When We Practice to Deceive

On Saturday, Donald Trump went to the CIA to try to patch up the relationship between him and the CIA after a series of tweets and calling the agency Nazis. But it appears Trump made the situation worse by bragging and preening before the CIA memorial honoring the men and women that gave their lives i the performance of their duty.

Worse yet, tone deaf Trump did not even mention the sacrifices of these officers and only spent a couple of minutes praising the agency and saying he wanted to work with them. The rest of the time he spent trying to tell the agents that he had more attendance at his inauguration than Obama did. The question to ask is “How did the lie go over at the CIA?”

According to CBS news:

U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday.

From Talking Points Memo:

A presidential speech that was intended to thank the intelligence community quickly went off the rails Saturday as Donald Trump talked about himself, his inauguration crowd, the dishonest media and how great his party was.

Here is the entire speech in all of its vainglorius, rambling, narcissism.

Here is the reaction of a former CIA agent to Donald Trump’s speech.

“I mean there’s a sense of outrage, but there’s also such a sense of sadness,” Mudd added. “Those aren’t stars, Wolf, those are people.”

“We have a president who has to talk about how many times he’s been on a Time Magazine cover in comparison to a football player,” Mudd later added. “He has to talk about how many people showed up at his inauguration. He’s got to talk about how many people in the CIA enjoyed his speech. That’s what we get to honor the people who lost their lives.”

And even more bizarrely, CBS news reports that Trump brought along a crew to clap and yell for him. According to CBS, these people sat in the front while the CIA agents and management sat behind them and were mostly silent.

Again from CBS:

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate  Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

Yael Eisenstat is a former CIA officer and lost a good friend, Gregg Wenzel, who’s star is one of the 117 stars on the wall at CIA. Here’s what she had to say about Trump’s visit to CIA last Saturday:

In Mr. Trump’s rambling, 15-minute speech, he made only one reference to the memorial, saying, “The wall behind me is very, very special,” before pivoting to his familiar mode of narcissistic diatribe, peppered with the occasional misplaced joke.

He used my former agency to advance his own delusional vision of grandeur. When I see our president use a wall that symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice as a backdrop for his vanity, I cannot play down its seriousness. And when he borrows a line straight from a dictator’s playbook — “Probably almost everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did” — I cannot remain silent.

And concluding with:

In my years of service, and since, I never imagined that it would be the president himself who would denigrate our very institutions and those who serve faithfully. Mr. Trump’s speech on Saturday was, for me, a terrifying display of the dangerous way in which he will govern. It also showed his complete disregard for the very people we rely on to keep us safe, including my friend Gregg Wenzel.


Hertz So Good

Hertz Rentals has placed car cameras in approximately 13% of its rental fleet. They claim that the cameras are not being used, and that they have no plans currently for using them.

Hertz added the camera as a feature of the NeverLost 6 in the event it was decided, in the future, to activate live agent connectivity to customers by video. In that plan the customer would have needed to turn on the camera by pushing a button (while stationary),” Hertz spokesperson Evelin Imperatrice explained. “The camera feature has not been launched, cannot be operated and we have no current plans to do so.”


This makes absolutely no sense. Why spend money adding cameras to your rental, when you don’t plan to use them. That would be a complete waste of money. Hertz probably already has a reason for installing the cameras, and reasons that are not helpful to the customer. I doubt that Hertz is really planning to use the cameras as a way to talk to renters about their car. No, the camera is probably there to monitor customers for mistreating the car and letting others drive.

According to the Fusion article:
In a 2013 blog post titled “Peace of Mind,” a developer involved in a Hertz hackathon wrote about using the in-car camera along with other sensors in the car to detect an accident and immediately get a customer a new vehicle. In the post, he included two screen shots of a live call, but Hertz spokesperson Imperatrice said everything done for the hackathon event was “essentially a mock-up.” “Even the video that appears to be from inside the car was not from a NeverLost,” she said.

But this raises a couple of issues. Wouldn’t Hertz be liable for wrecks occurring during videoconferencing while driving? Isn’t videotaping someone without their consent illegal in some states? What about minors, especially children and infants changing clothes or going to the bathroom in the car or van? When my daughter was a toddler and preschooler, it was easier to have a potty in the back of the van for her to use. Wouldn’t this leave Hertz liable for child porn charges if children are being videotaped without their clothes?

None of this makes any sense. The only reason that Hertz would be putting the camera in is to try to recover monetary damages from renters. It seems that few customers want a camera watching them drive. On the contrary, this may drive away some customers. But I have a solution, simply place a sticky note over the camera, or perhaps place a photo in front of the camera and have some fun. Also, I wonder how hard it would be to get images from the camera, or for that matter, any camera in any Hertz rental?

Trump and Putin Sitting in a Tree


Trump and Putin sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love [money], then comes marriage [taking down NATO], then comes baby in a baby carriage [Russia taking the Baltic States].

Donald Trump is now the official nominee of the Republican party in the United States. In the past year, there have been disturbing hints of unusually close ties between the Trump family and the Russian government.

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

Now that Donald Trump is the official Republican party nominee, he and his campaign will be getting highly classified national security briefings. I guess its from the CIA, to Donald, to Manafort, to Trumps Russian investors, to Putin. Could Manafort even get any clearance at all? He’s worked for various dictators as well as the Pakistani Intelligence Services who have close ties to Al Qaeda. Paul Manafort may not want to get those briefings because having the clearance means he could get prison time if he fucks up and shares information.

The aides were rushed through an intense security-clearance process, and while the Trump campaign didn’t respond to an inquiry about which aide would join Trump in the briefings, people familiar with the process said it is difficult to imagine Manafort clearing such a process.

“Ties to Russia and the Kremlin would without question be a matter of concern. He’d have to explain in far more detail what the contact has been. That will have to be fleshed out in far more detail,” said Moss. “It would be difficult — but not impossible — to imagine security clearing him.”

A former Republican national security official put it more bluntly: “He’s an intelligence classification vetting nightmare scenario.”

And last week, during the run up to the Republican convention, the only time Trump’s campaign expressed any interest in international events was to strip out any support for an independent Ukraine.

Still, Republican delegates at last week’s national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.

Inside the meeting, Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas who was a Ted Cruz supporter, proposed a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, increasing aid for Ukraine and “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military.

“Today, the post-Cold War ideal of a ‘Europe whole and free’ is being severely tested by Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine,” the amendment read. “The Ukrainian people deserve our admiration and support in their struggle.”

Trump staffers in the room, who are not delegates but are there to oversee the process, intervened. By working with pro-Trump delegates, they were able to get the issue tabled while they devised a method to roll back the language.

On the sideline, Denman tried to persuade the Trump staffers not to change the language, but failed. “I was troubled when they put aside my amendment and then watered it down,” Denman told me. “I said, ‘What is your problem with a country that wants to remain free?’ It seems like a simple thing.”

Finally, Trump staffers wrote an amendment to Denman’s amendment that stripped out the platform’s call for “providing lethal defensive weapons” and replaced it with softer language calling for “appropriate assistance.”

Apparently Trump’s own party is outraged about Trumps remarks about not supporting our NATO allies.

Republicans are already reacting with outrage. “Totally insane,” is how former ambassador Eric Edelman describes the remarks. “He says he has been advised by Secretaries Baker and Kissinger but I find it hard to imagine that they would have recommended the things that he said in his New York Times interview. It would be totally contrary to everything they have written and the manner in which they conducted themselves in office.” He continued, “His comments have already undermined U.S. alliances, emboldened Russian revanchists, degraded our extended nuclear deterrent, threatened multiple trade wars that would beggar the international economy and destroy American prosperity.” Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute tells Right Turn, “Donald Trump is apparently the bastard stepchild of Charles Lindbergh and Barack Obama, at once embarrassed by American values and leadership, contemptuous of loyalty unless it’s to him, strangely drawn to dictators and utterly ignorant of history.” She added, “If this guy led another country, we’d be considering sanctions and fretting about his political enemies languishing in prison.”

When this story finally starts making more traction in the news, what will happen to the Republican’s Siberian candidate?

At some level, Mr. Trump’s motives shouldn’t matter. We should be horrified at the spectacle of a major-party candidate casually suggesting that he might abandon American allies — just as we should be horrified when that same candidate suggests that he might welsh on American financial obligations. But there’s something very strange and disturbing going on here, and it should not be ignored.

And the right is also getting worried about Trump’s Russian connections of Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn.

Honest and patriotic Republicans who support Trump, or are tempted to do so, should review some of the publicly available evidence. Trump’s business seems to be heavily dependent on Russian investment. His top campaign advisor, Paul Manafort, was the advisor to the Putin-backed stooge Viktor Yanukovich, and has deep ties to the Putin apparat. One of Trump’s national security advisors, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, was paid to give a speech at a Russian propaganda celebration and was seated next to Putin. Trump’s Russia advisor Carter Page, who does much of his business with Russian companies, has argued, among other things, that “a few officials in Washington” annexed Ukraine and that the “so-called annexation” of Crimea by Russia was a rational response to this injustice.

I sincerely hope that the Republican party rethinks its current selection of the Donald Trump as its nominee. As a left leaning independent, I’m horrified that a major national political party did so little vetting on its nominee.