, especially if The Lord God Emperor Tiny Hands does in fact declare a run for 2024.
Meanwhile, for an allegedly wealthy man, TFG sure does need to fundraise a lot. At least the money that he manages to skim from his sheeple won’t get spent on political races to benefit Republicans.
Compare and contrast…
Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf report:
Former president Donald Trump bombarded his supporters with more than 100 emails asking for money based on the FBI’s search of the Mar-a-Lago Club for classified materials last week. They paid off.
Contributions to Trump’s political action committee topped $1 million on at least two days after the Aug. 8 search of his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, according to two people familiar with the figures. The daily hauls jumped from a level of $200,000 to $300,000 that had been typical in recent months
Online fund-raising has slowed across much of the Republican Party in recent months, an unusual pullback of small donors that has set off a mad rush among Republican political operatives to understand why — and reverse the sudden decline before it damages the party’s chances this fall.
Small-dollar donations typically increase as an election nears. But just the opposite has happened in recent months across a wide range of Republican entities, including every major party committee and former President Donald J. Trump’s political operation.
The total amount donated online fell by more than 12 percent across all federal Republican campaigns and committees in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, according to an analysis of federal records from WinRed, the main online Republican donation-processing portal.
More alarming for Republicans: Democratic contributions surged at the same time. Total federal donations on ActBlue, the Democratic counterpart, jumped by more than 21 percent.
The overall Democratic fund-raising edge online widened by $100 million from the last quarter of 2021 to the most recent three-month period, records show.
Exacerbating the fund-raising problems for Republicans is that Mr. Trump continues to be the party’s dominant fund-raiser and yet virtually none of the tens of millions of dollars he has raised has gone toward defeating Democrats. Instead, the money has funded his political team and retribution agenda against Republicans who have crossed him.
Early reports that the F.B.I. search of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Florida related to an investigation into whether he had unlawfully taken government files when he left the White House focused attention on an obscure criminal law barring removal of official records. The penalties for breaking that law include disqualification from holding any federal office.
Because Mr. Trump is widely believed to be preparing to run for president again in 2024, that unusual penalty raised the prospect that he might be legally barred from returning to the White House.
Specifically, the law in question — Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code — makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys” them. If convicted, defendants can be fined or sentenced to prison for up to three years. In addition, the statute says, if they are currently in a federal office, they “shall forfeit” that office, and they shall “be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” On its face, then, if Mr. Trump were to be charged and convicted of removing, concealing or destroying government records under that law, he would seem to be ineligible to become president again.
But there was reason for caution
several legal scholars — including Seth B. Tillman of Maynooth University in Ireland and Eugene Volokh of the University of California, Los Angeles — noted that the Constitution sets eligibility criteria for who can be president, and argued that Supreme Court rulings suggest Congress cannot alter them. The Constitution allows Congress to disqualify people from holding office in impeachment proceedings, but grants no such power for ordinary criminal law.
Maybe this has happened for a long time, and we didn’t notice it, but in 2022, several primary races between Republicans have had Democrats spending on ads for the more extreme Republican, with the thought being the extremists will be easier to defeat in a general election.
This strategy better be right! or else a whole cadre of MAGA zealots are going to be in a position to really really really wreck havoc. 2016 – 2020 was bad enough, and most Republicans voted in lock-step with Trump because essentially their policy goals overlapped. But if the 2022 New MAGA gets elected, you better start looking for the exit signs.
Allegedly, Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 encouraged Trump to run, with the expectation that the country wouldn’t vote for such an obviously deranged and stupid man, we know how that turned out – not good.
One China Policy is polite fiction, at best. A nation of millions simply does not vanish because their antagonistic neighbor wants them to.
The island democracy governs itself, but China claims it as its territory. Rumors of Pelosi’s visit launched a geopolitical firestorm amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.
The Taiwanese government has operated separately from the mainland since nationalists fled there after losing the civil war to communists in 1949. Thirty years later, the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, adopting what’s known as the “One China” policy, in which Washington acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is a part of China. However, the U.S. has never supported China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan and maintains a substantial, though unofficial, relationship with the island.
By law, the U.S. is obligated to provide Taiwan with weapons and services. But the U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” keeps open the question of whether it would intervene in the case of a military invasion by China. The Biden administration has been accused of mixed messaging on this, after Biden said on multiple occassions that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense; a sentiment the White House walked back.
The Chinese government remains adamantly opposed to any official exchanges between Taiwan’s government and other foreign governments, and views official American contact with Taiwan as an indication of support for its independence.
The issue, besides military posturing, is economics. American businesses rely heavily upon both China and Taiwan, any additional escalation will be devastating to economies of the world.
From the People’s Republic of China perspective, One China policy is akin to Putin’s One Russia policy, namely that everywhere Russia once held territory, it should take it back, by force if necessary. The PRC hated Hong Kong when it has democracy so took action to crush independent Hong Kong, and hates that Taiwan is thriving capitalist democracy right across the Taiwan Strait. There is real danger that the PRC has plans to invade Taiwan, or otherwise attack it, and they should be stopped.
From Speaker Pelosi’s OpEd:
Today, America must remember that vow. We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience. Taiwan is a leader in governance: currently, in addressing the covid-19 pandemic and championing environmental conservation and climate action. It is a leader in peace, security and economic dynamism: with an entrepreneurial spirit, culture of innovation and technological prowess that are envies of the world.
Yet, disturbingly, this vibrant, robust democracy — named one of the freest in the world by Freedom House and proudly led by a woman, President Tsai Ing-wen — is under threat.
In recent years, Beijing has dramatically intensified tensions with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ramped up patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and even over Taiwan’s air defense zone, leading the U.S. Defense Department to conclude that China’s army is “likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.”
The PRC has also taken the fight into cyberspace, launching scores of attacks on Taiwan government agencies each day. At the same time, Beijing is squeezing Taiwan economically, pressuring global corporations to cut ties with the island, intimidating countries that cooperate with Taiwan, and clamping down on tourism from the PRC.
In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.
The PRC cannot back down at the moment due to domestic politics, but let’s all hope1 that cooler heads prevail. Not many truly want a war in Asia. A more likely outcome will be military displays off the coast of Taiwan and bluster. And bluster. And bluster…
Pelosi-Taiwan Taiwanese government officials confirm they have received notice that Pelosi will definitely arrive in Taipei tomorrow evening
US Navy sent the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan/two assault ships USS Tripoli and USS America with F-35 fighters to the Taiwan area pic.twitter.com/l8O8KcawnK
China has strongly objected to Pelosi’s visit, with a foreign ministry spokesperson warning on Tuesday afternoon that the US would be “held liable and pay the price for hurting China’s sovereignty and security interests”.
“Faced with reckless US disregard of China’s repeated and serious representations, any countermeasures taken by the Chinese side will be justified and necessary,” said Hua Chunying.
Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported several Chinese warships and planes had travelled near the median line – an unofficial border between China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait. Citing unnamed sources, the report said the vessels had been in the area since Monday, while the latest flights occurred on Tuesday morning, prompting Taiwan’s air force to scramble its aircraft in response.
Taiwan’s defence ministry has earlier reportedly adjusted and strengthened its military’s combat readiness in response to the threat of China. According to the public broadcaster CNA, it had not formally changed the readiness level, which relates to two stages: the current regular staging, and wartime.
On Chinese social media on Tuesday there were multiple photos of dozens of tanks and other military vehicles on the streets in Xiamen, a Chinese city five kilometres across the water from the Taiwan island of Kinmen.
The fake electoral vote creator aka insurrectionists need to serve time in prison.
The New York Times reports:
Previously undisclosed emails provide an inside look at the increasingly desperate and often slapdash efforts by advisers to President Donald J. Trump to reverse his election defeat in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack, including acknowledgments that a key element of their plan was of dubious legality and lived up to its billing as “fake.”
The dozens of emails among people connected to the Trump campaign, outside advisers and close associates of Mr. Trump show a particular focus on assembling lists of people who would claim — with no basis — to be Electoral College electors on his behalf in battleground states that he had lost.
In emails reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who had worked with the Trump campaign at the time, one lawyer involved in the detailed discussions repeatedly used the word “fake” to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome. And lawyers working on the proposal made clear they knew that the pro-Trump electors they were putting forward might not hold up to legal scrutiny.
In a follow-up email, Mr. Wilenchik wrote that “‘alternative’ votes is probably a better term than ‘fake’ votes,” adding a smiley face emoji.
One of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The revival of a 1920s ban on abortion. The country’s worst episode of migrant death in recent memory. And an electrical grid, which failed during bitter cold, now straining under soaring heat.
The unrelenting succession of death and difficulty facing Texans over the last two months has soured them on the direction of the state, hurting Gov. Greg Abbott and making the race for governor perhaps the most competitive since Democrats last held that office in the 1990s.
Polls have shown a tightening, single-digit contest between Mr. Abbott, the two-term incumbent, and his ubiquitous Democratic challenger, the former congressman Beto O’Rourke. Mr. O’Rourke is now raising more campaign cash than Mr. Abbott — $27.6 million to $24.9 million in the last filing — in a race that is likely to be among the most expensive of 2022.
For some reason, I was exploring photos I took during a visit to Frostpocket, circa 2014. I wish it was more accessible, and friendlier for drop-in visits, because Frostpocket really is a beautiful hundred acres.
Anyway, all of these photos were processed in my digital darkroom today, but taken in September 2014.
Click to embiggen, if you wish…
Red Maple In the Rain
It did rain many of the days I was there, but not hard enough to keep us inside.
Stories We’ve Heard So Many Times Before
Leaves in water is a cliché, but still fun to photograph.
Act As If You’ve Never Been Away
Easier said than accomplished. Especially when the wind blows your subject around and you can’t get a proper focus quickly enough. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Moss And Rock
and George’s shoe…
In Phil’s house. Presumedly wood burning, and presumedly worth something now that it is such an antique.
Birch Root and Rock
I didn’t get a great photo of this but it was nonetheless impressive. Life is for the living, even birch trees attempting to get nutrients out of a rock.
One Door Will Open
The lovely colorful chaos of nature.
I have no idea what this fungi is, nor would I attempt to eat it, but it is aesthetically appealing.
I’ll believe it when my phone stops filling up with these relentless scam voice mails…
US telecom providers will now be required to block millions of illegal robocalls a day advertising extended vehicle warranties, the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday, taking aim at a group of individuals accused of sending more than 8 billion such messages since 2018.
Thursday’s order by the FCC requires voice providers to stop carrying calls the agency has linked to 13 individuals and six companies, mostly based in Texas and California but also in such far-flung places as Hungary.
The robocalls produced by the group typically begin with recorded lines such as, “We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty,” the FCC order said.
Such calls represented the single largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC in each of the past two years, adding up to thousands of complaints a year.
I am looking forward to this season finale of the Jan 6 Committee. Hope there is a second season airing this fall…
The NYT reports:
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol will hold its next public hearing on Thursday, returning to prime time for the eighth in a series of hearings that began in June.
The committee has spent more than a year investigating the events surrounding the riot. The forthcoming hearing is expected to focus on the 187 minutes during which President Donald J. Trump stood by while a mob of his supporters overran the Capitol, resisting repeated calls from those in his inner circle to tell the rioters to stand down.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Isaac Chotiner’s interview with noted narcissist, flim-flam man, Alan Dershowitz, you should do so. I point out that The New Yorker still is the gold standard for fact checking, which is important to remember as you encounter the many parenthetical asides that seem to contradict Mr. Dershowitz’s fables of self-regard.
Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker:
Alan Dershowitz became one of the most famous lawyers in America by representing high-profile clients such as Jeffrey Epstein, Mike Tyson, and O. J. Simpson, and enmeshing himself in political debates on subjects such as torture and the Israeli occupation. (He has defended both.) In recent years, however, his career has taken even more controversial turns, notably his public campaign against the Mueller investigation and his decision to join President Trump’s legal team. In 2019, Connie Bruck profiled Dershowitz for The New Yorker, and looked into allegations that he had sexually abused Virginia Giuffre, who was trafficked by Epstein. (Dershowitz denies the accusations.)
Dershowitz has lately been going on television and Twitter to discuss cancel culture, specifically how he has been shunned on Martha’s Vineyard, his longtime summer getaway. He even released the text of what he said was an e-mail from someone who had been beaten up on the beach for reading one of his books. I recently spoke by phone with Dershowitz, an emeritus professor of law at Harvard and the author of the new book “The Price of Principle: Why Integrity Is Worth the Consequences.” It was released last week and happens to be about the very subject of the e-mail he received: cancel culture, and an unwillingness to hear differing opinions. (He describes the book as “the story of my cancellation.”) During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what has happened to his social life since he defended Donald Trump, his fallout with Larry David, and why he compared the January 6th committee to McCarthyism.
Governor Greg Abbott is as cold a human being in real life as he appears on television – cares for nobody, nobody cares much for him. If Texas is lucky, Abbott won’t win his re-election, but nobody is holding their breath. This is Texas after all.
Ariana Garcia, Chron reports:
Gov. Greg Abbott did not attend a single funeral for any of the 19 children or two teachers killed mass shooting at Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, according to his schedule, which was obtained through an open records request by ABC News.
Abbott’s schedule from May 25 to June 14 indicates that his last visit to Uvalde was on June 5 to attend a community worship event at the Uvalde County Fairplex. However, missing from the schedule is any mention of Uvalde victim funerals. The last funeral held in Uvalde for victims was on June 16, when 11-year-old Layla Salazar was laid to rest.
“I don’t want this to sound like some political assault on him, but at the end of the day he hasn’t been there since Day 5, when the president came… We had a failed response on giving resources to families,” [state Sen. Roland] Gutierrez said. “He did not go to one single funeral—and quite honestly, many of the families didn’t want him there.”
Gutierrez’s statements align with recent statements from some of the shooting victims’ families. During a July 13 news conference, Angel Garza, father of 10-year-old victim Amerie Jo Garza, alleged that “since this happened, Gov. Abbott has yet to reach out.” Garza added that Sen. Ted Cruz, who also attended some prayer vigils for victims, similarly failed to reach out to victims’ families.
David Frum may be an Axis of Evil asshole, but he is right sometimes. In this case, re: the ridiculousness of US ethanol policies.
The Atlantic reports:
The United States is supporting Ukraine with aid and weapons and punishing Russian aggression with financial and economic sanctions. But the United States can do more to resolve the global crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine: It can end the ethanol program.
For decades, the U.S. government has, at great expense, encouraged farmers to grow more corn so that it can be turned into ethanol, a gasoline additive. Ethanol makers receive all kinds of grants and subsidies. Federal regulations require ethanol to be blended into gasoline, creating a giant industry that would not exist without large subsidies and imperious mandates. America’s largest ethanol company earned annual revenues of $8 billion pre-pandemic. Demand from the ethanol industry, in turn, bids up the price of corn, and the income of those who farm it.
Ethanol has become a Washington joke. John McCain often quipped that he started his day with a glass of ethanol. Who could blame him? The ethanol program is a giveaway so big, so entrenched, and so wasteful that laughter might seem like the best response. But as we laugh, we’re missing that America’s ethanol madness has strengthened Russia’s grip upon the world’s food supply.
I posted a help request to TidBITS last night because Siri wouldn’t launch on my newest iPhone after I switched telecoms.
TidBITS Talk – TidBITS Talk:
I upgraded my iPhone recently and switched carriers, but now my Apple Watch (Series 5, running WatchOS 8.5.1) no longer will connect to Siri (or Shazam) but seems to be able to communicate with iPhone. I can receive calls on the watch, I can see what music is playing on the phone, etc., I receive alerts from various apps, and texts. But if I ask Siri to do something from the Watch itself, it fails eventually.
“I’m having trouble with the connection. Please try again”
Other than nuking everything on the watch, what else should I try?