Thursday, November 2, 2017

Last Call For The Rivers Of Brazile

Rivers of tears, it seems.  Former interim DNC head Donna Brazile's new tell-all book is previewed in Politico Magazine this week, and the accusations against former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Clinton campaign strategist Robby Mook are extremely ugly.

Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call. 
I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.

So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations. 
Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.
By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt. 
“What?” I screamed. “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.” 
That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance. 
If I didn’t know about this, I assumed that none of the other officers knew about it, either. That was just Debbie’s way. In my experience she didn’t come to the officers of the DNC for advice and counsel. She seemed to make decisions on her own and let us know at the last minute what she had decided, as she had done when she told us about the hacking only minutes before the Washington Post broke the news.

Brazile goes on to say that not only did Clinton campaign assume the DNC's debt and pay it off, but that Clinton strategist Robby Mook had reached an agreement with Debbie Wasserman Schultz that Clinton would be calling the shots in the party from then on.

“Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?” 
Gary said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse. 
That was the deal that Robby struck with Debbie,” he explained, referring to campaign manager Robby Mook. “It was to sustain the DNC. We sent the party nearly $20 million from September until the convention, and more to prepare for the election.”

It's not a pretty sight at all, although the fact that the Clinton campaign was paying off the DNC's debt was again broken by the Washington Post more than a year ago.  The Bernie folks long accused Clinton of rigging the party's committees to help Clinton, but the problem is joint fundraising agreements have been used by both parties for years.

It also means that the money Bernie did take from the DNC, well...80% came from Hillary.

Think about that.

The fact remains Bernie was crushed in the primaries, especially in the South and West Coast.  But I guarantee you that this is going to be used to deal more damage to the DNC and further rip it apart ahead of 2018.

It's shooting yourself in foot badly enough that you bleed out.

Reality though remains Trump has this country in a pit, and fighting over the DNC's finances isn't going to fix Trump at all.

Sure as hell will distract from it. And that's exactly what Brazile did.  She threw a pipe bomb in a china shop and the DNC just got blown to bits.  Where do Dems go in 2018?  I don't know, but they won't get help from the DNC.  How Perez and Ellison remain on the job after this mess, why would they want to?  Was this Brazile's plan all along, to just burn it all down in order to sell a damn book?

Unless Trump stumbles so badly the Dems win in spite of this mess (which can still definitely happen) 2018 might be a lost cause after this, and it's pissing me off.  For Brazile to do this days before the 2017 elections in Virginia and New Jersey is irresponsible as hell.

We'll see what happens, but this, as they say, is why Dems keep losing, and deserve to keep losing.

The Russians And Silly Conned Valley

Turns out the Russians who designed and paid for ads on Facebook that reached tens of millions of people in order to convince them to drop Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump knew how to manipulate American voters better than either of the campaigns that were running.

Lawmakers on Wednesday released a trove of ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook, providing the fullest picture yet of how foreign actors sought to promote Republican Donald Trump, denigrate Democrat Hillary Clinton and divide Americans over some of the nation’s most sensitive social issues.

The ads that emerged, a sampling of the 3,000 that Russians bought during the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath, demonstrated in words and images a striking ability to mimic American political discourse at its most fractious. The targeting information also showed a shrewd understanding of how best to use Facebook to find and influence voters most likely to respond to the pitches.

As a group, the ads made visceral appeals to voters concerned about illegal immigration, the declining economic fortunes of coal miners, gun rights, African American political activism, the rising prominence of Muslims in some U.S. communities and many other issues. Some of the ads, many of which were bought in Russian rubles, also explicitly called for people to attend political rallies amid a campaign season that already was among the most polarizing in recent U.S. history.

They were targeted to many types of Facebook users, including professed gun lovers, fans of Martin Luther King Jr., supporters of Trump, supporters of Clinton, residents of specific states, and Southerners who Facebook’s algorithms concluded were interested in “Dixie.”

One ad, from a phony group called Donald Trump America, touted a petition to remove Clinton from the presidential ballot, saying, “Disavow support for the Clinton political dynasty.”

Another ad, from a Russian-controlled group called Heart of Texas, announced a rally to take place May 21, 2016, under the banner of “Stop Islamization of Texas.” A separate Russian-controlled group, United Muslims of America, publicized a competing rally to “Save Islamic Knowledge” at the same place and time, prompting two groups to face off in competing demonstrations in Houston — a sign of how Russians hoped to turn divisions into open conflict.

This crossover of online influence to real-world consequences was among the issues raised in contentious Capitol Hill hearings Wednesday as lawmakers scolded attorneys for technology companies they said did not do enough to thwart Russian disinformation.

“I don’t think you get it,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose home state includes the headquarters for Facebook, Google and Twitter. “What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. We are not going to go away, gentlemen. And this is a very big deal.”

Facebook in particular knew just what buttons to push and who to push those buttons on, admitting this week to Congress that their Russian ads reached well over a hundred million people during the 2016 campaign.

An estimated 126 million Americans, roughly one-third of the nation’s population, received Russian-backed content on Facebook during the 2016 campaign, according to prepared testimony the company submitted Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by NBC News.

Underscoring how widely content on the social media platform can spread, Facebook says in the testimony that while some 29 million Americans directly received material from 80,000 posts by 120 fake Russian-backed pages in their own news feeds, those posts were “shared, liked and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation.”

And let's keep this in mind, this was a top-class Russian operation through both targeted ads and through fake posts with the express intent of electing Donald Trump.  It wasn't just Facebook, either.

Twitter also revealed Russian-backed entities played a larger role than previously disclosed. Two sources told NBC News Monday that the company found 36,746 automated accounts — or bots —that were linked to Russia between September 1 and November 15, 2016. The accounts tweeted 1.4 million times and were seen 288 million times.

According to prepared testimony, Twitter acting general counsel Sean Edgett plans to tell Congress these "Russian-linked, automated accounts constituted less than three quarters of a percent (0.74%) of the overall election-related tweets on Twitter at the time."

Twitter also found 2,752 accounts associated with the Russia-run Internet Research Agency, up from the 201 the company originally disclosed. The company has suspended all 2,752 accounts and is "proactively giving committee investigators the handles of these accounts."

Twitter and Facebook , along with Google's ad network, were so easy to use and manipulate for their purposes that it was literally criminal.  The reality is that US tech giants and social media aided and abetted the theft of a presidential election.

Now the question becomes how much of an active role did the Trump campaign play in knowingly spreading these fake messages.

Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn followed five Twitter accounts based out of the Russian-backed “troll factory” in St. Petersburg—and pushed their messages at least three times in the month before the 2016 election.

Over 2,750 troll accounts based out of the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency were made public by House investigators on Wednesday. The accounts, some of which had previously been identified by The Daily Beast as Russian-generated, were pulled from Twitter due to their ties to the troll factory over the past three months.

The Daily Beast had previously discovered Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale retweeted Ten_GOP several times in the month before the election.

And remember, the Russian operation wasn't just about ads, it was about active cyberwarfare and hacking of Democrats.  I

The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said.

They had the Trump Organization digitally compromised for years and set him up as their agent.

In 2013, a hacker (or hackers) apparently obtained access to the Trump Organization’s domain registration account and created at least 250 website subdomains that cybersecurity experts refer to as “shadow” subdomains. Each one of these shadow Trump subdomains pointed to a Russian IP address, meaning that they were hosted at these Russian addresses. (Every website domain is associated with one or more IP addresses. These addresses allow the internet to find the server that hosts the website. Authentic Trump Organization domains point to IP addresses that are hosted in the United States or countries where the company operates.) The creation of these shadow subdomains within the Trump Organization network was visible in the publicly available records of the company’s domains. 
Here is a list of a Trump Organization shadow subdomains.

The subdomains and their associated Russian IP addresses have repeatedly been linked to possible malware campaigns, having been flagged in well-known research databases as potentially associated with malware. The vast majority of the shadow subdomains remained active until this week, indicating that the Trump Organization had taken no steps to disable them. This suggests that the company for the past four years was unaware of the breach. Had the infiltration been caught by the Trump Organization, the firm should have immediately decommissioned the shadow subdomains, according to cybersecurity experts contacted by Mother Jones. 
Two weeks ago, a computer security expert, who wishes to remain unidentified, contacted Mother Jones and provided the list of the shadow Trump Organization subdomains. He explained what he believed had happened. Some hacker—or group—had gained access to the Trump Organization’s GoDaddy domain registration account. Like many companies, the Trump Organization has registered a long list of domain names, many of which it has never put to use. Some examples:,,,, and existence of these shadow subdomains suggests a possible security compromise within Trump’s business network that created the potential for unknown actors—using these Trump Organization subdomains—to launch attacks that could trick computer users anywhere into handing over sensitive information and unknowingly allow the attackers access to their computers and network. In fact, the IP addresses associated with the fake subdomains are linked to an IP address for at least one domain previously used by hackers to deploy malware known as an “exploit kit,” which can allow an attacker to gain a computer user’s passwords and logins or to take over another computer and gain access to the files within it.

The Russians didn't just hit "America".  They hit the Democrats, with the intent of helping Donald Trump win, and they helped Trump win because he was 100% compromised, if not willing, to help the Russians in return.


Never forget that.

Climate Of Theocracy

Scott Pruitt's EPA is following through on its plans to ban anyone taking EPA grant money (which would basically be most of the world's top climate scientists) from its major advisory committees.  Also they're justifying it by using a passage from the Bible.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday afternoon sweeping changesto who can advise the agency on its research and regulatory priorities, opening the door to more industry participation. 
Effective immediately, scientists who receive EPA funding cannot serve on the agency's three major advisory groups. Some Republican lawmakers have been pushing for similar changes to the agency's advisory boards for years. 
"We want to ensure that there’s integrity in the process and that the scientists that are advising us are doing so without any type of appearance of conflict of interest," EPA head Scott Pruitt said at a press conference announcing the directive. 
Pruitt used a story from the Book of Joshua to help explain the new policy. 
On the journey to the promised land, "Joshua says to the people of Israel: choose this day whom you are going to serve," Pruitt said. "This is sort of like the Joshua principle — that as it relates to grants from this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or chose the grant. But you can’t do both. That’s the fair and great thing to do." 
A large coalition of science organizations, science advocates, environmentalists, and politicians lined up in fierce opposition to the policy changes, arguing the rules not only disqualify top environmental and health researchers from advising but also favor scientists paid for by EPA-regulated companies. They also have pointed out that EPA has strict rules in place for disclosing any conflicts of interest. 
"Frankly, this directive is nuts," Al Teich of George Washington University wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News.

"There is an important role for citizen advisors who are not experts in a scientific field and who represent various constituencies on advisory committees," wrote Teich, a research professor of science, technology, and international affairs. "But they should complement, not replace the experts. Disqualifying the very people who know the most about a subject from serving as advisors makes no sense."

It makes all the sense in the world if you're trying to get rid of scientists leading the EPA and instead leave everything climate-related to CEOs, lawyers, and bureaucrats. who can then say "We don't believe your science is sound" on anything the Trump regime doesn't want to hear.  Sure, basically every other country on earth besides Syria is on board with doing something about climate, but not us.

And it's already too late, anyway.  It's only a question now of how damaging climate effects will be over the next century.
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