Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Donald Trump has lowered the bar for future presidential candidates


Donald Trump has lowered the standards for President of the US to such a degree,  any similar shortcomings of those who run for that office in the future will no longer seem so  important.

Before Watergate and muckraking investigative reporting, the personal sex life  of FDR , Dwight Eisenhower and JFK were not reported publicly until later by historians,  though their indiscretions were hardly secret among those in their closer circles. I live within two miles of Ike’s summer White House and locals  kept rumors to themselves.

I  remember painfully the ignominy  saint- like Jimmy Carter suffered when he admitted he had “lust in his  heart”. The cries of hypocrite ran out in then. How quaint that seems today.  In his memoirs of his early life I read Carter appeared to be a red blooded American young man like any other until he met the love of his life Rosalynn. They have been  married nearly 72 years.

Now running on cable is a story of my  once local Colorado idol, Sen. Gary Hart, a candidate for president who  was caught with a lovely on his lap on a boat named Monkey Business. I was disappointed and angry with him.   He had just deprived the United States of a very bright mind with great political judgment because his reputation of personal judgment  and his candidacy were flushed down the toilet. Ye gads, loyal wife Lee Hart and I had met while carpooling our children to kindergarten.

Ronald Reagan, movie star and America’s first divorced president,  was devoted to Nancy, his second wife .The Bushes, the Fords, and the  Obamas were beyond reproach.

Bill Clinton was another story, but even his dalliance with an intern  that got him impeached appears petty compared with the hijinks of Donald Trump and Stormy, Access Hollywood, and sixteen  witnesses attesting his grabbing habits were not an empty locker room boast. Even salacious unverified parts of the Steele dossier did not make a dent.  Any candidate who follows him will be immunized by comparison from accusations of having more than a wandering eye .

Usually a president represents a person who some young person can aspire to be. Ask yourself. Would you want your child or  grandchild to grow up to be like Donald Trump?

Donald Trump has lowered the bar on more than just  character standards for president. Any GOP candidate who dares use the the argument that such and such a social program cannot be enacted because it would create a deficit will not longer be able to  make that argument stick. Donald Trump in his second year in office has run up the budget deficit , highest since 2009 right after the great recession. He signed the bill into law when the GOP threw an additional  1.7 trillion dollars into the deficit hole with the tax cut to the wealthy. Try making that argument again. The guffaws from the left will drown them out.

It is no wonder in polls conducted by NBC/WSJ in January  that the most frequent words associated with Donald Trump were ’ disgusted” (38%), “scared” ( 24%  ), “angry” (11%), and that was before the Stormy saga.

The puzzle  is that somewhere between 35% to 40% of Americans  forgive him of his trespasses so long as he supports their social and cultural agenda, appoints fellow ideological travelers  to judicial vacancies, and satisfies political contributors. Per U Gov poll March 13, only one half thought Trump's Stormy affair was immoral. I imagine President Trump will weather Stormy, too.



Saturday, February 24, 2018

The danger of conspiracy theories

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News Feb 26 2018

"A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes an unwarranted conspiracy, generally one involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by government or other powerful actors. Wikipedia"
The danger is that promoting conspiracy theories unleashes
the demons among us and dwelling within us  that harm our safety and well being. Spreading conspiracy theories on social media is a powerful weapon in  underhanded propaganda political action.

Conspiracy theories are  "where there is smoke or fears of fire,  there is definitely  fire". They connect circumstances and dots without evidence of the connections or they just make up a story to make a point. The danger is when  unbalanced people act on the theories with harmful consequences  or  bad actors  use conspiracy theories to justify and promote their own beliefs or a political or social cause that result in public opinion shifts.

In the most recent  case,  the victim is 14 years old, Lauren Hogg,  already a victim/survivor of the Parkland, Florida school massacre,  who was cyber bullied  and her  family received death threats.  Another example was the 2016  Pizzagate in which a fake news conspiracy story inspired a person to attempt a mass murder at a pizza restaurant.posting. In the text of the  Special Counsel indictment of thirteen Russian spies are graphic examples of how the Russians spread  conspiracy theories  to influence public  opinion in the 2016 election.

 Without policing social media, these theories are retweeted, reposted and shared to thousands and among some minds become gospel truth and all facts to the contrary are not considered..It is a powerful mind control tool used by both Russians and American extremists to shape public opinion for their own purposes.  The general public has only been recently exposed to the megaphone of social media and if the posting fortifies an existing belief in the cause,  they can swallow it hook line and sinker, and repost and retweet without  much of a second thought or demanding proof.

 The best defense is the old Missouri state slogan: "show me".  Good old healthy skepticism and a greater dose of being media wise are the best  antidotes to paranoia.   Waiting for social media to police itself is unrealistic or too slow.  Another defense is to consult independent fact checkers such as factcheck.org and Snopes.

Here are some  example of the harmful result of promoting 
unproved conspiracy theories.
From a Yahoo news report: Donald Trump Jr  gave a thumbs up to a Facebook posting of a  theory that claimed   that 17 year old survivor of the Parkland massacre, David Hogg,   had been coached to speak out against guns by his former FBI agent father to “cover” for the agency’s failure to prevent the Parkland  shooting. The ruse was backed up by the “deep state media,” .   His 14 year old sister, in an appeal to the First Lady said  she was cyber  bullied by  "Nazis and white supremacists" and her mother reported "death threats to the family"....https://www.yahoo.com/news/parkland-survivor-melania-trump-stop-021214298.html?. David Hogg was accused of being a “crisis actor’ in part because his post shooting interviews were well spoken, but he is active in the highschool TV station , is their news anchor, and produced a video of the event. You Tube and Trending yanked the conspiracy postings and apologized. Fact checker Snopes did a thorough investigation of the conspiracy postings and debunked them.https://www.snopes.com/2018/02/20/right-wing-media-david-hogg/ as did Factcheck.org, https://www.factcheck.org/2018/02/school-shooting-spawns-conspiracy-theories/

He was not the only one. Other students have received hate postings and threats who dared to speak out.https://thinkprogress.org/parkland-shooting-survivor-forced-off-facebook-6fc397ab2b9f/
"At a town hall on Wednesday night, the survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, made Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) squirm with a series of pointed questions about his support for the Second Amendment. One question that drew particularly loud cheers came from Cameron Kasky, when he asked Rubio, “Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”

But while the crowd at the town hall may have forcefully backed Kasky, the 17-year-old has been subject to a different reception online, where he says he’s encountered vicious smears and death threats."

The other example of what horrors irresponsible unleashing of conspiracy theories on social media can cause: A young man walked into a DC pizza parlor a few days before the 2016 election and shot up the place with an assault rifle (no one was hurt). He had believed the media spread conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta ran a child sex ring in the parlor's basement. The pizza place did not even have a basement.
Not all off the wall conspiracy theories lead to death threats and AR-15 shooting, but Russians have used them to try to influence the 2016 election, as well as to seize on 2018 Parkland, Florida massacre.
The Russians immediately used  the opportunity of the Parkland shooting to wreck some havoc in the American psyche by posting their own social media conspiracy theories by claiming this shooting was a Democratic party anti gun conspiracy and the bots promoted arming the teachers with guns.  In 2016, the Russians also promoted false stories of wide spread voter fraud, per the very detailed, graphic indictment of thirteen Russians by the Special Counsel investigation.  From the indictment text ". On or about August 4, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators began purchasing advertisements that promoted a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Facebook account “Stop A.I.” The post alleged that “Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa Caucus.” b. On or about August 11, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators posted that allegations of voter fraud were being investigated in North Carolina on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Twitter account @TEN_GOP. c. On or about November 2, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the same account to post allegations of “#VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida.” https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477  A  special commission to prove voter fraud was disbanded in January.






Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alfa Bank, van der Zwann indictment and how it might relate to President Trump

Since the Steele Dossier came to light, so has a bank mentioned in it with many names and many branches...but the group is known as Alfa Bank. The indictment of a an attorney, Alex van der Zwann,  unconnected with the investigation until now may have far more significance than we might imagine.  The attorney has a family relationship to the bank and the Steele Dossier indicated that  Alfa bank figured in a large loan to the Trump organization.  The Steele Dossier may be considered unverified so far, but it may be in the process of being verified by  Special Counsel Robert Mueller.   Raising further suspicions is that the Mueller staff has a large number of prosecutors experienced in investigating financial crimes. We could say the plot is beginning to thicken a bit and no one outside the Mueller team really knows because they are so tight lipped. However, connecting the dots is still a fascinating exercise.  For the record, I am making note of this for what I suspect will be referred to in the future.



From https://www.gq.com/story/how-muellers-latest-indictment-relates-to-the-steele-dossier

A Moscow bank keeps popping up in the Trump-Russia affair. Ben Schreckinger reports with the latest.
On Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller made another surprise indictment, this time of a London-based lawyer for allegedly lying to the FBI.
Like two of Mueller’s previous targets, Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, the lawyer—a man named Alex Van Der Zwaan—had done work for Ukraine’s previous, pro-Russia government, which was overthrown in a popular uprising in 2014.
And according to the indictment, the false statements in question were about communications he had in 2016 with Rick Gates and an unnamed “Person A” related to that work.
So on its surface, Tuesday’s indictment relates solely to a single branch of Mueller’s investigation: Paul Manafort’s dealings with the pro-Russia faction in Ukraine.
But search beyond the scant details offered in the two-page indictment and there’s an intriguing link to a whole other branch of Trump-Russia inquiry: the Alfa Bank mystery.
As it so happens, Van Der Zwaan, the lawyer indicted Tuesday, is the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan. Khan is a director and co-owner of Alfa Bank and one of three key leaders of its parent company, the sprawling conglomerate Alfa Group.

From November 11, 2017 posting:
Observations 2/23/18
Note to the reference to the Steele dossier, so far unverified, but it may become verified in the future.
For sometime the rumor has been circulating that Trump had $300 million in loans, debts he owed to the Russian private bank, Alfa, and that the Russians had evidence which was termed “salacious” (with conspiracy theorists thinking there may had been a honey trap involved). That these rumors and allegations made in the agent’s “report “were taken seriously was most likely because many of both sides of the aisle were puzzled why Donald Trump was constantly apologizing or was in sympathy with the policies of Russia. They were trying to find a reason why Donald Trump had made comments supportive of Russia’s territory grabbing in the Ukraine,Crimea, and Georgia, letting Russia finish and dominate the Syrian civil war, weakening NATO’s mutual defense responsibility and endangering the Baltics by failure to be protected from Russian expansionism, or denying of Russian interfering is US elections and hacking.. Sometimes Trump’s Putin bromance was owed to Trump’s vulnerability to flattery, and especially from the Russian president , whose leadership Trump openly admired. It was also owed to political connections and friendship of his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, with the deposed president of the Ukraine and an associate of Putin. The “report’ was called trash by Trump’s surrogates and spokespeople. All media, even the reporting Buzzfeed and CNN , referred to the report as unproven.

It stands in sharp contrast with the GOP presidential candidate himself, Donald Trump, who has been advocating a foreign policy that strangely runs parallel to the same as Russia's, from declaring NATO obsolete, not objecting to the Russian threats and incursions into Eastern Ukraine, and recognizing Russia's grab of the Crimea.  In fact, the mutual comments between Trump and Putin have been so complimentary that it has been timed a "bromance" of mutual admiration.

Not only is this a major issue in foreign policy, but in calls into question whether Trump can even negotiate with Putin in America's and our alliies' security interests without giving away the store to Russia.  Negotiation means give and take and the question remains what Trump would give away to make a deal. "




2  14  17
Some background: (Note, the Steele Dossier is may haveen the key, here.)
 For some time, the question has been why has Donald Trump been so cozy with Russia? There has been a great deal of speculation ranging from Trump's debts to Russia oligarchs to blackmail , the connection with  the Russian Alfa Bank, with embarrassing pictures (a victim of a honey trap).  Fingers have been pointed to influencing Trump's views of Russia was his campaign manager, who departed the campaign mid year, Paul Manafort, who was an advisor to the ousted  president of the Ukraine who sought refuge in Moscow after a coup.  Congressional investigations into Russian influence and hacking  in the US elections are just getting underway.  Ukraine is involved. The Russians have conducted a stealth takeover of the eastern parts of that country and the West punished Russia with economic sanctions.  The Flynn issue involves lies about his pre- January conversations with the Russian ambassador over lifting those sanctions. The question arises was this a thank you for the role Russia played in helping Trump win by planting false news stories and by hacking and revealing damaging information regarding Hillary Clinton.

That there are many concerned about why Donald Trump only ever has kind words for Russia and their president Vladimir Putin, while being critical of even our closest allies and even calling NATO, our mutual defense treaty with Europe, obsolete.  It has set our Eastern Europe members of NATO on edge and one of President Obama's departing actions was to announce the placement of US troops in Poland as a signal to Russia not to mess with our Baltic members.  Trump and others, including libertarians, had already expressed concern about going to war to support the small trio of Baltic nations in spite of their NATO membership. Russians have always seen the Baltics, with their ports to the sea, as part of theirs since there is a large number of Russians living in those areas left over from the old Soviet  military occupations days when the Baltics were their satellites.  Russia has a modus operandi of using "saving discrimination against Russian minorities" as an excuse to grab territory and the Baltics are ripe targets.  Their membership in NATO has made Russia think twice. Ukraine, Crimea, and Georgia, recent targets of Russian grabs, are not part of NATO and are not under NATO's protections.  Flynn was Donald Trump's closest campaign adviser on foreign affairs throughout  the campaign.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A warning to politicians: Cross these young adults from Parkland Florida at your own risk

A version was published in the Sky Hi News March 12-14, 2018

Edited March 11, 2018, again, to include updates and a condensed version of the original post.

The ability of students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to stand eye to eye, toe to toe with gun rights advocates on the national stage has been jaw dropping.  How could that happen? It has happened because they had the skills provided by their school and credibility untainted by campaign donations and ideology. They were the survivors; they had been on the receiving end of an AR-15,.They channeled their grief and trauma into political action with such fervor and earnestness,  their motivation was difficult to question, as much as Russian bots and right wing conspiracists tried.

The students have held their own  on national television, appearing with professionals and adults on both sides of the  second amendment rights debate.. They have no fear in taking on the NRA and they do it with communications skills that only a fraction ,of adults with media training could muster.  They have also done so with political sophistication and a grasp of the issues. Now those students have called for a nation wide protest march in Washington on March 24. Decades of protest marches, and especially the women’s marches in the past two years , provide their template.  

How did those students  get such media savvy? Their high school’s curriculum  and extracurricular activities enabled them.. Stoneman Douglas provides an active debate program, and by a stroke of fate the November topic of debate was “gun control’. Their trained student speakers  were loaded with knowledge of the issues. In addition, this mega size suburban school has its own television station and the first student on camera was David Hogg, a debater, the television station manager, and news presenter. Let us not discount either that  this new generation of students is accustomed to speaking into cell phones , taking selfies, and texting in sound bites and they can run circles around older generations in the use of social media. Microphones and cameras do not spook them and they are armed with  the skills to communicate with the masses.

Have those students had success so far? Florida was one of the most wide open, permissive states in the union for gun rights. Local governments were even forbidden to establish their own regulations.  Before the students arrived in buses to lobby the, the state lawmakers closed their ears to what the knew would be the students’ goal, to ban assault type weapon sales. The students took to national TV and threatened to take down those legislators in the next election. While sales of assault weapons were not banned, the Florida legislature saw they needed to do something.  They passed legislation that raised the minimum age to purchase any firearm from 18 to 21, imposed a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases, banned bump stocks, and gave law enforcement greater power to commit people who they thought would be a threat,.The law also funded school police officers and mental health counselors, improved tip lines, and, in a compromise bow to the NRA, allowed  local school districts and sheriffs to have the option to arm certain school personnel. Not included, however, was closing the “lie and try” loophole that which still makes it easier for felons to buy guns. The governor, though reluctant to arm teachers or school personnel, signed the legislation Friday. The students and their parents called the legislation “a good first step”, inferring they were not done yet.





Edited to include a discussion of solutions, 2/22/18


March 7, 2018 : Florida Senate pass and goes on to House who passed the bill. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/political-pulse/os-gun-bill-final-vote-20180307-story.html

Cross these young adults at your own risk. They have the tools to lead these movements and high school seniors reaching 18 can vote in November 2018, millions of them nationwide.The rising American electorate including, those newly turning 18 , millennials and others, number eight million. . Missing has been a motivation to register and turnout to vote. These school massacres putting students' lives personally in jeopardy will provide unprecedented motivation.and presents an opportunity for this movement. https://www.voterparticipation.org/2017/09/2966/ http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/new-survey-young-staying-liberal-conservatives-dying-off.htm

What Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland have in common is that these are suburban type of schools, ,with well educated articulate parents , and demographics similar to suburbs elsewhere. Whether the trend to losses of the GOP in the suburbs will be intensified by the sympathy toward stricter gun control is not yet measured. However, it is possible. parents and grandparents in suburbs around the country can easily imagine what happened in Parkland could happen to them and their children and translate that into large election day turnout and votes for supporters of stricter gun control.. This could be an additional motivation for those suburban women who are already inspired by the women's marches, #me too, and the issues they highlighted.
I know it is hard for us older folks to believe students have the ability to articulate and lead a movement. So much so, the pro gun radical fringes have invented a conspiracy theory that some deep state and outside forces or paid crisis actors are leading them. This 3000 student school , Marjory Stoneman Douglas, is like many large suburban type schools near large metro areas. .It is the top ranked academic school in Broward, County. Schools now provide video and TV training as part of their academic courses.Marjory Stoneman Douglas even has its own TV station. Its student manager, David Hogg, was the target of a right wing conspiracy smear, claiming he was a "crisis actor".He is a bonafide student and runs the highschool's TV station. Yes, they have one...Two of my granddaughters participated in debate or journalism in their high school in Centennial, Colorado.. Debate clubs , stage performance opportunities were offered in the Parkland school.The school district places heavy emphasis on debate. Hogg was also on the debate team and the debate topic in November was gun control. The students in that high school were well prepared to be advocates. Use of video social media keeps kids from being camera and microphone shy and its forces them to speak in sound bites. . Those are communication skills this young generation has that many before them did not have a chance to develop, but they are key to providing leadership. Some of the student spokespersons/survivors interviewed on TV shortly after the Parkland massacre were JR ROTC members, also products of great leadership training. Unlike my day, the internet makes keeping up with current events so much more pertinent, in their face, and easier. to access leaving them with a level of political sophistication generations before them did not have . They are no one's fool. They also have templates to tap of successful mass rallies and marches. The women's march for the past two years provide methods and strategies Expect them to use them.

The Florida House cut the high school crusade off at the knees before they even listened to the students by refusing to bring their issues up for debate at the outset. This is a great civics lesson. The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind. The high school students  have  public opinion and sympathy filling their sails. 2/3 of voters favor an assault weapon ban per the most recent poll.  When a movement is stonewalled like this, change lies in voting out state and federal representatives district by district and replacing them. 

Waiting for more God in our lives or reversing our culture to old fashioned ways is not a solution to an epidemic happening now.  So what could the students  ask legislators to do?    One approach  alone is not  the answer. Each proposal I have heard has some weaknesses as well as some advantages  The answer  lies in "many of the above".from improving mental health services, tip lines, background checks, even metal detectors, more uniformed and armed guards in school. 

Above all, banning assault weapons and enhancements  to increase their deadliness within a few minutes and with minimal skill would be the single most effective policy. If the latter is done, raising ages required to buy such weapons or even expanding and improving background check data bases to include court determined  extreme risk individuals known to be violently  angry or mentally ill, and arming teachers would be less necessary to defend against young adult or teenage males bearing AR-15.

 Both the shooter in this case and the Aurora theater killer had access and sought mental health care, but  there are very strict laws to protect their rights and law enforcement failed to follow up even when they could. Even mental health professionals tell me they cannot always spot a potential mass killer and not all killers are mentally ill. Some are just consumed with anger. That illustrates the weakness and room for improvement for   relying solely  on mental health services . Tip lines certainly need to get  more serious attention. Expanding  those eligible to be included in universal round checks may help. 

 .  Putting in metal detection at entrances might work, but it could be difficult in open campuses and multi building schools such as the one in Parkland, Florida. Restricting open campuses and hardened building entrances may help.  There was active shooter training and community police officers in the Parkland school .It was not enough..Arming teachers? A teacher armed with a concealed  handgun is supposed to outgun a person armed with an AR15 without killing  innocents in the crossfire? A first responder may mistake a gun wielding teacher for the perp  and shoot him, too. This idea  is one where the cure could  be worse than the disease  and it may wither away for lack of participants. There are no teachers I know  or teacher organizations who would participate. More uniformed, trained security guards would make more sense so hang  the expense and do it..  

Banning future  sales of assault weapons  or raising the age to 21 to buy an assault weapons with  long enough cooling off periods to do a background check would make it harder  for teenagers to get weapons that can kill seventeen people in 6 minutes.  Banning bump stocks or reducing the size of clips can  also reduce the numbers killed.  With a nation awash with AR 15s, and taking them away from  current gun owners  is a non-starter. for me. However,  a voluntary buy back program might reduce some of the existing stock at risk for theft and misuse by criminals and family members.











Also see prior blogposts: Reflections on the Parkland shooting and a Facebook debate between a pro gun advocate and me.


Footenote: David Hogg was accused of being a “conspiracy actor’ in part because his post shooting interviews were well spoken, but he runs the highschool TV station and produced an  video of the event. You Tube and Trending yanked the conspiracy postings and apologized. Fact checker Snopes did a thorough investigation of the conspiracy postings and debunked them.https://www.snopes.com/2018/02/20/right-wing-media-david-hogg/

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

American elections for Americans

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, March 5-7, 2018

Due to recent developments and my decision to revise this in a condensed form,to be published in the newspaper I have revised and upddated the version posted 2/20 on March 1, 2018.

Revised, March 1, 2018

Trump supporters   may chant Make America  Great Again or put  America First, but they should be chanting instead: American  Elections for Americans and Make Democracy Great Again.  They are not.   Should you care?  The Russians  have demonstrated the ability to manipulate individual voters, your vote, your thoughts, and your participation in the American version of democracy Russians seek to undermine.   We should be in charge of our own destiny instead of having some foreign adversary bend us to their will  . However,  polls show as many as half ,of Americans do not put this as top of their concerns list and 83% of Republicans in January still believed the Mueller probe is a witch hunt.  So many have buried their heads in the sands of denial or blame Obama for failing to do what President Trump refuses to do.  Could it be that  some even welcome a foreign force interference that supports their leader and  their beliefs? What goes around can come around, and imagine in a future election,  Chinese active measures would favor a Democratic candidate’s trade and military policies.  They have the skills. The Russians got away with it; why would not they?

The Mueller indictment of the 13 Russians for their  execution of a campaign  to swing the 2016 elections toward Donald Trump has  had a very disturbing reaction from  many on the right. Some even called the Mueller Russian indictments a “nothing burger” .    It was not nothing that the Russians undertook  a million dollar a month campaign on behalf of Donald Trump’s election.  Even social media CEOs admitted to Congress in the fall  the Russian bots reached 120 million voters.  The indictment found that “by 2016, the size of many (Russian) organization-controlled groups had grown to hundreds of thousands of online followers.“

It was not a nothing burger  that Russians attempted to hack into twenty one states’ election data bases and succeeded to penetrate those of Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.  Though Pres. Obama was not told of the actual penetration until his last week in office, in October  2016 he did  publcly warn twenty one states of the Russian attempts and he did take some measures behind the scenes. President Trump has refused to activate sanctions authorized by Congress last year against Russians.  He instead has launched attacks against the FBI, AG Sessions, and Mueller. Admiral Michael Rogers, NSA director and US Cyber chief  testified at  the Senate Military Affairs committee Februaru 27, 2018,  that he has not  received additonal orders he needs  from Trump to disrupt Russian cyberattacks targeting upcoming  elections.
The indictment  of the thirteen Russians did not assess whether the Russian conspiracy tilted  the election to Trump.  It did report  three Trump staffers were unwitting participants.   Did the Russian efforts support the election of Donald Trump?   Yes it did by early to mid-2016.   Identified Trump supporters  were not the only targets. Russian campaigns on social media exhorted Democrats to vote for Jill Stein (Green Party) and Bernie Sanders in order to divide and weaken Hillary Clinton. By the hundreds of thousands,  Americans retweeted, reposted, shared the messages well crafted  by the Russians posing as Americans  to make them hate immigrants, African American activists, Muslims  more  than before and  to love guns even more. Russian bots claimed in October 2016 that there was election fraud, but offered no proof. They also hyped scary false social media postings  of Muslims supporting Sharia law. Read the indictment yourself at https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477 to see if you too were unwittingly  taken in.

A private study of identified Russian bots and trolls revealed that conservatives retweeted trolls 30 times more than liberals and most retweeters of Russian trolls came from Texas and Tennessee. The methodology of this study is at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/inside-the-study-showing-conservatives-retweeted-russian-trolls-30-times-more-often-than-liberals



original 2/20 version
Trump supporters  may chant Make America  Great Again or put  America First, but they should be chanting instead: American  Elections for Americans and Make Democracy Great Again.  They are not. The Mueller indictment of the 13 Russians for their  execution of a campaign  to swing the 2016 elections toward Donald Trump has  had a very disturbing reaction from  many on the right , both in their media  and in their Facebook comments. Some even called the Mueller Russian indictments a “nothing burger” .   It was not nothing that the Russians undertook  a million dollar a month campaign on behalf of Donald Trump’s election.  Even social media CEOs admitted to Congress in the fall  the Russian bots reached 120 million voters.  The indictment found that by 2016, the size of many (Russian) ORGANIZATION-controlled groups had grown to hundreds of thousands of online followers.“

The indictment did not assess whether the Russian conspiracy tilted  the election to Trump.  It left that issue  simply unaddressed.  Did the Russian efforts support the election of Donald Trump?   Yes it did . Revealed in the indictment  “by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”  If the Russians' purpose was to increase greater enthusiastic turnout of those leaning to Trump and to depress Clinton supporter enthusiasm, they probably were a factor. PEW research exploring why pollsters in the midwest rust belt were wrong was that they failed to measure the enthusiasm factor correctly.

I speculate  the reason  Trump supporters have responded as they  did is that they believe  it helped their guy win; the Russians  were on their side; go blame Obama, not the one in the White House in over a year who called the whole thing a hoax and still does not care to do anything about it. Trump has failed to take any action or leadership to harden our election systems or to punish Russians with executing sanctions as  Congress directed him to do. Instead he has made those blowing the whistle, the intelligence agencies and the FBI, the object of his disaffection and biased against him. He perpetuated the “hoax” and “witch hunt” myth as he  ignored the evidence intelligence agencies  presented in last year’s Congressional hearings..  Even now, he claims he was cleared of collusion. Left hanging by the indictment is that there are  unindicted co-conspirators. Besides ,  findings of obstruction of justice and financial crimes, as well as other kinds of conspiracies  were not addressed in this one announcement of indictments that was  limited to Russian social media use.

While the indictment revealed  at least three Trump campaign officials were unwitting participants,  in another way the unwitting  American supporters of the Russian campaign numbered in the hundreds of thousands, too.  They could well be some reading this. Identified Trump supporters were not the only targets. Russian campaigns on social media exhorted Democrats to vote for Jill Stein (Green Party) and Bernie Sanders in order to divide and weaken Hillary Clinton.
The Russians manipulated  the Trump loyalists and  they too unknowingly carried the Russian messages  on social media to millions . By the hundreds of thousands,  Americans retweeted, reposted, shared the messages well crafted  by the Russians posing as Americans  to make them hate immigrants, African American activists, Muslims  more  than before and  to love guns even more. Russian bots claimed in October 2016 that there was election fraud, but offered no proof. They also hyped scary false social media postings  of Muslims supporting Sharia law. I was wondering why anti-Sharia law hysteria had  such a  sudden rebirth  then and an  anti Muslim speaker was  featured in an event  on an unrelated subject held in my own county last summer. Now I have an idea why.

Some examples from the indictment are that  the (Russian) “ORGANIZATION controlled pages addressed a range of issues, including: immigration (with group names including “Secured Borders”); the Black Lives Matter movement (with group names including “Blacktivist”); religion (with group names including “United Muslims of America” and “Army of Jesus”); and certain geographic regions within the United States (with group names including “South United” and “Heart of Texas”).

Russians are still at it. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school massacre, Russian bots immediately appeared on social messages with anti gun control messages and hyping arming teachers.



The newest blast from the White House is to hit the FISA court issue as
pinpointed in the Nunes memo...That the.. FBI failed to disclose that the 
Carter Page surveillance request included references to the Steele dossier.
It did, in the footnotes, though it did not name the exact source of the financing.
This s purely a distraction from the release of the indictments of the thirteen
Russians who engaged in espionage and a propaganda campaign through social
media to influence voters in the 2016 campaign. Instead of barking up this tree,
Trump and the extreme right wing should stop trying to distract voters and instead
take the Russian attempt to attack our electoral system seriously. The disgrace
is Trump's failure to take actions to protect our electoral system's integrity.