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The eye of Trump’s storm

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The breaking story overnight has been about Natalia Veselnitskaya, the shadowy Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner on June 9, 2016. They thought she was a Russian government official there to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton. In reality, she was more closely linked with the firm delivering dirt on Trump to his opponents.

At the heart of all this is the opposition research company Fusion GPS, which was formed by former Wall Street Journal employees. It’s interesting that Josh Rogan, of the Washington Post, was one of the first reporters to break this story last night. He apparently spoke directly to them. The media is a small club.

Fusion GPS told me its work on the Prevezon case had nothing to do with the 2016 presidential election and they were not involved in the outreach to the Trump campaign.

Even more in the epicenter: Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, whose Prezevon Holdings was fighting a government money laundering case, hired Fusion GPS, and was also linked to Veselnitskaya. Prezevon’s business interests were hurt by sanctions imposed by Congress’ 2012 Magnitsky Act, which was named for a Russian Journalist who died in prison.

The Daily Mail focuses on Katsyv and Prezevon in their report.

Whether the lobbying campaign was directly coordinated with the Kremlin is up for debate. Katsyv had personal financial interests. But his motivations were also in line with the Kremlin, which has also fought to unravel the Magnitsky Act.

Fusion GPS was working for “unnamed Republican clients”  when they hired Christopher Steele, the former British MI6 agent, who gathered the infamous “dossier” filled with uncorroborated and wild claims of Russian government blackmail (“kompromat”) of Trump.

Erick Erickson notes more “nuggets” suggesting there’s more to the story here.

Natalia Veselnitskaya had been denied a visa into the United States. She had been given temporary parole, allowing her to enter the country with an expired visa, but it has been revoked by 2016. Still, Veselnitskaya was able to enter the US anyway to meet with Trump, Jr. in the middle of 2016. It is my understanding this could have only happened in one of two ways. First, she could have argued she was the sole lawyer of representation for her client, but Baker Hostetler also represented Prevezon. She could also have been allowed into the country if she had a collaborative relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You know, the organization that was considering paying Christopher Steele for his Trump dossier work prepared for Fusion GPS.

Plus, as Hidden America blog exposed, Veselnitskaya was fairly active on social media, posting pictures of anti-Trump protesters. (Although they published a debunked photo of Sen. John McCain she claimed to have taken, also tweeted by Internet troll Jack Posobiec.)

What is apparent from all this is Veselnitskaya was not there to help Donald Trump, or provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. She was working for her own paid business interests, her clients, to oppose the Magnitsky Act. She was connected with the firm hired to collect Russian dirt on Trump. She was herself more aligned with Democrats.

But Trump, Jr. took the meeting. As David French wrote, no, you don’t “take the meeting.” Whether it was a setup (very possible) or not, Trump’s son made himself the mark.

This story will need time to unravel in order to shed light on the darkest corner of foreign influence, money, and power emanating from Moscow into the heart of Washington.

Now the investigation moves into a new phase, one where Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has some influence.

Grassley has scheduled an as yet unannounced hearing July 19 entitled, “Oversight of the Justice Department’s (Non) enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” which will include testimony from William Browder, the chief of Hermitage Capital, who filed the complaint against Fusion GPS and several other entities he alleges were working on behalf of the Russians.

The sooner the better we can get to the bottom of this stinking, fetid hole.

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Entertainment and Sports

Game of Thrones Final Season Episode 2 Review

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Game of Thrones Final Season Episode 2 Review

As with episode’s one’s review there is no promise of keeping free of spoilers. In fact there is nothing to spoil. Last week’s episode was gritty in a political thriller sort of way as the divided North became the main focus. Episode 2 takes place in the limbo period between the preparation episode and the battle itself. It served as a second preparation episode that was unnecessary filler between two important events. In practice, I like to keep these reviews free of shiny objects and focus on the more analytical aspects of the show, but those were few and far between.

Verdict: Episode 2 was a hollow turd.

Ser Jaime

Ser Jaime Lannister is the MVP of this episode, having the only interesting opportunities continuing throughout the script, but still failed to depict, accurately, Jaime’s character once more. Jaime opens up on “trial” before his former enemies. In truth, Jaime, blurring the lines between sarcastic and serious, regards slaying Mad King Areys II as his “finest deed.” He regrets little, but that which he regrets are the deeds of concealing his (past) love for Cersei, like throwing a child out of a tower, and [spoiler alert] lying to Tyrion about his first wife Tysha being a whore. The latter is an increasingly frustrating deviation that not only undermines Jaime’s character development but has paved the way for HBO to emasculate Tyrion Lannister, metaphorically speaking as opposed to the literal emasculating of Theon Greyjoy. In confronting Daenerys, Jaime was not as defiant enough to make an interesting confrontation better. Instead this was undermined by the power struggle between Daenerys and Sansa, denying a far richer scene where Jaime declares that he saved half a million people. During the drinking scene that resembled previous buildups before battles, Jaime’s character could have amended the Tysha deviation. This hope was unrealized; however, the episode’s best scene was the knighting of Brienne of Tarth, a misfit too ugly to be a lady but unable to be a knight. “Any knight can make a knight” is a well-known Westerosi saying.

Lack of Military Realism

The show goes out of its way to paint incompetent characters like Sansa and Daenerys as quality leaders. Last week, was the first time characters acknowledged how selfish Daenerys is. Sansa is the last person on the show you want as a “wartime president.” Very few remaining characters in Game of Thrones can play the game and command an army. Jon Snow is one. Tyrion is a second, but the show has made him irredeemably stupid. Jaime refused the game but technically has a winning record as a commanding officer. Bronze Yohn Royce was technically featured in the episode and can do both. Daenerys is probably better at military command than playing politics, but when you have dragons, it takes far less skill, Aegon the Conquerer proved as much. Last weeks episode delved into the logistics of war. That was virtually undone in this episode.

For instance Brienne of Tarth is given command of the left flank. Looking closely at the war maps, the left flank featured the knights of the Vale. Instead of having Lord Yohn Royce, a season military commander who fought in Robert’s Rebellion, the Greyjoy Rebellion, led the winning cavalry charge in the Battle of the Bastards, has the loyalty of his men as the most powerful lord in the Vale, the show has Brienne of Tarth command the Vale’s force. Brienne of Tarth has fought one battle, at most! She has never led an army and has no ties to the Vale. The only thing dumber than giving her command of the Vale would be giving her command of the Dothraki, who I believe are on the right flank, the place of honor in ancient Greek culture (perhaps relevant). It’s not that Brienne of Tarth is unworthy of any command, they simply chose the second least believable place for her to lead.

Prepubescent Sex Scene

This is not the poorest written sex scene in Game of Thrones, that still belongs to Sansa being married off to Ramsay Bolton, one of the worst plot deviations from the books. Arya having sex with Gendry was up there though. Arya is eleven when the show starts. A year has passed, no doubt, maybe two, but not anything beyond three which would barely put her at fourteen, at most. It’s not the combo, it’s the age. Arya is a child, not a sensual woman. The show has unrealistically aged these characters. Heck, why didn’t they recast Gilly’s [Mance’s] son? They’ve had over three Mountains, two Dario Naharises (both poorly casted), two Myrscella Baratheons, and I’m sure there are others.

Only Meaning

The only meaning in the episode that was of any worth was Bran revealing the motive of the White Walkers to erase the memory of mankind. There was no buildup and little foreshadow towards this reveal. Game of Thrones is all about placing mysteries on the backburner (who really killed Jon Arryn) but this was a little rushed.

Final Thoughts

This episode was less worthwhile than watching the first three episodes of Star Wars. You could have missed episode 2 and have gone straight to episode 3 and you would have missed nothing that wasn’t known already. I’m not saying this was the worst Game of Thrones episode ever but its down there.

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We’ve reached ‘Peak Roger Stone’ on the timeline as he prepares to speak at strip club

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Weve reached Peak Roger Stone on the timeline as he prepares to speak at strip club

President Trump’s long-time confidant and rabble-rouser Roger Stone is short on cash and looking for options as mounting legal fees reduce his wealth. In a move that can be categorized as “Peak Roger Stone,” the controversial figure is set to accept a large fee to speak at a strip club.

Stone will appear at the Paper Moon in Richmond, Virginia, along side ‘Manhattan Madam’ Kristin Davis of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer fame.

Stone faces legal troubles for allegedly working with WikiLeaks to spread the DNC email hacks that helped President Trump win his election in 2016.

He has always been a controversial figure in and out of politics. Known for his willingness to speak his mind regardless of the consequences, Stone has been notably subdued since being shut down by a judge after he shared an Instagram post about her in February.

I’m not sure how having Roger Stone speaking will benefit the strip club’s business. He’s the exact opposite of what I picture most people expect to see when going to a strip club, but to each his own.

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Culture and Religion

Since leftist media won’t say it: Radical Islamic terrorists murdered hundreds of Christians

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Since leftist media wont say it Radical Islamic terrorists murdered hundreds of Christians

The dramatic shift in how mainstream media characterizes terrorist attacks over the years reached what I hope is the pinnacle of their obfuscation today. The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka against Christian churches and areas where Christians were likely to gather were committed on Easter Sunday by Muslims in a city known for radicalization. This was a clear and unambiguous attack by radical Islamic terrorists specifically targeting Christians.

But you’ll have a hard time coming to that conclusion if all you’re reading or watching is leftist mainstream media.

The reporting today has been in stark contrast to the immediate labeling and narrative-building surrounding the terrorist attacks in New Zealand mosques last month. There was zero doubt based on media reporting that the attacks were targeting Muslims. But today, it’s hard to even find the word “Christian” in any of the posts or news reports. On top of that, there’s a stark difference when reading the Tweets of condolences from leftists who refuse to acknowledge this as an attack against Christianity despite the immediate and crystal clear labeling of the New Zealand mosque incidents as attacks targeting Muslims.

Some of this was noted by Brittany Pettibone:

OAN’s Jack Posobiec added that a new phrase has been coined by the media regarding the Notre-Dame fire:

Was this the same response they were giving following the Christchurch attacks? No. As Imam Mohamad Tawhidi noted, the differences were very clear.

Why do the media and leftist politicians do this? Why are they quick to label attacks against any other religious group exactly as they appear, but they’re so unwilling to call out any attacks against Christians as attacks against Christians?

This is the time we’re in, folks. The left has a narrative they want jammed into our heads and that narrative has no room for acknowledging violence and persecution is committed against Christians. The only stories that fit their narratives are stories that can blame Christians for wrongdoing. In those cases, the perpetrators’ status as Christians is broadcast loud and clear. But if Christians are victims, the left will go to extreme lengths to negate that fact from the record.

Of all the major news outlets, I was only able to find one that didn’t shy away from the truth. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board stands alone in declaring the intended victims of this attack as who they are and why they were targeted.

WSJ Editorial Board

The intentional suppression of what happened, who committed it, and who was targeted is beyond insulting. The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka are being framed by the media as some people did something.

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