SocraticGadfly: 6/17/18 - 6/24/18

June 22, 2018

DNC emails — what if Seth Rich didn't do it?
With more evidence he didn't

Seth Rich's parents — if wingnuts won't let them rest in peace
then I hope they sue like hell.
I am talking about the first round of Democratic National Committee emails from the spring of 2016 that landed in Wikileaks' hands, not the later ones obtained by spearphishing John Podesta.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has claimed these initial emails were downloaded at speeds far too fast for Internet theft, especially international theft. The Nation provides more background, including links to a follow-up segment that challenges some of the VIPS assumptions (you will see little about this at Consortium News, home of the first link), Thomas Drake going public with dissent within VIPS, and the majority's response.

(Breaking update, July 9, 2019: A new Yahoo News bombshell says Russian intelligence, specifically its foreign intelligence agency, the SVR, was behind the Seth Rich conspiracy theories.)

New update, Aug. 14: Further undermining Seth Rich conspiracy theorists? A simple Google Trends search, which shows his name had about zero searching before his July 10, 2016 murder. In other words, after his death, conspiracy theorists latched on to his death as a way of postulating an insider theft. And, whether this was a coordinated idea or not from the start, it became so soon after.

It had a small spike in early August, most likely associated with the Democratic National Convention a week earlier. After that, Google searches for Seth Rich died down to almost zero again until May 2017.

Sadly, a judge has dismissed the lawsuit for lack of specificity, though the ruling is being appealed.

Update and breaking, July 13: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has indicted 12 Russian nationals, all alleged GRU employees. Indictment claims one or more of them stole the credentials of a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee employee. From there, they allegedly got in the DCCC computer network, installed malware to keep their access open, etc., transmitted info from that network to a server computer in Phoenix, got into the DNC network via the DCCC network, implanted the same malware, and sent info from DNC computers to a server in Illinois.

Also addressing the download speeds issue, it seems, per Nathaniel Freitas mentioning the use of cloud computing, it is alleged that the 12 Russians got access to other DNC docs that were stored on cloud computers.

I will do one or more separate blog posts, but wanted to get some update out immediately.

First, in that follow-up segment of challenges, Nathaniel Freitas says there are indeed ways such download speeds could have been achieved. He cites various "Trojans" and cloud computing as two of them.

Drake, joined by Scott Ritter and others, goes even further than Freitas in saying the VIPS majority stretched some conclusions. A big one is this:
The transfer rate was independent of the physical location of the data at the time of copy.
Well, that would basically undercut the foundation of the VIPS majority, wouldn't it?

And that's followed by this:
In addition, no qualifiers, disclaimers, or dissenting views are provided in the VIPS memo, nor is any alternative theory presented.
Ten months later, seeing the deep dive on the so-called "Deep State" at Consortium News, the statement above doesn't surprise. Predetermined conclusions? Whoda thunk?

(In addition, Ritter has written on his own at TruthDig. And, at The Intercept, Robert Mackey further refutes the claims Guccifer 2.0 was a Romanian, as well as, re Russian language issues, that it was a leaker inside the US.)

To be fair, the majority issues its rebuttal. (I don't know how big the majority is, or how big VIPS is; five people speak in this rebuttal but six in the dissenting report, though I don't think all are VIPS members.) It has a fair amount of argument from silence, plus claims that cloud computing speeds, or other alternatives by the dissenters and Freitas, greatly sped up in general between spring 2016 and August 2017. Color me unconvinced.

Also, the original VIPS assume for the sake of argument that, if Guccifer 2.0 actually did this, he actually worked overseas. They ignore not only cloud computing but the fact that, if it were Guccifer, maybe he WASN'T overseas.

(Update, Aug. 7: Techdirt notes that it and other sites poked holes in the VIPS majority claims from the start.)

I also wonder how much Ray McGovern and his conspiracy theorist glory ramrodded this. (See below: A fair amount.) As for McGovern throwing away a national medal due to CIA torture, how does he know it didn't do that earlier? He does know about its role in unwarranted assassinations before that. Allende, anybody? And, non-CIA American torture going back to the Philippines.

McGovern and William Binney recently noted that CIA's Marble program could allow spoofing of Guccifer 2.0.

Meanwhile, The Forensicator has recently bemoaned MSM coverage. He then partially rejected the dissenters' report shortly after it came out while also saying VIPS' majority stretched some things. In his alternate scenarios, this person rejects alternate scenarios while saying the download speed ceiling has been raised yet higher. More on that here, but ... you know? This seems like the IT version of an Overton window, his "strong evidence" or whatever ... that, you know, he just happened to look for after all the concerns and objections popped up.

OK, time for some nut-cutting.

First, IF the initial emails were stolen from inside the DNC, would we be fingering Seth Rich if he had not been killed in what is officially described as a robbery gone bad — or, per me, to address a few headscratchers, is maybe a drug deal done bad, or a drug dealers' world omerta killing? (The official, plus my alternatives, to me all make much more sense than a conspiracy theory.)

The answer is, we certainly would not. And, Guccifer 2.0 being spoofed would still not mean that Seth Rich did it.

This of course means Faux, Ed Butowsky and wingnut lawyer Ty Clevenger are all full of it, and deserve the suits and countersuits they're facing. (Maybe Seth Rich's parents or brother need to find an angle on suing the Forensicator, too. Since the blog started mid-2017 for a specific purpose, let's find out who's doing this!) And, Brains, I wish you'd stop publishing this bullshit. Every time you do, especially in a Texas Progressives roundup, I'm going to call out Clevenger, and I'm probably going to start calling you out too. (Oh, and contra one Twitter buttinski, of course's it's of value to know who Forensicator is, given VIPS split report and other things. This isn't like blind-screening male vs female first violin candidates, or other issues in the arts. Unlike you, I try to avoid buying anonymous pigs in pokes on science or technology issues, and since he pops up nowhere before the DNC emails download question, I can't find other stuff on him.)

(Update, Aug. 6: Forensicator, if Computer Weekly is right, is a front man for a British self-described black hat hacker and pro-Trumpist Tim Leonard / Adam Carter. And, Duncan Campbell says that Bill Binney, at least, within VIPS, flipped his stance on the "impossible to download internationally claims" after taking a second look at the files, with Campbell. But Binney claims that Campbell misinterprets him. But, Binney himself misinterprets the VIPS statement. Per the "minority report" linked above, it's clear that not all of VIPS accepted that this had to be a hack, not a download. Maybe that's because the VIPS majority report, specifically McGovern, relied on Carter.

And, as for Disobedient Media lamenting a "smear" of Leonard/Carter? Good for the goose, good for the gander — Bill Binney apparently believes in microwave mind control weapons. And, the person whose show he is on thinks this is a plot to remove gun rights.

Carter, meanwhile, has told me on Twitter that he'll prove Campbell wrong. "You'll see." Well, if Campbell is correct, making threats to the media ain't how you do it. Nor is blocking someone like me after I pointed out Binney's misrepresentations in a response.)

(Update, April 8, 2021: Until reading Glenn Greenwald's "No Place to Hide," I didn't know Campbell's background. Well, Duncan Campbell, as the man who first exposed the GCHQ by name and the "Five Eyes," knows his shit. As a man earlier targeted for prosecution under Britain's Official Secrets Act, he has no love lost for the national security state or its smears. So, his pronouncements re the Seth Rich case, and his skill in getting the information, should be taken with the utmost seriousness. So, Carter claiming he would prove Campbell wrong is not just LOLs, it's bombast of a ridiculous level.)

There. That's enough spleen for now, though that Clevenger piece has grown to almost Actual Flatticus takedown dimensions and needs a split, spinoffs or something.

And, per that picture, our old friend Actual Flatticus enters the scene, courtesy ShirtLost DumbShit Haller!

Back to Seth Rich.

To recap:1. We have no proof, just possibilities, that someone besides Guccifer 2.0 (and/or team) took the early 2016 DNC emails.2. Whoever did take this batch, we have no proof of where in the world that they may have, or not have, done it from.3. If other person(s) did take these emails, and they were on the east coast of the US, we have no proof they worked for the DNC.4. If other person(s) who did take these emails worked for the DNC, we have no proof that Seth Rich was the person, or one of the group.5. We know that among the most ardent claimants of "Seth Rich did it" are definite conspiracy theorists Ray McGovern and Ty Clevenger.

I can think of three alternatives to Seth Rich and/or any DNC employee being involved. All three make arguably almost as much sense if not much more.

First: To turn McGovern's nuttery on its head — NSA staffers from the Deep State who WANT Trump elected steal this stuff then use the Marble program to frame Guccifer 2.0.

Second: Roger Stone hired some minions to do this.

Third: A la Watergate, the Trump campaign or the RNC did this.

I consider any of those to have at least 10-20 percent the plausibility of "Seth Rich did it."


As for the big picture? Had I seen those Nation pieces when they came out, I wouldn't have gone as far down the "Seth Rich stole the emails" rabbit hole as I originally did. I might also have started some of my recent searching through Consortium News' past, especially on conspiracy theories, earlier than I did.

Re the claims of Ty Clevenger et al? Per this good Seth Rich events timeline, the law enforcement who first said the FBI was involved withdrew that claim. Rod Wheeler then also withdrew it. Also per that link, I'm not sure why Kim Dotcom isn't being sued as well.

I'm sorry, to myself and to readers.

June 20, 2018

Family separations in ICE cages end; what next?

Here's the Trump executive order ending the family separations.

(Update: Trump Admin says it will NOT apply to already separated families. So, how do we know it will be applied to new cases. This is a man who wakes up with a lie teed up for Twitter.)

So now, to the "what next"?

First, beyond any current "tent cities" that will be used for whole families, read Section 3. Per subsection (c), military bases will be used next, either with tent cities, or with unused barracks. (The Pentagon has now agreed to provide space for 20,000.) If there are former military bases that have been closed but not for too too long, that might come next. (Actually, it looks like they could come first.) Per subsection (d), note that other federal agencies have already been tasked about making facilities available.

Second, the fact that those two subsections are spelled out in his executive order means that Trump has in no way capitulated in his "no tolerance" stance.

Third, this will surely violate the Flores Settlement. That's what Trump and administration mouthpieces, along with Havana Ted Cruz and other Rethug Congresscritters, have (I think, god knows??) been referring to in claiming there is a law requiring family separations.

No there's not. And Trump's EO indicates there's not. And that his administration and those mouthpieces (tho maybe not Donald himself) have known this all along.

Obama was sued over violating the Flores Settlement in 2015. And lost. And lost with good reason, in the middle of his own "no-tolerance," or near it, that earned him the title of Deporter in Chief. That's also because he grossly expanded immigration law enforcement from where Bush had it, as The Nation noted in 2016. More background here. Trump has already indicated he'll fight and invite suits. Dara Lind says that's surely deliberate; Dolly Gee, the district judge who ruled against Obama, still has control from the bench of Flores Settlement issues. Trump spox Gene Hamilton at the Department of Justice indicated the administration will try to ratchet up PR against Gee just as if she were a Member of Congress.

Fourth, note the title of the EO: "Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation." He's already trying to punt the PR snafu back to the Hill.

Fifth, both duopoly parties have contributed to problems that have led to flight from Central America. This long and growing Twitter thread of mine has details. That's even as the National Endowment for Democracy, a bipartisan foreign policy establishment, boasts about plans to destabilize Nicaragua.

Sixth, family-based detention centers already exist and aren't quite full yet.

Seventh, a reminder to wingers. "Illegal presence" is a civil offense only. Only "illegal entry" is a criminal case, and like any other criminal case, must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That's why immigration lawyers caution immigrants apprehended inside our borders not to talk to police without an attorney present. And, immigrants are entitled to many, though not all, Constitutional protections.

Finally, John Horgan is right. Let's not forget about all the children in the Middle East U.S. presidents of both parties have killed in the War on Terra.


And as of the start of July, the "what next" of Trump is to tell ICE to threaten family separations again if they try to get asylum hearings.

June 19, 2018

TX Progressives say: Tear down those concentration camp tents

The Texas Progressive Alliance strongly condemns the inhumane practice of separating families from their children — especially keeping them in cages and, even worse, a separated kid being raped — as it brings you its weekly roundup.

In related stories:

Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture of people protesting at the proposed Houston location of the baby jail for kids taken from families at the border.

Progrexas notes many ministers denounced the Trump action from the pulpit, and it’s not just “librul Christians” upset; Somervell County Salon notes the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling for better immigration policy.

SocraticGadfly talks about the need for third parties of the left, in the plural as necessary. His Twitter thread on the concentration camps notes both halves of the duopoly have shares of responsibility for what has led to this point.

Off the Kuff looked back at the polls from 2010 and 2014 to get a sense of where we are today.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer describes how, at its convention the Texas GOP went left of Texas Dems on marijuana policy ideas. (Dan Patrick will remain a huge roadblock.)

Grits for Breakfast talks about the criminal justice part of the GOP platform.

Also at the Dallas Observer Jim Schutze talks about the fakeness behind the McDermott bridges over I-30.

Texas Vox examines the issues of storing renewable energy in Texas.

Texas Observer notes the latest case of TCEQ not enforcing air pollution laws.

Texas Monthly discusses the latest meat-ax cutting at the San Antonio Express-News. (Besides Peggy Fikac, any larger seven-day daily whacking an ombudsman/public editor shows it doesn’t care too much about PR, in my opinion. And, since Hearst isn’t publicly traded, we have no idea how (un)necessary these cuts were. Your editor also wonders why, on “combo synergy,” Hearst isn’t editing, or even just dropping, datelines.)

The TSTA Blog would like to know who is going to pay for more school counselors.

Gaby Diaz wants real action on school shootings.

G. Paris Johnson explores mental health issues in the African-American community.

Therese Odell reviews the Trump/Kim bro-fest so you don't have to.

Jessica Elizarraras notes Whataburger's reaction to the IHOP/IHOB name change.

After being targeted by hackers last week, TexasLeftist is dusting off, and standing by our values.  This blog is a site which will always promote diversity, inclusion and understanding.  As such, TL was happy to observe and celebrate the Muslim holiday of EidAl Fitr with our fellow Texans.

Monopsony: The secret word as to why the jobs aren't there

Know how we are allegedly at something like full employment? How we're allegedly at more jobs than available workers?

Well, other than declining labor force participation still not totally rebounded from the Great Recession, other than age discrimination against an aging workforce, there's also the issue of the cost of labor being a factor

This is a good starting point. It explains why the unemployment rate is virtually meaningless, per this internal link. It's "shocking" that an Obamiac economic official is among the more vocal critics. That second link notes that labor force participation is also keeping wages lower than you and I would like, as well as stifling new job creation.

From there, go to Paul Krugman on monopsony, the quieter cousin of monopoly. Monopsony, the quieter cousin of monopoly, is explained here in more detail.

There's also my contribution, which notes that employers, even though they know that single-payer national health care would be cheaper for them than private health insurance, like how "bennies" continue to keep employees enserfed.

Your seven-day daily newspaper or magazine business columnist, if he or she wants to be relevant on why you're not seeing a lot of new jobs you'd like, needs to take this into account.

June 18, 2018

Conservatives, understanding, self-understanding
and martyrdom stances

W.E.B. Du Bois
In a previous post about trying to understand conservatives, especially so-called working class white conservatives, I missed putting in one big point, which I eventually added near the end.

That was a lack of reciprocity. That conservatives don't want to, and don't want to try to, understand liberals, let alone leftists.

This probably is in part related to personality differences in the Big Five personality types model between a generalized conservative and a generalized liberal.

That said, W.E.B. Du Bois was certainly right in noting that behind the threats of lynching and more, conservatives like this – mudsills and similar — have real fears about jobs, economic security, and personal and family futures.

I quote from " Reconstruction in Black America," originally as a magazine article in North American Review:
Back of the writhing, yelling, cruel-eyed demons who break, destroy, maim and lynch and burn at the stake is a knot, large or small, of normal human beings and these human beings at heart are desperately afraid of something.  Of what?  Of many things but usually of losing their jobs, of being declassed, degraded or actually disgraced; of losing their hopes, their savings, their plans for their children; of the actual pangs of hunger; of dirt, of crime.  And all of this, most ubiquitous in modern industrial society is that fear of unemployment.

But, this is where self-understanding, or lack thereof, whether consciously deliberate or subconsciously deliberate, comes in. (I believe in non-Freudian subconscious volition.)

If not a nameless "They" gets blamed, a named "They" does.

It was blacks back in DuBois' time.

Today it is still often them.

Followed by illegal immigrants from Mexico or further south (which ignores the "white" illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, of which there are many).

And, there's Islamofascists. And feminazis. And atheists. And gays. And more.

All of these "Theys" are allegedly trying to steal the pony that Ronald Reagan promised.

The real thieves are right in front of their faces, though.

The largely white, capitalistic businessmen.

The largely white, capitalistic GOP politicians.

And, both of them, including the racist leader of the political pack, Donald Trump.

But, because these people aren't a they – including a still sometimes cult-like following of Trump – but a "We," they don't get blamed.

No, really.

Take Harley-Davidson, getting a ton of Trump Tax Scam breaks, then turning around and closing the plant in Kansas City, while announcing plans to open one in Bangkok.

Here's welder Tim Primeaux:
“I blame the company more than I blame the president," he said in the NBC News interview.
Sometimes, conservatives don't want to be understood, because they don't want to understand, or accept, reality. 

I think the church has a blessing about this. Oh, yes –

"The self-willed ignorance that passes all understanding."

In Shrub Bush's administration, in response to Karl Rove, Democrats dubbed themselves the "reality-based community."

But, they're not.

At the national level, and pretty much at the state level, most of them have sold out too much to late-stage capitalist themselves. And the "deplorables" saw that in Obama. (Obama being black didn't help the sellout, and although her own feminism is quite selective, Hillary Clinton being a woman might not have helped, either.)

How long how many of these people will continue to think no abortion and no gayz and kiss Israel's butt will lead to a pony they're never going to get, I don't know.

It took decades for the Kansas of "An Appeal to Reason" to become halfway the Kansas of Kris Kobach and Sam Brownback. It will probably take decades to move the other way.

Note that when Dubois wrote what he did, all of that was even more true for the average African-American, Mexican-American or American Indian. But then, as today, the white working class — in part out of its own fears but also in part out of racism — simply didn't care, overall.

Per my take on Mr. Primeaux, I partially agree with the likes of a Doug Henwood or Adolph Reed that some race issues ultimately reduce to socioeconomic class issues.

But, not all of them. Things like police brutality against minorities are simply an expression of race as social dominance — racism as a class issue with no "socioeconomic" attached. As I said to Henwood in a back-and-forth argument on another blog post long ago, mudsills existed before modern capitalism penetrated much of the South. Dalits, the literal "outcastes" of India, existed long before the final apex of power of the British Raj.

That all said, Du Bois probably would have agreed with Henwood and Reed more than I do.

In that vein, Jacobin recently called for a revival of the Douglass Option. It's not the first time, and it's likely not the last, that I find Jacobin willfully and perversely naive on working-class black-white relations.