The New York Times reported late Friday that federal investigators are said to have become so alarmed by Trump’s conduct after he fired former FBI director James Comey that they at once opened a probe into whether the orange infant in the White House has been secretly working with Russia, all along, for Putin himself.
According to sources considered reliable by that venerable newspaper, counterintelligence officials were assigned to the case.
Let’s talk about that word for a minute, counterintelligence. Google Dictionary gives an excellent working definition. It refers to activities designed to prevent or thwart spying, intelligence gathering, and sabotage by an enemy or other foreign entity. Therefore, counterintelligence agents are only assigned to cases serious enough to be considered a risk to national security.
In other words, this is earth-shaking beyond all belief for Donald Trump.
Russia is and has for much of our history been the chief global rival of America. For our president to be in the actual employ of their president is clearly a worst-case scenario. We’ve been saying this for years, of course.
Now the big boys are saying it too.
For a counterintelligence committee to be examining not only whether Trump’s actions were undermining national security, but also whether he was working at the behest of the Kremlin, is clearly of the most phenomenal importance.
On Rachel Maddow‘s Friday night television show, AM Joy Reid of MSNBC was standing in, and hosted Former Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi for an interview. He said that the FBI would only even consider a decision of this magnitude without having evidence of the most utterly compelling nature, something on the level of taped conversations and the like.
Trump has been screaming for years that the whole Russian collusion story is nothing but fake news, and his sheer vehemence gave him some early successes in getting people to stop using the word.
Collusion is back on the table to stay, after this.
Just last week Time tracked down the man Deripaska used to get Manafort to pay up. “He owed us a lot of money,” Victor Boyarkin told Time. “And he was offering ways to pay it back … I came down on him hard.”
As much as Manafort is a detestable character, what does it say about America, that Russians can come over here and push our people around like this with impugnity? This has to be stopped at once. It is our opinion that the Russian Mafia, the feared ROC, should be pored over and removed from its influence from every scrap of our fair nation. Not even the garbage should be left over for them- aluminum cans are worth billions! Just ask Oleg Deripaska.
Kilimnik, a shadowy and truant figure long believed to hold many pieces of this puzzle, is known by the nickname of Manafort’s Manafort. He is connected to Russian intelligence services like the GRU, which also hosted Fancy Bear and Guccifer 2.0, the hackers who got Julian Assange the hacked DNC emails that he dumped on us through Wikileaks.
The Wikileaks succeeded beyond their wildest imaginations.
Nevertheless, the Bernie Bots and Bros rioted in the streets of Philadelphia over minor written exchanges proving that Debbie Wassermann-Schultz and Bernie did not like each other. It was the biggest single coup of the Trump campaign’s whole summer, and also the night that Russiagate became something tangible.
The Russians were said to be overjoyed. The emails themselves were played up so much by Trump and his base that by the time they were released, it did not matter what was in them, and it turned out to be nothing to an extent that was simply huge.
The information pipeline that got all this done featured Manafort, his campaign deputy Rick Gates, and Kilimnik funneling many files full of Trump campaign information to bring back to Deripaska, and received many back in return. It was reciprocal and totally coordinated. Manafort knew what he was doing to America every last step of the way.
Deripaska’s not that much of a political guy, but he does have one big interest in giving Trump a hand. He is extremely close to Putin and relies on him to keep his personal fortune. All of Russia works and eats at Putin’s order; he has more control than Stalin did over there.
In the last analysis, Manafort was not chosen because of his consummate skill or charming personal characteristics. He was chosen because he was convenient, due to the money he owed for those Cayman Island hotels he burned up Deripaska’s friendship for. Many email exchanges between the two indicate Manafort’s frequent and pleading queries as to whether or not the two of them were “good”. He had that Boyarkin ogre ready to pick his bones, he was scared, and he’d been their guy so long by then that he felt there was no turning back.
So he made a devil’s bargain to sell out his country, in order to save his behind. That is the most rotten and cowardly choice that anyone can ever make. Manafort’s name will be reviled throughout all of human history, and as with the Benedict Arnolds and Vidkun Quislings of history, his name will be held up as an example of greed and cowardice to serve mankind’s final generations with a lesson that resounds with eternal importance.
Going forward, we must reexamine the entire concept of treason. We should view the Cold War as a conflict which never ended, but rather shifted forms and chosen new battlefields in the virtual realms of politics. In that scenario, Trump would be a traitor by every metric, and this is the most truthful narrative.
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.
One Millennial Democrats contributor said to another, A lot of this posturing is all because Putin is up for reelection. The response was, “Lol, what election? You mean that day that people go out in the streets and move around randomly in Russia?”
In other news, the GOP, as the majority party in the House of Representatives, has shut down their probe into the Russian interference into our election. Tom Rooney(R-Fla.) came out right away in condemnation of this, saying “We have lost all credibility”, but only now that it’s safe. They came in, hit their lick on the tax cut, and bounced.
Never vote for pure evil like Trump by abstaining. We must vote smart.
One of our contributors had a conversation with a self-proclaimed anarchist the other day.
“Oh, all governments are fascist. It’s all just levels of fascism, blah blah blah.”
That’s what you call a cop-out. It’s a way to get around taking sides because you’re afraid of the intensity people bring to the political table. If you are not capable of seeing the difference between the U.S. and Russia, it is because you have never really suffered.
The political fulcrum of America is swinging back left again, but it will not help if the youth of the country allow themselves to be hornswoggled. Particularly in 2016, a great many on the far left ended up walking down a path of smarmy arrogance without a clue as to what they were truly up against.
It would be nice if extremists on both sides of the aisle took a step back to really look at what they are doing. Realistically speaking, though, it’s only on the left that there’s any chance of this happening. It’s time to make a choice. There’s not going to be a free college Utopia. There will either be a democracy or a fascist theocracy.
A fascist theocracy is nothing but a form of chaos. It’s a gigantic step backward for mankind. It reduces us once again to tribalism, controlled by a Mafia-type structure of feudalism. And all feudalism is, is an endless war. Hence the meaning of the word “feud” to describe a long-running conflict without end.
It would essentially mean a return to the tribal State of Nature. It’s hard to understand why anyone would want that, but there it is.
At the end of the day, there’s no place like Switzerland. Your rights to neutrality will not be respected. The decision will get made for you. You can side with order, or you can side with chaos. The latter is a really bad idea.
New House and Senate ratings from CNN point the way to an excellent set of midterms for the Democratic Party.
That said- Beware complacency.
Those two words are so gigantic in this case, that they could be the whole article.
There’s a number of different factors at play in the political scene of America at this time. Some of them are in no way American, but most of them are.
One of the biggest is voter apathy.
Millennial readers, ask yourselves this: How many conversations have you had, with people our age about politics, in which you have heard somebody say: “Ah, all governments are fascist. There’s no difference between one or the other.” Or had a menu of talking points from Fox News or Infowars with them?
Many others act like they’re afraid to talk at all, either because they don’t know enough, or because they don’t care enough, or because people get so intense about it.
This is the state of things when a polarity this extreme and disparate exists between the people of the country.
People aren’t getting their information from the same places anymore. You can tell when you’ve been talking to someone deeply indoctrinated by Rush Limbaugh and the Breitbart band. You’ll immediately be confronted with a whole galaxy of half-truths, lies, and slanders.
Most of the time you won’t even know what they’re talking about, the stuff will be so out there. And by the time your smartphone has proved them wrong, they’ve already made fifty more specious claims. It becomes clear very quickly that they don’t have any interest in getting at the truth.
You can’t even talk to them anymore.
An understanding of this fundamental truth is where any realistic discussion of how to win the midterms must begin.
A great deal of time and money has been invested by those currently in power, seeing to it that those without it remain apathetic and confused regarding the process. Nor have they closed their wallets.
At a retreat this weekend, the group announced plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million in 2018- a 60 percent increase from its spending in 2016- to defend Trump administration policies that Charles and David Koch and their network overwhelmingly support- while distancing themselves from a man that is personally unfit to serve as president.
They want it both ways, and they figure with enough cash they can get it. Once the strategy gives them the power they are seeking, they figure it will all be worthwhile. If they can dominate and make a shell of the governmental apparatus, they can change things around all they like. Those changes will be catastrophic to every environment we live in.
We have to find a way to stop them and to do so we will need to surmount some difficult challenges.
Howmuch explains that “Some taxpayers would definitely benefit from Trump’s tax reform — especially those at the higher end of the income scale. There are others, however, who would see their tax rates go up. Especially those on lower incomes.”
This is important, because the tax plan is the reason the GOP has been polling better recently. Their strategy going forward will be to beat that drum as hard as they can. It’s the only legislative accomplishment they’ve got.
“I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” he said.
“But,” he added, “I am confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election — that we’ll push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”
What a joke.
Later the same day as those comments were made, the Trump administration announced that it will not impose the new Russian sanctions. And the other Republicans are just as bad. All of them are complicit in the biggest treason of all time.
Aside from all that, there’s the usual electoral stuff to consider. The House, in which Democrats need a 24-seat pickup to win the majority, looks very favourable. And ever since the stunning victory of Alabama’s Doug Jones, a plausible path to control of the Senate has arisen.
If the Blue Wave is indeed going to sweep over this country in the midterm elections, we are going to have to work very hard, because nobody is going to do it for us. It can and will happen because we will be here to fight for it tooth and nail.
Going forward, the key is to find out which races are the most competitive, target them, and put our resources into fighting for them. We are actively asking our readers for help on this. Anything you’ve got that might be useful, please feel free to send it in. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And it is going to take us all.
In June, Chris Ruddy, a close Trump friend and Mar-a-Lago member, said after a visit to the White House that he’d overheard a discussion about the president considering firing Mueller.
Ultimately he decided not to go through with it, after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit instead of carrying out the order.
That seems like a pretty thin line of defence against something of the same type actually happening in the future.
This news is very big. It means that Trump drove us up to the brink of a constitutional crisis and took a good long think about driving us right over the edge.
The pretext he’d planned to use was that Mueller had once been a member of his golf club who quit over an argument over fees.
The kind of ridiculous insanity displayed by that line of reasoning has been the hallmark of Trump’s time in office. It’s that kind of thinking that’s got him going around poking at the North Koreans. He does not seem to grasp the idea of consequences. To Trump, regard for the law or the social contract is something for poor people and losers. But while he will not be around much longer to suffer for these decisions, the rest of us will.
In America, we have always had the time to stop and take a look at what we want our futures to look like, and how we want our lives to go. We choose a path, and we stick to it as well as we are able.
If things keep on as they have been, that is going to go away forever. To millennials, who must soon adapt to the post-Trump America, this is of the utmost concern.
This is the way that democracy dies. People stop caring about it. They cease to understand why it is valuable. And by the time they wake up to the fact, it is often too late.
Plato observed that political regimes follow a predictable evolutionary course, from oligarchy to democracy to tyranny.
Oligarchies give way to democracies when the would-be elite classes become decadent and develop interests apart from those they rule.
Democracies give way to tyrannies when mob passion overwhelms political wisdom and a populist autocrat seizes the masses.
The one constant is that the tyrant never starts out looking like a tyrant. On the contrary, in a democracy, the tyrant most commonly arises in the guise of the people’s champion. To this man, every trust is given. He’s the one man who can make everything whole again.
We all know who this reminds us of.
With Trump, we have a glimpse of what this sort of evolution looks like: A vulgar right-wing populism has emerged out of a maelstrom of anti-establishment hysteria from both sides of the political spectrum. Trump has been trying to play the part of a strongman fascist, right here in America. He views Mueller as a threat and wants him gone.
He began to argue for Mueller’s firing just days after his appointment to investigate the president’s 2016 campaign for collusion, the source said.
The revelation comes right as Mueller’s investigation appears to have intensified. Members of his staff in December finished an initial round of interviews with all of Trump’s senior White House staff.
Vast numbers of Americans have already made preparations to protest if Trump’s firing of Mueller becomes reality, a reaction similar to the public response after Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. On that infamous evening, Nixon ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. It ultimately led to his impeachment, but not before doing much to complete the ideological cleaving of America.
“Within hours of executing this Saturday Night Massacre, a firestorm of public protest erupted that led to the appointment of a new special prosecutor, the subpoenaing of dozens of additional damning tapes, the drafting of impeachment resolutions … and the ultimate unravelling of the Nixon Presidency.”
After the Saturday Night Massacre, the percentage of Americans who believed that Nixon should resign jumped from 19% to 38%, and reached 57% within six months. These kinds of low numbers are also reminiscent of Trump; it would be interesting to see how many of us currently think Trump should resign.
There’s a very real chance that if Trump pulls this he will get away with it because people cannot possibly be more disgusted with him than they already are. His base would cheer him on.
We also can’t be lulled into believing that this Congress will have the same sort of stomach and decency as the one that prepared to oust Nixon. Democrats hold neither house. And these Republicans have acted without conscience at every vote. There is not a sound reason to trust them.
Going forward, we will need to keep the closest possible eye on this and sound the alarm every way we can. Trump will do this if he thinks it will save him.
And besides. Nothing screams out the necessity for a blood-feud like golfing fees.
I find myself physically shaking my head as I think about 2017.
What can we say about it that has not been said before? Obscenities? Pleas to God? Somehow, words run dry.
Since the 20th of last year, we have been beset on all sides, as if a dam had burst its floodgates. Back then, I felt like a croaking soothsayer in a Shakespeare play, shouting into the wind.
Above all, defeat was stifling. It left us with little to do except sit around in groups and think tanks, trying to figure out where it all had gone so wrong. And by March, many brave warriors from the election cycle were sick of the whole debacle. Extended trench warfare is a terrible thing psychologically.
We lost people here and there in trickles. It was hard to see them go, but it was awesome to watch a hardcore form until only the most dedicated remained. We cleaned up the Groups and we started to tighten bonds. Our foxholes we dug deep, and our trenches we shored up well. We slowly built the infrastructure we will need to build this movement. And now, we’re seeing those people trickling back.
It was around April or May that the anti- Democrat cyber-invasions started on Facebook. When you get fifty, sixty new members requests a day, in a Facebook Group that’s got six hundred members, it makes you start to wonder. And when you see the same thing happening to every single group in your whole network, you know for sure. We’ve passed the point of thinking it might just be paranoia.
The victory of Jones has given us Democrats a plausible path to taking control of the Senate again next November. It did not exist before then. That combined with #TheBlueWave that started building this November when we won in Virginia and New Jersey has given us a very real momentum. Our job as activists is to help that momentum grow in every way we can.
The key now is to find new ways to tie ourselves together. The stronger our bonds are, the firmer our solidarity. People stay true to their convictions when they can still draw strength from those who share them. It’s when they cut us off and make us feel small, that people start to shake loose from the coalition. But we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve got a no-man-left-behind policy, and we are not accepting any casualties.
The clock has turned, and we have entered 2018. Very soon now, we will be coming out of the trenches, and rushing to the battlefield with everything we’ve got.
As we go forward into the New Year, we have got to assume it’s going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse. The first obstacle is going to be fending off more than four hundred primary challenges from the so-called Justice Democrats, people who ought to be our natural allies, at a time when every dollar is needed to take the Congress back from the Republicans.
It’s unbelievable and it doesn’t make sense unless you assume their intent is to hurt loyal Democrats as badly as they can. But nevertheless, that is our situation. We must make the best of it.
Our plan is simple. We intend to take back our own ideas from the radicals who have usurped them. We will meet our opposition on every battlefield we can find.
This will be a historic year for the Democratic Party, no matter what. This will go down in the books as the year we rallied, came together, and cleaned up our country’s backyard.
The path ahead is finally clear. We will simply make a New Year’s resolution. We will keep the faith and work as we have never worked before. Next week, the whole circus starts up again in earnest.
This is likely to be a midterm year like no other in history. It’s going to be a mess, and it will take every bit of us all to get it done, but it is possible. Momentum and midterm tradition both favour us. Happy New Year, fellow Democrats. We’ve survived the first year of Donald Trump. We’ve earned it.