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.
(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.