Friday, February 16, 2018

Que the scary music....



Special Counsel Robert Mueller today has indicted 13 Russian nationals for conspiring to interfere in US elections.  Based in a neighborhood in St Petersburg, Russia, a sophisticated LLC with hundreds of employees and millions of dollars....er....rubles to work with sent agents to America as early as 2014 to carry out various dirty tricks, aiming to undermine our election process.

Why was this much released, with this much detail, at this time?  To let the Russians know we knew?  Nope.  The Russians working here sent back word to HQ (which we intercepted) that "they had been discovered by the FBI and were busy covering their tracks."  The Russians already knew their cover had been blown.  The agents are all back in Russia now, and we're pursuing extradition "through normal channels."  *Don't hold your breath*

Did Mueller release it now to back down President Trump from considering firing him?  Possibly.  This blows the argument that this entire Russian investigation is just a witch hunt.  Mueller names names, gives dates and locations, and backs it all up with dozens of pages of details.  No, this is no witch hunt.

So then, why now?  Here's what my suspicious mind thinks:  As Mueller has a reputation for making plea deals with second and third tier participants in order to get them to squeal on higher ups, I'm thinking he's putting this out there now to increase pressure on others he has under the spotlight.  Tell me everything you know or I'll up that indictment to an even 14, or 16 or....  I think he's getting close to someone BIG.

The Deputy AG said the investigation was ongoing, and that the Americans involved were unwitting participants.  If that's 100% true, if we had the bad guys and exonerated the good guys, why is the investigation still ongoing?   Shouldn't it be Miller Time?  Hmmm...

Que the scary music....

S


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It ain't rocket surgery, folks


The big question being asked this morning is "Why?"  Why would the Trump White House keep Rob Porter (the former WH Secretary) on the payroll when they'd known for months that he couldn't get security clearance and had a restraining order against him for spousal abuse?

It seems pretty clear to me....who could they get now to come on board and replace him?  People are fighting for a place on the lifeboat now to get OFF the Trumptanic, not ON it!  What experienced, respected pro or up-and-coming star in the public or private sector would want to get on board right as the deck chairs were sliding overboard?  Who would want to have on their resume "served in the Trump White House"?

Look at Trump's cabinet Secretaries.  Sec Def Mattis is by all accounts top shelf, and he's still there probably because he feels a sense of responsibility to his military brothers and sisters in uniform. Sec State Tillerson is probably still there because he knows he is the adult in the room most qualified to run around the world behind the Prez and clean up his messes.  The rest IMO are either worn out retreads or those who just like to see their name at the top of fancy stationary.

I can understand why many people were willing to hitch their wagon to Trump's horse during the campaign....they liked his agenda.  But now that they've seen how he operates up close and personal, I doubt they remain as motivated to serve him.  I think Trump's agenda could have been packaged and presented by someone far more palatable.

S

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gray Man lives



In my previous post I mentioned that I often carry a concealed firearm, which led to a comment that said I must go into some "rough neighborhoods" if I feel it necessary to carry a gun.  

Unfortunately violence and crime are no longer found only in "rough neighborhoods".  Nowadays even genteel suburban cities and towns are affected by violence, too.  I'm fortunate to be able to live in one of the most desirable areas of north Texas, yet here is what we've seen in recent years:

     *When I lived in The Shoppes at Legacy, a very upscale retail/entertainment/residential district, a woman there was kidnapped from a well lighted public parking garage and later murdered.

    *A person was murdered in the parking lot at Northpark mall, the most exclusive in Dallas.

     *A serial rapist was finally captured after he terrorized a well-to-do north Dallas neighborhood for many months.

     *A woman was recently murdered in the parking lot outside a Walgreens pharmacy in Frisco.

     *A friend of mine walked in to a restaurant to meet friends and found himself in the middle of an armed robbery of the manager.  My friend was shot, but survived.

     *I once went to pick up my wife at Love Field (the close-in Dallas airport), and as I pulled up curbside I heard on the radio to expect substantial police activity in the area.  It seems a robber had just killed the manager of a retail store and then ran out into the intersection outside and carjacked an innocent commuter.  He shot the driver (who survived) and escaped.  I had stopped at that same intersection 5 minutes earlier....that could have been me!

     *The daughter of one of my homeowners simply disappeared from near the University of North Texas campus years ago and has never been found.

     *Just last week a resident (or a visitor ?) at a very nice apartment complex in Richardson went nuts and killed one man, and then killed a cop when he responded to the call for help.  Other residents there were instructed to shelter in place until the situation was under control.

     *And let's not forget the growing problem of road rage, which can happen anywhere, to anybody.

These sorts of things don't happen daily or even weekly, but they do happen.  Violence doesn't happen to only those in less affluent neighborhoods.  In all my years I've never had to present my gun to thwart violence to myself or a loved one, nor have I ever been shot at by anyone.  Statistics say it's extremely unlikely I ever will be, either.  But I also know that if, heaven forbid, a violent situation ever confronts me and I need to call 911, it will take the police at least 5 minutes, and probably much longer, to arrive.  Until help arrives I simply want to be able to protect myself.  

There's nothing Wild West about carrying a gun.  A properly trained, vetted, licensed, and prepared armed citizen should be no threat to anyone, except maybe bad guys looking to harm them.

I'm not paranoid, running around looking for terrorists behind every rock and tree.  I'm not a vigilante.  Like everyone else I go to work, the grocery store, Home Depot, and sometimes out for dinner.  If you saw me you'd never know I had a gun on me, I'm that discreet.  My daily routine is no different than yours.  I just happen to have one more bit of insurance than most other people.  :)

S


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Every Day Carry

I've never thought much about what I carry with me every day.  I just load my pockets and go.  Now I've found out there is an entire genre of websites built around "EDC", or Every Day Carry.  Apparently some people don't just load their pockets, they pack luggage:


I'm pretty sure somewhere in there this guy has a kitchen sink.

I've always subscribed to the old adage, probably military in origin, that says, "Travel light and freeze at night."  I doubt I'll ever need to drag around a case of MRE's or a dome tent, so I've pared down what I carry on me to this:



Depending on the season and what clothes I can wear (shorts and t-shirt vs jeans and a jacket) I'll often carry, where legally allowed, a small pistol, either in a waist holster (shown) or a pocket holster.  Since I was a kid I've carried a pocket knife, and now a car FOB and an apartment key, an iPhone 6, a nylon (?) wallet from REI (that has lasted 10 years with zero sign of wear), and a Casio watch.  Not shown are a Medic Alert bracelet and a wedding ring.  That's it.  My glasses are the kind that darken when outdoors, so I don't even need sunglasses anymore.



In my car I keep a small bag containing a sheath knife, a glass breaker/seatbelt cutter, a screwdriver with various tips, a Gerber multi-tool (small saw, blade, file), a couple of spare carabiners, a phone charger, a space blanket, and in a second compartment underneath, a pair of Mechanix gloves and small first aid kit.  I can usually find a spare bottle of water somewhere, a koozie, and a few towels in my car, too. 



And finally, as I usually spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for every thing *agony* I carry an iPad mini and some wireless headphones.  I'll usually read news (BBC, The Guardian, AP News, CNN, The Economist), listen to podcasts (I like Ted Talks, Planet Money, The Indicator, American History Tellers), and read Kindle books (currently Directorate S: The CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll).  Rarely fiction, and not much music, either.

I suppose, except for an absolutely apocalyptic event, I have what I need.  So how about you?  What do you carry daily with you?

S

EDIT:  In the back of my car I have a plastic box with a small tire compressor, jumper cables, and other assorted car/road emergency equipment.


Friday, February 9, 2018

The no-spin, honest-to-goodness $64,000 question:

Then-businessman Donald Trump with Russian oligarch (and close Putin ally) Aras Agalarov (R) and his son, Emin (L).  Sberbank is a state-owned bank and the largest in Russia, and Crocus is Agalarov's real estate development company.

~~~~~~~~~~

Do the Russians have compromising information on Donald Trump, either through his past business dealings with Russian oligarchs, or through election collusion, enough to blackmail him?  Have the Russians entrapped President Donald Trump?

THAT is what the Mueller Trump/Russia investigation is about.  Period.  Hillary's emails and DNC rigging against Bernie Sanders, etc, are legitimate questions that can be addressed in some other venue.

President Trump thinks the investigation is an effort to deprive him of his legitimate election.  Republicans think it's an effort to remove him from office, which they oppose as they think he's a political novice they can manipulate.  Democrats want to discredit Trump/Republicans so they can regain power for themselves.  They all have their own near-sighted selfish agendas....and they've all missed the point.

Even White House Counsel Don McGahn missed the blackmail point at first.  He once asked the Acting Attorney General why the FBI cared if one administration official (National Security Director Mike Flynn) lied to another (VP Mike Pence)?  She had to explain to him that Flynn had publicly stated he hadn't discussed sanctions with Russians (a really big deal) when the FBI had proof he had.  And of course the Russians knew he had, too.  

At any time of the Russian's choosing they could have blackmailed Flynn, threatening to unmask him as the Benedict Arnold of the 21st Century if he didn't cooperate and give them what they wanted.  RUSSIA WOULD THEN HAVE A SPY IN THE INNER CIRCLE OF THE WHITE HOUSE!

The exact same thing could happen with President Trump.  The Russians have their eyes on all high-profile Americans who visit Russia and/or do business with Russians.  They've been watching Trump for decades.  Russian oligarchs, all friendly with Vladimir Putin, have done business with him.  Trump has been used, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not, to launder their money.  They've financed some of his hundreds of business ventures, primarily run through suspect Cypriot and German banks.  Now all of a sudden he just might become the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!  HOLY CRAP!  The incentive was surely there for Russia to want to see him elected, hence entrapping collusion.

Everything else is just a smoke screen.  The ONLY thing that matters is to find out once and for all if President Donald Trump is subject to being blackmailed.

Our national security demands that we have a President who is beyond ever being cornered in a compromising position. Those amateurs who say Trump is or isn't susceptible are just thinking wishfully based on their own prejudices.   We need to know if President Trump passes muster.  This is why it's imperative for Robert Mueller to finish his investigation.

S

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My Pinterest dump

Some things I've found that interest me....


Cool Cars 


Stairs
 
  
Girls and Guns


Guns 


Marshallers 


Rockies
 

Cool Jeeps 


Interesting
 

Dogs
 

Small Houses
 

 Scotland (my peeps!)


Sidewalk Cafes
 

Rugby


Monday, February 5, 2018

Everyone has an agenda


Our national attention span seems to last only few days at a time.  The media reports one thing, President Trump says another, and it's into the pit we go for another round of mud wrestling.  Then the next week we're on to something else.

Our most recent bout with dysfunction resolves around whether the FBI used the infamous Steele dossier (written by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele) as the basis for obtaining a FISA court order allowing eavesdropping on the Trump campaign in 2016.  

Republicans say that Mr Steele was working for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was in turn being paid by the Democratic National Committee, and that his dossier should therefore automatically be considered biased and invalid.  "No Steele dossier, no FISA court order, no FBI spying, case dismissed" they say.  The Democrats....wait for it....disagree!  *BIG shock*

Brief background:  The investigation by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS on Donald Trump was initially funded by a conservative political website, and was later picked up and funded by the Democrats after Trump emerged as the probable Republican nominee.  Fusion GPS contracted with Steele, asking him to use his foreign connections to investigate Trump.  Following Trump's election funding from the Democrats ceased, but Steele continued working on the report, with financing coming directly from Fusion GPS principal Glen Simpson. 

Lost in all this "yes he did...no he didn't" BS is this:  Is the information contained in the dossier true?  If the collection of 17 memos, aka "the dossier", written by Steele between June and December 2016 are accurate, then I personally don't care who paid for it.  I don't want Russia worming their way into our election system, and possibly into a position where they can blackmail a candidate they helped.   

We're not talking about a friendly Australia or Canada or even Spain here folks....but RUSSIA!  Russia is NOT our friend.  Vladimir Putin longs to see Russia elevated back to the level of power and prestige enjoyed by the old Soviet Union.  Contrary to popular myth, Russia in NOT a great  economic power today.  In fact, Russia's GDP is roughly equal to that of the state of California.  Their ace card, of course, is that they still possess a massive nuclear arsenal, and they are rapidly modernizing their conventional military forces as well.

Putin alone controls Russia.  The billionaire business oligarchs inside Russia operate with the approval and support of Vladimir Putin, and they in turn know that when Putin calls, they respond.  Nobody crosses him.  (The few that have tried have found themselves charged with "tax evasion" and locked up, or worse.)  Think of it as an old-school organized crime family.  Russia's objective is to weaken (mainly) the United States, NATO, and the European Union any way possible.  If the West bickers and fractures, Russia benefits.

This is a serious position we're in today.  Much is at stake.  Anyone who doesn't understand this and blindly tries to stymie Special Counsel Muller's investigation are potentially doing the United States great harm. Let Mueller do his job, and if there has been Russian collusion, say so and put away the guilty.  And if not, tell us that, too, and lets move on.

S