February 15th, 2017

And then there’s…

I keep trying to cover other stories, but the media hue and cry about Trump’s possible Russian connections keeps shrieking to be heard to the exclusion of just about everything else.

But here are a few other things that caught my eye (and one related thing)—

(1) In a meeting with Netanyahu, Trump continues with one of the self-appointed tasks of his presidency, repairing relations with Israel. The article happens to mention that the two leaders have a relationship that “reaches back to the 1980s.”

That’s a long time ago. I haven’t been able to locate the exact context for their meeting and lengthy friendship, although it’s been alluded to several times. But Netanyahu’s Wiki entry contains some strong clues:

In 1976 Netanyahu graduated near the top of his class at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and was headhunted to be an economic consultant for the Boston Consulting Group in Boston, Massachusetts, working at the company between 1976 and 1978. At the Boston Consulting Group, he was a colleague of Mitt Romney [!], with whom he formed a lasting friendship. Romney remembers that Netanyahu at the time was: “[A] strong personality with a distinct point of view”, and says “[w]e can almost speak in shorthand… [w]e share common experiences and have a perspective and underpinning which is similar.” Netanyahu said that their “easy communication” was a result of “B.C.G.’s intellectually rigorous boot camp.”…

In 1978, Netanyahu returned to Israel. Between 1978 and 1980 he ran the Jonathan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute, a non-governmental organization devoted to the study of terrorism…From 1980 to 1982 he was director of marketing for Rim Industries in Jerusalem…[he was appointed] Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., a position he held from 1982 until 1984. Between 1984 and 1988 Netanyahu served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations…

It was while living in New York during the 1980s, that Netanyahu became friends with Fred Trump, the father of Donald Trump.

Interesting.

(2) You’ve heard of the deep state, right? Now we have deep earth:

A huge well of molten carbon that would spell disaster for the planet if released has been found under the US.

Scientists using the world’s largest array of seismic sensors have mapped a deep-Earth area, covering 700,000 sq miles (1.8 million sq km).

This is around the size of Mexico, and researchers say it has the potential to cause untold environmental damage.

The discovery could change our understanding of how much carbon the Earth contains, suggesting it is much more than we previously believed.

Here’s a map:

They’re not kidding, big.

But oh, never mind:

[The study’s leader]…told Mail Online: ‘The residence time of this carbon in the mantle is relatively large (nearly 1 billion years), so this reserve is not an imminent threat.’

Huh? Does he mean “long” instead of “large”?

The article keeps generating doomsday scenarios and then taking them back. But the mere existence of the thing is a good reminder of how fragile is our hold on predicting the future.

(3) From Andrew McCarthy:

So, in June 2016, the Obama Justice Department sought permission from the FISA court to conduct a national-security investigation against Trump insiders — and perhaps even Trump himself — on suspicion that they were acting as agents of a foreign power. The FISA application is said to have “named” Trump, though it is not clear whether that means the Justice Department was targeting him as a surveillance subject. Apparently, though, the application was so thin that even the FISA court, though notoriously accommodating of government surveillance requests, declined to approve a warrant.

Still the Obama Justice Department did not give up. In October, virtually on the eve of the election, it submitted a second FISA application — this one more narrowly tailored, avoiding mention of Trump himself. The FISA court granted this application. Indications are that the investigation is ongoing, targeting former Trump advisers Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page.

That, however, was before the election. It was after the election that the Democrats went into overdrive to solidify conventional wisdom that the election was not lost but stolen from them.

Not only did the IC put out its empty bag of a report. President Obama undertook to act on that report with vigor. It was thus on December 29 that Obama announced measures to punish Russia for what his administration studiously called its “interference in this fall’s presidential election.” He expelled 35 people described as Russian “intelligence operatives”; slapped sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies (the military and civilian spy services, the GRU and FSB (which used to be the KGB) respectively), three companies said to support Russian cyber operations, and four “cyber officials”; and shuttered two Russian-owned buildings (on Long Island and Maryland’s eastern shoreline) described as intelligence facilities.

Mind you, Obama had not taken decisive action for eight years, during which Russia annexed Crimea, consolidated its de facto seizure of Eastern Ukraine, propped up Assad, armed Iran, buzzed U.S. naval vessels, and saber-rattled in the Baltics. But now, on December 29, on his way out of office and desperate to shore up an empty political “hacked the election” story, Obama moved with a fury of purpose, making the narrative seem deadly serious.

It was in this frenzied setting that General Flynn made a stupid mistake. He picked up the phone and called Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

It seems inconceivable that Flynn did not consider the likelihood, the virtual certainty, that he was calling a wiretapped line. It is hard to quantify how dumb this was. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, is not just a long-time intelligence veteran. He was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). How could he not have realized that, even in the best of times, Russian officials are routinely monitored under FISA — and this, far from the best of times, was a time of high suspicion?

Oh, just read the whole thing. Please.

(4) Melania Trump is reported to be unhappy as First Lady. This report could be bogus, and Melania denies its allegations, but I’m inclined to believe it’s at least somewhat true. If so, I really wouldn’t blame her one little bit.

20 Responses to “And then there’s…”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    Andy McCarthy sets out excellent reasons to release the Flynn transcripts now. Agree.

  2. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    What was wrong with (4)?

  3. expat Says:

    I hope Melania and Barron explore Camp David. He can build campfires and she can go outside witout all the reporters.

  4. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    Maybe (4) was that the Ninth Circuit is having a hearing on whether to re-hear the EO matter en banc?

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    LOL–#4 must have gotten edited out. I no longer remember what #4 was. I’ll make #5 into #4.

  6. SAD Says:

    In a meeting with Netanyahu, Trump continues ……repairing relations with Israel. The article happens to mention that the two leaders have a relationship that “reaches back to the 1980s.”

    May be the repair in its way:
    Speaking during the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu addressed

    Netanyahu went on to say: “The time has come for positions and appointments to be made to the Israeli side as well. Should there be an appropriate appointment, we will consider it.

    Livni’s UN gig a win-win for everyone, even Netanyahu

  7. Mike K Says:

    Melania certainly has good reasons to dislike the hothouse of DC. What with Carl Berstein’s son called her a “Hooker.”

    She is probably safer in NYC anyway,

    Trump is threatening the Deep State which can be dangerous.

  8. Cornflour Says:

    The geology paper is interesting, but it has almost nothing to do with what’s described in the newspaper article. I can’t even begin to imagine how it came to be dragged into the muck about CO2 and the environment.

    The original paper was published in a very expensive journal, but I’d be happy to email a copy to anyone who’s interested. (I’m assuming the number would be small.)

  9. OM Says:

    Cornflour:

    OMG carbon in the mantle! What about all the silicates in the crust (AKA magma). Oh noes!!! The newspaper article could have been from the Onion. I remember reading about the fluorine toxicity and morbidity that resulted from a prolonged eruption of a volcano on Iceland in the last 200 yrs. It affected Europe, not just Iceland. But carbon is worse! Right.

  10. miklos000rosza Says:

    Mike Flynn’s name has come up a fair amount in books I’ve been recently reading, notably by Emma Sky and David Kilcullen, Stanley McChrystal (Flynn was is right-hand man for years), and Joby Warrick. I should perhaps also reread Michael Hastings’ book — though he’s despicable. Hastings did the hit-piece article for Rolling Stone which ended up causing McChrystal to resign.

    I never got the impression that Flynn was naïve or unintelligent. I don’t feel like I precisely understand what happened. I have the feeling, however, that Mattis (for one) probably knows what went down, and will act accordingly.

  11. Surellin Says:

    I have to wonder about the lake of molten carbon. We’re talking about the upper mantle. Carbon is light, and it will rise to the top of a liquid like the mantle, right? The core is nickel-iron, and lighter substances above it. I’d be surprised if there weren’t a LOT of lakes of molten carbon, or beryllium, or such other light elements, all over the place.

  12. Jamie Says:

    Patrick Poole’s work on the Flynn situation and the larger “Trump organization and Russia, sitting in a tree” thing is very good stuff. The latest is here: https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/2017/02/15/medias-flynn-russia-narrative-quickly-collapsing-as-fbi-reportedly-clears-former-national-security-adviser/

  13. OldTexan Says:

    Of course Melania is unhappy, now that her husband is president the is a huge amount of carbon under the USA, coincidence I think not. It’s Trump’s fault and furthermore there is a distinct fear that he will sell huge quantities to Israel and as we know, Carbon Dioxide is dangerous and carbon is a main ingredient in Carbon Dioxide.

    When Obama was in office we didn’t have these problems and fears and now, due to high level information leaks we have this big mess of carbon to worry about. Funny how bad things become within the first month of a Republican presidency.

  14. Roy Says:

    “…carbon is a main ingredient in Carbon Dioxide.”

    Tongue-in-cheek aside, carbon is also the main ingredient in oil and natural gas – that’s why we call them hydrocarbons.

    Could it be that oil and natural gas are not really “fossil” fuels but are synthesized by other, natural, means within the earth.

  15. Big Maq Says:

    McCarthy’s article reinforces what I’ve been “ranting” about for the last several comments.

    BOTH sides need to be held accountable.

    trump’s own derogatory comments about anyone and anything, particularly wrt those in our own institutions just escalates things.

    McCarthy puts together a nice case of how that just blows up on itself.

    There are a lot of “wrongs” done all around in this episode.

    Pointing to the left and their narrative, or to the IC who may (or may not) be obama supporters and questioning their motive is only one part of the puzzle, ignoring trump’s (and his team’s) contribution.

    Hope trump’s other picks are MUCH smarter than Gen Flynn.

  16. Cornflour Says:

    For those few who might be interested in the geology paper, here’s the abstract:

    “We report from converted seismic waves, a pervasive seismically anomalous layer above the transition zone beneath the western US. The layer, characterized by an average shear wave speed reduction of 1.6%, spans over an area of ∼ 1 . 8 × 10 6 km 2 with thicknesses varying between 25 and 70 km. The location of the layer correlates with the present location of a segment of the Farallon plate. This spatial correlation and the sharp seismic signal atop of the layer indicate that the layer is caused by compositional heterogeneity. Analysis of the seismic signature reveals that the compositional heterogeneity can be ascribed to a small volume of partial melt (0.5 ± 0.2 vol% on average). This article presents the first high resolution map of the melt present within the layer. Despite spatial variations in temperature, the calculated melt volume fraction correlates strongly with the amplitude of P–S conversion throughout the
    region. Comparing the values of temperature calculated from the seismic signal with available petrological constraints, we infer that melting in the layer is caused by release of volatiles from the subducted Farallon slab. This partially molten zone beneath the western US can sequester at least 1 . 2 × 10 17 kg of volatiles, and can act as a large regional reservoir of volatile species such as H or C.”

    I’m not qualified to critique the paper, but it’s a little too speculative for my tastes. Still, we’re talking about interpreting a large seismic survey of the upper mantle, so maybe the choice is speculation or saying nothing.

    I’m truly baffled as to how this paper came to be reported as “news.” One of the authors is quoted a few times in the “Daily Mail” article, and he does himself no favors by trying to make the research seem relevant to the average climate-change phobic. In doing so, he makes himself sound ridiculous and puts his credibility at risk.

    There’s no lake of carbon — or of anything else. To explain the results of a large seismic survey, they’ve posited an anomalous amount of carbon and hydrogen in a layer of the upper mantle beneath the western US. This area would correspond to subducted Farralon plate. The elevated concentration of hydrogen and carbon would reduce the melting temperature and lead to partial melting, which would cause the observed pattern in the seismic survey.

    Whether their model is true or not, it has absolutely nothing to do with global warming or any other environmental issue.

    End of rant.

  17. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Broadway has now made its loyalties clear, too. Mike Pence gets run out on a rail, Hillary Clinton gets a standing ovation.

  18. Richard Saunders Says:

    My favorite airport book author described the CIA 10 years ago as, “a few very good people trying to stay afloat in a sea of left-wing bureaucrats.”
    Since not even the NYT could squeeze out anything wrong from Flynn’s conversations, Occam’s Razor tells us that the reason offered for his departure was the truth — he misled the Vice-President. Anybody can see how important Pence is to this administration, but even if he weren’t, that is a firing, Do Not Pass Go, offense.

    OldTexan – You’re wrong: the main ingredient in carbon dioxide is oxygen (1 C to 2 Os, right?). So obviously, we must cut back on the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. I call for strict curbs on oxygen production (get rid of that rainforest, Brazil!) and imposition of an oxygen tax which will rid our planet of this toxic pollutant!

  19. n.n Says:

    Oh, no! First, it was dead Soviets. And now, the dreaded Israeli connection. Is there anyone who will not, or anything that will not, influence our election?

    – – –
    Melania Trump is a strong women with a well developed character. She will survive, adapt, and prosper as her husband serves the two parties to the Constitution: the People and our Posterity.

  20. OM Says:

    Cornflour:

    Thanks for the article synopsis!

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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