Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted by the United States! It’s a beautiful day for a neighbor.
This story’s release was not destined for the front page- at least, not right away. It was found in an unsealed court filing in an unrelated case. The document contained the phrase “Assange has already been charged”. What is thought to be a simple copy/paste error has got the entire world talking.
Assange is and has been a criminal and a digital terrorist worldwide. He also is a suspected rapist. Assange has now been hiding out in his Ecuadorian embassy home for two years. He is said to live in slovenly conditions and recently had to be ordered by the courts of Ecuador to feed his cat. Animal abuse, no less! It’s time to bring this man to justice.
Wikileaks, under his direction, has attempted to cut the throat of American intelligence time and time again. He has disrupted the functioning of our country in every way he’s been able to think up.
He is an enemy of America, and he made himself that way, for no real reason. He did this to himself for fame and glory. Still, American law has been hesitant to condemn him, for fear of setting a precedent of discouraging investigative journalism. It’s important to be decent, even when the guy you’re up against is not.
Assange claims to be neutral, both in general and in regard to our 2016 election, but every single leak ever released by his outlet was designed to hurt Hillary Clinton and no one else. He claimed that was because no data was ever sent to WikiLeaks, about the Sanders or Trump campaigns.
However, the decidedly non-neutral Roger Stone had what he called a “Perfectly Legal” back channel to Assange, who got the electronic documents from the entity known as Guccifer 2.0, who was later proven to be a Russian intelligence officer working for the GRU.
There is nothing more important than a free press, an independent press like the one Putin destroyed in Russia. That is not in question. But there is a big difference between journalism and doxing, and the difference is that one is edifying and one is malicious. One seeks to educate and enlighten, and the other seeks only to destroy. In the last analysis, intent speaks for itself, and you get what’s coming to you.
Humanitarian concerns keep us from wishing physical harm on the man. The death penalty is wrong, and torture is wrong, regardless of the circumstances, no matter how egregious the criminal. We don’t feel he should be waterboarded at Guantanamo- the hole at United States Penitentiary-Leavenworth is hard enough. And even though the slipup was actually revealed in a pedophilia case, it is important to note that Assange has only allegedly raped two women in Sweden. Those are two more of the reasons why he needs to be taken somewhere and tried.
When Ecuador first gave asylum to Assange, he was still a hero to many on the left, and to many opponents of “US imperialism”. This sentiment runs deep in South America, and not unjustly so. So he was given asylum; a very decent act on the part of Ecuador.
But that was before he started using their place to hack our elections and do harm to everyone who’s breathing. What a guy. If I were Assange, I would start a GoFundMe for commissary.
Dr. Alina Polyakova, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, is one of the world’s foremost experts on fake news and Russian disinformation. She had a brilliant idea the other day.
In the Western world, we’ve been playing catchup with the Russians for years, trying to find a way to counter the pesky disinformation tactics they’ve become famous for.
She came up with something just as simple as it is profound- to look for an analogous solution, based on the American anti-smoking campaign that started in 1964. These two completely unrelated subjects have some amazing similarities.
What we want to examine are the actual techniques used by the Surgeon General and others to paint cigarettes in the light they deserve- as filthy, smelly, cancerous sticks of death you’ve got to pay for.
That’s the way to go here.
First off, disinformation is dangerous. It leads to a gross devaluation of truth and a breakdown in the entire moral order. Though zany Russian hacker disinformation combos of race-baiting and coordinated cyber-lying may seem silly and random one at a time, they add up.
Ladislav Bittman, the former Communist Czechoslovak deputy chief of the disinformation department, compared the effects of disinformation to a slow acting poison, saying “One drop may not be a problem, but together a dose could be fatal.”
This is a significant concept for a few reasons. First, it’s always elegant when you can fit an old key in a new lock. She went rifling through the old Public Threat or Menace manual, found a campaign in the past that gave her precedent, and voila.
This is conduct to be emulated as much as possible, especially as that particular connection isn’t easy to see. Well done, Doctor!
Returning to our topic, people have been thinking this whole time that these Russian cybercrimes are all really stylish, powerful, interesting things to do. They think Russian hackers, and they picture this:
What they should be picturing, is this:
Think back. When your mother first told you not to smoke cigarettes, did she give you any pamphlets on the subject? Did she cite scholarly sources to you? Or did she just do like mine did, and shout “No! Mucky! Gives you cancer!”
I got the point. Looked it up later.
This thing with the Russian disinformation is exactly the same. It is so obviously bad for America that the case cannot be overstated, and yet they are not listening. The whole thing has had to be completely infanticized, and it’s us who’s changing the diapers.
Inside those disinformation diapers are the images we need to show people.
Disinformation is gross. It’s like being smelly. Telling lots of lies is for the kid nobody wants to sit next to. That’s probably why he became a hacker, the poor schmoe- Glad I’m not that guy!
Disinformation is smoggy. It makes it hard to see, hard to breathe.
That’s why watching Fox News these days make people behave like they’ve been doing bathtub crank. There’s no bathtub-crank chic. Nobody is remaking Trainspotting, over bathtub crank.
Smoggy. Wasteful. Smelly. Stupid. Gross. These are the reasons people quit smoking. Once smokers realized that nobody was looking at them and seeing the Marlboro Man, they got red in the face and cut it out, en masse.
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.
The Blue Wave is gathering more momentum than ever, as our battle for control of Congress saw us pave the way for retaking the House of Representatives in several impassioned struggles to retake House seats in California and New Jersey.
There were also revealing elections in the Midwest and the South, underscoring the depth of Trump’s corrupting of the Republican Party and the different ways Democratic strategists intend to break their grip on red-state America.
Democratic women continued taking America by storm; it could not be more clear that 2018 is the year of the Democratic woman! After Hillary Clinton was cheated out of her rightful place in the White House, we needed leaders, and we got them. We are very proud of them.
The primaries, which took place in states all over the country, also underscored once and for all the defeat of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. They’re done.
All along, we’ve been concentrating our efforts on the construction of both devices and teams to run them. This serves the purpose of strengthening the larger Democratic coalition. Incidentally, this is how and why Millennial Democrats was born.
The goal is to get people to understand that they’ve got family ties with the other members of this resistance. We have fought a war together. We have worked hard to get out our message and to create teams capable of disseminating solid information.
Last night we proved what we can do when we all work together, by succeeding admirably in that goal in races all over the nation.
Democrats don’t need fake news. The real facts are universally in our favor. All we have to do is raise awareness. We have good answers to tough problems and have all along. We have a fantastic, progressive platform, and we have the means and expertise needed to achieve our goals. That is the difference.
For eighteen months and a week, we have all had to suffer through the daily pandemonium that is life under Donald Trump, and people are getting fed up. They are looking for a sane and decent alternative. That is what we have to offer.
When we show up at the polls next fall, we’re going to get our chance to show the world. I’m proud to be a part of that.
The news on TV this week has all been very good for Donald Trump, although his job performance has been every bit as lousy as ever. The pattern is clear. Whenever he’s got somebody else to point the finger at, his ratings go up.
But here are a couple of real facts. The new administration has declared war on accurate information. And because of that, every last thing with a shred of decency in American society is either under attack or being twisted to evil ends.
Basically, the truth does not suit Donald Trump’s agenda. So he has resolved upon making a new truth. He’s good at this. It has gotten him through a lifetime.
This viewpoint, which denies objectivity and assumes the worst of everyone, is the cornerstone of fascist philosophy. And under Trump, a number of new ideas are being employed as vehicles to carry and spread the new ideas about.
One of these is a project designed to target social media specifically, a mock-TV news report touting the imaginary successes of President Trump. It is being dubbed “Trump TV” on his official campaign Facebook page.
If the Russians have sent in advisers here, they are certainly doing their job.
“Overall, since the president took office, President Trump has created more than one million new jobs, the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, and consumer confidence is at a 16-year high”, and so on.
Since the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which mandated that equal airtime and coverage be given to the points of view of both major political parties, we have seen partisan organizations like Sinclair worming their way into buying up the whole apparatus. Now a number of them are no longer even American. This state of affairs is a travesty.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the very first segment of the alt-right’s information pipeline that we have got to sever is the part of it stretching here from Russia.
Former White House correspondent Andrew Feinberg is one of the strongest advocates for this point of view, and he ought to know. He used to work for Sputnik. But these days, he openly admits the site’s content being “foreign propaganda, not news.”
A news site which is funded by a hostile foreign government with the express purpose of reporting fake news and brazenly lying to the people of America is an outrage. There’s no other word for it. Any person who doesn’t understand that is one already lost to the opposition.
“We find that the structure and composition of media on the right and left are quite different. The leading media on the right and left are rooted in different traditions and journalistic practices. On the conservative side, more attention was paid to pro-Trump, highly partisan media outlets. On the liberal side, by contrast, the center of gravity was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism.”
Democrats remain interested in things like truth and reason. The opposition has discarded those virtues as impractical, if not actively detrimental, to their various causes.
Although Fox itself does still usually take the time to bother putting a veneer of professional journalism on their stuff, they still know who a large part of their audience is, and they cater to it.
If you watch Fox News these days, you won’t just find the usual conservative twist anymore. Much of their old content has become too truthful for many of their viewers. It’s not hardcore enough anymore. These people want uglier mud to sling at their liberal foes. A website called Liberty Headlines will tell you all about it.
This is why Fox has partnered with a more extreme conservative media. One resolved on developing the concept to its evolutionary apex: sheer, pure propaganda.
It seems painfully obvious in hindsight that twenty years of media consolidation has been bad for our democracy.
Though the Berkman- Klein report we mentioned earlier does an excellent job of laying out the challenge posed by Breitbart and its ilk, it is less than clear on how to counter it. One very interesting solution has been employed by our neighbors to the North, in Canada, with a surprisingly effective result.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, is a regulatory media commission like the FCC. It is not large and it does not often have a need to make the news. But back in 2011, a rather small decision by a relatively small government agency in Ottawa made a pretty big splash.
In April, a major player in the Canadian media scene, Quebecoir Media, planned a launch of what they called Sun News, or Sun TV. It was billed as a Canadian analogue to FOX News, by which they meant a broadcast news outlet with a skewed and partisan conservative perspective.
If the human race is going to avoid a significant degradation of its own condition, then we have to maintain our objectivity. We can’t be lulled to sleep by Trump-brand fairy tales.
It’s time we stopped letting wingnut billionaires clutter up our airwaves with their nonsense just because they’ve got the money to throw their weight around. Legislation must be passed immediately to make perfidy in the American news an official crime.
Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again, but America never stopped being great. If we wish to keep that intact, the removal of state-sanctioned falsehoods would be a very good start. Bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and make it illegal to call poisonous deceit the news. It’s really pretty simple. Just vote a straight blue ticket next year, and get everyone you know to do the same. It is time we started doing laundry.
He thought little of it at first. But it just kept coming up, and now it’s turning into an accepted part of the narrative in the area.
Rumors are common, of course. But in this day and age, when even the most innocuous aspects of American culture, e.g. Pokemon Go and the #DontShootUs hashtag have been poisoned and used against us by the Russians, nothing can be taken for granted.
So when you hear a widespread rumor, especially regarding anything that might be employed to raise racial tensions and turn neighbor against neighbor, it’s a good idea to look at where it came from.
The problem started when right-wing blog Got Newsclaimed an exclusive bombshell in the ongoing wildfire story. They did not cite any of their alleged law enforcement sources. No quotes of any kind appear in the story. It fails to present any evidence beyond the fact that the fires damaged marijuana crops.
The utmost attention must be brought to the way that this is done. Believe it or not, propaganda specialists are telling the truth 9 of 10 times. That’s the whole point. If all of it was nonsense, it would be written off right away. So most of it isn’t. Lying blatantly isn’t what they do. What they do do, is actually very clever. They will take that one lie, break it up into chunks, and then feed it back to people in a way they often don’t notice.
The method employed in this article was an associative trick. They take two things that could plausibly be related and simply discuss them, side by side. The lie comes in so smooth, you barely notice it. Watch carefully the Breitbart article’s opening paragraphs for a good working example. It’s down there in italics and it includes the link.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tom Homan confirmed on Thursday that a man arrested in connection with setting a fire in Sonoma County Wine Country is an illegal alien from Mexico who has been twice returned to his “home country.”
Three claims are being made here. First, that a man has been arrested by ICE. Second, that the man is an illegal alien from Mexico. Third, that his arrest was made IN CONNECTION with setting fires. The first two are true; the third is patently false. It is a complete and total lie.
Many Americans, however, will swear on the lives of their families that the opposite is true. This is because they have been brainwashed so totally by conservative media that they truly believe what Breitbart writes is the gospel truth. Studies on the subject indicate this type of person will defend a story like this to the end.
In direct contravention of this statement, Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano directly addressed the false claim at a press conference held at the time.
The Breitbart article was flat out called “false and misleading.”
Long fire seasons are normal for California. Rain is usually absent for half the year. Thirteen of the 20 most devastating fires in California history, as measured by the number of buildings destroyed, have started on Oct. 1 or later, according to Cal Fire records.
The wildfires this year were the worst in state history, an unparalleled tragedy. The callousness needed to use an event like this for political purposes can only belong to Putin.
This is the face of fascism. Manufactured incidents, news used as a tool to mislead and obfuscate. Propaganda, dishonesty, and confusion become the new and accepted norm. This is the face of their new authoritarian ideology. That ideology will be gradually dripped into the heads of the people by the likes of Sebastian Gorka, who was recently hired by Fox News.
This concept is not abstract, or something that only happens elsewhere. Companies like the Sinclair Broadcasting Company, which is said to be in talks with conservative TV show host Bill O’Reilly, will soon be threading pro- Trump messaging into every aspect of television. Their virulent brand of right-wing commentary and so-called “classic propaganda” may soon reach three-quarters of US households.
Going forward, the Mexican Mafia wildfire slander serves as an excellent case study for the examining and reverse-engineering of Republican propaganda. There will be more of this to come than we can imagine; Russian ads alone reached over 120 million on Facebook this year.
By thinking critically and staying alert, however, we can spot the fake news virus as it spreads. We can dismantle them, dissect them, and lay bare their innards to the light. In this manner, we will come to see how they work.
Our job is to expose lies and bear witness. So please, when you see a story that looks like it could be suspect, let us know. Send it in so we can get to the bottom of it, and send it packing once and for all. Those who seek to educate will always stand as defenders of the truth. And that is the purpose of the Millennial Democrats DissectFake project.
Beneath, we are gratefully borrowing a crucial production of the International Federation of Library Associations(IFLA), which describes itself as the global voice of the library and information profession.
IFLA has made this infographic with eight simple steps (based on FactCheck.org’s 2016 article How to Spot Fake News) to discover the verifiability of a given news-piece in front of you. Download, print, translate, and share – at home, at your library, in your local community, and on social media networks. The more we crowdsource our wisdom, the wiser the world becomes.
In response to this claim, Nixon crafted and delivered his famous “Checkers speech,” in which he decried his opponents and stated that no matter what anyone said, he would not return his daughters’ dog, Checkers, which had been given to them as a gift. In Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture, professional correspondent Mark Feldstein gives a useful analysis of how that went over with the people.
“That resonated emotionally with the public, and a huge base — particularly of hard-core Republican conservatives — swelled to his defense and pressured Eisenhower to keep Nixon on the ticket,” Feldstein explains. “Meanwhile, liberal Democrats were nauseated by it and thought it was a maudlin speech. And the polarization that Nixon’s career would have ever after was indelibly marked.”
Thus did Richard Nixon embark upon his road to the White House. Many books have been written as to how he spent his time there, and it is not our purpose to touch on it deeply. Our interest rather lies in what effect it had on our system, to have weathered an assault on its every parameter. The Nixon administration treated America like an old Commodore 64.
Nixon’s failings were tempered and intertwined with great political gifts and considerable vision. His judgement was uneven and delusional, but he had a keen and nimble mind. In penetrating to the core of our system, he was to lay bare the groundwork of it, and expose key vulnerabilities to the light. This paved the way for a systematic undermining and devaluing of truth and objectivity.
Nixon went down in something rather less than a blaze of glory. The affair that became known as the Watergate scandal was a major political fiasco that occurred in the United States in the early 1970’s. Several Nixon operatives were caught attempting a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 1972.
The articles of impeachment drawn against him did not consider the break-in itself to be of primary importance in the reason why Nixon had to go. They focused rather on the tyrannical and power-hungry way he’d tried to cover it up. The first two of them read as follows.
(1) Making or causing to be made false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employes of the United States.
(2) Withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employes of the United States
He was convinced to resign by the four-star general sent in to be his chief of staff toward the end of his tenure in office, Alexander Haig, who played the role that his fellow four-star general John Kelly is playing in the Trump White House now. As Nixon became increasingly paranoid and miserable, Haig ran the daily affairs of the White House, and was instrumental in effecting the president’s resignation. It can only be hoped that Kelly will have similar luck.
The legacy of the deleterious effects of the Nixon era on our democracy cannot be overstated. He had his fingerprints all over the most fundamentally anti-democratic projects ever put together in America, such as the Enemies List. This was the roster of famous liberals targeted by Nixon for IRS audits and other forms of extralegal retaliation. His smear campaigns against his likely 1972 opponent, Senator Edward Kennedy, were reminiscent in many key regards to the fake news attacks on our people last year.
The elimination of the American people’s ability to think critically has had many an epoch. It is certain that a large one took place under Nixon, who in one famous speech toward the end, insisted to America that he was “not a crook.” That statement proved sadly untrue. Nixon was a crook, and his crookedness has reverberated clearly into our own times.
By now it should be getting pretty clear. This new GOP, the one that came to power after the death of John F. Kennedy, was not at all the same entity we’ve been looking at up until now. In the days of Eisenhower, much less in the days of Theodore Roosevelt, this kind of conduct would have been unthinkable. Even Warren Harding, corrupt as a Chinese eunuch, was a far more genial type of criminal. Nixon’s era was vicious.
That ferocity came directly from the fascist element that absorbed into America and Europe after World War Two. It values nothing, except the will to power. It values power as both the ends and the means. Ideology is unimportant to it, but is often employed as its tool.
G. Gordon Liddy, one of the Watergate burglars who went to prison for it, wrote an autobiography and named it WILL. It sings the praises of Hitler and the Nazis on every page. He presents an anecdote inside as to how he silenced an entire D.C. county jail pod, by standing around naked and singing the Horst Wessel song.
This is why they’re getting together with Russia. It’s the same group of guys. The Russia of the modern era is fascist in every regard. Like other fascists, they are intent on controlling the resources of the world. They have picked up and adapted these ratf*cking strategies, included them in their disinformation programs, and used them to destabilize us last year in the very same way the CIA once used to destabilize Third World countries like Haiti and Nicaragua. We have been systematically prepared for this, like Hansel and Gretel, by the dirty work done by Richard Nixon and others.
The Nixon era is also when the Republicans most directly involved in the 2016 Russian election hacking fiasco started crafting their modern mask in earnest. Guys like Roger Stone, the soon-to-be-indicted Paul Manafort, and Karl Rove all got their start during this time. Their mentors were the men who ran the Nixon administration, a place overflowing with competing monsters. All of these were deeply complicit in last year’s ongoings with the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin.
Donald Segretti, the Nixon operative who coined the term “ratf*cking”, as in, “F*cking a DemocRAT”, played his role, did his prison time, and lived an unimportant life thereafter. However, Karl Rove, the GOP strategist whom George W. Bush referred to as “The Architect”, was a personal protege of his. Rove was already a deeply corrupt and ruthless person, even at nineteen.
In 1969, posing as a volunteer at the Chicago campaign headquarters of Alan Dixon, a Democrat running for state treasurer, Rove stole official campaign letterheads, and sent out 1,000 invitations to people in the city’s red-light district and soup kitchens, offering “free beer, free food, girls, and a good time for nothing” at Dixon headquarters. A bunch of crazed alcoholics showed up at this important fundraiser for Dixon.
Although Dixon still won the election, Rove succeeded in significantly disrupting it. Later, Rove said, “I got involved in a political prank.” Pranks of that nature made him useful to the Republicans all the way through the decades between Nixon and George W. Bush. The crimes and techniques of their generation were transmitted seamlessly to ours.
Policies such as the War on Drugs were developed and refined during these decades. Although this war on the American people is more commonly associated with Reagan, Nixon was the first to use the phrase. It was designed as a strategy to hamstring the lives of voters who Nixon saw as reliably Democratic, according to White House tapes.
Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman said, “We had two enemies- the antiwar left, and the blacks. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs themselves? Of course we did.”
Reagan’s continuation of this so-called ‘war’ was meant to heighten racial tensions for the benefit of the Republican Party. This was a linchpin of the “Southern Strategy” conceived by Lee Atwater, whom most political observers of both parties rate as the dirtiest political strategist of the twentieth century. Voting rights, food stamps, and even madhouses were all taken away from the people. This was effective because the aforementioned white malcontents like to see other people get the shaft- at any cost. They’ve been taught to accept this as a substitute for a decent lot in life since before the Civil War.
The Republicans were able to use the McGovern-Fraser Commission ruling to their advantage, time and again. They became quite adept at handpicking their opponents. Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis were all considered weak candidates by Republican National Committee officials. Although Carter did manage to unseat the incumbent, former vice president to Nixon Gerald Ford, Carter would not likely have been elected, had the GOP post-Nixon not been so hated that Christ himself could not have been elected on a Republican platform.
By 1980 they had significantly regrouped, behind Ronald Reagan, who handily won the presidential election. Many independents and a significant number of Democrats joined Republican voters in electing Ronald Reagan to be the fortieth president of the United States. He won the 1984 election in what was the biggest landslide victory since Cox-Harding, and his vice-president George H.W. Bush had little trouble succeeding him on the strength of that momentum. The very word “liberal” had become an epithet. The Republicans reigned supreme, and that showed every sign of continuing.
In that sentence, lies the motive of the “vast, right wing conspiracy” that Hillary Clinton has spoken of, out there for one purpose- to destroy her and her husband.
The campaign to destroy the Clintons was launched in 1989 by none other than the good old Lee Atwater, who was named head of the Republican National Committee. He was a natural choice, having recently put together President Bush’s winning campaign in 1988, personified accurately by the “Willie Horton” TV ad, which attempted to portray the Democratic candidate as a defender of black rapists and black murderers.
His job this time was to re-elect George H.W. Bush, and he was worried. Bill Clinton was young, charismatic, and eloquent. Most of all, he was likeable. The reptilian Bush hardly made for a winsome figure to begin with. Next to Clinton, he seemed like a cyborg.
In 1992, Republicans tried to make experience, character and trust the central issues. Voters indicated that the theme of change sounded by the Democrats was more important, but more important still was the personal power of Bill Clinton, and the amazingly effective duo that he and Hillary had made, ever since their college days.
This fear and insecurity on the part of the Republicans was the reason behind the launching of what became known as the “Arkansas Project”. Funded by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, this project was designed to damage and end the presidency of Bill Clinton. After wasting more than $25 million of taxpayer money to trump up charges against the Clintons on Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate and Filegate, the right had nothing better than to settle with the Monica Lewinsky affair, and the unjust vilification of Hillary Clinton.
Today it is not possible to determine how many millions have been spent by privately held companies like The Washington Free Beacon, America Rising, Burning Glass Consulting and Citizens United to discredit Hillary Clinton.
Back then, the Arkansas Project ended up a failure. In spite of innumerable attempts to force Bill Clinton out of office, he finished his term, and left office in a country that was in far better shape than it had been before his tenure.
Its legacy proved enduring, though. Last year, every one of those old slanders was unearthed and spread around with the greatest of zeal by the rabid supporters of Bernie Sanders, paving the way conveniently for Donald Trump’s Crooked Hillary attacks. The Arkansas Project cast its shadow over that entire chapter of last year’s debacle of an election. It has also provided a permanent and ever-growing repository of ammunition, used to effect by the revived partnership of mass media and fundamentalism, in the form of Rush Limbaugh and other celebrities of conservative talk radio in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Those radio shows, which provide daily lessons in the art of propaganda, have done as much to eat away at the fabric of democracy as any other single factor within the last forty years. They gathered in strength and reach across the nation all through the Clinton presidency. Combined with the entering of Fox News and Rupert Murdoch into the game, the conservative media provided the Republicans with a potent weapon, one they would use to clear effect in 2000.
To an objective observer, two facts are clear: Clinton’s Vice-President Al Gore won the nationwide popular vote, and according to a recent Miami Herald analysis, he was also in all likelihood the favorite of Florida voters as well.
Jeb Bush, the brother of the Republican candidate for president, George W. Bush, was also the governor of Florida. He was a key component in the plot to steal the Florida election on behalf of his brother. If not for Jeb, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would never have had the chance to cast that fateful vote on behalf of Bush.
The impropriety of that decision was obvious even to the members of the court. That is why they passed a second ruling, that the decision used in the process used to block Gore’s final recount could never be used again, as a legal precedent for any future cases.
The Bush era is when most of us millennials entered the story. Many of us remember the new heights of indecency and state-sanctioned lying reached on nearly a daily basis. The disinformation campaign that’s been used on us by the GOP since the Nixon era was taking a terrible toll by this point. The people didn’t know who to believe, and they didn’t know who to trust. It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that this did a great deal to soften us up for the Russian disinformation machine.
The Republicans know that the only strength the people have is in their numbers. If they can make sure the left doesn’t work together, they can pick us off one by one. Karl Rove and the Republican Party know this very well. It has been a tactic of rulers since the days of Rome and before.
And so, both in 2000 and in 2004, the Republicans used a man named Ralph Nader, then the Green Party of the U.S.’s (G-PUS) candidate for president, to divide the left and hamstring the Democratic candidates.
We were to see those techniques again, as they were used to cheat Hillary Clinton from her rightful place in the White House. Jill Stein, the milkwater replacement of Nader in the G-PUS, and Paul Manafort were both attendees at that infamous meeting with Putin in Russia.
Al Gore was a highly principled and competent man, but he lacked the drive for victory that Bill Clinton had, and he lacked the necessary vigor to withstand the ferocity of Republican greed. Bush got into office, and spent his time there dragging his country so deeply through the mud that it still has yet to be seen whether or not we can recover.
The next four years changed everything for America.
The strange circumstances surrounding that cataclysmic and unlikely disaster will be debated for as long as people walk this earth, and it is not our purpose to look deeply into the mysteries surrounding. We will stick to what we know for sure. Regardless of its causes, George Bush used the biggest foreign assault our nation has ever been victimized by to pass some of the most invasive and insidious legislature ever conceived.
The War on Terror has mostly come and gone, but the domestic effects of the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts will be with us until the end. A war in Afghanistan was started, which we are still fighting. And then Bush used all the nation’s rage to finish a job that his father had started, the rousting of Saddam Hussein from the apex of the power structure of Iraq. By 2003, we were at war in Iraq. By 2004 it was clear we were in big trouble. Nothing else mattered in 2004, except getting George W. Bush out of office.
However, when the election finally came around, an election so crucial that a movie, Fahrenheit 9/11 was made about the slovenly evils committed by the Republican candidate Bush, an unbelievable amount of different things went wrong. Half of the six million people living abroad, for example, got their ballots too late to vote. Malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.
All in all, nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment – roughly one for every 100 cast. But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent. Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote at the time, “After carefully examining the evidence, I’ve become convinced that the president’s party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004.”
In 2008, the anti- Clinton machines to the right and the left geared back up for another battle. A lot of the same old smears were employed by the Obama campaign, as well as the new tactic of associating her with big business and Wall St. Hillary Clinton called at the time for higher regulations on Wall St. Their decision to side against her cost her the presidency.
As 2009 began, the same juggernaut of lies was employed consistently during her tenure as Secretary of State, most notably in the drumming up of unimportant nonsense like Benghazi and email servers. None of it did them much good with Obama in office. Romney was a joke in 2012. Obama’s reign, hateful as it was to the racist fascist network, was secure.
During the eight years of his tenure, the GOP was to reach heights of total desperation. Outlets like Breitbart and Fox News were a help, but on their own they would never have been enough. It’s only once you factor in RT and Sputnik and the Russians that you can see they had a chance, and this is what led to the devil’s bargain in 2016 that Robert Mueller is now closing in on.
The continuing radicalization of the GOP has now been amply documented for 120 years. Scholars, party insiders, and any human being who has ever set foot in Virginia can all bear witness to that.
The decent and moderate conservatives of the old school, who meant the word in the sense of conservation, who once played such a key role in the enactment of civil rights and environmental legislation, have gone the way of the dinosaur.
Republicans know perfectly well that when people vote for them, they are voting against their own interests. The day people realize that is the day the GOP stops winning elections. So they have developed an entire playbook of dirty tricks, with which to demoralize the Democratic base and suppress the vote as much as possible. Every time you hear someone say that they don’t vote, because their vote doesn’t matter, you have heard an example of their strategy working.
Republicans have fewer adherents every year, but they have two major factors on their side; a fanatical base willing to carry out the dirty tricks, and the greediest billionaires to finance them. They deceive good people by appealing to their worst instincts. raising the red flag of abortion and gay marriage to divert attention away from their arrogant and greedy policies which cause the poverty, war and pollution we are facing today.
2016 proved once and for all that there is no trick too dirty and nothing too low for the Republicans, who went so far as to collude with Russia, our biggest global rival, rather than see another Democrat in the White House.
In 2016, extremists on both ends of the political spectrum did a great deal to spread around the notion of a moral equivalency between the two parties. They say it doesn’t matter who you vote for, because the President doesn’t really run the country anyway. They say it doesn’t matter who you vote for, because all politicians are corrupt, They say the system is broken, that it can’t be fixed, and that the right thing to do is just stand back aloof from the whole mess until it collapses under its own weight.
Those ideas are paid for by the Republicans, who are only too happy to keep right along tightly controlling the “broken” system. Votes matter tremendously. They’re the only power we have. That’s why the Koch network and others spend so much money every year to keep us from being able to use them.
The new development is for the GOP to link hands with its ideological allies in Russia, who have developed the same sorts of ideas to their most logical conclusions. Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is now an exile in London for the crime of having run against Putin in a supposedly democratic election, summed it up best by saying that comparing America’s approach to the management of its global affairs against modern-day Russia’s is like comparing the work a surgeon does to Jack the Ripper. Both of them cut people open, but that is where the similarity ends. Certainly that was true during Obama’s reign, but the future of everything has been thrown into uncertainty by the hacking of our election and the coming to power of Donald Trump.
Democrats have found ourselves beset on many sides, with no control in any branch of government and facing the most terrible international and domestic threats through the disastrous medium of Trump. Knowing the extent of our domestic paralysis, and encouraged by the failure of the West to respond when they annexed the Crimea from Ukraine, it is all too likely the Russians may attempt another seizure of formerly Soviet-dominated areas, daring the West to respond once again.
Last month, they moved tens of thousands of troops, plus accompanying artillery and air support, unsettlingly close to Baltic borders, in what they have labeled “strategic war exercises”, and given the name of the Zapad War Games. In the same week, it came out that over one hundred United States power stations are infected with the very same Stuxnet virus used to turn the power off in Ukraine in 2014, just before Crimea was taken.
In the meantime, the Syrian Civil War is winding down. Assad and the Russians won, while the rebels we were supporting were left to their fate. North Korea is firing rockets over Japan, and instead of entering talks with them Trump is exchanging schoolyard insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on the floor of the United Nations. The rest of the world is watching. It’s become painfully clear that things with the Party of Trump have gone terribly awry.
The long road to tyranny is a slippery slope, and one without organized mile markers. None of this has happened overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight either. It’s hard to dig your way back out of a hole, especially when that hole is 120 years deep. But it is incumbent upon us to undertake this task, nonetheless. This is our country, for better or worse, and stranger things have happened. Victories have been won against worse odds.
Recognizing the problem is the first step. The one positive of 2016 is that many people have awoken to the general plot. The Republican Party has become an impediment of colossal and vicious proportion. Ohio Governor and 2016 GOP Presidential candidate John Kasich said on Sunday that unless the Republican Party reforms, he can no longer continue to support it.
Hard as it may be for Mr. Kasich to accept, it’s too late to reform the GOP. But it’s not too late to learn from its example. We still have time to reform the country.
Over this series, we took a look at the hole the GOP has been digging for itself. We have learned why it is time to remove the Republican stumbling block from our path. Moving forward, we’ll be taking a closer look at the fascist network we’ve been making reference to, who they are, and where they came from.
By shining light on cockroaches, you make them skitter for cover. It’s the same with Nazis. We’re going to turn over the rocks they’ve been hiding under. By exposing their plots, networks, and strategies, we will truly #MakeNazisAfraidAgain. Fascism and democracy are incompatible, like mold and fungus. Democracy cannot live, where fascism is thriving. To save the America that our ancestors lived and died in, we have got to see this through to the very end.
The Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict began in September 2015. The entire civilized world stood in universal condemnation of Assad’s civil rights abuses. His hold on Syria’s government seemed increasingly tenuous. Deciding his situation had become at last untenable, Assad asked Russia in an official capacity for military help against the rebel groups funded by America since 2012, and Russia answered his call.
Shortly after the operation began, Russian officials were cited as saying that Russia′s goals included helping the Syrian government retake territory from various anti-government groups that were labelled by the United States and its coalition as ″moderate opposition″, a broader geopolitical objective being to roll back U.S. influence.
The Russian intervention in Syria launched a new and even more complicated phase in the Syrian civil war. We were backing different sides, and fighting right next door to one another.
The Russians claimed that they wanted to be part of a new international coalition in Iraq, where we were all going to fight ISIS together. Reality did not end up supporting those claims. Russia rarely did much to target ISIS in Syria. What it did do was to prop up Assad while undermining the rebels . The goal was to prolong the conflict until Obama had been forced out of office by term restrictions, something neither Putin nor Assad has to worry about.
Russia’s military campaign allowed Assad’s forces to recapture rebel strongholds, a task they did with terrible viciousness and incalculable human suffering. It barely dented ISIS, whose recent territorial losses have largely come at the hands of Kurdish militias backed by a US-led coalition.
This has also allowed Putin to start gaining influence in North Korea, a staunch ally during the days of the Soviet Union. Their nuclear testing recently has made them a scourge and a threat to the entire Pacific region, and has caused a great deal of unrest everywhere. Common sense would dictate that Putin turn these happenings to advantage.
Until Democrats are back in power, this order of business will likely continue all but unabated.
Having been given a free hand all over the world, Putin has been using his time with tremendous skill and vigor. If we don’t find ourselves a leader capable of successfully competing we’ll be flat on our backs within a few years. He put everything on the line to try and hamstring Hillary Clinton, and the scenario we’re seeing now is why.
Were it not for Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, things would likely be even worse.
After the staff of Millennial Democrats finished dying with laughter, they were born again, thinking about the nature of mushrooms and how they spread. A look at this might help us to illustrate our issue. Putin and Trump are behaving like mushrooms and cows in a pasture. They work in symbiosis. The chaos left in the wake of Trump’s passing scatters Putin’s spores to release and start spreading out, thus forming new colonies.
Putin is an invasive species, meaning that he has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health. The best way to deal with him is to learn to identify and effectively remove the tendrils he puts down. This means learning to identify and prevent the spread of fake news. In this matter we can look to Ukraine and find there a useful frame of reference.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainians have fought the Russian disinformation machine more often than anyone. The first site to directly tackle and refute Russian propaganda was StopFake.org, and they have scored many notable successes. Not only have they proven that Russia’s lying machine can be defeated, they have proven all you need to do it is your common sense.
Ultimately, the responsibility for beating back the fake news plague belongs to us. Our own critical thinking skills are the most valuable weapon we have. Every one of us must strive to educate ourselves with each passing day. We’re running out of time in which to prepare.
The geopolitical chessboard is an ever-shifting entity. Empires collapse all the time. The Syrian Civil War has done much to shape the new reality, that being that the side we were supporting lost. This will need to be carefully observed in the times ahead. The United States has entered perilous waters.
There’s still a lot we can do, however. The Democratic National Committee has coined the hashtag #RiseAndOrganize, and that option is very much open to us. There is nothing in the world right now so crucial as the Congress returning to Democratic control next year. It is only by way of this that we’ll get a group of guys in there who will impeach Donald Trump, who is the single biggest asset Putin has. To stabilize the global order, we will first stabilize our backyard.