Trump melts down on Twitter, arguing the Mueller investigation should stop because of the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

This morning, in case you missed it, our President completely melted down on Twitter, where, among other things, he suggested that, if we really wanted to strike a blow against Russia, we’d immediately drop the investigation into their 2016 election meddling. And instead of picking up my phone and calling the office of an elected official, or donating to a swing state Democratic candidate, or something else that might have actually made a difference, I took the bait, investing an hour of my time to respond to everything that he’d written. Here, because I have nothing else worth sharing this evening, are a few examples… Again, I know it’s completely useless, but sometimes it feels good to Tweet-back, knowing that a few hundred of his followers might see it. Plus, I think it’s probably good to practice a little every week on Twitter, given that’s where today’s wars are being fought. One, after all, wouldn’t want to bring a blog post to a tweet fight.

Posted in Mark's Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Mueller indicts Russian trolls, laying the groundwork for the next phase of his investigation

Earlier today, we learned that, in addition to porn star Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump was also having an affair with Playboy “Playmate of the Year” Karen McDougal back in 2006, in the months just after our First Lady, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son Barron. Furthermore, we got confirmation that McDougal, like Daniels, had also ben paid for her silence by a Trump associate. And, as if that we’re enough for a single news cycle, we also learned that Daniels is now threatening to go public with a dress covered in the President’s semen. In simpler times, the existence of the cum-soaked dress alone would have dominated headlines for a month. Today, though, it barely registered. Between yesterday’s mass shooting in Florida, and today’s indictments in the Russia investigation, no one, it seems, has time to care about good, old fashioned sex scandals, even ones involving porn stars, Playmates and soiled dresses.

I’d told myself yesterday that I was going to try to stay focused on our American gun problem for a while, and now allow my attention to be diverted elsewhere… But then the Justice Department announced that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had handed down new indictments, and my plans went out the window. Instead of studying up on the role Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi played in making it easier for Sunshine State teens to purchase automatic weapons, I started reading up on the thirteen Russian citizens and the three Russian companies who now stand accused of running “interference operations targeting the United States” in the run up to the 2016 election… While you can read the indictments in their entirety online, here’s one of my favorite parts.

So, yeah, we know now for a certainty that “the Russia thing,” as Trump called it, wasn’t a “witch hunt” at all, but a serious, coordinated attack on our electoral system, which was conducted with the intention of sowing discord in America, and keeping Hillary Clinton from the White House. We now know how the system worked, and who was involved… from Putin’s friend, the oligarch Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who funded Russia’s Internet Research Agency troll farm, to American citizen Richard Pinedo, who supplied the fake bank account numbers and online identities that allowed the Russians to avoid initial detection. [While he wasn’t mentioned in today’s indictments by name, news was released by the Justice Department today that Pinedo had pleaded guilty on February 12, and was facing up to 15 years in prison.] Here, from the New York Times, is a short clip explaining how the Prigozhin-funded system worked.

…Facebook, Twitter and Google have all identified the Internet Research Agency as a prime source of provocative posts on divisive American issues, including race, religion, gun laws and gay rights, particularly during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook found, for example, that the agency had posted 80,000 pieces of content that reached more than 126 million Americans…

[David Axelrod: “Jill Stein received 50,700 votes in MI. Trump won by less than 12,000. She outpolled Trump’s margin in WI, as well. If Russians sought to redirect alienated HRC voters to third parties, as indictment alleges, it was a shrewd ploy.]

And here’s another interesting little tidbit. According to the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Prigozhin, in the past five years alone, has received Russian government contracts worth $3.1 billion… Oh, and Prigozhin was one of the Russian oligarchs who was hit hard by the sanctions levied during the Obama administration, which, might explain why he apparently invested so heavily in getting Donald Trump, who promised to roll back those sanctions, into office. [The Department of Justice is saying that the Russians spent $1.2 million a month on this project, which they called “The Translator Project.”]

Well, today, as you might imagine, Donald Trump and his spokespeople are claiming that these indictments actually vindicate him, as they don’t prove collusion. In fact, the White House issued a statement with “NO COLLUSION” in all caps. The thing is, the indictment says nothing of the kind. In fact, you can see in the above scan that “co-conspirators” are mentioned. They just haven’t been named yet, with the exception of Californian Richard Pinedo, who is now said to be cooperating with Robert Mueller. But, no, Mueller did not come out today and demonstrate a connection to the Trump White House. What he did today, however, was take a significant step in that direction. He laid a solid foundation, and demonstrated how the whole thing worked, making it clear not only that the Russians did in fact meddle in our election, but that they did so to both weaken Clinton and advance the Trump campaign.

I heard someone on Fox News this evening suggest that Trump never either claimed that the Russia investigation was a hoax or attempted to slow the investigation. Here, in case any of you are inclined to believe that, are just a few data points.

1. Trump warned that Mueller’s investigation has offended Putin, and that “people will die” if it continues.

2. Trump admitted to firing FBI Director James Comey because he was pursuing, “the Russia thing.” [Trump on national television: “And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”]

3. Not only did he fire Comey for pushing the Russia investigation, but Trump actually snuck a high-level Russian delegation into the White House that same day to tell them the good news.

4. Trump repeatedly called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” and did everything in his power to slow it down. For example, Trump ghostwrote a letter for his son, explaining the presence of a Russian delegation at Trump Tower during the campaign as having been about adoption policy, and not the fact that they’d offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

5. Trump told us that he asked Putin if the Russians meddled in our election, and he believed him when the former KGB head responded that he did not. [“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,'” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”]

6. Despite the evidence, and the fact that all but five members of Congress voted to pass sanctions against Russia for what they did during the 2016 election, Trump chose not to impose them, saying that the threat of acting on them was just as effective as actually enacting them.

7. And let’s not forget the time our president actually proposed, much to the horror of the intelligence community, that we give the Russians access to our security infrastructure, forming a “U.S.-Russia Joint Impenetrable Cybersecurity Unit.

So, no, you cannot now say that Trump has always taken this threat seriously. When our entire intelligence community told him that the Russians had meddled in our election, he called it a “with hunt.” After being told that the Dutch had actually observed the Russians as they hacked into the DNC server, he told the American people that the operation could have been conducted by a 400-pound guy somewhere. When Congress and the intelligence community demanded that the President take action to protect the integrity of our 2018 election, he did nothing. And, today, when these indictments came out, instead of pledging to hold Russia accountable, he took to Twitter and said, “It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories.” [Coming from the father of Birtherism, I found that last bit particularly funny.]

So, like I said, we now have the foundation. From this point on, it’s just a matter of understanding the coordination, and how the Russians knew where to focus their efforts… According to the indictment, we have evidence that the Russians talked quite a bit about sowing discord in “purple states.” What’s more, we know that a great deal of their ad buys were in states like Michigan, which the Democrats didn’t even consider to be in play, which would lead one to believe there was a certain level of sophistication. So, one suspects it’s possible that the next shoe to drop very well might be a link between one of these 13 Russians and someone at the conservative data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica… Speaking of which, here’s an interesting little exchange between the guys at Pod Save America and Senator Mark Warner.

As of right now, it’s true, there’s no evidence that these Russian activities changed the result of the election. And it’s doubtful that could ever be proved. But, as some people are seeing it, that’s exactly what happened. Take, for instance, former CIA Director John Brennan.

I’m hesitant to make predictions, as I know enormous cases like these can take years, but i can’t help but think that the final chapter has begun, and that things are about to speed up exponentially, as the backstabbing intensifies, and the bodies start stacking up… Have you seen the last ten minutes of The Godfather? Well, I think it’ll be pretty much like that.

Posted in Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 172 Comments

Yet another school shooting leaves 17 children dead in Florida

I wasn’t going to write about today’s deadly school shooting in Florida, as I didn’t think I had anything new to add since the last time I’d written about a horrific mass shooting just a few months ago, but then I happened across this video of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and felt compelled to share it.

Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s how much the NRA has spent on U.S. elections over the past several years. [No word yet as to how much of this money came from hostile foreign governments intent on sowing discord and having us kill one another.]

Oh, and if you really want to understand the truth of what’s happening in America, stop listening to the absolutely meaningless “thoughts and prayers” of our politicians, and start listening to the kids who where actually there, and saw their young friends murdered.

Speaking of these young people who just watched as their classmates were gunned down, Trump thinks they’re to blame.

If you’ve read this far, and still find yourself wanting more, check out my last post on American gun violence, which contains links to the six posts I wrote before that. [This shit never fucking ends.]

[note: This post, as it was originally written, claimed that today’s shooting, which left 17 dead, was the 18th school shooting thus far in 2018. As it turns out, a href=”https://apple.news/AJ6X9BcWqSvSNeokXtIGlZQ”>that’s not the case. That doesn’t make it any less horrific, though.]

Posted in Civil Liberties | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 75 Comments

How we measure success in this life

Shortly after moving to Atlanta in 1993, Linette and I started publishing our zine, Crimewave USA. We didn’t have many friends, and it gave us a reason to leave the apartment and actually do things. We’d wonder around, having little adventures, and meeting new people, and then we’d scurry home to scribble everything down before we’d forgotten what had happened. And, a few times a year, we’d gather up everything that we’d written, and we’d publish it, sending copies out everyplace that we could think of that might either write a review, or put a few issues on a shelf to sell. And, slowly, we started attracting readers, some of whom would take the time to write long, beautiful letters to us, telling us about their own lives, and what discovering Crimewave had meant to them. Well, one of those folks was a girl by the name of Steph Green, who’d write to us from a little town somewhere in Connecticut. I can’t remember the specifics, but, as I recall, she told us about her life, and how liberating it was to have found the underground press, which had opened up a world of possibilities to her. And Linette and I would write back, encouraging her to keep questioning things, creating art, and evolving into her own person.

As the father of a 13 year old right now, I’m not sure what I’d think if she told me that she’d wanted to become pen pals with with guy twice her age, but, at the time, it seemed totally fine, and Steph’s mother, as I recall, encouraged her interest. So, for a few years, these letters of ours would go back and forth, and, through them, Linette and I kind of watched Steph grow up from afar. Eventually, though, as you might expect, the letters came less frequently, and, at some point, we kind of lost track of one another. A few days ago, though, shortly after I’d posted about turning 50, lamenting the fact that I hadn’t accomplished more, I got a note from Steph, who is now apparently married and living in Pittsburgh. Here it is.

I asked Steph, who now has kid of her own, by the way, if I could share what she’d written here on the site, and she agreed. In part, I just wanted to preserve it here, as it makes me happy. I think, however, it might also serve as a good reminder for others out there that the little things we do in this life really do matter. While it’s true that very few of us will write the great America novel, or, for that matter, even produce a single episode of a mediocre sitcom, we all have the ability to made a difference in this world. And it really doesn’t take all that much. A few words of encouragement at the right time in a young person’s life can make all the difference in the world, and the resulting positivity can literally ripple through generations. [When Steph’s kids grows up to do something awesome, you can be damn sure I’m going to take credit.]

So don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t achieved your dreams. Just look for opportunities to be kind to people, and encourage them to keep moving forward and growing. When you get right down to it, that’s all that really matters.

Posted in Crimewave USA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

U.S. Intelligence chiefs warn that our government is lying to us, placing our democracy in peril. (At what point can we start using the word treason?)

For those of you who might have missed the Senate Intelligence Committee testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Mike Rogers, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo this afternoon, I can sum it up in three points… 1. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Russians actively sought to disrupt the American political system during the 2016 election, and succeeded at it. 2. We know for a certainty that the Russians have plans to interfere in our 2018 midterm elections. 3. The Trump administration has done absolutely nothing to stop this from happening.

Here, for those of you who might not trust my analysis, are a few quotes from the men referenced above, who, by the way, were in unanimous agreement as to the seriousness of the threat that we’re facing as a nation.

Dan Coats: “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful, and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

Christopher Wray: “We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle.”

Mike Rogers: “(As Russian interference) is not going to change or stop… (we need) to ensure the American people that their vote is sanctioned and not manipulated in any way.”

And that brings us to the non-existent Trump response… The following clip comes by way of the Washington Post.

…At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, Democrats demanded to know what the intelligence community is doing to counter Russia’s actions and whether Trump has given explicit directions to them to do so.

“We cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, without a whole-of-government response when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

The disconnect between Trump and his senior-most intelligence advisers has raised concerns that the U.S. government will not be able to mount an effective plan to beat back Russian influence operations in the upcoming midterm election. And Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said there is “no single agency in charge” of blocking Russian meddling, an admission that drew the ire of Democrats…

When asked by Senator Jack Reed if President Trump had given any specific directions to combat the Russian interference being discussed, not a single one of the intelligence chiefs could say that they had been asked by the President to either focus on, or disrupt Russian election meddling. Mike Rogers responded to Reed by saying, “I can’t say I’ve been given explicit directives to actively blunt or stop” Russian activities.

As Senator Sheldon Whitehouse later asked the administration by way of social media, “So what are you doing? Sanctions? Cyber bill? Transparency? None of the above?” The answer, of course, is none of the above. Absolutely nothing is being done. And, what’s worse, the Republicans in Congress are allowing it to happen. Our elected members of Congress, if they wanted to, could institute the sanctions against Russia that President Trump has refused to enact. They, however, don’t seem inclined to act, either because the Russians have leverage over them, or because they’ve decided somewhat cynically that they’re OK with these Russian attacks so long as they help to keep Republicans in power… Thankfully, though, Democrats like Joe Kennedy are beginning to talk about going around the President in order to take action, and there’s a chance that we might be able to make good on that promise later this year, assuming the Democrats can take back the House and Senate.

Trump would never call Russia out publicly, let alone declare that these actions of theirs are acts of war, but, make no mistake, that’s exactly what they are… We are at war. Our President is a traitor. And the GOP is complicit. [I know “traitor” is a strong word, but if Trump can call Democrats “treasonous” for not applauding him, I can call him a traitor for not taking action to stop hostile foreign attacks, right?]

We have been attacked. You’ve just heard the heads of our national security agencies say as much. We have the evidence. And yet, the Republicans, who control every lever of power in this country, refuse to take action. This is bigger than just the President. This isn’t just “one bad apple.” If it were, the Republican members of Congress would be up in arms, demanding to know why, over a year later, the White House has refused to call even a single cabinet meeting to discuss the Russian threat, or act on the sanctions that passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities (419-to-3 in the House and 98-to-2 in the Senate).

But, wait, there’s more.

These intelligence chiefs, in addition to warning us about the Russian threat and the White House’s inaction, also did three other pretty incredible things today.

One, they let us know, in no uncertain terms, that the Nunes memo was bullshit.

Two, they let it be known that, a few days ago, when Trump attempted to prove the existence of an intelligence community plot against him, he knew full well that the story that he was pushing was a lie.

Three, they threw White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and others under the bus, making it clear that they’d known about Rob Porter’s history of domestic abuse a hell of a lot earlier than they’d let on.

I have little faith that it will move the Republicans to act, but I appreciate that the intelligence community is stepping up and letting it be known that our government is both lying to us and placing our democracy in peril.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

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