Thursday, September 10, 2020

-The Wicked Witch of West Point

While top Trump administration officials were going to great lengths to prevent the intelligence community from briefing the public on Russian election interference, Russian hackers were targeting over 200 organizations and Rudy Giuliani was soliciting materials from a man that the U.S. government now recognizes as a Russian agent. Probably a coincidence?

  • The Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the DNC in 2016 is officially back on its bullshit, having attempted a series of hacks aimed at campaign staff and consultants. That finding came to light in a warning from Microsoft, one day after a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower alleged under penalty of perjury that Trump appointees had told career officials to downplay intelligence on Russian election threats because it “made the president look bad.” This, on the other hand, makes the president look terrific.
  • Microsoft found that Chinese and Iranian hackers have also been busy, but contrary to Trump administration claims that China is on Team Joe, the Chinese group has also been primarily targeting the Biden campaign. Only one of its known targets was connected to Trump. (Here we note that Trump and his allies have repeatedly solicited Chinese government interference in the election on Trump’s behalf.) Microsoft’s investigation found no evidence that the recent hacking efforts have been successful, but there’s only so much the company can see; it’s up to U.S. intelligence officials to determine the full scope of Russia’s operation.
  • In a functioning democracy, they would then be allowed to brief Congress on their findings. Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats spoke up on Wednesday to warn that current DNI John Ratcliffe’s move to end most in-person briefings on foreign election threats would undermine intelligence agencies’ obligation to protect the vote. Which is, of course, the point. No pressure, Microsoft, but you are the CIA now.

On the other hand, who needs a sophisticated hacking campaign when you have Rudy Giuliani?

  • The Treasury Department announced today that it has sanctioned Ukrainian lawmaker and “active Russian agent” Andrii Derkach, who has been peddling disinformation about Joe Biden and his family to Giuliani for months. In other words, the Trump administration just acknowledged that a close ally of one of Trump’s most trusted advisors is a Russian spy working on a covert campaign to influence the election. RudyCartoonishlyMoppingSweat.gif.
  • Meanwhile, social media companies are in talks with federal officials about another election threat: Trump’s possible intention to declare victory before all of the votes have been tallied, and/or refuse to accept the outcome if he loses. Should the last bulwark against a presidential election devolving into chaos and street violence be Mark “I made a website to compare the hotness of my classmates” Zuckerberg? Probably not! But here we are. Facebook is considering new policies for the time between when votes are cast and results are announced, and Twitter has announced new restrictions on content that attempts to undermine the integrity of the election. 

Trump has not only happily accepted foreign help to steal the election, but sought to weaken the systems meant to guard against it. If that doesn’t work, he’s prepared to lie about the validity of the election itself, because he knows that in a fair election where every vote is counted, he will lose. That much is in our control

We just dropped a new Election Collection in the Crooked Store! Vote and volunteer in-style with new Vote Save America tees, a Dan-Pfeiffer inspired “worry about everything, panic about nothing” stress ball, and much more. Head to to shop now! 

The theory that U.S. elections are hotbeds of fraud (committed by you know who) is entirely the work of a small network of GOP lawyers. Four nonprofits run by or linked to this network—the Public Interest Legal Foundation, the American Constitutional Rights Union, Judicial Watch, and True the Vote—have been involved in 61 lawsuits over election rules since 2012. More than half of those were initiated after Trump took office, and all of them have been thinly veiled voter suppression efforts. Before that, this same network drove the Bush-era U.S. attorney scandal, in which the administration fired federal prosecutors who wouldn’t gin up fraud prosecutions to help the GOP advance this same lie. A few lawyers funded by right-wing foundations have taken the once-fringe idea that elections are rife with fraud and brought it into the political mainstream to help white Republicans cling to power, and Trump has now weaponized it further to pre-empt his impending loss. Very cool party they’ve got there.

The Republicans most willing to abandon democratic principles tend to be those who are threatened by the country’s changing demographics. Vanderbilt University professor Larry Bartels asked Republican and Republican-leaning independents whether they agreed with four statements that run counter to basic democratic principles, like “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” Bartels didn’t find any obvious overlap with basic demographic factors and support for those statements. He did find a link, though, with “ethnic antagonism”—the more worried a respondent was about things like “discrimination against whites,” the more likely they were to agree with anti-democratic statements. Not a fun dynamic to think about, in this moment, but an important one to be aware of. 

Filmed in five locations on a single day, the documentary One Vote captures the compelling stories of American voters on Election Day 2016, offering a unique and inspiring perspective on the act of voting, and obstacles faced by too many US voters.    

The critically-acclaimed impact documentary was recently released on multiple streaming platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, and Google Play and you should watch it now.

The film’s characters include Warren Buffett, the iconic American investor who spends Election Day transporting voters in Omaha to the polls via trolley, as he swaps stories and takes selfies; Dr. Brenda Williams, a gospel-singing fireball who heals and empowers disenfranchised citizens in rural South Carolina; the Bondys, an Alaskan family that travels hundreds of miles of snow-covered roads by dogsled, snowmobile and car, to reach their polling place; Michael Hiser, a former felon casting an emotional vote in Kentucky for the first time since his right to vote was restored; and James Higgins, the charismatic owner of Chicago’s Club Lucky, where the residents of Bucktown come to vote and drink with their neighbors, and not necessarily in that order.

Yes, we are all exhausted and totally over the unprecedented cynicism about the political process we are currently suffering through.  A powerful antidote to Twitter, One Vote bears hopeful witness to the humanity and rich diversity of American voters.

Watch it today!  Because there are only so many episodes of Yellowstone you can watch, and we all need a little inspiration to get us through the next two months.

A panel of three federal judges blocked a Trump order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the redistricting process.

Wisconsin voters still ain’t falling for it.

Tok the Vote, the first nationwide voter registration registration campaign on TikTok, will launch tomorrow.

Folks, Rev. Greg Lewis

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