Electoral College Votes . Russian Hacks. Cold despite Global Warming. And Christmas is coming, without civil war.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Electoral College votes Monday. 19 December, 2016



According to the New York Times, “President Obama on Friday described the Electoral College — originally a compromise between those who wanted Congress to choose the president and those who favored a popular vote — as a ‘vestige’.” The clear indication is that the Electors ought to “vote their conscience”, but it is unlikely that they would do this in sufficient numbers to affect the outcome.

There is a small but concerted group inviting the Electors to vote for anyone but Trump. This would probably not result in a majority for Mrs. Clinton, but if enough Trump electors failed to vote for him but did not vote for Mrs. Clinton, the result would be to throw the election into the House, where each state delegation votes for one of the Nominees. Each State has one vote, and a majority of state votes is needed for election. The likelihood that the House would choose Mrs. Clinton is negligible.

We will not have a President Elect until January, when a joint meeting of the House and Senate will witness the votes of the Electoral College, but we should know by Monday night how they voted; we can hope that ends the drama.

There is a small but I suppose finite chance that we will be in a state of Constitutional crisis by Monday evening, even verging on civil war, but that is a story for novelists, not for rational discussion. I do not believe there are anywhere near that many faithless electors.


Monday, Dec 19, 1800 PST

The results are in, and there were few faithless electors despite all the furor.  We have a President Elect, and  Donald Trump will be sworn in on inauguration day. A few celebrities continue, whether to draw attention to their cause or to themselves being unclear, but the fear of a coup was, as I suspected, only a fear.


Observation: no one watching the developments in Syria imagines that there are any good guys in charge of anything over there. Russia and the Syrian regime have decided to end the revolt once and for all, in the only way they know how. Their side of the story can only be one of defending their actions lest the war go on endlessly; better simply to end it no matter the cost. This is not an argument that appeals to Americans, who believe there is some way to pull the rabbit out of the hat. I do not purport to make their case; I merely say it is the only one I can imagine them making. They see ISIS as an even greater horror.


This with Saturday’s post (below) should be enough about the hacks and the election; the Electors will vote now. [And have. For Trump.]


Russian hack

Why is everyone still talking about the “Russian hack”? Julian Assange, who, after all, released the emails through Wikileaks, and is therefore in the best position to know whence they came, has repeatedly assured us that it was not the Russians, it was someone inside the DNC. A leak, not a hack. Unless my skimming of the “news” on this subject has missed some important bits, this would seem to settle the matter.

But I guess this doesn’t fit the media narrative well, so they have no interest in it.

Richard White

Surely we have all heard the bizarre story of the meeting in a wooded area where a DNC staffer passed the leaks to an Assange associate?

Russians and the election

Addendum: Here is an additional comment by Craig Murray, Assange associate, who calls the CIA report hogslop, in that elegant British way.


“I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilize a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians”

are beneath contempt.

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two.

And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.”


Brian P.

And of course if the leaks had not contained anything to be ashamed of, they would not have had to be leaked; the Times and other papers would have carried the stories. This is sufficiently obvious that I have not bothered with it, but perhaps that was a mistake.

Deep Throat 2

· Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and associate of Julian Assange, told the Dailymail.com  he flew to Washington, D.C. for emails

· He claims he had a clandestine hand-off in a wooded area near American University with one of the email sources

· The leakers’ motivation was ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the  ’tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders’

· Murray says: ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks’


Those pro-Trump “Russian hackers” had to be good!  They gave Hildabeast the popular vote, but Trump the Electoral vote.  NOW that’s “good”!
Or maybe, it was the voters that defeated the Clinton Crime Family.


Russian Hacks

Plenty of other good commentary on the “Russian hack”, but a couple of points occur to me:

1) Russia could not have been trying to elect Donald Trump. I assume they believed, like the rest of us, that he would lose. If it was them, seems much more likely to me that they were just trying to weaken the expected winner.

2) Your commenters so far have not mentioned the clear statements by Assange of Wikileaks and Craig Murray that the leaks were an inside job. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4039310/Wikileaks-founder-Julian-Assange-goes-offensive-claims-Russia-Clinton-emails-saying-Kremlin-NOT-source.html​ Take it for what it’s worth.

3) I really have no idea how much Wikileaks mattered, nor does anyone. It seemed to hurt the DNC more than Clinton particularly, and there was so _much_ going on in the campaign. FBI investigations on emails, Clinton Cash, Bernie Sanders, her collapsing and stuff that made people think she was sick, a really lackluster campaign that focused on all the wrong states, a lot of enthusiasm from voters that everyone but Donald Trump wrote off. That’s just in the anti-Clinton column and I expect I’ve forgotten a few. Wikileaks probably helped Trump cement the Crooked Hillary Crooked Democratic Party Same-old-same-old attitude, but there were plenty of other things too. Hard to know how many voters were just on the margins.

It’s easy to think with Mr. Trump’s remarkable negatives that any other Republican candidate would have won handily, but I really do not know if any other candidate could have emphasized Ms. Clinton’s vulnerabilities so well. They might have played nice, and he sure didn’t. Interesting times.

As for what happens now, I don’t have a good picture of what a President plus Congress minus an ability to overcome filibusters can accomplish. They can defund anything they want, I guess: how precise is that scalpel? Can they get rid of regulations, or large numbers of superfluous entrenched fiercely Democratic civil servants? It’s really interesting that Trump has put so many of their enemies in charge of particular Departments.

The DofEnergy, for instance, has already refused to answer some of Mr. Trump’s people’s questions. The obvious response to that is that any sections of DoE that will not cooperate _fully_ with the new administration will immediately be completely unfunded, gone. I imagine that’s what Mr. Trump would do with a part of his company that decided not to cooperate. Doesn’t sound hard; sounds rather that some bureaucrats just fell into an obvious trap. Guess we’ll see.

Best wishes on your wife’s continued recovery,




Has anyone heard of dissipative structures? I was reading a piece in a CME “newspaper” on Asian vs. Western medicine. In the overview part of his article, the author mentioned quantum field theory, chaos theory, complexity and dissipative structures in the same sentence. I’ll admit I had not heard of dissipative structures before, so I looked it up on the Web. A Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissipative_system) entry says, “A dissipative system is a thermodynamically open system which is operating out of, and often far from, thermodynamic equilibrium in an environment with which it exchanges energy and matter.” I also found links here and here.

Has this concept been helpful to anyone? Or is this another case of false equivalence, where this theory may not be as fundamental as the other concepts cited?


The real reason for the CIA focus on Trump?

Jerry, I was exploring the website of John Robb, the guy who posted on dissipative structures and in another post quote John Boyd as he considered thermodynamics. His latest post was this:

“Thursday, 15 December 2016

The US is Officially a Banana Republic: the CIA is trying to topple the Government

There’s an electoral coup underway.

The number of potentially faithless Republican electors is now up to 50, more than enough to deny Trump the votes he needs for an EC win and/or give Hillary Clinton the votes she needs to win.

The stealth effort, led by liberals who believe Trump is a danger to the US, has been underway since the election.

That effort only gained traction with Republican electors when the CIA leaked that Russia had intervened in the US election to help Trump win.

Of course, the timing of the CIA’s leak wasn’t random.

It was something much more sinister.  It was an opening salvo by the CIA to actively influence the Electoral College and stop Donald Trump from becoming President.

In other words, the CIA is trying to topple Trump.

Why?  Self-preservation.

The real reason is that Trump was working with Peter Thiel to corporatize the intelligence gathering of the United States around companies, like Palantir, that can adopt and employ technology much faster and with more efficacy.  In other words, Trump is planning to turn the CIA and the NSA into peripheral collection systems.

That was unacceptable to the CIA, an agency with a strong sense of self-importance.

They acted again today when the head of the CIA refused to brief the House Intelligence Committee on the their claims because the chairman of the committee, Devin Nunes, was part of Trump’s transition team.  

Instead, the CIA leaked more information this afternoon to influence electors:

“new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material.. was leaked”

However, due to tight legal restrictions on the use of the information the CIA gathers and who it gather it on (i.e. US citizens), I anticipated that any new leak would be from allied sources not covered by these restrictions.

That proved to be correct:

“The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies.”

What’s next?

We can expect to see more leaks this weekend, before the EC votes on Monday.

What kind of info?  A shred of evidence (a taped conversation would be best), gathered by US allies and not the CIA, that shows that Trump knew about the hack or came to an agreement with Putin.

At that point, the EC will definitely flip and Trump will be denied an electoral college win on Monday.

After that we head to the courts and start down the road to street level violence.

To avoid the chaos of merely unseating Trump, the electors may award Hillary Clinton the win since she is best able to gather the establishment around her to fight off Trump’s bid.

Regardless, we have moved another step towards what looks more and more like another US civil war.

It’s not a long trip, now that we are a Banana Republic.”

I would hope he is wrong about the EC. I think that in the US we don’t care much about the EC. But I like the “banana republic” analogy.


I would say we have been spared from becoming a banana republic; the US is still capable of being the City on a Hill. A shining example to the world. Most of our traditional leadership rejects that notion, and the Establishment has forgotten they ever knew of it, but a sufficient number of citizens have changed that. We’re not finished yet, and we do not have to be. But I may underestimate the desperation of the establishment. We may know tonight.


Meanwhile, I think it ominous that Obama is allowing his CIA, and now his Press Secretary also, to weigh in on the Brief-The-Electors hysteria. It sounds way too much like building rationale for some sort of preemptive action.

Federal “briefers” descend on all electors simultaneously, with the removals to secure briefing sites a mere courtesy detail?

These things are always inconceivable, until they happen. I would hope for squads of state troopers to be there first – Electors are after all very much a vital matter for the states involved.

Obama, fortunately, remains the ditherer-in-chief. I take his maintaining deniability still – no official CIA testimony, yet, nor anything definitive from Obama himself, yet – as an indication he’s not ready to kick over the table, yet – or one hopes, ever.

Interesting times, when the best case is that the lame duck is merely covertly supporting an organized effort to undermine and delegitimize his successor. May all involved be both massively disappointed, and remembered poorly by history.

Scary, but I do not think that’s in the cards. The Marines would resent it…

The Marines, and a whole lot of other people with guns and training too.

Unless, of course, someone first blows enough smoke to confuse the issues sufficiently to produce inaction, or at least division.

I do doubt such a coup would succeed in the long run.

But I fear that the people currently blowing exactly that smoke (many openly talking about such a coup as a good thing) could conceivably self-delude to the point where they make the attempt. (When all else fails, take people at their word.)

Far more likely, of course, is open bureaucratic insurrection. That’s already underway. How much of that will it take before draconian Civil Service reform passes?

I expect more than one novelist and scriptwriter is madly at work on this story, but I cannot take it seriously. Perhaps I am just too old. But I do have this (obviously from another reader):

Regarding the recent buzz about suggestions for an electoral college revolt: perhaps this is just the liberal analog to the conservative meme that Obama wasn’t really a legit president, being a Kenyan born secret muslim, and all that. It serves to weaken the incumbent President politically, and fires up the opposition base. Plus, the Democrats may have learned a lesson from Trump’s successful campaign tactic of making controversial or apparently outrageous statements that simultaneously rile the opposition media, and fire up the base. Since it was a winning tactic, I suppose it may become the new normal in politics.
Regarding the substance of the hacking reports: Putin clearly would like to disrupt and weaken the NATO alliance. Given Mr. Trump’s statements about NATO, his professed respect for Putin’s leadership, and his willingness to make deals, it isn’t hard to guess who Putin’s preference was for the US election. That he might have directed his assets to release dirt on Clinton is hardly surprising. Whether that additional information made much difference in an election already awash in domestic fake news, innuendo, and spin, is debatable.
But I do wonder if Mr. Putin might have some additional tricks up his sleeve should the incoming President be less accommodating than Putin expects. Perhaps a wikileak dump of damaging RNC emails during an international crisis? Or a release of falsely planted information that shows collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers? Or what if the Russians did manage to compromise a few voting machines in the US. A release of that information at an opportune moment could create a Constitutional crisis in the US at a time when Putin wanted maximum distraction on the part of his enemy. The possibilities are endless, and we seem particularly vulnerable now to this kind of manipulation.

So we will just have to wait and see.


Russian National Identity and Foreign Policy



Launch event video and audio:



In 2016, [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov put his signature under the most unusual article ever attributed to a Russian foreign minister titled “Russia’s Foreign Policy: Historical Background.”31 It provides an excellent glimpse into the framework of current Russian foreign policy, its philosophical foundations, and general worldview of the Russian elite. It does not matter if individual members of the Russian officialdom sincerely believe in concrete postulates of this philosophy. What matters is that they feel obliged to develop and implement their policies in a way that would not contradict the main narrative.

Relying on intellectual legacy of the most conservative Russian thinkers of the nineteenth century, including the Slavophiles, Konstantin Leontiev and Nikolay Danilevsky, and adding questionable terminology, Lavrov argues that Russia is fundamentally different from the West.

According to Lavrov, “Russian people possessed a cultural matrix of their own and an original type of spirituality and never merged with the

West.”32 Developing Putin’s argument about an existential threat of losing Russian national identity, Lavrov points to the source of this threat, the European West that has attempted “to put Russian lands under full control and to deprive Russians of their identity.” 33 Lavrov praises Russia’s centuries-old resistance to these attempts invoking, once again, an extremely controversial concept: “I am confident that this wise and forward-looking policy is in our genes.”

[end quote]

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com



Subj: Boston – Coldest December 16 in 133 years

Read the comments, too.

Snowstorm In Chicago Delays Hundreds Of Morning Murders




The city of Chicago is steadily recovering from an overnight snowstorm that delayed hundreds of murders on Saturday and Sunday morning and will likely continue to push numerous homicides across the city drastically behind schedule, public authorities announced. “As we speak, maintenance crews are working diligently to restore public transportation, de-ice roads, and clear back alleyways so that Chicagoans can quickly resume murdering again,” Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesman Dave Michelson said of the heavy blizzard, which caused numerous homicide cancellations this morning at peak murder times. “Unfortunately, we’re backed up by about 35 deadly shootings at the moment, but we hope to restore regular death tolls as soon as possible. We apologize to anyone forced to postpone shootings or other killings today and assure concerned murderers that they will be able to resume slayings by the early afternoon.” At press time, authorities reported that murders were up and running in many parts of the city, with four teenagers already gunned down on Chicago’s South Side.

But I thought 2016 was the warmest year in hundreds of years?


Making America Strong Again

Interesting comment in View today in the Kasparov article:
“But first we must rebuild the West, and to do that we need to make America strong again. Without American strength, little is possible.”
Well if there’s one thing that we’ve learned in the last 8 years, it’s this. We’ve done the experiment in withdrawing America from the world stage (starting with the Apology Tour), and we know where it leads, and it’s Aleppo.
This is rather like a fair bit of military SF, which tends to be set in the borderlands of great empires. (I’m thinking especially of Drake’s work: “Hammers Slammers” and the rest of that universe, but there’s a lot of SF in this vein). Set in the areas at the edges of power, where everything is up for grabs and the worst instincts of Man come to the fore, usually in a violent way.
Well we see this today in Aleppo. That’s the way forward if we continue to weaken and withdraw from the world. We know the Europeans will not replace us at any reasonable speed, we’ve done the experiment and they failed. The European Union is not a superpower, or even a regional power and it will take decades to centuries for it to become one if it ever does. And this says nothing of Asia, where the borderlands are now the South China Sea.
In the meantime, how many more Aleppos out in the borderlands? Because that truly is the price of American disengagement. If a liberal is thinking, they should get this. Aleppo didn’t happen because we elected a President-elect who is Putin puppet (they say), it happened because we withdrew. Or as Kasparov says, because we didn’t care.
We know how this works out, SF authors have written those books. Time to make another choice, if we care…

We used up our strength in causes we couldn’t win. We could have taught the lesson: don’t be beastly. We did not. Now like Yosemite Sam we draw line after line as we retreat, each time daring someone to step over it. Diplomatic policy is a check drawn against the power we have; and we are getting dangerously low.

One cuts one’s coat to the measure of one’s cloth.


Tankman – China Tiananmen square – behind the shot

Deception and One Last Roll of Film: The Story Behind the Tank Man Photo http://petapixel.com/2016/12/16/deception-one-last-roll-film-story-behind-tank-man-photo/

This is Jeff Widener’s story of how he got that one iconic shot of a lone man with two shopping bags holding up a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square.



On Mike Flynn’s Piece

Mike Flynn wrote an excellent piece. While one could add some material from general semantics to further demonstrate the nuances and complexity of what Mr. Flynn described, one point seems absent. Thomas Campbell once pointed out that a theory requires a set of assumptions.

He said he prefers a theory with one assumption or perhaps two assumptions. He said that once you start making three, four, or five assumptions then you’re theory is weak. These assumptions — even one

— constitute the reason why a single fact can invalidate an established theory, as Mr. Flynn said.

So, while I agree with Mr. Flynn’s point that we might best view theory as a narrative, we would also do well to remember that narrative contains assumptions that are not refuted by the facts — but this may change as new facts arrive so we must be ready to discard these models. And there is no shame in this; we created these models and we do not need to keep them around as graven images.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



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