Sunday, September 30, 2018

Still Investigating . . .

From Stacy McCain's: Never Negotiate With Sociopaths: Liars, Democrats and the #Kavanaugh Smear
Dianne Feinstein’s bad-faith handling of this accusation succeeded in delaying the Judiciary Committee’s vote, originally scheduled for Sept 20, by eight days. The stunt pulled Friday, with two Soros-funded activists tag-teaming Jeff Flake in an elevator, led him to demand an FBI investigation that will add at least another week’s delay in the process. What this will mean, in practical terms, is that Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) will have another week to smear Judge Kavanaugh’s name while the FBI determines what everybody already knows: There is no evidence to support Professor Ford’s accusation, and much evidence that suggests she’s lying. What would be interesting to discover, however, is how this smear-job was coordinated. Let’s investigate, eh?
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy:
Just like their other tactics throughout this confirmation process, Senate Democrats’ demands for an FBI investigation have never been about getting the facts or finding the truth.
If they were, they would have alerted law enforcement months ago, as soon as they learned of the claims. Instead, they waited until the last minute to leak them in order to delay the vote.
That is why any FBI investigation of the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh should include potential coordination between the Democrat operatives and lawyers that assisted in bringing them forth.
What Senate Democrats really want is more time to smear Judge Kavanaugh, regardless of the toll it takes on his wife, his daughters, and our country.
Democrats will not suddenly require evidence to declare Judge Kavanaugh guilty of being the worst kind of criminal. They will not suddenly abandon their assumption that all accusations against Republicans are credible and to be believed.
If the FBI turns up nothing significant, they will say what Joe Biden said in 1991, that the FBI does not reach conclusions. They will say the FBI did not have enough time to conduct a thorough investigation.
What they will not do is admit they were wrong to accuse Judge Kavanaugh of being a gang rapist, or a rapist, or a sexual assaulter, or a drunk, or a perjurer, or a hothead unfit for the bench.
If the delay facilitates new allegations from Michael Avenatti or someone else, it will not matter how ludicrous they are. Democrats will instantly call them credible, demand more delays, more FBI resources, and more hearings. They will attack anyone who disagrees.
Delay, delay, delay. That’s all they want, because their goal is to do anything and everything to smear any nominee — anyone — and block Republicans from appointing another justice to the Supreme Court.
We cannot and should not let that happen.
It was a mistake for Republicans to agree to further delay in the confirmation process, to appease Democrats who have been acting in bad faith since July, when Dianne Feinstein failed to share Professor Ford’s letter with her GOP colleagues. You cannot appease totalitarians, as we should have learned at Munich in 1938, and the way Democrats have run this game is as dishonest as Hitler claiming that the Sudetenland was his last territorial demand in Europe. “Peace for our time,” indeed.

Don’t appease bullies, and never negotiate with sociopaths.
Until the FBI investigation finds actual corroborating evidence of Chrissy Ford's charges, the FBI simply must investigate the origin of those charges. I see no reason why an investigation into the origins of the charges against Brett Kavanaugh cannot go on long after his confirmation.

UPDATE: Me, I hope the FBI will investigate who in Dianne Feinstein’s office leaked the story against Ford’s express wishes. Guess what:@POTUS: “I would like to find out as part of [the FBI investigation] who leaked the papers.”

A Day Without Russiagate . . .

is like a day without an aching joint. Haven't had one of those in a while either. Unfortunately (perhaps) that's been narrowly averted: Via Larwyn's Linx: Democrats --- Still the Party of LynchingPeter King calls for Trump to 'immediately' declassify Russia probe docs
“Absolutely he should declassify it immediately," King told Hill.TV on Wednesday. "I am not certain why he changed his mind last week, he said it involved allies. There could be some allies who are sensitive -- maybe some things were done within their territory -- but there is nothing there that would really hurt any foreign government.”

The classified documents include the FBI’s 2016 surveillance warrant application to monitor former Trump aide Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as well as text messages between FBI official Peter Strzok and now-former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

King said the documents, when made public, will reveal vital information related to the FBI and Justice Department’s FISA application.

“When it’s out there I think fair-minded people will say they withheld very, very important evidence,” King said. “I believe what it will show is that the FBI and the DOJ held back important information from the FISA court and that some of the information they gave turned out to be misleading. But the key thing is that I think they withheld a lot of key information from the FISA court.”
I'm still hoping for a good October surprise.

LiLo Smacked Down in Kidnapping Attempt

Mean Girls actor Lindsay Lohan is back in news for all the wrong reasons.

The one-time teen idol, currently in Russia, posted an unsettling video of her ‘interacting’ with a family she claimed came from war-torn Syria.

“Hey everyone, I just want to show you a family that I met,” she said in the video, “a Syrian refugee family that I’m really worried about. They really need help.”

“You want to come with me? Come with me. I’ll take care of you guys,” she can be heard saying in Arabic and English. “Do you want to stay in a hotel tonight? Do you want to watch movies? It would be so cool to watch a movie on a TV or a computer,” she then said to a child.

“You should not have them [your sons] on the floor, you should be a hard-working woman and you should be doing what you [can] for your children, so they have a better life.”

“If someone is offering them a home and a bed, which is me at the moment, give it to them. They will come back to you,” Lohan further added. “I won’t leave until I take you. Now I know who you are. Don’t f*** with me.”

Lohan proceeds to follow the family as they get up to leave. “Look what’s happening, they’re trafficking children. You’re ruining Arabic culture by doing this.”

“I’m with you boys, don’t worry. The whole world is seeing this,” the actor adds. “Are you from Pakistan?” Lohan is punched in the face by the mother of the children after she attempts to ‘wrest’ one of the boys.
The rule of law in Russia is a bit thin. She's lucky she didn't get shot. Poison is still possible.

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Brennschluss ready and waiting.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

About That FBI Investigation . . .

. . . on the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh that President Trump ordered up as a result of Sen. Flake caving to Democrat squawks. We all know the FBI would have very little to go on the Kavanaugh side if PJ Smyth,  Mark Judge and Leland Keyser continue to insist (as they already have, in written testimony that subjects them to possible perjury charges) that no such party occurred.

However, there is still a potentially fruitful area of investigations regarding the allegation, and that is how they came to be. Ace has an interesting set of 10 questions for investigation: If The FBI Is Investigating These Allegations, They Absolutely Must Investigate Ford's Credibility
Questions that must be asked of Ford, and her lawyers, and Democrats -- under oath.

1. Democratic staffers, particularly those of Diane Feinstein, must be asked under oath and under penalty of felony if they leaked Ford's name and/or her letter to friendlies in the media.

2. Ford must be asked, under oath, which therapist notes she gave to the Washington Post. She was asked this yesterday, but suffered one of her notorious memory lapses and said she didn't know and would have to ask her lawyers. Which she then proceeded to not ask them.

3. Obviously, any time she claims she doesn't know and that only her lawyers would know, her lawyers must be asked under oath.

Her lawyers, by the way, cannot invoke lawyer-client privilege regarding notes they gave to a third party. Information given to a third party is not a confidential lawyer-client communication and not shielded by privilege.

There is no such thing as "Lawyer-Feinstein privilege," and Ford's political operators with legal licenses should not be permitted to invent one.

4. Her therapist's notes must be taken up by the FBI. Literally nobody in America believes that Ford and her husband were at a marriage counselor about a disagreement about adding a second door to the house.

What were they really in therapy for? People have been known to lie in therapy if it's needed to keep themselves out of trouble from their spouse.

5. Why did she lie when she claimed she could not fly? Did her lawyers tell her to say that? The parties can invoke privilege here, but their invocation of privilege -- refusing to answer questions in an investigation they demanded -- should be noted and publicized. 
That's a good start. Go to the article for the rest.  He also makes a point about the dogs that didn't bark:
But just as in non-political circumstances multiple accusers claiming one man assaulted them tends to suggest they're making genuine allegations, one person making accusations against multiple alleged assailants tends to suggest that person is probably not a real victim, but a serial accuser.

If five women accuse a man: That man is probably guilty, absent strong evidence to the contrary.

If one woman accuses five different men for five different incidents: that woman is probably delusional or a fabulist, absent strong evidence to the contrary.

Note that the Democrats never claimed "And this is the first time Ford has ever made this type of accusation!"

Were that the case, I would imagine they would have shot that arrow from their quiver.

But the did not shoot that arrow from their quiver.

So I assume, tentatively, that that arrow is not in their quiver.

I would like to know if she made other allegations, who she reported them to, and what the final disposition was in any investigations into any prior allegations.

De Minimis Russiagate

Something more important than the intelligence branches of the government trying to exert control over the whole government must be happening. I wonder what it could be. In the meantime, this elaboration of an old story from Catherine Herrige at Fox: Rosenstein launched 'hostile' attack in May against Republicans over Russia records: congressional email
On April 24, congressional investigators had sent a classified letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and, on April 30, a subpoena for records about alleged surveillance abuse. Rosenstein signed the final surveillance warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2017.

"Before the door even closed, we could hear DAG Rosenstein scream at Chairman Nunes, the substance of which we would be briefed on afterwards. The summary is that DAG Rosenstein launched into personal attacks against Nunes, and myself, calling me out by name," Kash Patel, the intelligence committee's national security adviser, wrote. "Demonstrating childish behavior, and a pattern in doing so, the DAG, without facts to support his claims and relying on false media reporting, personally attacked a staffer, myself and our committee."

A source familiar with the closed-door meeting backed up the email account. "Yes, the attacks were very personal and very hostile. Chairman Gowdy tried to calm everyone down and focus on the issues at hand,” the source told Fox News. “Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein initiated the confrontation and was much more upset than Chairman Nunes."

A second source who also declined to speak on the record, citing the sensitivity of the incident, supported the account.

However, a Justice Department spokesperson disputed the characterization, saying, "This is not an accurate portrayal of the May 10 meeting as the deputy attorney general, deputy FBI director, and deputy DNI director can attest."
Sounds like someone in Congress would like to add a little fuel to the President's fire in his dispute against Rod, if it truly exists. My guess is that Trump wouldn't be too excited if one of his men dissed Congress. Via Larwyn's Linx: Kavanaugh, Cold Anger and The Reckoning.

Rule 5 Saturday - Tuuli Shipster

 An actress or a model this week? How about both.

Tuuli Shipster was born on September 28, 1982 in Finland as Madeleine Tuuli Shipster. She is an actress, known for Love Actually (2003), Pirate Radio (2009) and I Think You Need a Lawyer (2012). She has been married to Rankin since June 2009.

A fashion model with the Storm Agency, Tuuli Shipster appeared on the cover of the 2007 James Bond novel, "Devil May Care", by Sebastian Faulks.
Being a primary subject for her "one name" photographer husband, there are a lot of photographs on the web. Even so, I found it hard to find a good set that were not NSFW.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup and links. Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Oktoberfest and FMJRA 2.0: Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range up and running.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Beach Report 9/28/18

Despite Congress, life goes on and Skye needs to be walked and we headed down to the beach before noon. After a front blew through last night, the temperature is a crisp and dry 63 F, with a blustery wind from the north. It felt good after far too long a time of heat and humidity.
It was officially low tide, but not very, and it wasn't particularly good day for shark's teeth, but Georgia found a nice stubby Crocodile tooth, and I found a Drum's tooth, in addition to a few others by each of us.

Reduced Russiagate

Not too much happened in Russiagate yesterday; it's almost like something else sucked all the oxygen out of the news. Conway: Trump And Rosenstein Committed To “Resolving This Once And For All” … Sometime; Update: Next Week. and Trump postpones meeting with Rosenstein until next week
"The president spoke with Rod Rosenstein a few minutes ago and they plan to meet next week," press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters. "They do not want to do anything to interfere with the hearing."

The White House said earlier this week that the purpose of Trump and Rosenstein's meeting would be to discuss the deputy attorney general's future at the Justice Department, amid conflicting reports Monday that Rosenstein was either planning to resign or expecting to be fired.

By midweek, however, Trump appeared to have moved away from the idea of firing Rosenstein. "My preference would be to keep him," Trump said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in New York. "I would certainly prefer not" firing him.
How close did he come to getting fired?  White House aides told DOJ official to prepare to take over Rosenstein's job
White House aides this week told a senior Department of Justice official to prepare to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein following reports that Rosenstein was ready to resign, according to a New York Times report.

White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly told Matthew Whitaker, the chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that he was next in line to replace Rosenstein if President Trump fired his deputy attorney general or if he resigned.

Aides dropped the plan to bring Whitaker on board by late Monday morning, the Times reported.
Goodlatte subpoenas McCabe memos, materials in response to Rosenstein 'wire' report. Good for Goodlatte.
Goodlatte, R-Va., penned a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday notifying him of the subpoena, which was issued as part of his investigation with House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

“Given the Department’s ongoing delays and/or refusal to produce these documents, I am left with no choice but to issue the enclosed subpoena to compel their production,” Goodlatte wrote to Sessions. Goodlatte gave the Justice Department an October 4 deadline to provide the documents.
Also good. House Intelligence Committee to vote on releasing Russia interview transcripts
The House Intelligence Committee will vote Friday to release the transcripts of more than 50 interviews the panel conducted as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling, the committee posted Wednesday.

The vote, scheduled by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, will pave the way for the public release of closed-door interviews with senior Trump associates — including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks and Jeff Sessions — as well as several senior Obama administration officials.

The transcripts will not be immediately released after the committee votes Friday. The vote will send them to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a classification review before they are released. Most of the committees interviews were unclassified, though some were conducted in classified session.

The transcripts will provide thousands of pages to detail what was a tense, partisan battle fought between Democrats and Republicans on the committee, with an investigation that ended in accusations, finger-pointing and name calling between the two sides.

But they also are likely to provide the first look at how some of the key players in the Russia investigation explain events like the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the WikiLeaks' release of Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

Stone Age Men Had Their Priorities in Order

An ancient thirst for beer may have been why some early populations started growing grains, a new archaeological study suggests. The same study also pushes back the date for the oldest evidence of alcohol production.

The new evidence, brought to light by Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, also brings forth an intriguing question: what came first, the beer or the bread? Normally, you’d think that of course, securing food comes before almost anything else — almost anything else.
A man cannot live by bread alone; he must have beer to wash it down.

Working in a cave in what is today Israel, Liu uncovered beer-brewing innovations that predate the use of cereals in the area by several millennia. That’s right, people were brewing beer while they were still living in caves.

“This accounts for the oldest record of man-made alcohol in the world,” Liu said.

The population responsible for these innovations is called the Natufians. The Natufians lived from 12,000 to 9,500 BC, and were a rather unusual culture: they were sedentary even before agriculture became a mainstay. They may also be the ancestors of the people who founded the earliest Neolithic settlements, although that’s not yet clear. At any rate, they were certainly one of the most remarkable peoples of the time.
14,000 to 11,500 BC would make it on the cusp of the transition from the stone age to the agricultural era. Contrary to the article, at least, Wikipedia asserts that the Natufans did, in fact, grow grains, notably rye and also that the evidence for beer making 13,000 BP came after the evidence for bread making.
The Natufians exploited wild cereals, made bread, and, as this new study showed, made beer. Researchers believe that the beer was not brewed to get a casual buzz, but rather to use it during ritual ceremonies.

“This discovery indicates that making alcohol was not necessarily a result of agricultural surplus production, but it was developed for ritual purposes and spiritual needs, at least to some extent, prior to agriculture,” Liu said about their findings.

The discovery was made after Liu analyzed residues from 13,000-year-old stone mortars found in the Raqefet Cave, a Natufian graveyard site located near what is now Haifa, Israel. She found evidence of a large-scale beer production operation — it came as a bit of a surprise, particularly as it wasn’t what she was looking for.
 It makes you wonder what she was looking for.
It has to be said, we shouldn’t imagine the familiar golden, foamy brew — ancient beer looked and tasted much different to what we are used to seeing today. Ancient beer was most likely a porridge-like concoction, almost thick like a gruel. The Natufians also seemed to employ a three-stage brewing process, says Jiajing Wang, a doctoral student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and a co-author on the paper.

First, they’d take the starch from wheat or barley and germinate the grains in water, then strain and store them for a while — this created the malt base. Then, the malt would be mashed and heated, and finally, it would be left to ferment, with the magic being done by airborne, wild yeast.

Researchers tested this hypothesis by reproducing each step of the beer-producing process in their lab — you know, for science. Liu and Wang’s brewing experiments turned out to be quite similar with what was observed in the Natufian cave.
For now, no word on what it tastes, though.
A good guess at how beer making evolved would involve either some way to prepare the grain for eating, possibly by children or old people. After finding that cooked, malted grain turned into something magical if it got left out too long before consumption. And the rest, as they might say, is prehistory.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup and links. Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Oktoberfest up and running.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Russiagate: All aboard the Rosenstein Roller-Coaster!

Up and down and flying around fast, and ultimately going nowhere? Rosenstein Roller-Coaster: Safe Until After The Midterms?
Consider this a reminder of the wisdom of keeping your arms and hands inside the ride at all times until it comes to a complete stop. Tomorrow was supposed to be the next scheduled ride of the Rod Rosenstein roller coaster as the deputy Attorney General meets with Donald Trump, presumably about his job status. On Monday, every major news outlet had Rosenstein fired or quitting under duress, until … he went back to work after leaving the White House. This time, the Washington Post is hedging its bets:
While it remained possible that Rosenstein could still resign or be fired imminently, people inside and outside the department said it seemed increasingly more likely that Rosenstein would stay in the job until after November’s elections and then depart, probably along with the attorney general. Two White House officials said Tuesday that Trump is unlikely to fire Rosenstein until after the midterms.
Forcing out the deputy attorney general in the next month could motivate Trump’s detractors to turn out for elections in which dozens of congressional seats are in play and Republicans are fearful they are at risk of losing control of the House. And those who have observed Trump and Rosenstein together or have been told of their interactions said the president seemed to hold Rosenstein in somewhat higher regard than he did Sessions.
This makes more sense than any of the speculation on Monday. What would be gained by firing Rosenstein now, or even having him resign under his own steam, that couldn’t be gained by doing it in November or January? As I wrote in my column for The Week, figuring out a cui bono might be more difficult than locating Waldo:
And back to the start we go: President Trump says Rod Rosenstein should stay in his Justice Department job
Two days after Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein appeared to be on the verge of getting fired, President Trump said he would like to keep him as the Justice Department’s second-in-command.

"My preference would be to keep him and let him finish up,” Trump said during a news conference on Wednesday in New York.
But just in case: Rod Rosenstein’s Fate Might Determine Whether You See The Mueller Report
At the moment, Solicitor General Noel Francisco is the next Senate-confirmed Justice Department official in line to supervise the Russia probe. A draft of a statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, obtained by Axios, indicated that Francisco would, in fact, take over oversight of the investigation, which Sessions in the draft statement said he hoped would come to an “expeditious resolution… consistent with the rule of law.”

Francisco is currently serving in the same position as Robert Bork, who carried out President Richard Nixon’s order to fire Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. It’s not entirely clear how Francisco would react if Trump were to pressure him to shut down the Mueller investigation in his new capacity.

And it’s unclear to what extent Francisco would be committed to informing the public of Mueller’s findings.

The Mueller probe probably won’t result in criminal charges against the president. What’s more likely is that Mueller’s team will compile a final report on its findings, which would then be delivered to Rosenstein or his replacement. Rosenstein, or Francisco, could choose to keep that final full report from the public.
Sounds to me like Noel Francisco might be a good choice for Session's job.

From a Deep Stater: How Rosenstein can protect the Mueller investigation — even if he’s fired "I wrote the special counsel regulations. This is what he should do before his meeting with Trump."
The special counsel regulations did contemplate interim reports to Congress in certain circumstances. Nothing in the regulations forbids them, and while there are possible restrictions on grand jury material and the like, there is much information that could be provided. Rosenstein could, right now, tell Congress (or even a small group of members, with appropriate safeguards, including secrecy) what has happened — what Mueller has learned so far, whether Rosenstein has ever said “no” to Mueller and where the investigation is headed now.

Such a move would be unusual, to say the least. But it is a way for Rosenstein to safeguard his legacy. And it could also safeguard the very principle that no one is above the law. Not even the president — and not even this president.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to press Rosenstein for information on his comments regarding Trump and the 25th Amendement: House Panel To Subpoena DOJ For McCabe Memos
The House Judiciary Committee intends to subpoena the Justice Department for memos written by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, The Daily Caller News Foundation is told.

Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the Judiciary panel, said Sunday that he would subpoena the memos if the Justice Department did not provide them by Tuesday. A House Judiciary Committee aide told TheDCNF that the subpoena process is underway.

The forthcoming subpoena suggests that DOJ did not turn over the documents in full.

McCabe’s memos took on a new significance on Friday, when The New York Times reported that he claimed in some of the documents that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire during conversations with President Donald Trump. McCabe also reportedly wrote that Rosenstein discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Rosenstein vehemently denied the allegation, and Justice Department sources have asserted that he was joking about spying on Trump.
Did the Obama Admin sic Military intelligence on the Trump campaign too? Mueller Team Interviewed US Embassy Official About Papadopoulos Contacts
Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed an official at the U.S. embassy in London last year about his contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign with George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who sparked the FBI’s collusion investigation.

Terrence Dudley, a former Navy commander who works with the Office of Defense Cooperation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Mueller’s office contacted him to discuss several meetings that he and a colleague had during the campaign with Papadopoulos. The former Trump aide recently identified Dudley and his colleague, Greg Baker, in a tweet alleging that the pair were sent to spy on him on behalf of the U.S. government.

“I think it’s also important for me to detail my interactions with US intelligence officials from US Embassy, London. Gregory Baker and Terrence Dudley. Both wanted to ingratiate themselves in campaign via myself,” Papadopoulos tweeted on Sept. 12 — just days after he was sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about other contacts he had during the campaign.

Both Dudley and Baker dispute Papadopoulos’ tweet, saying they reached out to Papadopoulos out of personal curiosity.

“We approached him from a more fascinated standpoint trying to figure out what his game was,” Dudley told TheDCNF by phone from London. “Who’s funding him to be here [in London]? How does he actually get away with doing that?”
Personal curiosity, my ass. I still want to find out if the Mysterious Mr. Mifsud was a CIA plant.

California man in 'state of fear' after aiding Mueller probe
A California man who unwittingly sold bank accounts to Russians meddling in U.S. elections is living in a "constant state of fear" after becoming a government cooperator, his attorney said in a court filing Wednesday.Richard "Ricky" Pinedo has received death threats after testifying before a grand jury and helping special counsel Robert Mueller secure an indictment against 13 Russians accused in an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, his attorney, Jeremy Lessem, said in court papers.

The 28-year-old Santa Paula man pleaded guilty in February to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians. Prosecutors have acknowledged he didn't know that he was dealing with Russians. Arguing that his client should only be sentenced to probation, Lessem said in court papers that Pinedo has accepted full responsibility for his actions and provided "crucial insight into internal flaws embedded in the online financial verification system."
. . .
Pinedo first learned he was in the FBI's crosshairs when federal agents raided his family's home in December 2017. Without a promise of immunity, Pinedo sat down with investigators from the special counsel's office and agreed to testify before a grand jury that was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to Lessem. Since then, Pinedo has noticed "strange unidentified vehicles" parked outside of his home, will not travel outside of the U.S. and suffers from anxiety driving around his neighborhood, Lessem said.

In Honor of Today's Hearings

Garfunkle & Oates

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Oktoberfest up and running.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

More Good News from the Bay

Chesapeake Sees Unprecedented Jellyfish Scarcity
In one of the wettest summers on record, as boaters dodge floating debris sent down from the Conowingo Dam, jellyfish have been few and far between. In fact, scientists tell Bay Bulletin that bay nettles, the jellyfish we know best, may be more scarce this year than ever before.

Denise Breitburg, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), says multiple factors resulting from this summer’s rain are probably contributing to the scarcity of nettles. Salinity in many areas has been below levels that nettles can tolerate, let alone reproduce. The high water flow rates we’ve seen this season have physically washed nettles and ctenophores (comb jellies) out of tributaries and down the Bay. And, says Breitburg, over several decades, rising water temperatures have reached levels that are harmful or even lethal to jellyfish.

The lack of stinging nettles may be welcome news for those who like to play in the water—paddleboarders, jetskiiers, wakeboarders, swimmers, and the like—but environmentalists worry that their absence could throw the ecosystem out of balance.

Breitburg hasn’t seen bay nettles or comb jellies anywhere near the SERC facility on the Rhode River. And what’s more, she says, as of August, none of her colleagues at the Chesapeake Biological Lab in Solomons, the Horn Point lab in Cambridge, and PEARL, the Morgan State lab on the lower Patuxent, had seen jellyfish anywhere near their labs, or the Maryland locations they were sampling. And that’s a first . . .
We've had summers where they didn't appear until August, and disappeared shortly after. But so far, we haven't seen a single one. And I don't mind. 

Fish Were Caught

Got a call from Pete looking for a fill in on a fishing trip to the eastern shore, because someone actually had to work instead of going fishing. Bad choice.
 It was cloudy when we left at 6:30. We hit a familiar structure, and caught the heck out of nice fish right off, getting all the keepers needed for the boat (9), with at least a couple of 28+ inch fish.
After we switched to the eastern side, fishing was more difficult but more photogenic.
 The mouth of a tidal creek.
 Making tracks north.
 A sampling of the catch.
My best and the biggest of the trip.

Some More DIY Russiagate

While I go fish:

Why must everything Rosenstein be filled with drama? | TheHill

Clothing Designer Suggests Improvement for Women

Designers are always pushing boundaries when they debut a new collection on the runway. Designer Giuliano Calza did just that when he sent a few models down the catwalk with prosthetic third breast for his GCDS Spring 2019 show.

The Italian label, which stands for God Can’t Destroy Streetwear, had the models sporting tiny neon bralettes each had a fake third breast implanted in between their other two at the center of their chest.

I'm not sure it's really an improvement. Two hands, two boobs; coincidence? I dunno, it seems like a plan.

As Althouse reminds us, the idea is far from novel. The writers in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall had the idea back in 1990, and executed it fairly well.

I don't know if they got the feel right, you might have to ask Arny.

Exposed fake breast warning!

Then Angela Basset starred as a three-breasted Freak Show performer Desiree Dupree  in American Horror Story, back in the fourth season of American Horror Story (2014-2015):

Not to mention the 2014 woman, who claims to have paid $20,000 to surgically add third breast in desperate bid to become a reality TV star
A 21-year-old woman claims to have paid $20,000 to surgically add a third breast in a desperate bid to become a reality TV star.

Jasmine Tridevil insists she was rejected by more than 50 doctors who feared violating ethical codes before she found a willing surgeon who would perform the procedure.

Now, she has hired a camera crew to follow her around Tampa, Florida, documenting the 'struggles' she faces as a three-breasted woman.
Shockingly, that one turned out to be a hoax. You can't trust anybody. Especially not women with 3 boobs.

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Oktoberfest up and running.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rain Rain, Go Away!

This summer has been a wet one for much of the Chesapeake Bay region. Pennsylvania saw its wettest July and August on record, and both Virginia and Maryland received much more rain than normal, with Maryland chalking up its second-wettest July. All of this led to the Bay receiving unusually high amounts of fresh water.

The Susquehanna River, which begins near Cooperstown, N.Y., flows through Pennsylvania and enters the Bay at Havre De Grace, Md., is the Bay’s largest tributary. Normally, it contributes about half of the Bay’s fresh water. This summer, the Susquehanna has reached record high flows, peaking in July at 375,000 cubic feet per second, the highest flow the river has seen since Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

Because of the high amount of water flowing down the Susquehanna, Exelon, the operator of the Conowingo Dam which sits on the river, opened the dam’s floodgates multiple times. That’s unusual for summertime, since flows tend to be higher in the late spring and early fall.

Opening the dam released debris that had built up behind its walls, including everything from tree trunks and branches to plastic bags and water bottles. The volume of debris was the largest in 20 years, according to Exelon. In a statement, they noted that so far this summer, they removed 1,800 tons of trash from behind the dam, compared to the usual average of 600 tons. . .

Besides the trash what else does this mean for the Chesapeake Bay?

The Bay is less salty. It sure is.
This year, we’ve seen record freshwater flows from the Susquehanna River and other major Bay tributaries such as the Potomac River, diluting the Bay and making it less salty. Waters in the south are still saltier, but the salinity gradient has been pushed down, and areas in the middle have less salt than usual. . . .Changes in the location of fresh and saltier waters, in turn, could have wide-ranging impacts on the Bay’s plant and animal life.
Shellfish, particularly oysters, could be impaired.
Oysters require salty waters and they can’t move if conditions change. They can close their shells, but only for a short period before they begin to suffer. Also, extra sediment that arrives in the Bay with additional fresh water flows could smother reefs and suffocate oysters.

“We’ve had mortality due to freshwater in the past,” said Michael, “but we won’t know the extent of the mortality until we conduct the surveys.” DNR expects to finish surveying oyster reefs by the end of the year.

An influx of fresh water isn’t always bad for oysters; it could provide a bit of relief from disease. In an interview with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), Ryan Carnegie, a research associate professor at VIMS, noted, “MSX disease may largely be purged from Chesapeake Bay oyster populations as the parasite Haplosporidium nelsoni cannot withstand salinities below 10 [parts per thousand].”

Blue crabs, on the other hand, can move to where conditions are more favorable, although they can tolerate fresher water. In the Bay itself, they seem to be staying farther south and at the edges, where salinity and dissolved oxygen levels are higher. In the rivers, DNR trawls show upriver sites containing more crabs, which is normal for this time of year
Finfish are moving to new places (I expect a dramatic expansion of the Northern Snakehead population)
Just like crabs, when salinity changes, finfish can move to areas better suited for them. This means salt-loving fish move south, and freshwater fish begin to appear in areas they aren’t normally seen.
Underwater grasses will decline, but this year will test their overall resilience.
Luckily, the damage doesn't seem too extensive, although we won’t know the full impact until the aerial surveys are completed in Maryland and Virginia. Brooke Landry, a biologist with DNR, noted how the grasses at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, in an area called the Susquehanna Flats, have been holding up. “After the July [rain] event, the water over the SAV bed was clear. You could see grasses in eight feet of water and fish swimming around as well.” Although there was some impact on the grasses, it was primarily at the edge of the bed where those grasses were buffering the sediment from reaching the grasses in the inner bed.
The dead zone may be smaller than anticipated. Good news?
This summer’s additional rains came as storms, with stronger winds and more overcast days. Strong, frequent winds have helped to mix up the Bay’s water and inhibit algae’s ability to thrive.

“Algae like sunny, calm weather,” said Michael. “Because this summer has been so cloudy and overcast, we haven’t seen a lot of algal blooms this year.” In fact, DNR’s monitoring cruise observed the best ever hypoxia conditions (meaning the smallest amount) in the Bay for the end of July, and near average conditions for August.

Russiagate: The Rosenstein Run Around

Yesterday was almost comical. First Axios shredded it's nascent credibility by confidently reporting that Deputy Dog Rosenstein had been fired (a claim they later walked back during the day to where he had merely offered to resign. Althouse: Rosenstein resigns. Axios.
I know, Kavanaugh and sex sex sex are so distracting that this big story will just waft by unnoticed....
 Ace: Axios: Rod Rosenstein is Resigning to Avoid Being Fired "Good riddance to bad rubbish."

Hot Air: Breaking: Rosenstein Reportedly Submits Resignation — Ahead Of Being Fired; Update: Departure Discussed “All Weekend”? Update: “Felt Very Compromised”? 
Do we agree that today is officially lit? If true, this scoop by Axios’ Jonathan Swan will measure a 9.5 on the Kavanaugh scale.

Buckle up your seatbelts — it’s gonna be a bumpy ride to the midterms:
WSJ: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Expects to Be Fired, Clouding Mueller Investigation. Story had to be edited to fit the outcome.

CNBC: Dow drops more than 150 points on fears Deputy AG Rosenstein is leaving. Never Trumper David Frum writing for the Atlantic: Rosenstein’s Departure Is a National Emergency - Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is now in mortal peril. At least we get to find out his probably successor: Solicitor General Noel Francisco to oversee Robert Mueller probe under DOJ succession plan:
With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s ouster, Solicitor General Noel Francisco is slated to oversee the Robert Mueller probe under the Justice Department’s succession plan. Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge. Typically, the investigation would fall to the number three spot at the Justice Department, but Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand resigned earlier this year.

That leaves Mr. Francisco in line to oversee the probe, which President Trump has deemed a “witch hunt.” He hasn’t publicly addressed the probe, but has had harsh words for Mr. Mueller’s close friend, ex-FBI boss James Comey. Mr. Francisco was confirmed by the Senate in September 2017 on a narrow 50-47 vote, that fell largely along party lines. He once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he referred to as his “dear mentor,” during his Senate confirmation.

Although Mr. Francisco has remained mum on the Mueller probe he now stands to inherit, he has argued against government overreach in political corruption investigations. He even blasted frequent Trump sparring partner and ex-FBI Director James Comey for “heavy-handed” tactics in the bureau’s probe of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican. Mr. McDonnell’s conviction was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Mr. Francisco has also accused Mr. Comey of using “kid gloves” in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Sounds good to me. But perhaps alas, that was too good to be true for now. Within an hour or so, Rosenstein emerged from his meeting with Kelly, and everyone had to start revising their online stories. Reuters:  Rosenstein has not resigned, still U.S. deputy attorney general: sourceAfter chaotic day, Rosenstein stays in job but will meet with Trump. Red State: BREAKING. Rod Rosenstein Has Not Been Fired And Has Not Resigned. Hot Air: Rod Rosenstein Is Still Deputy Attorney General — Until Thursday.

So, at this point, the truth is that Rosenstein is still in place. He may or may not have submitted a written resignation to Kelly, who has not accepted it if he has, and he (Rosenstein) and Trump will meet on Thursday when Trump returns to Washington, in the midst of the Kavannaugh circus.

I confess, I still haven't made up my mind about Rosenstein. Is he a wolf in sheep's clothing, or his he a sheep in wolfskin? Is he really the last honest man in Washington, able to really navigate past all his own conflicts of interest or a Deep State operator of the first order?  Andy McCarthy is not a fan: Rod Rosenstein’s Resistance:
Rod Rosenstein is even a weasel when repudiating his weasel moves. Here (with my italics) is the deputy attorney general’s non-denial denial of a New York Times report Friday that he brainstormed about ousting President Trump in May 2017.
. . .
To summarize, when he thought it would be popular, Rod Rosenstein was all in on removing FBI director Comey, eagerly volunteering to write the coup de grĂ¢ce memo. When Comey’s firing ignited bitter protest and recriminations, a distraught Rosenstein blamed Trump for using him. The deputy AG ostentatiously sidled up to the bureaucracy’s “Trump is unfit” faction, expressing openness to wiretapping the president in an effort to force his removal under the 25th Amendment. Indeed, just days after his memo excoriating Comey, Rosenstein confided in FBI officials that he wished Comey were back at the helm and that he hoped to get Comey’s advice on the appointment of a special counsel.

When Democratic pressure to appoint a special counsel reached fever pitch with the Times’ publication of its report, based on a Comey leak, that Trump had pushed for the FBI to drop the Flynn investigation, Rosenstein decided to appoint a special counsel without specifying any crime against Trump. As he brainstormed about the possibility of ousting Trump under the 25th Amendment, Rosenstein flirted with the idea of appointing Obama’s deputy AG, James Cole, as special counsel. Ultimately, he appointed Mueller, the former Obama and Bush FBI director — Comey’s predecessor at the Bureau and colleague in the Bush Justice Department. Mueller staffed his investigation with top officials from the Obama Justice Department, which had green-lighted an investigation of Trump’s campaign.

Immediately after announcing Mueller’s appointment, Rosenstein further assuaged Senate Democrats, promising that Mueller would have no limits. Rosenstein then approved a FISA warrant application that alleged, apparently based on the Clinton-campaign-generated Steele dossier, that the FBI believed Trump campaign officials were complicit in Russia’s hacking conspiracy against the 2016 election. Subsequently, Rosenstein memorialized his authorization to Mueller to investigate “allegations” of collusion — apparently without spelling out any collusion evidence and very likely relying on the Steele dossier.
More background from CTH: Sunday Talks: Tom Fitton Discusses McCabe and Rosenstein With Maria Bartiromo…

Sunday Talks: Trey Gowdy Discusses Kavanaugh, Rosenstein, Sessions and Declassification…

Sunday Talks: Chairman Devin Nunes Discusses McCabe -vs- Rosenstein on FISA Abuse…

Well, until Thursday, then!

Finally, A Day for Me!

Too bad it's in Pennsylvania: National observance salutes those who hunt and fish
Hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania is a time-honored tradition that allows participants to escape the noise and static of modern life and reconnect with nature.

It provides adults with a unique way to connect with their kids and grandkids that is healthy, exciting, and rewarding. It’s during the hunting season that many folks get to spend time with family and friends that they may only see at that time of year. National Hunting and Fishing Day, September 22, is a day to recognize these activities and connections -- and conservation, too.
I count myself as a hunter in spirit, although I haven't hunted seriously since I left Oregon many years ago.
 With a strong interest in wildlife, comes a strong interest in their habitat.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, who in his earlier years worked for the U.S. Forest Service, is credited with defining conservation as, “the wise use of the Earth and its resources for the lasting good of men.”

Hunters and anglers help fund a range of conservation programs through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. A modernized version of the act currently is with U.S. Congress for consideration.

The act sends revenue from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to state wildlife agencies to be used for wildlife conservation projects, outdoor recreation access, and hunter education. State agencies can only use Pittman-Robertson Act funds for a primary wildlife purpose. For example, purchasing public land, improving essential habitat, and creating additional outdoor recreation opportunities. This also benefits hikers and bikers, photographers and birders, canoeists, and campers.

Since 1937, $19 billion has been spent on wildlife and habitat conservation. Annual payments to state fish and wildlife agencies have resulted in the recovery of deer, turkeys, and other non-game species, with benefits to hunters and non-hunters alike. Act funds also have helped in the acquisition of millions of acres of public lands.

“As one of the leading states in the nation in terms of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, Pennsylvania’s sportsmen and women in turn spend a great deal of money on equipment and supplies, making Pennsylvania one of the top beneficiaries of Pittman-Robertson funding,” said Robb Miller, who administers the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation.

Combined with licensing, all of this is referred to as the North American Wildlife Model. The model represents one of the greatest legacies of our forefathers.

As we celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day, we should take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are to have had such forward-thinking ancestors.
Seriously, though, taxes and fees on hunting and fishing pay for a lot more conservation work than almost any other outdoor activity.

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Oktoberfest up and running.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Pennsylvania Saves Shad Hatchery

For now: PA officials delay plan to shut largest shad hatchery in watershed
Pennsylvania fishery officials have put on hold, at least for now, plans to close the Chesapeake Bay region’s largest remaining shad hatchery as part of a budget-cutting move.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at its July meeting deferred the decision it made last year to cut $2 million from its budget for this year.

That cut would have closed three hatcheries, including its Van Dyke Research Station along the Juniata River, which has reared more than 281 million American shad and released them in the Susquehanna River over the last 42 years.
So that's about 6.7 million shad released each year on average? That's a lot of fish. And if the whole $2 million was for shad (it's not) that would be 3 fish for a buck.
The reversal came after leaders of the House and Senate Game and Fisheries Committee said they would seek additional funding for the commission next year.

Although the Fish and Boat Commission is an independent state agency, it cannot unilaterally approve a hike in its primary source of revenue: general fishing licenses. Those increases must be approved by the General Assembly, which has not done so since 2005.

But legislative leaders were angered last year when the commission proposed budget cuts that would close the three hatcheries, including two trout hatcheries. Some introduced legislation to limit the term of the commission’s executive director to eight years, which would have put current director John Arway out of a job.
So what happens to the fish after they are released? Shad run on the Susquehanna River hits record low in 2018
The American shad “season” on the Susquehanna River ended June 3 at Conowingo Dam. And this year’s results hit a new low.

The season is the period during which an elevator at Conowingo lifts shad up past the dam during their spring spawning run. The Conowingo Dam is the first impediment spawning shad hit as they return from the Atlantic Ocean to run up the Susquehanna River. Operators of the hydroelectric dams at Holtwood, Safe Harbor and York Haven also run fish elevators, and those lifts are still operating.

But Conowingo is the gatekeeper for the annual run. Since it’s the first dam the fish hit, it always passes the most shad. While Pennsylvania does not allow recreational fishing for shad on the Susquehanna River, Maryland does, and the area below Conowingo is popular among Maryland and Pennsylvania anglers alike.

Elevator operations began at Conowingo on April 2. The first shad was lifted April 21. The elevator was shut down June 3. During that time, a total of 6,992 American shad were hoisted over the dam to continue their spawning run. That’s the lowest on record since counts began in 1997, and it’s less than half the number of shad lifted last year – 16,248.
So the return of shad to Pennsylvania is about 1 fish in 1000; and they don't get to fish for them anyway? It's no wonder they feel like they should shut it down. I'm all for the shad, but it looks to me like they're throwing good money after bad, until they fix the reason that 1 shad in 1000 makes it back up to Conowingo. And we don't know what that is.

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Oktoberfest up and running.

Russiagate - Is Rosenstein In or Out?

“It is clear the president has all the justifications he needs to find a replacement for Rod Rosenstein, and we’ve talked about this almost every day of his presidency,” Matt Schlapp, the pro-Trump president of the Conservative Political Action Conference, said in an interview on Saturday. “I do not think there would be negative political consequences to making staff changes at DOJ, like the deputy.” Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes, works in the White House as a top communications adviser.

On Saturday, the White House had yet to issue any official response to the Rosenstein story, and Trump had yet to weigh in on Twitter as the world around him tried to sway his opinion on what to do.
The Dersh:  Dershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe

The Washington Times editorial: Rod Rosenstein, quit!
For the good of your country, Rod Rosenstein, step down.

If you have a shred of integrity left in you, if you still care about the law and justice as much as you claim, if you still hold to your oath, then quit your position as deputy attorney general of the United States.

It is now clear that you are a fierce partisan working at the highest levels of the Department of Justice.

The notion that someone in your powerful — yet unelected — position would scheme inside the highest levels of the federal government to take out a duly elected sitting United States president is stunning.

Hatching plots to wiretap the Oval Office or invoke a constitutional revolt against a sitting president sounds like a marvelous thriller on Netflix. In real life, it is treasonous.

Even if you were joking about wearing a wire into the Oval Office — still looking for the humor in that one — it reveals how wildly distorted your view of the executive branch has become and far you have fallen since first vowing to uphold the Constitution.
At the Hill: Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team
"I’ve been pretty clear since my beginning of service here in this administration," Pompeo told "Fox News Sunday" when asked about a report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein proposed secretly recording conversations with Trump and discussed the possibility of removing him.

"If you can’t be on the team, if you’re not supporting this mission, maybe you’ve got something else to do."

Pompeo added that he's carried this message to junior and senior colleagues of his in the State Department, CIA and FBI, saying that the Trump administration needs everyone "engaged" in the president's mission.

"If you’re not, you should take this time to do something more productive," he said.
Jed Babbins at the American Spectator: The Lingering Stench of Coverup at Justice and the FBI "But why did President Trump cancel his declassification order?" 
When Trump canceled his declassification order, his Tweeted explanation was that he’d met with DoJ and that they’d agreed to follow his order but the release of the documents would have a “perceived negative impact” on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He added that key allies — note the plural — had called asking him not to declassify the documents.

Stop right there. Rosenstein — who appointed Mueller to be special counsel — is supposedly the DoJ official supervising the Mueller investigation. Why — when the president is convinced that the Muller investigation is a witch hunt — would he be concerned about a negative perception on the documents’ declassification? Why would he trust Rosenstein’s advice, especially after the NYT report?

Many of us have been, for almost a year, saying that the president should order all of these documents — and all the rest that Nunes and HPSCI have asked for — to be declassified. Unless the president is terrified of what the Democrats would say about the declassification, there’s no logical reason for him to cancel his order.

Stop again. Between Monday’s order and Friday’s cancellation of the declassification order, Rosenstein — or others whose wrongful actions would be exposed — had plenty of time to talk to “key allies” to get them to call Trump to ask him to not declassify the documents. You can bet the farm that the calls from “key allies” — probably Britain and Australia — told Trump that they’d be less willing to share intelligence with us if their involvement in the Steele dossier mess were exposed.

The “less willing to share intelligence” argument is boilerplate in the intelligence community. It’s the first argument against any disclosure, and it’s usually, not always, false. The intelligence sharing with our allies is never automatic or complete. That’s why we have the “NOFORN” — i.e., no dissemination to foreign governments — designation on a great deal of our intelligence and intelligence analysis. They have similar limitations on what they tell us.
Honestly? I'm praying he's saving it for an October surprise. Or even early November, given people's current attention spans and the speed of the media cycle. And maybe give some time for the UK and Australia to rein in their activities against him. Nunes: Where Are the Declassified Documents?! Trump: DOJ-OIG Is Reviewing Them First. Reviewing needs to be in scare quotes. What they're doing is desperately seeking some excuse to redact the most embarrassing items.

Unfortunately, this is generally be true: Caligula's Horse Was a Better Senator. At least a true horse's ass would not do much damage.