Memorial Day and the Trump Effect- An Emptiness of Empathy.

Memorial Day and the Trump Effect.

America is celebrating its second Memorial Day underneath the reign of Donald Trump, and it’s worth reflecting on exactly what that means.

Memorial Day is a special day for America. It gives society a way to show gratitude to those who have carried upon their lives the burdens and responsibilities of war.

The Atlantic’s David Frum wrote today “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” is a promise not denominated only in dollars and cents. We commit spiritually, too, to do our limited human best to understand and appreciate the losses and suffering imposed by the defense of the nation.”

These kinds of subtleties are lost on our 45th president.

Trump spent his day boasting about the economy he’s been ravaging on Twitter. Later he made a speech and laid a wreath, but the speech he made was an abject lesson of insincerity, where he said all the usual things and made reference to “Our Heroes”.

Trump has never had a military hero. On the contrary. He has repeatedly used and politicized the military, not to mention badly disrespected it.

Our heroes- the heroes of the people of America- is a term that includes Sen. John McCain(R-AZ), who Trump has disdained for years. He even mocked the time McCain spent in a POW camp in Vietnam, saying he prefers “people who didn’t get captured”.

Just recently, some White House staffer sneered at his words, saying that his opinion doesn’t matter because he is dying. Trump said nothing. Not one kind word was spent on our hero John McCain.

The commander-in-chief of our military is a man who was never in Vietnam at all, win or lose. He was able to dodge the draft because of his “bone spurs”– and his daddy’s money. Poor people didn’t get out of going to Vietnam for bone spurs.

The instance of John McCain is not the only time he’s proved himself a hypocrite on the matter of his supposed admiration for veterans. Trump has had numerous back-and-forths with the military.

Trump has said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”

Trump has said US generals were “reduced to rubble” by Obama.
While campaigning in 2016, Trump spent nearly a week disparaging the Gold Star family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier killed in a suicide attack in Iraq, back in 2004.

He told Khan’s mother to remain silent, because, as a Muslim wife, she “wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

After he got elected, four Army soldiers were killed in Niger in an ambush in October 2017. Trump remained quiet for 12 days. He then disputed comments alleging that he told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson he “knew what he signed up for” and forgot the soldier’s name.

The list goes on, as it tends to with our 45th president.

Trump has also lied about donations he’s made to the military. He spent the first few months of 2016 claiming he sent nearly $6 million to veterans groups nationwide, but Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold couldn’t find any evidence of any donations.

After Fahrenthold asked and asked about the money, Trump held a news conference in May, assuring he had sent out his donations.

It turned out he sent most of them within a week of the press conference or, in some cases, on the same day Fahrenthold interviewed him about the mystery money.

For all his sentimentality in appropriating soldiers, a more honest look at how Trump feels about memorializing veterans was available this weekend. For sale. On his webstore.

On Saturday, the online shop associated with the Donald J. Trump for President web site posted an advertisement on Trump’s Facebook page.

“In honor of Memorial Day, we’re doing 25% off all #MAGA gear!” 

This is what Donald Trump really thinks of the military. Something he can cash in on.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly criticized the president for “the Trump effect“, which it has called a virus in our country.

More and more members of our armed forces are realizing what this means for the democracy they fought for, and from what we can see, they’re getting fed up. They’re waking to the reality that what’s worst for Trump and the Republicans is what’s best for America.

One headline we came across while researching this piece was called “Three younger veterans stake a generational claim on the Democratic Party”. Millennial Democrats, standing up. That’s what we like to see.

Going forward, we can raise awareness by equipping ourselves with the facts. Every time Trump and his supporters start tooting their own horns about the military, we can remind them of how he got his Purple Heart. He was handed it, the same as he was handed his money.

A veteran in Virginia gave Trump a Purple Heart medal during an August 2016 campaign speech — and the future commander-in-chief saw nothing untoward in accepting it.

“I always wanted to get a Purple Heart,” he said proudly, pinning it to his lapel. “This way is a lot easier.”

The quick and easy way is not what got us here. In the age of Donald Trump, we can all use a reminder of that.

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Syrian War Heats Up- Thanks, GOP, For Obstructing President Obama.

New chemical attacks cause new hostilities.

The Syrian Civil War has recently flared back up. A chemical attack in the suburb of Douma over the weekend killed at least 49 people. This has worsened relations between the United States and Russia, which are far from good already.

Assad’s government is a sham. It only exists because Putin has forces there propping it up. Even still, the Kremlin has rejected the conclusion that Syria’s military was behind the chemical attack, asserting that it was staged by militants to falsely blame the government and justify an American strike against the Assad regime.

Several weeks ago, on March 13th, top military officers who answer to Putin threatened to attack the U.S. military in Syria, if Trump orders our troops to defend the region.

Russian Army General Valery Gerasimov warned on Tuesday that the U.S. was preparing to launch raids against Moscow’s ally, the Syrian government, as it attempted to clear out pockets of insurgents- some of which were once backed by the West- in the suburbs of the capital city of Damascus.

Gerasimov, who acted as chief of Russia’s general staff and deputy defense minister, claimed that the U.S. would strike under the “false pretense” of a chemical weapon attack, and vowed to do us damage if we did.

Syrian use of chemical weapons, of course, is what led to President Barack Obama drawing a “Red Line in the Sand” in the first place, back in 2013, but the Russians won’t even admit that Assad is using them.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that they believe the United States is seeking to entrench itself in the country. “The U.S. is taking steps not to leave as President Trump said, and leave Syria for others, but to establish a foothold there for a very long time,” Mr. Lavrov said.

Lavrov repeated the Russian claim that our very presence in Syria is illegal, and demanded American forces leave the country immediately.

The scale of Russian lying, about this and every other matter, will be difficult for future generations to even conceive of.

Regardless of whatever else is going on, and no matter who is in the White House, America is not going anywhere at the beck and call of Russia or any other power. That’s out.

In America, the office of President is not absolute, which is why whatever Putin has on Trump did not prove to be enough to scare the rest of our great nation away. It is starting to look like we’re finally going to do something about Syria. 

The thing about it is that all this should have been done years ago, in 2013, when Assad used chemical weapons the first time.

President Obama had an excellent plan to deal with it. He declared it a red line and asked Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) He was refused by the Republicans.

It was argued about for years, but ultimately the GOP-held Congress never took a full vote on an ISIS war authorization.

There were various excuses given, but it is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the Republicans didn’t want Obama to have a chance to take care of the problem.

They wanted to be able to point backward and say well, Obama wouldn’t get tough on Syria, and look where we are.

The concern going forward is that the Republicans will be able to set this narrative down as history. It’s important for us to raise awareness of the fact that the Republicans made this mess.

They want to monopolize the concept of “war president”. It was the only good thing anyone ever had to say about George W. Bush, after all, and they like to think of themselves as hawkish and tough.

Except that in holding up the resolution and halfheartedly approaching the situation, they gave Russia the opportunity of a lifetime.

In the last analysis, allowing the Russians into Syria worked out very well for both them and the Republicans. The status quo of obstructing Obama had always included a policy of doing nothing. It must have been nice, lounging around the Congress all these years, goldbricking willfully on the taxpayer’s dollar.

The real question now is whether or not that comfortable state of affairs will reassert itself. If Putin backs off, it might, but that’s seeming less and less likely. The Russian tyrant has been emboldened greatly by Trump’s weakness.

There is no doubt that this has now become an extremely complex problem, but it’s got a simple solution. All we have to do is vote out the people who allowed it all. Vote the Republican party out of existence. Bring Democrats back in, and the best minds in the nation will solve the problem.

Vote Democratic. This year, and every other year, until the end of time.

Putin Divvies Up Syria, Trump Spills Israeli Intel- The Puppet Strikes Again.

#demontroll
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a trilateral summit with the presidents of Iran and Turkey in Russia’s Black Sea resort city, Sochi. Putin gave a warm welcome to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and declared that the three countries deserve all the credit for helping to maintain “stability” in Syria.
Turkey, which is still a NATO member and U.S. ally, announced that it may soon open talks with Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, in a joint effort with Russia and Iran to return stability to the region. America was not invited.
Trump seems to have agreed to back off in exchange for Russian help last year. As a result, the future of Syria is being largely determined without significant input from Washington, the world’s single superpower.

In related news, highly-classified Israeli intelligence was offhandedly revealed by Donald Trump to Russian officials earlier this year. Earlier this week we found out what it was.

The US President’s decision to spill the information during a meeting with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was described as having brought Israeli spies’ “worst fears” to life.

During Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Trump revealed the details of a covert Israeli operation that exposed ISIS plans to create bombs out of laptops and smuggle them aboard commercial airliners.

Israelis were horrified.

Earlier this month, the “dead” ISIS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi was spotted in the hotly contested Syrian town of Boukamel.

The Iraqi Media News Agency quoted an anonymous source in Iraqi News as saying: ‘In a yellow taxi, Baghdadi fled Iraq and headed to Syria.’

The question of whether al-Baghdadi is dead or alive has been a continuing source of mystery and confusion. Russia claimed in June that he had “likely been killed” in an airstrike just outside of Raqqa. But they offered no proof, and there are many questions about the relations peculiar to the relationships of the parties involved.

Russia had a good working relationship with Iraq under Saddam. Although it always repeatedly denied giving military or security assistance to the Hussein regime, the Russian government under Putin expressed intense disagreement with the U. S.-led war on Iraq.

In April of 2003, after the fall of Baghdad, documents were found in a Baghdad office of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police under Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. Those documents showed that a Moscow- based organization had been training Iraqi intelligence agents as recently as September of 2002.

In other words, Russia was training some of Saddam’s best generals and their secret police. We know it went on for several decades. They spent billions of dollars on it.

The leadership of the Islamic State of the Levant consists primarily of former Baathist leaders, Saddam’s generals all coalesced again without him, like a hydra that grew back tens of thousands strong.

Of the six individuals who have been at the helm of the terror group, at least three of them served in Saddam Hussein’s army. Another is dead, and the very top guy, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was supposedly killed by Russian airstrikes back in June.

Imagine our surprise, seeing him strolling around in Syria healthy as a horse, and releasing more hate-filled videos calling for more terrorism. Claims of his death appeared to have been just more Russian disinformation.

If al-Baghdadi is alive, then Russia was most likely lying last summer, which was predictable. Russia lies about everything, routinely and by way of self-defence, like the ink-cloud of a giant squid. 

But what might Russia hope to gain by claiming the death of al-Baghdadi? What might they hope to gain?

A large amount of Turkish effort has been placed into acquiring this oil. Gaining energy autonomy to avoid having to depend on Russia for fuel has long been a goal of Turkish foreign policy.
But in spite of these attempts to diversify their energy sources and become more self-reliant, Turkey still depends largely on Russia for its energy needs, as do many other countries in Europe. They still have to depend on the goodwill of Vladimir Putin for things to run smooth.
Fortune 500 rated Vladimir Putin as the fourth richest person in the world last year, but some believe he is far wealthier than that. Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder believes Putin’s fortune to be in excess of $200 billion. Either way, if he wants things to stay that way, he’s got to stay in control of Russia.
Oil is obviously very important to us, but to Russia it is everything. Oil is essentially all that Russia has. It controls a huge mass of the world’s strategic oil reserve, and it comprises Putin’s fortune, which is sizeable by any standard, regardless of his Fortune ranking.
This dependence on oil as a source of wealth and income is also the case for Turkey and its leader Tayyip Erdogan.
Under President Bill Clinton, the United States and the EU engaged with and attempted to include Turkey as part of their efforts to strengthen the liberal international order, and it worked. They’ve been an ally for decades. Their fortunes in the Middle East were always fundamentally tied to ours. The Turks and the Russians have been rivals since the days of the Ottoman Empire.
And here is where we reach the ominous part of the story, the focal point of the developing narrative.
In spite of all these decades worth of progress strengthening American interests in the region, a perplexing area of cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Trump seems to have arisen on Syria, with anti-EU undertones, and without American involvement.
Little by little, an outline begins to take shape. The way things looks from here, it’s a huge quid pro quo, in which Assad, Erdogan, Putin, and Trump came to an arrangement to simply leave alone Russia’s narrative about having killed al-Baghdadi.
For al-Baghdadi’s part, keeping the illusion alive would have given him months to regroup, lay low, and try to come up with something. In the meantime, there are those oil routes heading for Turkey, that the eyes of the world are not on. To all outward appearances, this is a strategic ceasefire if ever there was one.
 Assad gets to stay in power, and start seeing order restored to his country. Erdogan, who just survived a coup attempt last year, gets the sanctions applied by Russia for the fighter plane shot down in Turkish airspace in 2015 lifted and regains his ability to use Russia and the EU as a counterweight. Just last week, Erdogan and Putin met for four hours. Everybody’s happy- but all of them will soon be presented the bill.
Currently, Putin and his cronies are all smiles. They’re chopping up the spoils. And America was not invited. Trump seems to have agreed to back off in exchange for Russian help last year. As a result, the future of Syria is being largely determined without the world’s only superpower.
None of this could have happened without Putin, who will get the best that everyone has to offer. From Syria, a warm-water port in the Mediterranean Sea. This has been a dream of Russia’s for generations. From Turkey, restored good relations, and a subservient oil client. From Trump, an America weakened and thrown into chaos.
And from them all, Russia’s hold on the Crimea tacitly acknowledged, at the expense of ignored and pilfered Ukraine. Their criminal long game has become all too clear, and Trump is doing nothing. Please help us raise awareness.

The Penalties of Perjury- Mueller Closes In on Trump’s Inner Circle

It is getting toward the end of a dizzying week in American history.

We started out with the indictments that christened the name #MuellerMonday. For Paul Manafort and his henchman Rick Gates, the inevitable had happened. But the bigger news was 29 year old Trump campaign official George Papadopoulos, an unlikely piker who may soon bring down a president.

Young George, who reportedly was considering a run for office himself, has already accepted a guilty plea. Looks like he told on everybody.

 Papadopoulos communicated with several senior campaign officials about his outreach to the Russian government over a period of months. His emails were favorably noticed by senior staffers such as Paul Manafort and Trump’s nominee for head scientist of the Department of Agriculture Sam Clovis,
Trump is actually on the record in an interview with The Washington Post in March 2016, calling Papadopoulos an “excellent guy.” This is because Clovis handed him a piece of paper with Papadopoulos’ name on it.

Later on Monday, an act of savage and cowardly terrorism was carried out in New York City’s Lower Manhattan district on Tuesday. The suspect was an Uzbekistan national. He conducted a truck attack “to inflict maximum damage against civilians” in Manhattan, near the World Trade Center. It was the deadliest terrorist attack New York has seen since 9/11.

A note found in the truck claimed the attack was for ISIS.

We differ with Trump’s personality and policies in nearly every regard, but the fact remains that he is the one who’s got to manage this situation. We are hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Since Trump has chosen already to try and cash it in for an illusory political conquest, though, it isn’t looking good.
The Editorial Board of the Washington Post characterized this reaction as downright dispiriting. Millennial Democrats are inclined to agree.
On Wednesday Trump tweeted “The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.” He adds in a subsequent tweet: “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems.”
But earlier in the month, on October 1, multimillionaire Stephen Paddock shot and killed 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, while wounding more than six hundred others. It was the largest mass murder in modern American history.
It happened because someone with money can buy enough ordnance to level half the country if they’re left to reign unchecked. The outrage we’re seeing from Trump these last few days was completely lacking then. Nothing to gain from talking up a white terrorist.
Trump was repeatedly asked about the impact of the shooting on his administration’s legislative opening the door for possible future gun control measures. “We’re not going to talk about that today,” he responded. “We won’t talk about that.”
It’s popular to kick immigrants around. It’s hard to stand up to the NRA lobbyists who stuck him in office.
Chuck Schumer responded from the floor of the Senate, noting that after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush brought Mr. Schumer and Hillary Clinton, then the other Democratic senator from New York, to the White House to demonstrate national unity. Nobody cared about what party they were from after 9/11. We were united in our sorrow by the sacrifice of four thousand of our people.

President Trump, where is your leadership?” Mr. Schumer asked. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution — antiterrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

A different kind of distraction was offered up Thursday as well, a very sad one. It’s always sad, to see someone turn on their own with vicious lies and slander.
We would like to thank Donna Brazile for the years of service that she gave to the Democratic Party. We are saddened and shocked beyond words at her slanders, and at her betrayal. And yet, she will be missed.
The Brazile bone was thrown to get Democrats squabbling over last year, rather than focus on what’s going on today. This is a continuation of the Uranium One strategy from last week. It was done in order to divert attention from a number of other events taking place today, events with actual significance.
This is what they do when they need to deflect attention. They manage, in one way or the next, to push a button they know will cause internal strife among the left.
It’s like when they made a big show out of announcing that Jane Sanders was being investigated by the FBI for fraud relating to her tenure as president of Vermont’s Burlington College. It was unfair, and it was not new. It had been an ongoing story for months.
But they brought it back up when they found it convenient, and threw it at us like a bone among dogs in the hopes that we’d start in on each other. That’s what’s going on today. It’s an attempt at distraction, and today, they have got a lot to distract us from.
For one thing, Jeff Sessions changed his tune again on what he knew about the campaign and Russians. Our Attorney General- the highest law enforcement officer in the country- is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill.
It appears his candor was lacking, on the subject of Russia and the Trump campaign. During his previous testimony, he swore up and down that he knew nothing about any attempts on the part of Trump campaign officials to meet with the Russians or to set up meetings with the Russians.
The revelation that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year comes in direct contravention of that statement and opens the door on charges of perjury.
Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said that despite Sessions’ testimony before the panel earlier this year, “it turns out he was at this meeting with George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos proposed meeting with Putin and Trump. He didn’t disclose that to the committee.” That’s pretty cut and dry.
Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner has seen his fortunes falling as of late. A call on Tuesday with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon heard Trump laying blame for the expanding scandal surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference squarely on Kushner’s shoulders, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg told Vanity Fair.
“Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” said Nunberg. “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s f—ed.”

“Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg added.

Yet another of today’s torrential events involved billionaire Robert Mercer stepping down from his hedge fund and giving up his interest in Breitbart News, who he’s been bankrolling all this time. The ostensible reason for this, and maybe even the actual one, is that he doesn’t want to be called a racist anymore. It’s hurting him in his pockets. He is also cutting all ties with the repugnant Milo Yiannoupoulis.
There have been terrible things happening in America of every shape and size this past year. But Trump only cares about some of them. When the California wildfires ravaged wine country and ruined the lives of thousands, he gave a big smile, and offered us his “warmest respects”.
Puerto Rico was thrown under the bus completely. About the only help those Americans received, were the rolls of paper towels Trump threw to people lacking running water.
Florida and Texas, on the other hand, received all the help the federal government had to offer- from Obama-era FEMA holdovers, who did in fact largely save the day. Trump had not gotten around to firing them yet before the Congressional recess, and so the lives of many thousands were saved.
Not a day has gone by since Trump’s original travel ban, that hasn’t seen pandemonium breaking out somewhere. His pettiness and sloven has made this last year a time of great crisis, everywhere. The election was a year and three days ago. It feels like an eternity.
Trump has made it clear long ago where his priorities are. But somehow, knowing that never completely lessens the blow. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the current President of your country, or whether you voted for him, you expect to see him observe a certain decency. Good taste and kindness are not merely decorum. They bring honor to the highest office in the land. Trump doesn’t have any.
It’s a sad thought, to consider the impression he’s made on our children, the children of the millennial generation. When we were kids, we looked up to our presidents. What will our children have? All we can do is point to him as an abject example of everything we don’t want them to be.

Going forward, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

The APA has been conducting its Stress in America poll every year since 2007. The most recent provided an upsetting commentary on our collective state of mind. It found that 63 percent of Americans currently feel that the future of the country is a very significant source of stress in their lives.

59 percent of us said this is the “lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.”

People are in pain. They see confusion all around them. Economic challenges are getting worse. Disinformation and frustration have both taken a toll. We are going through it with everybody else because we are everybody else. However, it is precisely this shared sorrow that will allow us to make our voices heard.

We have a plan. We have specifics. We have continued to provide a sane and decent alternative to an increasingly messy ordeal. We will keep our noses to the grind and refuse to give in. And eventually, we will succeed.

Enough has happened today to keep analysts busy for years. What will happen next is at this point anyone’s guess. In the meantime, we stay tuned and stay focused. Things will come out all right, in the end. We’re all going to see to it.

Russia’s Zapad War Games- A Ukrainian Warning

Russian aggression is back on the front page.

The Russians have got tens of thousands of troops moving toward the Baltic as these words are placed on paper, under the legal pretext of “strategic command exercises”. They’re calling them the Zapad War Games. They shot some people with a rocket today, and inflicted three casualties, at these “games”. Image result for zapad war games

The whole project was totally unexpected, and done with no transparency. This met with worldwide condemnation, but as always, Putin just ignored it. 

This is all closely connected to what’s been going on over here since 2016. Donald Trump and his campaign connections with Russia have been carefully examined from the beginning of his presidency. From the Steele dossier to the confession of Donald Jr, evidence of collusion is ample between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Image result for steele dossier pee tape

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Tulsi Gabbard

Wikileaks managed to make a deal with a mole (most likely then-junior chairperson in the Democratic Party last year, Tulsi Gabbard) to attain leaked emails that caused the resignation of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz days before the convention. Then they used fake identities to disseminate propaganda to U.S. voters over social media sites like Facebook, which turned over all its advertising records on Russia to Robert Mueller’s team last week.

The problems we’ve been having with Russian hackers are not as new to other areas as they are to us. In fact, they’ve been going on for more than ten years. The trouble got started over an old war soldier, just like in Charlottesville. The Bronze Soldier attacks may be the first suspected state-backed cyber-assault on another nation, in this case Estonia

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Bronze Soldier of Tallinn

The Bronze Soldier of Tallinn was a statue of a Red Army soldier in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. It was viewed by Russians as a symbol of Soviet deliverance from Nazism. To many Estonians, however, it was an eyesore of Communist oppression, a miserable period that lasted more than fifty years. They decided to remove it from the center of town, and move it to a military cemetary on the outskirts. The Kremlin threatened trouble immediately, and they meant it. 

Little Estonia, for all it lacks in acreage, is a world leader in the field of internet freedoms. They are one of the most heavily wired nations in the world. For this reason, one can only imagine how disruptive and traumatic it was, when the website of Estonia’s largest newspaper was brought crashing to its knees, with unprecedented speed, under the weight of a wave of Internet traffic it couldn’t support. As with America’s 2016 election, there was no way to legally prove Russia was responsible, but everybody knew. Image result for digital security

One Estonian government official told the BBC that evidence suggested the attack “was orchestrated by the Kremlin, and malicious gangs then seized the opportunity to join in and do their own bit to attack Estonia”.

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Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

2007 marked the beginning of a new and troublesome tactic. For the hostility of nations to find its mode of expression virtually is new. It is a developing situation worldwide, but the bulk of it until last year had always taken place in Eastern Europe. In order to understand the context of this struggle, it is necessary first to examine Russia’s strained relationships with most of its satellite states, particularly Ukraine.

The Kremlin has always considered Ukraine to be both a rightful part of Russia’s empire, and an important territorial asset. It presents a strategic buffer zone between Russia and the powers of NATO. It allows them a highly profitable pipeline route to Europe, and it is home to one of Russia’s few warm-water ports. For all those reasons, Moscow has worked for generations to keep Ukraine in the position of a submissive smaller sibling. It was the largest of their satellite states, and the one it took most effort to control. A great deal of bad blood on both sides remains.

Oleksii Yasinsky is the head of a company called Information Systems Security Partners, the occupant of an unassuming building in Kiev. Under his leadership, they have been able to chronicle a timeline of intrusions by a whole galaxy of hacker groups, with names like Guccifer 2.0, Petya, and the most feared of all, Sandworm

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Sandworm

This organization,  which uses the nomenclature of Frank Herbert’s Dune as code names, has been the focus of Yasinsky’s interest since the first cyber- attack on Ukraine, a country that has been used as a test lab for new types of ways to wreak virtual havoc. In December of 2016, Yasinsky was watching the movie Snowden when his building lost power- along with the rest of town.

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Ukraine Cyber Command

The lights went out in areas all over Ukraine that night. The Russians managed to shut off huge sections of their power grids, using the Stuxnet virus- the world’s first cyber weapon. It was announced in early September that more than a hundred United States power grids have been infected in exactly the same way.

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United States Cyber Command

Ukraine, however, is not alone. Numerous cyber attacks in Europe, particularly among former Soviet satellites, have been blamed on Russian-linked groups, many of an extremely astonishing nature. The lines between physical and virtual reality have blurred. Our own United States Cyber Command must be equal to the task of managing this. The consequences of their failure would be catastrophic. 

The Syrian Civil War is another place where we have had to fight the Russians time and again. Contrary to the party line, we were not all over there to fight ISIS together. But everyone thought we were, for years, because of Russian disinformation. Most Americans just didn’t seem to care enough.

Russia has proven its ability to use automated systems to inflict real harm in the world, as in their attacks on the Estonian and Ukrainian power grids. They could hurt us very badly if they wanted to.  

In 2008, Georgia too found itself at war with Russia, and suffered similar abuse.

In 2015 France’s TV5Monde broadcaster was taken off air in the middle of a broadcast. Its systems were all but annihilated.

Later the same year, another Russian hacking group calling itself APT28 perpetuated a massive data hack, in Germany’s lower house of Parliament. 16 gigabytes of data were stolen. After that, Germany’s head of domestic intelligence began speaking of a “hybrid” Russian threat” to the September 2017 elections in which Angela Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office.

The list just kept on growing.

Nigel Farage, the United Kingdom Independence Party leader responsible for the Brexit agitation, was intimitely connected to both Putin and Julian Assange, the driving force of the Russian propaganda outlet Wikileaks. Brexit represented the greatest coup ever scored on the United States by Russia, until Donald Trump’s victory in November later that same year.

The month prior, another cyber attack, this time on Bulgaria in October 2016, was described by the country’s president as the “heaviest” and most “intense” to be conducted in south-eastern Europe.

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Macron blows whistle on Russian election hack

And shortly after Trump’s inauguration, the French presidential election between now-President Emmanuel Macron was hacked and tampered with as well, on behalf of the virulently anti- Semitic Marine Le Pen, whose entire campaign was financed openly by Putin.  

Cyber operations constitute a new situation for the nature and future of war. It is reflective of a growing worldwide trend among military strategists to consider cyberspace through the lens of the Clausewitzian spectrum of war, which is to consider it “the continuation of politics by other means.”

That newness is also why cyberspace constitutes so many new strategic difficulties, particularly as it is being deliberately used as a weapon of war by aggressive and imperialistic powers such as Russia. This state of affairs exerts a destabilizing effect on international security, and complicates attempts to work together.

Cyberspace has become a new sphere for great powers to carry out conflicts directly among each other (and any other power for that matter). Previously, their behavior was frozen at a certain level due to the strategic nuclear stalemate. There was a clear limit to how far great powers could go. Great care was always taken, to remain below the threshold of an armed attack and use of force. Instead, conflicts were carried out indirectly, through proxy wars in distant lands. 

However, virtual reality and the revival of the Cold War has given us a new type of proxy, one that brings us much closer to direct conflict with one another. Moscow believes there is a constant and unending  struggle within “information space”.

The manner in which they keep on pushing our buttons and getting away with is has empowered Putin tremendously. One is reminded of the way Hitler was ignored at first. In any case all this suggests that the Kremlin will continue to employ cyber in ways that U.S. decision makers are likely to view as offensive and escalatory in nature.

Moving forward, it’s likely this will have to get worse before it gets better. Our chance to catch it early passed us quietly by long ago.

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Merkel Concerned About Russian Cyber Attacks

2017 is almost over, but we’re not out of the water yet. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is up for reelection on the 24 of this month. In the age of Trump and his slovenly brand of incompetence, Merkel is the de facto leader of NATO, and therefore the most powerful leader in the world. Her reelection is all but guaranteed on a level field of play. It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that we can expect to see a great disruption next week, as Russia tries knocking her off her perch. 

Moving forward, it is necessary for millennial and all voters to understand that trying to make meaningful changes with Donald Trump in office and the Russians eroding our base all they can, will require fifty times the effort before we can even begin to hope they might succeed. We’re vulnerable right now.

Therefore, the first step is for us, the tech-savvy information generation, to start applying our skills toward finding ways to defend ourselves from these invasive and violating virtual infiltration techniques. We have got to protect ourselves, and we have got to learn to fight back. We need all the help we can get. Our futures depend on it.

The End of the Syrian Civil War- Russian Goals of Global Realignment.

The Syrian Civil War is winding down, and Bashar al-Assad is still running the showSaudi Arabia may be the latest country to give up on regime change in Syria and fall in line with Russia’s plans for the region. The dropping of a weapon called the “Father of All Bombs” on ISIS leaders in Deir ez-Zor in Syria might have played an intimidating role.

As the eyes of the world largely left the Middle East this year, Assad consolidated his position. Things like Brexit, North Korean nuclear testing, and the election of Donald Trump proved distracting to the West,

Throughout the conflict, Saudi Arabia has worked closely with the United States, giving backing to the anti-Assad rebels that have been trying to topple the dictator with our help since the 2011 Arab Spring protests began. But the situation has changed.  What was once unthinkable has all but happened. It is likely that sometime in the near future, Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson will be learning just exactly what a Leppo is.

Earlier this year, Donald Trump’s administration ended a military aid program for these Syrian rebels.

The motivations of Trump in doing this favor for Putin have raised questions of a possible quid pro quo. An exchange for the help Trump received in fighting dirty against Hillary Clinton from Wikileaks and other Kremlin propaganda outlets. They remain a large part of the reason for the Mueller investigation into Donald Trump’s connections and activities leading up to 2016. This investigation had former Chief of Staff, Reince “Fly-Killer” Priebus, lawyering up as of Sunday.

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.

Sending forth its forces against the enemies of Assad’s regime gave a boost to Putin’s foreign policy standingDamien Kingsbury, in The Drum on Thursday, speaks of Moscow  as “positioning itself as a critical actor in the future political shape of the region, just as France and Britain were in 1916 when they developed the Sykes-Picot Agreement.”

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.

The stated Russian purpose was to shorten the war, but they succeeded in doing just the opposite. Ironically, it was this very Russian- enabled savagery that sent yet more waves of refugees flooding into Turkey and Europe, possibly leading to the Paris attacks that year.

The Syrian Civil War was a test lab for Putin in many ways. It allowed him to test the resolve of the West, which he found wanting. It opened the possibility of an entirely different type of proxy war, one with a virtual battlefield. It provided one of his first opportunities to practice the use of disinformation directly against his enemies in NATO. The entire Russian narrative, that they were over there to lend a hand in a global anti-ISIS coalition was one enormous exercise in state- sanctioned lying, and they got away with it.

The Kremlin did legitimately view ISIS as a security concern. But Russian troops usually did little to engage with them, instead focusing their air campaign against the anti- Assad opposition groups that America had been financing during Obama’s tenure in office.

Russia’s anti-ISIS rhetoric served it well as a pretext to pursue its larger strategic objectives. They conjured an excuse, entered the fray, and used their military power toward the goal of preserving Assad’s control over Syria. Although President Obama showed understandable reticence at the idea of being drawn “into a proxy war between the United States and Russia,” he was not able to avoid it.

Shoring up Assad was a core Russian objective. Its purpose was to allow them to keep intact one of their most reliable regional allies. Russia planned to cement its foothold in the Middle East, while simultaneously expanding its influence through its partnership with Iran, and their network of regional proxies.

Backed by Russia, Assad has regained control of much of the country in the past two years. His continued presence atop the Syrian apex is looking more like a fait accompli all the time. And since the United States has done nothing to help them since Obama left office, long time enemies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been forced to start coming around to working with the Russians. There has been no alternative.

The nature of today’s interconnected society means all these issues impact not just the countries involved, but the entire world. And make no mistake- what is at stake here, is nothing less than the entire order of global alignment. Americans have enjoyed the view from atop it ever since the end of World War Two. Russia would like nothing better than ascending to the number one spot.

Putin is exerting pressure everywhere. His manifested ability to disrupt the electoral processes of Western powers has allowed him a leverage over us that the Soviet Union never came close to having. His aims of destabilizing his enemies have undoubtedly been realized.

The same disinformation machine that misled so many in Syria, has now interrupted our national harmony as well. We have proven unable to effectively respond to his maneuvers in the Middle East or Ukraine, since Trump refuses to do anything against Putin without being forced. His presidency has thrown our domestic affairs into complete turmoil, and that was Putin’s reason for giving him aid.

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.

Recently, Japan was forced to negotiate a “special system” for joint economic activity on the disputed Kuril Islands, a bone of contention for their countries for decades. This hardly seems coincidental. In August Russia flew nuclear-capable “Bear” bombers near Japan.  One U.S. official described the Russian bomber flight as “clearly meant to send a message.”

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.

Recently, Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone said that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was “Treating Donald Trump like a mushroom. Keeping him in the dark, and feeding him sh*t.

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.