• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

Good Night, Blessed America!

As The PSYCHO SITS WORRIED ABOUT HIS “PSYCHO” THINGS FIFTY FEET ‘SAFE’ FROM HIS FELLOW ‘HUMANS’

CNBC: Ruble crashes again, “standard of living” now at risk

ED MORRISSEY Mar 01, 2022 6:01 PM ET

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Vladimir Putin may succeed in bringing back the “good old days” of the Soviet Union after all. Despite emergency measures over the last two days to prop up its currency, the ruble crashed again today against the dollar and nearly returned to its post-Soviet low set Monday. The demolition of the ruble, combined with the harsh sanctions over Putin’s war in Ukraine, now threatens the standard of living in Russia, CNBC reports:

The currency had found some support after Russian authorities ordered exporting companies, among which are some of the world’s biggest energy producers from Gazprom to Rosneft, to sell 80% of their forex revenues on the market, as the central bank’s own ability to intervene on currency markets was curbed.

But the ruble’s brief gains still left it well shy of the 75 to the dollar mark and 87 to the euro it traded at before Russia recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and sent its troops into the neighbouring country last week.

After a short-lived recovery in early trade, the currency had fallen 5.4% to 99.73 against the dollar by 1500 GMT in Moscow, and lost 3.5% to 109.68 versus the euro, slipping back towards Monday’s record low of 122.

On the EBS electronic trading platform, however, the ruble was pegged at 109.5 to the greenback, although still a distance from the all-time low of 120 hit on Monday.

Putin’s propaganda machine might keep Russians in the dark over his war in Ukraine, but its impacts will become clear very quickly to everyone. Inflation had already been high, but the supply impacts of sanctions may send Russia into an entirely new level of hyperinflation:

The weak ruble is set to hit living standards in Russia and fan already high inflation, while Western sanctions are expected to create shortages of essential goods that people in Russia have become used to, such as cars.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF), a trade group representing large banks, also warned that Russia was extremely likely to default on its external debts and its economy would suffer a double-digit contraction this year.

Forbes reports that Russia’s central bank apparently knew enough to start selling off its foreign currency reserves the day before the invasion of Ukraine. Even that advance notice hasn’t helped avoid the ruble turning into rubble, and now the RCB is beginning to panic. That desperation, writes Maya Rodriguez Valladares, only ends one way — badly:

One day before the invasion, the Bank of Russia, Russia’s central bank had intervened in the foreign exchange market by selling $1 billion dollars to provide support for the ruble. The Bank of Russia sold more foreign currency also on Friday. On Monday, the ruble began at 83.53 to the U.S. Dollar and as announcements of different sanctions and divestments began, the ruble plunged over 30% in less than four hours to RUR 109. Russia has a long history of local currency crises and devaluations. Yet, even in the context of that history, the Bank of Russia’s significant sales of foreign currency will go down in foreign exchange market history books as some of the most ineffectual moves conducted by a foreign exchange department of a central bank.

Russia’s foreign exchange and interest rate measures to calm markets are all strong signals of desperation. The Russian central bank raised interest rates to over 20% on Monday from its Friday level of 9.5%. That 111% rate rise did not and will not calm domestic or foreign market participants. I have seen this movie several times in my career. It always ends badly. I started my career at the Federal Reserve as a foreign exchange analyst and witnessed the desperate interest rate hike moves by European central banks as they tried to stem foreign exchange outflows during the Nordic crisis and the UK withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The more central banks raise rates significantly, the more corporate executives and ordinary citizens run out the door simultaneously. Fear is palpable, moves quickly, and is contagious.

In other words, ordinary Russians will get screwed by Putin’s war, and they will quickly realize it. What about the oligarchs that form Putin’s political support? A sudden interest in crypto in Russia might show that they’re looking for workarounds to Western sanctions:

Data released this week from Kaiko shows that volume for trading Bitcoin and stablecoins like Tether (USDT-USD) jumped in the last several days within Ukrainian and Russian markets, as the Ruble tumbled in global markets to mere pennies on the U.S. dollar.

In recent sessions, digital tokens have behaved more like risk-sensitive assets instead of the alternative asset class they’re supposed to be – including Bitcoin, which some market players view as a safe-haven.

However, the move to sanction Moscow – including shutting Russia out of the SWIFT global financial system – appears to have triggered a sentiment shift in favor of crypto. Among some crypto investors, a theme has emerged that argues a government-led financial crackdown is boosting the advantages of the more decentralized digital token sector.

That might make for an interesting escape hatch, but it’s limited. Governments do not do business in crypto — they use hard currencies, either their own or some sort of reliable benchmark like the US dollar or euro. Similarly, international trade takes place using traditional currencies. A shift of assets to crypto could help the oligarchs keep their liquid assets from being frozen or seized and allow them more freedom for personal purchases, but it’s not going to do much for their business interests.

Also worth noting: the Russian stock market stayed closed for the second straight day after crashing on Friday. The longer it stays closed, the more panic will build up, especially given the bite sanctions will have on investment in Russia. Or for that matter, just the stigma of doing business with Russia at all from anywhere except China and a few other rogue states.

All of this prompts the question, again, of what Putin hopes to gain from his attempt to swallow Ukraine whole. He has clearly miscalculated the West, the Ukrainian forces and populace, and his own military strength. At this point, though, there’s no possible way that a forced anschluss of Ukraine will pay off for all of the economic and diplomatic losses Russia has already suffered, let alone the long-term costs of isolation. Putin could still pull back to the Donbas partition he created and declare some sort of victory, but apparently the sunk costs of his insane land war in Europe is preventing any kind of rational reassessment on his part.

That bodes ill for everyone in the region, but hopefully most of all for Putin himself. His imperial ambitions might have sounded good to the oligarchs in theory, but the disaster of Putin’s war will have them looking for some other option soon — before their wealth burns up in the hell Putin has opened for Russia.

Senile DEM President Joe’s Time To Gargle His Lies Tonight!?

SOTU: Don’t expect to hear Biden talk about “Build Back Better”

JAZZ SHAW Mar 01, 2022 12:31 PM ET

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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

One gets the feeling that whoever is writing Joe Biden’s State of the Union address for him is still making major revisions with only a few hours to go. Some of the early leaks of what will be on the agenda have included what sounds like a wise idea to not “declare victory” over the pandemic. But there will be plenty of climate change chatter to keep the President’s hard-left wing happy. He probably won’t be able to avoid talking about Ukraine and will likely try to take credit for the unified global blowback against Russia. But at least according to Huffington Post, there’s one thing you won’t be hearing. The phrase “Build Back Better” will not be passing Biden’s lips.

When President Joe Biden goes before Congress Tuesday night for his State of the Union address, he will continue his plea for lawmakers to pass his sprawling domestic policy bill — just don’t call it the “Build Back Better Act.”

The stalled legislation has been the centerpiece of Biden’s agenda, a single multitrillion-dollar solution to a range of problems afflicting the country, from climate change, to jobs, to child poverty. But with inflation raging, senior administration officials suggested Monday that Biden would put more emphasis on proposals to reduce federal budget deficits.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, noticeably avoided the “Build Back Better” brand during a Monday conference call previewing the speech, saying the president would ask Congress to pass “a piece of legislation” addressing economic problems facing American families.

If the unnamed sources that HuffPo is quoting are at all accurate, the reality is that Biden actually will be talking about BBB, but without invoking the name of the bill. They claim that he will prompt Congress to send him bills that “lower costs of everyday expenses working families face.” He’ll talk about bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and lowering the deficit. (That one was tossed in for Manchin’s benefit.) He’ll also call for bills that would lower the cost of health care premiums and child care.

If you’ve been taking notes throughout this whole process, you’re probably noticing that all of those things were included in BBB. Only the names and descriptions are changing. In other words, he’ll be talking about BBB without saying the name of the previous gargantuan bill. That’s probably because the Democrats have realized that the bill had become so toxic by the time Manchin finally tanked it that it would never garner the sort of public support they hoped to achieve heading into the midterms.

Also missing will likely be any sweeping descriptions of the desired legislation as some sort of “new, new deal” that would “reshape the fundamental structure of society.” Perhaps they finally figured out that most of the country is actually okay with our societal structure (though some fine-tuning is always up for discussion) and we don’t need to “remake America.”

Another theme that will allegedly make it into the speech is a proposal for legislation that would “reward work rather than wealth.” This is apparently the new catchphrase for massively taxing the rich and redistributing it to politically favored demographic groups. It’s yet another curious choice of wording because a large segment of those who would benefit aren’t actually working.

Given all of the focus on Ukraine right now and the floundering approval ratings for Biden personally and his party in general, I’m not expecting this speech to move the needle significantly. And once it’s over, the same problems with international tension, Bidenflation, and open borders will still be on the President’s plate as well as dwelling in the minds of voters. I’ve been saying for years that this tradition really doesn’t need to continue and the President could just send a letter to Congressional leaders informing them of his plans and his opinion on the state the country finds itself in. (It’s really not even a constitutional requirement that he make a public address.) But I suppose it won’t be going away any time soon.

What Is Senile, Dishonest Joe Trying To Think?

THE MORNING JOLT

Russia Pursues Full-Scale Shelling of Ukrainian Cities

By JIM GERAGHTY at National Review:

Ukrainian service members stand guard outside the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters)

On the menu today: Russia embraces full-scale shelling of Ukrainian cities; a 40-mile convoy of Russian military vehicles bears down on Kyiv, spurring memories of the Russian military’s siege and destruction of Grozny in Chechnya; no one knows exactly what Vladimir Putin’s mental state is; the French finance minister pledges to destroy the Russian economy; the State of the Union address is tonight, but it feels like small potatoes compared to what else is going on in the world; and the community of Hilton Head, S.C., loses a great one.

You probably saw the video of the Ukrainian man carefully moving a landmine that he found on a bridge with his bare hands, while smoking a cigarette. (Note that Russia has not signed the international treaty banning the use of land mines.)

That’s probably how a lot of world leaders feel this week — there’s an unstable and delicate piece of ordnance in front of them that must be dealt with, but one mistake could make the whole thing explode.

Way behind schedule and frustrated by heavy Ukrainian resistance and logistical problems, the Russian military shifted to a new, more brutal approach that is a war crime: targeting civilian areas. “Live-cam footage from Kharkiv’s central Freedom Square showed a missile landing just outside the local government’s headquarters, with a fireball charring nearby buildings and cars. Local officials said there were fatalities.” You can see deeply unpleasant video of the attack here  — one moment there’s a stately government administration building at an intersection, and the next there’s a giant orange fireball. Beyond that, Human Rights Watch has documented the Russians using “a 9M79-series Tochka ballistic missile with a 9N123 cluster munition warhead” just outside a hospital in Vuhledar, killing four civilians and wounding another ten.

Russia’s military has now assembled a convoy of vehicles 40 miles long (!) that, as of this writing, is just 15 miles from Kyiv.

When contemplating what that 40-mile-long convoy of Russian tanks, artillery, and other vehicles could do to the city of Kyiv, remember the fate of the Chechen capital of Grozny in 2000:

Russian soldiers did not capture Grozny. They obliterated it.

Apartment houses along Lenin Prospekt have been pulverized. Minutka Square, once a bustling plaza, has been blasted beyond recognition.

It is hard to find a single structure in the city center that has not been wrecked by a bomb, damaged by artillery or raked by gunfire. . . .

Russia’s acting president, Vladimir V. Putin announced on Sunday, with fanfare, that Russian forces had finally taken the city from rebels trying to break away from Russia. What he did not say was what the government planned to do with the ruined city and traumatized population. . . .

If new city guides were to be issued, they would describe Grozny in terms of military weaponry, not architecture.

The gaping holes in apartment complexes are classic signs of artillery. Mounds of rubble are remnants of large buildings collapsed by bombs. Gashes in the city streets, which have disemboweled the city’s underground utilities and pushed severed gas and water pipes toward the sky, seem to be the work of surface-to-surface missiles. Even monuments have been blown off their pedestals.

Grozny looks more like Stalingrad after World War II or Guernica after the Spanish Civil War. There are hardly any residents on the streets, but Russian officials say thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, remain.

Vladimir Putin has already demonstrated that he’s willing to level a city and slaughter thousands of civilians to achieve his objectives. And that was back when everyone felt he was sane, at least by the standards of Russian leaders.

Which leads to the next landmine: the state of Putin’s mind. If you’re freaked out at the thought that a man losing his marbles commands the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, so is the U.S. intelligence community. Figures who have met with him before, such as Finnish president Sauli Niinistö, say Putin is acting differently lately. The cold, calculating, stone-faced KGB man is now offering angry tirades full of historical grievances. Some observers are wondering if Putin really believes his own unhinged rhetoric that the Ukrainian government is full of drug-addicted neo-Nazis. And Putin is keeping so much distance from other people in his public meetings that I wonder if it is less fear of Covid-19 than fear of assassination by underlings he does not trust.

So far, the Russian invasion is demonstrating all kinds of miscalculations on the part of Russia’s leaders. They drastically underestimated the Ukrainians’ will to resist conquest. They believed their own fantasies about being greeted as liberators. The invading troops were given little or no intelligence before the operation began. (There are reports that Russian troops were given food rations that expired in 2015.) Logistics are always a challenge in war, but the Russians’ ability to keep their vehicles fueled and moving is proving to be a consistent and widespread problem. Putin either didn’t care about how the world would respond or he counted on the world being more apathetic or sluggish in its response.

Are Putin and his military advisers getting accurate assessments from Russian intelligence? Is Putin getting the full picture from his own military leaders? Has Putin been surrounded by yes men for so long that he can’t differentiate between what he wants to see and what’s actually there?

Considering recent events, can anyone say, with any real certainty, what Putin is and is not capable of anymore? As noted yesterday, Russian military doctrine calls for using nuclear weapons “in response to large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.” In other words, if Russian leaders fear they are about to experience a critical defeat, they can use a battlefield nuke to “de-escalate” the situation. Yes, Putin’s decision to put his nuclear forces on higher alert might be saber-rattling to intimidate the West. Or . . . it might be a sign we’re dealing with a man who thinks a mushroom cloud would finally put his enemies in their place.

The easiest way out of this dire crisis is for some other Russian leader to see the worsening calamity engulfing his country, conclude that Putin will destroy the country in pursuit of lost Cold War glory, and “retire” him in some suitably traditionally Russian way. But we in the West can’t count on that, and while it’s hard to imagine a Russian leader worse than Putin right now, there’s no guarantee that whoever replaces him will be a considerable improvement. You don’t climb to the top of the food chain in the Russian government by being a nice guy.

The other landmine is what’s going to be left of Ukraine and Russia after this fierce conflict ends. No one can deny that the Russian government deserves the fiercest retribution — and Western sanctions are rapidly disconnecting the Russian economy from the rest of the world.

Today in Europe, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire made the implied threat explicit:

“We will bring about the collapse of the Russian economy,” he told a French broadcaster. “The economic and financial balance of power is totally in favor of the European Union which is in the process of discovering its own economic power.

“We are waging total economic and financial war on Russia,” he said. According to an AFP news agency report of his interview, Mr Le Maire acknowledged that ordinary Russians would also suffer from the impact of the sanctions, “but we don’t know how we can handle this differently”.

For a long time, the deeply paranoid and inherently oppositional Putin has contended that the West is out to destroy his country. By invading Ukraine with such wanton brutality, he has made his prophecy come true.

As of this writing, the value of the ruble is just above one pennyThe Russian stock markets remain closed todayBP and Shell are divesting from partnerships with Russian oil companiesThe Russian government is trying to ban Western companies from abandoning investments in Russia, but all that is going to do in the long run is ensure no Western company invests in anything Russian again for a long, long time.

With all of that said, our Andrew Stuttaford wonders if the average Russian will feel the pinch as much as the wealthy; in short, the average Russian has less distance to fall. Andrew wonders if the bank lines understate “the resilience of the ‘silent majority’ (seemingly an important source of Putin’s support) outside the biggest cities, who have missed out on much of the prosperity enjoyed in a Moscow or St. Petersburg. Times have always been tough; if they become a bit tougher, well. . . .”

No doubt we need to punish Russia severely, but we’ve got to maximize the punishment on the regime and minimize the punishment on the average Russian citizen. Yesterday, I wrote that “Forcibly impoverishing the country with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world feels like a formula for more trouble down the road.” In response, the foreign-policy geniuses of Twitter called me Neville Chamberlain and contended I was being paid by the Russian government. What’s amazing is that the people who know about Neville Chamberlain somehow didn’t read the history-book chapters about how the treatment of Germany after World War I set the stage for the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Finally, I remain surprised by the number of people who want NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. For a no-fly zone to mean anything, NATO would have to enforce it, which would require NATO pilots to fly over Ukraine and, presuming Russian jets and other planes did not leave Ukrainian airspace, shoot them down. I have little doubt that the best NATO pilots could beat the best Russian pilots in dogfights — or at least, our guys would win those fights quite often. But the question then is how the Russians would respond against NATO.

We want to help our friends the Ukrainians and we want to avoid World War III with a nuclear-armed enemy. Creating a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine represents entering the war on Ukraine’s side — and then the battlefield spreads all over Eastern Europe, to say nothing of cyberattacks hitting much closer to home.

Now, if Russian forces cross over into Poland, or Slovakia, or Hungary, or Romania, or any other NATO-member nation, that’s a completely different story; NATO forces have the right to respond, and I fully expect they would with lethal force.

In other words, our futures depend upon Russian military forces knowing exactly where the borders are.

ADDENDUM: Republicans in the Hilton Head, S.C., area lost a great one when Tom Hatfield passed away this week. I knew him as the coordinator for the First Monday club on the island, where he graciously invited me to speak a few times. There are many Republican “clubs” in that part of the state, and at one point or another, Tom seemed to be leading or associated with all of them — including the Beaufort County Republican Club and the Hilton Head club, among others. He also volunteered as a poll worker and served on the Beaufort County election commission, the state election commission, and the state Agency Head Salary Review Commission. He was kind, courteous, good-humored, and warm to everyone who showed up to those meetings. He will be dearly missed.

Which leads to the next landmine: the state of Putin’s mind. If you’re freaked out at the thought that a man losing his marbles commands the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, so is the U.S. intelligence community. Figures who have met with him before, such as Finnish president Sauli Niinistö, say Putin is acting differently lately. The cold, calculating, stone-faced KGB man is now offering angry tirades full of historical grievances. Some observers are wondering if Putin really believes his own unhinged rhetoric that the Ukrainian government is full of drug-addicted neo-Nazis. And Putin is keeping so much distance from other people in his public meetings that I wonder if it is less fear of Covid-19 than fear of assassination by underlings he does not trust.

So far, the Russian invasion is demonstrating all kinds of miscalculations on the part of Russia’s leaders. They drastically underestimated the Ukrainians’ will to resist conquest. They believed their own fantasies about being greeted as liberators. The invading troops were given little or no intelligence before the operation began. (There are reports that Russian troops were given food rations that expired in 2015.) Logistics are always a challenge in war, but the Russians’ ability to keep their vehicles fueled and moving is proving to be a consistent and widespread problem. Putin either didn’t care about how the world would respond or he counted on the world being more apathetic or sluggish in its response.

Are Putin and his military advisers getting accurate assessments from Russian intelligence? Is Putin getting the full picture from his own military leaders? Has Putin been surrounded by yes men for so long that he can’t differentiate between what he wants to see and what’s actually there?

Considering recent events, can anyone say, with any real certainty, what Putin is and is not capable of anymore? As noted yesterday, Russian military doctrine calls for using nuclear weapons “in response to large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.” In other words, if Russian leaders fear they are about to experience a critical defeat, they can use a battlefield nuke to “de-escalate” the situation. Yes, Putin’s decision to put his nuclear forces on higher alert might be saber-rattling to intimidate the West. Or . . . it might be a sign we’re dealing with a man who thinks a mushroom cloud would finally put his enemies in their place.

The easiest way out of this dire crisis is for some other Russian leader to see the worsening calamity engulfing his country, conclude that Putin will destroy the country in pursuit of lost Cold War glory, and “retire” him in some suitably traditionally Russian way. But we in the West can’t count on that, and while it’s hard to imagine a Russian leader worse than Putin right now, there’s no guarantee that whoever replaces him will be a considerable improvement. You don’t climb to the top of the food chain in the Russian government by being a nice guy.

The other landmine is what’s going to be left of Ukraine and Russia after this fierce conflict ends. No one can deny that the Russian government deserves the fiercest retribution — and Western sanctions are rapidly disconnecting the Russian economy from the rest of the world.

Today in Europe, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire made the implied threat explicit:

“We will bring about the collapse of the Russian economy,” he told a French broadcaster. “The economic and financial balance of power is totally in favor of the European Union which is in the process of discovering its own economic power.

“We are waging total economic and financial war on Russia,” he said. According to an AFP news agency report of his interview, Mr Le Maire acknowledged that ordinary Russians would also suffer from the impact of the sanctions, “but we don’t know how we can handle this differently”.

For a long time, the deeply paranoid and inherently oppositional Putin has contended that the West is out to destroy his country. By invading Ukraine with such wanton brutality, he has made his prophecy come true.

As of this writing, the value of the ruble is just above one pennyThe Russian stock markets remain closed todayBP and Shell are divesting from partnerships with Russian oil companiesThe Russian government is trying to ban Western companies from abandoning investments in Russia, but all that is going to do in the long run is ensure no Western company invests in anything Russian again for a long, long time.

With all of that said, our Andrew Stuttaford wonders if the average Russian will feel the pinch as much as the wealthy; in short, the average Russian has less distance to fall. Andrew wonders if the bank lines understate “the resilience of the ‘silent majority’ (seemingly an important source of Putin’s support) outside the biggest cities, who have missed out on much of the prosperity enjoyed in a Moscow or St. Petersburg. Times have always been tough; if they become a bit tougher, well. . . .”

No doubt we need to punish Russia severely, but we’ve got to maximize the punishment on the regime and minimize the punishment on the average Russian citizen. Yesterday, I wrote that “Forcibly impoverishing the country with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world feels like a formula for more trouble down the road.” In response, the foreign-policy geniuses of Twitter called me Neville Chamberlain and contended I was being paid by the Russian government. What’s amazing is that the people who know about Neville Chamberlain somehow didn’t read the history-book chapters about how the treatment of Germany after World War I set the stage for the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Finally, I remain surprised by the number of people who want NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. For a no-fly zone to mean anything, NATO would have to enforce it, which would require NATO pilots to fly over Ukraine and, presuming Russian jets and other planes did not leave Ukrainian airspace, shoot them down. I have little doubt that the best NATO pilots could beat the best Russian pilots in dogfights — or at least, our guys would win those fights quite often. But the question then is how the Russians would respond against NATO.

We want to help our friends the Ukrainians and we want to avoid World War III with a nuclear-armed enemy. Creating a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine represents entering the war on Ukraine’s side — and then the battlefield spreads all over Eastern Europe, to say nothing of cyberattacks hitting much closer to home.

Now, if Russian forces cross over into Poland, or Slovakia, or Hungary, or Romania, or any other NATO-member nation, that’s a completely different story; NATO forces have the right to respond, and I fully expect they would with lethal force.

In other words, our futures depend upon Russian military forces knowing exactly where the borders are.

US Army Good At Picking Noses?

MARCH 1, 2022 BY SCOTT JOHNSON at PowerLine:

WE ARE NOT A SERIOUS COUNTRY (5)

The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports: “As Russia Wages War, US Army Trains Officers on Gender Identity.” Subhead: “Mandatory military training program pushes soldiers to undergo gender reassignment surgery.” Kredo’s story opens:

While Russia wages a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Army is putting its soldiers through training on gender pronouns and coaching officers on when to offer soldiers gender transition surgery, according to an official military presentation on the subject obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The mandatory presentation, “Policy on the Military Service of Transgender Persons and Persons with Gender Dysphoria,” was given to officers earlier this month along with instructions for them to train their subordinates on the material. Portions of the presentation were provided to the Free Beacon by a whistleblower who was ordered to undergo the training as a high-ranking officer in the Army Special Forces.

Kredo confirmed the authenticity of the program and slides included in his story:

An Army spokesman confirmed to the Free Beacon that the slides in question are part of “mandatory training” and come from an official program “used to train Army personnel on the recent changes to the DoD and Army transgender service policy.” All Army personnel, from soldiers to commanders and supervisors, are required to participate in the training by Sept. 30, 2022, according to the spokesman.

Whole thing here.

(And as the Washington Free Beacon reports…..

An Army spokesman confirmed to the Free Beacon that the slides in question are part of “mandatory training” and come from an official program “used to train Army personnel on the recent changes to the DoD and Army transgender service policy.” All Army personnel, from soldiers to commanders and supervisors, are required to participate in the training by Sept. 30, 2022, according to the spokesman.

The transgender presentation follows on a June 2021 announcement by the Army altering its policies so that transgender soldiers can openly serve. The shift in policy is part of a larger push by the Biden administration to make the military more welcoming to transgender people. These efforts have prompted pushback from Republicans in Congress and some within the military who view the policy changes as an effort to promote “woke” propaganda within the service. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to spark a larger conflict, military experts and insiders say they are concerned America’s fighting force is prioritizing woke culture over protecting the American people.

“The Army allows transgender soldiers to serve openly,” states the presentation, which is tailored for Army commanders and leaders. “An otherwise qualified soldier shall not be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity.”)

A HERO WORTH HEARING!

Zelensky: I need ammo, not a ride

JAZZ SHAW Feb 26, 2022 at HotAir:

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Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

I’m really starting to agree with Allahpundit at this point. Volodymyr Zelensky may well be dead in the very near future, but if so, “Ukrainians will know his name for generations to come.” It turns out that somebody inside the Biden administration offered Zelensky and other top officials some sort of evacuation plan where we would spirit them out of the capital and presumably out of the country to safety. Zelensky’s response, according to one U.S. official familiar with the conversation, was to say that “the fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”

It’s tough to even know what to say in response to that. We’re used to seeing national leaders scurrying off to shelter when fighting breaks out. (Look no further than former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who heroically fled to Dubai with a helicopter full of cash when the Taliban approached Kabul.) But Zelensky will stand and fight. And he’ll probably die unless Russia backs down, which seems unlikely in the extreme. Zelensky’s people are standing with him. Military recruiting offices are overwhelmed as men, women, and children show up to volunteer, take up arms, and prepare to fight the Russians. It may be a futile effort in the end, but it has the makings of a last stand suitable for a Hollywood classic. (NY Post)

The US government offered to evacuate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from Kyiv — but he declined.

“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelensky said, The Associated Press reported, citing a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation.

Zelensky, 44, instead chose to remain in Ukraine’s capital as Russian forces brought the fight to the city streets, where gunfire and explosions were heard overnight Friday into Saturday.

The besieged president said his family had been evacuated to safety.

I don’t want to build this into something more than it already is, but Zelensky is reacting in a way that sounds rather familiar. You may already be familiar with the story of Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe. He was the acting commander of the allied forces in Bastogne, France on December 22nd, 1944 when the town was encircled by Germans. Two Nazi officers arrived with a written offer to accept McAuliffe’s surrender. His only response to them was, “Nuts.” Shortly after that, Patton’s Second Army arrived from the south and drove the Germans back. Unfortunately for Zelensky, there is no Patton equivalent on the way to provide relief. He and the Ukrainian people are in this fight on their own.

As the sun rose in Kyiv this morning, it was obvious that Putin had already begun scaling up the attack. Early estimates showed there were additional casualties in the hundreds. Russian shells had hit apartment buildings, schools, and bridges. Major Russian troop movements were being reported and it’s believed that they could be in the capital in force by the end of the day. Assuming Zelensky doesn’t decide to surrender (and there’s no sign of that), Putin will be denied the relatively quick and bloodless victory that he was hoping for to minimize international criticism of the invasion.

Here’s Zelensky this morning in a new video he posted to Twitter. I don’t speak Ukrainian so I have no idea what he’s saying, but you just have to admire the heck out of this guy. A loose translation provided by someone replying to the tweet indicates that he’s telling his people that reports of him calling for them to lay down their arms and surrender are simply Russian propaganda. The capital cannot fall and everyone must prepare to defend it.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1497450853380280320&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fhotair.com%2Fjazz-shaw%2F2022%2F02%2F26%2Fzelensky-i-need-ammo-not-a-ride-n451362&sessionId=001efb1c4a0c620df8fc5116ba10e85c38d9d155&siteScreenName=hotairblog&theme=light&widgetsVersion=2582c61%3A1645036219416&width=550px

If the Kyiv Independent newspaper is to be believed, advance Russian forces tried to enter central Kyiv last night but the Ukrainian military and civilian resistance repelled them. They reportedly “destroyed a column of Russian forces, including two trucks loaded with tanks and another tank.” Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are dying, but so are Russian troops. If this keeps up much longer, Putin will begin losing support for this war in his own country, assuming that hasn’t already started to happen. It’s still almost impossible to imagine Ukraine actually defeating the invading Russian forces entirely, but they’re making Putin pay a steep price for every mile of ground he manages to take.

 Putin himself was a former KGB thug.

February 28, 2022

American Appeasement of Russia Led to War in Ukraine

By Daniel Duffy at American Thinker:

As I write this, the first shells are exploding in Ukraine in what promises to be the bloodiest war in Europe since 1945.  The most frustrating part is that this was all preventable.  This was not an unseen, spontaneous natural disaster.  The lessons of history are there for us to learn from, but the West has willfully ignored them.  A long chain of appeasement that runs across administrations and countries has emboldened Putin and resurrected his dream of a revived Soviet Union.

It’s important to understand the nature of Russia.  For all intents and purposes, Russia is a dictatorship.  Putin himself was a former KGB thug.  He has the vast power of the government, economy, and media.  Its “elections” are mere political theater.  In 2011, massive crowds in Russia protested his rigged “re-election.”  The leading pro-democracy activist, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned by the Kremlin and now sits in jail.  The Kremlin has killed former party members and dozens of journalists.  The Russian government repeatedly sponsors cyber-attacks and has attempted to interfere with elections of Western countries.  It supports dictators around the world, including in Iran, Syria, and Venezuela.  In 2018, Russian mercenaries directly attacked U.S. forces in Syria.  Now the world watches in horror as Putin’s army launches an unprovoked attack on Ukraine.   

Putin has begun all this for a couple of intertwined reasons: nationalism and power.  He’s said the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.”  It is nationalism in the most primitive, tribal, Nazi-like form — the elevation of some mystical “motherland” above all rights of individuals, including Russians.  Putin feels betrayed that the Ukrainians are increasingly sympathetic to the West, economically and spiritually.  He wants to punish them and simultaneously send a message to his people.  Freedom-loving people are a threat to his power.  He sees former Soviet states like Poland, Romania, Lithuania, and others join the E.U. and become prosperous.  Therefore, he tries to sow discontent in Western countries in any way he can.  He can be seen then as the stable alternative and reassert Russia’s sphere of influence.  Because America is still seen as a symbol of freedom to people around the world, we are naturally his enemy.    

So what have been the Wests’ relations with Russia?  Any discussion of this topic cannot leave out energy.  Europe’s pursuit of green energy has left it vulnerable to Russia.  Forty percent of Europe’s natural gas is supplied from Russia.  This is a result of a combination of banning fracking in many countries, restricting imports of LNG (liquefied natural gas) combined with America restricting LNG exports, and the shutting down of nuclear and coal plants.  Europe’s dependence means it’s feeding the bear that threatens it.

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia.  Shortly after, President Obama announced a “reset” policy with Russia.  This was consistent with President Bush, who found Putin “straightforward and trustworthy.”  In 2014, Putin punished Ukraine for ousting its pro-Russian puppet president by annexing Crimea.  The West responded with tepid sanctions.  President Trump equated Putin’s killings of journalists and dissidents with the actions of the United States not once, but twice.  “There are a lot of killers,” Trump told Bill O’Reilly in a 2017 interview.  “You think our country’s so innocent?”  In 2015, he said, “I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know.”  He continued to describe Putin as a leader and someone whom he respects.

No, the United States isn’t perfect.  But the lack of moral clarity when equating a country that has representational government, freedom of speech, real elections, a mostly free economy, and a separation of church and state with the monstrosity of a dictator like Putin emboldens the Kremlin and does real damage.  Putting Putin on an equal footing affects the way we think of our relations with him.

If someone were your moral equal, why would you hesitate to become largely dependent on him for natural gas?  To Trump’s credit, he did in fact warn Europe that this was not a good idea.  But the point is that the lack of moral clarity dilutes our thinking.  It would be like going into business with a known con man — you are only fooling yourself.  It also gives the Kremlin the green light to accelerate thuggish tactics because it sends the message that we do not care.  Trump’s quote is indicative of the waffling Western leaders have shown toward Putin. 

So what’s wrong with the precedents set by all these administrations?  The common denominator is that they negate the nature of Russia.  The West views these events — the invasion of Georgia here, attacking American troops there — as episodic.  Westerners haven’t connected the dots.

In relation to other nations, the first question one should ask is, what type of country is this?  Is it mostly free or controlled?  Does it respect individual rights?  How can its past inform us?  What are its ambitions?  Any honest assessment of Russia would have concluded that it was not a country to be trusted, much less become dependent upon for natural gas, as Europe has.  Instead, we project our sense of life onto Russia and assume that the Russians think like us.  Consider the context of Obama’s “reset” policy.  Stable, good-willed countries don’t invade other countries for no reason.  This should have been a huge clue for Obama that Putin and the Russian government are not like other foreign nations.  Treating them as if they only sanctioned their behavior.

I am not saying we should have gone to war with Russia.  I am saying there is plenty the West could have done to deter Russian aggression outside military action: sanctions with teeth, diversifying energy, and morally condemning the hell out of their aggression, for starters.

This last point is important.  The power of the bully pulpit cannot be overstated.  One of the best traits Ronald Reagan had was that he called a spade a spade.  The “evil empire” is what he called the Soviet Union.  After the Berlin wall fell, freedom fighters in the eastern bloc said his rhetoric had given them courage and hope.  There is something motivating to knowing that the United States is on your side.

Today’s leaders have lost that power of rhetoric.  There is no animating love of freedom running through their veins.  There are no spokesmen for the American story.  The Russians and the Chinese fear it.  They fear it because of the ideas it represents.  At some level, they know freedom beats authoritarianism every time.  They don’t want that to be broadcast to the world.  That’s the kind of spirit that needs to be revived in America and in the West if we want to avoid the mistakes of the past.

The Death Of American Anthony Perna!

The Suicide of a January 6 Defendant: ‘They Broke Him’

Matthew Perna was failed by the country he loved.

By Julie Kelly at American Greatness:

February 27, 2022

Matthew Perna did nothing wrong on January 6, 2021.

The Pennsylvania man walked through an open door on the Senate side of the building shortly before 3 p.m. that afternoon. Capitol police, shown in surveillance video, stood by as hundreds of Americans entered the Capitol. Wearing a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt, Perna, 37, left after about 20 minutes.

Less than two weeks later, Perna was ensnared in what the former top U.S. prosecutor called a “shock and awe” campaign to round up Trump supporters and deter them from demonstrating at Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. After he discovered his image on the FBI’s most wanted list for January 6, Perna immediately contacted his local FBI office and voluntarily submitted to questioning; on January 18, six FBI agents arrested Perna at his home.

His life from that point turned into a nightmare. Perna was indicted by a grand jury in February 2021 on four counts including obstruction of an official proceeding and trespassing misdemeanors. Despite his nonviolent participation in the events of that day—he did not assault anyone, carry a weapon, or vandalize property—Biden’s Justice Department and local news media nonetheless made his life pure hell.

Whenever his hometown paper, the Sharon Heraldpublished an article on its social media account about Perna, the majority of replies were “horrible and brutal,” his aunt, Geri Perna, told me on the phone Sunday. After more than a year of legal and public torture, Perna saw no way out.

On Friday night, Matthew Perna hung himself in his garage.

“They broke him, they mentally broke him,” Geri said through racking sobs as she explained why her loved one ended his life. “He had run out of hope. I know he couldn’t take it any more.”

In December, at the behest of his defense attorney, Perna agreed to plead guilty to all four counts. With no criminal record and no violent conduct on January 6, Perna and his family expected a prison sentence of less than a year; Perna’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 3, the seven-year anniversary of his mother’s death.

But Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia handling every January 6 prosecution, intervened and asked the court to delay Perna’s sentencing so his office could make sure Capitol defendants are punished equally. “While every case and every defendant are different, the Government is attempting to ensure that similarly situated January 6 defendants are treated in the same manner,” Graves wrote in a motion on February 11. “The Government is attempting to do that in this case and that requires additional time for the Government’s internal review process to be completed.”

This was very bad news for Perna. Graves’ office has sought lengthy prison terms for defendants who plead guilty to the obstruction felony. In the case of Jacob Chansley, who, like Perna, committed no violent act on January 6 and was allowed into the building by police, Biden’s Justice Department sought 51 months in jail and three years probation. (Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced him to 41 months.)

In sentencing recommendations on obstruction pleas, prosecutors have compared defendants to domestic terrorists and asked judges to act accordingly. “The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” one of Graves’ prosecutors wrote in Chansley’s sentencing memo. “The sentence of this Court must drive home this fact for this defendant, and any others who may wish to emulate him: crimes committed against this country and democracy will be prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law.”

That appears to be what Graves would have demanded in Perna’s case as well.

When Perna learned his sentencing hearing was again delayed, he called his aunt. “‘I am guilty, I am guilty!” he told her. “He said that he deserved whatever punishment they were going to give him. That was the last straw. The constant harassment was too much.”

Perna is at least the second known suicide of a January 6 defendant and in September, another defendant, John Anderson, died unexpectedly. His attorney, Marina Medvin, condemned the Justice Department’s false case against her client and in a statement said he “died a wrongly accused man who maintained his innocence to his last day.”

Perna’s aunt told me that Matthew graduated at the top of his class at Penn State University and traveled the world teaching children in southeast Asia how to speak English. After his mother’s death—she died suddenly from a hospital mishap after fully recovering from a bout of leukemia—Perna became disillusioned with the healthcare industry and interested in more holistic remedies. At the time of his arrest, Perna was doing well as a CBD distributor with clients in many countries.

All of that changed after January 6.

“We lost many friendships after the news was plastered all over the local newspapers,” his father, Larry, wrote to Judge John Bates seeking leniency for his son. “We were no longer comfortable going out in public, something I never in my life thought I would experience in the town where our family was respected and well known. This past year cost Matthew his income, the love of his life, his friendships, and his standing in the community. He will never be the same, and I ask that you take all of this into consideration before sentencing him.”

But that sort of isolation clearly isn’t enough to satisfy Biden’s Justice Department as it continues to seek revenge against Americans who protested Joe Biden’s election on January 6. Federal prosecutors want jail time even for those charged with low-level misdemeanors such as “parading” at the Capitol. (Perna’s original indictment still includes the lie that Kamala Harris was in the building during the protest that day, the basis for thousands of criminal charges. It is unclear whether his lawyer notified the court about the falsehood before accepting the plea offer.)

Desperate for help, Perna and his family reached out to numerous political leaders including Donald Trump. On Christmas Day, Geri told me, Matthew went to Mar A Lago and attempted to get a letter to the former president to explain his plight. He did not succeed in getting the letter to Trump.

“I want Trump and everyone to know Matt’s name,” Geri told me. Her nephew was a longtime backer of Bernie Sanders before he became a Trump supporter. “We are so angry and upset. Someone has to pay for this.”

But will anyone? In a fair world, local reporters, Matthew Graves and his prosecutors, Judge John Bates and anyone involved in this abusive prosecution would re-evaluate the human cost of what they’re doing and hang their heads in shame. Thousands of lives destroyed—for what? To sooth the fragile ego of Joe Biden and quench the insatiable lust for revenge by the Democratic Party? To notch legal victories to advance Beltway careers? To create clickbait headlines?

But these people have no shame—so no moment of reflection can be expected.

After we spoke Sunday, Geri and Larry headed to the funeral home to make arrangements for Matt. “I miss my son,” Larry told me, his voice breaking. “This leaves a giant hole in my heart. I don’t know how I will get through this. He was a good person, so kind and considerate. He couldn’t harm a flea.”

Matthew Perna was failed by the country he loved, demonized by the news media, tormented by the world’s most powerful law enforcement, ignored by political leaders of both parties, and betrayed by a federal judge sworn to defend justice not appease the whims of a vengeful regime.

They all have blood on their hands now.

“When will the corrupt media begin reporting on this biggest political scandal of the last century?”

4 New Things We Just Learned About The Special Counsel Investigation

BY: MARGOT CLEVELAND at the Federalist:

FEBRUARY 28, 2022

Hillary Clinton campaigning for president

When will the corrupt media begin reporting on this biggest political scandal of the last century?

Since Friday, several developments have exposed more of the behind-the-scenes details of the special counsel investigation into Spygate, including the public release of the deposition of Tech Executive-1, Rodney Joffe. Joffe’s deposition, coupled with other details previously known, reveals several significant facts while highlighting the many questions that remain unanswered.

Here’s what we learned and what investigative trails require further probing.

1. Rodney Joffe Pled the Fifth Twice

Earlier this month, the Russian-connected Alfa Bank filed a motion in a Florida state court seeking an extension of time to serve the numerous “John Doe” defendants it had sued there in June 2020. Alfa Bank had sued “John Doe, et al.” as stand-ins for the defendants it claimed were responsible for executing “a highly sophisticated cyberattacking scheme to fabricate apparent communications between [Alfa Bank] and the Trump Organization” in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

After filing suit, Alfa Bank began discovery in an attempt to learn the identity of the individuals responsible for what the large, privately owned Russian bank alleged was the creation of a fake computer trail connecting it to the Trump Organization. Among others Alfa Bank sought information from was Joffe, the man identified as Tech Executive-1 in Special Counsel John Durham’s indictment against former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann.

Joffe’s attempts to quash Alfa Bank’s subpoena failed. On February 11, 2022, the tech executive alleged by Durham to have exploited sensitive data from an executive branch office of the federal government to mine for derogatory information on Trump sat for his deposition. On Friday, an internet sleuth discovered the public filing of Joffe’s deposition, which revealed that Joffe had finally been deposed by Alfa Bank.

In addition to revealing that Joffe’s deposition had taken place, the transcript from the deposition established that Durham had asked to interview Joffe more than a year earlier, but Joffe refused to speak with Durham’s team. After Joffe refused to submit to a voluntary interview, the special counsel’s office subpoenaed him to testify before a grand jury.

Joffe told Alfa Bank lawyers that he refused to answer questions before the grand jury, exercising his Fifth Amendment rights. The former Neustar tech executive likewise asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in response to a subpoena for documents served by the special counsel’s office.

2. Joffe Seeks to Jump into the Sussmann Criminal Case

Friday also saw Joffe’s attorneys, Steven Tyrrell and Eileen Citron, file notices of appearances for Joffe as a proposed “intervenor” in the special counsel’s criminal case against Sussmann. Joffe could seek to intervene in the case to challenge a subpoena, to seek a protective order—maybe because of purported attorney-client communications Joffe had with Sussmann or to prevent Durham from discussing his alleged role in public filings—or to otherwise protect a legal right or interest.

We should know more shortly, when Joffe’s attorney files the related motion to intervene. That motion is likely to come within the next week or so, given that on Friday, the court in United States v. Sussmann scheduled a hearing for March 7, 2022, to address potential conflicts of interests between Sussmann and his current attorneys, and Joffe is likely interested in ensuring Durham’s team does not further implicate him in the matter.

3. Joffe’s Seemingly Contradictory Testimony About Ops-Trust

The transcript of Joffe’s deposition testimony discovered on Friday consisted mainly of the former tech executive refusing to answer questions because of the special counsel’s pending investigation, with Joffe responding to Alfa Bank’s inquiries by pleading the Fifth. However, several times Joffe responded to questions about specific individuals by saying he had not heard of the person or organization.

One such exchange proved intriguing and seemingly contradictory to an email obtained pursuant to a Right-to-Know request served on Georgia Tech, the university where two of the researchers who allegedly mined data for Joffe worked.

“Just a few questions more,” Alfa Bank’s attorney began, before asking, “Mr. Joffe, are you a member of the so-called Union of Concerned Nerds as described by L. Jean Camp?” “Basically, she’s used it as a description to describe a group of computer researchers who search for malware and other malicious content and actors on the internet,” the attorney for the Russian bank continued.

Joffe responded that he “can’t remember having heard that term,” before adding: “And I don’t belong to any organization.” However, when asked whether he was “a member of a group of individuals who sought to investigate potential foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election” or compiled supposed evidence of the Alfa Bank server connecting to the Trump campaign, Joffe pled the Fifth.

In posing these questions, Alfa Bank sought to connect Joffe to the reports of the supposed secret communication channel between it and the Trump administration and specifically to Slate’s reporting from October 31, 2016, headlined: “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?”

Author Franklin Foer opened the article by highlighting “a small, tightly knit community of computer scientists . . . some at cybersecurity firms, some in academia, some with close ties to three-letter federal agencies,” who claimed to have discovered the Alfa Bank-Trump server connections. Foer then quoted Indiana University computer scientist L. Jean Camp’s “wry formulation” of the group: “We’re the Union of Concerned Nerds.”

Apparently, Joffe was not in on Camp’s joke, even if he was in on the research, as Durham’s indictment of Sussmann suggests.

But what about Joffe’s second claim that “I don’t belong to any organization?” As I reported last week, a random email included in a trove of documents provided by Georgia Tech in response to a Right-to-Know Request showed Joffe forwarding an email sent to cw-general@ops-trust.net to university researcher Manos Antonakakis. That Joffe had received the ops-trust.net email and then forwarded it to Antonakakis proves important because Ops-Trust matches many of the details included in the Slate article (and later two New Yorker articles) discussing the researchers behind the Alfa Bank claims.

For instance, “Ops-Trust is a self-described ‘highly vetted community of security professionals,” which includes, among other experts, DNS administrators, DNS registrars, and law enforcement officials. Membership in Ops-Trust is extremely limited, with new candidates accepted only if nominated and vouched for by their peers.

Unfortunately, Alfa Bank’s attorney did not quiz Joffe on Ops-Trust, but his denial of belonging to any organization raises several questions. What was his connection to Ops-Trust? Did Joffe use that connection to obtain non-public information to mine for data to destroy Trump? Is he no longer connected to Ops-Trust, and is that why he claimed not to be a member of any organization?

Requests last week to Joffe’s attorney and other individuals connected to Ops-Trust seeking information concerning Joffe’s continued involvement with Ops-Trust went unanswered. A request to Camp on whether she was a member of Ops-Trust in 2016 and whether she knew Joffe or the Georgia Tech researchers through that organization also went unanswered.

4. It’s Not Just the FBI and CIA We’re Talking About Here

In the special counsel’s criminal case against Sussmann, Durham’s team revealed that Sussmann had provided the “evidence” of the Alfa Bank-Trump covert communication channel to the FBI on September 19, 2016 and shared an updated version of the Alfa Bank allegations with the CIA on February 9, 2017. According to the special counsel’s office, Sussmann also provided the CIA data that purported to show traffic at Trump-related locations connecting to the “internet protocol” or “IP addresses” of a supposedly rare Russian mobile phone provider.

The questioning of Joffe by Alfa Bank’s attorney now suggests Sussmann may have also provided that same data to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It has been known for some time that after Americans elected Trump, Democrats regrouped and continued to push the Russia collusion hoax, including the Alfa Bank angle. The New Yorker, in a 2018 article rehashing the Alfa Bank claims and referring to Joffe with the pseudonym “Max,” wrote that after Trump’s inauguration two Democrat senators “had reviewed the data assembled by Max’s group.”

One of the “Democratic senators approached a former Senate staffer named Daniel Jones and asked him to give the data a closer look,” The New Yorker article continued. Jones then spent a year researching the Alfa Bank allegations and writing a report for the Senate.

According to The New Yorker’s coverage, then, the senators had the data and provided it to Jones. Jones confirmed that sequence when a former Sen. Dianne Feinstein staffer and founder of the left-wing The Democracy Integrity Project sued Alfa Bank seeking to keep confidential his deposition testimony and documents provided to the Russian bank.

In his complaint, Jones stated in court filings that in early-to-mid 2017, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee asked him to research the alleged connections between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. Specifically, the Senate committee “requested that Mr. Jones evaluate information it had received about DNS look-ups between Alfa Bank servers and Trump Organization servers.”

Significantly, Jones stated that the Senate Committee informed him “that the source of the DNS records had a history of providing accurate information, a lengthy history of reliably assisting the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities and was an individual or entity with sensitive contracts with the U.S. government.” Jones added that he met with a representative for the source of the DNS records at the committee’s request.

While Jones does not identify that source or the source’s representative with whom he met, in Joffe’s deposition, Alfa Bank lawyers stated that Jones had testified he had “liaised with Mr. Joffe on various issues related to the server allegations.” The “sensitive contracts” language from Jones’ filing also seems eerily like Durham’s charge that Joffe had exploited internet data, including some accessed under sensitive government contracts.

Alfa Bank’s questioning of Joffe also seems to suggest a similar theory: “Were you aware that Mr. Sussmann provided documents including white papers and data files to Congress?” Alfa Bank’s counsel asked, clarifying that she meant not just the actual senators or representatives but also their staff. And “did you direct Mr. Sussmann to provide such documents to Congress?” the Russian bank attorney continued.

While Joffe refused to answer the questions, again pleading the fifth, Joffe admitted in his deposition that he knew Kirk McConnell. McConnell worked as a staffer for Sen. Jack Reed and in that role McConnell served as a contact for Jones related to the Alfa Bank research.

If Sussmann had provided the Alfa Bank data to the two Democrat senators on behalf of Joffe, as appears possible from these details, that would represent the fourth time Sussmann had served as an intermediary for Joffe with federal officials: In addition to the FBI and CIA, we know from Durham’s filings that Sussmann also provided the DOJ’s inspector general information purporting to show that Joffe “had observed that a specific OIG employee’s computer was ‘seen publicly’ in ‘Internet traffic’ and was connecting to a Virtual Private Network in a foreign country.”

While at this point there is no evidence that Joffe’s tip to the DOJ’s inspector general connects to the other efforts undertaken by Joffe and his lawyer to push a Trump-Russia conspiracy theory within the Deep State, questions remain that are only heightened by the possibility that the Joffe-Sussmann team also fed senators on the Armed Services Committee their “intel.”

How exactly did Joffe “see” this internet connection? Did he exploit any government or private data? Was he specifically watching computer traffic at the DOJ? Where else was he monitoring internet connections? And why?

Of course, the more global question remains as well: When will the corrupt media begin reporting on the biggest political scandal of the last century?

GOD BLESS AMERICA