Monday, February 19, 2018

How the take down of Al Franken was orchestrated by the Right Wing and supported by Russian Twitter bots.

Courtesy of Newsweek:

While everyone has been focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to support Donald Trump, the Franken take-down originated in—and was propelled by—a strategic online campaign with digital tentacles reaching to, of all places, Japan. Analysts have now mapped out how the initial accusation against Franken by Hooters pinup girl and lad-mag model Leeann Tweeden was turned into effective propaganda after first being hinted at by right wing black ops master Roger Stone.

A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral—and then weaponized a liberal writer's criticism of Franken. The bot army, in tandem with prominent real live human right-wingers with Twitter followers in the millions, such as Mike Cernovich, spewed thousands of posts, helping the #frankenfondles hashtag and the "Franken is a groper" meme effectively silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat before he resigned last year. 

The operation commenced on November 15, when Roger Stone— who is now banned from Twitter for racism and profanity—tweeted from one of his accounts “Roger Stone says it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the barrel.’ Franken next in long list of Democrats accused of ‘grabby’ behavior.” 

On the same day, a web domain called realusa.site was registered in Japan by a developer named Atsufumi Otsuka. A fake-news website was then established at that web address, and then a second one was created a few days later, according to research shared with the voting rights research outfit Unhack the Vote. 

Tweeden’s account of being groped by Franken was first amplified by a network of right wing media, including KABC in Los Angeles, where Tweeden has a radio show, The Hill, Infowars and Breitbart, which mobilized within hours of Stone's tweet and the release of a picture of a Tweeden and Franken clowning around at a USO performance before he was a senator.

By November 17, the trending of “Al Franken” was officially also a Russia Intelligence operation, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization tracking Russian social media accounts, based on a sample taken that day of 600 of the fake accounts.

There is apparently a sophisticated botnet called "The Voty botnet" that was instrumental in pushing a story by a liberal writer called “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You But You Can’t Matter Anymore” out to millions of people.

That article provided legitimacy for actual liberals to pile on Al Franken as well, and before you knew it Democrats like Kirsten Gillibrand were calling for his resignation. 

The rest, as they say, is history. 

And this serves as yet another reminder that it is not only the Right Wing who can be manipulated by Russian tactics online, but also seemingly intelligent liberals.

We have to examine literally every bit of information we see to discover its roots, and to determine if it is indeed accurate, before we accept it as fact.

This puts a huge burden on each of us, but right now this is essentially our only defense against allowing ourselves to be used to spread and weaponize misinformation.

So wait, WHAT almost happened with the nuclear football?

Courtesy of Axios:  

On Thursday Nov. 9, when President Trump and his team visited Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football. 

I've spoken to five sources familiar with the events. Here's what happened, as they describe it: 

When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry. (The official who carries the nuclear football is supposed to stay close to the president at all times, along with a doctor.) 

A U.S. official hurried into the adjoining room and told Kelly what was happening. Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking — "We're moving in," he said — and the Americans all started moving. 

Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man’s hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground. 

The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it. Trump's team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing, according to a person familiar with the trip — but somebody at the Chinese end either didn't get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.

The article goes on to state that at no time did the Chinese have the nuclear football in their possession, but I do not take a whole lot of comfort in that.

It sounds to me like the Trump Administration barely avoided yet another foreign relations nightmare.

This is what happens when a puppet of the Kremlin fills his cabinet with the modern version of the Keystone Kops.

All I have to say is that we NEVER heard stories like this during the Obama Administration.

Rush Limbaugh literally went on Fox News yesterday to say that the solution to school shootings in more guns in the schools.

Courtesy of HuffPo: 

Minutes after interviewing a group of Parkland, Florida, students organizing marches in response to the mass shooting at their school, “Fox News Sunday” put conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh on the air to dismiss their plans and condemn them for trying to advance a “political agenda.” 

“Marches aren’t going to solve it,” Limbaugh told Chris Wallace, the program’s host, after a segment featuring student survivors of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed the lives of 17 of their classmates and school faculty members. 

“Chris, the next shooter is out there. The next shooter probably has the gun that he’s going to use. … How is anything that we’re talking about going to stop that?” he asked of the planned demonstration. 

Limbaugh then proposed guns be allowed in schools. 

“The solution to me ― and I know this is going to cause all kinds of angst ― but the solution is we need concealed carry (of weapons) in the schools,” he said.

You know I would say that this is unbelievable, but of course it's not, it's exactly what you would expect from the Right Wing.

Well for a counterpoint I offer these statements from two of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 
I wonder how much money Limbaugh receives from the NRA?

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will plead guilty to fraud related charges, and has agreed to testify against Paul Manafort.

Courtesy of CNN: 

Former Trump presidential campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to testify against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and will plead guilty to fraud related charges, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The Times reported Sunday a revised plea will be presented in federal court "within the next few days." 

CNN first reported last week that Gates was finalizing a plea deal and that he had been in plea negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller's team for a month. 

Gates can expect "a substantial reduction in his sentence," to likely about 18 months in prison if he cooperates with the investigation, according to the LA Times report. He is also likely going to have to forfeit any cash or valuables obtained through his alleged illegal activity. 

Aside from the legal maneuvering, the father of four has faced personal and financial pressure to bring his legal proceedings to a speedy resolution, a person familiar with the situation told CNN.

Apparently Gates had hoped that wealthy GOP donors would have come to his rescue and donate to his defense fund, but since he is not a gun lobby or a candidate running for office, they simply could not be bothered.

I wrote about this on Friday, but now we know some of the details.

This of course ramps up pressure on Manafort who seems so far to be holding his ground, and maintains that he is not guilty of the charges against him.

Let's see how long that lasts now.

Sarah Palin brags about Breitbart giving her a platform after the Gabby Giffords shooting when Roger Ailes tried to keep her from embarrassing herself.

Still  from Sarah Palin's "Blood Libel" video.
Unfortunately I have to link to Breitbart in order to share this story.

I of course do not encourage you to click the link, but it is only good blogging etiquette to provide it.

Courtesy of Breitbart:  

The late Andrew Breitbart helped Sarah Palin defend herself when Fox News Channel’s former Chairman Roger Ailes denied her the opportunity to respond on air to the media’s false accusations framing her for inciting the attempted assassination of former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords (D-AZ) in the days immediately following the 2011 Tucson mass shooting incident. 

“If it weren’t for Breitbart, so much of our commonsense defense wouldn’t have gotten out there, because I was working for Fox News at the time, and I was not allowed to go on the air to defend myself for days,” Palin said, speaking publicly about this for the first time, during a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with Breitbart’s Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour.

(That's right, Palin and RAM together again.)

“I think that that time was our toughest time in this last decade of being out there on a public platform, [with] false accusations that we were to blame for the Gabby Giffords shooting,” said Palin. “If it weren’t for Breitbart, so much of our commonsense defense wouldn’t have gotten out there, because I was working for Fox News at the time, and I was not allowed to go on the air to defend myself for days, and finally I bucked management of Fox News—I never even talked about this publicly—I bucked management and said, ‘I’ll do my own video, and I’ll post it, and I’ll explain to people that, no, we are not to blame.’ My relationship with Fox was never the same after that.” 

Palin noted Ailes’ repeated refusal to allow her a platform to defend herself from a barrage of media attacks falsely accusing her of inciting mass murder. 

“I had asked [Roger Ailes], ‘How many days do we have to go listening to this with no defense articulated at all? May I please go on the air?’ And he wouldn’t let me,” said Palin. “So that was a tough time.”

Ailes, for his part, was simply trying to protect his on air talent from embarrassing herself and attracting national ridicule, since at that time she was still considered a draw for Fox News.

Of course Palin defied Ailes, made her now famous "Blood Libel" video, and attracted far more scorn and ridicule than any amount of silence on her part would ever have brought down on her.

Which apparently she STILL does not realize.

Palin went on to make it even worse: 

“[I wish] people understood what it does to a family, how it potentially could rip apart a family because everybody has a different idea of how to react to the circumstances around you, and that causes some stress,” said Palin. “I thank God every day that I have a strong family, and we’re doing great. Hopefully our story could inspire people to know that whatever they’re facing, the sun will come out tomorrow and things can get better. It’s just a matter of how you react to sometimes horrible circumstances around you.”

That's right folks the sun WILL come out tomorrow, and then if you have a "strong family" like the Palins by tomorrow evening your son might break into your house and beat your husband half to death, or y'all might show up drunk to a party and end up fighting with just about everybody until the police arrive, or you could once again wind up in court trying to help your daughter attempt to take custody away from another one her baby daddies. 

Apparently in Palin's world that's what constitutes "doing great." 

Did you see former Green Party candidate Jill Stein essentially lose her shit on MSNBC yesterday?

Courtesy of Raw Story:  

Speaking with MSNBC’s Alex Witt, the two-time nominee at times shouted over the host, after deflecting questions about Russian involvement in her campaign, saying she knew of only one post on her Facebook page out of “trillions” posted on the social media site. 

As Witt attempted to ask the candidate if she was aware of Russian’s helping her campaign, Stein talked over the host, complaining that they should be discussing the “$6 billion dollars” in free advertising the networks gave to then-candidate Donald Trump. 

“No, we were not aware,” Stein exclaimed. “Let me say we were aware of other kinds of interference. For example, we know that $6 billion in free air time was given to Donald Trump by the big networks. Six billion, this was twice as much as Hillary Clinton’s campaign and four times as much as Bernie Sanders’ campaign and way more than the independent candidates.” 

“But it is not Russian interference, and I am proud to say that we had you on our broadcast several times and I had you on in person,” Witt reminded the former candidate. 

“Donald Trump, he was damn good, that was the word — he was damn good for the networks even though he was not good for America.,” Stein pressed on, ignoring Witt. “The point I am making here, Alex, is we don’t want to miss the forest here through the trees. Yes, there was Russia interference but there was compelling interference going on by way of media and the DNC. Did the DNC did not rig the primaries?”

No they didn't.

And that conspiracy theory has already been debunked multiple times. 

You know I could almost understand people supporting Bernie Sanders, I mean he seemed reasonable and intelligent.

But Jill Stein is a fucking lunatic.

Third party candidates, and protest votes, are a waste of time, and I hope after what we saw in 2016 that simple fact is now universally understood.

We are in war here, and standing on the sidelines, or backing a loser candidate to "make a point," is a luxury that we simply do not have.

I think this is one "conspiracy theory" that I am totally on board with.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

CNN is holding a town hall and inviting Donald Trump and other Republican politicians to meet and talk to the family and victims of the Florida school shooting.

Courtesy of CNN: 

The school shooting in Florida this week has sparked a renewed call for lawmakers to take action, and some of the loudest voices demanding change are not even old enough to vote. 

The tragic event, which occurred Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history. Seventeen people -- 14 students and three teachers -- were killed and many more injured. 

Now, led by the students, this South Florida community is demanding answers on how this could have occurred and are asking what steps will federal and state authorities take to prevent this from happening again.

To help facilitate the discussion, CNN has announced it will hold a nationally televised town hall with the victims' classmates, parents and community members. "Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action" will air live at 9 p.m., ET, on Wednesday, February 21 at the BB&T Center. 

In addition, President Donald Trump, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with the state's Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ted Deutch have all been invited to participate in the town hall and hear directly from the grieving community.

Well first off Donald Trump will NEVER show.

Trump is the biggest coward to ever sit behind that desk in the Oval Office and the possibility that he might sit and listen to what these kids had to say in person is absolutely zero.

I mean can you even imagine how Trump would deal with the likes of Emma Gonzalez, or this young man?
I bet he is wetting his plus size Depends at the very thought.

And I would imagine that the same holds true for Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and the rest of the Republican politicians.

I hope that Bill Nelson and some of the other Democrats prioritize this however as it would provide a very powerful message to the voters come the 2018 and 2020 elections.

I know I'm going to be watching.

The White House is pushing the idea that the Russian interference had no impact on the outcome of the 2016 election. But that is false.

That tweet is actually part of a longer campaign by the Trump White House to dismiss the impact of the Russian interference by claiming that even if it happened it did not have any effect.

But that is NOT what the intelligence agencies determined.

Courtesy of Politico:  

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday rebuffed a claim by Vice President Mike Pence that intelligence officials concluded that Russian meddling didn't have "any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election," saying it "stretches credulity" to say Moscow's interference didn't affect any voters' decisions.

"The intelligence community has neither the authority nor the capability to make such a judgment as to whether there was or was not impact on the election," Clapper said. "And we did not say that." 

Clapper added that it was "absolutely" possible that foreign influence campaigns had swayed voters, even though authorities had not made a definitive ruling on the matter. 

“I will say now that I’m not in an official position that it stretches credulity, given the magnitude, scope and depth of the Russian efforts, that they didn’t have impact on individual voter decisions," Clapper said. "But again, the intelligence community did not and could not gauge the impact on individual voter decisions.”

And keep in mind that just because these most recent indictments make no allegations that the meddling changed the outcome of the election, does not mean that is the conclusion of the intelligence agencies, or that it will be Mueller's ultimate conclusion.

Wired Magazine certainly disagrees that the Russians did not alter the outcome of the election in an article entitled DID RUSSIA AFFECT THE 2016 ELECTION? IT’S NOW UNDENIABLE: 

The groups and narratives identified in the indictment were integral parts of the frenzied election circus that built momentum, shaped perceptions, and activated a core base of support for now-President Trump—just as they helped disgust and dismay other groups, making them less likely to vote (or to vote for marginal candidates in protest). 

In the indictment, Trump campaign officials are referred to as “unwitting” participants in Russian information warfare. This gives the White House an out—and a chance to finally act against what the Kremlin did. But the evidence presented in the indictment makes it increasingly hard to say Russian efforts to influence the American mind were a failure.

In my mind there has never really been a question of whether the Russians altered the outcome of the election.

Of course they did.

But they also had help from James Comey, the House Republicans with their constant investigations, and the American media.

I am not sure that the Russians could have pulled this off without that extra help, but I do know that with this victory they are only going to amplify their efforts in the elections to come.

Putting in place strong sanctions, and protections, might head that off.

But with Putin's puppet in the White House, we know that will likely not happen.

Donald Trump has gone off on some Twitter Tantrums before but today he may have reached a new low.

Well besides this being almost unbelievably immature, it is also inaccurate.

What Schiff actually said was this:  

"While I respect the motive in terms of the Obama administration, they didn't want to be seen as meddling, the American people had a right to know what was going on and could be trusted to do the right thing with it. And they should have defended being more public and aggressive at the time, at least in my view."

This is a common criticism of the Obama Administration from those of us on the Left, but it does not say Obama did nothing, after all he started the whole Russian investigation ball rolling, it just suggests that he could have done more.

If you are looking for somebody who has done NOTHING, well I refer you to the author of that tweet.
That is untrue as well.

Courtesy of The Hill:  

Trump last year said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when Putin said he didn't meddle in the 2016 election. 

“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said last November.

Well someone's pants are on fire. 
That's just pathetic.
I think we can all agree that the Russians are laughing their asses off (So presidential by the way.), but they are laughing every time Trump opens his mouth and they remember that THEY were the ones that helped to put him in the White House.
Pretty sure Trump is retweeting a Russian troll here, which of course makes perfect sense since they are still his most aggressive supporters.

This to me demonstrates a man that is having a very public psychotic break.

I imagine behind the scenes that Trump is experience huge mood swings and is likely taking it out on everybody around him.

The man is for all intents and purposes in a kind of emotional free fall, and when his lard ass finally smacks into the reality of his situation they are going to have to cart him out of there in a straitjacket. 

Folks are now sending checks to lawmakers with no dollar amount filled in, but only the words "Thoughts and Prayers."

Courtesy of Newsweek: 

Amid endless calls for “thoughts and prayers” instead of legislative action in response to mass shootings, a woman in Michigan decided to take matters into her own hands. 

After Wednesday's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Fern Malila mailed a letter and a check in the amount of "thoughts and prayers" to Representative Jack Bergman, a Michigan Republican 

“Dear Rep. Bergman,” she wrote, “since you and your colleagues in Congress seem to feel that this is the solution to mass murder, please accept this contribution.”

"I did it because I'm hearing the same arguments after each and every time this happens," Malila explained to Newsweek on Friday. "Each and every news media person says contact your congressman, and Congress doesn't do anything."

A post about this went viral on Reddit, receiving over 300 comments, and it looks as if it has started a mini movement:

"My check is going in the mail today to Senator Marco Rubio — another NRA puppet!" one Florida resident wrote. "Thanks for the inspiration!"

I think it's a great idea.

And a way of demonstrating the hypocrisy shown by these lawmakers. 

If they received a deluge of mail containing checks that simply said "Thoughts and Prayers" I think at the very least it would get their attention.

In a tweet yesterday Donald Trump accused Democrats, that's right DEMOCRATS, of not wanting to do anything about gun control.

First off the Democrats did NOT have control of Congress for very long at all during the Obama Administration.

Courtesy of Ohio.com: 

In May, 2009, Robert Byrd got sick and did not return to the Senate until July 21, 2009. Even though Franken was finally seated July 7, 2009 and Byrd returned on July 21…..Democrats still only had 59 votes in the Senate because Kennedy never returned, dying on August 25, 2009. 

Kennedy’s empty seat was temporarily filled by Paul Kirk but not until September 24, 2009. 

The swearing in of Kirk finally gave Democrats 60 votes (at least potentially) in the Senate. “Total control” of Congress by Democrats lasted all of 4 months. From September 24, 2009 through February 4, 2010…at which point Scott Brown, a Republican, was sworn in to replace Kennedy’s Massachusetts seat.

This is a lie that the Republicans have been telling for eight years now, and they need to be called out on it EVERY..SINGLE..TIME!

And as for the Democrats not wanting to do anything about gun control, in the five years right after Gabby Giffords was shot the Democrats introduced more than 100 gun control bills, and they were ALL blocked by the Republicans.

Very few of them even made it to the House or Senate floor.

I know that this orange POS lies like some people draw breath, but we cannot allow him to spread this bullshit on our watch .

Top GOP donor threatens to cut off funds if Republicans don't do something about assault weapons in this country.

Courtesy of the New York Times:  

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians. 

Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer who was a leading fund-raiser for George W. Bush’s campaigns, said he would seek to marshal support among other Republican political donors for a renewed assault weapons ban. 

“For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. “It’s the end of the road for me.” 

Mr. Hoffman announced his ultimatum in an email to half a dozen Republican leaders, including Jeb Bush and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida. He wrote in the email that he would not give money to Mr. Scott, who is considering a campaign for the Senate in 2018, or other Florida Republicans he has backed in the past, including Representative Brian Mast, if they did not support new gun legislation. 

“I will not write another check unless they all support a ban on assault weapons,” he wrote. “Enough is enough!”

You know if Mr. Hoffman can get enough of his fellow GOP donors to agree with him, this might be the thing that starts a real change in this country.

It would also help if people cancelled their NRA memberships until they started lobbying for better laws to control access to these military style weapons as well. 

Just a thought.

So true it almost hurts.