Here on the eve of the confirmation of the new Attorney General pick, William Barr, questions abound about the Russiagate investigation and the eventual fate of the special counsel Robert Mueller chosen to administrate it. Barr has been critical of Mueller’s investigation but has stated that he will not interfere. We’ll see. To put it mildly, serious reasons exist to doubt the sincerity of America’s abortive failure of a forty-fifth president when he says he will not fire Mueller, the man who has compiled the case that will likely destroy him. Barr seems like a rubber stamp brought in to do just that, the hatchetman of Russian assets. We hope he proves us wrong.
If Trump does fire Mueller, it will be highly reminiscent of another corrupt president who fired a special prosecutor, president Richard Milhous Nixon. Nixon’s firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox began the end of his presidency, and so conventional wisdom has held that Trump will not go there. Congressional Republicans have also said that the firing of the special counsel Mueller would be a crossing of the line for them, although it’s true we have no reason to believe them either. They have caved to Trump on everything and often in the most shameful imaginable ways. Devin Nunes, former chairman of the House Intelligence Oversight Committee, was recently found to be deliberately covering up House findings in order to protect Trump.
When considered as part of the whole incident, it seems clear this could be destined to bring us into uncharted territory completely if Trump does go the Nixon route. It wouldn’t save him, and it would damn him further in the opinion of many, but he wouldn’t resign as Nixon did. His conduct during the lengthening and unnecessary #TrumpShutdown proves him once again to be utterly without scruples. It is certain he will use the country as hostages again in the process of getting the Russiagate spotlight off of him. Thus, we have no choice but to conclude that the conventional wisdom- which also did not predict the shutdown, or the fool’s errand that was the travel ban, or the Helsinki debacle, or any number of other horrible things- is probably wrong again.
Of course Trump would fire Mueller. ‘Don’t expect Trump to go quietly’, read a Washington Post article published on January 14th. He’s got the whole country held hostage at this moment, he unrepentantly lies about anything that happens to cross his mind, and he thinks he’s “winning”, whatever that even means in the context of a ruined economy and a devastated government. I guess it means getting Employee of the Month from Vladimir Putin. Firing Mueller would fit right in as the stupidest and worst for America thing he could possibly do. It’s a glaring absence in his resume as it is.
In related news, Trump, who was in the news over the weekend for having sworn his interpreters in his three closed-door meetings with Putin to secrecy, has taken an increasingly aggressive and door-closed stance toward Mueller’s requests for an in-person interview. Gone are the days when he boasts of having done nothing and means his crimes. The Trump of yesterday always said of Mueller that “No one wants to speak more than me“. That line is yesterday’s news, although references to the “Fake News Media” that has plagued him like the Furies remain plentiful. As usual, Trump blames himself for nothing, and provides an object- and abject- example to American children of what a spoiled brat at its worst can do.
News that the special counsel has already drafted a report- a report that draws the most damning possible conclusions- joined the confiscation of notes taken during his closed-door meetings with Putin as the two top stories in the news this weekend. Trump‘s behavior toward the Russian president was the focus of Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein on Sunday, when he appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources. While there, Bernstein- whose investigative journalism helped to take down Nixon- said the special counsel investigating Trump will find he “helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the  election.” Any Facebook activist can tell you this. We’ve seen it develop from the day they prepared the Wikileaks dumps.
We would also like to give a farewell salute to the former and departing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who did not have to pick someone who would look into this as hard as Mueller would, and acted with integrity throughout in spite of Republican reviles. His decency and professionalism will be missed.
In the last analysis, from the standpoint of this illegitimate infantile president, sitting back and letting this atomic report fall on him would most likely be better than trying to resist the inevitable by trying to bring this to an end. Cracks in Trump’s base are said to be forming at last, and as these people realize what they’ve been buying into, more and more of them will be looking for a new home, and a sane alternative. Our capacity to find this for them will prove to be a critical part of success for us as we move forward. Russia has been the chiefest enemy of America for nearly a hundred years now, and most Americans still know that. Reminding them is the way to go moving forward.
The 2018 midterm elections were among the most anticipated races in history, and they did not fail to deliver dramatic results. Throughout the election cycle, word of a Democratic Blue Wave gained momentum, and a watershed voter turnout was the satisfying result. It was the highest for any election held in the United States since Watergate, which seemed suitable for such a high stakes contest. In many cases, the primary considerations of the voters seemed to counterbalance one another. These were the strong economy and the personal repugnance of Trump himself. The president has managed to snatch credit for the strength of the economy, but his low approval ratings pointed to Democratic gains (Washington Post). History has favored the minority party at the time of the president’s first midterm. This tendency, combined with American disgust for Trump himself as a man, to give Democrats control of the half of the Congress known as the House of Representatives by a wide margin.
The achievement of the Democrats can hardly be overstated. Reporter Dan Balz of the Washington Post gave us a few statistics with which to illustrate this point. Democrats flipped about two-thirds of the competitive districts won by both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012 or by Clinton in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012. They also picked up one-third of districts won by Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. In districts where both Trump and Romney had won in the previous two elections, Democrats gained about a quarter of the competitive seats (Washington Post). Democrats even managed to break even in net seats in the Senate, though they had faced crushing electoral odds in that chamber. Twenty-five Democratic senators were up for reelection as opposed to only eight Republicans, and many were in states that went solidly red in 2016. Managing to hold the line places Democrats in a fantastic position to retake the Senate in 2020, when the shoe will be on the other foot. While immediate domestic concerns are likely to be given precedence, the effects of the Blue Wave in 2018 are sure to reverberate worldwide.
This tremendous level of electoral enthusiasm was all the more remarkable in that midterm elections in general are not captivating to most voters. In a normal year, only the most ideologically driven and committed members of the electorate tend to turn out for them, and certainly overseasinterest is not typically overwhelming. But in recent years, a radical polarization has gripped the global society’s political atmosphere. The specter of World War Two has risen and people are getting scared. A great acrimony and division has spread through America and the rest of the world. Some are calling it a civil cold war, and its battlefields can be found on many fronts. Trenches are being dug under national borders, in some cases, and along gerrymandered district lines in others. People in all corners of the globe had good reason to pay attention, as the struggles highlighted the dramatic and worldwide trouble the human race is having in getting along with itself.
The quality of the candidates selected by the two parties speaks in volumes to the quality of those who did the selecting. Democrats elected eight new scientists. Republicans elected three felons and a dead pimp (Post-Tribune). Something has got to give here. Somebody is going to hold power in America, the world’s sole superpower. We have to look closely at whom. The moderate wing of the Republican Party used to have some allies in it. There were men like John McCain, who in spite of their party affiliation was sound and unselfish Americans. Some of them could be counted on for bipartisan dialogue concerning issues of paramount importance. McCain is now gone, however, and with him the moderate wing of the Republican Party. This type of candidate took serious damage in the midterm primaries. They were discarded in favor of candidates more in line with the views of Donald Trump. Many of these came from the ranks of the alt-right, though the elections also played an important role in illustrating a trend of worsening extremity taking root in the far left. Only center Democrats have reliably proven they can put themselves to the side enough to do what is best for the country.
The 2018 election was in many ways a referendum on the 2016 election, and the events immediately surrounding it. The victory of Donald Trump combined with Brexit constituted significant blows to the American-led, liberal world order, and empowered the radical right. It also empowered Russian president Vladimir Putin, who had spent millions of dollars to defeat Hillary Clinton and get a guy in office he found more pliable. “Putin likes Trump because he supports this view of the world, that the big guys can carve it up,” explained former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in an interview for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. After Trump won, Kasparov, who is Putin’s former opponent in a Russian presidential election, wrote some predictions down in his new book on the future of the Western world order, Winter is Coming. He believed we had eighteen months in which to turn around the sequence of events that had been started, two years at the most. If we didn’t find a way by then, he felt, it would probably be too late. I thought of those words many times on the way to the voting booths this year. They perfectly summarized the reason it was so important for the Democrats to win the midterms in 2018. Only the full force of American conviction can activate its might enough to keep the world safe for democracy.
Today’s world, like today’s Republican Party, is busy coping with an uptick in reactionary far-right movements, movements that in many cases and nations border on fascism. Alt-right candidates were present in greater number than ever before in the 2018 midterms, and this too is part of a worldwide trend. From Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Norbert Hofer in Austria, adherents of racist nationalism have been growing increasingly violent and brazen. A man screams “Hail Trump!” in a movie theater; another during a performance of the Fiddler on the Roof. “Middle America is rallying to the flag of the alt-right,” said Kyle Bristow, a self-described member of the “alt-right” and the attorney of infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer. These candidates mostly lost, but their sheer proliferation is a terrible sign. It goes without saying that all of them were Republicans. The race was representative of the political atmosphere worldwide in that it was ideologically polarized. It saw its fair share of triumphs for liberals and progressives, but it also saw a rise of far-right, white nationalist candidates. Some of these were victorious. The low quality of the Republican candidates has negative consequences for every level of government.
A Democratic retaking of the House of Representatives was a critical first step in containing and reversing this virulent problem. It is why the Resistance showed up in such numbers at the polls. For two years, liberals and progressives have been helpless to do anything but sit idle, as one travesty after another has rocked the global community. We have not had the power to protect our people, or even to get many others to listen or to understand our plight. But with the power to form committees of Congressional inquiry, we can finally start to put the bad guys under a microscope. The power of the House is, in this case, the power of defense.
The elections were not completely without problems for the Democrats. It showed us that ideological faultline is still existent not only in the Republican Party but in the Democratic as well. The rift between the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has healed to an extent, and there have been improvements made in this area. Our shared victory in the midterms demonstrated that the progressive wing of the party is beginning to learn from the tremendous mistakes they made in 2016, where undercurrents of far left hard feelings allowed the Russians an easy way to turn the 2016 Democratic primaries into a zoo. The radical left’s extreme love for the Bern reached the levels of a cult by the end of the primary. From the day the Bernie or Bust petition began circulating, it was obvious we were in for trouble. If they couldn’t have Bernie, they said, they would rather have Trump. This attitude was allowed to get highly pervasive, and it killed us in the end.
This time around, Democrats did a far better job of managing conflicts between the two wings of the party. They simmered at a low boil all the way through the midterm primaries but managed to keep from becoming a fight instead of a contest and ruining the Blue Wave. This is a positive sign, suggesting the far left might have learned from 2016, which is good. Most mainstream Democrats have been pushed to the left as far as we will go, and are starting to get ready to push back. Centrist groups like Third Way have been pushing candidates to read up on history and polling. “The party is not going to go in the direction of Sanders-style socialism, because it’s not winning on the issues and it doesn’t win politically except in a very, very limited number of places,” Third Way president Jonathan Cowan tells TIME. “It’s going to go in the direction that won it two presidencies” (Elliott). The last two two-term Democratic Presidents were mainstream Democrats. [That’s] what’s going to get the House back.” It’s important to emphasize here that mainstream Democrats do not seek reorientation of the party. We’ve been doing an excellent job under the worst possible conditions.
Progressive Democrats from the Sanders wing were not without a few reasons to cheer in November’s elections. The upset primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over twenty year veteran Joe Crowley for New York’s 14th District stood out on a number of levels. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest Representative ever elected, and her zealot’s love for socialism has given the Sanders wing a new face and voice to cheer for. My thoughts are that this is not the worst thing in the world, because we need them, and it appears that some healing has taken place. Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters used to very nearly hate each other, and that no longer feels as acutely so. It appears that the left has achieved a degree of unity for now, but it remains to be seen whether this newly placid status quo can survive another presidential primary.
The immediate battles to be faced come January in the House of Representatives are only one part of a much larger problem. Democracy is under attack worldwide. It is being replaced one plank at a time like the proverbial Ship of Theseus. At what point in all this replacing does it become a different ship? Only one thing is certain, at least in the gut level instinct of this writer. Since Trump got elected, this country does not feel the same at all. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, America has been rated as being less than a full democracy for the last two years. The EIU produces an annual review ranking countries on their adherence to 60 distinct democratic values, including electoral processes and press freedom (“America Has Been Classified as a Flawed Democracy”). According to their standards, we’re not a free country anymore. America is now more like Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The rich want to get into power and stay there, and quote the ideals of freedom as the reason they ought to be able to use any means to do so. The only way we can hope to turn this all around is to get the Democrats back into power and keep them there.
The biggest net effect of the midterms is the Democratic retaking of the House because it gives the sane center of the country back the power of defense. Democrats can now protect our country from anymore disastrous Trump ideas. This also sets back Putin’s plan of attaching more of his tendrils and creepers to the grand old castle walls that hold up our country. Proactive measures are more limited. Democrats can form investigative committees, and hold hearings for the purposes of questioning and gathering information. Resources are certain to focus on raising awareness about the Russiagate scandal and other serious challenges facing our democracy. The conduct of Trump and his allies can be highlighted and brought to the forefront of public consciousness everywhere. It should be understood that even with a legislative chamber in blue hands, Republicans still hold the White House and the Senate, and the cooperation of all three is needed to pass a law. Nothing in recent history suggests hope for bipartisan cooperation on any issue, regardless of the issue’s importance. People will see once again how obstructionist and unfair the opposition is, and afterward, it will be easier to help people understand the truth- everything we hold sacred is in danger. If things keep on as they are, the days of American supremacy will be numbered.
A close look at the playing field this election has left us with will prove useful as we step into the future. Blue Wave 2018 hit home for the midterms, and it gave us a great start. But the world remains beneath the dark shadow of a large-scale hatefulness and mayhem. The potential for danger and disorder is so great that it seems almost redundant to say so. As someone who has lived through all this, and read not just eight articles about it but hundreds, I feel that this narrative is being neglected and understated. This is due to responsible journalists not wanting to sound alarmist, in some cases, and it’s comforting to tell ourselves we’re in less trouble than we are. But the country’s divisions have been highlighted and exacerbated by hostile foreign powers such as Russia, who also targeted the 2018 midterms. This has added urgency to the issue and made them even more difficult to ignore. Going forward, it will be incumbent on the Democratic leadership, under the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to use their regained power dexterously. To show the people of the country that there is a reasonable alternative to the bedlam created by the current administration, resources must be channeled wisely and well. Good thing we’ve got a professional headed for the Speaker’s Chair. We’re really going to need her.
In studying the political history of America, the scholar will note along with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who wrote in his Age of Roosevelt that foreign radicalism has never taken deep root here. From the visceral horror felt by the Founding Fathers toward the bloodbath going on in France to the resolute pursuance of seeing an end to the Nazis, America has always managed to resist being taken in by extremism from left or right. The source of our strength as a nation’s people has always lain in our ability to value compromise and moderation, which are necessary if we wish in times of crisis to be able to pull together with the full force of American conviction behind us, like when we fought World War Two. When these values are abandoned, democratic nations start to fall. If we lose our ability to communicate, we clearly can’t coordinate strategy. Only the full force of America’s people can activate its might enough to keep the world safe for democracy. Our ability to hold the center is why we have become and remained so strong.
After looking at all this, a simple question remains. Has America ever faced a midterm election like 2018? In considering its potential impact of it on the country and its global standing, many would argue that the answer lies in the negative. The Trump administration has been a disaster of colossal proportion. Every day that America is represented in its highest office by a man who many would argue is both corrupt and deeply incompetent is a day in which we are vulnerable in the eyes of the world. Resisting his demented policies has taken everything we have, but we managed it even though we held so little power. After two years of that, holding the House of Representatives feels like a tremendous luxury of strength. We can assure the Trump presidency will be a lame duck from this point on. We can’t start setting things to rights just yet, but we can stop the current Oval Office occupant when he tries to do further damage. We can block his cruel new policies, and removing his ability to hamstring our future with corrupt appointees like the Supreme Court’s Brett Kavanaugh. This is why it was so crucial for the Democratic “Blue Wave” to sweep America.
Agerholm, Harriet, 2018. “America falls short of being a full democracy for second year running, report finds.”
Beauchamp, Zack, 2018. “The midterm elections revealed that America is in a cold civil war.”
https://www.vox.com/midterm-elections/2018/11/7/18068486/midterm-election- 2018-results-race-surburbCampbell, Alaistair, 2018. “Garry Kasparov on Putin, Trump, and their deal to carve up Europe.”https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/garry-kasparov-alastair-campbell-interview
Elliott, Philip. Time, Time, 2018. “The Middle Road.”
Frier, Nancy, 2018. Time, Time, 2018. Facebook Discovers an Ongoing Effort to Influence the 2018 Midterm Elections.
Grand Magazine, 2018. “Urgent: The United States Has Been Classed As A Flawed Democracy.”
Good evening to all from Millennial Democrats! Our name means a lot to us, because we spend a lot of time working out what it means to be a Democrat- and how to be of optimum use to the country and party alike. The two are completely inseparable at this point. Democrats retook the House. That means that things will be okay. We endured.
Still, although morale coming off of the Blue Wave is at an all-time high, we must capitalize. That means we must resist the urge to get complacent. We’re in a lull period, a sort of ceasefire, which means its time to shore up foxholes and stockpile and drill. We have to prepare ourselves for the real task- getting rid of Trump once and for all.
It is therefore just the time to tackle some questions as to what a Democratic Code might look like.
How do we reconcile the need for reasonable strictures with the hallowed principles of big-tent coalition?
How do we handle inter-organizational pressures?
How do we keep sane when we’re down in the trenches with each other for years at a time?
These questions have come up again and again, and have created a necessity for a flexible and logical framework of guidelines that everyone can live with and abide by.
This is not as hard as it may seem on the surface! We are Democrats. We come together from across all boundaries and we sometimes work with people who in many ways are quite different from ourselves.
It is absolutely paramount that we come to realize this as our single greatest asset.
Far from being a weakness, the heated and ideologically driven Democratic debates about policy and progress we have allow us the trials by fire we need to become very strong. We are like a lightsaber, dispelling the gloom and corrupt cobwebs that are the right wing’s lies. We have a core that is decent and sensible and growing. People will see our light and want to be part of it. We have only now to give them a good home and be prepared to accept their voices as equals. They’re part of the family already. In short, we can do this. We just have to lay down a foundation.
In keeping with that line of thought, we recommend the following proposals.
1. There must be universal will to abide by the few basic ground rules laid out when representing an organization.
2. Of paramount importance is our ability to disagree. We must come to fully realize that debate and a fight aren’t the same. Respect your colleagues, and treat them gently. Many of us Resistors are having a very hard time in life, especially under the fool that is Donald Trump. We must fully understand this and show empathy. Divided we cannot stand up.
In example, the Wampanoag Native tribe which gave us Thanksgiving may very soon be pilfered yet again. We are all we’ve got. This should constantly be on our minds when interacting with others. Patience and compassion must be our guides.
3. Respect the organization and the cause by keeping your tempers in check, especially in any sort of public capacity that could hurt the cause or get you targeted. Swearing and violent language should not be done as the page, if at all.
4. Respect the work of others, don’t take a fellow admin’s post down without thorough group discussion of the subject. Once in a while, people are going to post things outside the ring, but they put the time in on it, and deserve to know why it is being removed. Schedule a time to talk and explain to the person their mistake. This is how we improve both our knowledge and our people skills, and hence grow stronger together as a unit.
5. Respect leadership decisions. They will be made at the end of a long discussion leading to group consensus. When they are, we must subordinate our own feelings and trust in the Democratic process. We are Americans.
6. Respect the need to keep on track with political discussions. As we are all such diverse and brilliant people, clashes of ego and opinion are unavoidable. But they can be streamlined by avoiding controversial side topics that have no bearing on what we’re doing here. That is a major goal going forward.
All of us are aware of our significance; every voice is sorely needed. And I know that I don’t have to request you to be equal to the responsibility and trust I have extended you; you’ve already been doing it for a very long time. As Robert the Bruce said, “You are here! You know enough about honor.”
Demonstrate this in word and deed when speaking as a Resistor.
Please keep in mind just how important you all are to this cause, and treat each other like the vital organs of your body that we are. Care for and protect each other, and never forget:
Despicable cowards tried to murder all our greatest Democratic leaders today.
Having typed that sentence, I could finish the article here. Sometimes the facts argue themselves; that sentence and a headline tell you all you need to know about this whole situation, something the whole nation ought to be outraged about.
A similar device was sent to philanthropist and lifelong enemy of fascism George Soros, according to the pair of law officers who gave the statement. How rotten, to do a thing like this to that old man, a man who lost his parents to the Holocaust.
Way to pay back a guy for his lifetime of good works by making him the center of a million nutty theories(for example, we do not write for Soros, no matter how many times we are reviled for it) and then sending him a bomb. We are living in a country full of real sickos. That much has become all too clear.
More bombs were sent to CNN, forcing the evacuation of its NYC offices. CNN journalists courageously kept the cameras rolling from the Manhattan sidewalk below.
Donald Trump has been inciting his followers to violence for years. He smirked during the debates as he made reference to the Second Amendment, and how “maybe there is something you can do,” a clear incitement to political assassination!
The GOP statement deploring violence is just another sickening deplorable lie. It makes no sense to believe them. The right wing wants us dead. They’ve been out for physical, literal blood for years, at least since Barack Obama’s election.
They will never, ever forgive the people who dared to put a black man in a White House.
The first article this blog ever published was called Chaos in Charlottesville, written in response to the sickening lowlife who murdered Heather Heyer, a disgusting footnote to the modern era- like these bombs. Or James T. Hodgkinson, the wingnut Bernie Sanders supporter who shot up the Congress last year.
Make no mistake. These days, fascism is rearing its head. “We will kill you…”
It is our opinion that people should stop taking the survival of American democracy for granted.
We are not invincible. It can happen here, “it” meaning a fascist takeover. Trump, to all appearances, is actively signaling “it”, and his followers are preparing for it. And they are making progress like no right-wing nationalist has since Adolf Hitler.
We have got to get people to realize that we have got to wake up now, or we could end up flat on our backs for the rest of our lives- or worse.
If Nazi Germany was reborn today on American soil, it would be us all to suffer.
Some as members of unwanted groups, some as political prisoners. Some of us would go to American style Dachau type camps, while others will be forced into silence or shot. They would take all our data off of Facebook and use it to round us up. These things have happened elsewhere. It is time to ask ourselves the question, What if?
Here at Millennial Democrats, we’ve been covering all this since the start. We have seen this develop, we have spoken out at every turn. We will be here as long as we can, spreading the word and raising awareness.
This is our country, which we value and love. We will not abandon her.
Paul Manafort, the man who has been seen as the key to understanding what Donald Trump’s role in Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential election was, has finally figured out he’s not getting a pardon and agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller, according to Kevin Downing, his attorney.
Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson formally accepted Manafort’s guilty plea, to two felony conspiracy counts.
This news was not unexpected, and in fact, probably represents the last nail in the coffin of the Trump presidency. It comes on the heels of Manafort’s courthouse defeat in Virginia last month, in which he was convicted on eight more felony charges. A mistrial was declared on the other ten counts, but the government reserves the right to retry them.
Manafort seems finally to have had enough. He has tapped out.
Ken Starr, the semi-pornographer who led the investigation into President Bill Clinton, said Sunday he was not surprised to see the former Trump campaign manager cooperate. “He was under tremendous pressure,” said Starr, a former judge.
No doubt, buddy.
White House Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform in the Obama administration, Norman Eisen, has predicted that Trump will not survive Manafort’s testimony.
Eisen, the Obama ethics lawyer, said there is a possibility Manafort will lead prosecutors to Trump. T.S. Ellis, the presiding judge in Manafort’s Virginia trial, reproached Mueller’s team last spring for trying to “get something on President Trump”, and implying that was the goal of prosecuting Manafort for tax and bank fraud in the first place.
We were present a third time when the special counsel Robert Mueller gave Trump an early Christmas present, by way of getting the cooperation of Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, a man who was at another famous meeting, this one in Russia with Manafort and Jill Stein– and Vladimir Putin.
All of these were nails in the coffin. After that, they started falling like rain. Rick Gates, Sam Nunberg, and so on. This time, however, we’re not just discussing another nail. We’re discussing the final nail.
If you were online and using social media, particularly Facebook, in 2016 and saw this whole thing taking place before your eyes, you probably tried to tell people.
The people you told probably rolled their eyes, especially when you told them about Bernie Sanders‘ campaign being involved(Bernie’s old manager Tad Devine was the first witness called at Manafort’s trial), and you got that. You knew you probably sounded paranoid, but just the same. Something was going on, and sooner or later, the authorities would get involved.
We just hoped it would be in time to salvage the election. It was not.
Manafort’s agreeing to cooperate represent the culmination of nearly two years worth of effort, at this point, and for those of us who have followed the Russiagate developments, nothing could ever possibly come as a better piece of news.
We have received numerous requests for a focus piece regarding cyber-defense for Democrats, especially right now as we are going into the midterms. In it is an introduction to a number of the techniques we can use to defend ourselves going forward. Knowledge is power. Pass it on.
Regular readers of Millennial Democrats will not require a lot of explanation as to how and why the threat of Russian hacking is real. We have been up against it for years. The time has come to soberly and objectively assess Russia’s cyberwarfare capabilities, and examine how we plan to fight back.
In 2016, America was caught off guard and we got a bloody nose. Guys like Roger Stone’s buddy Guccifer 2.0, or the guys in Fancy Bear pulled a fast one, to be sure.
They had the element of surprise back then. Most people had no idea what they were doing(and rolled their eyes at those who were trying to warn them, but that’s another subject). These days things are very different.
Regardless of the lies of the great orange malignance, America knows the Russians are out to get us. Trump is sticking his head in the sand on this and will do nothing to help us, so we’re going to have to learn to help ourselves, and each other.
It’s too bad we’ve got no national leadership on this, but it is what it is. We’ll get by on our own.
In starting out, the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Hackers rely on our mistakes, and mistakes are most often made when we don’t know we are making them. They need to catch us off guard, and their job is to find creative ways to use their tools to get us to slip up.
The first place a smart hacker will look is outside the box, so to speak. They’re always looking for ways to burrow in that you wouldn’t think to look for.
Employing a given system, be it a human being or a PC, for a purpose it wasn’t designed for is what hacking means. However, if you’re careful, neither you nor your computer will end up thus employed. It’s all about being careful.
Hackers are clever, be they Russian or from elsewhere, but they are far from invincible. We’ve already stopped a number of Russian cyber-assaults directed at Democrats this year, such as the ones aimed at our Claire McCaskill.
Without the element of surprise, hackers have many limitations. It’s not that easy to brute-force open a website. Just ask these guys:
Basic cyber-hygiene techniques would cut down on more than 80 percent of cyber attacks and cyber thefts, according to Herbert Lin, senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. It will benefit us to learn a few.
There is a great deal of white-hat(ethical hacking) work that can be done to defend America in this realm, and most of it has to do with how careful we are.
We repeat- It’s all about being careful. This cannot be repeated too often.
In this piece, we’re going to talk about a few common mistakes made by end-users(that means us, the consumer) and how they are exploited by criminals. We’re also going to talk about some of these cyber-hygiene measures and assign them three rules of thumb.
Don’t open strange emails.
Don’t click on strange links.
Don’t accept chat messages from people you don’t know, particularly on Facebook.
Before we get started, think for a second about all your other social media accounts. Are they just as secure as your Facebook or Twitter? Make sure they are! That’s the first place a hacker will go to collect more data about you. You’re particularly vulnerable to having your account on the ones you don’t often use pried open.
As an aside, this is also why you don’t want to use the same passwords for everything. Passwords are obviously critical, as somebody who’s got them has got all your information at his fingertips. Be careful!!
A great deal of a hacker’s job revolves around getting the passwords of their victims. Their most popular tools are all various ways to apply “spear-phishing” hacks, designed to steal passwords and personal data. The unlucky “phish” who opens one has become a victim and is now open to all kinds of trouble.
There are all kinds of ways to go spear-phishing. A brand new one showed up not long ago when U.S. government agencies recently received letters via snail mail.
One example that all readers of this blog will vividly recall took place on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious e-mail messages hit the inboxes of thirty people who were closely associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Inside them were links that were actually viruses, like worms on a hook.
Nearly all of them were failures. All but one, actually. But one was enough.
Within nine days, a horrendous amount of critical data had been stolen and passed along to Wikileaks, to be strategically released in a way they figured would hurt us. It did.
Those leaked e-mails, in which Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was seen to be fussing over Bernie’s lack of ability to fill out campaign finance forms correctly, were spun up into a narrative that Bernie(who lost by four million popular votes) had been cheated.
Bernie or Bust bought it, there were riots in the streets of Philadelphia, and a rift was torn in the Democratic Party that still has yet to heal.
All of that was made possible, with just a few phished passwords.
To combat phishing is to make sure everyone knows how common and damaging these attacks can be. Everyone should keep their guard up when checking emails, and they should report any email they find suspicious.
It’s necessary to point out here that Facebook phishing in particular is horrendously easy. They can hack you right through your chat box. We recommend in the strongest possible terms that you put as little of your personal information as possible on Facebook.
Facebook presents about a million added vulnerabilities to all of us that use it. When Edward Snowden was asked what to do to keep your data safe on that platform, his response was, “Delete your account.”
We can’t recommend that, as Facebook gives us access to 2 billion people, but we can recommend this much. If people you don’t know send you strange messages on Facebook, don’t accept them.
“We are looking at just some of the malicious material that already may be circulating or will be released before the midterms. It also bears repeating that we know the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was targeted.”
Cyber-intelligence experts see this as being major, and with clear reason.
Moving on, it isn’t only Facebook and social media you’ve got to be careful with. Websites too are vulnerable.
Anecdotally, the webmaster of this site has seen hackers from all over the world try to take us down, from Beijing, China to Lviv, Ukraine, from Adelaide, Australia to Beauharnois, Quebec. They use all kinds of tricks, but they’ve never gotten in and they never will.
This is not because I’m a cyber-genius who speaks binary code, but because WordPress is awesome.Sucuri, the plugin that keeps safe all of us Millennial Democrats, is likewise excellent. They care about their clients and they hold the same liberal values sacred that we do.
WordPress users should strongly consider using Sucuri, not least for the reverse IP trace it automatically performs. This has the benefit of letting you know a lot more about who’s trying to hack you. Sometimes it will tell you everything.
Once a flower store owner from Adelaide, Australia tried to hack us. By using a reverse IP trace, Sucuri let us know who she was as soon as she had done so. Then we went to a site called WhatismyIPaddress.com, put it in, and voila.
We were able to get the name of her business by looking at the name of her domain. We then used that to look her up, and jackpot. We found the store’s address, website, and owner. We also found far-right garbage smeared all over her life.
I could put her on blast right here with a screenshot like this one:
Luckily for her, I’m not that mean. But the next guy might be. It’s a dangerous game for newbies (noobs- learn your hacker-ese) to play. It’s easy to run into trouble.
Change your life, would-be hacker flower store owner! Mend your wicked ways, before it’s too late.
Speaking of WordPress, using the two-factor authentication feature they offer as part of their platform is another good idea. This is a highly effective security measure and is available for Facebook, Gmail, WordPress, and many other major platforms.
Using this feature means a second device’s input will be required to access email accounts or websites on new computers, usually by prompting you and sending an SMS code to your phone or whatever. This can prevent scammers from accessing compromised accounts.
In addition to good cyber-hygiene, which amounts to common sense, caution, and our three rules of thumb, there are some tools we can use to make our online experience safer still. You may find this necessary, from time to time.
Guccifer 2.0 recently made a mistake and forgot to turn his VPN on, and we connected him to an IP address connected to Russian intelligence. Now his whole identity is blown because he didn’t use his VPN.
We strongly recommend getting one of these, specifically IVPN. They take protecting their customers super seriously and they are located on the Rock of Gibraltar. That fortress strikes me as a good place to keep anything valuable.
HotspotShield is another good one, and also NordVPN. There’s a lot of them; shop around and find one that’s right for you. We feel it’s worth repeating that they are a very good investment.
Additional tools include TOR(The Onion Router), which offers a former naval encryption system that we can now all use. Tor takes all your internet traffic and routes it through its own network, providing total anonymity.
The DuckDuckGo browser, which Tor employs, is good to know about also. It has a number of different features that keep you safe, including a “Flame” feature that burns up all your cookies in a second. Pretty cool.
Now, just as then, there is a need for deterrence, to defend the nation and hopefully prevent a further escalation of tensions. There is more at stake than we can even put into words. We need to be ready.
There are bigger dangers here than the usual America vs. Russia, liberal world order vs the new world order that the extremist crazies keep screaming that they want kind of thing. This is different completely.
One superpower actively destroying the democratic process of another is new and very dangerous, especially since Russian destability tactics rely heavily on disinformation and a systematic devaluing of the truth.
On the subject of this week’s Helsinki summit, in which the forty-fifth president of America slobbered on himself in the presence of Putin, there is almost nothing to say. Words fail all but completely.
Trump has a reputation as being a real tough guy, especially during a debate.
His attempt to loom over Hillary Clinton was memorable(and pathetic), as was the rough treatment he gave both “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, and “Little Marco” Rubio during the debates of the Republican primary.
If I were Trump, I’d have gone public with this thing from Day One. Thanks for your help, Russia! Now allow me to reward you, by annihilating your ability to do anything like this ever again.
I would have gone right to the NSA with everything my campaign had learned about how they operate, and I would have seen to it that information was used to keep our country safer in the future.
This is not about Republicans vs. Democrats, or at least, it shouldn’t have been, and still doesn’t have to be. This is Russia vs. America, a struggle of hundreds of years. There’s a lot more at stake here than one man’s pride and power.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump does not realize this.
Later on Monday, the Justice Department charged the woman who tried to set up a back-channel of communication with the Trump campaign, Maria Butina, as being an agent of the Russian Federation.
Tuesday she was hit with a grand jury indictment, which added a more serious charge of acting as an agent of the Russian government. This carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
This was on an investigation completely separate from that of Robert Mueller’s and offered some of the most explicit evidence yet that there were Americans who worked willingly to aid and abet the Russian efforts. And where, you ask, did they find Americans blind enough to reality to go along with something like this?
The pro-gun conspiracy world, of course, also known as the National Rifle Association, where Butina was shown in photos she put on Facebook attending events.
It all just goes to show. You cannot trust the right. They will do or say or willfully deny anything to take or keep power, even in the face of things like Sandy Hook and the Holocaust. That is what fascism is.
That is particularly relevant considering how they all jumped on the anti-Russia bandwagon yesterday when the President’s weakness became repugnant past a certain point. Mitch McConnell tried to talk tough, saying “The EU is friend to the US. Russia is not.”
The final indignity was delivered on Sean Hannity’s talk show, where Trump was guided through the Fox News interpretation of current events. He lamented that reporters keep asking about Russian election interference, rather than what he considers issues of substance.
Tad Devine, a former senior advisor to the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, was in the news recently for the first time in a while. He was spotted in an old 2006 photograph enjoying himself with his then-coworker Konstantin Kilimnik.
In the picture, Kilimnik, a Ukrainian native, is pictured in an office setting with Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and other key players in Manafort’s consulting firm at the time. One of those players was Tad Devine.
Kilimnik is known informally as “Manafort’s Manafort“, and has been a figure of interest in the Russia investigation from the start. He is believed to be back in Russia now, and he is considered to have strong ties to Russian intelligence.
Tad Devine is a figure of great interest in the Russiagate investigation, in our opinion. We’ve been expecting the special counsel assigned by the Justice Department to look into Russian meddling in our 2016 election cycle, Robert Mueller, to get around to him sooner or later.
If Manafort is the key to understanding exactly what the Russians were doing for Trump, Kilimnik is the key to understanding what Manafort did for the Russians. Devine is the key to what the Russians were doing for Bernie. He is by far the most likely connection between the Russians and the Sanders campaign.
By the time the Fourth of July rolled around in 2016, the Federal Election Commission repeatedly contacted the Sanders campaign with warnings that hundreds of his donors exceeded the $2,700 contribution limit, and that hundreds more may have been foreign nationals illegally giving Sanders money.
Devine has known Manafort and Kilimnik for many years. He was Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine right alongside Kilimnik, at a time when all three were the property of Viktor Yanukovych, the former President of Ukraine, whom in turn was the property of Putin. They were over there fixing elections for him.
More than a decade before Russia was accused of surreptitiously trying to tilt the presidential election toward Trump, the records show that Manafort, Devine, and Kilimnik were all encouraging Russia to hone its efforts to influence global politics. They were busy developing techniques they might use to help that process along.
They used these techniques to fix the 2004 Ukranian elections on behalf of Yanukovych, but they were so blatant in their corruption that the Orange Revolution began and overturned the crooked and invalid vote. Yanukovych was defeated in the second vote.
None of this mattered to Tad Devine, however, who kept right along working for Yanukovych.
Even after his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, barely survived a poisoning attempt, obliging him to “campaign with his face half paralyzed and a catheter inserted into his back to inject painkillers into his spine”, Devine’s conscience did not serve him well as a guide. He decided to hang around.
It is a very convenient coincidence that three of the top strategists who ran against Hillary Clinton has been doing Putin’s bidding in this capacity for longer than a decade.
Last Thursday afternoon there was a meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the subject of Russian meddling into our 2016 election cycle.
During it, Retired Gen. Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, said that Russian operatives targeted both liberal and conservative voters in its disinformation campaigns during the 2016 election.
Democratic committee co-chair Sen. Mark Warner (VA) asked the panel if they had any doubt that Russia had attempted to interfere in some aspects of the 2016 election. Alexander said not only did he have no doubt, he could get very specific.
“Senator, I think what they were trying to do was drive a wedge within the Democratic Party between the Clinton group and the Sanders group,” said Alexander.
The supporters of Bernie Sanders were ruthlessly taken advantage of by the Russians, who used their genuine zeal and idealism as a hammer for smashing Democratic unity to bits. They were duped by false information that came from within the Kremlin itself, and thus unwittingly became Putin’s other puppets.
The man who was in the best position to act as a conduit between the headquarters of the Sanders campaign and the Kremlin was Tad Devine.
This picture provides a vivid reminder of what Democratic activists on Facebook and Twitter have been warning everyone about in the direst of terms since 2015, namely, that the Bernie Sanders campaign was just as lousy with Russian entanglements as the Trump campaign was.
Tad Devine may well hold the final piece of the puzzle as to how the whole rotten Russian conspiracy was put together. As Robert Mueller continues his journey to this discovery, our prayers will be with him.
A group of fanatical Bernie Sanders supporters went scrounging around the Internet recently, digging up old blog posts of a homophobic nature published many years ago by JoyAnn Reid, host of MSNBC’s popular morning talk show AM Joy.
There are no doubt the content of the posts were wrong. Reid apologized for the unkind things she’d said in the past, owned it, and moved forward. Her apology serves as a model for us all.
But that is not the issue here. Those posts were dug up and released for a reason. And genuine concern over the threat Joy Reid might pose to the LGBT community does not appear to be it.
An outsider might be taken aback by the vehemence of such a statement, especially as a headline. But it happens to be true. And its contents tell a very ugly story.
An Internet campaign was started by Bernie supporters under the hashtag #FireJoyReid in November 2017 after Reid “made the mistake” of mentioning Jane Sanders in a series of tweets.
What we're also learning is that it's not just a media problem. The same dynamic plays out throughout our society, from the restaurant boss to the White House. The change that's needed here is a system-wide societal reboot.
Um… I get that he has a hardcore following, but his own attitudes toward women, from his weird early writings to his physical dismissal of women in his presence (including his own wife) make that an incredibly dubious prospect.
Medium’s Investigator did the research necessary to identify its core members- a tightly knit group of Bernie Bros.
They identify usually as members of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), and they all proudly proclaim to have voted for Jill Stein.
Among many other unpleasant characteristics, the group makes a practice of producing, tweeting, and retweeting racist pictures, like this one of Kamala Harris.
Behind this campaign is the fact that a lot of black voters didn’t vote for Bernie. The anger this produced by a part of the Bernie left has been gigantic. That’s hard to understand, given Bernie’s record, but that is beside the point.
This Millennial Democrats contributor would be hard-pressed to think of a single other circumstance, in which white people could treat black people like this, without hardly a soul being outraged.
Anecdotally, this writer remembers being told during the election, that the South “did not matter”, because their states would go red in the general election. Were that to be accepted as truth, it would disenfranchise half the country’s Democrats and a huge percentage of the black ones.
Back in 2014, during a number of interviews, Bernie described the type of voters he wanted to appeal to.
“Well, here’s what you got. What you got is an African-American president, and the African-American community is very, very proud that this country has overcome racism (Editor’s note-????) and voted for him for president. And that’s kind of natural. You’ve got a situation where the Republican Party has been strongly anti-immigration, and you’ve got a Hispanic community which is looking to the Democrats for help.”
Alexander Nix, the chief executive of data mining company Cambridge Analytica, the company at the center of the Facebook data breach, has been caught on tape boasting of using honey traps, disinformation campaigns, and Kompromat campaigns to swing election campaigns around the world, a new investigation reveals.
Joseph Goebbels thought much the same. So does Vladimir Putin.
The Channel 4 News investigation, broadcast on Monday, comes two days after the Observer reported Cambridge Analytica had unauthorized access to tens of millions of Facebook profiles in one of the social media company’s biggest data breaches.
Cambridge Analytica has been using the exact same disinformation techniques that the Russian Internet Research Agency has.
Facebook has a tremendous culpability in this matter. It’s good that they’re suspending Cambridge from having any further access, especially after hearing their CEO bragging about how he uses sex workers and bribes to corrupt and ruin rival politicians.
Again, this technique is Russian in origin. They call it Kompromat- the gathering of compromising evidence on someone in order to exert leverage.
We have come to quite an impasse. Russia’s tyrant is actively working to help the Republicans keep power in America. They’ve certainly got plenty of Kompromat on them.
For an example as to the way they gather this Kompromat and what sort of dirt they want can be, we can look to Ralph Shortey, a 35-year-old married father of three. He resigned in disgrace from the state legislature in March.
He was Trump’s campaign chair from Oklahoma, a man who carefully cultivated a strong ‘family values’ man type of image. He also just pled guilty to seven federal counts. Child sex trafficking, felony child prostitution, transportation of child pornography, and production of child pornography.
pleads guilty to Meanwhile, former Campbell County District Judge Timothy Nolan, Trump’s campaign chair in KY, has pled guilty to a similar set of charges. Sex trafficking of minors. 21 counts against 19 victims. Felony trafficking of a minor, felony inducing a minor to engage in sex, and a third count of giving alcohol to a minor.
One wonders if, like his grandfather, Trump has a sex trafficking racket along with his Russian money laundering racket? Just asking .
The president and his closest associates not only know of these efforts but are doing their best to coordinate with them.
Meanwhile, Trump, the president, not only does nothing but lies to the people every day. And when he found out that the FBI was looking into the whole mess, fires the person running the investigation in hopes of putting an end to it.
This is not a movie. This is where the nation stands. The Justice Department has an investigation in full-tilt, with the best guys in the country recruited to get the job done, and the president is doing all he can to find a way to get rid of it.
In the meantime, Trump recently did what he’s never done before and directly taken aim at Robert Mueller on Twitter.
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!
Robert Mueller himself has been a Republican all his life. That does not seem to be something Trump likes to bring up. It certainly did not stop Trump from nearly firing him last June, on a conflict of interest beef relating to, of all things, golfing fees. The whole thing has degenerated to the level of a kindergarten in the DeVos school system.
Is this what we want for our country? Aren’t we fed up yet? How much farther do we have to go? It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that most of us are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Thank God for Great Britain, is all I can think of to say. If it wasn’t for them, we’d be in this alone, and up to our necks. I personally have learned not to take them for granted. Thank you, Brits.
There is a sign of light on the horizon, however. It’s called a #BlueWave. The way it works is really simple, too. Vote Democratic, and the nightmare ends. Vote Democratic, and professionals come in and start cleaning up the mess. Vote Democratic, and America is certain to remain America, because the best will make sure it is.
If you’ve had enough of living in the zoo, vote blue.