Wag the Dirigible

I have nothing to add to the emerging coverage of DOD’s shootdown of the Chinese spy ballon over Myrtle Beach.

Here’s a great thread from WaPo’s Dan Lamothe.

But I thought I’d make a post where we can all talk about the insanely stupid takes from Republicans.

Also, quite frankly, because I wanted to beat the stupid Republicans to the punch in suggesting that Biden shot down the balloon — AKA Chinese drone — to distract from Hunter Biden’s dick pics, or some such claim.


135 replies
  1. john gurley says:

    Balloon stories are a handy media vehicle for deflecting attention from the 517,000 jobs added in January.

    One reason the job numbers are so high, though, is the usual distortion caused by the “seasonally-adjusted” BLS employment statistics, that get a reset every January..

    • Rayne says:

      That. At first it was going to be 197,000 jobs and softer than December, then ~320,000 jobs.

      517,000 is a blowout and now we’ll hear more whining about inflation because too many people are employed and able to pay their bills.

      Thomas Fuchs nailed it at Mastodon, though:
      https://mstdn.social/@[email protected]/109808248647931485

      The GOP won’t be happy any way any story is sliced. Outrage is all they have to offer this country, no actual effective governance.

      Although the old school GOP squirming as they keep the party’s omerta may be glad something distracted the country from their alternative party leader, Ron DeSantis and his form of book burning in public schools — 175 titles banned including work by Toni Morrison, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Utterly appalling, utterly fascist, and not a peep from the rest of the GOP.

      • punaise says:

        Greg Sargent at WaPo addresses the DeSantis problem:

        The blue Midwest is where DeSantis’s school crackdowns ‘go to die’

        Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, is fond of describing his state as the place “where woke goes to die.”

        If so, perhaps Democratic governors can do more to advertise their states as places where Florida-style school crackdowns go to die.

        And Michigan state Sen. Dayna Polehanki, the new chairwoman of the chamber’s Education Committee, recently vowed that the panel will “listen to educators first” and “will not participate in the demonization of teachers.” Under GOP control, that committee wasted time chasing phantom pedagogical enemies, she says, but now it will pursue legislation making it more attractive for young people to enter the profession.

        The misnamed “parents rights” movement in Florida and elsewhere often deliberately caricatures “woke” educators as the enemies of parents and vulnerable children. In places such as Michigan and Illinois, legislators will instead treat the professionalism of educators as a valuable asset.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Yes, punaise, this kind of crap won’t fly far in those states. I wouldn’t call Michigan blue yet, not while knowing how deeply Trumpy the rural areas have gone. But pragmatic for the most part.

          DeSantis won’t survive national exposure long. Not after racing to the extreme right, and not with his singular lack of charisma, charm or anything else voters gravitate toward.

        • Matt___B says:

          Don’t underestimate that segment of the voting population who don’t give a damn about charisma or charm, but rather a cold, steely and determined presence to usher in soft fascism and make it look normal. He was just an anonymous podunk conservative congressperson from rural Florida not too long ago. But I do resonate with the hope that he won’t survive national exposure…

        • Rugger_9 says:

          DeSantis is one of the GOP Congresscritters linked to Russian hanky-panky before he became Governor of Florida. That will doubtless get more airtime as any campaign progresses, especially if Putin keeps up the war crimes in Ukraine.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          I’m hoping that DeSantis’ connection to Susie Wiles in 2018 may be problematic for him. Then there was also his connection to Lev Parnas. And now DeSantis is a Koch-head.

        • DoctorDoom says:

          Scott Walker, 2 term governor of WI and survivor of a well-organized recall campaign thrived by behaving very similarly to DeSantis. It took a long time for Wisconsinites to catch on to the fascism before he was ousted by Tony Evers. However, it is also worth noting that Walker had no traction on the national stage.

      • Franktoo says:

        The huge increase in jobs in Jan 2023 is likely an artifact of changes to the calculations that were implemented in January. Unfortunately, the link below isn’t very authoritative, but provides a starting place for further research.


        “Further down in the fine print of the actual report is this notification:

        “Effective with data for January 2023, updated population estimates were incorporated into the household survey. Population estimates for the household survey are developed by the U.S. Census Bureau…

        The adjustments increased the estimated size of the civilian noninstitutional
        population in December by 954,000, the civilian labor force by 871,000, employment by 810,000, and unemployment by 60,000.”

        Table C shows the effect of the introduction of new population estimates on the change in selected labor force measures between December 2022 and January 2023.

        Dec.-Jan. change, as published 894
        2023 population control effect 810
        Dec.-Jan. change, after removing the population control effect 84

        Yikes! Over 90% of the employment change reported in the Household Survey was actually a once-a-year adjustment due to Census numbers! The actual Dec.-Jan change, after removing the population control effect was only 84,000 new jobs!

        That is a stunning difference! Nobody would get excited about adding only 84,000 jobs. Instead, the number is far lower than the expectation of over 150,000 new jobs.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m letting this through for discussion purposes but I want to point out to our community members you are linking to a commenter at Motley Fool and not one of their columnists.

          I’m also going to point out the problem with saying this was a one-time adjustment skewing perception. No, it’s a one-time adjustment which means previous reports since the last adjustment were skewed and under reported employment levels.

          An overall higher employment record would certainly explain why according to new estimates US retail sales increased 17.1%, from $5.5 billion in 2020 to $6.5 billion in 2021, from the US Census Bureau’s 2021 Annual Retail Trade Survey. Funny how one-time adjustments work for more than employment.

        • Rayne says:

          Go to the .gov site to which I linked in my comment — you’ll see I’ve very nearly lifted the figures straight from the page.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rumor has it the balloon’s sensors were being jammed while overflying the US and it was shot down so that the debris, from a field about 7 miles long, fell into the ocean inside US national waters, and could be collected, rather than fall in a hot ball on Lindsey Graham’s head on some plantation in South Carolina.

    But Goopers never let a good deed go unpunished. Good governance, like good literature and academic freedom, are things they hate rather than strive to protect.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Alabama has its own state air defense system? Did the Alabama ANG scramble a couple of P-51s to intercept it? WTF would so obvious and well-tracked an object “activate” it? Was the state close to the track of a balloon that traveled from Montana SE to SC? Seems a little out of the way. Or was the activation a Republican stunt?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Maps of the forecasted track do seem to have put the balloon over NE Alabama. Actual track must have been north of that for it to have ended up off SC. My other questions remain.

        • Lika2know says:

          NE Alabama is home to Huntsville with its defense and space engineering focus (Army’s Redstone Arsenal. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, with design, testing, and manufacturing by diverse defense & space companies). When I lived there a decade ago, I was told by cyber security types that spying by Chinese was close to highest in country. That said, even with something like 12 hours coverage (250+ miles each coming and going), unlikely to learn much. IMHO.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          No reason its existence would prompt a supposed state vs. federal “warning” about an object the whole world was watching. If the balloon’s surveillance capability was being jammed, nuffink to see here, especially as the whole story ignores foreign spy satellites.

    • Terry Watt says:

      After President Biden successfully shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina, the Department of Defense made a shocking revelation that at least three Chinese spy balloons flew over the U.S. during Trump’s presidency.

      Donald Trump hid this information from the public and never shot them down. This comes after a week of Republicans using the national security incident to try to score political points.

      • Rayne says:

        We encourage providing links to back up claims. In this case you could have provided the Defense Dept. reporting:

        This graf in particular:

        The balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. Still its intrusion into American airspace over several days was an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. The official said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration.

        Journalists should be asking why there was no disclosure to the public about the previous Chinese incursions of US airspace — and why this one received media attention when the previous three didn’t. Some of this is a story about the media, not just the difference between administrations; they fell for machinations of right-wing operatives and foreign influence ops in 2016, 2018, 2020, and we don’t know if they’ve fallen for it again providing platforms for morons like Sen. Marco Rubio who had nothing to say during the previous airspace incursions but is suddenly a blabbermouth.

        • HikaakiH says:

          “Journalists should be asking why there was no disclosure to the public about the previous Chinese incursions of US airspace — and why this one received media attention when the previous three didn’t.”
          That’s the one, right there!
          Some radio coverage I heard (no link available) suggested that the US was quite capable of jamming any electronic sensors on the balloon as it transited sensitive areas like the missile silos of Montana, and that there was more to gain from observing the balloon’s path and capturing any transmissions it made – spying on the spy – than knocking it out straight away. As an observer with no useful knowledge nor expertise, these seemed like reasonable ideas.

        • Rayne says:

          Journalists aren’t asking if the military under the previous administration jammed the electronics on previous incursions. They’re not even asking about the paths and elevations of previous PRC balloons. Not interviewing other entities which regularly use weather balloons (if any) if this one acted predictably. The media simply isn’t doing its job — they’re all acting like kindergarteners playing soccer, literally chasing the (sky)ball in a flock.

          I don’t think PRC was looking at military facilities, at least not *only* military facilities. Certainly now they can compare response between two administrations especially with tension ratcheting upward about Taiwan. But nobody is looking at what is under the path the balloon took beyond military facilities, which makes knowing the paths of the previous balloons important if PRC is comparing each incursion. Stuff like this was under this recent balloon’s path:

          We’ve caught and prosecuted PRC agents spying on agriculture. Can’t imagine why a balloon wouldn’t be used to do more ag spying.

          (Mansplainers can kiss my butt with their “But satellites” crap. Granularity at 30-70,000 feet elevation is a bit different than 100-1200 miles.)

        • russell penner says:

          Good point, this is the time of year farmers on the high plains evaluate the winter wheat they planted in Oct/Nov and decide if it has potential or should be replaced with a spring crop. Which makes a huge difference in global food supply.

        • Rayne says:

          Which is why the timing of the last “lost Chinese weather balloons” — which drifted across the US during Trump’s wholly unnecessary trade war screwing the soybean market — is relatively important. Did they happen to drift across before planting season? Just before harvest?

        • Rayne says:

          Play around with maps of wind direction and speed at various elevations on https://earth.nullschool.net — you’ll see it should have been damned near impossible to get a “weather balloon” over South America which just happened to have traversed where new soybean fields have been planted since Trump’s stupid trade war.

          ADDER: Did you know Argentina is the 10th largest producer of wheat, and that its 2022-2023 crop dropped dramatically?

          10. Argentina
          Annual Wheat Production 2022: 17.5 million Metric Tons

          Argentina is located in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of 2.7 million km2, making it the 8th largest country in the world. Argentina is one of the largest producers of soybean, wheat, and maize, and these crops account for 82% of the total crop area. According to estimates, the country’s wheat exports for the year 2022-2023 will decline by 57% YOY to 7 million tonnes due to the third consecutive year of the drought. Argentina is forecasted to produce 17.5 million metric tons of wheat in the year 2022.

        • HikaakiH says:

          Thank you for broadening my view on what has been going on. This line of reasoning makes a lot more sense of the whole situation.

        • elcajon64 says:

          In my past life as an ad agency account exec, one of my clients was the world’s largest processor of commercial tomato products. This type of surveillance by them over other growers and producers was routine and and not secret whatsoever. They would do it in a private plane.

        • Rayne says:

          American citizens representing a corporation would do that, yes. Heck, it’s been a problem that all kinds of folks roam around collecting information like that, but it’s also business practice on which commodities traders rely. In one short-term gig at a commodities brokerage I had in the early 1980s more than a decade before fax and then email was more commonly used, I used to Telex crop reports to European brokers based on information my boss collected while driving around fields here in Michigan. This news about crop conditions could shift pricing as soon as received.

          A government, particularly a semi-hostile one, may not do this because it’s called spying. The same government might also want to collect more than just agricultural info and a private plane might not work for that kind of intelligence collection.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Maybe they condiment it, but China might be sick and tired of all the ketchup attention that Trump has garnered. They may be trying to find a way to regain market share. How ‘bout them soybeans!

          “The Surprisingly Ancient History of Ketchup” – Stephanie Butler

          “Ketchup is found in 97 percent of U.S. homes and probably 100 percent of barbecues. But there’s more to this sauce than hamburgers, hot dogs and Heinz. In fact, ketchup has a storied past that dates back to imperial China, where it was made with fish entrails, meat byproducts and soybeans. It wasn’t until 1812 that a tomato-based ketchup was invented.”


        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for sharing that link. I’m skeptical, however, of the history that History piece claims. Fermented fish sauces have been used in both Asia and southern Europe/Middle East for more than a couple thousand years, and likely concurrently; the Romans made garum which was a precursor to Worcestershire sauce.

          Tomatoes were definitely an American addition to condiments.


        • Savage Librarian says:

          Not sure if I understand what you are telling me. The links you provided confirm the same date as the History article I shared, which says this:

          “As far back as 300 B.C., texts began documenting the use of fermented pastes made from fish entrails, meat byproducts and soybeans.”

        • Rayne says:

          It’s the history attributing it to the Min people. Have you ever heard the word for fish sauce — 액젓 — in Korean?

          Kimchi, in which fish sauce is a common ingredient used for both seasoning and preservation, goes back at least 3000 years, suggesting fish sauce goes back further than 300 BC. The links I gave don’t flesh this out but the Language of Food post is far more detailed than the History piece.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I guess the MSM will need another 24-7 diversion from reality.

    Marcy’s twtr feed has a comment about Two Chinese spy balloons that apparently overflew US airspace – during TFG’s regime. Not a peep about them.

  4. punaise says:

    From the wayback machine, it would be irresponsible not to speculate:

    99 Red Balloons

    Ninety nine red balloons
    Floating in the summer sky
    Panic bells, its red alert
    There´s something here from somewhere else
    The war machine springs to life
    Opens up one eager eye
    And focusing it on the sky
    The ninety nine red ballons go by

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Tim Cavanaugh made a translation from the original German which he claimed was more faithful to the original, though he wasn’t totally sure of a couple of lines.

      Here is his version….
      Hello Bobby my old friend.
      It’s good to see you once again.
      How’s your mother, how’s your aunt?
      How’s your father’s skin diving suit?
      (That’s one of the lines I’m not real sure about, but it goes something like this.)

      I’ve got something you should see
      Back at my place; come with me.
      I’ve got some brand new furnishings,
      Plus 99 dead baboons

      99 dead baboons
      Sitting in my living room.
      Not too functional it seems,
      But quite a conversation piece.
      This one’s Jake, that one’s Dinah,
      There’s big Ned in my recliner.
      No it’s not a lazy boy.
      Can’t you see it’s a dead baboon?

      • punaise says:

        that’s quite different! Not knowing German, I couldn’t attest to its adherence to the original.


        “99 Luftballons” (German: Neunundneunzig Luftballons, “99 balloons”) is a song by the German band Nena from their 1983 self-titled album. An English-language version titled “99 Red Balloons”, with lyrics by Kevin McAlea, was also released on the album 99 Luftballons in 1984 after widespread success of the original in Europe and Japan. The English version is not a direct translation of the German original and contains lyrics with a somewhat different meaning.[2] In the US, the English-language version did not chart, while the German-language recording became Nena’s only US hit.

      • scribe says:

        Says this German-fluent attorney who had (and might still have) the original Fragezeichen album on cassette and was stationed in Germany when 99 Luftballons was a big hit. (And served during the very scary year of 1983 right on the sharp fucking edge.)

        Just leave it alone. The English translation sucked. You have no fucking idea how badly the English version sucked and still sucks. It was like how Hollywood butchered the original Japanese version of Godzilla by sticking Raymond Fucking Burr in the middle of a very scary antinuclear parable.

        Which was what 99 Luftballons was, too.

        BTW: Nena’s lead singer is still active, making music and performing. She was a serious live wire in 1983 and still is, last I was over there. The rest of the band, IDK.

        Ich hab’ heute nichts versaeumt und ich hab’ nur von dir getraeumt….. (far better as a song, than Luftballons, BTW).

      • Konny_2022 says:

        Interesting — but that looks like the translation from another text. Both the original German version of “99 Luftballons” and the English translation as sung by Nena are available at her website. (I don’t include the web addresses here b/c previous comments with links to the German site obvioulsy haven’t been accepted. But they can easily be found with her name and the song title.)

      • Frank Probst says:

        My German is rusty, but I can tell you that this is nowhere near the German version. If you disagree, just run it through Google Translate.

    • JVO says:

      The reactions by certain people are cutting room floor scraps from “Don’t Look Up,” I swear. ffs – these people in the current “leadership” positions are just wickedly dumb.

  5. BobBobCon says:

    Funny how Russian hacking somehow doesn’t raise any alarms for them.

    One take is they’re trying to set up outrage over China as a counterweight to blowback they’re expecting over their attempts to sell out Ukraine.

    • wetzel says:

      Relatedly, Timothy Snyder put out an article on his Substack today. This is an open thread, so I thought I’d put it out here. It’s a deep dive in the light of the McGonigal Spy Scandal into the infamous “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI See No Clear Link to Russia’ NY Times article from 11/01/16 – https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/politics/fbi-russia-election-donald-trump.html. Snyder’s stuff on Substack is free (I’m not a subscriber there). I thought it was a good read!


      [FYI — second link edited to remove tracking. /~Rayne]

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        wetzel, I can’t thank you enough for this link. Snyder’s writing here is comprehensive, specific in fascinating ways, and as always marvelously clear.

        You linked to part two of his “Thinking About…” series on McGonigal and 2016, which focuses on the disastrous NYT contemporaneous article. Part one gives overview and background:

      • Fancy Chicken says:

        Thanks for sharing this, I’ll be reading it promptly.

        A bit down from here I posted yesterday a link to a piece in the Philly Inquirer that is hot on the same subjects. It’ll be interesting to compare and contrast them.

        Hopefully it will start to get MSM media attention (Starting with YOU NYT) and interested in doing real journalism like we get here because what the Inquirer laid out shows potential links between Deripaska, McDonigal, SDNY working to boost Trump by giving inaccurate info to the NYT by anonymous agency sources during the 2016 election giving cover to Trump while obsessively bashing Clinton after Comey announced they were reopening “But her emails!)

        Thanks again for sharing this. I hope Dr. Wheeler happens to see these as I think her curiosity will be piqued and she may have more to add to this conversation.

    • P J Evans says:

      The one over the US, they could backtrack it from the wind patterns. (You can’t convince me that DOD didn’t know about it before it cleared the Chinese coastline.)

      • Chuck M. says:

        And that’s my take on this.

        I feel safe assuming we have the capability to not only identify an object like this and it”s capabilities, but to also disable it. And I’m pretty sure that’s a capability our defense orgs would rather not spotlight.

        Once disabled, it needs to be allowed to pass over, benignly, until we can all safely enjoy a high tech fireworks show from the beach.

        • gmoke says:

          A thought crossed my uninformed mind that perhaps the Chinese offered this provocation to see what the USAmerican response, political and technical as in signals intelligence, would be. If we were tracking it from before it crossed into USAmerican airspace, the Chinese would like to know how. If we were jamming their observation technology, again the Chinese would like to know how.

          I could be wrong and it all just might have been a mistake but these might be ideas worth looking at.

      • Egyptian Cat says:

        Yeah. it’s not as though China has more than one drone or balloon up in the air, especially one with “America or Bust” painted on its side.

        Do you know how far it is between our west coast and China’s east coast? And how every country on earth spies on other countries?

        • P J Evans says:

          Yes and yes. (Uncle would fly in to SFO and come by our house. “What time did you leave Tokyo?” “Two hours from now.”)
          Try harder.

  6. Alan Charbonneau says:

    On Twitter, someone named NH Mountain Gal posted:
    “Husband’s career involved things like this. He believes US is probably jamming the data China is trying to upload via the balloon. They won’t shoot it down & prefers to acquire it undamaged so it can be studied.”
    “He just said that the US will get the max amt of intelligence from it while it’s in our airspace and expects it to be shot down once it’s over the ocean. Then it’ll be recovered by our military.”

    That was written yesterday and I thought it was more than plausible. And then it happened, just like she said!

  7. greenbird says:

    spoutible.com/luckysatinback (come see me … and register while you’re there.)

    marcy, bring your journo pals over to Spoutible.com where lightning has been rebottled and where good minds proliferate.

  8. rosalind says:

    aaand lost track of the number of comments under the Ohio Train derailment posts with some version of “the China Balloon flies over Ohio and suddenly a train derails and we’re supposed to believe that’s just a coincidence?”

    the brain rot runs deep. oh, and the train is still ablaze 24 hours later. 1-mile evacuation still in effect.

    • John Lehman says:

      Little birdie in the sky
      Dropped some white wash in my eye
      I don’t care, I won’t cry
      I’m just glad that cows don’t fly

      • adambulldog says:

        The version I learned in the 1970s went:

        Birdie, birdie in the sky
        Please don’t turdie in my eye.
        I’m a big boy, I won’t cry.
        But I’m sure glad that cows don’t fly.

        • Bill B(Not Barr) says:

          Wonder if it is a regional thing. Metro Detroit

          Birdy, Birdy in the sky
          Why’d you do that in my eye?
          It’s ok, I won’t cry.
          But, Boy I’m glad elephants don’t fly.

          Something like that. Lyrics corrupted by my age.

        • John Lehman says:

          122 miles south of Detroit along I-75 around 1959 young Ohio laureates were reciting the… “ I don’t care, I won’t cry”… version.

          Seems the gist of the poem has universal appeal…at least among 9 or 10 year olds.

      • Tom-1812 says:

        I haven’t heard or thought of that playground chant for decades and decades. Gave me a sort of Marcel Proust madeleine moment!

  9. Max404Droid says:

    My favorite is this from the WaPo:

    House Speaker Kevin McCarthy demanded a “Gang of Eight” intelligence briefing from the president on the balloon.

    No idea how Kev planned to get up there.

  10. ExRacerX says:

    This whole thing has ballooned way out of proportion—Republicans continue to spew more hot air than a whole flotilla of balloons.

  11. ExpatR&RDino-sour says:

    Hmm… the Chinese are thought by some, mostly a few right wingers, to have put a high tech super secret sub-secret spying apparatus, or a doomsday EMP device, or a deadly disease for release, or a nuclear bomb, or something even worse on a balloon that can be seen with the naked eye from the ground and slow enough that it can be tracked for days before it even reaches the target?? Is that really a thing? And IF it has one of these dangers on board we should explode it overhead to keep us safe? Have I got that right?

  12. Bay State Librul says:

    “Would you like to ride in a beautiful balloon.”

    An important question.

    “Up, Up and Away” reached Number #7 on the charts in 1967 but the words were planted in pianist, composer and lyricist Jimmy Webb’s mind way back in 1965. when his DJ friend Willie uttered those words.
    It took two years before the 5th Dimension finally recorded the song — but it was worth the wait.
    Source: Marc Myers’s book: Anatomy of 55 More Songs: The Oral History of song hits that changed Rock, R&B and Soul.

  13. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Speculating that, just like the laws of the seas authority of 300 miles(?), there are laws of the sky as well. (IDPTK) I Don’t Pretend To Know.

    Also, IDPTK what our nations spying budget is or how much of it goes to atmospheric technologies. Tit for tat possibilities likely were part of calculations of whether, where and when (WWW) to take out the balloon. For sure we have a lot of hardware in the sky. Not wise to unnecessarily precipitate a star wars scenario. What’s the big deal if we can just jam recording capabilities any time we want? One would think we do it all the time. But, IDPTK.

    • boatgeek says:

      National waters extend out 12 miles, and I believe that includes airspace to 12 miles. The Exclusive Economic Zone is 200 miles. You can’t stop other ships from passing through the EEZ, but you can stop them from fishing, drilling, etc.

  14. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Speaking of stupid takes, can we admit Florida’s book ban is predicated on the recognition by it’s politicians that the dumber it’s citizen’s are the higher their chances of being elected are. Desantis,s book ban legislation should be called the Dumb and Dumber Act. Going further, let’s begin calling it the Dumb and Dumber state. Talk about brain drain.

  15. Frank Probst says:

    There’s currently a link on Crooks and Liars to this “story”:

    Fox Host Floats New Theory: Hunter Biden’s Laptop Has Chinese Balloon Info

    If that checks out, I’m declaring myself Victor of the Thread.

  16. Fancy Chicken says:

    And while all this was taking up so much breathless space, I stumbled upon an amazing article about Charles McGonigal, Deripaska and dubious information that was given to the NYT via anonymous government sources (and actions such as discussing reopening the investigation into “but her emails”) at the end of the 2016 election that really helped Trump out.

    It postulates some very interesting relationships in SDNY, Juliani, and others that really need some serious investigation. I hope I’m doing the link right, it’s from the Philly Inquirer, and gratefully it’s not pay wallled. I tried to post this over where the last McGonigal post was, but the comments are already closed so I hope it’s ok I posted it here. I think many will find it quite interesting and it’s theory makes sense.



    The Chicken

  17. buford2k10 says:

    this is a test…the chinese are testing our reactions…the reason they may be sending these balloons now, it to see what our military does…what radars come up, what planes are used, ya know, all the military stuff that we would want to know ourselves…this should not come as a surprise….passive aggression by the Chinese is a great way to expose us…the reason it didn’t work when trump was in office, was because they kept it secret…and the morons didn’t have a chance to be morons….but here we are, barking at balloons, while the Chinese gather more data on our political divide, as the republicans prove to be less than adequate and cannot be trusted…

    • Egyptian Cat says:

      You just barked at a balloon. Sorry. Surveillance balloons are occasionally spotted but they’re not necessarily China “testing us.” Sheesh.

      There’s so much stuff floating around out there that making an issue out of one balloon is ridiculous. If the Chinese want to know what our society is experiencing, all they need to do is check the internet.

      • Rayne says:

        I sense a trend across your first three comments. Marginalizing foreign surveillance inside/over the US isn’t particularly amusing considering what has happened after marginalizing other countries’ surveillance operations over the last couple decades.

        Welcome to emptywheel.

  18. Artzen Frankengueuze says:

    I was wondering if the balloon could be a Sebastian Vettel retirement project, seeing about decreasing the carbon footprint of getting F1 teams to races, but it seems that was incorrect.

    Was as crushed last week about the passing of Tom Verlaine as Jeff Beck.

    Good news of Warren Zevon being nominated for the R&R HOF, though decades overdue.
    I was thinking his song “Disorder in the House” could be about the 118th congress.

    My German is pretty rusty, but I could still count lüftballoons.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Definitely a bummer about Tom Verlaine. The one time I saw Television, in Chicago at the Metro in 2001, Richard Lloyd broke a string at the beginning of “Marquee Moon” and Verlaine and the band just… plowed on through it. Which was kind of comically bad but the rest of the show was amazing. Never saw him play any other time, though occassionally I would see him inconspicuously in various Manhattan locales when I lived there.

  19. boatgeek says:

    Also guaranteed to blow up Republican minds: During the Trump administration, 3 Chinese balloons crossed the US. The US shot down … none of them. So much for being the toughest president on China…

    • c-i-v-i-l says:

      Trump and multiple Trump Admin officials (including John Bolton, Robert O’Brien, Rick Grenell, John Ratcliffe, Mark Esper and Chris Miller) have all denied ever being informed of those balloons. Trump’s a pathological liar, and I don’t trust some of the others to be honest, but if they’re telling the truth, then either the DoD is lying (I don’t see why it would lie about this), or the DoD failed to inform the civilian leadership (which strikes me as problematic), or the balloons were only identified retrospectively (in which case that should be made clear, and it’s strikes me as significant that they weren’t detected in real time).

      • GWPDA says:

        It would have depended on which aspect of DOD was involved. I can think of three or four offhand where that information would have been closeholed. Civilians would not have been involved. Did I mention that there hasn’t been a requirement that there be written Army annual histories since, um, somewhere around 2000? So, if the Army paid attention, the information would never have left the command. If the AF had paid it might have done, but their reports are classified, so…….. Just really depends on which of the worldwide commands might have noticed.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          The NYT is now reporting that it was the last of the 3 possibilities I mentioned — the balloon transits during the Trump Admin were missed at the time and only identified during the Biden Admin: “The information on the three balloon transits in the Trump years was discovered after that administration had left, a senior Biden administration official said on Sunday night. Intelligence officials can offer briefings on China’s balloon surveillance program to “key officials” from the Trump administration, the person said.”

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m sure that the military spotted the earlier balloons, but didn’t tell the WH anything because none of the possible responses the former guy could have had would have been good for anyone.

        • GWPDA says:

          The AF report (told you it’d be the AF) evidently noted that a balloon was noted to drift across Hawai’i and later, Florida in 2019. That it wasn’t publicly remarked on tells me that the AF was still thoroughly spooked by the series of North Korea missile launches – and perhaps even by that unfortunate Jan 2018 false announcement that missiles had been detected coming for Hawai’i. Being on base at that time, and hearing the Big Voice make that announcement, I can say with conviction that the AF would have been loathe to announce a balloon targetting or even observing Hawai’i. Blowback would have been horrendous. After all, that’s why we have Guam.

  20. HorsewomaninPA says:

    Pssttt GOP’ers – the Chinese were actually using the balloon just to distract you from worrying about the hundreds of spy satellites they actually have wizzing over our heads, taking pics, every day. Oh, you were only worrying about that laptop? Never mind.

  21. Estragon says:

    I spent a really nice weekend at a forest service cabin in Southern Oregon a few years back. Turns out it was built in WWII as an observation post… because they were worried about the Japanese sending balloon bombs across the ocean to start forest fires on the west coast! I came to find out later that one even made it all the way across the ocean and touched down in the Midwest somewhere. Anyways, not directly relevant but hey it’s an open thread.

    • Raven Eye says:

      The Japanese launched over 9,000 balloons in 1944/45. The target was the Pacific Northwest. About 300 were found or observed in the U.S. or Canada. They carried two 11-pound incendiary devices and one 33-pound explosive.

      On May 5, 1945, six people on a Sunday school trip, one adult and five children, were killed near Bly, Oregon, when they discovered one of the balloon bombs in Fremont National Forest.

  22. Raven Eye says:

    A friend of mine forwarded me a collection of RMNJ reactions. The seemed either grossly ignorant, or wildly and intentionally inaccurate.

    This is perfect fodder for the RWNJs: You have the world’s largest recycling bag floating across the U.S. If you shoot it down as soon as you see it, you get accused of callous indifference — risking the lives of the innocent people below. If you wait to shoot it down, you’re a wimp.

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      Biden could walk across the surface of the Potomac in DC and Republicans would elbow each other aside to get on Fox to complain that he “can’t swim.“

      • rip no longer says:

        Or “Biden’s trying to take over from Jesus.”

        People have to be primed to actually accept pure bullshit as gospel. Hmm – I think I see a connection here.

        Awake, ye magats and repuglicons. Toss off your foul-smelling cloaks of fox furs and soiled goods from rich merchants of deception.

  23. J R in WV says:

    My Wife, being a long retired correspondent for The AP for 35 years, is a news junkie, big time. MSNBC and several newsy blogs, like this one here.

    So day before yesterday she quit the news platforms to watch 50s and 60s B&W movies, free ones, so really not that good.

    But there were no balloons anywhere to be found, so hurray!

  24. MWFfromSAT says:

    Maybe the Chinese “Spy” balloon was just a simple reminder to Trump that a balloon payment is due to the Bank of China. (They tried to send this reminder several times when Trump was president, but apparently it went un-noticed.)

    • Rayne says:

      LOL I like this. No wonder the public didn’t hear about the Trump-era airspace incursions by balloon reminders.

  25. Kick the Darkness says:

    With apologies to Winnie the Pooh and all the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood

    I’m just a Chinese spy ballon
    Hovering over your country
    I didn’t want to attract attention
    But you turned me into a celebrity.

    Turns out a Chinese spy baloon
    Induces Twitter insanity
    A sizeable contingent of crazies
    Posted selfies pretending to shoot at me.

    An Ohio politician named Vance
    Wrote a book called Hillbilly Elergy
    My sensors showed his words to be hollow
    As he posed impotently with artillery.

    I see a missile approaching
    My drifting is over, but it’s been fun
    I send out a final transmission
    Dear Leader, our work here may almost be done.

  26. Raven Eye says:

    Looking at a nautical chart for the general “landing” area of the balloon, and taking the media reports of 47-foot water depths at face value, that landing area would be mostly just inside the 12-mile territorial sea. That’s a good thing because it allows the Coast Guard to establish a security zone. However, I’m still looking for a security zone…

      • Raven Eye says:

        If established, it would have related to protecting the recovery operations. I checked the broadcast notice to mariners sites for both the 5th and 7th Coast Guard Districts, but didn’t see anything.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      That story defies the norm; it seems to gain layers as the time passes. Just heard on the radio that one of the pair had a terminal illness (if I heard right). Which raises questions about medical care during incarceration, among other things. Our prisons have a bad habit of making extremists worse–and connecting them with each other.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Clendaniel’s mother claims Sarah was never a white supremacist before she went to prison, where she got radicalized. And Sarah herself credits prison with her connection to Mr. Atomwaffen.

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