MLB Homerun Record About to Fall.

Smashing: MLB home run record on track to fall Tuesday

NEW YORK (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton’s smacks, Aaron Judge’s jolts and all those dizzying long balls helped Major League Baseball move another poke closer to the inevitable.

Nearly two decades after the height of the Steroids Era, the sport is on track to break its season record for home runs on Tuesday — and not just top the old mark, but smash it like one of those upper-deck shots that have become commonplace in the Summer of the Slugger.

There were 5,677 home runs hit through Monday, 16 shy of the record set in 2000.

Juiced balls? Watered-down pitching? Stanton’s renaissance? Sensational starts by Judge and Cody Bellinger?

“I don’t think that we are ever going to have a single explanation for exactly why we’ve see so many,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “But players are bigger and stronger. They’re playing a little differently, in terms of the way they swing. Pitchers throw harder. The one thing I remain comfortable with: Nothing about the baseball, according to our testing, is materially different.”

There were 5,610 homers last year, an average of 2.31 per game, and this year’s average of 2.53 projects to 6,139. That would be up 47 percent from 4,186 in 2014.

In just three years, home runs will have increased by 1,953 — an extra 149 miles of long balls at this year’s average home run length of 400 feet, or 15 miles more than the driving distance between Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park and Washington’s Nationals Park.

“The game has changed,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “From when I started, there’s a lot less stolen bases, there’s a lot less bunting, there’s a lot less hitting-and-running. You don’t give outs away, and you let guys swing the bat.”

Already 108 players have hit 20 homers this year, just two shy of the record set last season — and up from 64 in 2015, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“The ball seems to soar from people that are hitting it farther than maybe they did a year ago … and they kind of look like the same person,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, a Hall of Famer hitter, said before Monday night’s game at Yankee Stadium.

Along with sailing shots come strikeouts, which will set a record for the 10th consecutive year. There were 37,083 whiffs through Monday, an average of 8.25 per team per game that translates to 40,103 over the full season.

“The focus is hitting homers and tolerating strikeouts,” Reggie Jackson said. “I don’t really like all the strikeouts, and I was the king.”

Baseball officials are worried about decreasing action and have been alarmed by the strikeout rise. This year’s total is up from 38,982 last year and headed to an increase of nearly 8,000 from the 32,189 in 2007. The strikeout spike coincides with a rise in fastball velocity; four-seamers have averaged 93.2 mph this year, up from 91.9 mph in 2008, according to MLB data.

“These bullpens are making it extremely difficult. From basically the starter on you’re going to have elite, hard-throwing guys that are looking to strike you out every single time,” said Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo, last year’s home run champion. “The game right now is as max effort as I’ve seen it. Guys are throwing harder. At the plate sometimes you have no choice. It’s hard to steer the ball around when it’s 98 miles an hour and up in the zone.”

Jackson set a record with 2,597 career strikeouts, maxing at 171 in 1968. Six players already have reached 171 this year, led by the Yankees’ Judge at 198. He could break Mark Reynolds’ season record of 223, set in 2009.

“You’d have been on the bench,” Jackson said. “But I don’t know if you set a guy on the bench with 90 RBIs and 40 homers. That’s Judge. You ain’t going to sit that on the bench.”

Steroids fueled the home run surge in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and power subsided after the start of drug testing with penalties in 2004. The home run average dropped in 2014 to its lowest level since 1992, then started rising during the second half of the 2015 season.

MLB has the UMass-Lowell’s Baseball Research Center conduct periodic testing of baseballs and University of Illinois physics professor emeritus Alan Nathan consults as part of quality control. The sport has said repeatedly that baseballs fall within the specifications in the rules.

Manfred isn’t worried some undetectable substance is fueling the new rise.

“I have never said that it’s impossible there’s something out there that we’re missing,” he said. “What I am saying is we’re doing more, more frequently, less predictably, with better testing, and that’s all you can do.”

Women Have More Muscle Stamina Than Men.

This article means that the practice of having women play shorter matches in tennis tournaments is based on false science. The practice is to have women play best of three sets and men play best of five sets. This practice should end.

Women have more stamina and muscle endurance than men, study suggests.woman-exercise-minute-bone-density.jpg

Women have greater muscle endurance than men, a study appears to show.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found women were less tired after natural muscle exercises than men of a similar age and athletic ability.

For the study, nine women and eight men were asked to flex their foot against a series of sensors as quickly as they could 200 times.

The speed, power and torque – rotational force – of their movements and electrical activity of their muscles was recorded.

The results showed men were faster and more powerful at first, but became more exhausted much faster than the women.

Professor Brian Dalton, study author, said: “We’ve known for some time that women are less fatigable than men during isometric muscle tests – static exercises where joints don’t move, such as holding a weight – but we wanted to find out if that’s true during more dynamic and practical everyday movements.

“And the answer is pretty definitive: women can outlast men by a wide margin.“  

The researchers measured foot movements because it makes use of calf muscles on the back of the leg, used for everyday actions such as standing or walking.

Although only one muscle group was studied, Professor Dalton said he would expect similar results for others.

“We know from previous research that for events like ultra-trail running, males may complete them faster but females are considerably less tired by the end,” he explained.

“If ever an ultra-ultra-marathon is developed, women may well dominate in that arena.“

The study, carried out in collaboration with the University of Guelph and University of Oregon, was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

What’s The Matter With Germany?

What’s the Matter with Germany?

By | September 4, 2017

Germany is making trouble again. This time it is not sending young men in uniform swarming across its borders to conquer Europe. Instead, it is using its position of economic dominance to cause young Muslim men from outside Europe to swarm across Europe’s borders. In World War II, Germany’s conquest of Europe and subsequent defeat left the continent in ruins. This time, however, Germany’s actions seem designed to bring about Europe’s destruction by inviting conquest rather than by initiating it.

First the Kaiser, then Hitler, now Angela Merkel. Over and over again and in different ways, Germany’s hubris has invented ways to take Europe down. How can we possibly be here again?

If you take a moment to ponder the title of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s book, The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenmentsyou will notice that Germany is conspicuously absent from Himmelfarb’s subtitle and her book. This is an important clue about the shape of the West today. After all, the story of Germany comes close to defining the conflicts and agonies of the 20th century and gives clues about our present crises. It is a remarkable fact that twice in the 20th century Germany fought the three nations in Himmelfarb’s list in two enormously destructive wars. Those conflicts strongly suggest that Germany was the enemy, not just of those nation states, but also of the Enlightenment traditions those nations represent.

The Enlightenment was a period of political revolutions in Britain, America, and France. Those revolutions resulted from a radical change in thinking in those three countries.

Britain’s revolution came first, in 1688. It replaced the divine right of kings with rule by the king (or queen) in Parliament, a regime that is still recognizable in Britain today. The radically new American idea was forged in the American Enlightenment and recognizes the sovereignty of the people (the subject of my book, Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea). America’s original constitutional design is also still recognizable, though America in recent years has been living under an increasingly post-constitutional regime. France keeps trying to make its version of the Enlightenment project work politically, reflecting its inherent problems. France’s current attempt, the Fifth Republic, was established only very recently, in 1958.

During the Enlightenment era there was a crucial parting of the ways between Germany, on the one hand, and Britain, America, and France on the other. Here is Stephen Hicks in his fine book on postmodernism:

Anglo-American culture and German culture split decisively from each other, one following a broadly Enlightenment program, the other a Counter-Enlightenment one.

How would the 20th century have played out if Germany had belonged in Himmelfarb’s subtitle such that war between a 20th century France and Germany would have been as unlikely as war between 20th century France and Britain? That, it seems, would have averted both world wars and saved lives by the tens of millions.

Instead of being part of the Enlightenment project, Germany was the heartland of Romanticism, the 19th-century movement that followed the Enlightenment era. Romanticism was the rejection of Enlightenment thinking, and it started in Germany.

The 20th-century thinker who did the most to shape thinking about the history of ideas during and after the Enlightenment era was almost certainly Isaiah Berlin, professor of social and political theory at Oxford. In The Roots of Romanticism, here is how Berlin described the new consciousness of the people who were participants in and champions of Romanticism:

…common sense, moderation, was very far from their thoughts…there was a great turning towards emotionalism…an outbreak of craving for the infinite…admiration of wild genius, outlaws, heroes, aestheticism, self-destruction.

The Germans emerged from the Enlightenment era as the counter-Enlightenment people.

Berlin wrote that somewhere between the end of the 1760s and the beginning of the 1780s the idea of the romantic hero was taking hold of the German imagination. Note that this is precisely the period during which the American Founders were inventing America. During this period, heroic martyrdom became in Germany “a quality to be worshipped for its own sake.” Berlin described the romantic hero as “satanic”:

This is the beginning of…the Nietzschean figure who wishes to raze to the ground a society whose system of values is such that a superior person…cannot operate in terms of it, and therefore prefers to destroy it…[who] prefers self-destruction, suicide…

Why “satanic”? Berlin’s description of the romantic hero evokes the figure of Satan. Satan’s sin is pride. Propelled by a feeling of injured pride, he led a rebellion against Heaven. It also describes Hitler. He stirred up the Germans’ injured pride over their defeat in World War I, and led Germany into a war of unimaginable destructiveness which ended with the destruction of Germany and Hitler’s suicide. Once again, the Germans while seeking to salve a wounded pride through self-destructive means, seem poised to take the rest of Europe down with them.

For about a century after the Germans set out on their anti-Enlightenment path, the threat they posed to the West was limited because Germany did not exist as a single country. Before 1871, the area that would become Germany in that year consisted of a number of independent states varying in size and power, ranging from kingdoms and grand duchies to principalities, cities and ecclesiastical states. Although the number of German states had declined throughout the centuries, reduced by deaths of royal lines, annexation, and conquest, there were still around 300 German states by 1800. The new state, by unifying the Germans, soon acquired the power to threaten the West. When the Allies divided Germany after its defeat in World War II, it was again no threat–though certainly an unhappy place for those stuck living in the Eastern part of the divide. Now reunited, it is no coincidence that Germany is a problem again.

It is important to realize how much the Germans’ rejection of Enlightenment thinking, already strong, was intensified by their experience of the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon ravaged and humiliated the German states. For Germans, Napoleon represented not just the French Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment overall. The Germans hated Napoleonic France and rejected the Enlightenment along with it.

The emergence of the United States, modern Britain, and modern France during the Enlightenment era, and Germany’s rejection of the Enlightenment provide the basis for understanding why Germany has been and continues to be a problem for the West.

If the West wishes to avoid a repetition of the destruction and disasters of the last century, it would do well to consult its own Enlightenment tradition and to marginalize the thinking of German Romantics, like Merkel, who recall an intellectual tradition that can demonstrate no positive historical achievement.

About the Author: 

Robert Curry
Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute and is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books. You can preview the book at: He also serves on the Board of Distinguished Advisors for the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.


In this article, George WIll describes the football brain injury problem in detail. The conclusion is that such injury, even minor injury, is inevitable for professional and college players due to the number of hits and the size of the players. 


iN by GEORGE WILL September 2, 2017 8:00 PM @GEORGEWILL The head-injury epidemic in the NFL has changed what was once a beloved pastime into a spectacle that degrades its viewers. Autumn, which is bearing down upon us like a menacing linebacker, is, as John Keats said, a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Actually, Keats, a romantic, did not mention that last part. He died before the birth of the subject of a waning American romance, football. This sport will never die, but it will never again be, as it was until recently, the subject of uncomplicated national enthusiasm. CTE is a degenerative brain disease confirmable only after death, and often caused by repeated blows to the head that knock the brain against the skull. The cumulative impacts of hundreds of supposedly minor blows can have the cumulative effect of many concussions. The New York Times recently reported Stanford researchers’ data showing “that one college offensive lineman sustained 62 of these hits in a single game. Each one came with an average force on the player’s head equivalent to what you would see if he had driven his car into a brick wall at 30 mph.” Boston University researchers found CTE in 110 of 111 brains of deceased NFL players. In 53 other brains from college players, 48 had CTE. There was significant selection bias: Many of the brains came from families who had noticed CTE symptoms, including mood disorders and dementia. A BU researcher says, however, that a 10-year NFL linebacker could receive more than 15,000 sub-concussive blows. Football’s kinetic energy — a function of the masses and velocities of the hurtling bodies — has increased dramatically in 50 years. On Alabama’s undefeated 1966 team, only 21 percent of the players weighed more than 200 pounds. The heaviest weighed 223; the linemen averaged 194. The quarterback, who weighed 177, was Ken Stabler, who went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career — and to “moderately severe” CTE before death from cancer. Today, many high-school teams are much beefier than the 1966 Crimson Tide. Of the 114 members of Alabama’s 2016 squad, just 25 weighed less than 200 and 20 weighed more than 300. In 1980, only three NFL players weighed 300 or more pounds. Last season, 390 weighed 300 pounds or more, and six topped 350. UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT Trump pledges $1M to Texas recovery 00:03 00:43 Powered by Players love football, and a small minority will have lucrative post-college NFL careers. Many will make increasingly informed choices to accept the risk-reward calculus. But because today’s risk-averse middle-class parents put crash helmets on their tykes riding tricycles, football participation will skew to the uninformed and economically desperate. But will informed spectators become queasy about deriving pleasure from an entertainment with such human costs? No. They will say: Players know the risks that they, unlike the baited bears, voluntarily embrace, just as smokers do. Notice, however, that smoking, which is increasingly a choice of those least receptive to public-health information, is banned in all NFL stadiums and is severely discouraged on all college campuses, including those that are football factories. And football fans will say: Better equipment will solve the problem of body parts, particularly the one in the skull’s brain pan, that are unsuited to the game. Perhaps evolving standards of decency will reduce football to a marginalized spectacle, like boxing. But the UFC’s (Ultimate Fighting Championship’s) burgeoning popularity is (redundant) evidence that “evolving” is not a synonym for “improving.” Besides, as disturbing scientific evidence accumulates, NFL franchise values soar (Forbes says the most valuable is the Dallas Cowboys at $4.2 billion and the least valuable is the $1.5 billion Buffalo Bills) and annual revenues reach $14 billion. The league distributes $244 million to each team — $77 million more than each team’s salary cap. Local revenues are gravy. The appendage of higher education that is called college football also is a big business: The Southeastern Conference’s cable-television channel is valued at almost $5 billion. Universities, which find and develop the NFL’s players, pay their head coaches well for performing this public service: Twenty head coaches make more than $4 million a year. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh earns $9 million. It has been said (by Thomas Babington Macaulay) that the Puritans banned bear baiting — unleashing fierce dogs on a bear chained in a pit — not because it gave pain to bears but because it gave pleasure to Puritans. But whatever the Puritans’ motives, they understood that there are degrading enjoyments. Football is becoming one, even though Michigan’s $9 million coach has called it “the last bastion of hope in America for toughness in men.” That thought must amuse the Marines patrolling Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. READ MORE:

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2nd Manassas, Important History


Second Manassas

ThiYou are here

Second Manassas was fought n the same field as the original battle a year earlier. It is worth reading about.

August 28 – 30, 1862

The Battle of Second Manassas
Second Bull Run, Groveton, Brawner’s Farm

After compelling Union Gen. George B. McClellan to withdraw from the outskirts of Richmond to Harrison’s Landing on the lower James River, Gen. Robert E. Lee turned his attention to the threat posed by the newly formed Union Army of Virginia, under the command of Gen. John Pope.  The Lincoln administration had chosen Pope to lead the reorganized forces in northern Virginia with the dual task of shielding Washington and operating northwest of Richmond to take pressure off McClellan’s army.  To counter Pope’s movement into central Virginia, Lee sent Gen. T. J. “Stonewall” Jackson to Gordonsville on July 13.  Jackson’s force crossed the Rapidan River and clashed with the vanguard of Pope’s army at Cedar Mountain, south of Culpeper, on August 9.  Jackson’s narrow tactical victory proved sufficient to instill caution in the Union high command.   The initiative shifted to Lee.

Confirming that McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was departing the Virginia Peninsula southeast of Richmond to join forces with Pope in northern Virginia, Lee ordered James Longstreet’s wing of the Army of Northern Virginia to join Jackson.  After providing for Richmond’s defense, Lee arrived at Gordonsville on August 15.   Lee intended to destroy Pope before the bulk of McClellan’s reinforcements could arrive and bring overwhelming numbers to bear against the Confederates.  However, Pope foiled Lee’s plans by withdrawing behind the Rappahannock on August 19.

To draw Pope away from his defensive positions along the Rappahannock, Lee made a daring move.  On August 25 he sent Jackson on a sweeping flank march around the Union right to gain its rear and sever Pope’s supply line.  At sunset on August 26, Jackson’s forces completed a remarkable 55-mile march, striking the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station and subsequently capturing Pope’s supply depot at Manassas Junction overnight.  As expected, Pope abandoned the Rappahannock line to pursue Jackson, while Lee circled around to bring up Longstreet’s half of the Confederate army.  After fending off the advance of Pope’s army near Bristoe, Jackson torched the remaining Union supplies at Manassas and slipped away, taking up a position north of Groveton, near the old Bull Run battlefield.

Alerted that Lee had reached Thoroughfare Gap and would arrive the following day, Jackson struck a lone Union division on the Warrenton Turnpike, resulting in a fierce engagement at the Brawner Farm on the evening of August 28.  Believing that Jackson was attempting to escape, Pope directed his scattered forces to converge on the Confederate position.  Throughout the day on August 29, Union forces made piecemeal attacks on Jackson’s line, positioned along an unfinished railroad, while Pope awaited a flanking movement by Fitz John Porter’s command.  Although the Union assaults pierced Jackson’s line on several occasions, the attackers were repulsed each time.  Late in the morning, Lee arrived on the field with Longstreet’s command taking position on Jackson’s right and blocking Porter’s advance.  Lee hoped to unleash Longstreet on the vulnerable Union left, but Longstreet convinced the Confederate commander that circumstances did not favor an attack.

August 30 dawned on a morning of indecision, as Pope confronted conflicting intelligence and weighed his options.  Convinced that the Confederates were retreating, the Union commander ordered a pursuit near midday, but the advance quickly ended when skirmishers encountered Jackson’s forces still ensconced behind the unfinished railroad.  Pope’s plans now shifted to a major assault on Jackson’s line.  Porter’s corps and John Hatch’s division attacked Jackson’s right at the “Deep Cut,” an excavated section of the railroad grade.  However, with ample artillery support, the Confederate defenders repulsed the attack.

Lee and Longstreet seized the initiative and launched a massive counterattack against the Union left.  Longstreet’s wing, nearly 30,000 strong, swept eastward toward Henry Hill, where the Confederates hoped to cut off Pope’s escape.  Union forces mounted a tenacious defense on Chinn Ridge which bought time for Pope to shift enough troops onto Henry Hill and stave off disaster.  The Union lines on Henry Hill held as the Confederate counterattack stalled before dusk.  After dark, Pope pulled his beaten army off the field and across Bull Run.  A final Confederate effort to flank Pope resulted in a bloody fight at Chantilly (Ox Hill) on September 1, hastening the Union retreat toward the Washington defenses.  With Union forces in disarray, Lee grasped the opportunity to lead his army across the Potomac into Maryland for its first incursion into the North.



Democrats have responded to the tragic events in Charlottesville by obsessively picking apart President Trump’s multiple statements about those events, while steadfastly refusing to admit that the far-left antifas had anything to do with the violence they precipitated, and by demanding the removal of Confederate monuments. A casual consumer of the news might assume that Charlottesville has been a political triumph for Democrats, and a disaster for Trump and the GOP. But the Associated Press now realizes, with evident dismay, that the Democrats may have miscalculated: “Dems risk culture war fight in Charlottesville response.”

Democrats have denounced Trump for blaming “both sides” for deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and, more recently, for defending Confederate monuments.

…Democratic leaders across multiple states now are pushing to take down Old South monuments like the one that ostensibly sparked the events in Charlottesville, and three rank-and-file House Democrats want to pursue a congressional censure of the president.

In interviews this week before his resignation was announced Friday, White House strategist Steve Bannon gleefully suggested Democrats are falling into a trap.

One of the problems is that the Democrats’ position on Confederate monuments is highly unpopular:

Polls taken after last weekend’s violence offer some evidence backing Bannon’s and Trump’s view. While polls found widespread disgust with white supremacists, a Marist Poll for NPR and PBS found that just 27 percent of adults queried believe Confederate monuments “should be removed because they are offensive.” About two out of three white and Latino respondents said they should remain, as did 44 percent of black respondents.

The AP’s fear is that Democrats’ obsession with President Trump will prevent them from communicating a positive agenda to voters:

Trump upset Democrat Hillary Clinton on the strength of his support from white voters, particularly working-class whites who possessed a combination of economic frustration and racial resentments salved by Trump’s promises of immigration controls, law-and-order and a booming economy.

Clinton, meanwhile, concentrated so much on Trump’s deficiencies and outlandish statements that her own policy proposals received less attention. That’s a problem that has beset Trump rivals since he first declared his candidacy: All the attention focused on Trump — even unflattering stories — prevent them from getting out their own messages.

Overlooked by the AP is the possibility that the Democrats have no messages of their own to communicate. Which reminds me–whatever happened to the Russia collusion story? It was of world-historical significance until it disappeared overnight, succeeded by a new opportunity for Trump-hatred.

Which doesn’t seem to be of much significance to voters. Rasmussen finds that the president’s approval rating hasn’t been significantly affected by the hysterical attacks on him following the violence in Charlottesville:

Despite the media furor over what the president did and did not say following last weekend’s incident in Virginia, his approval ratings appear little changed.

Over time, the Democrats’ perpetual hysteria will only make them look silly. The biggest thing they have going for them is the timidity of Congressional Republicans. If the Republicans stop reading the Washington Post and the New York Times and get on with the business of governing, the Democrats have no answers on the level of policy.

Like this:

The Russian Involvement Explained by Putin via Edward Jay Epstein

There has been considerable discussion about Russian involvement in the 2016 election with the suggestion that he favored one candidate over another. As it turns out, Putin only wished to delegitimize the election itself and damage our democracy in the process.



A Question of Motive

Russia wasn’t trying to elect a particular candidate: Vladimir Putin wanted to delegitimize our elections, above all.

July 31, 2017

Politics and law

The 2016 presidential campaign was marked by three disclosure operations, all of which appear to have had a single author. “Oppo research” is the euphemism commonly used in elections for such operations. The mechanism is fairly simple: dirt is obtained from wherever it can be found to discredit an opponent. It is then “leaked,” usually either anonymously or on background, to targeted media channels. What makes the 2016 campaign particularly interesting from a counterintelligence perspective is not that both sides had their own disclosure operations, but that both sides were offered the dirt for them by a common source: Russian intelligence.

As we now know from the emails of Donald Trump Jr., a thinly veiled intermediary, Natalya Veselnitskaya, offered the Trump campaign documents that putatively would show that Hillary Clinton had received illegal donations from Russian financiers; in the event, no such documents were proffered. But it is a reasonable assumption that Veselnitskaya could not have made such an offer, especially in a meeting attended by three other Russians, unless the move was approved by the FSB, the Russian security service.

A second disclosure operation, this one involving supporters of the Clinton campaign, was more layered. The proximate intermediary was Fusion GPS, a research firm used by the law firm Baker Hostetler, and the secondary “cut-out” was the British firm Orbis, co-founded by former MI-6 officer Christopher Steele. We know something about this sub-contractor from the depositions Steele gave in defending a libel suit in London. According to Steele, Fusion GPS not only had him prepare the so-called “dossier” on Trump but also directed Steele to “leak” it to specified reporters at Mother Jones, Yahoo, the New York Times, the Washington PostThe New Yorker, and CNN. In some cases, Steele was directed to brief the selected journalists personally. The dirt in these “leaks” relied heavily on information supplied by two Russian government sources: Source A, whom Steele calls “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure”; and Source B, “a former top-level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.” Sources A and B provided information supposedly exposing a long-time Russian FSB operation to get compromising information that could be used to control Trump. The idea that two Russian intelligence sources would reveal a long-time Kremlin-backed FSB operation bears further examination.

Michael Morell, a former acting CIA director, casts light on the sourcing of the dirt in the Steele dossier. “I had two questions when I first read [the dossier],” Morell said in an NBC interview. “One was, how did Chris [Steele] talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries. I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris.”

Paying ex-FSB officers for sensitive information? As Steele is no doubt aware, there is no such thing as an ex-FSB officer. All Russian intelligence officers, whether currently or formerly employed, if in Russia, operate under the same tough security regime. The selling of secret information by them is espionage, pure and simple. Selling it to someone connected to an adversary intelligence service greatly compounds the crime. Sources A and B (through their intermediaries) knew that they were dealing with an ex-MI-6 man who could use their betrayal of secrets against them. The only safe way for A and B to provide the requested dirt would be to clear it with the security regime at the FSB. This precaution, a required step in such exchanges, would mean that the dirt in the dossier, whether true or false, was curated by the FSB and spoon-fed to Steele. If so, the FSB was the surreptitious provider of this part of the Steele dossier.

The third disclosure operation involved stolen emails from the DNC bearing on the unfair treatment by Democratic Party officials of Bernie Sanders, which were posted on the DC Leaks website. President Obama identified the Kremlin as the author of this operation, saying “These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.” If so, as in the previous cases, the FSB would have curated the dirt. To be sure, oppo-research operatives, because of their singular focus on getting usable slime, are highly vulnerable to shady offers, but why would Russia so blatantly feed the slime to all sides in a campaign?

The United States has a wide array of tools for monitoring Russian intelligence, including the world’s most sophisticated sensors for intercepting signals, but discovering the Kremlin’s motives remains an elusive enterprise because, unlike in a scientific inquiry, one cannot fully trust the observable data. While a scientist can safely assume that the microbes he observes through the lens of a microscope are not employing guile to mislead him, an intelligence analyst cannot make similar assumptions about the content of intercepted communications from Russia. If one assumes that the Russians do not know that the channel is being monitored—an assumption which, following the defection of Edward Snowden to Russia, is hard to make prudently—then the intelligence gleaned from that channel can reveal the Kremlin’s activities and motive. If, however, it is understood that the Russians know that a channel is being monitored, the information conveyed over it can be considered a disclosure operation.

If, for example, a Mafia family finds out that the FBI is tapping its telephone lines, it can use those lines to burn its rivals. The Kremlin can also use a knowntapped phone line to its advantage. Consider, for example, the tapped phone of Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On December 1, 2016, Kislyak went to Trump Tower to meet Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn. According to Kushner’s version of that meeting, Kislyak suggested that Russian generals could supply information about Russian military operations in Syria on the condition that the Trump transition team provide a “secure line in the transition office.” Of course, as Kislyak likely knew, transition teams don’t have secure lines to Moscow. Kushner responded by asking if the Russian embassy could supply such a “secure line.” Kislyak then used an open phone line at his embassy to relay Kushner’s response to his foreign ministry in Moscow. It is inconceivable that Kislyak did not know that the call would be monitored by the FBI, since the FBI had routinely listened in on these lines for the past 68 years, or that his discussion of Kushner’s request would set off alarm bells in the intelligence community.

If Kislyak had wanted to hide this exchange from U.S. intelligence, he could have easily sent it under diplomatic cover directly to Moscow, used a secure line, or relayed it in a coded fashion. By communicating the message en clair, or in plaintext, Kislyak skillfully exposed Kushner’s incredibly stupid response, which he himself had provoked, to stoke distrust about the incoming president within the U.S. intelligence community. Nor was this the only mistrust Kislyak cultivated: the conversations on the monitored phone led to the firing of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and conversations that Kislyak had with Attorney General Jeff Sessions led to Sessions’s recusing himself from the Russian investigation, which has now driven a wedge between President Trump and one of his most effective and popular cabinet members.

Kislyak’s resume indicates that he is a well-regarded and competent player in the game of nations: he has served as Second Secretary of the Soviet UN mission in New York, First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, Deputy Director of the Soviet Department of International Organizations in Moscow, Permanent Russian representative to NATO in Brussels, Deputy Foreign Minister, and Ambassador to the United States. Nothing in his 37-year career, either during or after the Cold War, suggests that his moves are not aligned with Kremlin strategy.

But when it comes to the various disclosures and interventions surrounding the 2016 election, what exactly was that strategy?

In a report issued on January 6, 2017, entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” the U.S. intelligence community concluded, based both on its sources and its analysis of stories on the Russian-controlled network RT, that Putin wanted to hurt Clinton, help Trump, and discredit the American election. These may well have been motives of the Russian president, but the narrowly focused assessment fails to explain, or even take into account, Kislyak’s post-election ensnarement of Kushner, or the discrediting dirt against Trump. If Putin had really wanted to help Trump win the election, why did Russian sources provide damaging dirt to Steele, which could have cost Trump the election? Why did Kislyak provide the FBI with information, via a known tapped line, that could (and did) compromise key members of Trump’s administration?

A wider focus can be found, of all places, in Oliver Stone’s revealing, if fawning, four-hour interview with Putin, in which the Russian dictator makes clear that he views American hegemony, including America’s standing and respect in the international community, as a threat that Russia must counter. One way to undermine America’s standing is to provide disclosures that can be used by its own political factions, and the media, to sow distrust in America’s reliability as a democracy founded on transparency. Putin tells the truth when he says that it doesn’t matter particularly to Russia whether Clinton or Trump won the election: his goal was to install doubt in the legitimacy of the process, regardless of how it turned out.

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