More White House Obstruction Against President Elect Biden
Last week, we published a comprehensive report featuring the analysis of the leading cyber security experts about the how and when of the SolarWinds cyber attack against the United States and her allies:
As we pointed out at the time, this event was going to have a longer shelf life than most other betrayal of this country that Trump has presided over – the only one comperable in scale, is of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, to start of this holiday week, we have Russia issuing a formal denial of responsibility for the mass incursion into our vital national security, commerce and energy infrastructures, bolstered by the complicity of impeached president Donald Trump himself.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated concerning America’s response via its intelligence community, lawmakers and public reaction, that the breaches “has nothing to do with us. Russia is not involved in these attacks. Any accusations of Russia’s involvement are absolutely unfounded and are a continuation of blind Russophobia,” Peskov told reporters Monday.
Trump provided cover for this denial on Saturday by tweeting, “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” and regarding reports that the Kremlin was behind it, added, “Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of……..discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).”
The abuse of his office is escalating, if such could be possible. It has now been disclosed, initially in a report from Axios, that Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the transition team of President-elect Joe Biden. This precipitated a firestorm of reaction on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon itself.
Subsequently, Miller’s office, no doubt in response to the pushback, issued a statement in denial of the report. “At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interview. … After the mutually-agreed upon holiday, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”
However, Biden transition director Yohannes Abraham contradicted the Pentagon’s official response to this story on Friday afternoon, telling reporters, “Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break.” Abraham went on to add that, “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period as there’s no time to spare, and that’s particularly true in the aftermath of ascertainment delay.”
D.C. insiders believe that the cancellation of the briefings, had to do with Trump’s reaction to a report from the Washington Post that the Biden transition team had been discussing with the Army Corps of Engineers the savings that could be realized by putting an immediate halt to Trump’s border wall boondoggle.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination by any means that Trump and his political appointee, Miller, agreed to throw roadblocks in front of Biden, even at a time when the next adminstration being fully briefed, is beyond critical. Now that the feces has hit the fan, one Pentagon spokesperson tried to cover with this explanation:
“These same senior leaders needed to do their day jobs and were being consumed by transition activities. … With the holidays we are taking a knee for two weeks. We are still committed to a productive transition.”
“Taking a knee for two weeks”? Not buying it and neither should you. Another person that is not buying Trump’s highly suspicious conduct, is Gregory F. Treverton, Professor of the Practice of International Relations and Spatial Sciences at the University of Southern California and former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
Treverton, as do many other intel analysts in the West, believe there is something deeper to Trump’s persistent denials of Russian subversion.
He’s right – there is no other plausible explanation for Trump’s behavior. And of course, MAGA will continue to be in denial about Trump’s motives in the same manner of a wife discovering her husband in the throws of coitus with his mistress and dismissing what she is seeing with the rationalization, “well, he must be doing it to benefit the household in some way.”
The only prominent voice in the Republican party that is stepping forward and addressing this threat is Mitt Romney, who appeared on Meet The Press this Sunday. Romney discussed the risks of not tackling the Russian hack head on, saying that the next time Russia executes a cyber intrusion that it could disrupt the national utility grid, bringing delivery of electricity and water to a grinding and sudden halt.
Romney also said Trump “has a blind spot when it comes to Russia” and doesn’t want to recognize Russia as the “extraordinarily bad actor they are on the world stage.”
On the subject of how Trump’s contradiction of America’s intelligence agencies emboldens Russia to continue their counter intelligence operations, Romney stated,
“What this invasion underscores is that Russia acted with impunity. They (Russia) didn’t fear what we would be able to do from a cybercapacity. They didn’t think that our defenses were particularly adequate and they apparently didn’t think that we would respond in a very aggressive way.”
Russian assassins speak while Trump remains silent
Meanwhile, the smoking gun that proves Putin and his government are lying about their attempt to murder Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, comes from Navalny himself. This is another outrage that Trump has been silent as the grave regarding.
Navalny, who was poisoned by agents from either the FSB or the branch of the Kremlin security apparatus that conducted the Solar Winds hacking operation (SVR), with the deadly nerve agent, Novichok, posed as a high-ranking security official conducting a telephone debriefing on the August attack in the Siberian city of Tomsk.
The agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, believed he was responding to an inquiry from the Kremlin, in the person of pseudonym“Maxim Ustinov” and Navalny succeeded, during a 49 minute phone interview, in extracting an admission from Kudryavtsev.
Kudryavtsev, a chemical weapons expert that the team assigned to assassinate him, confirmed to Navalny as Ustinov, confirmed that he and a fellow member of the operation, planted the substance in Navalny’s underwear, which was then absorbed into the skin and brought Navalny to the brink of death.
Speaking as “Maxim”, Navalny said his boss was seeking an “urgent report into what went wrong with Navalny” – meaning of course, how did the assignment fail, from the FSB team. At one point Navalny, in his guise as Ustinov, asked Kudryavtsev to describe in specific where the nerve agent was placed in the clothing – “Which garment had the highest risk factor?”, to which Kudryavtsev replied, “underwear.”
Here, is the recording of the conversation with the damning admission:
The assailant, Kudryavtsev, even explained the theory he and his accomplises account for how Novalny survived the attack – “it would have all gone differently’ if the plane had not made the emergency landing and if [it had] not [been] for the prompt work of the ambulance medics on the runway. The flight is about three hours, this is a long flight… If you don’t land the plane the effect would’ve been different and the result would’ve been different”, said Kudryavtsev .
Trump’s stone silence on this latest episode is very reminiscent of the acrobatics Trump resorted to in the aftermath of the organized killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi two years ago.
A Muppet Christmas Carol
Rated G – with some scary images
Now available on Disney +
There are some holiday stories that never grow old. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is one of them. Told on the stage and in film, as a musical, straight-laced drama; in both animation and live action – it’s a tale that has lived far beyond its Victorian origins.
One of the best loved retellings of this classic story is “A Muppet Christmas Carol.”
Directed by Brian Henson (the son of late Muppet’s creator, Jim Henson), and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, “A Muppet Christmas Carol” tells of the redemption of one of literature’s most beloved misers as only the Muppets can do it.
With the dynamic duo of the Great Gonzo (Charles Dickens) and Rizzo the Rat narrating, the life of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), as he learns the true meaning of love, life, and of course, the Christmas season.
With Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife, Emily, Robin as Tiny Tim, Fozzy Bear as Fozzywig, and Statler and Waldorf as Jacob and Robert Marley, the film manages to balance the complexity of the Dickens story and Muppet magic fans have long loved.
Much credit for this balance can be attributed to the film’s star, Michael Caine. With the desire to play the part as if he was “working with the Royal Shakespeare Company,” according to IMDB.com. A veteran of both stage and screen, Caine brings his own unique blend of versatility necessary to grounding the overall plot, while keeping it whimsical at the same time.
This blend is most obvious in the “Dickens-esque” lines sprinkled throughout the script. His speech to Bob Cratchit summarizes Scrooge’s his pre-Christmas Eve view best.
“Christmas is a very busy time for us, Mr. Cratchit. People preparing feasts, giving parties, spending the mortgage money on frivolities. One might say that December is the foreclosure season. Harvest time for the money-lenders.”
Caine delivers his best line to his nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh), “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips would be cooked with his own turkey and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
The anger you feel across the screen, is real, blistering, and brilliant. Of course, a Muppet movie just wouldn’t be a Muppet movie without a playlist of great songs.
“A Muppet Christmas Carol” contains an abundance of those. From the opening number, “Scrooge,” to “It Feels like Christmas,” “Bless Us All,” and “Thankful Heart,” (the latter sung by Michael Caine himself), the songs too bring something a little extra special to what is often an overbearing plot.
A film that has remained popular since its initial release in the early 1990’s, “A Muppet Christmas Carol” remains a holiday favorite, and a must-watch for your family this season.
Editor’s Note: To round out this edition of Writer’s Lounge, is an essay from our frequent contributor, Robert E. Blackwell
As used as I am to the typical political rhetoric filled with labels, insults, and other forms of mockery, the most personally infuriating to me is witnessing people claim that President-elect Joe Biden has dementia. Among the usual false epithets, this touches a raw nerve with me as a former caregiver to a parent afflicted with dementia for the final six years of her life.
As with most forms of cognitive decline, the most significant aspect of dementia is a severe loss of short-term memory. Having watched this happen to my mother, I also watched her cope with that loss of control by re-framing her memories of events and knowledge she tried to retain.
This resulted in her adoption of versions of events that her family knew was incorrect, but any effort to correct such versions was met with stiff resistance. When unable to reconcile her understanding of information with anyone else’s, she would ultimately shut down her involvement in the conversation, only to cling to the same version whenever the topic was brought up again.
In the six weeks since Election Day, the reaction of President Donald Trump to his defeated re-election bid to former Vice President Joe Biden is much more typical of a dementia patient’s behavior – holding fast to a version of events that most of the country knows is incorrect and stubbornly resisting any and all efforts thus far to accept the reality of the situation.
This is also true of the President’s supporters, who even now refuse to accept any narrative except the one that asserts that Trump won, only to have the election stolen from him.
This past Monday, one of the interactions I had on Facebook was with a respondent who asserted that Trump would be re-elected when all was said and done. I pointed out the expected outcome of the Electoral College meeting, only to be told not to “count my chickens before they hatched.”
In a later conversation yesterday, yet another person insisted that I did not know how the “full process” worked after I pointed out the Electoral College outcome.
And so it goes: the denial of actual events, replaced by a version more comforting to the person in denial, the adamant pushback at all efforts at correction, followed by an eventual withdrawal from the conversation only to start fresh with the preferred assertion in another conversation – this behavior checks the boxes for someone suffering from dementia, which makes the accusation of Biden having dementia as ironic as it is inaccurate and insulting.
As with most dementia patients, asking Trump and his supporters to cease this behavior is pointless, as the behavior includes a sincere belief in their actions’ validity and it causes genuine bewilderment for them to consider that the behavior is harmful.
It is better, then, to focus on managing our own sanity than trying to manage theirs; otherwise, we will find ourselves hostages to their irrationality.
-Robert E. Blackwell