Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Trump war on sanctuary cities: so many lies, so much bullshit

I guess it was predictable enough when Trump's approval rating started getting dangerously close to freezing after the Trumpcare debacle.

Someone opened whatever sarcophagus they store this mummy in and trotted out former Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, by the grace of God and the slaveholder's constitution, Attorney General of the United States.

With the Great Leader's approval in free-fall, down five points in three days according to  Gallup, the Trumpeteer staged an immediate immigrant-bashing rescue operation.
Some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate this enforcement of immigration laws. This includes refusing to detain known felons on the federal detainer request or otherwise failing to comply with these laws. For example, the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a report showing that in a single week there were more than 200 instances of jurisdictions refusing to honor ICE detainer requests with respect to individuals charged or convicted of a serious crime. These—the charges and convictions against these aliens include drug trafficking, hit and run, rape, sex offenses against a child, and even murder.
But refusing "ICE detainer requests" is not against the law. A detainer is informally called an "immigration hold" and is a fill-in-the-blanks and tick-the-boxes form telling jailers, let us know when you're letting this person go so we can be there to pick them up and if we're not, please hold on to them. The form itself says,
IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU [emphasis added]; 
[ ] Maintain custody of the subject for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, beyond the time when the subject would have otherwise been released from your custody to allow DHS to take custody of the subject....
Note the word "requested".  The very definition of the word says you can agree or refuse. Otherwise it is an "order."

And then note the other very peculiar detail (in bold and ALLCAPS in the original):
for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS
That is based on a cop swindle: because the courts have given them a hard, cast-in-concrete requirement that they bring anyone they have arrested to a judge within 48 hours so the cops can prove the arrest is legal, it means you can get away with illegal arrests provided you let them go before the 48-hour deadline.

What the courts have told them in several recent cases is that it just ain't so: just because you only have 48 hours to show you followed the law doesn't mean you can violate it for 47 hours and 59 minutes.

The federal courts have made it clear that even for an elected local sheriff with an immigration hold in hand, there is no 48-hour escape clause nor "the feds made me do it" excuse. If you were supposed to let someone go but you didn't do it because the immigration cops asked you to keep them locked up, that is a new arrest, and a local jailer who does that is liable for damages under civil rights law unless there is good probable cause.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands) ruled a local sheriff who held someone who turned out to be a U.S. citizen (as he had insisted all along) was liable for damages (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars) for false arrest. Even if all the sheriff did was accede to the request of the immigration cops. The Feds also had to pay, BTW.

That is why after all the blah blah blah from Sessions, when he got down to the actual threat to punish so-called "sanctuary cities" he said they better obey section 1373 of the U.S. Code ... or else!

You'd think that Section 1373 is the one that sets up ICE immigration detainers, but that is not the case. Here's the text of the operative part:
... [A] Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.
But in reality, there are no "sanctuary cities" that violate this law. And note the reference to "the Immigration and Naturalization Service." That government department was abolished by the 2001 Patriot Act. It was split in two, with the immigration cops going to DHS, and immigration and citizenship services remaining in the Justice Department.

The language is old because the provision comes from Bill Clinton's catastrophically reactionary and repressive 1996 immigration law, but section 1373 is a relic. Today the exchange of information takes place automatically via the Internet between local cops, the FBI and the Department of Homeland security. Nobody in any local government gives or denies access to information about immigrants that have been arrested: it is all automated.

So what does the actual wording of Session's specific, formal requirement about federal funding and section 1373 actually say?

Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip.

There is no new rule, regulation, memorandum, guidance, letter of understanding or anything else, mostly because a rule Obama already put in does exactly what Session threatened to punish you for. You have to say you comply with 1373 to apply for federal funds. Big fucking deal.

Sessions' little session with the press was a farce, with him earnestly promising to defend the American people by vigorous use of the doohicky on the framerstan that wards off the dire peril of grumph ... whether the alpha centaurians like it or not!

Which brings us to the real crime here: not murder, child molestation, rape, assault or using a false ID.

The real crime is making terroristic threats. Trump has, time and again, been threatening to come down on immigrants like the ton of bricks he would have bought to build his wall except he can't because Congress hasn't given him the money.

He "ordered" the hiring of 10,000 more jack-booted border patrol thugs in his January executive order on immigration. Except that even in his pie-in-the-sky budget from a couple of weeks ago he asked for only a thousand, or 10%. For his $20 billion border wall, he requested $2 billion, also 10%. He also executive "ordered" 5,000 more goons for interior enforcement, like kidnapping high schoolers waiting to go to school at the bus stop, snatching people who dutifully show up for a court hearing and so on. The budget says gimme 500, again 10%.

What's going on? Trump's real immigration program is exactly the same as the 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: self deportation.

In terms of so-called "enforcement," Trump's real program is not much more or much less than what Obama already did, only he wants ICE to do it with a lot more growling and meanness. The one significant change is that where Obama was arbitrarily cruel, Trump wants to be systematically cruel.

But the idea is to simply terrorize the immigrant community, and especially from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, so people flee back to their home country or at least, stop coming.

It can't possibly work: the five, ten or fifteen beheaded corpses that show up in Mexico's state of Guerrero every Monday are much more convincing than the bleating coming from the Animal Farm on Pennsylvania Avenue.

But it would be nice is if the so-called "adversarial" press began to do its job.

How did I discovered that Jeff Sessions' legal threats against Sanctuary Cities were bullshit?

I used a super-secret, hyper-confidential, Jedi master initiate technique that only those who trained with Obi-wan or Yoda himself could possibly have suspected even existed. I went to --brace yourselves-- "google,com" (incredibly and heroically brave as it may sound) and ... I then leaped into the abyss by typing "U.S. Code Section 1373".

One of the people that trained me as a journalist was a man name Joseph Hansen, editor of a weekly publication called Intercontinental Press. Something he impressed on me and that has served me well for four decades is never to take someone's word for it; check the original sources, and if not available, don't rely on just one secondary source when several are available.

Today it is extremely easy to check original sources and multiple sources. Yet journalists no longer do this. And I don't mean for the Alatoona Fishwrapper, but supposedly top-class outfits like The New York Times, the Washington Post, AP and Reuters.

So we get mistakes like reporting that Sessions finally put teeth into Trump's original executive order on immigration. Not so. The original Trump order from January 25 has exactly the same empty provision as Session's Monday announcement: "
... [T]he Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants....
Moreover, even the quickest read of a Trump "Executive Order" shows they're really just press releases in Oval Office drag. For example, the immigration one grandiloquently proclaims that by the authority vested in him and so on he "hereby declare[s] the policy of the executive branch to be" and then comes the rest of the order.

"Policy" is not an action but an aspirational description of goals and how they might be achieved, but actually proclaiming a "policy" in and of itself does absolutely nothing. And, except for one, all of Trump's executive orders that I've read are like that: proclamations of aspirations, not instructions for specific actions.

The one exception, of course, was the Muslim ban, but the courts are taking care of that.
.




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trump got played, bluffed and rolled ... by a small faction of his own party!

The Donald says it was a learning experience.

On Thursday night, the House Republican's freedom caucus extracted so many concessions from President Trump and House Speaker Ryan that Friday morning, so-called "moderates" realized voting for TrumpCare would be political suicide. So they pulled their promises to vote for it.

He bluffed ... and lost.
Then the Freeedomites delivered the coup de grace by saying they still weren't going to vote for it, dooming the measure and calling Trump's "now or never" bluff.

With no real reason to cast an unpopular vote, more "moderates" bolted, and looking at the humiliation of losing by a  double-digit margin despite a 22 vote majority in the House, Trump folded.

You can tell the real state of affairs by this: Speaker Ryan said he deferred to Trump's decision to pull the bill, and Trump confessed to having taken Ryan's recommendation to withdraw the proposal.

Since 2011, protected from any consequences by a guaranteed veto from Obama in the White House, the House Republican majority voted 67 times to get rid of Obamacare.

But when it became a real vote, not just a press release, the outcome was no vote on account of no guts.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

'No evidence' means that we didn't mean to wiretap Trump's people ...

So now what everyone with an IQ above freezing already knew has been confirmed: Under Obama, the government did intercept and monitor electronic communications by Trump's people. That from House Select Committee on Intelligence chair Devin Nunes who said Trump's team was "incidentally" wiretapped.

How could that have been? Well ...
• They wiretap everyone, and • The FBI was investigating the alleged Trump-Putin connection
Attacking Trump for saying Obama had him wiretapped is idiotic because Trump & Co.'s electronic communications were intercepted and monitored, which is what "wiretapped" means.

Obama was president and was responsible for what the government did. Moreover, Obama knew about the specific investigation and acted on that basis (deciding not to make a big deal about the supposed Russian election hacking but instead telling Putin privately to cut it out).

Now, this idea that Trump is Putin's stooge is ridiculous.

What is going on in is a fight over foreign policy: should the United States take its distance from Western Europe, while adopting a less confrontational tone towards Russia, and a more aggressive one towards China?

That's what Trump wants, and why Trump would want this isn't hard to figure out: the German-dominated European Union is a competitor to the United States on everything from automobiles to airliners. Russia doesn't compete nearly as widely and presents opportunities for U.S. investment, which is why the head of the biggest U.S. oil company is Trump's secretary of state. Like, could Trump have made it any more obvious?

But the domestic side is also important. Trump is feeding raw meat to a hungry base. Trump's followers don't care whether Obama personally gave the order and used the word "wiretap." Obama knew in general that everyone was being spied on, he knew specifically that Trump and his people were a focus because of the Russia-election investigation, even if the U,.S. spooks were too polite to brand them a "target." That's good enough, and not just for his base but many others, to say that Trump's charge about Obama spying on his campaign is essentially true. And don't take comfort in poll numbers that say many/most people don't believe the head of the House of Orange .. I mean the louse with the head of orange.

Trump doesn't need high approval percents, he needs intense and enthusiastic support from his base, and that is what he is getting. He means to change things and for that he needs the battering ram of an enthusiastic, mobilized movement, not simple passive acquiescence, even if from a majority.

The mainstream neo-liberal Democrats are using this "Lying Trump" trope to rehabilitate Hillary Clinton and cover up popular disgust with what used to be called the New Democrats, i.e., Clinton, Obama, Emmanuel and their ilk. It was the Russians who got Trump elected, they want us to believe.

Bullshit: it was Hillary that got Trump elected.

It is true that she won the popular vote, but ... of her three million popular vote margin, more than four million came from California. She lost the other 49 states by a million votes. Worse, factor out New York also and she loses the other 48 states by three million votes.

And she lost them against fucking Donald Trump! The most unpopular presidential candidate ever since polling was invented! How unpopular? Even more disliked than fucking Queen Hillary.

So why did she win the overall popular vote? Because two decades ago the Republican Party in California committed suicide by tying their fate to the anti-immigrant Proposition 187. As a result, they are now basically dead there, holding no statewide offices and reduced to a small minority in the legislature.

I mean, it was like if they had run against the Irish in Brooklyn or Boston 100 tears ago. Sure, shit all over the Latino community and then try to get elected in a state without a single major city with an English name. So that's why Hillary swept California by four million votes. The Democrats could have run Attila the Hun without hurting their margin of victory.
But elsewhere, all over the country, millions who had voted for Obama just could not bring themselves to come out for Hillary last November. Millions who voted for Sanders in the primary wouldn't vote for her in the general, even if her opponent was Trump. And, worse of all, millions who voted for Bernie in the primaries voted for Trump in the fall because they were so fed up with the unending gusher of bullshit from our political class in Washington.
And --this the Democrats share with their Republican brethren-- they are desperate to avoid discussion of any real issues, like the health care mess, the minimum wage, or ending the American forever wars in Asia and the Middle East.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"¡Que viva Fidel!" - A Cuban song from 1959 rooted in Santería

[This was written as a Facebook post right after Fidel's death.]

"Que viva Fidel" is a 1959 remake of a song that shocked Cuba in 1949, "Que viva Changó", the Yoruba orisha of thunder, lightning, dance and music.


The 1949 song shocked Cuba because it marked a breakout into official popular culture of the Santería religious traditions firmly rooted in the island's Black population.

Changó, though the orisha of maleness, is syncretised with the Catholic figure Santa Barbara, hence that original song.

Even before the victory of the revolution, Fidel became identified with various orishas, and especially Changó. Obviously this was rooted in afro-Cuban culture, which is little known in the United States because 99.9% of those who emigrated initially to the United States after 1959 were upper-class whites (and there were very few Blacks among those who came in later decades also).

Looking at Miami, you'd never suspect that about half, perhaps more, of Cubans are of African descent. Cuba's wars for independence in the 1800s, as well as the 1959 revolution, were centered in the mostly Black eastern provinces of the island.

In addition to the vitriol, lies and slander that will be directed against Cuba and Fidel in the coming days, there will also be much that tries to be objective or even written in admiration.
But almost all will pass over this fact:

Fidel's Cuba is an AFRO-Caribbean nation.

If you want to understand why the United States continues to defy world opinion and maintain its economic blockade against Cuba, you will find part of the reason --a big part of the reason-- in the fact that a song dedicated to the Yoruba deity Changó became one in praise of Fidel.

They hate the Cuban revolution not just because it is socialist, but because it is Black.

Fidel and I, and a nation unforgiven

[I wrote this on November 29, 2016, four days after the death of Fidel Castro.]

Over the past few days many people have asked me what I thought of Fidel's death. I've done a few press interviews, and to my surprise, I found it difficult to formulate an answer, and I think I've finally figured out why.

I was a 7-year-old Cuban kid from a millionaire family who had no clue everything in his life would be upended by the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

And I was an increasingly rebellious Cuban exile adolescent in Florida in the late 1960s who did not recoil when he realized he was being increasingly attracted to the ideals of Fidel and Che.

I did not realize then, I could not possibly have known, that these circumstances would shape the rest of my life.

Yet they have, and they should not have. That is my reaction to the news about Fidel.

Decades ago, the Cuban revolution --and with it the figure of Fidel Castro-- should have receded from politics into history. It took 20 years, give or take, for the United States to accept the reality of the other great revolutions of the 20th Century, the Russian, the Chinese and Vietnamese. The old disputes were negotiated and settled: "borrón y cuenta nueva," we Cubans say, wipe the slate clean and start over.

But it never happened with Cuba.

Donald Trump will become the twelfth American head of state to preside over the economic blockade Eisenhower initiated as part of the preparations for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Yet the great majority of those that fought at the Bay of Pigs are now dead. Those of us who have even the vaguest childhood memories of those days are now on Medicare. Isn't it time to let go?

It was time to move on decades ago. But we can't. The blockade --the economic war against Cuba-- still goes on. The forcible, violent occupation of part of Cuba's national territory still goes on. And the insistence of the Americans that they --and not Cubans-- have the right to decide Cuba's fate goes on.

What Fidel did was to head the fight for the Cuban people's right to self-determination. That, not socialism, not being pals of the Russians, not helping to wipe South African apartheid from the face of the earth, was his greatest crime.

And that crime could not have been anything but the collective crime of the Cuban Nation. So even a death certificate with his name on it cannot expiate it. And even with his body in ashes he remains in the fight.

Fidel hasn't died because the Americans won't let him. Even now, the United States will not accept that they could not break him, or the Cuban people. And until they do accept it, Fidel will remain part of the fight.

Even in death, he remains unforgiven. The battle he fought, that he dedicated his life to, remains unresolved. His people, the Cuban people, remain undefeated.

Some day I will reflect on Fidel's death, perhaps in mourning of his passing or in celebration of his life. But that day will come when the battle he still leads is won.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Julian Assange -- the most important journalist of the 21st century

Journalism means publishing what someone does not want to be known; everything else is advertising. Its function is to bring to light what has been hidden, to offer testimony, to offend.

Those words from Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky reminds us that very little journalism is being done in the world today and especially in the United States. 
That is why the launch of
Vault 7, a massive trove of documents about the countless hacks the CIA has come up with to hijack our computers, phones and even TVs  is so important. 

That our own government treats us all as terror suspects reminds us of a truth that once was spoken, but is little heard today: the enemy, the real enemy of our rights and freedom, is at home. Not in Cuba and Vietnam, as I was told so many decades ago, nor in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, as we are told today, nor in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

But fighting the beastly follies of our rulers is not Julian Assange's job.

As a journalist, his devotion is to the truth, especially the hidden truth, what someone doesn't want to be known. And he has been true to revealing the truth, from the Collateral Murder video that showed how routinely American helicopter crews massacred civilians in Baghdad to today's unmasking of the CIA's hacking of, well, everything.


Are there people who would do us harm just because we are from the United States? Of course. It took the poet W.H. Auden only four lines to explain it in "September 1, 1939," the poem he wrote when World War II broke out.
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
A lot of evil has been done. And a lot of evil is still being done. That most of all is what puts our lives in danger, but that is the least of it. Some day we will have to answer for what we allowed to be done in our name.

Somewhere tonight one or more brave heroes might have a fitful sleep now that the government knows what they have given to Wikileaks. And so will we, knowing every last shred of our privacy has been ripped from us by the all-seeing Eye of Sauron in Langley.

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," says the Bible. But to make it so, we will have to fight for it.




Monday, March 6, 2017

Of course they wiretapped Trump and his aides before the election

Having cut my teeth as a journalist in the Watergate epoch, the official denials of Trump's charge that Obama ordered wiretaps evoked fond memories.

Because when you get past the rhetoric and faux outrage, the bottom line is this: no Obama didn't order the wiretaps. There is no denial that there were wiretaps, but Obama was not personally involved. At least not that anyone can prove, now that Nixon's secret taping setup in the Oval Office has been deprecated.

But if Obama really wasn't involved, that would have been because he didn't need to be involved. Should Obama have raised the issue, the response would have been, "That's already been taken care of, sir."

Two things tell us that Trump's people were wiretapped.
  • Thing one: Everyone is being wiretapped by the NSA. 
  • Thing two: There was an FBI investigation of Trump and his aides.
We know from l'ami du peuple, citoyen Edward Snowden, that unless you're using two Dixie cups and a string, you're on a party line with the NSA. And as we used to say four decades ago, we even have the denials to prove it:


Now for thing two: The New York Times reported last fall that for months the FBI had been investigating Trump's Russia connection:
WASHINGTON — For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.
That story ran October 31, two days before the election. It was obviously a cover-your-ass leak after Director James Comey torpedoed Hillary's campaign a week earlier by officially announcing a new investigation into her emails -- an announcement that violated FBI and Justice Department rules, we might add.

And, of course, we have the denials to prove it.


Now, in the fullness of time it will be conclusively shown that, yes, Trump Tower was wiretapped but no, Obama did not personally order this specific wiretap, Yet despite the fullness of time, the media will never even suspect what is going on.




Behind the Russia hysteria: a major dispute over foreign policy

Democratic politicians and major media have fallen into a feverish McCarthyite Cold War hysteria about supposed Trump campaign contacts with the Russians.

Even though no evidence has been presented, it is now an article of faith that the Russians hacked the 2016 presidential election. But the supposed hack was no hack, if it consisted of making known how Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee insiders were manipulating the political process, as has been claimed.

No hack because that is all about the public's business and the public has a right to information about how it is being manipulated.

That supposedly it was a nasty Moscow Centre hood instead of another Ellsberg, Snowden or Manning is irrelevant. But as I explain in this post, the circumstances point to an individual insider as the leaker, just as in those other cases, even though outsiders had penetrated the DNC network also.

In politics, someone once said, there are two reasons for what people do: the good reason, and the real reason.

The supposed hack of the election is the "good" reason for the Russian hysteria, since it relieves the Democratic establishment of blame for last November's debacle.

But that doesn't really explain why all sorts of people inside the government have thrown themselves into the fight. I believe the real reason lies elsewhere. It is a dispute over the direction of foreign policy.

For 70 years the United States has projected itself as the leader of the Free World. For 45 years the Cold War provided a coherent narrative and framework for the American role. But even after the collapse of East European bureaucratic "socialism," the alliances and institutions created during the post-war period continued, and especially NATO, which steadily expanded right up to Russia's borders despite solemn American promises to the Russians that it would not do so.

Trump believes it is time to abandon the "leader of the free world" stance and take on more sharply American allies, especially Germany and the European Union it dominates.

He made his overall stance extremely clear in his CPAC speech in February:
Global cooperation -- dealing with other countries, getting along with other countries -- is good.  It’s very important.  But there is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag.  This is the United States of America that I’m representing.  I’m not representing the globe.  I’m representing your country.  (Applause and shouts of "USA! USA! USA!)  There is one allegiance that unites us all, and that is to America.  America -- it’s the allegiance to America.
As it started to become clear after the election that "America First" had not  been just sucker bait for the masses, but he had an actual policy to go with it, the Democratic and National Security establishments declared war against Trump.

They almost certainly very sincerely disagree with Trump's policy, but it is also true that their power and privileges are threatened.

Trump's proposal to increase the military budget by 10% is aimed at splitting the coalition against him. That's why there are no details, no plans, no strategic vision. The war this budget is aimed at winning is the one at home.

Trump's position is a difficult one because not only are most high-ranking government bureaucrats against him, but it is far from clear he even has a majority in his own party for the policy, and he certainly does not in Congress.

And Russia is the key to the policy change. For several years now, a faction of war mongers in our political class (Hillary Clinton prominent among them) has been pushing for a policy of increasing provocations and confrontation with Russia since "terrorism" was getting worn-out as the justification for wars abroad and the creeping police state at home. If Russia gets cast in the role of the heavy again, it would be hard to sell pulling away from Europe.

How far trump intends to take his policy I don't know and perhaps neither does he. It almost certainly is just a shift in emphasis, not the policy reversal that Trump and Bannon imply with their rhetoric. But these things have a logic of their own, and even if you're aiming for one destination, there's no guarantee you wont miss overshoot the mark..

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Russian election hack: bullshit

"Don't bullshit me." That was Bill Maher's response on his March 3 HBO show to Republican talking head Jeffrey Lord who denied that the Russians had hacked last November's election.

“The Russians hacked our election, all of our intelligence agencies said, for one side to win, your side," Maher asserted, doing some bullshitting of his own.

Because what the U.S. intelligence agencies said was different:
Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence [emphasis added].
First, this is an "assessment," in other words, guesswork. The CIA and FBI think it is a really good guess ("high confidence"), the NSA not so much. Which is curious because the NSA is the agency that would have the most evidence, since it, not the FBI or CIA, intercepts all Internet and other electronic communications.

Then "discrediting" and "publicly contrasting her unfavorably" are, quite simply, speech, not espionage, intelligence operations or computer hacking.

The U.S. intelligence public assessment about Russian hacking is this:
Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties. 
We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data.
These conclusions were an ex-post-facto reversal of the original FBI conclusions reported by the New York Times two days before the elections:
WASHINGTON — For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank. 
Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.
The FBI had initiated the investigation more than a year earlier, but did not even bother to examine the compromised Democratic National Committee computers before they were wiped clean.

An extensive New York Times report published on December 13 details what it calls "a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack," but if you ask me, it reads more like a Monty Python comedy routine.

The story is that in September 2015, the Democratic National Committee switchboard got a call from the FBI to tell them their network had been penetrated by the Russians, so Special Agent Adrian Hawkins was transfered to the help desk.

The guy in charge of the computers did a perfunctory check of the system, found nothing, and then ignored repeated follow-up calls from the FBI since nothing had been found and the IT guy thought maybe it had been a scam. Sure. How many scammers leave voicemail messages and call-back numbers?

Well, eventually the DNC and FBI do get it together, and at the end of April, seven months after the original contact, the DNC's network tech installs proper monitoring software. As a result, they find not one but two penetrations and  that a remote user has administrator privileges. In other words, they hadn't just been hacked, they had been completely owned.

So CrowdStrike, a private security firm comes in, says yeah, looks like the Russians, and finally gets rid of them in the middle of June. To do so they have to nuke the entire network and all the computers, i.e., takes it all off line and replace or reinstall everything.

Separately, political people including at Hillary Clinton's campaign start receiving phishing emails in March claiming the recipient's Google password had been compromised and please follow this link to change it.

This is a very common, garden-variety scam used by hackers the world over to break into accounts.

One of these emails went  to John Podesta, a top Clinton operative from the White House days who was in charge of her campaign.

An aide spots the email and asks for advice. The person who responds says the email is "legitimate" and adds that Podesta should change his password immediately. He includes in his response the real, safe link to Google, and adds that Podesta also needs to turn on two-factor authentication (in other words, after the login, you have to send back to Google a number they send by text or to a different email account to make sure it is really you).

The guy who sent this email claims he meant to say "illegitimate," but either way, the instructions he sent are exactly right. But supposedly, instead of following the link in this email, Podesta or an aide dug up the original scam email and followed the deceptive link and therefore got scammed. And then they ignored the advice about two-factor authentication.

Seriously, to say this attack was so sophisticated that it took the Russian security services to stage it is silly. A sixth grader with an iPad could have done it. But it would not have worked if Podesta and his aides hadn't been such idiots.

So what did the Russians do with their access? Erase their email lists? Steal the money from their bank accounts? Do a "ratfucking" operation like the Republicans did to the Democrats in 1972, canceling events, sending out fake press releases, etc.?

No! Supposedly they acted like goody two-shoes and made public materials showing the duplicity of the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

In the DNC case, they showed that it was helping Clinton instead of being neutral. And with the Podesta emails, they showed the campaign was consciously trying to pull a fast one on the American people, by presenting in essence a phony Hillary for electoral purposes -- not much of a revelation that last one, which is why so little attention was paid to it.

So, to put it bluntly, whatever wounds the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign suffered were self-inflicted.

But, was it really the Russian that did the leaking?

There is in science a principle known as Occam's razor: the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Massive document leaks are typically the work of lone wolf insiders, like Daniel Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers, Chelsea Manning with the State Department cables, and Edward Snowden with the NSA files.

The turmoil when the DNC network and computers were taken down in June and reinstalled from scratch would have afforded any DNC staffer or security contractor the perfect opportunity to copy whatever they wanted.

The DNC material began to be leaked right after that rebuild, and the leaker announced the bulk of the material had been sent to Wikileaks, which published them on the Friday before the Democratic National Convention in July.

Assuming the American spooks are right in concluding the leaks sought to undermine Clinton, then the timing is inexplicable. The Russians had already been in the DNC network for months when the primaries began. Right before super-Tuesday in March, a leak showing the DNC was in the tank for Hillary would have caused a scandal that might have sunk Clinton. But not months later.

But if they waited until July, why not wait until October? Another "October surprise" scandal would have hurt Clinton much more than a July revelation.

This whole scenario makes no sense.

The FBI and DNC don't take seriously the Russian incursion, which goes on for months.

We're told these are hyper-sophisticated secret attacks but the Podesta email trick is so pedestrian you can look it up in the dictionary. And apparently it was not even exploited to plant software in Podesta's machine (or that of his aides), only to harvest emails from Google's servers.

The Russians supposedly were both fiendishly clever and completely clueless. They realized how damaging the revelation of real documents and emails would be ... but didn't do it when it would have been most damaging, during the primaries.  When they release it, they do it through Wikileaks, where it will have the least impact, instead of giving it to the New York Times and other major news organizations, who would have kited it to the skies to show their investigative journalistic prowess.

There is one word that best describes this story: bullshit.