you don’t have to roll the dice if you’ve already won the game

Credit where it’s due, and all that. You have to hand it to Vlad Putin. That guy — he put together a few fairly small teams of operatives, handed them a relatively small budget, and told them to go forth and fuck up the 2016 presidential election.

And they did.

Hell, they probably had a good time doing it. After all, it turned out to be fairly easy. It was basically a two-pronged approach. Prong One: create public doubt in the integrity of the election process itself. That would handicap the administration of the eventual winner regardless of who it was. Prong Two: exacerbate the already existing divisions within US culture. Just encourage everybody to hate everybody else just a little more. That would make the nation much more difficult to govern.

That’s it. That’s all they had to do. Easy peasy lemon breezy.

It was made even easier because they had a ready-made candidate. Seriously, if you sat down at a table to design a presidential candidate who to be a Russian intelligence asset, you’d want somebody who was:

  • already corrupt as fuck
  • massively ignorant about everything a president should understand
  • narcissistic to a degree that it met the standard for a personality disorder
  • completely devoid of personal loyalty or patriotism
  • insecure enough to be easily manipulated through flattery
  • resentful, impetuous, malicious, vengeful, petty, unwilling to learn, and lazy.

Why is Vlad smiling? I think we know.

So, clearly, Donald Trump. Right? I don’t think Putin believed Trump had any real chance of winning. Trump didn’t need to win in order for Putin’s plan to succeed. All Putin wanted/needed to do was to foment social discord and bugger up the election system.

The easiest, least expensive, and most effective way to do those two things? Poison social media, The Russians flooded social media with lies, half-truths, rumors, and conspiracy theories. Some of the lies were so outrageous and ridiculous that only lunatics would believe them (a pedophile ring run by lesbian Hillary Clinton out of a tunnel beneath a pizza parlor — who the hell is going to believe something like…ah, right, never mind). But it didn’t matter than some of the lies were so ridiculous. You tell an outrageous lie in order to make less outrageous lies seem more probable. Folks who hear and dismiss the Pizzagate lie would be more open to believing the Benghazi lies. Or the Hillary-has-brain-damage-from-a-fall lie.

And once those lies, half-truths, and conspiracy theories were out there in the social media sphere, the Russians could count on the Trump campaign to echo them, spreading them even more widely and making them seem a tad more legit.

I don’t know if the Russians expected the entire Republican Party to help out, but they did. And they did it with enthusiasm. They spread the lies, half-truths, and conspiracy theories with all the passion of spawning salmon. Not because they believed them, of course, but because it was to their advantage politically. I’d like to think the Russians were surprised to see Republicans so keen to undermine the electoral process, but I’m naive like that. I mean, surely the Russians wouldn’t have expected that, when their rat-fucking became obvious, the Republicans would not only refuse to acknowledge it, but would go so far as to threaten President Obama that if he made a public statement about it, they’d respond by calling it a partisan attack. Surely the Russians wouldn’t have expected Republicans to be that awful. Would they?

Yeah, okay, maybe.

Guy shouldn’t be smiling at all.

And finally, the Russians spread as much internal division as they could, pitting Hillary’s people against Bernie’s people, against Jill’s people, even against Gary Johnson’s people for fuck’s sake (although I suspect Gary Johnson’s ‘people’ were just folks who said I don’t know who he is, but he’s not a socialist or a woman, so I’ll vote for him).

Anyway, it all worked. Trump was elected by fewer than eighty thousand votes cast in three states. Since then, almost every international action he’s taken as president has benefited Russia. He’s weakened NATO, he’s insulted and alienated our traditional allies, he’s cozied up to tyrants and excused their behavior, he’s refused to accept the advice or listen to the suggestions of acknowledged experts in foreign relations, he’s pulled out of established treaties, he’s abandoned the Kurds who did most of the killing and dying in the fight against ISIS, and he’s completely corrupted the reputation of the United States. Right now, no other nation in the world has any reason to trust the word of the U.S. government.

Guy’s got good reasons to be smiling.

Again, credit where it’s due. Vlad Putin dropped a few rubles on a lottery ticket and he won. And guess what. He’s picked the same lottery numbers for the next election. And hey, with the help of Comrade Trump and the Republican Party, he’s already won. Even if Trump loses the 2020 election, even if he’s impeached and removed from office, even if everybody in the Trump administration ends up in prison, Putin has already won. Because any Democrat who wins the election will have to spend a massive amount of time and effort and money to clean up after the motherfucker.

And that serves Russian interests, Vlad fuckin’ Putin. Comrade Donald fuckin’ Trump. Jesus suffering fuck, they really did it, didn’t they.

it’s worse than that

The Republicans are lying. But it’s not just lying; it’s worse than that. The Republicans are also spreading disinformation. Disinformation is deliberate misinformation intended to distract and deceive. Disinformation is worse than a lie because it’s meant to cast the concept of truth itself into doubt.

Here’s a lie: Russia didn’t interfere with the 2016 presidential election with the intent to help Trump. It’s demonstrably not true. Ukraine was responsible for the meddling in the 2016 election — that’s a lie, but it’s worse than that. It’s disinformation. It’s designed to deliberately mislead people, to plant misinformation into the discussion. Disinformation forces truth-tellers to dispute both the lie and the false information as well.

Let me say it again. Republicans are lying, but worse than that they’re spreading disinformation. But it’s even worse than that, the disinformation is part of a Russian intelligence campaign. It’s designed both to aid Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and to sow dissent and discord in the domestic politics of the U.S.

The Russians are really very good at this. They didn’t invent disinformation, but they were the first nation to develop it as an cohesive intelligence strategy. Even the term ‘disinformation’ itself was created as disinformation. In the 1920s, a Russian black propaganda program began using the term dezinformatsiya, suggesting it was translated from a French word (désinformation), which didn’t exist. That allowed them to claim the concept had a Western origin. With the creation of mass media and the internet, disinformation in the post-Soviet era has become a critical facet of both the Russian military intelligence and the SVR — the Russian Federation’s foreign intelligence service.

And, again, Republicans are disseminating a disinformation campaign designed by an intelligence agency hostile to United States’ interests. It’s worse than that. At this point, they’re doing it knowingly. Fiona Hill told them under oath that the idea that Ukraine was behind the 2016 election ratfucking was “a fictional narrative” created by Russian intelligence. But even if they dismissed her sworn testimony, Congress was briefed by U.S. intelligence agencies that “Russia had engaged in a years-long campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election.”

Treason for the tackiest of motives — partisan politics.

They know. They know it’s a lie, but they still tell it. They know it’s disinformation, but they still spread it. They know it’s a critical element of a Russian intelligence operation, but they continue to repeat it. They fucking know, and they don’t care. They are, in effect, providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. That’s treason.

It’s worse than that. It’s not treason for ideological reasons, or treason for money, or treason as an act of dissent, or even treason for personal power. It’s worse than that; it’s treason for the tackiest of motives — partisan politics.

a deep and visceral hatred

A couple of days ago I wrote about the Inspector General’s report on how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation — the report that Republicans are claiming ‘prove’ the FBI was complicit in a conspiracy to prevent Comrade Trump’s election. I pointed out there were contemporaneous new reports demonstrating the exact opposite — that senior FBI agents were suspected of deliberately leaking anti-Clinton material to Trump supporters (and specifically to Rudy Giuliani). I also confessed that after reading a couple hundred pages of the 500+ page report, I started skimming.

It’s too bad I started skimming. Because it turns out on page 387 there’s a long section of verbatim testimony from Loretta Lynch, who was the Attorney General of the United States during the FBI investigation. And among the things she said was that the New York office of the FBI was a roiling cauldron anti-Clinton fury. Not in those exact words, of course, but…well, let’s just cut and paste what she said.

I knew that the laptop had been handled in a case out of New York. And so I said, you know, we have to talk about the New York office…and the concern that both you [McCabe] and I have expressed about leaks in the past. And I said, do you think that this was the right way to deal with the issue, the concern about leaks?… He didn’t have much of a response. But we were having a conversation…. And I said, you know, I’ve talked, you and I have talked about that before….

And then I said, now, we’ve got to talk about the New York office in general. And he said yes. And I said we both work with them. We both know them. We both, you know, think highly of them. I said, but this has become a problem. And he said, and he said to me that it had become clear to him, he didn’t say over the course of what investigation or whatever, he said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was surprising to him or stunning to him.

You know, I didn’t get the impression he was agreeing with it at all, by the way. But he was saying it did exist, and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, and therefore did not really feel under pressure from headquarters or anything to that effect. And I said, you know, I’m aware of that…. I said, I wasn’t aware it was to this level and this depth that you’re talking about, but I said I’m sad to say that that does not surprise me.

And he made a comment about, you know, you understand that. A lot of people don’t understand that. You, you get that issue. I said, I get that issue. I said I’m, I’m just troubled that this issue, meaning the, the New York agent issue and leaks, I am just troubled that this issue has put us where we are today with respect to this laptop.

What she’s basically saying is this: 1) the senior staff of the FBI’s NY field office hated Hillary and supported Trump, and 2) it was the NY field office that investigated Anthony Weiner’s laptop on a matter unrelated to the Clinton email investigation, 3) but when they discovered that Weiner’s former wife, Huma Abedin, Clinton’s close aide, had backed up some work emails, they 4) notified the agents who investigated the emails, AND 5) leaked the information to Republican members of Congress who were Trump supporters, which 6) led Comey to re-open the investigation a few days before the election, which (according to Nate Silver) probably cost Clinton the election.

Comrade Trump’s claim that the FBI favored one candidate over another is accurate. But, as usual, he’s also lying about it. They were actively sabotaging the Clinton campaign. Trump is almost certainly POTUS today because of political interference by the FBI.

Heads should roll — but sadly, the wrong heads are on the chopping block.

what i know now

Yesterday I read the transcript of Glenn Simpson’s congressional testimony. Simpson is basically the bull goose of Fusion GPS, the strategic research firm that hired former MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele to look into candidate Donald Trump’s dealings in Russia. The testimony is fascinating in several ways, and it’s difficult to determine which aspects of it are most important. So instead of trying to impose some sort of order of importance, I’m just going to talk about what I learned.

First, and most important, is this fact: the folks at Fusion GPS are professionals. I need to go off on a short tangent here. I spent seven years as private investigator specializing in criminal defense. From the title, people reasonably assume my job was to help accused criminals who are being prosecuted. In fact, my job was to gather facts and information and report my findings to the defense attorney. If that information supported the defendant, the attorney needed to know that; if it didn’t, the attorney needed to know that as well. I didn’t go out looking for information that would benefit the defendant or that would hurt the prosecution; I just looked for information that was accurate and credible. It didn’t matter to me if it helped or hurt the lawyer’s case.

Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS

That’s basically what Fusion GPS does on a global basis. They learn stuff for other people. Here’s how Simpson described their work:

“You tell us what your problem is and we customize a research solution. In general when people come to us and they tell us what their challenge is, we stipulate that they retain us for 30 days, they agree to pay our fee, they don’t tell us what to do, they don’t tell us, you know, what result to get.”

Fusion gets hired (and re-hired) because they provide accurate and reliably credible information, regardless of whether it’s the information that benefits their client. Their entire business model rests on their reputation. The thing about professional investigators (as opposed to politicians) is that they don’t mold their findings to fit the needs of the person signing the check. These guys are pros; they do NOT fuck around.

Second, the congressional aides for Sen. Charles Grassley DO fuck around. They spent a LOT of the nine-hour interview aggressively asking questions about Fusion’s investigation of the Prevezon case (a massive, complex, international tax fraud case involving Russia). It seemed obvious the purpose of those questions was to discredit Fusion by suggesting that in the Prevezon case they’d had been paid in some obscure way by Russians, and therefore…something. They weren’t trying to elicit information about the investigation of Russian interference, they were trying to disparage Fusion and Steele.

Third, what Fusion discovered was a nexus of interactions and dealings between Trump and people associated with Russian organized crime and Russian security services (which sometimes overlap). They found nothing overtly criminal — just a long history of business transactions that were suspicious, shady, and well-hidden.

Fourth, Fusion hired Steele to do the sort of work Fusion doesn’t do. Most of what Fusion does is document-based. Following paper trails. Discovering relationships by delving into deep, obscure bureaucratic files and public records. That gives them solid, objective, unbiased information — a document says what it says. But the public record only takes you so far. It was also necessary to actually talk to people who dealt with Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

This is an entirely different sort of investigation. It’s less about accuracy of information than it is about the credibility of the informant. A document says what it says; people say all sorts of ridiculous shit for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. Documents can give you accurate information; people are capable of giving you very accurate misinformation, maybe by accident, maybe on purpose. This gets even more complicated when dealing with Russia and Russian agents, who are trained in actively providing disinformation.

Christopher Steele, former MI6 officer

This was Christopher Steele’s area of expertise — human intelligence. Determining who is credible and who isn’t, the degree to which the information is reliable, how much it can be trusted, what motives do people have to provide misleading information. Steele began talking to people, and what he learned alarmed him. The fact that Steele was alarmed was, in itself, alarming to Simpson.

Fifth, this is what Christopher Steele discovered:

“[Steele’s] concern, which is something that  counterintelligence people deal with a lot, is whether or not there was blackmail going on, whether a political candidate was being blackmailed or had been compromised.”

Sixth, contrary to what Republicans have been claiming, Simpson and Fusion weren’t sure what to do with that information. Republicans have been claiming the entire Fusion investigation was intended to harm Trump. In fact, the information uncovered by Steele left Simpson unsure how to respond. Steele wanted to report the information to the FBI; Simpson wasn’t sure if that was appropriate.

“[T]his was not considered by me to be part of the work that we were doing. This was — to me this was like, you know, you’re driving to work and you see something happen and you call 911, right. It wasn’t part of the — it wasn’t like we were trying to figure out who should [contact the FBI]. He said he was professionally obligated to do it.”

Seventh, although Steele did report his findings to the FBI, he discovered that the FBI was already aware of some of the problem. It had been reported by somebody in either the Trump business world or the Trump campaign.

“Essentially what [Steele] told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human 10 source from inside the Trump organization.”

Eighth – and this is a big deal which seems to be getting overlooked – Simpson was reluctant to provide too much information to the congressional aides for fear the information could get somebody hurt.

“There are some things I know that I just don’t feel comfortable sharing because obviously it’s been in the news a lot lately that people who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt.”

Jason Foster, Chief Investigative Counsel for Sen. Grassley

Later in the interview, the extent of this becomes more clear during this testy exchange between Simpson, Simpson’s lawyer (Mr. Levey) and Jason Foster, Senator Grassley’s Chief Investigative Counsel:

FOSTER: So without getting into naming the sources or anything like that, what steps did you take to try to verify their credibility?

MR. SIMPSON: I’m going to decline to answer that.

MR. FOSTER: Why?

MR. LEVY: It’s a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.

MR. FOSTER: I’m not asking him to identify the sources. I’m just asking what steps he took to try to verify or validate the information.

MR. LEVY: He’s given you —

MR. FOSTER: If he can answer generally without identifying the sources, I’d ask him to answer.

MR. LEVY: He’s given you over nine hours of information and he’s going to decline to answer this one question.

So here’s what I know as a result of the release of this transcript. Fusion GPS was NOT hired to find dirt on Trump. Trump is/was at least vulnerable to blackmail by Russian security services. The FBI was already aware of that before Fusion and Steele provided them with the Steele dossier. The FBI has/had a source either in the Trump business world or in the Trump campaign. Somebody has been killed as a result of leaks involving the dossier.

I also know that Republicans – and specifically Sen. Grassley – opposed the release of this transcript. I suspect his opposition was grounded in partisanship. I know Grassley’s aides were more concerned with discrediting Fusion than with learning about possible interference with the election process and collusion within the Trump campaign. I know Grassley submitted a ‘referral’ to the FBI to have Christopher Steele investigated for possibly lying to the FBI (despite the fact that FBI had already met with Steele and had decided his information was credible) in what was obviously another attempt to discredit the dossier.

Senator Charles Grassley

And I know this: Republican members of Congress are more concerned with protecting President Trump than with the integrity of the US election system, the rule of law, and democracy in general. I know the entire Republican Congress is essentially complicit in what is perhaps the biggest crime ever perpetrated against the United States.

That’s what I know. And it makes me sick to my stomach.

don’t start cheering yet (go ahead, cheer)

I can’t really be happy about today’s indictment against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. While I’m glad the system is working, it’s really a rather sad day for our nation.

Let me also say this. Manafort and Gates have only been indicted. That doesn’t mean they’re guilty. I’m a criminal defense guy, and I believe passionately in the notion that the accused MUST be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So right now, Paul Manafort has to be considered to be an innocent man.

That said, the indictment appears to be pretty solid. It includes one count of conspiracy against the United States, one count of conspiracy to launder money, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, one count of being an unregistered agent of a foreign principle, one count of making false and misleading FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act) statements, and one count of making false statements.

Paul Manafort (Photographer: Victor J. Blue}

Essentially, this is a money laundering indictment. It’s grounded in monies coming from foreign sources having powerful political connections. It’s a well-constructed foundation for the accusation of collusion. And at the heel of the hunt, that’s what this is all about. It’s about Russia attempting (and, it seems clear, succeeding) to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald J. Trump.

This is just the first step in building that case. Robert Mueller is a career prosecutor with a reputation of being both dogged and scrupulously honest (which is wonderful in a democratic system, and a terrifying combination to criminal defense guys like me). He didn’t put together a team of a dozen and a half seasoned prosecutors just to indict and prosecute a couple of guys like Manafort and Gates.

But here’s why this is a sad day: like all criminal prosecutions, this is the system attempting to correct (or at least ameliorate) something that already happened. This indictment is a reminder that a massive crime was (and yeah, I need to include this unfortunate term) allegedly perpetrated against the citizenry of the United States. It’s also a reminder that the citizenry were complicit in their own victimization. And it’s a reminder that the offense is still taking place.

There’s still a lot of hard and ugly work ahead of us. Is it too early to cheer? Yes. But hey, cheer anyway. Cheer because it’s a good start and we’ve had so little to cheer about lately.

ADDENDUM (for the folks asking about Comrade Trump firing Mueller): The law is pretty clear about this — and remember, this law was crafted in relation to the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton. The special counsel can only “be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General.” In this case, it would be the Deputy Attorney General since the AG has recused himself. The law also states the special prosecutor can only be removed for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.”

So no, Trump can’t just decide to fire Mueller. He can, though, order the DAG to fire him. If the DAG refuses, Trump can fire the DAG, then appoint a new DAG who would follow the president’s order. As I’ve stated elsewhere, that ought to be considered highly improbable — but this is the Trump administration in which the concept of improbability is pretty fluid.

a roach in the spaghetti

Yeah, it’s not treason. This is treason: 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Do you see the problem? Did Comrade Trump Jr. levy war against the U.S.? Nope. Did he adhere to any enemies? Nope. Adhere, in this context, basically means ‘join’. Did he give aid or comfort to the enemy? Nope, not really. Aid and comfort — that phrase doesn’t have any strict legal meaning, but in general it’s about giving (or even making an attempt to give) some sort of substantial assistance or material support. Trump the Lesser is a despicable creature, but he didn’t commit treason.

Nevertheless, you could make a solid argument that Comrade Trump Jr. is still a traitor. A traitor, after all, is just somebody who betrays their country. Colluding with Russia to influence the election makes him a traitor, even if he didn’t commit treason.

This oleaginous, French-cuffed fuckwit cannot be trusted.

I’ve heard some folks arguing that all Trump Jr. was doing was gathering opposition research. Balderdash (this is a wonderful word, by the way; it was originally an Elizabethan term for a jumbled mix of liquors — you know, like at a party when folks pour three kinds of wine, some beer, and half a bottle of gin into a bowl and call it ‘punch’ or something. When you drink balderdash, you speak balderdash).

Okay, I got distracted there. As I was saying, balderdash. I’ll even add an exclamation point here, because it’s warranted. Balderdash! Opposition research is a sleazy but common practice. What Comrade Trump the Lesser did was sleazy, but not at all common.

It’s important to remember that Putin wasn’t supporting Trump the Elder because he thought he’d be a good president. He wasn’t really supporting Trump at all. He was just fucking with the electoral system in order to destabilize the U.S. If Russia could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process, then that would weaken the authority of the next president, regardless of who got elected.

Let’s not forget, Russia didn’t just illegally obtain and distribute emails. They also invented and promoted false narratives. Like that Pizzagate bullshit. Like the bullshit about Hillary Clinton’s health, or her relationship with her aide. They flooded social media with bots that promoted bullshit stories. Putin-Russia deployed a LOT of different attacks. If one failed, there were a dozen others. None of them needed to succeed entirely in order for the plan to work. The combined effect was enough to cast doubt on the authenticity of the election.

I got a bowl of pasta for you, tremendous bowl, best ever, just for you. Don’t ask questions, just eat.

The lawyer with whom Comrade Trump the Lesser met — even if she was entirely innocent (which is exceedingly unlikely, but still possible) — is inextricably linked with the folks who DID do all that other stuff.

Right, time for an analogy. What do you do if you see a cockroach sitting in a bowl of spaghetti? Do you try to untangle the roach-touched noodles from the rest of the bowl? No. You chuck out the entire bowl of spaghetti.

That Russian lawyer is a noodle in a roach-tainted bowl of spaghetti. Trump Jr. knew the spaghetti was tainted. But he was willing — even eager — to serve it to the public.

damage over time

You want to know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy. I mean, just about everything about Comrade Trump’s presidency is crazy, but THIS is really crazy. Yes, his health care bill is cruel and stupid. Yes, his approach to foreign policy is inconsistent and stupid. Yes, his take on immigration policy and border security is mean-hearted and stupid. Yes, his inability or refusal to understand the issue of climate change is short-sighted and stupid. And yes, his habit of rage-tweeting in the morning is self-defeating and incredibly stupid.

But what’s really crazy is that we get so caught up in Comrade Trump’s incompetence and stupidity that we forget the most important thing — we forget he’s an illegitimate president. We ignore the preponderance of evidence that indicates he was elected primarily because a foreign enemy state interfered with the U.S. election process.

Here are some things we know to be true (and yes, we know these things — this isn’t supposition; this is fact — apologies I didn’t write this list in the Dark Tongue of Mordor).

  1. We know a number of people who were involved in the Trump campaign had close business and political ties with Russia.
  2. We know those people were in frequent, often secret communication with Russians who occupied high political/diplomatic/intelligence positions in the Russian government.
  3. We know Russia intelligence agencies hacked the databases of both Democratic and Republican parties (though deeper and more thoroughly into the Democrats).
  4. We know the Russians sifted through that hacked data to find information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton and provided it to WikiLeaks.
  5. We know WikiLeaks released that information at timed intervals in order to cause maximum damage to Clinton’s campaign.
  6. We know Russian operatives (and parties paid by Russia) amplified and exaggerated the leaks through the use of social media. We know they created false narratives directed at harming Clinton and her campaign — like the insane Pizzagate fiasco. We also know they deliberately fomented antagonism between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters, thereby weakening her overall support by Democrats.
  7. We know the same social media disruptors also planted and supported the false narrative that the election was being rigged against Trump.
  8. We know Russian hackers infiltrated voter databases in at least 21 and possibly as many as 39 individual state voting systems. We do NOT know the result of that breach.
  9. We know that since his election, Comrade Trump has been uncommonly cozy with the Russians.

Now that is some crazy shit. And what’s even crazier is that for the most part, we’re just ignoring it. The man who occupies the White House as President only got there through a systematic ratfucking of the election. If that sort of shit happened in a high school election for King and Queen of the Prom, the entire election would have been invalidated. They’d do it over.

And remember this: Russia didn’t go to all that effort because they LIKE Comrade Trump. They did it to destabilize the United States. Hell, they probably never believed we’d actually elect the guy. They just wanted the election process to be fucked up so that regardless of who won the U.S. would be wounded and weakened by the process.

Wounded and weakened. There’s a concept in video gaming called Damage Over Time. In most games involving some form of combat there’s a system that allows the player to defeat a far more powerful opponent. Since you can’t take the opponent down with a single blow, you find a way to gradually erode his health. You shoot him with a magic flaming arrow. The arrow itself does some damage, but it also continues to burn, so that each moment the opponent becomes weaker. You shoot him with a radioactive bullet, you stab him with a poisoned knife, you summon rats that bite and claw and gnaw at his body. The idea is to continuously inflict a relatively small amount of damage to the opponent, so that the damage accumulates independently of any other factors.

That’s what the Russians have done to us. Damage over time. They shot us with a flaming arrow and as we go about our daily lives, we’re still burning. They summoned rats, and those wee bastards haven’t stopped nipping at us. They created a poisoned knife and stabbed us with it; day the wound bleeds a bit more. The poison gradually spreads, and each day we’re just a little bit weaker.

Damage over time. Here’s the thing: the rats won’t kill us. Nor will the burns from the flaming arrow, nor will the poison from the knife, nor will the radioactivity from the bullet. But the combined effect is incapacitating. It cripples us as a society.

Damage over time. This is what we forget. Comrade Trump? He’s not really the monster; he’s the monster’s poisoned knife.