Saturday, February 17, 2018

Trump Will Likely Be Remembered As A Benedict Arnold, Not As A Father Coughlin

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Thursday night I was down in Huntington Beach for a house party for Laura Oatman, the progressive running against Dana Rohrabacher. It was great. Laura and Marianne Williamson tag-teamed and it was amazing. At some point a man had asked Laura if she "had the stomach" for such a tough race. You should have seen the two mama bears in action! "The stomach?"asked Marianne with either incredulity or outrage. "She has a womb!" Laura then said "And this womb produced 5 children in 5 years. Her husband looked a little embarrassed but the statement brought down the roof. Rohrabacher will need one himself before she gets finished with him-- or maybe before Mueller does.

You've probably heard by now that yesterday Mueller started laying the groundwork for the collusion case against the Trump Circus by unveiling the details of a widespread and coordinated campaign by Russians to influence the 2016 election in favor of Señor Trumpanzee, delivering on his initial mandate by the Justice Department. He indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities on charges of defrauding the U.S. government by interfering with the political process.
Prosecutors provided a remarkably detailed picture of how Russians used social media, fake rallies and secretive operatives in the U.S. to create “political intensity” by backing radical groups, opposition social movements and disaffected voters. The outreach from the Russians included direct contact with over 100 Americans.

This “information warfare” by the Russians didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters. Trump and his Republican supporters have repeatedly denounced the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and have denied any collusion. The indictment cites no instances of Russians coordinating directly with the Trump campaign.

Still, the accusations detail unprecedented foreign attempts to influence the outcome of a U.S. election, including the manipulation of accounts at big U.S. companies like Facebook, Twitter, PayPal and Instagram. Those companies will continue to face pressure to clamp down on fraudulent accounts or risk a government crackdown as intelligence officials have warned that Russians are already engaged in influencing the 2018 midterm elections.

The president has been briefed on the indictment, the White House said. The Russian government called the accusations absurd. Mueller’s office said that none of the defendants was in custody.
Trumpanzee immediately reacted defensively confirming-- by adamant denial-- his collusion with the Kremlin:




The Kremlin had given orders that Trump was their candidate by April 2016, if not sooner, "and began producing and purchasing ads promoting the reality-TV star to voters and 'expressly opposing Clinton,' according to the indictment.
Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics adviser in the George W. Bush administration, said the lack of any evidence of collusion in the indictment wasn’t the final word by prosecutors.

“They’re charging what they know,” he said. “The contact with the Trump campaign might be unwitting in this case, but that doesn’t mean that the collaboration issue is finished.”

The Internet Research Agency, a Russian organization, and the defendants began working in 2014 to interfere in U.S. elections, according to the indictment. They used false personas and social media while also staging political rallies and communicating with “unwitting individuals” associated with the Trump campaign, it said.
An "unwitting individual," of course, describes virtual everyone who voted for Trump. A planning memo instructed its operatives to harm Clinton and bolster Trump, even going so far as to help derail Rubio and Cruz.
The group bought advertisements on U.S. social media and created numerous Twitter accounts designed to appear as if they were U.S. groups or people, according to the indictment. One fake account, @TEN_GOP account, attracted more than 100,000 online followers.

The Russians tracked the metrics of their effort in reports and budgeted for their efforts. Some traveled to the U.S. to gather intelligence for the surreptitious campaign, according to the indictment. They used stolen U.S. identities, including fake drivers licenses, and contacted news media outlets to promote their activities.

In September 2016, the group ordered one worker to “intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton” after a review found insufficient anti-Clinton activity.

The effort went well beyond social media. The Russian effort included organizing rallies for Trump and paying Americans to participate in them or perform tasks at them. One American was paid to build a cage on a flatbed truck; another was paid to portray Clinton in a prison uniform.

Rallies were promoted with Facebook ads. Paid ads included this one on Oct. 19, 2016: “Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is.”

...In June 2016, the defendants allegedly posed as grassroots activists using the account @March_for_Trump to contact a volunteer for the Trump campaign in New York. The volunteer agreed to provide signs for their “March for Trump” rally, according to the indictment. By August, the accused Russians were communicating with unwitting Trump campaign staff involved in local community outreach to discuss their fraudulent “Florida Goes Trump” rallies.

Two years before the election, the Russians began monitoring groups that use social media sites to influence U.S. politics and social issues, tracking the size of groups and how popular they were with their audiences, according to the indictment.

Several Russians traveled around the U.S. to gather intelligence for their operation, posing as U.S. political and social activists. They used clandestine methods to communicate and gather information, employing special cameras, “drop phones” and “evacuation scenarios” to ensure security.

The Russians set up Facebook and Instagram groups with names that targeted such issues as immigration, religion and the Black Lives Matter movement. They also controlled numerous Twitter groups that appeared to be controlled by U.S. people, such as “Tennessee GOP.”

They spent thousands of dollars a month to buy advertisements on social media groups, while carefully tracking the size of U.S. audiences they reached, according to the indictment.

All of the people and companies charged in Friday’s indictment were connected in some way to the Internet Research Agency, a company widely reported to be a front for Russian government influence campaigns on social media. The company and 12 of its current or former executives and employees were charged.
Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm based in St. Petersburg, was controlled by Yevgeny Progozhin, a wealthy Putin crony who is one of the 13 Russians indicted. Who would have ever imagined sane people would be asking questions like Is Trump a traitor? [Confession: it's not something I ever doubted was absolutely possible, not for one second.] As James Risen wrote for The Intercept yesterday, Trump is not a complicated character. "Quite the opposite... everything about him is so painfully obvious. He is a low-rent racist, a shameless misogynist, and an unbalanced narcissist. He is an unrelenting liar and a two-bit white identity demagogue. Lest anyone forget these things, he goes out of his way each day to remind us of them. At the end of the day, he is certain to be left in the dustbin of history, alongside Father Coughlin and Gen. Edwin Walker. (Exactly-- you don’t remember them, either.)"
Unfortunately, another word also describes him: president. The fact that such an unstable egomaniac occupies the White House is the greatest threat to the national security of the United States in modern history.

Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor?

Did he gain the presidency through collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin?

One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment.
There can be ZERO doubt that Señor T and his cronies worked with Moscow to take control of the U.S. government. But can it be proven in a court? Until then wrote Risen, we all must live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the crook in the Oval Office "has the best interests of the United States or those of the Russian Federation at heart. Most pundits in Washington now recoil at any suggestion that the Trump-Russia story is really about treason. They all want to say it’s about something else-- what, they aren’t quite sure. They are afraid to use serious words. They are in the business of breaking down the Trump-Russia narrative into a long series of bite-sized, incremental stories in which the gravity of the overall case often gets lost. They seem to think that treason is too much of a conversation-stopper, that it interrupts the flow of cable television and Twitter. God forbid you might upset the right wing! (And the left wing, for that matter.) But if a presidential candidate or his lieutenants secretly work with a foreign government that is a longtime adversary of the United States to manipulate and then win a presidential election, that is almost a textbook definition of treason. In Article 3, Section 3, the U.S. Constitution states that 'treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."
[E]vidence of the connections between Trump’s bid for the White House and Russian ambitions to manipulate the 2016 U.S. election keeps piling up.... [I]t seems increasingly likely that the Russians have pulled off the most consequential covert action operation since Germany put Lenin on a train back to Petrograd in 1917.




...There are four important tracks to follow in the Trump-Russia story. First, we must determine whether there is credible evidence for the underlying premise that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win. Second, we must figure out whether Trump or people around him worked with the Russians to try to win the election. Next, we must scrutinize the evidence to understand whether Trump and his associates have sought to obstruct justice by impeding a federal investigation into whether Trump and Russia colluded. A fourth track concerns whether Republican leaders are now engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice through their intense and ongoing efforts to discredit Mueller’s probe.


Fast-forward to the run-up to Russia trying to steal the midterms for the Republicans. What do you think the Russians did after the Florida militia nut gunned down 17 students in Parkland last week? Russia/NRA trolls were immediately at work, grabbing attention, provoking emotions and spreading propaganda. "In the wake of Wednesday’s Parkland, Florida school shooting, which resulted in 17 deaths, troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts... [S]ome accounts with large bot followings are already spreading misinformation about the shooter's ties to far-left group Antifa, even though the Associated Press reported that he was a member of a local white nationalist group.




Bret Schafer, a research analyst with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, says the spike in shooting-related posts from Russia-linked bots is in line with what his group observed after last year's shootings in Las Vegas and Texas. The Russia-linked bots weigh in on any attention-grabbing news event, but seize on shootings particularly. "Because of the politicized nature of them, they are perfect fodder to take an extreme position and start spreading memes that have a very distinct political position on gun control," he says.

The use of pro-gun control hashtags like #guncontrolnow, along with the spread of anti-gun control links like the Politifact article, appear at first to show the Russian strategy of promoting discord on both sides of a debate. Russian-linked Twitter accounts have attempted to spread confusion and angst on topics ranging from police violence against black people, to NFL player protests, to Al Franken’s sexual misconduct accusations. (On other topics, like special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election, the bots have worked in concert to further the Kremlin's agenda.)

But in this case, Schafer suspects the use of pro-gun control hashtags like #guncontrolnow are being used sarcastically, particularly since they're often paired with the anti-gun control links. Since the Twitter accounts Hamilton 68 tracks often target right-wing audiences, Schafer believes the trolls are using the message to attract more eyeballs. "That allows them to then push content that is more directly related to the Kremlin’s geopolitical agenda," such as the Nunes memo, he says. "I don’t think the Kremlin cares one way or another whether we enact stricter gun control laws," he adds. "It's just being used as bait, basically."

Public awareness that antagonistic bots flood the Twitter debate hasn’t stopped them from achieving their goals of ratcheting up the vitriol-- even amid a live tragedy like the Parkland shooting. The goal, after all, isn't to help one side or the other of the gun control debate win. It's to amplify the loudest voices in that fight, deepening the divisions between us.

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4 Comments:

At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This “information warfare” by the Russians didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters."

The information presented in this article shows me that the Russians were doing the same things both corporatist parties (legally) do in every election. Let's pick the same Florida school shooting used in the post as an example. What we have just seen the Republicans do (and what the NRA will do once the heat dies down)? No domestic abuser of social media will ever face jail terms. In their lame excuse for response, the Democrats are weakly using the same techniques on a topic they should be all over in every possible way.

If this social media activity is what is now seen as a crime performed by the Russians, just what does it say about any American who would be swayed by such tactics? How is it that we can be OK with the two corporatist parties spewing their vile propaganda aimed at distracting We the People from real needs not being met with action by "our" representatives AND NOT WITH THE RUSSIANS DOING THE VERY SAME THINGS? Have the Israelis not been using such tactics against us since long before the overt effort to bury the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty? Why is this a crime only now that the Russians have been exposed and not Jerusalem?

Netanyahu is now getting the same treatment for corruption from his government that Trump should be getting from ours. Yet all we are getting is this clown show over how important and crucial tweets and Facebook entries are over diecting and controlling the affairs of our Body Politic. If we Americans have become so suggestible that tweets and Facebook rule our minds, then we deserve to be taken down.

Mueller, I had higher hopes for you. Don't let me down now. The fate of your nation depends upon what you now do with this information, more loudly trumpeted by the corporatist media than it deserves on its own merits.

 
At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Btw. his name is James Risen i.e. not Rosen. Funny that the Dem's pushed globalization of products, trade and environmental standards to benefit their corporate masters but when globalization of thought occurs and they lose an election, it's a crime? Imagine these Russians spent "thousands of dollars a month" to interfere with a national election. There goes the argument that big money controls our political process.

 
At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Purity Raped reminds us that the US has often interfered in foreign elections:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/13/the-long-history-of-the-u-s-interfering-with-elections-elsewhere/?utm_term=.77d9974244fc

For the US to now cry foul only increases the hypocrisy.

 
At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. If americans can't and won't keep their own elections fair from within, we have no standing to bitch about someone from without meddling. But americans are nothing if not hypocrites, as 11:31 saliently reminds.

Trump will be remembered the same way Caligula is remembered (by the couple dozen in this shithole that know a little history, that is). And the united shitholes of America will suffer the same fate as Rome. Torn apart from within and finally carved up from without. Didn't have to be this way... except americans just got too stupid to be saved from themselves.

 

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