Spy stories for dummies

Yes, it is that simple. And yes, it doesn’t matter as long as Republicans control Congress.

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Putin the fox guards the American chicken coop

Can someone explain this to me?

When President Vladimir V. Putin in July ordered American diplomatic missions in Russia to slash their staff by 755 employees, the State Department said it would need time to assess the “impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it.”

Part of that response has now become clear: To make up for the loss of security guards axed in the Russian-mandated staff cuts, Washington has hired a private Russian company that grew out of a security business co-founded by Mr. Putin’s former K.G.B. boss, an 82-year-old veteran spy who spent 25 years planting agents in Western security services and hunting down their operatives.

Under a $2.8 million no-bid contract awarded by the Office of Acquisitions in Washington, security guards at the American Embassy in Moscow and at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok will be provided by Elite Security Holdings, a company closely linked to the former top K.G.B. figure, Viktor G. Budanov, a retired general who rose through the ranks to become head of Soviet counterintelligence.

So a Putin crony is now in charge of security at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow? Am I the only one who sees a problem with this?

Sounds like collusion to me. Don’t you think Putin’s little puppet has gone too far?

Fox News viewers and their two minutes of hate

Rent “1984” and try this exercise. Watch the opening scene, and replace “Goldstein” with “Hillary.”

You now know what it’s like to be in the mind of a Fox News viewing pump truppet. Because Fox’s current two minutes of hate focuses on a bogus uranium story. And we can’t emphasize enough that everything Fox is saying is a lie (from MarketWatch):

President Trump, there’s a very good reason Congress isn’t investigating Hillary Clinton’s “big uranium deal” with Russia.

It’s because the story is absolute crap — as you well know.

• No, Hillary Clinton didn’t “sell America’s uranium.” She didn’t own it, or control it, and never had. This entire accusation is a farce.

In 2010 the stockholders of a Canadian mining company, Uranium One, accepted a bid from the Russian nuclear-energy agency, Rosatom, for a majority of their shares. They cashed out.

There is a very good reason no politician or organization tried to halt the uranium deal. It wasn’t controversial.
Uranium One was a worldwide producer. Among its assets were some U.S. uranium mines.

The decision was taken by pension-fund managers, other institutional investors and private investors from Canada, the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

The deal had previously been approved by company management and independent directors on the board.

This is what’s known as “private property,” “commerce” and “capitalism.” Trump should read up on it.

The burden of proof for a U.S. government official to intervene in a Canadian stock-market transaction would have to be pretty high.

• No, Hillary didn’t “approve” the sale, either. She was just one of 14 — count ’em, 14 — people who sat on a U.S. government committee that might, in theory, have intervened but didn’t.

The others on the committee included the secretaries of the Treasury, homeland security, energy and defense; the White House budget director; the attorney general; and the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

So, as far as we know, none of them said peep.

The committee could have intervened if it thought the deal threatened U.S. national security.

Others who could also have intervened in the deal, but saw no reason to, included the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and regulators in Canada and elsewhere.

• There is a very good reason none of those people or organizations tried to halt the deal. It wasn’t controversial. And if it weren’t for Trump’s cynical demagoguery, it wouldn’t be now.

America is a bit player in worldwide uranium production, and the amount involved was about half a percent — yes, really — of global supply.

Furthermore, uranium has been a drag on the international markets for years. There’s too much of it around. Miners are giving it away for less than it costs to dig up. There was no reason to think of it as an especially precious resource.

In 2010, when Russia agreed to this deal, the price of uranium had already fallen by 75% in three years. And since then it’s halved again. (But uranium prices have perked up a bit since Trump’s election. Long-suffering investors are hoping he’ll approve more nuclear reactors and buy lots more warheads. It’s another reason Vladimir Putin has reason to be so pleased with his protégé.)

• Finally, it’s worth remembering that this entire “story” was whipped up like a meringue by Peter Schweizer, a far-right hack at Breitbart. And, like a meringue, it’s almost all air.

The korrupt kraven krook knows it’s a lie. Fox News knows it’s a lie. But they both need the two minutes of hate to keep the base, who they treat like Pavlov’s dog, frothing at the mouth. A fitting comparison for Russian stooges.

All you need to know about uranium and Russians

Since our friends on the right* are resurrecting the “Hillary sold Russians uranium” trope:

And if the mouthbreather would just pay attention, the uranium sale was agreed to by multiple departments, including the Pentagon, which saw no threat to national security.

Anything to deflect attention from the korrupt ko-konspirator’s guilt in working with the Russians to undermine the democratic process and screw over our elections.

(*A reminder: They aren’t our friends. They want us all dead.)

Russians know Americans are morons

Specifically, morons from Texas.

This is an image from a Texas Facebook secessionist account called Heart of Texas. At its peak, it has more followers than the Texas Democratic and Republican parties Facebook accounts combined.

According to the Washington Post:

Its organizers had a strangely one-dimensional idea of its subject. They seemed to think, for example, that Texans drank Dr. Pepper at all hours: while driving their giant trucks, while flying their Confederate battle flags, while griping about Yankees and liberals and vegetarians.

But Heart of Texas, sadly, was no joke. At one point the page’s organizers even managed to stir up its followers into staging an armed, anti-Islamic protest in Houston. As gradually became clear, this was part of a broader strategy. The sponsors of the page were keen to exacerbate America’s own internal divisions.

By the summer of 2016, other themes began to emerge. Posts began to follow a perceptibly hard-right course, stressing Texas’s status as a “Christian state,” or touting the Second Amendment as a “symbol of freedom … so we would forever be free from any tyranny.” Some of the page’s contributors talked about the need to “keep Texas Texan,” whatever that meant. There was also a generous dollop of conspiracy theory. There were posts about the allegedly unnatural death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the supposed federal invasion orders behind the Jade Helm military exercise. Fake Founding Father quotes mingled with anti-Muslim screeds and paeans to Sam Houston. And the number of followers steadily crept into the hundreds of thousands.

But the account wasn’t run by Texans.

Just like that, the most popular Texas secession page on Facebook was revealed to be a Russian front, operated by the notorious Internet Research Agency, with Facebook removing all of the posts from public view. …

We know that the Russians behind these sites played all of their readers, and especially those who showed up at its protests in places like Twin Falls and Fort Myers and Houston, for fools. Considering that the number of their combined followers ranged into the millions — with some estimates placing total views potentially in the billions — they’re probably right.

Let’s put this in perspective. There is someone in Russia tinkering around on a computer saying “Let’s see how fucking stupid Americans are.” And that person believes the best place to find fucking stupid Americans is in Texas.

And the American secretary of state, who is from Texas, has designated his boss, the karrot koiffed krapmeister, as “a fucking moron.”

We are so screwed.