Category Archives: Middle East

C&C. Proud of President Biden. So Lucky to have MSM.

Discount to your heart’s content. I think Mr. Childers is right on the money. The President, the Democrat Party, the MSM and most “swamp Republicans” are responsible for every ounce of good will, friendship and integrity that America loses each day. At best its crickets from these people: “Send me money!!” I’ll take the likes of Jim Jordan, and Gov. Desantis any day.

Source: Coffee & Covid ☙ Friday, August 26, 2022 ☙ MYSTERY BABYLON

🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞

🔥 It’s affidavit day! Yesterday, side-swapper and former Epstein lawyer Bruce Reinhart, Magistrate over the Biden Raid case, ordered the FBI to disclose its heavily-redacted search warrant affidavit by sometime today, conveniently heading into the weekend news cycle. The redacted affidavit was already prepared and the Magistrate has already reviewed it. So the order looks to me like puffing; he’s ordering them to redact and disclose an already-redacted affidavit.

Anyway, here’s what the Magistrate’s order said about the redactions:

Based on my independent review of the Affidavit, I further find that the government has met its burden of showing that the proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the Government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire Affidavit.

Narrowly-tailored! Remember that phrase for when we see the document. It’s heartwarming that the FBI got all their redactions EXACTLY RIGHT on the very first try. Great job! It’s a crime-fighting miracle. Absent from this latest order was any of the high-flying language from the last order about the unprecedented nature of the investigation, the public’s interest, and so on. This order was all business.

So we’ll see whether whatever is actually disclosed today moves the needle at all. I have no predictions, none; we’re in all-new territory, and Kamala spilled her blackberry wine cooler all over the map again.

💉 CNN picked up the Fetterman stroke-speech story yesterday — after C&C covered it — and the clip below includes some helpful examples of Fetterman’s obvious post-stroke cognitive struggles:

You win some, you lose some. At least he won’t have any serious side effects from COVID.

🔥 The UK Telegraph ran a story yesterday that will gratify many of you headlined, “Rishi Sunak Is Just the Start. The Great Lockdown Scandal Is About to Unravel.” The sub-head explains, “The pseudo-scientific sheen is finally being stripped off the decision to shut down Britain.”

Rishi Sunak was Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer during the pandemic, and recently ran to replace Boris Johnson. His campaign stalling, he is now talking to journalists about the climate of fear and total control inside the British government during the early pandemic when lockdowns were originally being cooked up.

Sunak says that virtually all decision-making was handed over to a small group of cherry-picked lockdown scientists, and everyone was expected to go along or face political destruction. In other words, the lockdown instructions were coming from the top. The article describes it like this:

Questioning lockdown, even in ministerial meetings, was seen as an attack on the Prime Minister’s authority. To ask even basic questions – about how many extra cancer deaths there might be, for example – was to risk being portrayed as one the crackpots, the “Cov-idiots”, people who wanted to “let the virus rip”. Hysteria had taken hold in the heart of Whitehall.

The paywalled article is a very interesting read for folks who hope that accountability will someday catch up with current events. Here are my favorite two paragraphs:

The disclosures should start a great unravelling of the lockdown myth, its pseudo-scientific sheen stripped away and the shocking political malfeasance left to stand exposed. Were Sage minutes manipulated, with dissent airbrushed out? If Sage “scenarios” were cooked up on fundamentally wrong assumptions we need to know, because that will mean lockdowns were imposed or extended upon a false premise. A premise that could have been exposed as false, had there been basic transparency or proper scrutiny.
This isn’t just about a virus. An autocratic streak took hold of the Government and overpowered a weak Prime Minister – and did so because our democratic safeguards failed. It should have been impossible for policies of such huge consequence to be passed without the most rigorous scrutiny. So many lives were at risk that every single lockdown assumption should have been pulled apart to see if it was correct. It should have been impossible for government to suspend such scrutiny for more than a few weeks.

This is a good start, and it’s encouraging to see it in corporate media. But a huge question remains: Who was directing this from the top? WHO or WHAT was able to coerce nearly every government on Earth into going along with the lockdown program, no matter the cost, all within a few days of each other?

Obviously, we can only speculate. For my Revelation watchers, these verses seem like a hint:

“Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:

BABYLON THE GREAT

THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES

AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Revelation 17:3-5.

I don’t know. I’m a lawyer, not a theologian. But to me, it seems like a pretty good description of the mysterious whoever or whatever orchestrated the global pandemic response.¹

🔥 Joe Biden has now gone 40 out of 56 days without taking a single question from the media, and he has not sat for an on-camera interview since February 10th.

🚀 Remember when Biden jetted over to Israel and Saudi Arabia, fist-bumping everybody, all notwithstanding having sworn during the campaign to make the Saudis into a “pariah nation” for assassinating a woke international journalist and probably spy of some kind? But it was all okay, no problem bwana, because Joe’s high-minded trip was well-intentioned, for the express purpose of brokering Middle East peace, and it was definitely NOT to beg the Saudis for oil. (How dare you.)

Well, it turns out Joe’s interest in Middle East peace comes and goes. You have to catch him on a good day.

The Times of Israel ran an embarrassing story Wednesday with the oblique headline, “US Said to Rebuff Request for Lapid-Biden Call, Gantz-Austin Meet Amid Iran Push.”

Haha, I don’t wonder the Times of Israel soft-pedaled the headline. What really happened was, Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid urgently called Biden to talk to about the Iranian nuclear situation, saying it was an emergency. Then — get this — he was icily told “Biden is on vacation, dummy. He’ll call you back when he’s in the office.”

I am not making that up or exaggerating in any way, I swear. Here’s how the Times of Israel described what happened, in its own words:

> [T]he White House recently rejected an Israeli request for an emergency phone call between Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden… the president’s office claimed Biden was unavailable for a conversation with the premier because he was on vacation. However, the sources emphasized that the talk would be arranged eventually.

“CLAIMED Biden was unavailable,” haha. Good one.

Now remember, Israel is the U.S.’s MOST important Middle-East ally. Allegedly. And Israel is armed to the wisdom teeth with nukes. And it has sworn to start a preemptive nuclear war if necessary to prevent Iran from getting its own nuclear weapons. And Joe was JUST THERE a month ago to “broker peace” in the region. So that’s a lot of reasons to take the call right there.

Now add the fact that Joe is on his FOURTH WEEK of being out of action, two weeks of double-covid quarantine, followed by two weeks of vacation to recover from his harrowing brush with death. I mean, at HIS AGE, Joe practically has to brush the Wings of Death out of his mouth every time he takes a nibble from his Rocky Road triple scoop. They’re basically sharing a bathroom at this point.

The U.S. is about to close a deal with Iran, which has demanded even more money, the legitimization of its terrorist front group, higher allowed levels of nuclear enrichment, less oversight, the instructor’s manual to some class called “How to Build a Nuclear Bomb,” free passes for Disney cruises, and six truckloads of all-green M&Ms with Khamenei’s face printed on the sides. For its part, the U.S. has demanded that the Iranians sign the deal, any deal, it doesn’t matter, just sign the damned thing.

You wouldn’t know anything about this appalling spectacle by reading U.S. corporate media, it’s embargoed. I had to use Israeli sources and translate the whole thing from Hebrew:

Haha, just kidding. The Times of Israel has an English language version. But I’m NOT kidding that U.S. media is pretending like the story doesn’t exist, like a bunch of teenagers carefully stepping over a puppy accident to grab a power-bar from the kitchen and muttering, “what? I didn’t see it.”

The Hebrew state is conflicted about what to do about the pending Iran deal. The Jerusalem Post illustrated the difficulty in an article Wednesday headlined, “Lapid Close to Criticizing Biden on Iran as Netanyahu Looms Large.” The sub-head asked the pressing question, “Should Israel ‘play nice’ with the White House or be aggressive when it comes down to Iran nuclear talks?”

The article reports that Prime Minister Lapid is not super copacetic with the proposed M&M deal with Iran, but neither does he want to get sideways with Biden. He delicately told reporters, “In our eyes, [the Iran deal] does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”

So.

🚀 I need to brief you in on the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant situation, because it’s big and murky and mostly embargoed. I’ll start with a Hill article yesterday headlined, “Biden, Zelensky Discuss Concerns Over Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant.”

Haha, Israel, vacationing Biden doesn’t have time to talk about YOUR nuclear problems with Iran, but he does have all the time in the world to chat with the dancing comedian about HIS little nuclear power plant issue.

   

A White House call summary explained, “The two leaders also called for Russia to return full control of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant to Ukraine and for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to the plant.”

Like THAT is going to happen.

So what is it? Zaporizhzhya is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Russia has safely and quietly controlled the plant since early in the war. But lately the Ukrainians have been lobbing mortars at the plant, for weeks now, which is making a lot of people very nervous about a potential ‘accident’ that could be literally one million times worse than Three Mile Island multiplied by Chernobyl.

Currently, Ukraine enjoys the protection of a fully-powered-up criticism shield, which destroys all Western media that touches it. So, OF COURSE the Zaporizhzhya threat is ALL Russia’s fault — not the bat-guano insane Ukrainians firing explosive rounds at a NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. Are you confused? It’s Russia’s fault because Putin started the war in the first place. See how easy that was?

Ironically, the Ukrainians have justified the shelling by accusing the Russians of storing ammunition and military supplies inside the reactor grounds. I say ‘ironically’ because Ukraine has itself been credibly accused of placing ammo and supplies in civilian locations like schools, shopping malls, apartment buildings, and churches.

But I don’t know if they’re truly comparable. It seems like a nuclear reactor is a strategic, non-civilian site, and if you captured it, you’d probably want some military hardware there, because capturing a target is only half the equation. You also have to KEEP the target. You don’t want nuclear power plants falling into the wrong hands.

But I’m just a lawyer, not a woke, unattractive cross-dressing general. So what do I know about military strategy?

🔥 Yesterday, citing obvious safety concerns, the Russians disconnected the Zaporizhzhya plant from the European power grid for the first time in history. Since it is almost impossible to find any credible reporting about the situation in Western corporate media, I am forced to rely on local independent reports on Twitter, which suggest the power outage continues this morning:

The ability to turn the power on and off is an ace card for the Russians. From the beginning of the war, I wondered about why the Russians were not taking out all Ukraine’s power. It would be child’s play. But it has become clear over time that the Russians are being extremely careful to avoid damaging civilians and civilian infrastructure as much as possible.

Leaving the power off for too long will create a humanitarian disaster, which the Russians seem to be trying to avoid. But strategically turning it on and off at critical moments, like maybe whenever U.S. congresspeople come for photo ops and to deliver or pick stuff up, could be a very useful weapon in the overall war effort.

This may just be another one of those myriad of stories that mysteriously fades away again after the outrage machine billows smoke and pivots loudly toward a different target. But I thought you should hear about it.

🔥 In the bottom story of the day, the crack squad of highly motivated personnel down at the Texas Child Protective Services’ office are getting, um, creative about ways to help orphaned kids. Fox 26 Houston ran a story last week headlined, “CPS Employee Caught on Camera Telling 14-Year-Old Girl to Become a Prostitute.”

It seems like that’s exactly what happened. CPS has already fired the worker and is trying to move all the involved kids around, leaving some parents complaining they are being punished for blowing the whistle. CPS has not denied any of the allegations. What happened was, a 14-year-old runaway living in a state-supplied motel, waiting for a foster placement, went in to the Houston CPS office to complain about being hungry. Because she’d received sketchy advice before, the teen used her cell phone to record the CPS worker’s advice.

In the video, the CPS worker can clearly be heard telling the girl she could make up to $1,500 a day as a prostitute, so that she can get some food. It’s a pretty wild story, but at least Child Pimping Services, I mean PROTECTIVE Services, did the right thing and buried the story beneath a thousand banker’s boxes of red tape.

Who cares how many times it’s happened before, whether there are other caseworkers involved, or whether there even might be an organized sex trafficking ring operating out of that office?

Don’t be nitpicky.

🔥 Finally, to warm your hearts, Governor DeSantis — who has been on a ROLL for two years now — took a hostile election question from reporters yesterday, jammed it into a political hand grenade, and tossed it right back at them:

Enjoy!

I hope ya’ll have a fantastic Friday, and I’ll meet you back here tomorrow for the weekend roundup.

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Revelation Chapter 17 continues by describing the beast’s heads and horns as representing the kings of the earth. So, the beast represents world government, the horns and heads represent the leaders of earth governments, and the Prostitute is sitting on the beast, controlling it. Get it?

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Biden’s Saudi Arabia Visit Was Worse Than an Embarrassment

WSJ, 7/19/2022: Biden’s Saudi Arabia Visit Was Worse Than an Embarrassment – WSJ

Meetings between leaders of important nations are usually worthwhile even if they yield no immediate results. But there are exceptions. One was Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 Munich meeting with Hitler. Another: President Biden’s sit-down with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week.

The president’s 24 hours in Jeddah were dominated by photos of his fist bump with the de facto leader of a kingdom Mr. Biden had labeled a pariah. Things went downhill from there. Mr. Biden insisted that, in front of the entire U.S. and Saudi delegations, he had labeled the crown prince the killer of Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Minister of State Adel al-Jubeir was quick to say he didn’t recall hearing that. When Mr. Biden was asked if the foreign minister was telling the truth, he said no—implying that a key Saudi official was a liar. Even the New York Times questioned if Mr. Biden’s account was accurate, noting that he has a history of describing events other meeting participants don’t recall.

So much for rebuilding U.S.-Saudi cooperation, which was Mr. Biden’s goal. This trip was worse than a missed opportunity. It damaged U.S. security interests in the Middle East by highlighting to the world that neither Saudi Arabia nor other Gulf states trust the U.S. enough to make any sacrifices to renew badly frayed relations. In a speech to Arab leaders, the president proclaimed: “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran.”

That fell on doubting ears from a man they watched walk away from Afghanistan. The United Arab Emirates promptly announced its effort to return an ambassador to Tehran and resolve differences diplomatically. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud contradicted Mr. Biden’s claims of enhancing Saudi-Israel relations, and reiterated that any increased oil production won’t be a Saudi decision but one by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus, which includes Russia. That’s a not-so-subtle way of saying Saudi will maintain its warming relations with Vladimir Putin regardless of what the U.S. thinks.

In short, the president walked away with no progress—not only on oil, but on peace in Yemen, confronting Iran and everything else. That failure was compounded by the risible way the White House handled the visit. The White House staffer who thought a banal buddy-to-buddy fist bump was preferable to a customary formal handshake should be fired. It had nothing to do with Covid; the president shook hands with other Saudis and also, earlier, with Israelis and Palestinians. If he thought that forgoing a handshake would appease anti-Saudi critics in his own party, he was wrong. Rep. Adam Schiff blasted the fist bump as “visible proof of the continuing grip oil rich autocrats have on U.S. foreign policy.”

It’s easy to blame the press for emphasizing these embarrassments, and Mr. Biden did. But without any substance to report, it’s hardly surprising that reporters focused on the spectacle of Mr. Biden squirming uncomfortably in the bed he had made with his earlier bravado about punishing Crown Prince Mohammed. And the president couldn’t have expected them to be fooled by White House efforts to tout as breakthroughs incremental changes in Saudi-Israeli overflight arrangements or a long-agreed transfer of two tiny islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia with Israel’s blessings.

Mr. Biden went to the region at a moment when the world faces enormous economic and security risks. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing food shortages and price increases that will only worsen as Ukraine’s inability to export its grain and plant a new crop ripples across the world. Destabilizing migration flows from poor countries in Africa and the Mideast such as Egypt, which depend heavily on Ukrainian wheat, will follow. Inflation, already a world-wide problem, seems sure to get worse unless China’s economic slowdown produces a global recession, something that will hurt every nation including the U.S.

Hanging over all of this is Mr. Putin’s continued nuclear threat. Daily the risk grows that Russia’s ally in Tehran will complete its own bomb. International experts believe Iran already has enough enriched uranium to build at least one bomb. Mr. Biden and Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid pledged again that Iran will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. “The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table,” Mr. Lapid said. But Mr. Biden hasn’t done that. For 18 months he has begged Tehran to forgo nuclear weapons while turning a blind eye to its violation of economic sanctions, its mischief in neighboring nations, and its support of Houthi rebel attacks on Saudi Arabia. He affirmed on this trip he’ll keep chasing that chimera of negotiations.

His determination to conciliate an implacable foe is another similarity to Chamberlain. Let’s hope it doesn’t produce a similar result in a year.

Ms. House, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is author of “On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future.”

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C&C. Intelligence pool.

Source: Coffee & Covid ☙ Thursday, July 14, 2022 ☙ INTELLIGENCE

*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY*

💉 The Wall Street Journal ran two related stories yesterday. The first headline: “Lufthansa Cancels 2,000 More Flights, Citing Staff Shortages.” The second article’s headline was, “12 Hours of Misery at Heathrow: Huge Crowds, Lost Bags, Endless Cancellations.”

More software bugs! It must be contagious, just like covid. That’s how software bugs work right? It started with American Airlines’ mass flight cancellations last week because of a bug that caused “scheduling errors,” and now it has spread all the way to Europe.

But it is DEFINITELY NOT pilot shortages. No way. Because science. That would be impossible. And, how dare you?

🔥 Yesterday, House Democrats unanimously rejected a proposed amendment by Representative Chip Roy (R-Tx) that would have increased the minimum sentence for convicted child traffickers from 10 to 15 years.

I mean, higher sentences for people who force kids into lives of prostitution and drugs? Why, that’s just over-policing. We can’t have that.

Now, people who walk into the Capitol building without permission or criticize woke school board members? That’s an entirely different story.

🔥 Five months ago, creepy Joe Biden appointed creepy-looking Russell Rappel-Schmid as the Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Postal Service’s Regulatory Commission.

It’s not a small job. The PRC oversees the entire US Postal Service. It also — and especially — oversees mail-in balloting operations. But just recently, due to a citizen-led program to out pedophile predators, Mr. Rappel-Schmid was arrested by local police for soliciting what he thought was a 14-year-old boy and attempting to set up a meeting.

The citizens orchestrated a “meetup” in a hotel room and confronted Russell, who, shocked and presumably ashamed, admitted on camera that “I’m a pedophile.” Case closed.

Russell Rappel-Schmid’s arraignment in federal court is set for Monday.

Russell has been fired, of course. But, being totally compromised, wouldn’t he have made a great Chief of the PRC for some people who want some influence over how the mail-in ballots are handled during elections? Seems like a teeny-tiny security flaw to me, but what do I know? I’m just a lawyer.

🔥 Speaking of pedophiles. Yesterday in Jerusalem, Biden met with Israel’s interim prime minister Yair Lapid. It’s a very interesting trip. You might be forgiven for concluding that Biden is out there trying to shore up damaged relationships with U.S. allies against Russia.

The official explanation is that Biden is taking time out of his hectic schedule of fighting inflation, fighting Russians, fighting disinformation, fighting for women’s rights, fighting to bring down gas prices, fighting for dems in the mid-term elections, and fighting for the children — always fighting for the children — to jet over to the Middle East to try to broker a better peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia than President Trump already got.

You believe Biden’s just over there negotiating peace deals, right?

It’s a no-brainer. I mean, just look at the all the talent you have right there. One of the men has the lowest presidential approval rating in US history and the other is the interim prime minister of a temporary government. It’s the perfect setup for major peace deals, am I right?

According to international media, Biden and Lapid signed an agreement yesterday to “deny Iran nuclear weapons.” In public comments, Joe said that the U.S. was “open” to using force as a “last resort” to prevent the Iranians from getting the bomb, but Biden stressed that what the U.S. really wants is for Iran to return to the Obama-era “deal” where Iran got cash in exchange for some pinkie promises not to cheat.

A France24 article said some Israelis are unexcited over Biden’s involvement, for some reason:

Some Israeli as well as Gulf Arab officials believe the [proposed] deal’s sanctions relief would provide Iran with far more money to support proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. They are also skeptical about whether the Biden administration will do much to counter Iran’s regional activities.

Weird. I wonder why they doubt Joe would be much help in countering Iran?

Joe’s next stop: a brand-new “annual” conference called I2U2, where Biden will meet with India’s prime minister and announce two billion dollars of bribes, I mean aid, to India for “food security,” scraped together from compliant Israel, UAE and American “private companies.”

You believe that right? Biden is out there helping other countries with their food security because it’s the right thing to do?

At a recent White House press briefing about Biden’s trip, reporters asked National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan why India seems so prominent in Biden’s agenda lately. Sullivan answered serving up a large bowl of word salad, and never once mentioned India’s recent flirtation with Russia and China, or its membership in BRICS. Remember: Trump had won India over as a solid U.S. ally, but as soon as he entered office, Biden began ritualistically dismembering all of Trump’s India deals with a hot skinning knife.

I guess now Biden wishes he hadn’t done that. Here’s Ted Cruz saying the same thing I’ve been saying:

Jake Sullivan also said Wednesday, before the trip, that the president would avoid shaking hands during the trip because covid. He followed that policy when he arrived in Israel, greeting interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid and other officials with fist bumps.

Then — whoopsies! He Bidened it. Not long after meeting with Lapid, Joe apparently forgot about covid and shook hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appears positioned to win November elections and become the next prime minister of Israel. He wasn’t wearing a mask either.

You can make those kinds of mistakes when you’re a private citizen. But if you the head of a state, you can lose allies with these kinds of gaffes.

Biden’s next stop is Saudi Arabia, where he is scheduled to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to unofficially talk oil production. Officially the White House says it’s not about oil production at all. Diverse White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday, “I’m saying [oil production is] not, it’s not, it’s not the focus… [and] not… on the agenda.”

You believe that right? Even Jake Sullivan doesn’t believe that:

Anyway, industry insiders think it won’t amount to much. ZeroHedge ran a story yesterday headlined, “Why Biden Could Come Back From Saudi Arabia Empty Handed.” It points out that Middle East oil producers have very little capacity to spare. And I’m sure you’ll recall that Macron recently — and publicly — told Biden the Saudi’s don’t have any excess production to offer. So that’s one problem.

Another problem is that during the campaign, Biden delighted leftwing activists by promising to turn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman into a “pariah” for ordering a hit on anti-semitic journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump had repaired the relationship with Saudi Arabia to the point that he got them to enter a history peace deal, the Abraham Accords. Then Biden threw it all away.

I wonder if a guy who orders hit jobs on journalists is a forgiving and understanding kind of person. I guess Joe’s about to find out.

🔥 Mintpress News, which is really doing some fantastic investigative journalism lately, ran a story yesterday headlined, “Meet the Ex-CIA Agents Deciding Facebook’s Content Policy.” The gist is — and this is going to shock you — Facebook has hired a whole raft of experienced CIA agents, while Twitter seems to favor the FBI for its personnel pool.

Take Aaron Berman, for example. For years he used to help craft the CIA’s daily security briefing for the President. In 2019 Berman left the Agency as a senior analytic manager and joined Meta as its senior product policy manager for… misinformation. Of course.

As Mintpress properly notes, there are rational reasons why the social media giants would want some folks with law enforcement background, to protect the platforms from abuse by various kinds of bad actors. But the sheer number of “former” agents in the media companies, at all the key positions of influence, staggers the imagination. Mintpress says it’s getting hard to tell where the government stops and the social media companies begin.

Of course, there’s another, more sinister possibility. How long would it take for the U.S. agencies to figure out that the social media companies were trying to acquire some of their talent, and devise a strategy to occupy the influential private firms? Like, how does someone like Aaron Berman go from writing critical top-secret daily security briefs for the President of the United States to a happy fun product manager at Facebook?

It feels like we don’t know the whole story. That’s all I’m saying.

I took a look at Aaron’s tweet history. His posts are bland, happy fun comments about his personal life. He offers lots of professional tips like how to write more effectively on Twitter. He sits just left of center in his political tone. On the one hand, he seems mildly concerned about climate change, but on the other hand, he observes that, no matter many gender-neutral toys he and his wife offer her, his daughter still just wants to play with Barbie. None of his posts reference elections, politicians, or direct political issues.

He’s everyman and no man.

If you’re curious, watch Aaron’s happy fun product manager video here, where he doesn’t mention his CIA history at all, for some reason.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

🔥 The New York Times has finally found itself a Trump supporter that they can sympathize with. Yesterday the paper ran a story headlined, “‘It’s Just Been Hell’: Life as the Victim of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory.” They interviewed the “victim,” despised January 6th instigator Ray Epps, who is the mysterious figure in dozens of videos shouting at people to attack the Capitol hours before the January 6th riot — but who has never been arrested or even formally investigated.

Epps is outraged. The Times allowed him to describe himself as a father, a former Marine, and a staunch but disillusioned conservative whose leaders had betrayed him. “I am at the center of this thing, and it’s the biggest farce that’s ever been,” he said. “It’s just not right. The American people are being led down a path. I think it should be criminal,” Epps whined.

Haha, the Times says Epps has been “searching for a lawyer to help them file a defamation lawsuit.” Mark my words: that will never happen. Since truth is a defense to defamation, anyone Epps sues would have discovery rights, and Epps would have to testify under oath — not to a reporter — that he wasn’t working for one of the intelligence agencies on January 6th, which is something he’s so far managed to avoid.

In the article, Epps admitted that he had acted stupidly at times. “Tomorrow, we need to go IN to the Capitol! IN to the Capitol!,” Epps persistently urged peaceful J6 demonstrators on the evening of January 5th. Remarkably, Epps said he regretted texting his nephew and bragging about how he’d helped to orchestrate the movements of people leaving Mr. Trump’s speech near the White House by pointing them toward the Capitol. To my knowledge, that text message has never been public before now. Is it coming?

But, the Times explained, because he came clean, the FBI was totally satisfied that Epps’ efforts to gin up a mob to breach the Capitol were completely and totally harmless. He was just misunderstood. The Times unquestioning reported that Epps said all he really wanted was to calm people down, and I am not making that up.

Epps says he thinks the cartels are now trying to kill him. So Epps has sold his ranch and he and his wife are living out of his RV for the time being, on the move. It’s not because he’s trying to avoid process servers and conservative media reporters. No, no, never.

The Times’ article is completely credulous, expressing no doubt whatsoever about Epps’ fairy stories and tall tales. It’s the very first January 6th conservative — albeit a “disillusioned” conservative, whatever that is — that the New York Times has ever found. Never mind that Epps admitted he orchestrated getting people from Trump’s speech to the Capitol. Never mind that he loudly and publicly urged people to attack the Capitol. Who cares?

Tellingly the article does not quote Epps — not anywhere — actually denying that he was working for someone. He never denies that he was a provocateur, or that he was working with law enforcement. He never explains why he was even there in the first place, since it has been confirmed that Epps did not attend Trump’s speech. So why go?

Even more bizarre, the article fails to mention that the New York Times ITSELF has “victimized” Epps, in its January 6th “documentary,” where it included video of Epps encouraging people to breach the Capitol:

Darren J. Beattie is the courageous editor of Revolver News, which has covered the Epps story for over a year now. Beattie thinks the Times’ buttkissing love letter is just battlespace preparation for leaks they know are coming that are going to damage the January 6th Commission. Like maybe that text message, or maybe more.

Either way, thanks New York Times! Thanks for finally saying something nice about a “conservative” who attended the J6 protests. Fair and balanced.

Have a terrific Thursday, and I’ll see you guys back here tomorrow for your refills. And we serve no weak half-caff here at Coffee & Covid, so get ready.

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How Biden Lost Saudi Arabia

WSJ,  By The Editorial Board

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In case you missed it amid the war news, the Journal this week reported that Saudi Arabia is edging closer to accepting the yuan as payment for oil shipments to China. This is one more cost, and a potentially significant one, of the Biden Administration’s bungled handling of a strategically important ally.

Details of the potential new Saudi-Chinese oil-trading arrangements remain vague. The two sides have talked for years about pricing some oil sales in yuan, and it may not happen. Some 80% of global oil sales are priced in U.S. dollars, the yuan is not freely convertible as a reserve currency must be, and Saudi Arabia’s currency, the riyal, is pegged to the dollar.

Yet the two sides are said to be keen, and news of renewed discussions sends an alarming signal. Saudi Arabia committed in 1974 to conduct its oil trade only in dollars, in exchange for security guarantees from Washington. The Biden Administration has undermined that relationship at every turn, and by all accounts the Saudis are fed up.

One of the Administration’s first foreign-policy actions was to end U.S. support for the Saudi war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. It also removed the terrorist designation from the Houthis. The White House then postponed a scheduled arms sale to Riyadh—a security slap-in-the-face that wasn’t reversed until late last year.

The Houthis have returned Mr. Biden’s gift by sending drones and missiles to attack the oil fields and cities of Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, the Saudis watch, aghast, as Mr. Biden chases a new nuclear deal that will give Iran the resources to finance proxy wars against Saudi Arabia—until Tehran gets its own nuclear bomb.

Mr. Biden and his advisers say this is all about human rights. They rode into town on a high horse concerning the Riyadh-orchestrated 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited humanitarian concerns when lifting the terrorist designation from the Houthis.

The Khashoggi murder was outrageous and Yemen’s plight is desperate, but Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made other moves toward domestic liberalization. More to the point, the U.S. needs every friend it can keep in a difficult part of the world. The high-minded internationalists populating the Biden Administration assume, wrongly, that a power such as America has the luxury of cooperating only with the morally pure.

The Saudis are recalculating their interests now that they fear they can’t rely on the U.S.—amid the Biden Administration’s hostility and the horrifying Afghanistan withdrawal. The Crown Prince has refused Mr. Biden’s entreaties to pump more oil, and he is reported even to have refused to take the President’s phone call.

Beijing is happy to step into the breach, and it could benefit if it can coax Riyadh into a yuan-for-oil arrangement. Doing so would help Beijing start building the scaffolding for a global yuan, including greater dispersion of the currency around the world. This in turn could open the door for China to offer the yuan as a trading currency to U.S. adversaries such as Russia and Iran. U.S. economic sanctions would be that much less effective.

There’s a lot of ruin in a reserve currency, and the greenback’s global pre-eminence endures for now. But Washington should push back on any budding challenges—especially from strategic rivals. This is an urgent job for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, assuming she can pull herself away from campaigning for global taxes and climate regulation.

The Saudi bungle highlights the failure of Mr. Biden’s brand of righteous liberal internationalism. President Trump too often gave short shrift to American values, but Mr. Biden has swung too far in the opposite direction. He and his foreign-policy advisers seem to think grandstanding about human rights and the climate will win the day for U.S. interests. Successful Presidents, such as Ronald Reagan, have blended idealism with realism about the world’s bad actors and the need for friends.

In this new era of Great Power competition, the U.S. can’t afford to alienate allies that can help deter authoritarian aggressors bent on harming U.S. interests and values. The U.S. is paying the price in the Ukraine crisis for having lost the Saudis.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-biden-lost-the-saudis-saudi-arabia-oil-yuan-china-11647640099?mod=opinion_lead_pos1

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