The Flynn Affair puzzle; Em Drive yet again; Firefox; and other matters

Monday, February 20, 2017

“The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.”

Donald Trump

Between 1965 and 2011, the official poverty rate was essentially flat, while the government spending per person on poverty programs rose by more than 900% after inflation.

Peter Cove

Amnesty International Boss Endorses “Jihad in self-defence”

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

We are a nation of assimilated immigrants.

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



If you wonder about the relevance of the aphorisms I use, contemplate that Amnesty International, with UN bureaucrats, provides much of the vetting of refugees. You may judge their rate of success by those admitted to Europe; we don’t collect statistics on crimes of refugees in the US other than terrorist acts, and the media seldom reports it lest you draw improper and politically incorrect inferences. The Swedes seem to have learned to live with it, but you can never be sure when Vikings have plain had enough. One might say that of Germans, or Poles, or for that matter the French, at least as late as 1789.

We do know that crime rates have risen in neighborhoods where some immigrant refugee communities have been established, but with few exceptions we don’t have reliable statistics on their origin or for matter the crimes themselves unless they are pretty spectacular.

Acts of terrorism are reported, but the previous administration tended to label those acts workplace violence, not terrorism, no matter the slogans chanted by the perpetrators. This is called in many J schools “responsible journalism.”

Note than poverty is apparently not terminatable, despite exponential spending on poverty program. Note also that one of the major costs of poverty programs is administrative personnel, and if they actually succeeded in ending poverty (or even substantially reducing it, as we saw way back in the work for welfare days) they would be pitting themselves out of their jobs; they may have mixed emotions about that.

And I doubt I need remind you that education costs have increased exponentially without much improvement (if any) since Nobel Prize winner Glenn T. Seaborg concluded that the school system was indistinguishable from an act of war against the American people; particularly the impoverished and unskilled; in my experience they learn little in school that anyone would pay them to do. Many do learn good civic and work habits but that is generally an extracurricular activity.


I weary of Firefox but I have yet to bite the bullet and eliminate it. If anyone from Mozilla is listening, please add one feature: a prominently displayed easy way to save a session, so that when the inevitable crash comes – not always caused by Firefox – it restores a configuration you recently saved instead of some arbitrary session weeks – perhaps months! – old. Rebuilding my system of windows monthly I can take. Weekly even. But daily is too often to find windows I closed months ago back, often talking to me. Assume your automatic configuration saves don’t work properly and at least give us a chance to do it manually. And yes, it has done it to me three days straight now: I will open some link that overwhelms Firefox. It endlessly tries to open that stubborn link. It responds to no commands, or takes minutes to respond. The only remedy is to use Session Manager to close Firefox and reopen it. That works but it offers me restoration sessions of weeks to months ago, not yesterday’s, or even last good session. Is this considered a good joke on your users? Or is it that you actually have a way to save a session configuration and you are proud of how well you hide instructions on how to do it? I’d really like to know.


While I am at it, Microsoft, please tell me how to get back to the spell and grammar check system used fairly recently, in which grammar suggestions are marked with a blue line, spelling with red. Yes, I meant “actually have” in the previous paragraph, and for that matter I intended to say “fairly recently” earlier in this sentence, thank you. I understand that in both cases I might be using a needless word. I even appreciate being reminded to think about this. But neither is a spelling error and neither deserves a red line for instant correction. I have enough problems having to look at the keyboard when I type, then looking up at the screen to see a sea of red marking errors I made by striking two or more keys at once; I don’t need MORE red because you prefer a different syntax from what I customarily use. Incidentally, I wrote ‘different syntax than’ in the last sentence, but your program didn’t flag that; and that really is a grammatical error. Hire a better grammarian, and no, I don’t want a job.


The Flynn Affair

This is complicated. General Flynn is probably the best qualified advisor on various intelligence organizations and affairs that the President could have chosen, and he has some experience with all foreign threats, but little experience in military operations. He is said to have fallen out of favor with the Obama administration (which appointed him to be Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency) for holding that the United States was more vulnerable to Islamic terrorism now than it was in 2001 before the World Trade Center attack. He was caused to retire from DIA Director (and the Army) a year before his term as Director of DIA would have ended.

His domestic threat credentials and experience are pretty thin, and I have no data on his ability to come up with national security strategies, which, by their very nature, tend to be both foreign and domestic. The National Security Advisor post with its ready access to the President (or at least to the Chief of Staff) and few personnel management responsibilities is not a Constitutional office (does not require Senate approval, unlike his promotion to flag rank, which did), and we don’t have a lot of experience with it. We have Cabinet positions for Homeland Security, Foreign Policy, and of course the Military; all vitally important to national security, but all also involved with creation and management of bureaucracies and supervision of many operations.. There are also the 21 Intelligence agencies and shadows, which are both sources of intel and bureaucratic rivals, both to each other and to the other relevant Departments.

And then there’s the FBI, which is nominally part of the Justice Department, but retained control of counterintelligence in the US and Caribbean when the CIA was formed – if it still has that jurisdiction I don’t know; at one time the bureaucratic internecine warfare was open and brutal. The FBI always insists on domestic jurisdiction in counterintelligence. I do not here argue that it should not, but the conflict with both the spies and the Department of Homeland Security is obvious (and I haven’t even touched on Military counterintel.)

The National Security Advisor has to be privy to all this and more before he can even begin his task of helping the President make decisions about all of those – sometimes brutal – internecine conflicts – and we have not yet got to foreign open and clandestine operations ranging from open invasion to smuggled atom bombs to assassinations of friendly allied officials.

What is known is that General Flynn was, after consultation with many others, chosen as National Security Advisor, formally a position as Executive Assistant to the President. Probably his best known predecessor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, who also became Secretary of State, and was instrumental in engineering the rapprochement with China. Kissinger also once compared himself with Metternich; but that’s another story. Here is what is known:

November 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States. Flynn, a former Army general who was an early and ardent supporter of the Republican nominee, is expected to get a senior position in the Trump White House.

November 18: Trump names Flynn as his national-security adviser.

December 29: President Obama announced measures, including sanctions, on Russia for its interference in the U.S. election. The sanctions are in addition to those imposed on Moscow following its invasion in 2014 of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Flynn and Kislyak speak that day, The Washington Post reports, citing a Trump transition official. The official says sanctions weren’t discussed. Additionally, CNN reports the Russian ambassador texted Flynn on December 28.

December 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will not retaliate. The Post says that prompted U.S. intelligence analysts to look for reasons why Putin declined to impose his own measures against the U.S. They found, the newspaper reported, Kislyak’s communications, including the phone call, with Flynn. Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, found Flynn’s comments in the call “highly significant,” the Post reported.

January 12: David Ignatius, the Post columnist, wrote that Flynn and Kislyak spoke several times on December 29, the day the sanctions were announced. “What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?” Ignatius wrote. He added a Trump transition official told him the calls, which occurred before the U.S. sanctions were announced, did not cover that topic. Ignatius added:

This official later added that Flynn’s initial call was to express condolences to Kislyak after the terrorist killing of the Russian ambassador to Ankara Dec. 19, and that Flynn made a second call Dec. 28 to express condolences for the shoot-down of a Russian plane carrying a choir to Syria. In that second call, Flynn also discussed plans for a Trump-Putin conversation sometime after the inauguration. In addition, a second Trump official said the Dec. 28 call included an invitation from Kislyak for a Trump administration official to visit Kazakhstan for a conference in late January.

January 13: Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, told reporters in a conference call that Flynn and Kislyak only discussed a post-inauguration call between Trump and Putin. “That was it, plain and simple,” he said.

January 15: Pence, on CBS’s Face the Nation, said Flynn “did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

January 19: Yates, the deputy attorney general, and senior intelligence officials debated what to do with the information they had on Flynn. The Post reported that FBI Director James Comey argued against notifying Trump administration officials of the communications.  

January 20: Trump was inaugurated; Flynn officially became national-security adviser.

January 23: Spicer told reporters he spoke with Flynn about the issue the previous night (January 22). He said Flynn and the Russian envoy spoke once. They discussed, he said, the Russian plane crash, the Syrian civil war, Christmas, and a call between their two leaders. Yates raised the issue again with Comey, who the Post said dropped his initial opposition to briefing the administration.

After that, things got hot. Most of it is public.

Washington Post Accidentally Reveals Who Leaked Flynn Call: Nine Obama Administration Officials

It’s becoming obvious that General Flynn had a target on his back from the moment he joined Trump’s team.

Obama loyalists working in Washington set the wheels in motion to take Flynn down before Obama was even out of office.

The Washington Post may have accidentally spilled the beans on this in a recent article.

Take a look:

“National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say

National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.”

Here’s the key passage:

“Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

“At the time of the calls” means these officials were in office during the Obama Administration.

That means it was nine Obama officials who leaked the calls.

Of course, they only “spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

That leak is the first, and I think the only, criminal act in the Flynn affair. It was from unnamed intelligence officials, and made classified information available to journalists and other unauthorized persons. It not only confirmed what I am sure the Russians knew anyway, that their Ambassador’s telephone was tapped, but also identified who talked with Ambassador Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak several times on December 29; one day before Mr. Putin announced that Russia would not retaliate for Mr. Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and their families.

Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for US election hacking

The Obama administration on Thursday announced its retaliation for Russian efforts to interfere with the US presidential election, ordering sweeping new sanctions that included the expulsion of 35 Russians.

US intelligence services believe Russia ordered cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organizations, in an attempt to influence the election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

Given that Mr. Trump was on record – had campaigned on – seeking better relations with Russia, it would be astounding if someone in Trump’s circle did not call the Russian Ambassador; and given that 35 Russian diplomats and their families were about to be displaced and sent packing, I cannot believe anyone would be surprised to discover these sanctions were discussed. Was Trump likely to rescind the order, or should Mr. Kislyak’s friends start packing? It was inevitable that the question would be asked, and the White House knows it.

Priebus: ‘Nothing wrong’ with Flynn talking about sanctions with Russian ambassador

By Rebecca Morin

02/18/17 08:40 PM EST

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said there was “nothing wrong” with former national security adviser Mike Flynn talking about sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador.

“No, there’s nothing wrong with having a conversation about sanctions,” Priebus said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” to be broadcast Sunday. “And there’s nothing wrong about having a conversation about the fact that the Obama administration put further sanctions in place and expelled some folks out of the United States. There’s nothing wrong with that topic coming up in a conversation.”

If General Flynn answered that question – and who can believe it was not asked – there is no intimation that any quid pro quo was sought or obtained. There is something strange about the selective leak of the contents of that telephone call: it does not include the transcript, which remains classified. However, the “intelligence community” will answer specific questions, and the “quid pro quo” question was asked; the answer was that there was none discussed.

We don’t know the content of the conversation, although the fact that we know it took place and how we know that remains highly classified – and was leaked by Mr. Obama’s anonymous officials. The Washington establishment is probably used to this sort of thing, but I expect that Mr. Trump is not, and that he will do what he can to find out just who those criminals are; and indeed they are criminals. Of course the Intelligence Establishment will resist this discovery with all its heart and mind.

So: General Flynn unsurprisingly called the Russian Ambassador, and did in fact discuss the sanctions – although we are not about to hear what was said – and later told public officials that the sanctions were not discussed. After much storm and stress, General Flynn resigned his post as NSA, although everyone is quick to reassure us that he committed no criminal act, and indeed did nothing wrong – at least in that conversation. I suspect he was asked to get Mr. Putin to stand down on what everyone expected would be routine retaliation – 35 US diplomats expelled – and generally smooth things over. When the Intelligence Community leaked that conversation, and some journalists seemed to know more about it than they ought to, for some reason General Flynn denied the talk had taken place. Any speculation on why remains speculation. I find it inconceivable that the NSA designate acted to call the Russian Ambassador without the knowledge and consent – possibly the urging – of someone in the Trump inner circle, which makes it all even more mysterious.

General Flynn isn’t saying; I doubt he ever will. But something strange happened to cause his resignation.

Meanwhile, the narrative that the Russians influenced the American election through hacking continues to make its rounds. The USSR with its rockets and thermonuclear weapons, and thousands of agents in the US along with countless sympathizers in government and academia could not fix an American election, but Mr. Putin’s rump of the USSR can? The assertion is absurd. Some people even assert that the Flynn incident proves the ‘Russia hacked the election’ narrative, but that’s even more absurd. Can anyone believe that General Flynn, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was unaware that the Russian Ambassador’s phone was tapped? To ask the question is to answer it.

Flynn knew. He knew he talked to the ambassador about the upcoming of the expulsion of 35 high level Russian diplomats and their families. He got fired for saying he had not. That makes no sense. One thing that will come of this: there will be an investigation, and some of the previous administration’s intelligence officials will be seen to have leaked classified information. Others, particularly in Justice, may be involved. Beyond that we cannot know, at least as yet.


The EM drive again.  How much money have the Chinese invested in this?


EmDrive: Chinese space agency to put controversial microwave thruster onto satellites ‘as soon as possible’


If they are trying to get us to invest in further tests, they win: I think we should.  The upside is enormous if it works; the cost of an experimentum crucis is low. We probably spend more on bunny inspectors and other jobs not worth doing.



It’s dinner time. I may get more in later, but surely this in enough.  Thanks for the subscriptions.










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



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