Monday 12 December 2016

Air Date: 
December 12, 2016

Photo, left: 
 
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, The Great Voice of the Great Lakes
 
Hour One
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 1, Block A: Tom Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor & FDD,  and Bill Roggio, Long War Journal senior editor  & FDD, in re:  Boubakar al-Hakim: a large, nasty person who the Pentagon says died on 26 Nov.     US confirms death of high-profile Tunisian Islamic State assassin   The Defense Department has confirmed that Boubaker al-Hakim, a French-Tunisian Islamic State leader, was killed in Raqqa, Syria on Nov. 26. Al-Hakim had ties to Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, before defecting to the Islamic State's cause. He admittedly assassinated one Tunisian politician in 2013 and knew the assailants responsible for a second slaying.
Video: US destroys Islamic State oil tanker trucks in Syria US Central Command released footage of a massive air raid that destroyed scores of Islamic State oil tankers near the Syrian city of Palmyra.  Took two years for US mil to do this on 8 Dec; see: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/12/video-us-destroys-islamic-state-oil-tanker-trucks-in-syria.php  This is how the IS paid its way, selling oil to Erdogan’s son; it took the US two years to decided to target the oil tankers.
US bombs oil tanker trucks as Islamic State battles Syrian regime near Palmyra  The Islamic State launched an offensive near the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province on Dec. 8. The US-led coalition "destroyed a fleet" of 168 oil tanker trucks owned by the jihadists that same day. The Islamic State and the Syrian regime have repeatedly clashed in Homs province, especially at gas and oil fields that both sides seek to control.
Islamic State claims full control of Palmyra, Syria   The Islamic State claims to have taken complete control over the city of Palmyra. Various reports indicated earlier in the day that the jihadists had been forced to withdraw from the city after heavy Russian airstrikes. Update: Amaq News Agency released a video of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's men inside Palmyra.   T4 Air Base.  Western media tend to blame everything bad on Assad. True that he’s a vicious war criminal, but he’s grown weaker and depends heavily on Iran, on mercenaries and militiamen. Massive battle around this ancient city, and in multiple points throughout Homs Province. Complex, multisided war. 
Afghan forces capture al Qaeda ‘financier’ in Nangarhar  The Afghan Special Police Force, a unit assigned to the Interior Ministry, captured an al Qaeda "financier" during a raid in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar on Dec. 8.
Taliban rejects peace talks, emphasizes alliance with al Qaeda in new video   A new video from the Taliban features several images and clips of al Qaeda leaders, further demonstrating that the two remain firmly allied more than 15 years after the 9/11 hijackings.
Array of pro-Syrian government forces advances in Aleppo   Aleppo is on the verge of falling to the pro-Assad coalition. A diverse range of Syrian and foreign militias, backed by Russian airpower, have contributed to this success.
Islamic State assaults Syrian regime forces in Homs province  The Islamic State launched an assault on Syrian regime positions in the Homs province earlier today. The so-called caliphate's propaganda arm and other outlets report that Syrian government forces suffered dozens of casualties. Bashar al Assad's men and their allies recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in March. The two sides have repeatedly clashed in Homs, including near Palmyra, since then.
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 1, Block B: Tom Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor & FDD,  and Bill Roggio, Long War Journal senior editor  & FDD, in re:   US military bombs Mosul hospital as Iraqi troops retreat   According to CENTCOM, Islamic State fighters were using the Al Salem hospital complex as "a base of operations and command and control headquarters."
Pentagon: Islamic State has lost its safe haven in Sirte, Libya  The Pentagon announced today that the Islamic State no longer controls any part of Sirte, Libya. The ground campaign to liberate the city began more than six months ago and the US has launched 495 airstrikes in support of the operation. The Islamic State's "governor" in Libya vows to fight on, saying that his men have spread out across the country.
US captures al Qaeda financier in Nangahar  Al Q is deeply, closely allied with Taliban; video released on muhjideen: final nail in Obama Administration effort to separate al WQ from Taliban; always was false.  Glorifies friendship between bin Laden and Mullah Omar.  Siraj Haqqani , top Taliban leader, was working closely with Taliban in 2010
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 1, Block C:  Gordon G. Chang, Daily Beast & Forbes.com, in re: Russell Hsiao, executive director of Global Taiwan Institute http://globaltaiwan.org/  in re: The PRC decided to fly nuclear-capable bombers war planes, to circumaviate Taiwan – both before (25 Nov) and after  (10 Dec) the phone call: Four planes clockwise around Taiwan.   PRC once (1995 & 1996) shelled the Strait to intimidate  Taiwan into not voting; of course, it had the opposite effect.   Trump will treat Taiwan with dignity and respect. 
Taiwan Min of Defense immediately announced the 10 Dec flyaround; had waited a week to speak of the earlier flyaround and was much criticized therefor.   Such exercises do occur sporadically, but these seem to be signals to Taiwan.  Tsai Ing-wen is seen as [quite different from] Ma. Ninety per cent of people surveyed in a poll wanted to hold the status quo.   PRC often uses military, and squeezing Taiwan in international space – had overseas Taiwanese deported into Mainland Chin!
Analysis: Trump is risking war by turning the One China question into a bargaining chip. 
As China regresses toward a closed economy, it is demanding market-economy status.  See this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2016/12/11/finally-world-loses-patience-with-malicious-china-trade-practices/#7387c70d1ec2
PRC Anti-Satellite Missile Provocation? Why Now? Bob Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack.com
China preparing for anti-satellite test?   According to Pentagon officials China is preparing for a flight test of a new anti-satellite rocket  Test preparations for the Dong Neng-3 anti-satellite missile were detected at a military facility in central China, according to Pentagon officials familiar with reports of the impending test. Intelligence agencies were alerted to the impending test by China’s announcement of air closure zones covering the expected flight path of the DN-3.
The flight test could come as early as Thursday, the officials said. No other details of the missile test were available. A Pentagon spokesman and a State Department official both said, “We do not comment on intelligence matters.”  One additional detail: The DN-3 rocket appears to be based on the Chinese commercial rocket Kuiazhou, which a Chinese launch company is pitching to the international market as a vehicle for putting smallsats into orbit.
http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/china-preparing-for-anti-satellite-test/     The anti-satellite missiles are part of what the Pentagon calls “counterspace” forces, part of China’s large-scale military buildup.  “The PLA is acquiring a range of technologies to improve China’s counterspace capabilities,” the Pentagon’s latest report on the Chinese military said.  “In addition to the development of directed energy weapons and satellite jammers, China is also developing anti-satellite capabilities and has probably made progress on the anti-satellite missile system it tested in July 2014.”  In addition to missiles and lasers, China also is working on small maneuvering satellites that can grab and destroy orbiting satellites.
Richard Fisher, a China military affairs specialist, said the DN-3 appears to be based on the Kuaizhou-1 (KZ-1) mobile space launch vehicle. “It’s about the same size as the DF-31 solid fuel mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),” he said. Fisher, senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the DN-3 could be capable of hitting satellites more than 18,640 miles away in space—more than enough to reach large U.S. surveillance satellites that occupy orbit 186 to 620 miles from earth.
“In late 2016 or by mid 2017 the PLA may test a larger solid fuel mobile space launch vehicle called the KZ-11, with a 2-meter diameter motor similar in size to the new large and multiple warhead armed DF-41 ICBM,” Fisher said.  http://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-prepares-satellite-missile-test/
Beijing announced Dec. 10 that it would halt the import of coal from neighboring North Korea for three weeks ending Dec. 31, Japan Times reported. The Chinese government says this is to comply with a Nov. 30 U.N. Security Council on sanctions against Pyongyang. The resolution caps North Korean coal exports in 2017 at 7.5 million tons. Between March and October, China imported 24.8 million tons of coal from North Korea. China's relations with North Korea are quickly becoming a liability. Pyongyang has begun to adopt a more provocative approach, combining isolationism with military buildups and nuclear deterrence to hold the world's great powers at bay.
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 1, Block D: Gordon G. Chang, Daily Beast & Forbes.com, in re: Bejjing has a One-China Principle; US has a One-China Policy: we recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China and we take not of Beijing’s policy. Ours is that the matter is unresolved and can be resolved only with the full agreement of Taiwan. Beijing uses the rock analogy because it holds that anyone who opposes it is standing under a falling rock.  When Beijing feels confused it just uses too much force, upsets people, is counterproductive. Intimidation has long worked against the US.   Xi is a tough guy and willful.
In response to a phone call they threaten to nuke part of their own country.  Who are these people across the Strait?  People who self-identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese, is now 70%; as Chinese, 4%.
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North Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China....  China expresses ‘serious concern’ after Trump challenges longstanding U.S. policy on Taiwan  President-elect Donald Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the One China policy unless it could “make a deal,” potentially on U.S.-China trade. A Communist Party-controlled newspaper called the president-elect “as ignorant as a child.”
 
Hour Two
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 2, Block A:   David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Senior Congressional correspondent; John Fund, NRO, in re: Rex Tillerson a colleague of energy states around the world, including the head of Russia.  Rick Perry to be Energy Secretary?  Sen McCain, Armed Svcs Committee, much opposed to Russia, and Russia in Ukraine, and Russia as a bad actor, and against Mr Tillerson as Secretary of State.  The flap isn't about Tillerson, it's about Trump’s favor for Putin.  Trump’s words on Putin’s Syria play have been dovish. 
The CIA report about Russian hacks: concrete, or best guesstimate?  Conflicting reports out of US intell community.
Are Trump and Tillerson accused of being agents of influence??
"...The various ways in which usually anonymous spokespeople for U.S. intelligence agencies are equivocating – saying things like “our best guess” or “our opinion” or “our estimate,” etc. – shows that the emails alleged to have been “hacked” cannot be traced across the network.  Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.  The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods.  Thus, we conclude that the emails were leaked by an insider – like Snowden or Manning.  Such an insider could be anyone in a government department or agency with access to NSA data bases, or perhaps someone within the DNC...."  -- William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of the SIGINT Automation Research Center.
Thomas Drake, former Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, NSA ; Edward Loomis, former Chief, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA ;  J. Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA ; Allegations of Hacking to Interfere with Election Lack Factual Basis  A New York Times report this morning alluding to “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” leading the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deployed computer hackers with the goal of tipping the election to Donald J. Trump” is, sadly, evidence-free.  This is no surprise, because harder evidence of a technical nature points to an inside leak, not hacking – by Russians or anyone else.
Today’s Washington Post reports that Sen. James Lankford, R, Oklahoma, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has joined other senators in calling for a bipartisan investigation of suspected cyber-intrusion by Russia.  Reading this short memo could save the Senate from endemic partisanship, expense, and unnecessary delay.
In what follows, we draw on decades of senior-level experience – with emphasis on cyber intelligence and security – to cut through uninformed, largely partisan fog. Far from hiding behind anonymity, we are proud to speak out with the hope of gaining an audience appropriate to what we merit – given our long labors in government and other areas of technology.  And corny though it may sound these days, our ethos as intelligence professionals remains, simply, to tell it like it is – without fear or favor.
We have gone through the various claims about hacking.  For us, it is child’s play to dismiss them.  The email disclosures in question are the result of a leak, not a hack. 
Here’s the difference between leaking and hacking:
Leak: When someone physically takes data out of an organization and gives it to some other person or organization, as Edward Snowden and Bradley Edward Manning did.
Hack: When someone in a remote location electronically penetrates operating systems, firewalls, or any other cyber protection system and then extracts data.
All signs point to leaking, not hacking.  If hacking were involved, NSA would know it – and know both sender and recipient.
In short, since leaking requires physically removing data – on a thumb drive, for example – the only way such data can be copied and removed, with no electronic trace of what has left the server, is via a physical storage device.
Awesome Technical Capabilities  Again, NSA is able to identify both the sender and recipient when hacking is involved.  Thanks largely to the material released by Edward Snowden, we can provide a full picture of NSA’s extensive domestic data collection network including Upstream programs like Fairview, Stormbrew, and Blarney. [see attachments].  These include at least 30 companies in the US operating the fiber networks that carry the Public Switched Telephone Network as well as the World Wide Web.  This gives NSA unparalleled access to data flowing within the US and data going out to the rest of the world, as well as data transiting the US.
In other words, any data that is passed from the servers of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) or of HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton) – or any other server in the U.S. -- is collected by the NSA.  These data transfers carry destination addresses in what are called packets, which enable the transfer to be traced and followed through the network.
Packets: Emails being passed across the world wide web are broken down into smaller segments called packets.  These packets are passed into the network to be delivered to a recipient.  This means the packets need to be reassembled at the receiving end.
To accomplish this, all the packets that form a message are assigned an identifying number that enables the receiving end to collect them for reassembly.  Moreover, each packet carries the originator and ultimate receiver Internet protocol number (either IPV4 or IPV6) that enables the network to route data.  
When email packets leave the US, the other “Five Eyes” countries (the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) and the 7 or 8 additional countries participating with the US in bulk-collection of everything on the planet would also have a record of where those email packets went after leaving the US.
These collection resources are extensive [see attached]; they include hundreds of trace route programs that trace the path of packets going across the network and tens of thousands of hardware and software implants in switches and servers that manage the network.  Any emails being extracted from one server going to another would be, at least in part, recognizable and traceable by all these resources.
The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any “hacked” emails from the DNC, HRC, or any other servers were routed through the network.  This process can sometimes require a closer look into the routing to sort out intermediate clients, but in the end sender and recipient can be traced across the network.
The various ways in which usually anonymous spokespeople for U.S. intelligence agencies are equivocating – saying things like “our best guess” or “our opinion” or “our estimate” etc. – shows that the emails alleged to have been “hacked” cannot be traced across the network.  Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.  The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods.  Thus, we conclude that the emails were leaked by an insider – like Snowden or Manning.  Such an insider could be anyone in a government department or agency with access to NSA data bases, or perhaps someone within the DNC.
As for the comments to the media as to what the CIA believes, the reality is that CIA is almost totally dependent on NSA for ground truth in the communications arena.  Thus, it remains something of a mystery why the media is being fed strange stories about hacking that have no basis in fact.  In sum, given what we know of NSA’s existing capabilities, it beggars belief that NSA would be unable to identify anyone – Russian or not – attempting to interfere in a U.S. election by hacking.
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•       Trump calls CIA conclusion about Russia’s role in election ‘ridiculous’
In his first Sunday show appearance since the election, the president-elect also dismissed the importance of the daily intelligence briefing: “I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”
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Kellyanne Conway: CIA report is ‘laughable and ridiculous’



•        Perry Seen as Favorite for Energy Secretary
•        The Comey Effect Was Real
•        Christie Now Seeking a Book Deal
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Poker game.  No limit to the stakes.  Also, information that the CIA allegations are highly highly dubious -- speculation tinged with electioneering...
McConnell says Senate to probe suspected Russian role in U.S. election “The Russians are not our friends,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he announced an intelligence panel investigation and echoed the sentiments of incoming minority leader Charles Schumer in calling for a nonpartisan approach to the matter. 
•       PowerPost: Trump’s expected choice to lead State Dept. is in real danger of being blocked on the Hill
Bolton makes extraordinary claim that hacking may be a ‘false flag’ by Obama administration John Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador, said the Obama administration had "politicized" intelligence.
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 2, Block B: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Senior Congressional correspondent; in re: Possible that Rex Tillerson will be nominated to be Secretary of State, John Bolton as basically COO of State? Back then, Bolton lost George Voinovich of Ohio; this time, he may be more reassuring to GOP: we need him to re-engage with our allies. Dems will oppose him.  He’s been clear about his policies; looking for someone to blame for Iraq. Rand Paul and others continually take a Libertarian position in all realms, but may not bring anyone along with him.  Bolton may be seen as critical. 
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 2, Block C: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Aaron David Miller says Trump will be “transactional.”  Israel: given the interrelationships among so many countries, and Israel faces such an uncertain future, esp Iranian threat;  and Gulf Council meeting – event s moving fast in Syria, all underscore tht we cannot go back to earlier days, but could see a stronger US-Israel nexus that would draw in other countries and create stability. Funding for Iron Dome and other major technologies, the benefit of which the US receives.  Show [alliance], rhetoric; UN.  Key is that the lesson of history is that differences between US and Israel shd be dealt with quietly, since US enemies take advantage. Other Muslim counties now agree with this specific point.
Pres Hassan Rouhani is racing to sign as many oil deals as possible  “before hardliners take over”??   Russo-Iranian oil deals reach $10 bil, as Russia will dvpt oil fields Also secret deals ‘twixt Turkey and oil.  Iran’s gas sector is crumbling; need operations in four not twelve years.
Schlumberger, Thailand, Poland, others.  Velayiti today met w Islamic Jihad head: Lock in as many deals as possible incl $30 bil witb Boeing!
Pres Obama may make a Middle East speech, or else not veto a PA resolution in January, Pa A sending a delegation to Washington next week to speed everything up. What he does depends on whether or not he wants to take up such a hot issue this late in his presidency.
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POLITICS  CAPITAL JOURNAL  Listen Closely: Donald Trump Proposes Big Mideast Strategy Shift   He signals a break from Obama and Bush: ‘We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments’ http://www.wsj.com/articles/listen-closely-donald-trump-proposes-big-mid...
Mr. Trump labeled his approach “a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past.” It’s one that proposes to be tougher on Islamic State than Mr. Obama has been, while also less willing to intervene in the region militarily than Mr. Bush was. That will be tricky.
Aaron David Miller, a longtime U.S. Middle East envoy and now vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says this Trump approach will be “transactional.” By that he means it will use whatever means are necessary to transact the specific deal on the table, whether that deal is ending the Islamic State threat or retreating from the Iranian nuclear agreement without provoking a war.
The Trump formula also suggests an approach unburdened by the need for consistency or adherence to any ideological framework. One problem with that approach, though, is that it is full of inherent contradictions and potential unintended consequences.
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 2, Block D: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Indiana Hoenlein joins: an ancient coin was found on a road, a coin with the inscription, “Freedom of Zion,” from 1967 years ago, the Second Year of the Great Revolt, three years before the Second temple was destroyed.
Cyprus, Greece, Israel: three leaders met in Israel; had met before in Turkey and Cyprus; this time, signed many trilateral deals – energy, drilling;  Energion (Greek firm) has acquired offshore gas fields and in six mos will present Israel with dvpt plan.   Bibi leaving now for Azerbaijan and _____ ((CIS)).  In Kuba: Jews have lived on one side of the river, Muslims on another, in harmony for over a thousand years.  Reflects a major shift.  MH and JB went to Kazakhstan years ago, met leaders of six countries in a dialogue of unity convened by Nazarbayev.   Then to Bibi on to Singapore.
 
Hour Three
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 3, Block A:   Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: allegations of Russian hacking into DNC and GRC.  “I hear the words, but they aren't backed up by [the normal and expected data].
Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security
Release Date: October 7, 2016 / For Immediate Release / DHS Press Office
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.
Some states have also recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government. The USIC and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion. This assessment is based on the decentralized nature of our election system in this country and the number of protections state and local election officials have in place. States ensure that voting machines are not connected to the Internet, and there are numerous checks and balances as well as extensive oversight at multiple levels built into our election process.
Nevertheless, DHS continues to urge state and local election officials to be vigilant and seek cybersecurity assistance from DHS. A number of states have already done so. DHS is providing several services to state and local election officials to assist in their cybersecurity. These services include cyber “hygiene” scans of Internet-facing systems, risk and vulnerability assessments, information sharing about cyber incidents, and best practices for securing voter registration databases and addressing potential cyber threats. DHS has convened an Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group with experts across all levels of government to raise awareness of cybersecurity risks potentially affecting election infrastructure and the elections process. Secretary Johnson and DHS officials are working directly with the National Association of Secretaries of State to offer assistance, share information, and provide additional resources to state and local officials. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/10/07/joint-statement-department-homeland-security-and-office-director-national
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 3, Block B:  Michael Ledeen, FDD, in re:  too many generals in Trump’s Cabinet?  Obama did exactly the same thing. Criticism from people who know nothing about the US mil, that every commissioned officer has a college degree.  . . . Two of the three are Marines; anything wrong with that?  No, I have two in my family; may be the best organization in America. Gen Mattis heaps Latin on us, writes extremely well and is extremely well read.  As nominee for DOD will have the largest library . . . he writes poetry in modern Greek (and reads ancient Greek). Flynn was head of DIA, once was a registered Democrat. All three  - Kelly, Mattis, Flynn - are used to obeying their boss, and all are known to take bad news to the boss.  Dana Priest of WaPo calls Michael Ledeen a “radical conspiratologiist,” with “a radical view of Islam”  But I have many Muslim friends.  So odd.
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Donald Trump has followed Barack Obama’s example by naming three retired generals to key cabinet positions:  Michael Flynn to head the NSC, James Mattis to Defense, and John Kelly to Homeland Security.  Flynn comes from the Army, the other two are Marines.
Some pundits purport to be concerned about “too many” generals, raising the issue of civilian control of the military.  I’m not very concerned (disclosure: we’re a military family. Two of our sons served in the Marine Corps, and our daughter worked for military commanders, including Stanley McChrystal and Flynn, in Iraq and Afghanistan). I think the Marine Corps may be the best organization in America, and I believe that most of those who criticize the military appointments don’t know as much as they should about the composition of our armed forces. Most writers/pundits/broadcasters I talk to think that our soldiers are marginal losers, who probably entered the military because they couldn’t find anything “better” to do.
They are also inclined to believe that military leaders are less educated than the intellectual elite. Many don’t know that all our commissioned military officers have college degrees,  and most of them have done post-graduate study at top colleges and universities. Trump’s three nominees are  cultured, well read, and thoughtful.  They are certainly more deeply engaged, intellectually and emotionally, than most of the civilians headed for cabinet slots.  They know all about political correctness, for example, in very concrete ways, because the armed forces are the laboratories in which the PC theories of gender equality are most intensively tested. When Marine officers debate whether women should serve in infantry units, it’s not just academic; people will live or die based on the decision. https://pjmedia.com/michaelledeen/2016/12/10/trumps-generals/?singlepage=true
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 3, Block C:   Bud Weinstein, IBD, in re:  Upgrade US ports for LNG, to export.  Incoming administration  seems to recognize the US as an energy superpower; for the first time in memory, the US is now a net exporter of natgas.  Has been in pipelines to Mexico, but now shipping out LNG.   At present we’re being held back by regulations.  Pix of Louisiana terminal for export; much will go to Brazil.  Last month sent gas to Chile, UAE, Brazil; main mkt will be Europe, esp the Baltics; hungry for non0-Russian gas. Huge strategic, as well as economic, benefits.   Our advantage is that we have the cheapest natgas in the world. Regs: some permits from Dept of Energy have been pending for four years!  A facility nearing completion near Annapolis; was blt to import, now converted to export, for Marcellus, et al. Gov Perry is excellently educated in  energy; Rex Tillerson is, also.   . . .  US has hard coal, much desired by overseas customers; best option is to push US  exports. Need to overcome environmentalists’s suits against export terminals on the West Coast, since the big demand is in Asia.  http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/its-time-to-move-on-liquid-.../
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 3, Block D:  Josh Rogin, Washington Post, columnist, and CNN political analyst, in re:  Abdul Ilah Fahad, secretary general of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, told me that the Syrian opposition has no problem with Trump’s plan to work with Russia in Syria. In fact, he said, the opposition has already been meeting with the Russian government, without the Obama administration in the room. Turkish-supervised negotiations in Ankara for a cease-fire in Aleppo broke down last week, he told me.
Though they have brutally assaulted the opposition-held side of Aleppo, the Russians are deeply involved in Syria and therefore must be part of any negotiation or solution going forward, Fahad said. But he said Trump must distinguish between working with Russia and helping Iran.
Russian and Iranian interests are not the same in Syria, Fahad pointed out. The Russian government has told Syrian opposition leaders it is less wedded than Iran to the idea of keeping Assad in power. Working with Russia while isolating Iran would also benefit America’s allies in the region, including Israel and the Gulf Arab states, he said.
“It is good that Trump works with Russia. There must be some sort of U.S.-Russian understanding to solve the issues in the Middle East but without Bashar Assad as a partner,” Fahad said. “If Trump does partner up with Assad, that would directly empower Iran in a major way. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/in-washington-syrian-opposition-makes-the-case-for-a-syria-reset/2016/12/11/5ae1b196-be52-11e6-ac85-094a21c44abc_story.html?utm_term=.34f291a421e1
 
Hour Four
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 4, Block A:  Harry Siegel, Daily Beast and New York Daily News, in re:  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/de-blasio-4-3m-plot-target-donors-city-business-article-1.2905101  ;  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/de-blasio-4-3m-plot-target-donors-city-business-article-1.2905101
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 4, Block B: Francis Rose, NationalDefenseWeek.com (WMAL) and francisrose.com, and now Channel 7 in Washington; and Channel 8 daily: "Government matters";  in re:  Veterans groups are pushing President-elect Donald Trump to keep current VA Secretary Bob McDonald on into the next administration, calling his transformation efforts critical to the future of the department.
Numerous prominent veterans organizations have voiced support for McDonald in recent weeks, but the push intensified Friday during a meeting with key community leaders and Trump administration officials, according to sources involved in the event.  McDonald’s name was offered as the preferred candidate among rumored names, and the most likely to get widespread support from veterans groups.  Trump representatives did not reject the idea of keeping McDonald in his post past Inauguration Day, despite the incoming president’s past criticism of the slow pace of change at VA under President Barack Obama. http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/mcdonald-trump-va-secretary-push
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 4, Block C: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, NYU Law, in re:  Modest Proposal for Trump to “Back Off” Immigration Confrontation. @RichardAEpstein, @HooverInst, in re: It is hard to fathom how any major shift in immigration enforcement policy would be a net good for this nation. Mass deportations would undermine local economies, reduce tax revenues (especially all sales and excise taxes), militarize our cities, and cost a fortune. Wholly apart from the economics are the potentially catastrophic social consequences of turning upside down the lives of these illegal aliens. In light of all of this, it is critical for the new Trump administration to back off its confrontational policy on immigration and instead seek a more incremental and balanced approach to the issue. Ironically, one hugely important step in dealing with the immigration problem is to liberalize our trade policy with Mexico and other Latin American nations… http://www.hoover.org/research/americas-immigration-quagmire  (1 of 2)
Monday 12 December 2016 / Hour 4, Block D:   Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, NYU Law, in re:  Modest Proposal for Trump to “Back Off” Immigration Confrontation. @RichardAEpstein, @HooverInst (2 of 2)
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