With all the bad news regarding possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration interfering with the 2016 election, it’s hard to understand how so many Democrats and Republicans alike, members of national voting organizations, etc., continue to deny we have a major problem with our national computerized voting system.
A recent piece in “The Nation” is a must read for non-believers. It’s short, well-researched and well-written, and will put to rest all the tired arguments of how we have the most secure and fair voting system in the world. It’s also an alarming wake-up call, along with many others, that we must address this problem ASAP. Sadly, this administration appears to be actively engaged in undermining and stone-walling all efforts for fair and transparent elections. The State Department’s refusal to use $80M earmarked to fight Russian propaganda, which was successfully weaponized against our country in the last election cycle, due to fear it will “anger” Moscow, has also angered some legislators in Washington. Whether they fulfill their duty to protect our country against a dangerous and dysfunctional administration currently under investigation is another matter.
The July 31st edition of Time included a special report on “Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot” by Massimo Calabresi. The article details the federal government’s attempt to secure the 2016 elections after it became apparent that Russian hackers had broken into more than 20 state and local voter election systems. The 15 page previously undisclosed plan is here.
In June of 2016, voter registration databases were successfully changed by hackers in California which led to the need to use provisional ballots in the primary elections. Three weeks afterward in Illinois, along with a similar attack in Arizona, a Russian agent accessed the state’s voter-registration site and uploaded malicious software (SQL) which “opened a back door to all 15 million files on past and current voters”. The hackers were successful in stealing 90,0000 files before an alarm was triggered when they attempted to download all 15 million files. Changes made to voter registrations were caught by the FBI as there was a full backup of the system before the SQL attack. These brazen attacks, among others, signaled that the Russians’ game plan had changed from collecting intelligence, as had been done in previous election cycles, to a “possible intent to meddle with the vote.”
As the administration worked to halt the damage, Trump continuously denied Moscow’s involvement with the hacking and blamed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of hacking itself. With the stolen email dump prior to the DNC convention, he doubled down on the claims. As if on cue, August 1st, he said, “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged.” Two days later, when the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, said he was considering declaring elections “part of the U.S. critical infrastructure, along with…the banking and electrical systems,” it was met with suspicion of partisanship by many of the states which seriously hampered the administration’s ability to respond to the attacks.
The continuous fueling of anti-government suspicion by Trump seemed to work in his favor as it made the President reticent to issue a stronger statement nationally as it would be portrayed as political meddling in favor of the Democratic candidate. President Obama did warn Putin and put into place a plan to counteract a full-out Russian attack on our election. In the meantime, the attacks continued with infiltration attempts into most states, including the electoral systems of Florida and New Mexico.
The election went off “free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective” according to officials, however, doubts about the security of our election system are spreading. The FBI’s counterintelligence probe about Russia aiding Trump’s campaign only began in earnest after the elections. The FBI’s preoccupation with Clinton’s emails prior to the election resulted in their Russian probe not getting “any intelligence legs until after the election,” a puzzling and disturbing blunder with questionable political overtones.
As the administration cozies up to Putin and the focus on methods of protecting our elections from Russian interference disappears, fears about fair elections are becoming widespread. With Trump’s creation of an “election-integrity commission” demanding the centralization of voters’ personal information from every state, many worry the true goal of the commission is voter suppression of Democratic voters. Republican efforts to defund the $8 million Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which guides states in conducting fair and safe elections, is being met with suspicion as well.
A recent Gallup poll found most Americans (70%) are not confident in the honesty of our electoral system. What a disaster for our democracy, especially since the current power structure seems to be quite happy with the situation and is tightening the noose on fair elections with additional questionable tactics. When finally no one has the confidence to show up to vote, they’ve won and we’ll have a permanent government in place, no voters necessary. A government of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, for the oligarchs.
As the known attendees to Trump, Jr.’s now infamous June meeting last year expand and are slowly revealed, here’s an educated guess about what may have been the most important agenda item of the meeting. (It has to do with “ownership” and is a sobering reminder of the risks facing our country, especially given the collapse of our protections enshrined in the separation of powers of the three branches of government.)
There will be a special place in “hell” for those legislators who looked the other way (both Democrats and Republicans) while our country was attacked, and now controlled, by foreign and domestic enemies.
As our country “erodes before our eyes”, Amy Siskind has been keeping a list of our country’s vanishing norms and long-cherished values these past five months under Trump’s “blitzkrieg” of our democracy. It records in black and white the frightening changes that have come about since the Russians’ cyber attack successfully installed their pick into the White House. It’s a lengthy itemization and an ugly thing to behold and will surely lead to more sleepless nights as concealed things are revealed. For example, one tidbit I hadn’t heard of:
Amy advises that “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.” And, hopefully, one day with a Congress that isn’t aiding and abetting treason, we’ll be able to find our way back to Democracy.
So many of us, in an attempt to preserve our sanity, are averting our eyes to the carnage being carried out in Washington under this regime. Ms. Siskind deserves a medal for her arduous task of recording for history this revolting and illegal depravity being waged upon our country.
The breaking news yesterday was the “leak” of Donald Trump’s old tax return from 2005. What a marvelous thing to behold. Two pages of “meh.” Where are his latest returns with back up documents showing the depth of his foreign entanglements, er, business arrangements? I wasn’t the only one thinking that the leak was a little too convenient for this administration and very uninformative for us.
The leaked unsubstantiated dossier that detailed salacious stories of Trump’s penchant for “golden showers,” election tampering and nefarious business dealings were unsettling and disturbing but are now being confirmed, bit by bit, over time. One of the most damning details in the file (page 30) were allegations that Trump operatives were in Russia attempting to make secret oil deals (the figure in the file was an offer of a 19% stake in the Rosneft oil company) in exchange for a Trump administration acquiescing to Putin’s demands of lifting sanctions, etc. A reported recent sale of a 19.5% stake of Rosneft to a shadowy owner with links to the Cayman Islands seems strangely coincidental. “Who is the real buyer of a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft?” Sergey Aleksashenko, a former deputy head of Russia’s central bank, wrote in his blog recently. Many of us would also like to know the answer to that question.
The latest revelations seem to be getting increasingly serious. Over the last few weeks, a litany of mysterious connections and business dealings have been coming to light involving Trump and his associates, both foreign and domestic. An excellent and thorough breakdown, but probably not the end of the story, of this administration’s history of foreign entanglements and shady dealings is in a recent Daily Kos piece. The link is being updated as new information comes in and citations/links are listed with each bullet point. It’s a depressing read but necessary to understand the full scope of scandal emanating from the White House/“Winter White House”. Shakespeare would be in awe of the convoluted and tragic tale we now find ourselves in.
The constant drumbeat of late-breaking news items, nutty presidential tweets, recusals, firings, accusations, threats, leaks, and insane executive orders and appointments are breathtakingly bizarre, harmful and destabilizing. The “shock and awe” theory of warfare promoted during the Iraq war seems to have been reconfigured for use on our civilian population by Washington insiders, perhaps with the aid of another country. Congress seems to have dismissed our Constitution’s decree for the establishment of our common defense and protection of our justice system, peace, liberty and welfare. So far, Republicans have refused to launch an independent investigation into the ominous and mounting allegations. As a prescribed check on unlawful and treasonous power, they are on the wrong side of this issue and history will not look kindly on their failure to do their duty and their complicity in putting our country at risk.
The question of Trump’s involvement with Russia is of such importance that we must demand an investigation by a select bipartisan panel of Congress. If not done properly, doubts about Russian policy and the integrity of our national security system will persist as long as Trump is President. Congress must fulfill their pledge to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The news is grim, but without a little laughter, the current chaos might prove overwhelming. It’s time to dry your eyes and have a giggle at the Saturday Night Live take on the spineless rats in Congress.
Talk about false equivalence. This cartoon is distasteful on a number of levels. I guess the same people that find “The Orlando Sentinel’s” Mallard Fillmore funny (are there really people that do?) would probably like this.
It’s frightening that the woman leading the department of education is so “uninformed,” to put it mildly, that she would make a statement this stupid about black universities. As Albert Einstein once said, “Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed.” The “successful businessman” residing in the White House/Winter White House manages to attain them all! Something to “make America great again” or three strikes and you’re out?