A Grain of Salt–Spy Ships, Officials, and Russian Missiles

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

Big Media, Big Politics, and Big Business all profit financially and politically when they keep the public worked up in fear and/or outrage. They are not our friends. Let’s take some of their power back with a few facts.

Outrage

Throughout media, “US officials” report that a Russian spy ship has “appeared” off the East Coast – the first such sighting during the Trump administration.

Facts

  • Russian spy ships have been “appearing” off the US East Coast since the invention of the radio – literally over ninety years.
  • If we want to get technical, Russian spy ships have been “appearing” off of US coasts ever since Russia could sail to the US coast.
  • It is entirely possible that this is the first time journalists have bothered to notice Russian spy ship patrols.
  • According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) from the mean low water mark of a coastal state.
  • The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, and Emperor Palpatine can legally park their entire navies 14 miles off the US coastline and have a bacchanalia if they want to, and they are breaking no international laws.
  • The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov was 30 miles off the US coast as of February 15, 2017.
  • There are no allegations that any Russian ships have violated US territorial waters.
  • US ships regularly cruise coastal waters of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and every other country on the planet that has a coastline.
  • Merriam-Webster defines “official” as “one who holds or is invested with an office.”
  • Merriam-Webster defines “office” as “a position of responsibility or some degree of executive authority.”
  • Well over 800,000 people in the Intelligence Community hold top secret clearances, which would indicate “position[s] of responsibility or some degree of executive authority.”
  • If I had cited to “officials” in my freshman journalism class, I would have flunked and become the department poster child for shoddy journalism. 

 

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

Where the hell have “journalists” been for the past ninety years? This is like watching seven-year-olds discover Knock-Knock Jokes. These same “journalists” couldn’t even find Russia on a map before it hacked the DNC last August.

Actual photo of journalists finally noticing Russian spy ships off of US coast.

 

Outrage

“Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump” ~ The New York Times

 

Facts

  • Versions of this headline are being paired throughout media with “news” of the Russian spy ship.
  • Russia did indeed deploy a new intermediate-range missile, which can be considered a violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  • Russia deployed this missile in December, 2016, before Trump took office.
  • The Obama administration was aware of the Russian missile program in 2014.
  • The Obama administration warned Russia in 2014 that it was violating the treaty.
  • The Obama administration warned Russia again in 2015 that it was violating the treaty.
  • Russia now has two batteries of the new cruise missiles.

 

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

While the arms treaty issues will certainly pose a challenge to the Trump administration, Putin threw down the Arms Gauntlet during the Obama administration. Obama responded with a frown. This recent missile deployment is not about Putin “challenging” Trump like some sort of international cock fight, as the headline implies. It was just time for Putin to test his new toys. He’d have done it no matter who won the election.

Unfortunately for all of us, Trump threw down the Screw-You Gauntlet when he started his administration by publicly telling off all of the top media muckity-mucks. The media has picked up that gauntlet, and the public is nothing but a pawn in the Media War.

 

Bottom Line

Spy ships are old news, and Putin has had his missile agenda for a very long time. Media and politicians also have their agendas. None of these agendas include an informed, educated public.

Take it all with a grain of salt!

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Outrage with a Grain of Salt–NSC, Bannon, & the Washington Post

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

The Unholy Threesome of Big Media, Big Politics, and Big Business is never happier than when the public is outraged. Outrage means profits. Outrage means political steam. Outrage means the propaganda of foreign billionaires that would mold us and countries that would dismember our nation is getting through. Public outrage means the media has served its foreign and domestic masters well.

 

Canstock, Journal des Voyage (1879-80)

 

Such realities as political leaders selling out to foreign billionaires, Taliban and drug lords growing fat on American taxpayer dollars, and the entire city of Flint, Michigan facing a third year without clean drinking water are swept aside in the torrent of outrage over Harambe, bathrooms, and now hysteria-inducing headlines about President Trump. With media outlets great and small churning out “fake news” and “alternative facts” attributed to “unnamed officials,” “an official who spoke on condition of anonymity,” or even “a source close to officials familiar with the case,” Americans are starved for reliable information.

Social media exacerbates this truth famine by offering a public eager to feed its hysteria addiction with shares and retweets.

Even the most popular media outlets, such as the Washington Post,* publish outright lies with clickbait headlines, only to retract the entire stories two days later. But at that point, their aims are fulfilled. The stories are already viral slop in the social media Trough of Outrage, and a society addicted to its own anxieties has sucked it up without pausing to breathe. And the retractions? Crickets. The damage is done.

Enough.

To counteract this unprecedented tsunami of deceit, we invite people to look beyond the outrage to evaluate a few facts. We label Outrage, Facts, and Opinion accordingly so that there are no misunderstandings. We also include links to articles that we believe might help our readers understand today’s evolving world dynamic.

If we stick together and take the outrageous bombardment with a grain of salt, we eventually might slog our way out of this Information Cesspool.

 

Outrage

President Trump appointed Steve Bannon to the National Security Council and “ousted” the country’s most senior military and intelligence officials as regular members of the Principals Committee.

Facts

  • The National Security Council (“NSC”) is a combination of White House staff, military staff, intelligence staff, and anyone else the president wants on it. Its purpose is to advise and assist the president on national security and foreign policy and to help the president coordinate those policies among the various branches of government. Its members include a wide variety of experts and officials in areas from drug control policy to economic policy to Justice Department issues.
  • The Principals Committee is a subset of the NSC. Members of the Principals Committee are required to attend all meetings of the NSC regardless of the meeting agenda.
  • President Trump removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from the Principals Committee of the NSC.
  • President Trump added White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the Principals Committee of the NSC.
  • Steve Bannon is the former editor of Breitbart. He is also a former US Navy officer and was a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. He holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs.
  • At this point in time, Trump can legally appoint Mickey Mouse to the NSC if he so desires. Just because no one ever has appointed Mickey Mouse to the NSC doesn’t mean it’s illegal or unconstitutional. It’s Trump’s council.

What this means for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence:

Oh, happy day!

We all know how in every bureaucracy, corporate or governmental, people at all levels clamor for the opportunity to leave their work piling up on their desks to attend meetings, particularly when those meetings have nothing to do with their specialties? . . . Yes. Exactly. . . . The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence are no different. They have full plates without being required to attend meetings that have nothing to do with the military or intelligence communities. Trump’s order relieves them from such an inefficient waste of their time.

 

Actual photo of DNI emerging from three-hour meeting on economic policy.

 

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence still have permanent invitations to every meeting they would like to attend, and they are still full members of the NSC. In other words, if they want to participate in any and all NSC meetings, they are welcome to do so, but if they are busy fighting jihadis, Russians, or over-reaching Chinese, they don’t have to put everything on hold to attend meetings on economics, the UN, or drug control policy.

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

We are delighted on behalf of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence. Also, we have no idea why Trump would appoint Bannon to the National Security Council. We do know that foreign individuals and hostile countries are inundating Americans with propaganda these days, even in the most “prestigious” journalistic rags. Propaganda is, indeed, a national security issue . . . Let’s face it. If anyone knows about propaganda, it’s the former editor of Breitbart. Only the editors of the New York Times or Washington Post would be as qualified. Perhaps Bannon has been persuaded to use his superpowers on our behalf?

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Outrage

Steve Bannon ordered the Department of Homeland Security to ignore the Federal Court injunctions and continue enforcing Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Facts

  • The office of Director of Homeland Security is a Cabinet position. Cabinet positions answer directly to the president.
  • Retired Marine General Kelly is the Director of Homeland Security. His boss is President Trump.
  • Steve Bannon is nowhere in the chain of command and has no authority to “order” anyone in the government or outside the government to do anything.

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

Aside from those pesky chain-of-command issues, does anyone seriously believe a doughy rich boy like Bannon can order this guy to do anything? Just saying.

 

General John Kelly, USMC

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Outrage

Trump exempted countries where he holds business interests from the “Muslim ban.”

Facts

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Outrage

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon circumvented presidential chain of command and paid a personal and unscheduled visit to DHS Director Kelly’s office to confront him over green card waivers to Trump’s presidential memorandum on immigration.

Facts

  • This was published by the Washington Post on January 28.
  • The columnist who wrote about this outrageous behavior, Josh Rogin, attributed the information to “two administration officials familiar with the confrontation.” No word yet on who those “two administration officials” might be. They could literally be the “official file clerks to the secretary of the new guy in Human Resources.”
  • White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated there had been no confrontation in person or otherwise between Bannon and Kelly.
  • On February 4, the Washington Post amended the article and issued a statement admitting that neither Rogin nor anyone else at the publication checked their facts, and that the White House denied the confrontation took place.

Bayard & Holmes Opinion

We are amazed that Josh Rogin ever passed a freshman journalism class. Sadly, we are not amazed that Washington Post hired him. WaPo has recently upgraded its normal procedures for “not checking facts” in the interests of maintaining its standards and traditional dedication to journalistic integrity.

Bottom Line

Washington Post isn’t the only media outlet hiring creative writers these days. We all need to take everything we read and everything we hear with a grain of salt.

Piper’s Favorites of the Week:

The World as Seen by Donald Trump – Le Monde Diplomatique

The Intellectual Yet Idiot – Incerto

Read Draft Text of Trump’s Executive Order – Huffington Post

Everything I Need to Know About Russian Interference I Learned from College Pranks – Defense One

An Invasion by Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine – The Interpreter, Institute of Modern Russia

What outrageous rumors have you heard this week? Do you have any you would like us to look into?

* ‘Fake News’ And How The Washington Post Rewrote Its Story On Russian Hacking Of The Power Grid