Monday, June 05, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Sent from my iPad
On May 21, 2017, at 1:13 PM, Jim Baca <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:
From my old friend.
MAY 21, 2017
The leaking of sensitive intelligence is making a lot of news lately. Among the recent reports is the story that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister when they met in the White House. That comes after weeks of controversy over the unmasking of the name of the former national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, in an intelligence report and the leaking of his involvement with the Russian ambassador.
The concern about the president sharing sensitive information with the Russians is that they may be able to figure out how the information was obtained. That could put sources and methods and intelligence cooperation with Israel, the important partner who reportedly provided it, at risk.
It is not certain where the debate about the disclosure regarding Mr. Flynn will lead. For some, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that leak is just as bad as the Russian interference in our election last year. I disagree with Mr. Graham, but his argument is something every American should consider.
A person's views on a subject are always affected by one's own experience, and my view on Mr. Graham's assertion certainly is. I received my first top secret clearance in 1966 as a low-ranking enlisted man in the Naval Reserve. It was not just any top-secret clearance. It permitted me to have access to intelligence similar to the communications intercepts in which Mr. Flynn's name appeared. That clearance came with a long briefing, special caveats that themselves were classified and an oath. The oath, which I was required to sign, said I understood I could go to jail for 10 years and be fined up to $10,000 for revealing the information to which I was about to become able to see.
The briefing recounted how the decoding of intercepted communications of the Japanese and Germans helped the Allies win World War II and saved countless lives. It also stressed that the sources and methods used to obtain that kind of information were incredibly sensitive for, once revealed, the source was lost as the enemy changed its method of encryption and communication. For that reason, every time I read a news story about sensitive intelligence that indicates how it was collected, it makes me cringe.
I had a different reaction, however, when reading about Mr. Flynn. While the details remain uncertain, it appears clear that he took money from the Russians, all of which he did not report, discussed the easing of sanctions with the Russian ambassador before the Trump administration took office and then lied about it to at least the vice president and quite possibly the FBI. On top of all this, according to The New York Times, he told the Trump transition team on Jan. 4 that he was under federal investigation for secretly being on the payroll of the Turkish government.
After Mr. Trump took office, the White House was informed of Mr. Flynn's activities by the acting attorney general, yet no action was taken for 18 days. And then only after the story came out in the press. Mr. Flynn put himself in the position of making it very, very easy for the Russian ambassador, who knew he had lied, to blackmail him. Having worked on the National Security Council, I can assure you that, with the possible exceptions of the secretaries of State and Defense, there is no position in the government more crucial to national security than that of the national security adviser. No official has more access to all the intelligence our government produces.
Someone in our government understood the situation and, seeing the White House doing nothing, decided to violate his or her oath and leak the information on Mr. Flynn to the press. It seems very likely that, if the leak had not happened, he would still be sitting in the White House, given the president's inability to ever admit he made a mistake or to assume responsibility for his own actions.
I therefore came to the conclusion that, while leaking sensitive intelligence is wrong, in this case it was justified and that the leaker was motivated by patriotism despite the risk of a fine and jail time.
Therefore Mr. Graham's argument is absurd. The leaker forced an end to a grave threat to national security. The Russian campaign to discredit one of the candidates in the presidential election with well-timed releases of emails and other information, quite possibly in collusion with the campaign of the other candidate, undermined our democracy because it smeared one side and aided the other. Such interference undoubtedly had an impact given how close the result was.
Would Hillary Clinton have won the election if there had been no Russian meddling? We will never know. One thing is sure — Russia has declared war on our democracy and that of any other country with representative government. But that is not the only threat, according to James Clapper, former director of national intelligence. He told CNN he believes America's institutions are under assault both externally, from the Russians, and internally, by the president. Whether Mr. Trump's supposed sharing of sensitive intelligence with the Russians is part of that assault, was just a boastful error or really did not amount to all that much is something else that is still unclear.
Hopefully, it will be clarified soon, as well as the extent of Mr. Flynn's activities. And that is why all Americans should welcome the naming of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel. Even in a town as divided as Washington, there is agreement that he is the right man for the job. And if it is one thing America needs at this point, it is unanimity about the extent of Russian interference, the degree of collusion with them and whether the leaks were justified.
Dennis Jett, the former U.S. ambassador to Mozambique (1993-1996) and Peru (1996-1999), is professor of international affairs at Penn State University.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
From my friend Ned.
Relief! A few minutes ago, all Democratic senators and three GOP senators voted down the repeal of the BLM methane rule by 51-49, the narrowest possible margin given the Vice President Pence would have broken a tie vote. GOP senators John McCain (remember his cosponsorship of a carbon cap and trade program with Joe Lieberman at the turn of the millennium?), Susan Collins of Maine, and Lindsey Graham of SC voted against rescission. (If I remember Senate rules correctly, any of these three who were on the winning side could quickly call for a re-vote, although the window for congressional rescission of late Obama Administration rules closes very soon.) Even the oil and gas/fossil state Democrats - people like Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin) - voted against rescission, a testimonial to the extreme actions that the majority in Congress and the White House have been pursuing in national energy policy. If you have friends in SC, AZ, or ME, let them know that people around the country are glad their senators stood up to the repeal!
Sent from my iPhone
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
I got hooked on watching, for the 10th time, that great movie "Network". The Oscar winning 1976 movie predicted with uncanny accuracy what would happen to Television News in the future. The premise was that the Network brass would allow the news operation to give commentary time to an anchorman who had gone crazy. (Think Glenn Beck and the Fox Crew.) The ratings went up as the rantings went on.
I got a note today from someone who said Frank Magid had died. He was a guy who single-handedly destroyed broadcast journalism with his 'happy news' format back in the early 70's. He thought news shows should be populated with 'personalities' and banter rather than serious reporting. His company was consulting for KOB-TV back then. I was working as a reporter, anchor, and assignment editor at Channel 7. Channel 4's new format was hurting our ratings. This was back in the day when there was no cable or satellite and everyone watched local TV news. So every rating point was worth revenue. Of course, our management went out and hired a consultant too and journalism died at KOAT-TV, for the most part. I remember well that I was producing and anchoring the news on the night that Nixon conducted the "Saturday Night Massacre" of Watergate fame. I led with the story and was hauled into the manager's office and confronted by him and the consultant with leading with the story for the newscast. They opined some dumb ass car wreck story was more important. I left TV sometime later because I just did not fit in with the new formulas. The General Manager at the station said I was a 'purist'. I think he was correct.
Things have deteriorated ever since for TV News along with viewership. Unless all you are interested in are sex related stories and poorly reported and researched political corruption stories. That is an old picture of me giving election results on the air in 1972. One thing for sure, the technology is better.
Thursday, May 04, 2017
First, trump has allowed religious fundamentalist churches reworked tax status, that being no taxes, even if they endorse political candidates and proselytize for their mascots from the pulpits of their imaginary friends. This is incredibly scary, like that book and now great TV Series the Handmaid's Tale. Holy Shit! I mean Wholly Shit!
And then there is the House of Representatives voting to repeal Healthcare for millions of Americans. What the hell are they thinking about? Certainly not their legacies. We should get some go fund me operations going to build monuments to these demons showing them taking the wheels off wheel chairs of Cerebral Palsy victims because, well preexisting conditions. Or build monuments to their group mind Obsessive Compulsive disorders.
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
And then we are reminded that there is now a $21 billion dollar total in the state's permanent funds which are not the result of taxes but mostly of payments for state owned oil and gas resources sucked out of the ground. Tooting my own horn here, but that money grew quickly after I became the first ever Land Commissioner to raise oil and gas royalty rates back in the 80's. No land Commissioner since then has had the nerve to raise them again, even during the time of extremely high prices.
The permanent funds are meant to be used for rainy days. And folks it is raining. Our Governor and her vacuous and venal minions in the GOP now see that payment for oil and gas as a way of keeping taxes low, rather than investing it to bring NM out of the 7th circle of economic hell.
Just like trump, someday people will look back at Susana and understand she was truly as demented or inebriated as the cheeto who sits in the White House destroying the Presidency.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Mayor of our city is out of the country while his Police department and its chief continue the meltdown into fascism. And the only person responding is some hapless Asst. CAO in the Mayor's office. He looked uncomfortable and awkward last night on TV News.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
There is a vile sickness at APD and in the Mayor's office where apparently everyone is on a permanent vacation from practicing leadership. I have often given Mayor Berry some slack because as a former Mayor I know how difficult that job can be. But, sooner or later a Mayor has to do some things that might upset people or employees in the city. And he seems to be at sea.
Here is some advice. Fire the Chief of Police immediately. Shut down the department's vicious social media sites and exert some leadership over new sites. If not then the administration is lost.
No, I don't like criminals, having been the victim of a recent home invasion and theft of our car and other valuables in the middle of the night as we slept. I want judges to put people in jail, especially repeat offenders. I want the Governor to properly fund the courts and penal systems to punish these crooks. And I want the police academy to turn out public safety employees instead of a paramilitary force.
When the police came to our house last month a very polite and impressive officer made an interesting comment. I asked him why it was so hard to recruit new officers. He said it was Obama's fault for letting the Justice Department investigate local police departments.
This otherwise professional young cop had imbibed of the kool aid set out by APD leadership, and a lack of leadership in the Mayor's office. What a shame.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Does one get that sinking feeling in looking at the real estate market here? We are surrounded by states that are seeing good economic activity while NM and ABQ are still in the swamp. Under republican leadership.
My stolen car has been recovered, but it is totaled after a high speed chase in Luna County as it headed toward Mexico. Four people were arrested but three were released. My car was in a gaggle of stolen cars headed south. Now to negotiate with my insurance agent. So far, they have been responsive but I am already out thousands of dollars.
But, it is only stuff.
Monday, April 03, 2017
One of the great metaphors in the book concerns the earth's atmosphere. Think of a basket ball with a piece of cellophane tape on it. The tape represents the size of the atmosphere in which all living things can exist. And our fossil fuel lovers think it can absorb what ever they dish out.
Do you think trump has ever thought of fragility of our life zone? Doubtful.
And then we have in the ABQ Journal today an oped by the flack for the fossil fuel industry, one Doug Turner by name, who savages a Native American legislator for wanting to ban fracking around Chaco Canyon and other New Mexico locales. I am surprised at Turner's retreat from his usual decency. But there is money in it I guess.