Man Baby Screams At Clouds

This may be an all-time great:

The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!

The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t putt. Right. I see.

Russian Agents Sought Secret US Treasury Records During 2016 Campaign

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get along with Russia,” they said.

US Treasury Department officials used a Gmail back channel with the Russian government as the Kremlin sought sensitive financial information on its enemies in America and across the globe, according to documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

The extraordinary unofficial line of communication arose in the final year of the Obama administration — in the midst of what multiple US intelligence agencies have said was a secret campaign by the Kremlin to interfere in the US election. Russian agents ostensibly trying to track ISIS instead pressed their American counterparts for private financial documents on at least two dozen dissidents, academics, private investigators, and American citizens.

Most startlingly, Russia requested sensitive documents on Dirk, Edward, and Daniel Ziff, billionaire investors who had run afoul of the Kremlin. That request was made weeks before a Russian lawyer showed up at Trump Tower offering top campaign aides “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — including her supposed connection to the Ziff brothers.

Russia’s financial crimes agency, whose second-in-command is a former KGB officer and schoolmate of President Vladimir Putin, also asked the Americans for documents on executives from two prominent Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, as well as Kremlin opponents living abroad in London and Kiev.

In an astonishing departure from protocol, documents show that at the same time the requests were being made, Treasury officials were using their government email accounts to send messages back and forth with a network of private Hotmail and Gmail accounts set up by the Russians, rather than communicating through the secure network usually used to exchange information with other countries.

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Analysts at an elite agency within Treasury first warned supervisors in 2016 that the Russians were “manipulating the system” to conduct “fishing expeditions.” And they raised fears that the Treasury’s internal systems could be compromised by viruses contained in emails from the unofficial Russian accounts. But staff continued using the Gmail back channel into 2017, despite repeated internal warnings that Russia could be trawling for sensitive financial records — including Social Security and bank account numbers — to spy on, endanger, or recruit targets in the West.
— Read on

Bernie vs Beto

I’ve longer wondered what it would take for people to move on from Bernie. I’m hoping maybe this, at least for some, will be one of the things that does it.

Forces loyal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are waging an increasingly public war against Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the new darling of Democratic activists, as the two men weigh whether to seek the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

The main line of attack against O’Rourke is that he isn’t progressive enough — that he’s been too close to Republicans in Congress, too close to corporate donors and not willing enough to use his star power to help fellow Democrats — and it is being pushed almost exclusively by Sanders supporters online and in print.
— Read on

Bernie has never cared about anyone other than Bernie. Given his position, he could’ve worked an inside-outside game to move the Democratic Party left, but that would’ve been hard, and it would’ve required humility. More directly, he could’ve used his 2016 campaign to develop an entire generation of new leaders, but that too would’ve been hard and would’ve required humility. And now, here we are, with a new star rising on the left, and what is he doing? Having his people undercut him rather than build him up. Why? Because although Bernie’s rhetoric has always been about the cause of unity, his actions have always been about advancing the cause of Bernie.

Beto will win this war with Bernie. I cannot imagine a more fitting end to Sanders’ career than to be made irrevant by a punk rock activist.

Paul Ryan’s legacy? Among other things, $22 trillion in debt

When they start up the talk of the coming debt calamity a few weeks from now, remember how we got here. Remember the role the leaders of “fiscal conservatism” played in all this.

When Paul Ryan became speaker of the House in 2015, the federal budget deficit was $438 billion. He blamed the “failed policies of President Obama” for budget deficits that had exploded to $1.4 trillion in 2009, the year after the Great Recession, though shortfalls began shrinking in the following years and were continuing to fall as Ryan took the gavel.

Today, with Ryan preparing to retire from Congress, the annual federal budget deficit is again approaching $1 trillion. Over his two decades in Congress, the total national debt increased from less than $6 trillion to nearly $22 trillion. Yet the years of his speakership saw no new foreign conflict or recession that forced the government to live beyond its means. The problem was a Republican-led Congress that pushed a small-government agenda only in part. When President Trump took office, he embraced tax cuts but rejected structural spending overhauls. But even he complained about the spending bill Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought him last year, which met Democrats’ demands for more domestic spending to keep up with the $716 billion Republicans pledged for defense in 2019 without imposing discipline in other areas to compensate.
— Read on

“Nothing formal, just tweets.”

As you probably could’ve guessed by now, Trump hasn’t issues any orders, so neither the civilian nor military leadership has any idea what’s going on. For example:

The Marine Corps’ top officer has faced questions about what the recent drawdown orders and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis mean for Marines. His answer:“I have no idea.”
— Read on

150 Years Ago, a President Could Be Impeached for Improperly Firing a Cabinet Member

Once upon a time, the Republican Party impeached one of their own for improperly firing a cabinet official. These things do happen from time to time!

It resulted in an increasingly absurd spiral of one upmanship that culminated in a rare presidential veto, an even rarer congressional override, a sensational impeachment trial that was so well-attended that Congress had to raffle off tickets, and an ongoing conflict over executive power.— Read on

(Yes, AJ was only nominally “one of their own,” but that makes the comparison more interesting, not less)