Making Sense of Barr, Rosenstein, and Mueller

Donald Trump and his campaign will not be charged with conspiracy to collude with Russia to interfere in our 2016 Election. While the Mueller report makes no final recommendation on charging Trump with obstructing justice, Attorney General Barr will not charge him. Mueller and the Department of Justice have found that Russia did interfere in our election.

Those are the official legal findings as the Mueller investigation ends.

In pure legal terms, Mueller does not believe there was a legal conspiracy between Trump or his campaign, defined as a two-sided agreement, to interfere in our last election. He is not saying Russia didn’t interfere at all. He is rather saying the Trump campaign and candidate weren’t a part of that interference. This may seem odd, since Don Jr. met with Russians about Hillary dirt, and Paul Manafort shared polling data with Russians. Mueller seems to be saying neither had any actual part in the Russian interference though. Perhaps because they were inept, or perhaps because Russia never wanted their help, but they seem to be but a footnote in what he alleges happened.

There is the question of obstruction, which remains more murky and incomplete than it may seem right now. Mueller did not charge Donald Trump or exonerate him on this question, in part because Trump used legitimate Presidential powers to seemingly stonewall the investigation, as well as vague and not-so-vague attacks to intimidate witnesses. With the question left to Barr, who is both a believer in executive power and an appointee of the President. He was never going to charge him, if left with an open question. That’s not the end of the story though.

I tend to believe in and accept Bob Mueller’s findings. With that said, there are still some important questions. Why did Trump associates keep lying about Russia? Did Russian interference determine the outcome in 2016? Did finding out about Russian interference later change Trump’s behavior or policies towards Russia? These aren’t all Mueller’s questions to answer, but they still remain today.

A lot of people on the left seem despondent, and even willing to engage in crazy conspiracy theories over this. It’s important to understand that those conspiracy theories aren’t grounded in any reality. After indicting 37 people, Bob Mueller is certainly not going to cover for anyone. Rod Rosenstein put him in place and supervised him, and doesn’t seem to be a figure who would cover for the Administration. While there are questions about Attorney General Barr, it’s worth noting the obvious here- Congress can subpoena all of these men. Mueller can talk about his report. Barr won’t be afforded cover to lie to Congress. Neither would Rosenstein. The room for anybody to be lying right now is non-existent. The potential exposure is too great.

Which all leads back to where this began- Mueller was never going to indict Trump, nor would Trump’s Department of Justice allow it. The only body with legal oversight of the President’s activities is the Congress. The House Judiciary Committee should call all of these men in to testify about their findings. Mueller can tell us what he found in the first person. I suspect the real question here will be on the judgment of Mueller to not recommend either way on obstruction of justice, and of Barr to say he will not charge the President for it. If the House reaches a different conclusion, after hearing the evidence, then they should act. Even if crimes were found, that committee would have been charged with deciding this then.

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One Month of Christmas, Day 10

Happy December 4th, 2018. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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R.I.P. Mr. President

So last night I went to the U.S. Capitol and paid my respects to President George H.W. Bush in the Capitol rotunda. It took me about 90 minutes to get through the line, and I spent a few minutes there at the casket, then moved along. It was the quietist I’ve ever heard the Capitol.

When I was five, the 1988 Election captivated my mind. I obviously knew nothing about it yet, but it was interesting to me. It’s weird to bury powerful people from my childhood, as it does really mark the passage of time.

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Don’t Lock Him Up?

Apparently Robert Mueller doesn’t want to lock up Michael Flynn, because he cooperated fully and he served the nation in uniform. He probably gave Mueller some great information. All the redactions suggest some juicy stuff is in there.

Luckily for Michael Flynn, Robert Mueller is a better man than he is. While he could have made an example of Flynn, he chose not to. He didn’t lead an arena in chanting to lock Flynn up. He allowed him due process. He treated him humanely. It was the right thing to do.

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Tonight’s a light night for writing. I’ll be back at it more tomorrow.

One Month of Christmas, Day 5

Good day, today is Thursday, November 29th, 2018. It’s really windy out. Despite my rant yesterday about the Stones’ prices, my dad bought up a few seats for us today. My hypocrisy with things I want knows no end, I guess. On to today’s thoughts…

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Where the Action Will be, 2019 Governing

What will happen the next two years in government? The most common answer is nothing. Congress is divided, the nation is divided, the states are divided. Yet, in the past two days, I’ve sung a different tune to two PA State Reps I’ve advised in the past.

One is a newer representative (not a freshman), who asked me what committees she should ask for. I told her almost instantly “transportation.” I told her the only thing coming out of Washington the next two years is an infrastructure bill. When that money hits state capitols, you’ll want to be helping craft the state’s bill.

The other is a more senior state rep, who will be Democratic Chairman at Agriculture. My advice? Stay there. Trump will desperately want to help farmers across the Rust Belt heading into his re-election. The U.S. House Agriculture chairman represents probably the reddest Democratic seat in the country, and makes his political bones by being very engaged with the agriculture community. I think they may be sending some money to the states.

Just a hunch, though.

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The 30 for 30 Bobby Knight Special was Wow

I just watched the “30 for 30” on Bobby Knight and was absolutely stuck on it. It was incredibly well done, and paints a picture of an unlikable Bobby Knight. What an awful guy.

It was also a super sad story. Neil Reed was tortured by his experience at Indiana. He finally had escaped the shadow of his time with the Hoosiers, had happiness, and then he died. There was no happy ending.

The business of college sports was once again on trial. Like Ohio State and Michigan State’s recent problems, or Penn State and Baylor’s past problems, it’s clear that money causes questionable decision making. The NCAA never looks good when we view these sagas.

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Cohen Blows the Lid on Trump-Russia Connection

There is no question if Russia tried to help Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, only whether or not he and his associates knew. I’ve long since believed they did, but I had mostly assumed Donald Trump himself was largely shielded from that. I never thought he himself would get hit.

Today I’m not sure. Now we’re getting into connecting not only Trump’s campaign to Russia, we’re also connecting Trump’s company and finances to Russia. This is new territory for this case. Perhaps this was more than just an operation by Russia to influence an election, but also to control a foreign asset. If that is so, this is a new chapter, and not a good one.

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Back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 3

Good day, today is Tuesday, November 27th, 2018. Christmas is now 28 days away. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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Paul Manafort? #LockHimUp

Paul Manafort is going to prison. That was true when he was found guilty in his first trial. That was more true when he plead guilty before his second trial. Now that he lied to prosecutors? Lock.Him.Up.

There seems to be a convergence of events that is entirely circumstantial, but you can’t turn away from. First, the revelations that Manafort both violated his plea deal, AND that he had a secret meeting with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, before the Wikileaks attacks on the Clinton Campaign. Second, Jerome Corsi’s bizarre rantings about rejecting a plea deal for perjury- which both seems to be the least of his crimes, and not the crime he’s describing. Third, Donald Trump just submitted his written answers to Mueller’s questions.

The only thing that makes clear sense to me is that Bob Mueller is trying to establish a back channel between the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and Russia. Manafort probably wasn’t totally forthcoming about something related, Mueller had the goods on it, and the deal fell apart. Manafort is pretty much screwed. This isn’t great for Mueller either, as he loses a star witness. Things are at least beginning to become clear though.

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Goliath is Back, and Goliath is the Phillies?

As I write this, Twitter is buzzing with news that Patrick Corbin is at Citizens Bank Park. The elite left-handed pitcher on the market seems to be high on the Phillies wish list, along with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, every major free agent, and every major trade candidate.

The Phillies are a big market team, with a big market TV deal. In fact, they’re the biggest market with just one team. They have a low payroll and young team. While 80-82 isn’t a great season, it’s good enough to now buy your way back into the playoffs. They have plenty of prospects to work with, one of the richest owners in sports (John Middleton), and a fan base that can fill the seats in a hurry.

The expectations for the Phillies this off-season are high, but not beyond their abilities as a franchise. I’m obviously most interested in getting Bryce Harper, but Machado, Corbin, Kimbrel, and major trade targets are all fine too. I’m just ready to watch a major superstar hit upper deck homers to right again, like the good ole’ days. The possibilities seem endless, and so does John Middleton’s desire to win. Goliath is back in the NL East.

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Make Gritty the new Flyers GM

Here’s some real talk- the Flyers have been a directionless, “good enough” to make a profit franchise for a long time. Here’s some other tough talk- over that long time, the Flyers keep putting ex-players in charge of the team. They haven’t done so hot though. It’s been 40 years since the team won a Stanley Cup. It’s been almost a decade since they blew up a team that lost in the Stanley Cup finals. The team is perpetually disappointing. The most successful thing they’ve done is make Gritty their mascot.

So, I put in the title here “Make Gritty the new Flyers GM.” I’m not really suggesting that, but I guess I am if they’re really going to let Paul Holmgren call the shots in the organization. Holmgren, the ex-GM that failed in his previous role, was rewarded for losing by being promoted to the Team President. If this is the kind of decision making the Flyers do here again, why not let an orange mascot run the operation?

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Democrats Should Stop Fearing White Voters

Over the weekend, I was watching Roland Martin on MSNBC, and he said something profound- Democrats need to stop fearing white voters. His point wasn’t to ignore them, it was to actually campaign at them. His point was pretty simple- what are they getting for voting for their guns, or against immigrants, or any other social issues? Campaign to them on health care, on education, on wages- because these issues apply to them. Will Democrats win white voters? I don’t know, but it’s unlikely. Will they do better? Most likely. This doesn’t mean stop campaigning to the Democratic base, or stop talking about civil rights. It means walk and chew gum.

I do know this- this will work far faster than waiting for demographic changes to get us to victory.

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My Favorite Christmas Specials?

  1. Rudolph
  2. The Grinch
  3. California Raisin
  4. Frosty

I basically make my picks based on the music. You can’t hate.

For the Republic…

I never thought Paul Manafort would flip, but he did this morning. He plead guilty in Washington and agreed to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. For Mueller to allow this, he must both have had Manafort dead-to-rights, and felt he had useful information to the prosecution. Manafort was already guilty on eight counts in Virginia and facing a long prison sentence. Mueller didn’t need this deal as bad as Manafort.

I’m still very skeptical of the Mueller probe getting Donald Trump. He’s going to be hard to impeach and remove, there’s no good reason for Republicans to go along, politically, as long as their base loves Trump unconditionally. They probably will indict him and try him after his Presidency, but there’s no guarantees of a conviction. Today certainly moves the ball forward. Manafort was the head man of a campaign that took aid from Russia. I think Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner should be terrified. Manafort can probably put them at the middle of it. If Mueller can convict them, the Republicans in Congress *might* start pushing Trump to get out of the way and let Pence govern.

It is important that we don’t lose sight of the bigger issue here though, which is not Donald Trump himself. The problem of Russian meddling and a fractured society that can fall victim to their misinformation is the issue. The gulf between the two sides allowed one side to fall victim to a con-man and Kremlin stooges, and the other side could fall victim too, if other stooges re-affirm what they want to hear.

I’m glad to see Manafort flip. He deserves jail, and the people he is exposing deserve this fate too. Hopefully this investigation will expose the traitors among us. Even if it does though, our civil society needs work.

Sinatra and the Kennedys, Tiger Woods Divorce, and the Trump-Putin Drama

One should not assume another person’s guilt based on indirect evidence, however one should also not neglect behavior that clear-as-day suggests something is happening. Not knowing what Robert Mueller knows, I can’t tell you if Donald Trump knowingly took material support from Russia during the 2016 election. What I do know is that his behavior does not suggest innocence. His behavior suggests that there is more to his relationship with Vladimir Putin than is clear to us.

We should start by at least acknowledging the possibility that Trump and Putin’s relationship is based on shared values and goals. Putin is the kind of “strong-man” dictator Trump tends to respect. Both men espouse very nationalistic world views and policies. Neither has much use for NATO, the G-7, UN, or any other global-view groups. Both men view the Western order of the world with disdain. That may be all there is to this. Evidence just suggests otherwise.

Trump’s performance in the Helsinki Summit with Putin suggests there is more to it. Given that Russian interference on Trump’s behalf is common knowledge to all who accept it, and that we know with near certainty that Donald Trump has accepted loans from banks with Russian ties, there really shouldn’t be much to hide. Trump’s base has heard this stuff at some point along the line, or just refused to, and they don’t care. Trump’s continual submissive deference to Putin, and his refusal to show his financial statements, suggests more is there than meets the eye.

When nothing more is present beyond rumor and innuendo, Presidential history suggests that Administrations don’t proceed as though they have guilt to hide. Perhaps the most famous example is the Kennedy Administration’s posture towards the mafia. Political legend has it that the Kennedys sent close friend Frank Sinatra to meet with Chicago mafia boss Sam Giancana to secure his support in winning Illinois over Richard Nixon. Giancana seems to have delivered on his end of the deal, as JFK narrowly won that state in 1960. We have no way of knowing today if Giancana and the Kennedys has a deal in place at that time, but it was a well known rumor, even then. How did the Kennedy Administration treat the mafia once in office? Attorney General Bobby Kennedy prosecuted them across the country with no fear at all. If the rumors about Giancana’s help were real, they clearly didn’t scare the Kennedys. There just wasn’t anything more lurking there to scare them.

If you have nothing to hide, you don’t hide stuff. Trump’s behavior towards Putin and Russia don’t resemble RFK with the mafia at all. What does Trump’s actions resemble? The best pop culture example that stands out for me is Tiger Woods during his divorce proceedings. It was well known publicly in the press that Woods’ ex-wife Elin Nordegren left him over the golfer’s serial infidelity. Woods infidelity was not a secret at the point he gave her a $100 million divorce settlement. Nordegren came from a well-to-do family and didn’t need his money. Woods still gave her a settlement rumored to be ten times as large as their pre-nuptial agreement specified, in exchange for her promise of silence about their marriage. Why would Woods give away so much money for silence? Clearly because there was more to the situation than we could see.

Even if Russia did help Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election, that doesn’t mean Trump himself committed a crime. He’s at very little risk of being removed from office, or being prosecuted, despite the clear bad behavior of others in his orbit. There’s no really good reason that Trump doesn’t behave like JFK and his administration did towards the mafia after the 1960 election- if we truly already have heard the worst of it. Trump is paying no political price for the widely reported Russian interference on his behalf. He’s unlikely to ever pay a legal price either. The only reason I can come up with for his behavior in Helsinki is that like Tiger Woods in his divorce, Trump has more to hide in his relationship with Russia.

I would suggest we don’t sensationalize this with talk of prostitutes and “pee tapes”- would that shock us? It is far more likely that Donald Trump’s fear of Russia stems from his financial entanglements, which may reveal he’s not actually that rich, or worse yet, crimes he committed prior to entering the White House. No matter what Trump’s hidden secret is, he seems intent to do whatever he has to in order to keep the Kremlin happy. He’s clearly compromised, and fearful of what they could do to him.

That should scare you a lot more than the thought of Russian escorts urinating on a rich American businessman.

Some Friday Thoughts

A bunch of random stuff.

  1. #LABron? LOL. LeBron James will be a free agent in under 48 hours. Many people seem to think he’s going to the Lakers. He may want to live there more, in which case he’s probably going. If it’s a basketball decision though, he’d be foolish to go there. Right now, they have very little of value. If they trade for Kawhi Leonard, they’ll trade it all. Even if Kawhi and LeBron both get there, Golden State will beat them. I know the media wants the Lakers to matter again, but LeBron should let that mess of a team just die.
  2. Putin is going to play Donald Trump. If you’re not terrified of their impending summit, you should be. Trump is almost certainly going to end up giving the far more cerebral Putin something of value. Like Crimea.
  3. Anthony Kennedy was a rotten SCOTUS Justice. I know it’s sad he retired, and his replacement will probably be worse, but Kennedy was an awful judge. He just upheld the Trump travel ban, gutted union rights, and hurt women’s health care in the span of a week by voting just like Gorsuch and Thomas. He voted for Citizens United. He voted to make George W. Bush the President. Cry me a river, I have little good to say. Besides, he’s retiring to let Trump pick his replacement- because that’s what he wanted.
  4. Wtf World Cup?!? Germany, out. Italy, not there. USA, not there. Why would I care? Worse yet, Senegal got eliminated because of yellow cards. Go Mexico, I guess, but I’m struggling.
  5. The Phillies and Rangers should work out a blockbuster trade. As I stated before, the Rangers have some players who make sense in Philadelphia. Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, and Adrian Beltre would make the Phillies serious contenders- together. Matt Klentak can make it happen- and he should.
  6. The Democrats are probably going to lose Senate seats in 2018. The U.S. Senate race in Florida is polling all over the place, with both Senator Nelson and Governor Scott leading different polls. Democrats are in very difficult defense races in West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, and Missouri. There are several other races, namely Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, that could go south on them. Meanwhile, they have a shot to pick up Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas. The odds aren’t great of Democrats picking up two Senate seats, and the majority. They may be as unlikely to hold all 49 they have now, too.
  7. Roe v. Wade is probably dead, but that’s not all. So the bad news is that Roe v. Wade will probably die at the hands of Donald Trump’s next SCOTUS pick over the coming few years. The awful news is that this will probably motivate Republicans to come out and vote this year to support their President. The worst news? Roe v. Wade may look like the top of the iceberg as issues of executive power, LGBT rights, election law, and issues Kennedy gave us the fifth vote over reach the court.
  8. Rising interest rates and cost-of-living issues are the top political issues no one is talking about right now. The cost of living has been rising faster than wages for decades, but that’s not news. The news is we’re in one of those periods right now. The cost of borrowing money is starting to rise. The cost of essential goods like gas is rising. The trade wars we are launching against Europe, China, Canada, Mexico, and others will raise prices. Their retaliatory tariffs will spike the cost of some of our key products, causing layoffs and outsourcing of jobs. Prices are going up, and that’s bad for middle America.
  9. Steven Tyler was in Bethlehem and I’m mad I missed it. I’ve been on an Aerosmith kick lately, particularly their 90’s era records “Get A Grip” and “Nine Lives.” The bluesy feel they took on during that period fits life right now. So naturally I missed Steven Tyler coming through Bethlehem for a solo show. Oh, and I missed Joe Perry and his band coming through, a month or two back. Bad timing never fails!
  10. I’m really angry at Joe Crowley. The reports are that he didn’t run much of a race to keep himself in. Now we’re being forced to listen on how “the future” is Dem Socialist. He probably would have lost on demographics, but at least he’d have tried. I will not support a Democratic Socialist party. We really didn’t need to give them there one good primary night of this season, just so they could sing the virtues of embracing a 28 year old, ex-Sanders organizer as our future.

Donald Trump Actually Shares Putin’s World View

In the midst of all the insane news that came out of the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit, I think we all are missing the big point. Sure, Trump saluted a North Korean General and elevated a tin-pot dictator to his level in direct negotiations, but that is a blip on the overall radar. In the long run, bringing North Korea out of it’s pariah status is a good thing, if it’s possible. Having a poor, starved, nuclear state sitting next to South Korea and Japan isn’t beneficial to anyone.

The important thing is the suspension of “war games” with our allies in Asia, coupled with our refusal to join the rest of the G-7 in the joint statement of principles at the end of that conference, our threats to pull out of NAFTA and other trade agreements, and our willingness to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris Climate Change treaty. Donald Trump is moving the United States towards isolationism, out of our world leadership role. A United States that doesn’t counter-balance Chinese power in the Asian Pacific, doesn’t lead in negotiating Middle East Peace, doesn’t lead on international trade, and isn’t part of solving global problems is simply not a superpower anymore. Trump is creating a militant, inward looking, isolationist state, complete with fraying alliances abroad and a nativist, nationalist identity driven immigration policy at home.

There is someone happy about that, and that’s Vladimir Putin. His stated world view is that there should be no United States superpower, but instead a collection of regional powers. Russia should dominate the old Soviet-bloc, China should move into the void we leave behind in Asia, we should dominate our hemisphere, perhaps Germany controls Western Europe, and someone should emerge in the Middle East. Even if all of that doesn’t work out, he just wants the United States to stop leading a strong Western coalition. If he can get us to break our bonds with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, he’s happy. If he can get us out of Asia, even better. If he can get us out of the Middle East too, he now can grow Russian influence in every direction. For Putin, that’s the goal.

Trump’s foreign policy and Putin’s long held aspirations seem to be perfectly aligned. It’s beginning to be a lot less shocking that Putin’s Russia was so solidly supportive of Donald Trump’s campaign. After all, this is the new alliance that matters.

How Strong Nations Fall

We all look for distractions from the news these days. For me, I’ve been reading a lot of history, particularly about the fall of great civilizations in the history of the world. How did the Romans fall? The Greeks? The Ottomans? As you read through them, you see some common traits that hold up in many cases. I came up with five that stand out to me, and the scary thing is, they all apply to the United States right now.

  • Over-aggressive militarism. A strong national defense, and willingness to act on the behalf of national values is central to building a great nation. Invading nations for the purpose of conquest, without facing any real threat, as we did in Iraq, doesn’t fit that bill. Filled prisons, police riding down the street in tanks, a domestic violence epidemic, and addicts going to jail, also is being overly militant. Responding to the epidemic of school shootings, a uniquely American event, by calling for the arming of teachers, is overly aggressive militarism. Our society has a violence issue. Our nation has codified much of it in law. This over-reaching militarism can be the death of nations. Hitler’s attempt to invade the Soviet Union, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the British Empire’s expansion to the entire globe, the Romans’ expansion across Europe- all eventually became their undoing.
  • The rise of inept leadership. George W. Bush was in over his head as President. Donald Trump went from bankrupting casinos to the White House. These men are imbeciles and should not have lead free nations. It goes beyond them though. Post-Watergate, and particularly post Cold War, Americans have valued experience less and less in picking their leaders. That’s not such a good thing when you make someone the Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of a multi-trillion dollar government. Inept and incapable idiots lead Rome, Greece, Egypt to great falls after their great leaders built them up. It stopped making sense for capable leaders to seek leadership roles, and insecure, uninformed, incapable people sought power instead.
  • Great division over national identity. One of the most understated issues of post-1968 America is the division over who we are. The United States is a multicultural, melting pot nation of immigrants. It has always been so. We take in every religion, every race, every sexuality, every type of person. Unfortunately, the “majority,” or traditional cultural norm, has not handled that well since the great Civil Rights wins of the 1960’s. Even more unfortunately, politicians from Nixon to Trump have cynically embraced those fears and scapegoated the “other.” Hence, we’ve had to debate everything from gay marriage to building a wall on the Mexican Border. Ironically, all of these nonsensical, regressive debates is possible because we live in relative comfort, without current civil violence, starvation, or plague. It’s also possible because Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to appeal to open racists, and got a pass for it. Fights over who was a citizen lead Rome to some of their most barbaric acts. Those acts lead to uprising against them.
  • They stop doing great things for their people. What was the greatest achievement of the 20th Century United States? It wasn’t winning the World Wars. Those were necessities, rather than achievements. The interstate highway system. Civil Rights. Putting a man on the Moon. Building suburbia. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. These are achievements. Our current government doesn’t wish to do great public works- in fact our Speaker and President want to undo social welfare programs in order to transfer more wealth back to the wealthy. This is not a pathway to greatness. We remember the great works of the ancient world- pyramids, the Acropolis, the Colosseum- not the mediocrity that followed.
  • Stability fails. At the end of the Roman Empire, stability failed. They weren’t safe from outside invasion. Their institutions didn’t work. They had rampant public and private corruption. Watch the news tonight and see if you feel much different. Russia is hacking our election system, and power grid. Facebook is selling your data. Every institution from the church to the military has had an embarrassing scandal in recent times. Do you feel like our institutions are protecting you right now.

I’m not saying America will fall, or cease to exist in the near future. I’m saying the essence of our nation, our body politic, is ill. If we don’t make changes on these issues, I don’t think we’ll get better anytime soon.

Trollmageddon 2018

Russia infiltrated our electoral process, and that’s just a fact. We can question if they hacked voting machines, we can debate the meaning of collusion, but that’s not changing the things we know they did do. They did purchase Facebook ads designed to hurt Hillary Clinton, in both the primaries and the general election. They did hack the DNC’s emails. Kremlin allies did meet with people around the Trump campaign. They did set up fake news sites, publishing false articles about impending indictments for Hillary and her family. They did set up phony writers in American left-wing outlets to push Democrats against Hillary and the party. All of this is real. All of this is fact. You can interpret it as you wish, but not deny it.

It’s over now though. There is no way to re-litigate 2016 and make Hillary the winner. Donald Trump is now in the White House, and I have great faith that Bob Mueller’s investigation will figure out who committed what crimes. Will we ever know if the Russians literally hacked our election? Maybe not. I trust Mueller’s investigation will answer the possible.

This leaves us to ponder what lies ahead. The 2018 mid-terms are coming, and they promise to be insane. The primaries in both parties could be bloody. Democrats will see a fight between people committed to Civil Rights, worker protections, the environment, and moving the country forward, and people who literally want to have a Socialist revolution that they haven’t thought through the details of yet. Republicans will see a war between people who want to cut taxes for the rich and slash the social safety-net of working Americans, literally taking the food from mouths, health insurance from those who need, and roofs from over heads, and actual Nazi/White Nationalist types being lead by Steve Bannon. We get to have these fights before we have the general election argument over the insanity of Trump America. Excited yet?

Does anybody think this will be any cleaner or nicer than 2016 was? Does anybody think those accounts with cartoons and dogs as their avatars that followed Nomiki Konst into attack on Hillary supporting Democrats aren’t coming back for more during these primaries? Does anyone think that openly racist Russian troll accounts, like the “Tennessee GOP” one that Twitter took down, aren’t coming back? Does anyone think Russia won’t attack Democrats in the Fall, knowing that a Democratic Congress will insure a completed investigation of their acts of war against our country? Let’s be honest, even real people like Katie Halper (who I wish wasn’t real) will be spewing leftist hatred towards any Democrat who dares to not bow at the altar of Bernie moving forward. If anything, 2016 will look nice, next to 2018. We are heading towards an absolute internet doomsday, as these freakish alt-right and alt-left voices attempt to destroy anyone who dares stand in the way of their goals. Outside interference, doxxing, and general nasty behavior will be the norm.

Some of these characters are obviously automated, and not real people. Some of these people are paid trolls, grifters that are here to waste your time and sap your enthusiasm. All of this is an attack on our democracy. It’s only going to get worse as we go. I have a few tips for dealing with these people, and trying to keep your sanity in the process:

  1. Block liberally- If someone is trying to waste your time with repetitive debate, or trying to tell you how you’re evil for supporting a $12 minimum wage instead of $15, or just sending you screenshots of yourself, block them. I usually make a snarky remark back at them first, just so the person on the other end feels like a loser, but the main point is to block them and not waste very much time on people who are losers.
  2. Report liberally- If someone who fits the profile mentioned above, and they say something abusive or curse at you, report them. If they send graphic sexual images at you, report them. Obviously block them too, but report them in hopes of knocking them off of Twitter, real or fake.
  3. Know a troll or dead-ender when you see one- If you get into a debate/fight with some famous leftist- like say Matt Bruenig or his wife- and a bunch of people swarm you, they are either bots or paid trolls. If a bunch of people with roses in their bio swarm you, they are either loser trolls or paid trolls, if not outright bots. If they have a small follower count and are part of the swarm, they’re either a troll or bot. If someone starts spewing racist or sexist content, they could be a paid troll from the other side, or even the “dirtbag left.” Most of the people attacking Neera Tanden are just trolls and wackos, ignore them. Anyone with poor grammar who jumps in just to attack Democrats (on the behalf of Trump or Bernie) is a Russian troll. They often use the same lines of attack (“so-and-so won’t f**k you” for instance), and try to use bios and profile pictures as lines of attack quite often. They’re not hard to figure out. If you see them, report them and block them. It’ll save you time.
  4. There are real hardliners- I’ve had my fair share of Twitter battles, even some with people whom I “agree” with on the issues. There is a fairly prominent resistance tweeter from Brooklyn for instance, who attempted to “dox” me (and failed miserably because she’s an imbecile) because she didn’t like my arguments against a full litmus test on abortion rights in the Democratic Party. This young lady isn’t worth my time any more than Katie Halper and Matt Bruenig were from Socialist land. There are some serious psychos out there in our political world, and not all of them are paid Russian bots. I suggest not wasting too much time arguing with overly impassioned real people either. You’re never going to make any progress with them.

This is my best advice for surviving what is likely to be a crazy year. It is my hope that Twitter will clean this up and start enforcing their terms of service in a reasonable way, but I’m not holding my breath. The best way to handle the lunatic fringers and their virulent attacks is largely to ignore them, to report them as much as possible, and to realize they represent a small fringe of society. Most Bernie Sanders supporters are nothing like Winnie Wong, and even many Trump supporters aren’t like Cassandra Fairbanks (though this point pushes the limits of truth sometimes). Almost nobody in real life is like a Russian bot or a DSA troll. Limit your interactions with them, and you deny them the lifeblood of their existence- your time and attention.