Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 23rd, 2023

Russia seems to have had quite a direct hand in the 2016 election

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Dan Froomkin on Mastodon:

Comey named McGonigal head of Counterintelligence of the NY FBI Field Office on October 4, 2016. Within weeks, Giuliani was dropping leak bombs on Fox News from the NY FBI field office—which turned out to be disinformation—but reopened the Clinton probe & tanked her shoo-in election.

Here’s the announcement at the time:

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2023 at 6:50 pm

This is how fascism comes to America

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Given the open and aggressive authoritarianism of the Republican party today — take a look at Kevin McCarthy kowtowing to Marjorie Taylor Greene, and at Ron DeSantis using government power to shut down libraries — it would be good to review this Washington Post column by Robert Kagan from May of 2016:

The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as anyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.

Republican politicians marvel at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2023 at 4:27 pm

Former top FBI official involved in Trump-Russia investigation under scrutiny by federal prosecutors for his own ties to Russia

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This top FBI official led the investigation that found Russia was not involved in Trump’s election — and now we learn (or rather, we learned last September) that he was taking money from the Russians. Russia really is focused on undermining the US. Mattathias Schwartz reported in Business Insider on Sep 15, 2022:

A former high-level FBI agent who was involved in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia during the 2016 election has himself come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors for his ties with Russia and other foreign governments.

Late last year, according to internal court documents obtained by Insider, US attorneys secretly convened a grand jury that examined the conduct of Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence at the FBI field office in New York City. The Justice Department declined to comment on what the grand jury was investigating or whether it remained ongoing. But a witness subpoena obtained by Insider seems to indicate that the government, in part, was looking into McGonigal’s business dealings with a top aide to Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire Russian oligarch who was at the center of allegations that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to interfere in the 2016 election.

The subpoena, issued in November, requests records relating to McGonigal and a shadowy consulting firm called Spectrum Risk Solutions. A week after the subpoena was issued, a Soviet-born immigrant named Sergey Shestakov said in a separate filing that McGonigal had helped him “facilitate” an introduction between Spectrum and Deripaska’s aide. The filing also states that McGonigal helped introduce the aide to Kobre & Kim, a New York law firm that specializes in representing clients who are being investigated on suspicion of “fraud and misconduct.” Shestakov, who has been identified on TV panels as a former Soviet foreign ministry official and former chief of staff to the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations, reported receiving $33,000 for the referrals.

While it wouldn’t necessarily have been illegal for McGonigal to work on behalf of Deripaska, failing to disclose activities covered by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, such as lobbying and public relations, is punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Deripaska was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018 for acting as an agent for the Kremlin, and has been accused of ordering the murder of a businessman. “If McGonigal is mixed up in any way shape or form with Deripaska, that strikes me as unseemly, to put it politely,” says Tim Weiner, the author of “Enemies: A History of the FBI.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2023 at 2:35 pm

New domestic tools/toys provide pleasure: Shark vacuum cleaner edition

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For quite a while I’ve used a Fuller carpet sweeper to clean the apartment’s carpeted floor, and it doesn’t suck — a problem. I wanted a carpet cleaner that sucks, and that led me to Wirecutter and this review. Their pick — the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 — a) sounded good and b) priced reasonably. So I ordered it.

Wow. I had no idea… Here are two videos that give some insight into my experience. The first video celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the NV352:

The second video is interesting because it compares the NV352 to two of its siblings: a kid brother (the NV360 Deluxe, which costs less) and an older brother — the NV356e Professional — which costs more.

I used the new vacuum cleaner this morning and I’m astonished at the amount of dirt it picked up. I’m very happy with my modest purchase.

Update. I was just reading the comments on the two videos above. Remarkable. Worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2023 at 10:43 am

Rocky Mountain Barbershop and Cherry Blossom

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Rocky Mountain Barber Company is a Canadian company, and this morning I am trying their Barbershop shaving cream, thanks to a gift from The Eldest. It has a light fragrance and makes quite a good lather. I twirled the damp (well-shaken-out) shaving brush in the cream, which is somewhat stiff — to get a proper amount on the brush, I poked it into the cream.

With the brush loaded, I quickly worked up a good lather. I did have to add a good driblet of hot water and work it into the cream, but that’s standard with shaving cream. (Those who use a lathering bowl add the water there.)

With my face well-lathered, I brought my vintage Merkur white bakelite slant into play. It’s a marvelous razor and quickly and easily and comfortably removed every trace of roughness. (I do like shaving a two-day stubble with a good slant.) Three passes produced perfection.

A small squeeze of Arko’s aftershave gel finished the job. 

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Cherry Blossom: “A Chinese Sencha green tea blended with papaya, pineapple, sour cherry and raspberry pieces, strewn with jasmine blossoms and rose petals.” It’s not available just now but perhaps will return in the time of cherry blossoms.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2023 at 10:25 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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