Saturday, December 10, 2016

CIA: Russians Hacked Election To Give Us The President They Wanted

This Washington Post story broke late last evening, reporting that the Russian government and its proxies hacked our election system with the deliberate goal of putting Donald Trump into power. The CIA reported this to leaders in Congress but the Republicans blocked any release of this information prior to the election. The Republicans opposed informing the public that the Russian government was helping them to win the election. There are multiple outrages here.

The Russians hacked our political system. Why?

To install someone in the White House who they could manipulate and control, someone who would not stand up to them, who would do what they told him to do.

The Republican leadership knew about the Russian spy agencies hacking our election well before the election but they prevented a bipartisan release of the information to the public. Why?

Two possible reasons. Because they welcomed the help of the Russian spy agencies to get their man into the White House. Or––since we now know the Russians didn’t only hack the Democratic Party but hacked the Republicans as well––perhaps the Russians blackmailed the Republican leadership into collaborating with this violation of our system. Compromising information is useful as leverage only if it is withheld. The Republicans either allowed this Russian intrusion into our election or collaborated with it. Either explanation amounts to treason.

SLATE reports on the Republicans preventing public disclosure of the Russian rigging of the election in their favor.

Retired CIA agent Robert Baer says that if this had happened in any other democracy in the world, if the intelligence agencies of an enemy power had hacked the outcome of a national election, they would re-hold the election.

CNN interview with retired CIA agent Robert Baer

We now know that the Russians hacked the Republican Party as well, but didn’t dish out the most embarrassing material bit by bit to damage the party’s candidate and its standing in the polls. Because they wanted the Republicans to win. They wanted Trump to win. Once he was in power they could use this information as leverage to control him and control our government.

We have no idea what financial or other kind of hold the Russians may have over Donald Trump because he has hidden his financial information. He owes many millions of dollars around the world. We don't know the extent to which he is vulnerable to foreign pressure.

We don’t know what kinds of damaging material the Russians hacked from the Republicans databases, but it is not hard to know why they didn’t release it.

They wanted the Republicans to win, and they likely have information that gives them power over the party that won the election, who they helped win the election. They didn’t release the information. It seems very possible, perhaps likely, they planned to use it for blackmail purposes. Once Trump reached the White House and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress this information would hold them hostage.

It becomes increasingly apparent that the Republican Party accepted the help of a foreign dictator to gain power. And once they had gained power the levers of that power would have been in the hands of the foreign dictator who assisted them. It is difficult to understand this any other way. The kindest judgment upon the Republican leaders and Donald Trump would be that they were fools or powerless to resist. If you believe they are not fools they must be willing collaborators, before and after the event.

The Daily Beast reports on the likelihood that the Russians blackmailed the Republican Party into going along with the Russian interference and keeping it from the American public.

Michael Tomasky’s trenchant analysis of this latest development

What do we call this?

Did the Republican leadership engage in treason? Did they collaborate with an enemy power to seize control of our political system? (In France, after the liberation, collaborators had their heads shaved and were marched through the streets.) During the American Revolution an ambitious general collaborated with the British (a far less sinister enemy than Putin's Russia) by handing them the keys to the fort at West Point. Down through American history anyone convicted of treason against this country became a "Benedict Arnold."

If the Republicans did their best to ignore what the Russians were doing to subvert our election, does that make them dupes? Did they guess that the crime would benefit them and simply let it unfold? Or were they certain that the Russian government was working for their benefit? Did they know. You become a criminal accomplice if you benefit from a crime you have allowed to happen. If that crime is a betrayal of your country you are a traitor. This part is not complicated.

The likeliest explanations for why the Republicans kept this secret suggest that they were complicit. The explanations for why the Russians worked to elect Trump suggest that both Trump and the Republican Party engaged in a criminal enterprise to subvert our democracy and to give a foreign enemy control of our government.

During the debates when Hillary Clinton suggested that Trump might be a puppet of the Russians, Trump's reply was both juvenile and very revealing. "Puppet!. Puppet! You're the puppet!" he said, like a child denying an accusation he knows he is guilty of.

The statistical anomalies revealed last month indicate that it wasn’t simply subversion of public opinion, but likely a careful hacking of key mechanics of the voting in key states.

Reported by The Independent newspaper in London.

One remedy offered by legal expert Lawrence Lessig and reported in The Independent suggests that since Hillary Clinton is now 2.83 million votes ahead of Trump in the final tally, a revote may not be necessary.

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Friday, December 09, 2016

"From Zero to Nixon in No Time Flat"

Stephen Colbert made that joke a few weeks ago and it’s only getting worse. (Was it ever funny?)

Nixon, for those of you not born in the early seventies, was infamous for his Enemies List which contained quite a few famous names, Paul Newman, Daniel Schorr and Congressman John Conyers among them. Who knew making salad dressing was so subversive.

Mother Jones is reporting that the incoming Trump administration is already creating a list of scientists to purge from the government. Their crime? Working with President Obama to slow and stop climate change.

New York Magazine is reporting that Trump has also been busy purging environmentalists from the Republican Party.

Bill Moyers reports that the Trump administration has already created an enemies list. What's the word I'm looking for? Yes: Nixonian.

Heather Cox Richardson, who wrote the article posted at Bill Moyers' website, is a well-respected Boston historian. Her special areas of study include Native Americans and the periods of American history from the Civil War through Reconstruction. We might assume that the Trump administration wants to scrub those histories clean to make sure no one is embarrassed by knowing about slavery or Jim Crow or the theft of a continent from the native tribes.

Who else might wind up on the “watch list”? Professors who do serious science instead of oil company “science”. Professors of economics who don’t worship unregulated capitalism. Labor historians. Also the millions of people who have spoken out about Donald J. Trump’s behavior and bigotry. It’ll be a very long list. We should make sure we are all on it.

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

How Many Generals Does It Have To Be Before We Call It A "Junta"?

The Atlantic has noticed "Such a lot of generals" in the new Trump administration. What does it mean?

The Washington Post has noticed the same. So many generals! Does it mean a more militarized regime?

There I go. I said "regime." Do we have regimes in this country? When we say "regime" we tend to mean tinpot countries with a faceless leadership wearing military uniforms.

SLATE is noticing lots of generals too.

Is Trump trying to make his presidency militarily unremovable? Make it “Coup-Proof”?

Or is this part of Trump’s own coup?

What does this mean? Is this a different America? Will Trump call himself Generalissimo?

Will Dear Leader Trump review parades of marching armies and tanks and nuclear missiles on trucks while flanked by generals with chests encrusted with medals, just like in Russia and North Korea?

Funny all of this is happening after two and a half million more people voted against him than voted for him. And after his campaign and his bullyboys suppressed the vote by millions more in key states.

Or maybe that is why he is generaling up like this.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Oil Exec With Close Ties To Putin Floated As Secretary Of State Candidate

It is understandable that President Putin wants a Secretary of State he is comfortable with.

It is his choice to make, as was the selection of our president.

From the notoriously left wing Wall Street Journal: Rex Tillerson, a Candidate for Secretary of State, Has Ties to Vladimir Putin/ Exxon Mobil CEO could redefine U.S. interests abroad

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder––The Disease's New Poster Boy Appears To Have Won The White House

The criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders––DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association) are used to diagnose this mental condition. They are listed at the Mayo Clinic website:

1. Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
2. Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
3. Exaggerating your achievements and talents
4. Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
5. Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
6. Requiring constant admiration
7. Having a sense of entitlement
8. Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
9. Taking advantage of others to get what you want
10. Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
11. Being envious of others and believing others envy you
12. Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Mayo's website goes on to say "Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others."

Extreme narcissism may cause an individual to inflate his or her own worth to the extent that other people's worth is degraded to zero.

It may cause you to believe your desires overrule and negate other people's wishes.

It may cause you to think that anyone who disagrees with you is evil and deserving of extreme vengeance to the end of time.

It may cause you to think the thoughts that pop into your head are pure genius. It may also cause you to think that the new idea that directly contradicts the brilliant idea you had five minutes ago means that your mind is a direct oracle from the Almighty capable of changing humanity's fundamental rules of right and wrong and true and untrue on a minute by minute basis. (Some of this description overlaps with key signs of the more severe forms of mania, so it might not be incorrect to call such an individual a "maniac.")

What's that? I believe we have a winner.

The man over on the far right, with the orange tan and the blond comb-over, the one sitting in the gold chair, is shouting "Bingo!"

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Monday, December 05, 2016

Trump And The Death Of Honest Information

George Monbiot from The Guardian discusses the ugly effect Trump might have on a trusting public. Trump’s closest advisors aren’t simply dishonest, they are leaders in the corporate disinformation system. Welcome to an era of propaganda enforced with government muscle.

Read it in the Guardian

This weekend’s shoot up in a family pizza restaurant in DC by a Trump vigilante shows how the Trump posse turns their bogus news stream into violent action

This BuzzFeed article demonstrates how the false news industry that helped elect Trump may also deliver an armed and gullible posse to wreak havoc where you live

An article published in The Nation 25 years ago predicted the advent of “post-truth” America

Read it in The Nation

Trump surrogate on NPR: “There’s no such thing as facts.”

The Atlantic explains what Trump's post-truth machine signifies for America

The same NPR interview discussed at Raw Story

Truth is becoming a scarce commodity in the Trump era.

CNN reports on how Trump plans to narrow access to the internet. Narrower access = more power to the dear leader.

Read it at CNN-Money

This Republican dislike of truth and facts is not new. It’s central to the Republican brand. Facts give them problems.

The New York Times reported on this same "we create our own reality" mindset in the George W. Bush administration. That false news strategy marched us into an unnecessary and catastrophic war.

Sarah Palin says that God intervened in this election. (She may be referring to her close neighbor Vladimir Putin)

The Independent, published in London, suspects Palin is a signal that America is losing its mind.

The editor of the Washington Post (Marty Baron, the hero who led the Boston Globe’s dogged exposure of priest child abuse) has some advice for journalists as we enter a new world where it’s dangerous to speak truth to power.

Read about Marty Baron's warning and advice at Vanity Fair

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Friday, December 02, 2016

GOP Climate Apocalypse

Scientific American reports on the urgent warnings our military leaders are sending about the dangers of climate change. The Republicans only listen to the military when they–the Republicans–want a war. When the military wants to avoid dangers they aren’t interested.

The story in Scientific American

The Guardian reports that Trump’s junta plans to cut out Nasa’s climate, oceanographic and atmospheric scientists. Listening to who instead? Soothsayers? The oddsmakers at Ladbrokes? Wizards in white pointed hoods?

The story reported in The Guardian

The arctic which, as every devoted fan of Christmas knows, is traditionally freezing cold this time of year, this year has chosen to be alarmingly warm. The 60s animated specials about Rudolph and Santa were not scientific predictions of an ideal future. When the arctic melts entirely, the oceans rise, the permafrost thaws releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere as well as long-frozen diseases and anthrax spores, the ocean currents change––whole crop regions rely on the reliable circulation of ocean currents and rainfall, not something we should mess with. Melted ice caps will tend to change the salt content of the oceans, possibly endangering the vast and complex ocean flora that produces the oxygen all human life depends on to live. Climate deniers are endangering all of us. For what? To prolong the fossil fuel profits of the companies that pay them.

The story reported by PBS's NOVA

Reported at SLATE

The Republicans in Congress are also completely hypnotized by the climate change denial industry and the fossil fuel companies that send them money. Endangering our country for money. When do we call that bribery and treason? The latest insanity: Congress obediently tweets misleading bogus news stories also produced by the fossil fuel PR machinery.

Reported by NBC News

From Bloomberg, a very useful debunker of all those climate change deniers who say human industry has nothing to do with it. A set of clear graphs says otherwise.

ThinkProgress: Trump talks climate policy with the NYTimes and they obediently repeat what he says as gospel. Unwise.

National Geographic reports on the link between climate change and extreme weather. No, Oklahoma, it isn’t just God’s will...

Fortune Magazine (that pinko communist rag) reports that solar and renewable jobs are outpacing fossil fuel jobs. (Until Trump jerks us back toward disaster.)

Steve Bannon, former Goldman Sachs banker, was also deeply involved in the highly publicized Biosphere experiment in Arizona. He was the guy who took the serious experiment and rigged it to suit his own preconceptions. But, to paraphrase an old saying “You can’t bribe Mother Nature."

Reported by Motherboard

I watch as the Republicans lead this dangerous lurch toward climate disaster and wonder how many of them are rubbing their hands with glee, imagining the imminent end of civilization that will cause Jesus to return. It might be a good time to ask them publicly if this is what they are aiming for. Are they hoping and actively working to cause global collapse and bring on the apocalypse? I thought Jesus told us to be good stewards of this earth. Some very bad, very irresponsible, very dangerous stewards are now in control of things.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Donald Trump Is Filling the Swamp With Alligators

Trump won millions of votes by promising to drain the swamp in Washington.

But Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston describes how Trump is not draining the swamp as promised but is enlarging it and filling it with larger alligators.

From the Daily Beast

Trump’s new Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, foreclosed on a 90 year-old woman’s home because she made a 27¢ error on her payment.

Reported by Politico

Mnuchin’s bank milked the last financial crisis for profit, reported in The Nation.

Science is in the hands of zealots who seek to corrupt it.

The Guardian reports that Trump and the Republican Congress are already finalizing plans to end climate research.

The Justice Department has been entrusted to a career bigot. NPR reports on Jeff Sessions' career spent ignoring racial injustice. "The KKK is OK, except for the pot smokers."

The Dept of Health and Human Services will be led by someone who pushes junk science and ideologies.

Reported at ScienceBlogs

The New Yorker's financial reporter John Cassidy explains how the Republicans' repeal of Obamacare will hit working people and poor people the hardest. Kicking Down while Kissing Up.

National Security advice will be coming from a fan of conspiracy theories who is eager for another world war.

Reported by the Washington Post

The environment will be in the hands of someone who has spent recent decades blowing smoke for the fossil fuel industry, turning scientific consensus on its head and pushing ideologically driven b.s and corporate non-science.

The fossil fuels/climate-change-denying career of Myron Ebell reported by the Washington Post

Myron Ebell's dangerous career reported in Scientific American

(In case you believe Climate Change worries are confined to the left wing fringes, the US Military has been sending urgent warnings about the dangers, as reported by The Guardian. Among the feared results will be massive surges in refugees. What is happening to Europe would begin happening here.)

It now appears, after haranguing Hillary Clinton for using unauthorized email (without any security breaches), Trump may appoint a man convicted of breaching security as his Sec of State. The Hill (Congress’s newspaper) reports that Petraeus will need to inform his probation officer before he accepts the position. An interesting start to what promises to be a corrupt administration.

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