Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Rain Delay in Oyster Restoration

At a press conference in May the Oyster Recovery Partnership shared a message of hope after record rainfall diluted salinity in the Chesapeake Bay — the baby oysters planted in the Severn in 2018 had survived the freshwater deluge.

Together with the Severn River Association they planned on planting 10 million more spat on shell in the Severn this year through their second Build-a-Reef campaign. But the effects of the freshwater intrusion can still be felt, particularly at Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, where conditions have hindered the hatchery’s ability to produce spat for the project, according to the partnership.

“It became clear about a week ago that the larvae were simply not going to be available for this project,” the partnership’s Director of Partnerships Paul Schurrick said.

In a letter to donors, Schurrick said the money will go toward the 2020 Build-a-Reef campaign, set aside in a dedicated fund. Their goal was to raise $50,000 for the 10 million oysters. Schurrick declined to say how much was raised.
. . .
The partnership was contracted by the state to plant 40 million oysters on three reefs covering an area of 11 acres in the Severn in July and August of 2018. Teaming up with the Severn River Association they planted an additional 5 million.

Absent state assistance this year, the groups doubled their efforts to raise money to contribute to the reef, hoping to raise enough to plant 10 million oysters.

Two independent monitoring efforts have shown that the oysters planted last year are still alive. “There are a lot of oysters on these reefs in the Severn still thriving,” he said.

In May, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported that salinities in the bay are still below average because of the 2018 rainfall and an above-average amount of rain in March.
I tasted the Bay yesterday, and the salinity is coming up (I have pretty well calibrated tongue from years of experience). The bad news is that I saw sea nettles for the first time in two years.

Russiagate, with Added Ratcliffe

The hubbub over Muellermas appears to be largely behind us. On to Mifsud Mania! Courtesy of the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.30.19, Tom Maguire at Just One Minute picks up the thread in Joseph Mifsud, Maltese Man Of Mystery
Lee Smith, also writing for Real Clear Investigations, provided lots of background on Mifsud last May 2018. My fave from that article: Mifsud denies being an MI6 "agent", which fans of the genre (but not all legacy journalists) understand is quite different from being an MI6 "asset".

And the latest hook is the failure of Mueller to charge Mifsud with false statements, even though Mueller had no problem indicting unreachable Russians in Lenningrad and other Americans closer to home. Why so shy about the guy whose interactions with Papadopoluos ostensiblytriggered Crossfire Hurricane? Who knows? One day Mifsud may be singing a song under the bright Congressional lights and we'll be reading about the Maltese Canary.

But do let me highlight a problem faced by Mueller and noted by Mr. Felten: charging both Papadopoulos and Mifsud with false statements may have been challenging . . .
So who do you charge, the Trump loving Papadop or the assetfor the deep state? I think the choice was obvious. Capt Ed. at Hot Air, Russiagate Hinges On Mifsud — And The Mystery Of Why Mueller Didn’t Pursue Him
At the moment, the prospects for getting an answer to the question seem poor. Michael Horowitz’ inspector-general investigation into the beginnings of Operation Crossfire Hurricane will get released soon, perhaps in September, but Horowitz’ scope is the Department of Justice. The CIA would be beyond his purview, which means he’d only be able to determine what the FBI knew about Mifsud, if much of anything.

Appointing John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence might uncork more, but if there is more, why isn’t CIA director Gina Haspel providing it? Mifsud’s name and picture are all over the place, so it’s not as if he can operate as an active asset now, if indeed he ever was one in the first place. As president, Trump can choose to declassify anything he likes (although with some potential for drastic consequences). Jim Jordan shouldn’t have to be berating Mueller about Mifsud; if there’s something besides smoke there, Trump and his team can provide it.

The best guess for why Mifsud hasn’t been fully explained is because he’s just not fully explainable. The lack of charges against him should be explained, however, because it certainly leaves the impression that the special counsel was playing favorites with obstructors.
Brian Cates at Uncover DC, The Return of Professor Joseph Mifsud, International Man of Mystery!
I’ve had a working theory for almost two years now that the SpyGate plotters needed at least ONE actual, real, live Russian agent in all of this, and they picked Mifsud to play that role….willingly or not.

I surmise that at the time Mifsud sat for an interview with the FBI back in February of 2017, he had yet to discover his FBI handlers had ‘volunteered’ him for the role of the being the only real Russian agent in the story.

Now its clear Durham’s investigative team has looked at the narrative about Mifsud that was told by the FBI in it’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and in the Mueller report, and they simply aren’t buying it.  They want to talk to Mifsud himself.

And I believe if Mifsud ever does talk and reveal what he knows, this is going to cause a whole set of very real problems for people who’ve bought into the narrative that he was a genuine Russian agent making a real offer of Russian help to a Trump campaign advisor.
One bright spot in all this is that Mifsud will never be able to ply his trade, whatever it is, in the open again.

A reminder from Nice Deb at AmGreat, Joe diGenova: The DOJ Will Begin Dropping ‘Hugely Embarrassing’ Declassified Documents on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it, but I've been disappointed before. Could this be part of it, sundance at CTH, James Comey Under Investigation – John Huber Investigating Comey Memos – Declaration Release This Week…. One can hope. The Guardian reports how Secret texts cast light on UK’s early role in Trump-Russia inquiry
Text messages between Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI at the time, and Jeremy Fleming, his then counterpart at MI5, now the head of GCHQ, also reveal their mutual surprise at the result of the EU referendum, which some US officials regarded as a “wake-up call”, according to a person familiar with the matter.
. . .
Their exchanges offer new insights into the start of the FBI’s Russia investigation, and how British intelligence appears to have played a key role in the early stages.

In one exchange in August 2016, Fleming noted that members of the FBI and MI5 had “met on our strange situation”, a veiled reference to discussions about Russian activities, according to the source.

The text messages between the two men were infrequent and cryptic and did not contain specific or sensitive materials, but occurred with some regularity after the referendum in June 2016.
With Boris holding the whip hand, expect more British cooperation in the probes. But, of course, the conspiracy originated in the Obama White House. Gateway Pundit, Transcripts Obtained of Former FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki Testifying Russia Conspiracy Came from Obama’s White House

From Liz Shield at AmGreat, Rep. Devin Nunes Says Mueller’s Team Obstructed Congressional Investigation. One of several theories long advanced by sundance at CTH is that a primary goal of the Mueller investigation was to provide an excuse to keep materials on FBI/DOJ activities secret for as long as possible.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday talk to show to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before congress last week.  In his interview, Nunes says that the Mueller team would not turn over requested transcripts and information to the House Intelligence Committee for its investigation when the committee was under Republican control.

“The Mueller dossier team wouldn’t let us have them,” says Nunes.
Also from Nice Deb at AmGreat, Did John Brennan Lie to Congress About 2016 Gang of Eight Briefings? Well it wouldn't be the first time.

David McKay at AmSpec has The Seven Dumbest Things Democrats Demand You Believe. Only seven? And from the Cambrian Dissenters, As A Dog Returns to His Vomit So A Fool Returns to His Folly

The fight over the Ratcliffe nomination as DNI is starting to generate heat. Via Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.30.19, Power Line, A DNI Trump Trusts? The Horror!
But the Democratic/media/intelligence community drumbeat against Ratcliffe ignores this important reality: The nation is ill-served when the president doesn’t trust his top intelligence adviser.

Because President Trump trusts Ratcliffe, or at least doesn’t view him as an adversary or tool of his adversaries, there is a chance that Trump will take Ratcliffe’s intelligence briefings seriously. With Coats, there was no such chance.

As Eli Lake reports, Trump kept Coats “out of the loop.” Thus, Trump hasn’t been getting “the intelligence” the Washington Post thinks “he needs” from the current director.

If Ratcliffe tells Trump only what the president wants to hear, then Trump still might not get “the intelligence he needs,” and the fact that the director is back in the loop will be of no consequence. But I don’t assume that Ratcliffe will act in bad faith.
Capt. Ed, Coats’ Resignation A Win For … Pompeo? Yeah, I'm OK with that. Sundance at CTH, Soft Coup and Impeachment Crew React to Removal of Dan Coats…. Comey and Brennan not pleased? That's telling; they've got a lot to lose potentially.

And, Ratcliffe’s Job Interview? “There Were Crimes Committed During The Obama Administration” Yep. Hopefully we'll get a clearer look at that under Ratcliffe.

Hot Air cites NYT in Trump’s Choice Of A Partisan For Top Intelligence Post Rattles Critics. And that's a good thing. ABC claims Trump's pick for intelligence director misrepresented role in anti-terror case, but reading the article, it seems like a matter of interpretation.

At the New Yorker, Trump’s Message to U.S. Intelligence Officials: Be Loyal or Leave. It should be sufficient if they wouldn't plot against the President. Mediaite, Ralph Peters Blasts Trump’s DNI Nominee as Unqualified: ‘You’re Gonna Put a Monkey in There?’ I'm not impressed. AllahPundit prays Is Trump’s New Pick For Intelligence Chief About To Be Blocked By The Republican Senate?

Fox News, Judge dismisses DNC hacking lawsuit against Trump team, says claims 'entirely divorced from the facts'
A federal judge in frank terms Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against key members of the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over hacked DNC documents, saying they "did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place" and therefore bore no legal liability for disseminating the information.

The ruling came as Democrats increasingly have sought to tie the Trump team to illegal activity in Russia, in spite of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings that the campaign in fact refused multiple offers by Russians to involve them in hacking and disinformation efforts.

President Trump, in a tweet late Tuesday, noted that the judge in the case, John Koeltl, was appointed by Bill Clinton. The president called Koeltl's decision "really big 'stuff'" and "yet another total & complete vindication and exoneration."
. . .
Republicans, meanwhile, have focused increasingly on the DNC's own apparent role in the origins of the FBI's probe into the Trump campaign, which began in the summer of 2016 -- after British ex-spy Christopher Steele, a longtime FBI informant funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign, began work on his now-discredited dossier.

The dossier was used in secret surveillance warrants to monitor members of the Trump team, and later fueled media reports that kept the investigation going, despite many apparent problems with its reliability. Multiple DOJ reviews into the dossier's use, and related matters, were ongoing.

The chances of the FBI securing a secret 2016 surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign aide were “50/50” without the controversial anti-Trump “dossier,” according to testimony in recently confirmed congressional transcripts from senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer to House investigators.

And, Papadopoulos on Sunday told Fox News he was heading back to Greece to retrieve $10,000 that he suspected was dropped in his lap during the campaign as part of an entrapment scheme by the CIA or FBI. Federal investigators want to see the marked bills, which he said were stored in a safe.

Papadopoulos said on "Sunday Morning Futures" he was "very happy" to see House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., grill Mueller about the summer 2017 payment during last week's hearings -- even though Mueller maintained, without explanation, that the matter was outside the scope of his investigation.

"I was very happy to see that Devin Nunes brought that up," Papadopoulos said. "A man named Charles Tawil gave me this money [in Israel] under very suspicious circumstances. A simple Google search about this individual will reveal he was a CIA or State Department asset in South Africa during the '90s and 2000s. I think around the time when Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI."
And things that just reawaken anger, Rick Moran at PJ Media, The Fix Was in from the Start for Hillary's 'Exoneration,' Immunity Agreements with Aides Suggest, but we knew that.
The American Center for Law and Justice finally got some satisfaction from its numerous FOIA requests to the Department of Justice. It took a specific court order from a federal judge to release long-secret documents that might raise a few eyebrows among those who are still interested in matters pertaining to Hillary Clinton's aides and the former secretary of state's missing emails.
The ACLJ has obtained the DOJ’s infamous immunity agreements with Hillary Clinton’s top aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson – documents previously unreleased to the public and which include the DOJ attempting to enter an agreement not to comply with the requirements of FOIA, and which confirm it agreed to “dispose” of evidence, including Mills’ and Samuelson’s “culling laptops” which contained all of the missing emails from Hilary Clinton’s private homebrew server.
The immunity agreements signed by Mills and Samuelson are, to say the least, overly generous to their legal interests:
As we have advised you, we consider Cheryl Mills to be a witness based on the information gathered to date in this investigation. We understand that Cheryl Mills is willing to voluntarily provide the Mills Laptop to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if the United States agrees not to use any information directly obtained from the Mills Laptop in any prosecution of Cheryl Mills for the mishandling of classified information and/or the removal or destruction of records as described below.
That might be fairly standard. But what's highly unusual is that the content of those laptops remains the private property of the aides. In other words, some of the content is immune from FOIA requests.
. . .
Additional information uncovered by ACLJ is even more shocking:
The DOJ agreed that the FBI would “dispose” of Mills’ and Samuelson’s laptops after the search. According to the agreement:
As soon as the investigation is completed, and to the extent consistent with all FBI policies and applicable laws, including the Federal Records Act, the FBI will dispose of the Device and any printed or electronic materials resulting from your search.
In other words, after agreeing to limit its search of Mills’ laptop to (1) only a certain method of searching; (2) only for certain email-related files; and, (3) only files created within a certain time-frame, the DOJ/FBI agreed to dispose of the laptop – meaning anything else embarrassing, negative or potentially implicating on the laptop – including official State Department records – would be destroyed and never be exposed. (Emphasis mine)
You may recall former FBI Director James Comey explaining to Congress that "no reasonable prosecutor" would have brought charges against Hillary Clinton. Under this immunity agreement, it's hardly surprising that Comey would have made such a self-serving statement.

Katy Loses Plagiarism Suit

Jury Finds A Portion Of Katy Perry’s 2013 Hit Was Stolen From Christian Rap Song
Yesterday a jury determined that everyone involved in the creation of one of Perry’s hit songs was responsible for taking beats from a Christian rap artist. The Perry song in question is called “Dark Horse” and is one of the tunes that Perry performed during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2015 (Remember left shark?). Perry’s song was found to be substantially similar to a rap song called “Joyful Noise” by artist Marcus Gray which was popular not long before the time “Dark Horse” was written:

In a decision that left many in the courtroom surprised, jurors found all six songwriters and all four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable, including Perry and Sarah Hudson, who wrote only the song’s words, and Juicy J, who only wrote the rap he provided for the song…
The defendants’ musical expert testified that the musical patterns in dispute were as simple as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
But the jury of six women and three men disagreed, finding that the bumping beat and riff at the center of “Joyful Noise” were original enough to be copyrighted.
Perry and the song’s co-authors testified during the seven-day trial that none of them had heard the song or heard of Gray before the lawsuit, nor did they listen to Christian music.

Gray’s attorneys had only to demonstrate, however, that “Joyful Noise” had wide dissemination and could have been heard by Perry and her co-authors. They provided as evidence that it had millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and that the album it’s included on was nominated for a Grammy.
The penalty phase of the trial will begin today, meaning the jury will now decide how much Perry and her co-defendants owe Marcus Gray and his co-authors. Given the fact that the song was at the top of the charts for 4 weeks when it was released, it could be a substantial amount of money.
You will, of course, want to compare the original with the alleged copy:

I wasn't that impressed by the comparison. A baseline, and that little bird thingy. Sure, there's some similarity, but the world is full of similar songs. The amount of music that Led Zeppelin ripped off is legendary.

A mashup comparing the two:

I heard a talking head on Fox mention a 7 figure award? That would sting even Katy Perry. She might have to spend a few more years working as a judge on a shitty reality show.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Claudia Cardinale raring to go at The Other McCain.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

July 30, 2019 Beach Report

Temperatures were heading to the middle and upper 80s when Skye and I headed off to the beach this morning.
Whew! that's better! The water is pretty brown; we seem to be on the verge of a red tide of some sort.

There were lots of crabs in the shallow waters. This shows a pair of "doublers", a male crab clutching a female getting ready to molt, so it can mate while it's soft.  I think the hypoxic water must up pretty close to the shore. Somebody with a net could get a bucket full pretty easy.
A pair of boats working slowly in the shallows, but not crabbers.
Clam dredgers. The "ramp" down is a conveyor bolt with a screen, and the hose shoots water into the sediment on the bottom, to break it up, and allow the belt to carry clams and any other big hard things up to the fisherman. I wonder if they got any big sharks teeth.

I've seen plenty of clam dredgers before, but never working there. They both left to go back across and north while we were walking back down the beach.
Skye took advantage of a pool in the stream near Matoaka Cottages to cool off before the long walk home.

Reason #6396 that Trump was Elected

Ace: Barr Eliminates a Commonly Faked Claim for Asylum, That One Is Being "Harassed by Gangs"
Pretty much anyone could say this and there's never any evidence for it -- so the government would have trouble disproving it, even if anyone was trying to disprove it.

This is simply not "political persecution," even if genuine.
Attorney General William Barr ruled Monday that being a member of a family harassed by gangs is not enough to qualify for asylum.
In a ruling that will likely block a large number of immigrants from lodging successful asylum claims moving forward, Barr overturned a previous decision made by Board of Immigration Appeals, which found that being a member of family targeted by gangs or other criminal organizations could qualify them as a “particular social group” worthy of U.S. asylum.
Note how the Washington Post won't even tell you what the change is before making it clear they disapprove:  Immigration lawyers say Justice Dept. ruling could undercut thousands of asylum cases
A ruling from the U.S. attorney general could upend the asylum claims of thousands of Central Americans and other asylum seekers who say they deserve protection in the United States because they belong to families that are victims of drug cartels or other criminals in their homelands.

The nation’s top prosecutor, Attorney General William P. Barr, issued the ruling Monday, partially reversing a 2017 Board of Immigration Appeals decision in the asylum case of a Mexican national who said a drug cartel targeted him and his family. Barr said that just because members of ordinary families fall victim to “private criminal activity” does not mean they can claim asylum protections in the United States on that basis.

Federal law allows immigrants to claim asylum based on a fear of persecution in their homelands because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership in a “particular social group,” which for years has included families targeted by gangs, drug cartels or others.
If fear of drug and gang violence were a legitimate reason for asylum, much of the population of Baltimore, as well as most other major US population centers would be justified in seeking refuge in Canada, not that Canada doesn't have it's own gang violence problems.

Russiagate Rolling Sevens

So was Mueller really a forgetful old man or a just playing one for TV. John Huey at WaPoo opts for the former in Robert Mueller and what all men of a certain age know, while Margot Cleveland at Da Fed lists 7 Times Robert Mueller Played Dumb Before Congress For Partisan Advantage "1. I Don’t Know What the Regulations Say, Except When I Do". . . Why not consider both to be true.

From Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.29.19 American Thinker wonders If Mueller Wasn’t In Charge, Who Was?, and decides that Weismann was the key driver of the report, but Rosenstein let it all play out, and still wonders what Rosenstein was thinking. Me too. Kyle Smith at NyPo asserts that The Robert Mueller hearings marked a new low for Democrats. That's a pretty high bar. From Flopping Aces Dan Sobieski lauds how Gohmert Exposes Cozy Mueller/Comey Relationship That Made Comey $6 Million Man At Lockheed. Not really new news, but a good reminder that Mueller was a conflicted denizen of the swamp.

WaPoo also reports that De Niro says that Mueller didn’t play me playing him on SNL. That’s good. But it was a show trial, after all, where only the prosecution got to write the report. De Niro is mad that Mueller didn't rage.  Axios goes on about How Robert Mueller shielded Trump's budget deal. Can't two things happen in DC in a week without a conspiracy?

It seems with Muellermas fading into the past, Spygate has started to gain some ground. I don't know how I missed this, Ace, Lee Smith: The Seven Mysterious Attempts to Infiltrate/Entrap Trump Campaign AssociatesIt's almost as if there were a covert operation against Trump, directed by high partisan officials of the US government. A good review of the evidence for attempts by the cabal to set up the Trump campaign. Jonathon Turley on Da Hill reminds us The mysterious Mister Mifsud and why no one wants to discuss him. Dammit, I forgot to trademark "the Mysterious Mister Mifsud." Again, no new info, but lots more interest.
Certain subjects are rarely visited by CNN or other networks, at least not substantively. The media largely dismisses the fact that the Clinton campaign also solicited political dirt from foreign intelligence sources, including from Russia, through investigator and former British spy Christopher Steele and the research firm Fusion GPS. Few programs mention that Glenn Simpson, a cofounder of Fusion GPS, had dinner with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya both the day before and the day after she met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Many figures are now household names, like resigned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, and onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But not Mifsud, despite his central role as a catalyst of the original investigation. For Republicans, it is like what Kint said about Soze. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”
Eric Felten at RCI, Why the Mystery of Russiagate Hinges on the Mystery of Joseph Mifsud Also by Ace, DOJ Focusing on "Smoking Gun" in FISAGate Investigation, Which Seems to Involve Josef Misfud
See this post from Friday for John Solomon's reportage that Joseph Misfud's lawyer reached out to him to tell him that Misfud is ready to admit to DOJ prosecutors that he has long been a Western intelligence asset and was specifically acting as an FBI asset in setting up Papadopolous.

Yet, the so-called "Mueller" Report insinuated, without expressly stating, that Misfud was a Russian agent. The report did this by citing media reports that Misfud was a Russian agent.

This was, I believe, an attempt to commit perjury and obstruction of justice while building in the defense, 'Hey, we were just quoting media reports, we ourselves weren't saying he was a Russian agent."

No, just strongly, strongly implying it.

This is important stuff -- and it seems like DOJ investigators are taking notice.

This FoxNews report states that DOJ investigators are zeroing in on why "exculpatory information" -- such as the fact that Misfud was a Western intelligence asset, not a Russian one -- was deliberately omitted from the FISA applications, thus perpetrating a fraud on the court.

Note that FoxNews doesn't say this is about Misfud or withholding the fact that Misfud worked from the FBI from the FISA court, but I can't think of what else they could mean here.
And Ace,  Joe DiGenova: FISA Documents Will Be Declassified This Wednesday, July 31st. Something to look forward to?
This tracks with John Solomon's reporting that the documents will be released this week, but it could be that they both have the same source, and that the same source is wrong.

A little tease:
Additionally, Mr. diGenova states confidently that U.S. Attorney John Durham is not conducting a "review", but is conducting a full criminal investigation with a grand jury empaneled and currently receiving testimony from witnesses.
And now for something entirely off the wall at Quod Verum, The Swamp Meister. James Woolsey’s Lies or The Swamp Strikes Back. Now there's a name I hadn't heard in quite a while. Put on your tinfoil hats and read it.

Also from Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.29.19 Julie Kelly at AmGreat writes, Democrats’ Attack Machine Revs Up Against Ratcliffe and on schedule at WaPoo, Ratcliffe, Trump’s pick to lead U.S. intelligence, faces head winds in Congress and Trump’s plan to nominate ally as spy chief viewed as move to subdue intelligence agencies. Or maybe just tear them out of the hands of the Democrats.
Intelligence community officials said that the moves raised fears about the politicization of their work, and that the official who often represents their views in meetings at the Oval Office may be less inclined to deliver unvarnished — and sometimes unwelcome — assessments to the president.

Former officials described Trump’s plan to install Ratcliffe as a threat to the independence of the nation’s spy agencies.
Somehow, whenever Trump starts to exert control over any limb of the executive branch, WaPoo gets a sudden interest in their independence.

And then, there's the impeachment follies. Hot Air cites the NYT in Why Aren’t 2020 Democrats Talking About Impeachment? Because Voters Aren’t Asking. Stephan Kruiser at PJ Media, Nadler's Trump Hunt Is Dead and He's the Only One Who Doesn't Know
For the past couple of years Democrats have been waiting for Robert Mueller to be their Santa Claus, delivering them a litany of impeachable offenses all neatly wrapped up with a pretty bow on top.

When Santa wrote them a letter in the form of the special counsel report and it didn't include any clear mention of the presents, they were convinced that he would most definitely bring them in person.

So they subpoenaed him.

When Santa came down the Capitol Hill chimney on Wednesday, all he brought with him to give the Democrats was a big bag of coal, which he then awkwardly delivered.

Almost everyone but the Democrats knew it was coal.
But Democrats keep up the pressure, Larry Tribe at USA Today, We are finally on the path to Trump impeachment and saving what our Founders gave us, Capt. Ed at Hot Air, Nadler: There’s No Deadline To Take Up Impeachment, You Know, Rebecca Klar at Da Hill, No. 3 Senate Democrat calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump and Politico, With Sunday surge, nearly half of House Democrats back impeachment inquiry. But that's the easy half.

Midnite Music - "Backwater Blues"

She's obviously listened to a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughn (who obviously listened to a lot of Johnny Winter).

Ally Veneble:
Ally Marie Venable (born April 7, 1999) is an American blues rock guitar player, singer, and songwriter. She is the 2014, 2015 ETX Music awards female guitar player of the year, and she and her band were the ETX Music Awards 2015, 2016 blues band of the year.

Venable's debut album, No Glass Shoes, with Connor Ray Music finished at number 16 in the RMR Electric Blues Charts for 2016. Venable is touted a must see act under 30 year olds by America's Blue's Scene. Her second album, Puppet Show, debuted at No. 7 in the Billboard Blues Albums Chart. The album Texas Honey was published in 2019.

She resides in Kilgore, Texas, United States.
The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Claudia Cardinale raring to go at The Other McCain.

Monday, July 29, 2019

A Shot of Salvation for Chesapeake Logperch

Chesapeake Logperch
Scientists see early success in breeding effort to help save Chesapeake logperch
In a mad dash to keep the Chesapeake logperch from being placed on the federal endangered species list, the tiny fish is certainly doing its part.

In an underwater roundup of sorts, 28 logperch were netted in late March from three tributaries to the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, PA, just north of the Maryland line. In an experiment with plenty of doubts, those 28 have multiplied to about 1,500 in propagation fish tanks in Tennessee and at Penn State University.

The plan is to reintroduce logperch into one southern Pennsylvania stream this fall, with later stockings possible into up to seven lower Susquehanna tributaries in Pennsylvania from the Holtwood Dam to Harrisburg. That’s an area where the fish were once native but have disappeared.

It’s a rare experiment. The relatively recent discovery of the fish as a distinct species caused fisheries agencies in both Pennsylvania and Maryland to reassess its status. Both declared it threatened in their states.
Maryland DNR's Jackie Sivalia, Matt Ashton, and Megan Davis,
 a Chesapeake Conservation Corps intern, survey for Chesapeake
 logperch in Harford County, MD using seine nets.
Are we worried about a genetic bottleneck here, starting a population from such a small sample?
“There has been quite a lot of work done in the last 10 years or so trying to restore fishes to their habitats, but there are not many restoration projects of this magnitude with a species that has not been federally listed,” said Jay Stauffer, a distinguished professor of ichthyology at Penn State. “To try to prevent a species from being federally listed is pretty unique,”

But first, a seed stock was needed. To make the captured fish feel right at home, researchers scooped gravel and sand from the streams where they were found. They even collected rocks that the members of the darter family flip over with their piglike snouts to look for aquatic insects. They are known for flipping rocks. The elements from their home stream were combined in the propagation tanks, where pumps replicated the current.

Apparently, the fish indeed felt right at home. They reproduced so fast that their fecundity had to be cut off after three weeks for fear they would overwhelm their tanks. The fish were divided between Penn State and rearing facilities in Tennessee run by the nonprofit aquaculture group Conservation Fisheries, Inc. so that an unforeseen accident or disease wouldn’t wipe out the entire population.

Ripe with that success, the next phase of the four-year plan has been expedited. This summer, teams will snorkel and scuba dive in candidate streams, checking stream-bottom habitat, flow and water temperatures in search of ideal homes for the juveniles. The effort will be aided by an underwater drone attached to a 300-foot tether that will send back a deepwater video of the terrain.
I'm happy that they've done this, but it should not be considered a big deal. One grad student who cared could have done this in their spare time. And sold the spare fish for aquaria.

Previous post on the Logperch

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Claudia Cardinale raring to go at The Other McCain.

Russiagate, It Gets to Wearing Thin

Still going strong. From Capt. Ed at Hot Air, ABC Poll: Mueller-Mas A Total Wash For Impeachment
Anyone who watched the Robert Mueller debacle on Wednesday has already concluded that it was a total waste of time for Democrats — at best. A new poll out from ABC News/Ipsos confirms that the special counsel’s much-hyped appearances before Congress did nothing to move the needle on impeachment, as House Democrats hoped. Nearly half said it made no difference at all, and the rest were evenly split between making them more likely to support impeachment (27%) and less likely to do so (26%).
and that difference seemed to extend to senior Democrats, Nadler, Schiff Appear To Disagree On Mueller Performance (Taylor Milliard, Hot Air)
Nadler praised Mueller’s testimony during an appearance today on This Week With George Stephanopoulos after being asked if it was a mistake to have him under oath.
NADLER: No, I think it was very important that he testify because he established very clearly that the — that the — he broke the lie that the president, the attorney general have been saying to the American people for the last, I don’t know, seven, eight weeks. . . .

Schiff had the same narrative when on NBC’s Meet The Press, however, he was not happy with Mueller’s tone and answers.
CHUCK TODD: Was there any part of Director Mueller’s testimony you found unsatisfying?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: You know, look, I, I wish that he had testified in more narrative fashion, that the words didn’t need to be coaxed from him as much as they did. But I think —
CHUCK TODD: You were talking, you were hoping it would bring it alive, is what you said I think last week, right?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And I think that it did. But it, it, it came alive, I think, more through very short questions and very short answers rather than a great deal of description from the witness. But Chuck, I think we knew that going into the hearing. And, as you might recall, what I was saying before, we shouldn’t have too many expectations because we know the sum and substance of his testimony. But nonetheless, most people have had that filtered by the misleading characterization by people like Bill Barr. So it was very important to bring him in.
Ha! It appears some Democrats were hoping Mueller would give some sort of soliloquy akin to what is seen in the movies where the witness delivers blow after blow after blow destroying the narrative of the opposite side (all while dramatic music from Hans Zimmer or Howard Shore plays in the background) and people all sitting glued to their TVs immediately run to the city square to start protesting. The reality is the opposite typically happens and the soundtrack is more of the horns of failure from The Price is Right.
According to Nadler, Trump Deserves Impeachment But No Decision Made Yet, because they still haven't figured out their excuse (Bloomberg). His real crime was to beat Hillary in an election they thought they had rigged fair and square. From the NYT (via Hot Air) Is Ousting Trump A Sufficient Goal? Democrats Are Divided Over The Answer, or do they need to demolish our economic and constitutional systems so they can stay in power forever, too? From RCP, NYT's pet "conservative" David Brooks whines "Deus Ex Mueller" Fantasy Didn't Pan Out, Democracy Makes It Hard To "Take A President Out"

And so, on to "Spygate." From sundance at CTH, Maria Bartiromo to Devin Nunes: “Who is the mastermind behind all of this?”…
Released FOIA documents into the special counsel team of Robert Mueller revealed the remarkable trail of the 2017 entrapment scheme conducted by prosecutor Andrew Weissmann to target George Papadopoulos . . .

and follows that up with George Papadopoulos Discusses Mueller’s FARA Set-up With Maria Bartiromo…

Set up like a bowlin' pin, knocked down, it gets to wearin' thin. They just won't let you be, oh no.

President Trump Discusses Declassification Authority Granted to AG Bill Barr…

Dan Chaitin and Jerry Dunleavy at WaEx, Devin Nunes: CIA has 'come clean' but John Brennan remains a concern
Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the CIA has "come clean" for his review of the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation.

But during a Fox News interview Sunday, he said former CIA Director John Brennan still needs to answer questions.

Host Maria Bartiromo asked the California congressman which agency, the FBI or CIA, was more likely to have lined up confidential sources to make contact with members of the Trump campaign, under suspicion for ties to Russia.

“Well, as you know, we have jurisdiction over both FBI and CIA and what they do overseas," Nunes said on Sunday Morning Futures. "We have lots of information about FBI people going overseas and doing things, we don’t really have any information from CIA."

He added, "So far, they’ve really come clean. I would say the only one who has questions to answer is John Brennan, because we now know that John Brennan briefed Harry Reid on the dossier in August 2016. At the same time he never briefed me or Paul Ryan who was the speaker of the House at the time.”

BREAKING: ODNI Dan Coats Gone – President Trump Nominates John Ratcliffe as Replacement…
This was rumored earlier today [New York Times] and [Axios]. Now Confirmed.

President Trump has announced via Twitter that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is departing. He will be leaving office on August 15th, 2019. President Trump has announced the nomination of Representative John Ratcliffe to be the next head of the Office of Director of National Intelligence.

Representative John Ratcliffe is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee. Ratcliffe is one of only a few people who has seen all of the unredacted DOJ and FBI evidence within the documents congress has previously asked the President to declassify.

Representative John Ratcliffe currently holds a top-level security clearance. John Ratcliffe is very even tempered albeit direct by natural disposition.

Ratcliffe’s nomination, and confirmation should be unremarkable.

However, due to the information that Ratcliffe already holds about the overall intelligence community operation in 2015 through 2019, we can expect the deepest part of the Deep State to immediately begin a process to impede any confirmation effort. Ratcliffe is a risk, and he will likely be controversialized in a political effort to block his nomination.

I predict an attempt to block the nomination.

Linked by EBL in Darleen Love: PainkillerAugust Alsina: GhettoNational Water Balloon DayTulsi take on Kamala. Update: Gabbard wins Drudge pollHarriet Tubman was a Republican who supported the 2nd AmendmentMarianne Williamson: I am not a wacky new age nutcase 🌰 Update: Wins Drudge PollOnce Upon A Time In... Hollywood: A Review,  🐔 Chicken Wing Day 🐔 and Rat Rule 5 🐀🐀🐀.

Blue Monday

What is Blue Monday?
It is calculated using a series of factors in a (not particularly scientific) mathematical formula.

The factors are: the weather, debt level (specifically, the difference between debt and our ability to pay), the amount of time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Claudia Cardinale raring to go at The Other McCain.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

A Weird One

So I went out into the garden with the camera today to look for butterflies, and there in front of me on the deck was this one:

It is clearly a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, but the color pattern is off. As you may (or may not) know, females Eastern Tigers come in two morphs, a yellow morph, like all the males, except for the blue field on the hind wings:

and the black, or dark morph, thought to be mimic of the poisonous and inedible Pipevine Swallowtail:

But this one seems to be splitting the difference. Much lighter than the black morph, it's like a yellow morph covered in soot, and with a wedge of darkness from the top of the wing to the tail:

Still Too Much Russiagate

And, of course, Muellermas continues to be the main topic of discussion. Mark Levin: ‘There is no Mueller report. It’s a Weissmann report’ at CR. Not exactly an original thought, but he says it so well:

The Weissmann Dossier, Illustrated at Doug Ross. From NR, Andrew McCarthy gives a legal analysis of  The Mueller Report’s Fundamental Dodge, the charade they played with not finding the President not guilty of obstruction.
Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony was such a bumbling fiasco that it was easy for a viewer to be confused — and stay that way — about the main bone of Democratic contention regarding his report: the “OLC guidance” that prevents the Justice Department from charging a president with crimes while he is in office. Specifically, how did it factor into the special counsel’s decision — or, rather, non-decision — on the main question he was appointed to answer: Did President Trump obstruct justice? How did the special counsel’s dubious reliance on it as a rationale for abdicating on this question affect the publication and ramifications of the Mueller report?

We’ve plowed this ground before, but it is worth revisiting. We will do that in this weekend’s two-part series. This is Part 1. . . 
John Kass, ChiTrib,  Democrats suffer anxiety attacks over Robert Mueller testimony, and blame him rather than themselves "It’s all clearly unfair to Mueller. It was as if you were watching an aging uncle sitting helplessly in a dentist’s chair for a root canal, his one foot kicking."

Derek Hunter at Town Hall has a similar theme, Democrats Have Lost What Was Left Of Their Minds
Democrats are running out of silver bullets to take out President Trump. First, they thought he’d implode. He didn’t. They said he’d destroy the economy, it’s thriving. They swore he colluded with Russia. He didn’t. The promised the Mueller report would change minds. It didn’t. They switched their focus to obstruction of justice. No one cared.
At WaEx, Don Jr.: 'The inmates were running the asylum' during Mueller investigation.

Sundance at CTH, Aftermath of Mueller…. and  Behind The Schemes – Doug Collins and Devin Nunes Discuss Mueller’s Testimony…

The Grouchy Old Cripple waxes eloquently on The Day After Muellermas "I heard part of it on the radio and it was like the dude didn’t even read his own report. Even with the Dimocrat members of the committees asking leading questions he was still clueless."

Althouse piles on, "When congressional staffers, prompted by repeated media inquiries, asked Mueller’s team about his cognitive acuity, they were told — three separate times — that he was okay...." From Bruce Hayden in the comments"
“They tried to thread the needle to allow Democrats to mount a political argument that Trump obstructed justice which danced around the legal definition of what obstruction actually is and might have gotten away with it if Barr hadn't stomped that nonsense into the dirt right away”

Agreed that Barr stomped the nonsense. But note that he started it with his June, 2018 memo to DAG Rosenstein eviscerating the Weissman/Wittes Obstruction theory. But I think that a good part of the reason that the Mueller prosecutors intentionally misinterpreted that OLC opinion was that it might be argued to allow them to include their ten or so supposed instances of possible Obstruction in Part 2 of 5heir Report. The Weissman/Wittes Obstruction interpretation that is n display in their Report has never been tried in court, and was rejected by AG Barr, DAG Rosenstein, and maybe most importantly, OLC. It takes one clause in one Obstruction statute out of context, ignores centuries old statutory construction rules, and attempts to turn the required Mens Rea from specific intent into general intent. Not going to work, and everyone knew it with Barr now AG.

The Mueller team essentially had three alternatives. They could play it straight, and declare no Obstruction under the statutory interpretation, and nothing more. They could use their own statutory interpretation, conclude that there was Obstruction based on their general intent Mens Rea standard, have Barr and Rosenstein reject their conclusion as being in violation of DoJ rules and statutory interpretations, require a do over, ending up identically as with the first alternative. Or, they could pretend that they couldn’t decide based on theNOLC opinion about indicting Presidents, and throw their rejected statutory interpretation, along with a lot of dirt, into the report, throwing the decision to Barr and Rosenstein, knowing exactly what they were going to do. For obvious, highly partisan reasons, they picked this third alternative.
At WaPoo (30 day pass near expiration), Mueller’s team is said to have told Congress his acuity was not an issue. Some lawmakers privately worry it was and Kathleen Parker wants A medal of honor for Mueller.

At AmGreat, Victor Davis Hanson writes Progressives Face a Bleak Post-Mueller Landscape; "Perhaps they feel in the political sense that there is nothing to move on to. And they are probably right."

Dov Fischer at AmSpec, On the Tragedy of Robert Mueller as John Gill. I had to read it just to figure out who John Gill was.
The Robert Mueller Circus on Wednesday thus was a human tragedy of many dimensions. I never knew the man he is said to have been, and I do not know him now. Sadly, apparently neither does he. His quiet retirement from public life and fading into the woodwork of social wall-paneling would have been a well-deserved phase, earned after decades of public service — except for one thing that justifies not letting him go gentle into that good night.

That one thing is that he allowed his name to be used for two years to do terrible damage. To our country. To our society. To the President of the United States. And also to certain individual human beings whose lives have been destroyed in his name, though apparently not by him.
From WaEx, Trump: 'Mueller made Biden look like a dynamo'. Nice bank shot!

In the impeachment follies, Byron York at WaEx warns that the Impeachment charade deepens divide between Democratic leaders and voters as the Atlantic explains Why We’re Moving Forward With Impeachment "Our Constitution requires it. Our democracy depends on it." Drama queens. At WaFreeBee, CNN Analyst Phil Mudd: Democrats Need to ‘Shut Up’ About Impeachment. I'm pretty sure he doesn't have Trump's interests at heart. From Althouse , "... a legal maneuver that carries significant political overtones..." with respect to Fat Jerry's demand for secret grand jury testimony.
Ah, the subtle humor of the NYT.

I'm reading "Raising Prospect of Impeaching Trump, House Seeks Mueller’s Grand Jury Secrets/In a court filing, House Democrats said they need access to secret grand jury evidence because they are weighing whether to recommend impeaching President Trump"
. . .
They're asking the judge to take over where they could act and have chosen not to. Courts should stay out of politics when they can, and this is an example of political actors using a court to do what they lack the political will to do for themselves.

Of course, everyone can see that they won't take a vote because they know they will lose.
MSNBC whines, ‘We in the Media’ Failed to Explain Russia Probe in ‘Bite-Sized Way’ for Public.
"We in the media didn't do a good-enough job of summarizing in kind of a bite-sized way. It took us too long," he said. "The Democrats could have done the same thing, like why not get everything on a three-by-five card that we just say over and over and over?"

"The sorry thing is we put everything on the shoulders of Robert Mueller, and he obviously is not a partisan, and he didn't want to be part of that," he added.
What might be real news from Bonchie at Red State, DOJ Seeks Secret Tape Between Papadopoulos And Informant, Called A “Game Changer”
So who is on the recordings? The best guess is that it’s Steven Halper and Azra Turk. Turk is known for having asked Papadopoulus if Trump was working for the Russians. At this point, it’s essentially been confirmed that she was an FBI informant, with even The New York Times reporting on it. This of course all leads back to Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious man who first told Papadopoulus the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. That was the beginning of the investigation dubbed Crossfire Hurricane. The lack of prosecution against Mifsud, despite the fact that he lied to the FBI and Mueller’s team at least three times, points to the fact that he was also working for U.S. intelligence, otherwise there would be no reason to continue protecting him.

When you put all this together, you get Papadopoulus as nothing more than a poor sucker who was baited by the U.S. government and used as a pretext to start an investigation against the Trump campaign.

If this recording turns out to show that Papadopoulus actually rebuffed Halper or even that his interest was mostly innocent, it’s going to be another black eye against the FBI’s conduct. I say FBI because if the CIA is involved, then things really get bad for the government from a legal standpoint. Hopefully, AG Barr and the Durham investigation are getting to the bottom of this. The fact that they are going after these recordings does give me hope that they are pulling on every thread.

Time is of the essence though. This can’t drag out into the 2020 election. Things need to start going public sooner rather than later.
Sundance, Comey Memo Update: DOJ Requests More Time to Respond – More Effort to Block Release…
In our opinion the content of the diary by former FBI Director James Comey, as outlined in what has formally been called “The Comey Memos”, is devastating to the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI. How do we know? Because the FBI is fighting like hell to keep even descriptions of the memo(s) content from becoming public.
. . .
The Comey Memos cut to the heart of the issues Special Counsel Robert Mueller said were outside his purview. The Comey Memos describe the FBI operation and intent during the 2016 election. The Archey Declarations describe the Comey Memos.

The content could be very revealing.
Sara Carter has some new information on the Maria Buttina affair, literally: Russia Probe Twist: A Billion Dollar CEO, A Convicted Russian Agent And The FBI
On Thursday, Driscoll sent a letter to United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation; Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is conducting an investigation into the bureau’s origins of the Trump probe and Corey Amundson, with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

“In writing, the government denied the existence of any such Brady material,” Driscoll stated in his letter. “Orally, during debrief sessions with Maria, I directly told the government that I believed Patrick Byrne, Chief Executive of, who had a sporadic relationship with Maria over a period of years prior to her arrest, was a government informant. My speculation was flatly denied. My associate Alfred Carry made similar assertions in a separate debrief that he covered and was also rebuffed.”

“Mr. Byrne has now contacted me and has confirmed that he, indeed, had a ‘non-standard arrangement’ with the FBI for many years, and that beginning in 2015 through Maria’s arrest, he communicated and assisted government agents with their investigation of Maria. During this time, he stated he acted at the direction of the government and federal agents by, at their instruction, kindling a manipulative romantic relationship with her. He also told me that some of the details he provided the government regarding Maria in response was exculpatory—that is, he reported to the government that Maria’s behavior and interaction with him was inconsistent with her being a foreign agent and more likely an idealist and age-appropriate peace activist.”

“As an adjunct university professor and CEO of a public company, Mr. Byrne is a credible source of information, who from my view has little to gain but much to lose by disclosing a sporadic relationship with Maria. His claims are worthy of investigation. Indeed, he has much to say about the government’s handling of Maria’s case that go far beyond the Brady issue I raise in this letter. Regardless of these other issues, which I suggest you pursue directly with him, I was told the following by Mr. Byrne,” Driscoll’s letter states.
I think Butina got a raw deal in the FBI effort to smear the NRA with Russian collusion. She almost certainly was acting as an unofficial lobbyist for Russia and technically in violation of FARA, which in my view, is a violation of the 1st Amendment.

From meaning in history, WSJ Publishes Russian Meddling Conspiracy Theory. Put on your tinfoil cap and read it.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Claudia Cardinale and FMJRA 2.0: This Is My Rifle raring to go at The Other McCain.