The Black Hole Where SSCI’s Current Understanding of WikiLeaks Is

Four years after it started, the Senate Intelligence Committee continues its investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, this week releasing the report on what the Obama Administration could have done better. For a variety of reasons, these reports have been as interesting for their redactions or silences as for what the unredacted bits say.

This latest report is no different.

Putin responded to Obama’s warnings by waggling his nukes

The most interested unredacted bit pertains to Susan Rice’s efforts, scheduled to occur just before ODNI and DHS released their report attributing the hack to Russia, to warn Russia against continuing to tamper in the election. That would place the meeting at just about precisely the moment the Access Hollywood video and Podesta email release happened, a big fuck you even as Obama was trying to do something about the tampering. The meeting also would have occurred during the period when Sergei Kislyak was bitching about FBI efforts to prevent Russia from sending election observers to voting sites.

The description of the meeting between Rice and Kislyak is redacted. But the report does reveal, for the first that I heard, that Russia responded to being warned by raising its nukes.

Approximately a week after the October 7. 2016. meeting, Ambassador Kislyak asked to meet with Ambassador Rice to deliver Putin’s response. The response, as characterized by Ambassador Rice, was “denial and obfuscation,” and “[t]he only thing notable about it is that Putin somehow deemed it necessary to mention the obvious fact that Russia remains a nuclear power.”

This exchange is all the more interesting given that there’s an entirely redacted bullet (on page 37) describing actions that “Russian cyber actors” took after Obama warned Putin. Given that the state and county scanning and the alleged hack of VR Systems shows up, there’s something we either still don’t know about or SSCI continues to hide more details of the VR Systems hack.

The page long post-election response to the election year attack

The longest subsection in a section devoted to describing Obama’s response is redacted (pages 39-41).

Here’s what the timing of the unredacted parts of that section is:

  • A: Expulsion of Russian diplomats (December 29, 2016)
  • B: Modifying the EO and sanctions (December 29, 2016)
  • C: redacted
  • D: Cybersecurity action in the form of the issuance of two technical reports (December 29, 2016 and February 10, 2017)
  • E: Tasking the ICA Report (initiated December 6, 2016; completed December 30, 2016; published January 5 and 6, 2017)
  • F: Protecting election infrastructure (January 5, 2017)

That might suggest that whatever secret action the Obama Administration took happened right in December, with everything else.

John Brennan was proved fucking right

There’s a redacted passage that may undermine the entire premise of the John Durham investigation, which purports to review what agencies, other than FBI, did to lead to an investigation focused on Trump’s campaign. Some reporting suggests Durham is investigating whether CIA tricked FBI into investigating Trump’s flunkies.

But this report describes how, in spite of knowing about related Russian hacks in 2015 and Russia’s habit of leaking information they stole, the IC really wasn’t aware of what was going on until John Brennan got an intelligence tip during the summer of 2016. That intelligence tip was described at length in a WaPo story that resembles this section of the report.

Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.

But at the highest levels of government, among those responsible for managing the crisis, the first moment of true foreboding about Russia’s intentions arrived with that CIA intelligence.

The section in this report is redacted.

Effectively, this report seems to confirm the WaPo reporting (which may have been based off sources close to those who testified to SSCI). It also emphasizes the import of this intelligence. But for this intelligence, the IC may have continued to remain ignorant of Putin’s plans for the operation.

The IC won’t let SSCI share its current understanding of WikiLeaks

But the most interesting redactions pertain to WikiLeaks.

There are four redacted paragraphs describing how hard it was for the IC to come up with a consensus attribution for the hack and leak operation.

Senior administration officials told the Committee that they hesitated to publicly attribute the cyber efforts to Russia m1til they had sufficient information on the penetration of the DNC network and the subsequent disclosure of stolen information via WikiLeaks, DCLeaks, and Guccifer 2.0.

More interesting still, almost the entirety of the page-plus discussion (relying on testimony from Ben Rhodes, Michael Daniel, Paul Selva, Mike Rogers, and others) of why it took so long to understand WikiLeaks remains redacted.

One reference that is unredacted, however, describes WikiLeaks as “coopted.”

This information would be of particular interest as the prosecution of Julian Assange goes forward. That — and the fact that some of this determination, relying as it does on former NSA Director Mike Rogers, appears to rely on NSA information — may be why it remains redacted.

Update: I’ve deleted the remainder of this post. It came from Wyden’s views, not the report itself.

40 replies
  1. Molly Pitcher says:

    Is there hope that with a Democrat in the White House and even a tiny Senate majority that the truth about this can come out ? I worry that it will take so long to clean out the Augean Stables that the GOP has created throughout the Government, that truth about the Russian interference will not be foremost in priority.

  2. Mitch Neher says:

    Repeated from the SSCI report:

    At the least, stories about Democratic emails might have mentioned that their release was part of a Russian influence campaign and that Donald Trump’s repeated references to the releases, his stated adoration of WikiLeaks, and his solicitation of Russian assistance were taking place in the context of an ongoing influence campaign to assist him.

    [end excerpt]

    So it’s not the fault of any Republican that their nominee for president solicited Russian assistance for his campaign. Instead, it’s Obama’s fault and the fault of Susan Rice and John Brennan and poor Ben Rhodes.

    This, too, must be what Republicans mean by their use of the word “bipartisan.” They’ve been blaming things on Democrats for so long now that a public warning about Russian meddling in a US election could not have been a “bipartisan public warning” unless and until the Democrats had taken their own bipartisan, fair share of the blame for Trump’s solicitation of Russian interference to assist him in his campaign.

    When I was a kid growing up, that blame-sharing excuse never worked for me. In fact, any kind of a flimsy excuse like that always made the punishment far, far worse. Who parented these Republicans???

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Yeah, as much as Moscow Mitch put the kibosh on any bipartisan public response, it was clear that elite media was completely beholden to the drip-feed of The Emails (for all definitions of “emails”) and will continue to be so, as long as the president uses every tool imaginable to keep his own secrets secret and manufacture the exposure of “secrets” out of other people’s private information.

    I’d normally think of “coopted” to mean “unwitting”, but I’m not sure that applies here. Steele was coopted by disinfo in his source network; with Wikileaks, it was more like “‘that’s not my department,’ says Wernher Assange.”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      I have a much more nefarious sense of coopted here. Names that come to mind are Putin, Trump (including generous donors and staff/cronies,) Assange, and maybe some Brits, Turks, Israelis thrown in the mix.

    • orionATL says:

      it may not be realistic, but it is not inconceivable that oleg derispaska was working directly with the trump campaign in 2016, or simply serving as a courier between trump and putin. the gateway into the trump campaign inner sanctum would have been the relationship between ivanka trump and deripaska’s business partner’s ex-wife dasha zhukova who was good friend’s with ivanka.

      if deripaska did influence the steel report it may have been to aid the trump campaign should the report gain public standing (which it never did).

      similarly, deripaska publicly undermining manafort might have been at the encouraging of the ivanka/jared team if they had come to distrust manafort. far fetched maybe, but the communication channel certainly existed. it would have been a great temptation resisted for deripaska not to use it in some fashion.

    • Wombat says:

      Augean stables is an excellent metaphor. I will use that. Keep in mind as well, that while the task was… herculean, the stables did end up clean.

  4. orionATL says:

    while the fbi took the lead domestically and eventually got all the publicity and criticism (under attack from our president and putin’s partner), I have always wondered if the the nsa and the cia were not conducting their own silent analyses (investigations) independent of but parallel to the fbi’s. they would have been expected to have been doing so; now it is clear that indeed they were. further, it seems clear that that beaten-down, benighted british spymaster christopher steele had got it right after all (and before all 😅).

    we now know that the intent of the russians to damage clinton as much as possible was known with confidence as early as june, 2016. this was just in the time frame of the famous june 9, 2016 meeting in trump tower between putin’s emisaries and all the senior members of trump’s presidential campaign.

    this may explain why as soon after he was elected as feasible, trump felt the need to get rid of rodgers, brennan, and clapper, as well as comey, why he continues to threaten brennan with dire consequences, and why he appointed someone as compromised as gina haspel as his head of the cia.

    it seems remarkable that the senate select committee on intelligence would have released even this much information, but this effort may have been intended to support trump’s claim that president obama failed to prevent the russian attacks. however, one should be careful about whom one tries to bury, lest at some future time, another president will feel obliged to release this information to the nation in much greater detail so that donald trump’s place in american history can be properly evaluated and secured.

    in any event, the ssci information release was timely in that it served to remind the nation of the presidential political and behavioral background to the impeachment and trial of that just occurred.

    • Vicks says:

      Trump and his team have worked tirelessly to build the MAGA machine, his “followers” have been groomed by the best and will not just accept anything shoved down their Hannity holes they are WAITING for it like trained seals or monkeys or cult members.
      Another boring report about Russia, Russia, Russia?
      Child’s play.
      Have the “news” division tell them about all the “things liberals don’t want you to hear” in this report (like the parts about their favorite bogeyman) and they will have put this thing to bed.
      If it is ever brought up they will say “Obama”

  5. greengiant says:

    Do not Barr’s recent announcements to control investigations and assessments pertain to not only 2020 activities but the 2016, 2017 and 2018 elections as well.

    • Vicks says:

      So far it looks like the rules will be flexible and a lot May depend on whether the administration requires a particular butt covered or kicked.

  6. Vicks says:

    Not too wild of a guess that the “source deep inside the Russian government” was the same guy or gal we learned was safely extricated from Russia in a top secret mission in 2017?
    And then moved again because of a security scare?
    While there is no proof it was someone in Trump world that was causing concern for this persons safety at the time, I have seen enough be fearful for any American gathering intelligence against a country run by one of Trump’s dictator bro’s.

  7. Katherine M Williams says:

    It is appalling that our vaunted Intelligence services didn’t know that the USA was under attack by Russia till Midsummer of 2016. It seems to me I read allegations of this earlier than that date, surely the NSA etc. had info before that.

    It’s even more appalling to think the Intelligence community knew Russia had declared war upon the United States, but did and said nothing. Did and do they hate the Democratic Party Leadership that much? Are they so terrified at the prospect of a somewhat Socialist US (it wouldn’t have happened under Hillary, anyway) that they preferred a Hitler-like madman to be president? That they, apparently, still prefer Trump & Moscow Mitch?

    • P J Evans says:

      There are rules about releasing classified information, and people who work with that information understand why.
      That the agencies are being politicized from the top down is the problem.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      The “Moonlight Maze” (the program name that traced nation-state hacking to Russia) APT was first detected in 1996. Surely the NSA (and the FBI and JTF-CND) did have info before 2016.

  8. Peterr says:

    I want to get into the Putin waggling his nukes stuff, but let me start with some context. Just before the quote above about Putin mentioning his nukes in his reply to Obama’s warning, the report describes the warning itself and how it was delivered:

    3. (U) Presidents Obama and Putin
    (U) Ambassador Rice, with input from other senior administration officials, recommended to President Obama that he issue a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 020 Summit in Hangzhou, China. She recalled that the 020 summit was:

    the best target of opportunity to put the finger right into Putin ‘s chest and tell him that we knew what he was doing, that it needs to stop, and that if there were further indications that they had taken steps beyond what we knew they had already done, that there would be serious consequences for the Russians. 103

    [three lines redacted, leading into this:] 104 The message was carefully crafted and coordinated with members of the small group of principals. It was ultimately delivered by President Obama to President Putin at the conclusion of a bilateral meeting held during the 020 summit, with only interpreters and the two heads of state present. 105 While subsequent news media reporting claims specific threats were made, Ambassador Rice told the Committee that the consequences for the Russians were purposely left ambiguous by the President in an effort to intimate that a range of diplomatic, economic, [xxxxxxxxx] options were available to use in response to Russia. 106

    (U) Ambassador Rice stated that, “[t]he President characterized Putin as being dishonest and obfuscating, denying any Russian involvement, criticizing the United States for interfering in Russian electoral processes and fomenting Orange revolutions in their territory.” She further stated that Putin’s response was an “energetic” and “non-substantive” denial. 107

    The short redaction about the kinds of possible options available for a possible US response to continued meddling would have to be something very short, as the list form would suggest “and xxxxx” as the missing phrase. Most likely to me is “a range of diplomatic, economic, and cyber options”

    In addition to this Obama-to-Putin meeting on September 5, there was a Rice-to-Kislyak meeting a month later:

    (U) On the same day as the issuance of the ODNI-DHS public statement on October 7. 2016 (see infra), Ambassador Rice called Sergey Kislyak. the Russian Ambassador to the United States, to her office to deliver a verbal message and pass a written message from President Obama to President Putin. The written message was a more specific warning that contained “the kinds of consequences that he could anticipate would be powerfully impactful to their economy and far exceed anything that he had seen to date.”108 According to Ambassador Rice, such a meeting was not a regular occurrence. nor was the passage of a written note from President Obama to be delivered directly to President Putin. The exchange was scheduled to occur just prior to the release of the ODNI-DHS statement.109

    This is followed by a nine line redacted paragraph (with three footnotes), which is likely a description of the specific conversation between Rice and Kislyak, and probably also includes more discussion of the specifics of the consequences Russia could anticipate. After this, the report gives its description of Putin’s reply quoted in the post above, coming one week later.

    So think about this.

    An “ambiguous” threat of “serious consequences” is issued in an extremely private Obama-Putin-interpreters meeting, and this is followed a month later by “a more specific warning” that laid out “specific consequences” to the Russian economy that would “far exceed” anything they’d seen before. Note, please, that this is Obama speaking (via Rice), not Trump. Trump is known for his frequent use of superlatives, even when they do not apply, but Obama used them sparingly. The use here would have been noted immediately as a sign of Obama’s seriousness, not of mere Trumpian posturing.

    The threat to Russia’s economy could be not only additional trade sanctions but also harsher banking and financial system sanctions. In addition, if “and cyber” is the correct conclusion to the sentence describing the range of options, this would ramp up the threat exponentially. It suggests to me possible attacks aimed at the disruption of internal Russian economic activity – corruption of the computers that manage the Russian aviation and rail systems, screwing with the power grid, etc.

    If these are the kind of specifics that Rice’s conversation with Kislyak and the note from Obama that she gave him contained, then Putin’s mention of nukes in his reply carries two meanings. The first is that the reference was rhetorical shorthand meant to say “Russia is a member of the most exclusive club of nations in the world, and we don’t get pushed around like some little third world country.” The other, more ominous possibility, is that this was a very literal comment in response to Obama’s very direct threat to seriously mess with the Russian economy. “Screw with our economy, and we have some very serious possible options of our own.”

    These exchanges were not crafted for public consumption. Neither Obama nor Putin were saying these things to look tough in the eyes of their own citizens. They were talking to each other, and doing so in a manner that kept the conversation extremely tightly held. The report details that Obama consulted with a narrow range of advisors and one presumes Putin did the same. Obama and Rice were delivering a powerful message, and Putin’s mention of nukes – from Rice’s characterization, likely a passing reference rather than a direct threat — is a sign that he got Obama’s message loud and clear and was replying in kind.

    • orionATL says:

      this comment is nicely laid out and reasoned.

      on this conclusion:

      “…They were talking to each other, and doing so in a manner that kept the conversation extremely tightly held. The report details that Obama consulted with a narrow range of advisors and one presumes Putin did the same. Obama and Rice were delivering a powerful message, and Putin’s mention of nukes – from Rice’s characterization, likely a passing reference rather than a direct threat — is a sign that he got Obama’s message loud and clear and was replying in kind.”

      i took putin mentioning nuclear missles to be defensive on his part, not muscle-flexing, since nuclear misslery is about all the “serious” traditional power that russia has at its disposal, both militarily and economically. there is however a new power that russia is leading the world in developing – slowly disassembling a nation’s social structure and political cohesiveness thru cyber warfare and political manipulation, as americans are still learning. this approach has proved powerful and cheap and effective, both here and in other nations where the russian government has applied it. it does require, however, the willing co-operation of some political component(s) of the target nation.

      • BobCon says:

        The nuke mention seems odd to me, even in passing, because it would seem to imply weakness and lack of options, not strength.

        I would have a hard time imagining China needing to play that card; it comes across as something more like a move Pakistan might make. I wonder if it is a sign of how threatened Putin felt.

      • drouse says:

        It’s the Russian version of the madman strategy. He’s pretty much counting on the reputation that Russians have for being nihilistic. The idea is to make opponents pause and think about just how far we can go in calling his bluff. Do we take the chance of Putin saying fuck it and if I go down I’m taking everybody with me? After all, he knows the world realizes that he has enough military strength to bully his neighbors but not to take on NATO. So if it comes to open conflict, it’s not really implausible for it to be a short road to escalation.

        Putin already already considers himself to be at war with the US and has since about 2014. He blames the US in general and Hillary in particular for fomenting the various color revolutions that gave him such grief. He also, by all reports, considers our(relentless from his point of view) expansion of NATO to be a betrayal of assurances given after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. So we fight. Us in the realm money and trade and him using the openness of our systems to weaken us internally. Because open conflict might have a short fuse.

  9. Eureka says:

    Sometimes thinking about 2016 I just go back to the contemporaneous basics: Putin hated (hates) HRC, longstanding; DNC hacked; WL dumps it (some).

    I know there was (is) a lot more scaffolding and events, but those three simple reported facts made it clear enough what was going on, and I always assumed that our IC knew much, much, more than those. I appreciate evidentiary constraints and proper attribution as much as the next person, but darn it’s frustrating.

    • orionATL says:

      i feel the same, yet there is much comfort and confidence in those conclusions i hold gained by reading the factually deeper and more luxuriously analytical accounts posted here.

      for example, i don’t have any trouble saying that michael flynn is lying about lying, nor that i believe his attorney is trying to run a con game on the court. but that is a belief on my part, not an established fact. this detailed analysis and others that preceded it give me confidence in my much simpler assertion:

      more to the topic here, i have long been of the opinion that paul manafort (working with and thru kilimnik) was effectively a russian agent whom the trump campaign understood to be so and willingly used for its advantage with that knowledge. the careful tracking of the relationship between manafort, his own business needs, and the trump campaign detailed here over time has revealed information that causes me to question whether perhaps the trump campaign may have simply stumbled onto manafort by his (and roger stone’s) design and not as a trump effort to coordinate directly with the russian government. the latest installment of that tracking is this:

      in general, the meticulous research that gets written up here is, to me, very close to first-rate science or history research and legions distant from what is referred to as journalism in this country. by this i mean very specifically the standards of evidence and the reasoning used here, what would be referred to as the methodology of first-rate science or first-rate historical research. while experimentation would seem completely out in the subject matters covered at emptywheel, even that is not entirely excluded since one can read here comparisons of different versions of a political tale.

      all of this careful analysis gives me support for my simpler view of events – at least where I choose to accept it 😅.

    • timbo says:

      Hmm. Putin wants to control Ukraine completely, to return it completely to the Russian fold. It does not matter who he hates or doesn’t hate within our leadership really. For Putin and Russian nationalists generally, it is more a matter of military and economic policy. To get a “Great” in your name as a Russian leader, you must do something ‘expansive’.

      The crisis in Ukraine is not some sort of modern ahistorical aberration. The history of Crimea and its association within the Russian nationalist psyche runs much deeper than any transient US politicians. Dangerously, it appears that it also runs deeper than many current US political leaders in the West seem to even be able to fathom.

      Looking back, it is a miracle of >our modern< diplomacy that Ukraine even disarmed the nukes it gained when the Soviet Union was disbanded. We are now on the hook for having brokered that…and Putin's game is to get us to back down, leaving Ukraine fully in the Russian sphere once again, status quo ante to the nuclear issue we helped resolve for the new Russian leaders in the 1990s, status quo ante to the dissolution of Greater Russia.

      • Eureka says:

        I have no idea what the opening of your comment has to do with mine besides that it supports the entire point of why he hated HRC since her SoS years / policies, particularly on Ukraine. And Putin and his oligarchs and their cash.

        As for:

        It does not matter who he hates or doesn’t hate within our leadership really.

        Go back to 2013, 2014, etc. and tell that to Putin.

        Putin did not want HRC to become POTUS for all of those reasons. That was the big public hook for many GOPers to publicly display their “better relations with Russia / contra HRC” schtick (and I know some of that has been linked here before, such as a ~ ca 2014/2015 Marsha Blackburn appearance with Larry King to later air on RU-owned media, etc.).

        Oh, and then to state the *real* obvious, why, then, did Putin aim to thwart the election of HRC (citation: The Mueller Report).

        • Eureka says:

          And why bother with recourse to history *when the same damn conspiracy continues to play out before our very eyes*.

  10. Zinsky says:

    If Democrats were smart, they would use this information and inform the American public of two things: (1) Russia obliquely suggested they might use their nukes if Obama pushed the cyber hacking assertions, and (2) that Brennan was not acting without cause in being concerned about the Russian cyber interference and initiating surveillance of some Trump campaign operatives. Not that any of the conservative rabble would listen or heed the information but it might help “inoculate” the Dems from Durham’s undoubtedly biased conclusions!

      • drouse says:

        Here I was under the impression that they are being a bit over hyped. Terminal guidance for those things are likely to be iffy. When the shuttle program was still running, during reentry there was always a period where communications cut out during the phase when slowing from orbital velocities down to merely supersonic. That’s a hypersonic missile’s entire flight envelope. Also there is the weapon and there is the delivery system. According to Wikipedia, the Russians have just 10 of the MIG-31 variant equipped to launch it.

  11. orionATL says:

    guess who stopped by our house early last wednesday afternoon?

    wednesday, you may remember, was the day after tuesday which was the day the sun was not supposed to rise, at least if you read monday’s late headlines in marty baron’s wapoop or dean baquet’s ny(twit)times about the world-ending tragedy in Iowa.

    but i’m here to tell you it wasn’t quite as bad as written up. so the sun rose – twice more – and the doorbell rang, followed by a couple of sharp, loud knocks. at the door was a pleasant young woman, speaking confidently. she was selling something – a political candidate.

    we have a combative senate replacement campaign going on in georgia between the wife of the owner of the new york stock exchange (among other exchanges), kelly loeffler, and congressman doug collins. our president used to like Collins, but came to favor loeffler for the senate seat.

    we also have a democratic primary vote in georgia scheduled for sometime in late march (24th).

    our young canvasser asked if we knew of the candidate. we did. she asked our opinion of the person; nothing special. she emphasized some issues of importance to the candidate. one of these, astonishingly, this being georgia, was gun control, which happens to be of importance to us. she gave us more background on the candidate, much of it known to us for reasons having little to do with politics. then she departed, leaving us with a neat, narrow pamphlet full of “deliverables” such as “protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions…” – again, in Georgia! and “fight climate change and move county toward 100% renewable”.

    but, not surprising for American political candidates not named warren, nothing at all said about the throttling of political discourse and choices by the preponderance of corporate power and money.

    so who was this young canvasser presenting to our neighborhood in her door to door search for support?

    Michael Bloomberg – 7 weeks before the georgia democratic primary.

    • BobCon says:

      Very interesting stuff. I’m not surprised at all he has the data side figured out. I have little doubt he is not messing around with hacks like Shadow. Of course, the Dems would be better off if they had a national infrastructure doing this stuff now up and down the ballot.

    • Eureka says:

      Nice story, I enjoyed it. Our primary (PA) is much later. However, if those assholes show up at our house they will hear two words: KATIE MCGINTY. If the canvasser gives a quizzical look, they’ll get two more: PAT TOOMEY. And then a pyroclastic flow shall roll.

      NB/TL;DR: Bloomie helped to elect Toomey with piles of his cash.

      • Eureka says:

        ^ oh, and I’m pretty sure they won’t show, because of whatever they’ve got in their “computer.”

      • BobCon says:

        What was his stated reason? Toomey has always been a right winger, he doesn’t even have the thinnest hint of independence that Collins supposedly has.

        • Eureka says:

          The stated reason was some thin shared-affinity for gun control/ reform (bipartisan!) with Toomey. Couple of good Politico pieces on it (then and more recently).

          Some discussion and links here (through the tweet Rayne posted — IIRC, that goes to Politico):

          Per usual Rayne was ahead of her time on this post. By all accounts*, it looks like these issues need a national airing.

          *e.g. Orion above; Will Bunch was recently tweeting about PA suburbanites (his suburb) of all people going for Bloomberg out of safety (his correspondents from other areas chimed in with similar tales); etc.

        • orionATL says:


          – democratic muckty-mucks are said to be concerned that the Iowa turnout was low. that doesn’t surprise me. folks were probably out on their farms worrying about the damage trade wars have done and losing their land as a consequence.

          – it may not be long before the dem candidates are referred to as the “x dwarves” because none standout substantially like clinton did 4 yrs. ago – alas for elizabeth warren who would be an exceptional president in my view, but who may be on her way out the door for reasons of cash.

          – Sanders is already whining about bloomberg buying his way into the dem party. this from the self-styled something-or-another-socialist guy who hustles his way into the party for a few months every 4 yrs. to enhance his electoral chances. one buys one’s way into the presidency these days; that is what the citizens’ united decision was all about.

          – never underestimate the power of teevee advertising, “facebook deep advertising” or no. in 2012 one repub candidate, it may have been ol’ neut gingrich, was doing poorly all along in the primaries. then a sugar daddy, the israel-first American citizen sheldon Adelman, popped up and gave gingrich $25 mill in advertising money. as I recall, for the next two months gingrich led the pack and won the primaries before falling again as the budget ran out.

          stay tuned. it is a fluid situationl

        • Eureka says:

          Yes, very fluid.

          And it would break my heart were Warren to drop out of the race, especially over money. Hang on Liz, we have a plan for that! (I hope)

        • Vicks says:

          Do you think that the fact that most democrats have already stated that they will unconditionally vote for their party’s candidate is going to be an explainer for low turnout in the primaries?
          Could the pressure of making the right decision, and the lack of an obvious standout candidate, create a version of analysis paralysis that keeps already lazy Americans home for this stage?

        • orionATL says:


          this is a story i didn’t know. in fact i don’t know pa politics at all except as reported by friends.

          actually, this sounds like Sen. sanders and gun control.

  12. Eureka says:

    The post title and another comment keep reminding me of this:

    The Night Sky Will Never Be the Same

    Fullish moon and it’s so overcast I can’t even see Elon Musk’s satellites.

    Last night I could see one object, pretty sure it was his — rather than our galaxy’s — by the west-to-east movement *and* the early-stage-LED-like glare (as opposed, to, say, Saturn when it’s visible).

    PBS interstitials used to have these astronomer geek guys who floated on hover boards to MS3K-like music while they foretold what to look for in the sky for the coming week. Will have to track them down.

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