Putin’s War on American Democracy and Why It Matters

On Saturday, June 3, 2017, many American’s took to the street for the #MarchForTruth. It has come to that. Amid the chaos and distrust sown by Putin’s attack on our election, we the people have no other recourse than to publicly demand transparency from a GOP-controlled government intent on keeping us in the dark. News regarding collusion between Donald Trump and Russia has reached a boiling point. Trump’s own callous disregard for optics only further damages a vulnerable electorate with his obvious attempt to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director Comey on May 9. Trump further shocked the nation by meeting with Russia’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the very next day – a meeting that prohibited the American press, while allowing access to the Russian press. During this meeting, Trump disclosed highly sensitive information from a Israel regarding an ISIS operation to Kislyak and Lavrov. To say this is not normal is an understatement.

Yet, in March, a CBS poll showed 33% of Americans didn’t think it was necessary to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russian government. Let that sink in. Sure, it’s a minority and mostly GOP, but still…when confronted with the possibility of treason, 1 out of 3 people responded with a resounding, “meh.” Ironically, this level of indifference creates exactly the type of climate in which a coup could be staged.

As Americans, we tend to believe we are somehow protected from the horrors of other countries. It’s why the attack of 9/11 was such a transformative moment in our country. We know these things happen—but not here, not to us. Similarly, most Americans don’t harbor a realistic fear that our freedom could be eroded by fascism. We would never allow that, right? But, here’s the thing. Fascism doesn’t come in like a scene from Red Dawn. It’s a gradual and subtle shift to authoritarianism and kleptocracy. It happens when we’re not looking, and, clearly, we were not. Some of us, however, were paying attention.

Long before Election Day, questionable connections between the Trump campaign and Russia were identified. Largely due to the diligent research of independent and citizen journalists, the dots have been exposed and connected, ranging from the undeniable to the unbelievable. The plot that has taken shape involves espionage, back-room deals and relationships spanning decades – essentially hijacking American democracy, leaving our freedoms and public trust damaged in its wake. The sheer amount of circumstantial evidence is vast, but what follows is a basic overview of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.” – Former CIA Director John Brennan

The Campaign
Russian Connections

The Trump campaign came out of the gate with ties to Russia. Calls intercepted by foreign intelligence agencies identified Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Boris Ephsteyn as campaign members who had repeated contact with Russian intelligence and government.

Paul Manafort, a longtime business associate of Roger Stone, was asked to step aside from his official role in the campaign due to his work with pro-Russian regimes in Ukraine, including former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and has since been forced to register as a foreign agent. Russian born, Boris Ephsteyn, Trump’s former foreign policy advisor, also advised him on the campaign. Heavily immersed in Russian business interests and and well-acquainted with Russian officials, he is known to parrot Kremlin talking points. It’s notable that when it was leaked that allied intelligence had three Trump advisors on tape, Ephsteyn was quick to step down from his position.

Carter Page, an advisor to Trump, is the subject of an FBI investigation along with Manafort. It is believed that he was advising Trump as an agent of the Russian government. Like several Trump associates, Page met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States. As he is an extension of the Kremlin, there’s no way not to view contact with Kislyak as highly suspect given Trump’s continued praise of Putin, the Russian hacking of the DNC, and Russia’s active measures in our election. To make matters worse, according to theFBI,Page was approached to be a Russian asset in return for business opportunities in 2013. Then there’s the matter of Page’s trip to Moscow in summer of 2016, which may have been a cover for meeting with Kremlin officials on behalf of Trump. Some sources have stated the FBI is in possession of classified recordings from foreign intelligence of Manafort, Ephsteyn, and Page discussing a plan to bring a pre-recorded tape to Moscow. The pre-recorded message is Trump offering political favors to Russia in exchange for Russia hacking the election.

US agencies were first made aware of suspicious connections between people close to Trump and Russian intelligence in late 2015. Over the subsequent 6 months, similar intelligence was shared with the US from several other Western allied countries.

The FBI officially began their investigation in July 2016 by getting a warrant for surveillance on Carter Page based on the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, the reputable M16 agent who was initially hired for oppositional research by the GOP’s Never Trump faction. Other than Steele and, possibly, Ephsteyn, witnesses from the dossier are difficult to come by given that Putin has steadily been killing off the sources. The FBI procured their second warrant to investigate two banks (Alpha Bank was one of them) they suspected as being part of Russia’s influence operation in October. A second Steele dossier reports that four Trump representatives traveled to Prague in August or September to meet with Kremlin representatives and hackers to find ways to cover up the operations targeting Democratic leadership and hide payments to the hackers. According to the dossier, the hackers worked for Putin, but were paid by the Trump Organization.

The Alt-Right and Russia

After Manafort stepped aside, Robert Mercer- decided to financially back the Trump campaign. Not surprisingly, the money came with strings attached—specifically, that the Trump campaign would be helmed by Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon. In hindsight, it’s difficult to buy the narrative that Rebekah Mercer, considered the ‘queen’ of the alt-Right, happened to talk daddy into backing Trump at a dinner party just as Manafort was exposed for receiving a substantial payoff from pro-Russian Ukranians. There’s too much history here.

Patrick Caddell, Steve Bannon, and Robert Mercer share an anti-establishment ideology when it comes to government. They want destabilization and the destruction of government as we know it, ostensibly for something new to take its place. Caddell has known Trump since the 80’s and advised him during his campaign. It was he who declared the main-stream media as the enemy of the people, a talking point Trump has dutifully run with. Of course, this a gold standard for fascists, but also one well touted by the propaganda outlet, Breitbart, which has a key role in this. Caddell has worked as a contractor for Mercer since 2013 and one of his projects was determining how the American people would respond to electing an outsider.

Mercer connected with Conway and Bannon through the the ultra-conservative Council for National Policy and Andrew Breitbart. Mercer was so enamored by Breitbart that he became his media outlet’s biggest investor and placed Bannon in control. Mercer also invested $5M in Cambridge Analytica, a data mining and psychological profiling company purposed to target and influence voters. He placed Bannon on the board there as well.

Aggressively against Hillary Clinton, Mercer and Bannon had Breitbart test-market anti-Clinton propaganda with the highly successful rubric they deemed, “Black Crime”. Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica targeted the Brexit vote, pushing the agenda of European Far Right nationalists. Putin is clearly pro-Brexit as it destabilizes the European Union, a needed goal for Russia to regain power.

Cambridge Analytica is a subsidiary of SLC whose main shareholder was British billionaire, Vincent Tchenguiz. Enter the world of oligarchs—a well-connected league of tycoons existing in the overlap of espionage, deep-state and organized crime. Tchenguiz is linked financially with Dmitry Firtash, Manafort’s business partner. He’s also tied to Russia’s Alpha Bank which is closely associated with Putin. It also happened to have a server communicating with the Trump Organization. In fact, Alpha Bank’s server makes up 80% of the connections to Trump’s server. About this time, another oligarch, Dmitry Ryblovlev, a friend and business associate of Trump, begins coincidentally showing up near key people, starting with anchoring his yacht near Mercer’s in March, and meeting Trump’s plane multiple times throughout his campaign.

It should be noted that ties to Russian business interests, for Trump (Donny Jr. and Eric have assured us there are many) and those surrounding him, are significant because rich Ukrainian and Russian business people often not only have great political influence, but are often used as assets to carry Russian intelligence.

Brexit succeeded, vetting Cambridge Analytica’s psy-ops micro-marketing method. Shortly after, Mercer and Bannon take over Trump’s campaign utilizing the methodology and data from Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart. This is what they’ve been planning for, right? So, why get in bed with Russia?

For one thing, they already were. Long histories of Russian business interests are a common theme among those orbiting the campaign. Also, Putin already had a plan in place. As early as March 2016, Putin had launched a campaign to interfere in the US election. According to US officials, Putin was presented with a plan in June by his think tank, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS). These documents outline swinging the election in Trump’s favor and undermining faith in the US electoral system. Another consideration is that where there are deals with Russian/Ukrainian deep-state and mafia, there’s Kompromat, or compromising material that could be used for blackmail. If some GOP actors needed ‘nudging’ to comply with collusion, so be it. Russians utilized cyberwarfare to hack the RNC and GOP leaders, as well as the DNC. The Kremlin had intelligence, and an outlet to leak it-they would use it however they needed to suit their interests. Julian Assange was clearly using (likely doctored) material from Russian hacks and publishing it on WikiLeaks. Roger Stone’s intimations of forthcoming material before it’s release suggests that he was in direct contact with Assange. It has been suggested that Alpha Bank’s servers may have been used to launder data. Russia’s DNC hack gave them access to voter rolls and profiles which could have been transferred to and from Russian state servers through the Alpha Bank server and incorporated into Cambridge Analytica’s database for use by the Trump Campaign.

Putin had a vested interest in Trump as a controllable President, and he feared Hillary Clinton. He wanted Trump to lift sanctions, destabilize NATO, and allow for a rebuilding of Russian power. This agenda fits well with the isolationism of the alt-Right-and, for some, Make America Great Again really is a referral to Cold War economic and foreign policy—when there were dual Superpowers. Still, with Trump being so grossly unqualified, his win was still a long shot and to truly take control they needed Congress, not just the Presidency. Between Cambridge Analytica, Breitbart, Russian hacking and a dedicated army of Russian trolls to carry out active measures, they did just that. With Putin’s help they operated a massive cyber ground-game, targeting swing states. The GOP turned a blind eye, despite our own intelligence agencies stating Russia was interfering in the election, and bolstered the coup with gerrymandering and crosscheck purges.

The Trump Administration

Once Trump was installed in office, it was time for quid pro quo. Trump owed favors to the people who put him there, namely Putin and Mercer. His staff choices clearly reflect that debt. As one might expect, Mercer ensured that Bannon had a seat at the table, and he was appointed Trump’s Chief Strategist. Trump continued to nominate an alarmingly unqualified selection of Cabinet staff, most with traceable ties to Russian business interest, including Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Sebastian Gorka, and Betsy DeVos.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State and Trump campaign advisor, received the “Order of Friendship” award from Putin for negotiating a partnership between ExxonMobil and the Russian oil company, Rosneft. ExxonMobil has applied to the Treasury Department to waive sanctions against Russia. This is a significant deal that could direct up to $500 billion to Putin.

General Michael Flynn was Sr. Advisor on the Trump campaign and appointed as Trump’s National Security Advisor until he was forced to step down over lying about his conversations with Kislyak. Flynn accepted money from Turkey to lobby the Trump administration, and has received payments from the media outlet Russia Today (RT). While acting as NSA, Flynn was given a proposal to remove sanctions against Russia from Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who had met with Felix Sater and Andrey Artemenko to discuss the matter.

Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, spoke out about her concerns about Flynn’s Russia contacts, but was fired by Trump for not enforcing his travel ban against Muslims. Vice-President Pence was notified on November 18 of Flynn’s arrangement with Turkey, yet he still went through with Flynn’s appointment as NSA. The idea that the White House would appoint a National Security Advisor who could so easily be blackmailed should be disturbing to everyone.

Russian Ambassador Kislyak was popular guy in Trump’s circle. Jeff Sessions denied meeting with him during his confirmation hearings for Attorney General, but has actually met with him on at least 3 occasions. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also met with Kislyak during Trump’s transition period. Flynn was in attendance at that meeting.

Erik Prince, brother to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the founder of Blackwater, was not technically part of Trump’s transition team, but is close to Bannon and was seen in the transition team offices. According to Arab, Europe and US officials, Prince arranged a secret, 2 day meeting in the Seychelles islands between Trump and a Putin surrogate on January 11.

Sebastian Gorka, Trump Administration’s counter-terrorism expert, and J.D. Gordon, Trump campaign’s National Security Committee advisor, are not only tied to Russia, but also noteworthy for their Hungarian connections. Budapest is a hotbed of Russian secret agents, primarily because it is easy to purchase illegal passports there. Gorka has been linked to Nazism and the pro-Putin Hungarian Far Right going back at least 15 years and has recently stepped down from Trump’s administration. Gordon, like Carter Page, met with Kislyak during the Republican convention. He also altered the Republican platform to reflect a pro-Putin agenda. Two days after the convention, WikiLeaks dumped a trove of hacked emails from the DNC.

Not only is it easy to travel in and out of Hungary, but anything that transpires there is outside of the jurisdiction of US intelligence agencies. This makes it interesting that Arthur Finkelstein, a Trump advisor, spent the majority of the campaign in Budapest. Arthur Finkelstein, known as the ‘Merchant of Venom’, has a reputation as a silent mastermind. Closely associated with Roger Stone, Roger Ailes, and Trump’s mentor, Roy Cohen, he shares Mercer and Bannon’s hatred for Hillary Clinton and is known for destroying his political opponents. Like Stone, he is also close with Manafort and introduced him into the world of Ukrainian oligarchs. Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orbán, is an ardent loyalist to Putin. Finkelstein has been his chief political strategist for 10 years.

The criminal investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia, at this point, actively includes Page, Manafort, Flynn, Kushner, Sessions and Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen – that we know of. With Comey scheduled to answer questions before Congress on June 8, we can only hope more information will be forthcoming, but due to GOP partisanship and classified information we may not learn much.

This is NOT what Democracy looks like

Free and fair elections are central to our freedoms and democracy. Allowing collusion and interference by a foreign power will only ensure that it happens again. The relationship between Russia and the far-Right didn’t just play out in our election, but England and France, as well. They will continue.

Manipulation of the electorate undermines public trust of media, politicians, and each other. It creates a scenario where everything can be drawn into question. There is no way to determine how far the compromise reaches. The attack on our election was on multiple fronts and included hacking, division, propaganda, suppression and what appears to be an ever increasing likelihood of vote tampering, with evidence surfacing showing direct attacks on voting systems prior to the election.

Consider the division caused by the Democratic primary. Voters in multiple states complained of changes to their voter registration. Most people affected were Bernie supporters. We know that Russia hacked into the voter databases. The DNC emails were leaked and the idea of ‘Bernie or Bust’ and the protest vote was born and nurtured—likely as a well-orchestrated plan created in a Russian think-tank and executed by Russian hackers and online trolls. Americans reacted as predicted and this division is still played out daily. We have to learn to recognize the ways we were weaponized against each other.

Now that the GOP and Trump have taken power, how do we the people take that power, which is rightfully ours, back? We demand the truth. Every. Single. Day. Without an Independent Commission, there will be no transparency to these investigations. We demand accountability. Trump will do everything he can to squash the investigations against him. He fired Sally Yates, Preet Bharara and James Comey, but the people must not let up. Call, write, protest, and VOTE! Get involved in Resistance efforts. Fight gerrymandering and voter suppression. This is not a partisan issue, nor is it one Americans can afford to remain in darkness on. We deserve to know whose interests Trump and his administration are serving – American or Russian. If there was ever a time Americans needed to stand together and fight for our democracy, this is it.

Call or write your representatives and demand the following:

1. Independent bipartisan commission.

2. Transparent and open to the public.

3. Release of Trump’s tax returns.

4. If collusion is found, crimes must be prosecuted.

Sorry Trump, You Can’t Fire Your Way Out of an Investigation

In a shocking display of authoritarianism, Donald Trump fired FBI Director, James Comey. Not since Nixon have we seen such an overt attempt to use the executive office to obstruct an investigation. This is not Trump’s first attempt to fire his way out of his Russian problems, having already terminated Sally Yates and Preet Bahrara.

Over the past 48 hours, the White House has changed it’s official story regarding Comey’s termination multiple times.  Unbelievably citing the FBI’s misreporting of forwarded emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop as the reason, Trump claimed this move was at the behest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.  As it was Trump, himself, who asked Sessions and Rosenstein to draft the letters regarding Comey, Rosenstein threatened to resign over this misrepresentation. Despite attempts to distract from the obvious, this is clearly about the FBI’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In his bizarre letter notifying Comey of termination, Trump states:

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Rumor is that he told Comey he would be fired if he didn’t stop the grand juries, quite likely given that Trump and Comey shared a private dinner together in which Comey was asked for loyalty to Trump. Comey’s answer that he could only be honest was not exactly the pledge of support Trump is used to. (And yes, if Bill Clinton talking to Loretta Lynch on the tarmac bothered you, this should send you through the roof). If sources are correct that Comey was at the Rocket Docket in Virginia yesterday, submitting intel for expedition, he likely knew this was coming. Immediately following Comey’s firing, subpoenas were issued to Michael Flynn and his associates regarding their connections to Russia. Other sources have said that as many as 25 sealed indictments have already resulted from the grand juries. This looks more and more likely given yesterday’s FBI raid on a GOP campaign firm in Annapolis. Firing Comey will not stop the wheels of justice from turning, but, remember that a sitting President can’t be indicted. He will need to be impeached by Congress.

Speaking of Congress, it doesn’t appear that the WH and FBI were the only ones who knew this was coming. The last question Lindsey Graham posed to Sally Yates in her hearing on Monday was whether or not she trusted Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. This was no coincidence, and served to pre-validate Rosenstein’s upcoming actions against Comey. This implies foreknowledge about Trump’s plan to have Sessions and Rosenstein write the letters against Comey–this is even worse when you remember that Jeff Sessions is supposed to be recused from anything related to the Russia investigation.

Democratic legislatures are calling for an independent investigation. Even many GOP members of Congress put out statements admonishing Trump’s abuse of power, but it’s worth noting that Graham is continuing to say there is no need for a special prosecutor, as is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Between their focus on leaking over treason during the Yates hearing and yesterday’s events with Comey, it couldn’t be more clear that the GOP is not capable of investigating this in a bipartisan manner. The people must demand an independent investigation. I encourage you to get involved in any way that you can and demand the truth. Remember, in Watergate, everyone went down except for Nixon. Trump is simply not worth it. Our country deserves answers and justice.

Why I Speak Out About The Resistance Every Day

Twenty years ago I was in New York, interviewing at Columbia University for graduate school. One evening I encountered a man on the subway speaking out about the closing of a local community center. He was young, but he appeared worn out, clearly having been at this a long time. He carried a petition and a sheaf of flyers, many which lay muddied and torn on the subway floor. With his free arm he wiped his forehead, pushing his hair away and nearly unseating his yarmulke, which was barely held in place by two silver snap-tight barrettes. He appealed to the riders again in a horse voice, speaking of the importance of community, the dangers of gentrification and reciting the expected statistics. But they, too, were worn from their day. No one even made eye contact with him. Perhaps he was just background noise that couldn’t penetrate their own thoughts, or perhaps they knew that acknowledging this man’s cause would somehow obligate them to do something about it. Maybe they had learned to ignore those who might burden them with their expectations.

His voice trailed off. Shaking his head, he made his way to the exit. As the doors slid open, he turned to face the other riders, “When you no longer recognize the neighborhood…When there is no community left, remember I was here today and I tried to do something.” With that, he exited the train and I watched the doors slide closed behind him. Glancing around, I noticed I was not the only one looking at the door. I wanted to call to him to come back so he could see what I was seeing. He had their attention, if only briefly. The passengers blinked in confusion and surprise, some looked uneasy, as if they just realized they may not have been paying attention to something important. For most, it was momentary, and they quickly returned to their books, newspapers, worries and reveries, but some remained contemplative, their eyes drifting to the flyers littering the floor. A few even reached down and picked one up. Something had happened. In his moment of candid frustration, he had awoken them. It gave me hope.

The morning of November 9, 2016, I was drowning in emotions–shock, fear, anger, blame, and exhaustion. How could this have happened? Did I not do enough? I had organized, strategized, made phone-calls, written letters, blogs, and endless posts. I had shared information, exposed disinformation, patiently debated, reminded people to register and vote. Before they left for school, my children asked me, “What are you going to do now, Mom?” I didn’t have an answer for them. This was supposed to be the end of the battle. I knew the true battle hadn’t even begun, and I felt desolate in the face of it; however, I kept thinking of the man on the subway all those years ago. As shocked and disappointed as I was in my fellow Americans, I knew I couldn’t give up on them. By the time my kids came home from school, I had an answer. “I am going to keep fighting.” 

I have kept fighting, as have millions of you. The Resistance was formed and it thrives. Little by little, the American people are waking up and standing up for themselves and others. It is not one battle, but an endless series of battles that require daily action and vigilance. And everyday I can say, “I was here today and I tried to do something.”

Charlatans Among Activists? Maintain a Level of Skepticism

Recently I wrote about the need to watch out for infiltrators in #TheResistance. In this article I will discuss a situation that raises a red flag and the reasons I feel skepticism is necessary. I want to be clear that it is not my intention to malign, accuse or ridicule, but to give guidance to fellow activists and supporters of #TheResistance.

In December, I became aware of a person, @OfficialNMP, who claimed to have ‘inside knowledge’ of the Trump family and the election. The tale she told was a full-throttle conspiracy theory — specifically, that billionaire, Jacob Rothschild, is responsible for Trump’s Presidency…as the leader of the New World Order. Take that, RWNJs, we see your Soros and raise you a Rothschild. Suffice it to say, the tale got stranger from there — ritual sex abuse, occult, Illuminati. It’s worth noting that it is her position that Donald Trump is POTUS against his will, but he must continue to protect Barron from continued ritualistic abuse. Somehow she managed to get brought into DM groups to tell this story, which is how I heard it. I ignored it at the time, figuring that peers would not believe it.

Recently, though, I noticed that there is an individual, @InsideDJTTruth, claiming to be her friend and Jacob Rothschild’s grandson, Robbie (Rothschild has no grandson by this name), who is echoing her tale and adding a personal account of abuse. He’s gaining followers pretty fast. @OfficialNMP has over 30K followers since December. Pretty impressive. She also lists her phone number in her profile, and encourages people to text her — that’s unusual.

My initial concern was that they are distracting and confusing activists and resisters by pulling them into this conspiracy nonsense. Let’s face it, we are all emotionally distraught, which makes us more vulnerable than normal. We desperately want answers. I was also wary about the phone number, as that is a way to get people’s contact information. But, there is one more factor. In her profile, she says to follow @KalenaVX (an account which has disappeared as of this writing), which leads you to a website TheResistanceUnite.org. This website is a joint project between @KalenaVX and @OfficialNMP and is not officially launched yet, but the purpose, ostensibly, is to create a repository of activities related to #TheResistance and promote cooperation across groups. Sounds good, right? It does, but because it is collecting information on the people and activities of #TheResistance, I decided it needed a closer look. This is what I found.

  1. The domain is privately registered. So whoever owns the site has gone out of their way to hide it.
  2. @KalenaVX seems to be the same person as @KalelVX and @UniteResistance. Why so many accounts, I don’t know.
  3. @OfficialNMP has been involved in a lot of things and gone by a lot of names. She is a young revivalist pastor. She has listed herself as an actor/model, author, editor, spiritual advisor (to Obama-she says) among other things. She is a YouTuber. She believes she is battling the occult and in the center of the Trump/Rothschild/New World Order conspiracy. Oh, and, vampires are real and Jacob Rothschild is a shapeshifter. Now, all this said, understand that I know a lot of people who are following her and/or in direct contact with her. I find that unsettling.

So, at the point of this writing, I find myself having to ask the question. Are these people who legitimately mean well and are trying to help #TheResistance, but just happen to be…mentally unhealthy? Or, is this a well-orchestrated effort to befriend activists, gather counter-intelligence and pepper confusion and fear into the movement? Either way, this is precisely the type of situation I mean when I ask members of #TheResistance to remain vigilant.

One final note: We are seeing a lot of “rogue” and “alt” accounts crop up. Some of these are the real deal and some are not. Approach information with logic and skepticism. We are only as good as the quality of our shared information.

Article Update: I was right to have concern about @OfficialNMP. I have conducted a full investigation of this account and found it to be involved in catfishing. @KalenaVX , @KalelVX and @UniteResistance are innocent bystanders and have no culpability. TheResistanceUnite.org website is no longer associated with @OfficialNMP and is not a cause of concern. You may read the results of the investigation in this article, “Cait-fishing” In The Resistance – An Exposé – Rachel Murphy Azzara.

Infiltration in #TheResistance

#TheResistance must be vigilant. The #GOP conned their base by appealing to their emotions. They can and do use the same methods on us. Be cautious of individuals and organizations that are infiltrating our groups to gain counter-intelligence. If it seems off, it likely is. Generally, an infiltrator has four goals:

  1. Gather contact information of Democrats, #HRC Supporters or members of #TheResistance for marketing purposes or harassment
  2. Perform oppositional research on groups and leaders and keep tabs on our activities and knowledge
  3. Exploit fear and anxiety to discourage action, particularly the fear of retribution or violence
  4. Foster distrust and division within #TheResistance and within the Democratic Party

Take note of who one is following and who is following them. What type of information do they share? Do they refer you to a website that is gathering any kind of data? Are they trying to directly gather information? Asking people to email or text them? This is a low-cost method of gathering contact data. Be wary of anyone who claims to have insider knowledge that they can’t tell you because ‘it’s not safe’ or making vague claims they can’t validate.

Remember, fear, anger and anxiety is normal, but it makes us vulnerable targets for those who wish to bait us into giving up personal information that could potentially be used to undermine our efforts. Stay Strong! Stay Aware!

For a more detailed examination of Infiltration in the Resistance and what you can do about it, please read my article in Dame Magazine:  How Can The Resistance Ward Off Infiltrators?

Was the 2016 Election About ‘Movements’? 

Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump described their campaigns as ‘movements’ this election cycle, but there is more to a movement than filling venues. They generated excitement with campaigns high on emotional ideology, but low on policy. Hillary Clinton’s base, in turn, was deemed unenthusiastic. No one declared that the Clinton had a ‘movement.’ She had a plan, the most progressive Democratic platform ever and policies mandated by 68M voters. The party-line of the aforementioned ‘movements’ is that Americans want change. “Give up, switch gears, start over-it’s not working.” 

Hillary Clinton supporters want progress. We want to continue working hard to improve our policies, learn from mistakes, revise and build. Bernie’s ideas excite us, too. But, we have enough respect for our European friends to know their socialized systems took decades to perfect. We also respect that our generations who lived through the Cold War have a negative view of socialism in any form. Change takes time. 

Trump did manage to generate enough excitement to mobilize his base to vote, but this is the purpose of a campaign-not exactly a movement. With an Electoral College win of less than 77K votes, it wouldn’t have been enough to win without the other election factors that resulted in low Democratic voting. The #GOP gerrymandered, the FBI electioneered, and the Russians set out to divide the party. They succeeded. They are still succeeding. 

We have seen the worst possible outcome unfold before us. The true ‘movement’ is our response. #TheResistance #WomensMarch #Indivisible exemplify a true movement. This movement is powerful and widespread. It calls people to awareness and action for a common cause. Organized activism is our new normal. Bernie supporters who either did not vote or voted against #HRC are now part of a movement that is bigger than a candidate and campaign. It is my sincere hope that the factions created in this election not only come together to #resist, but to unify the Party for progress. Because a movement of this size and commitment can accomplish anything.

The World Is Counting On You – A Letter to the U.S. Supreme Court

Dear Honorable Justices,

I would hope you are aware that this decision is coming before you, and that the People do not request your action casually. Our country is in crisis – divided, scared, at risk, and about to go over a precipice that could be the undoing of American democracy and the allied countries that depend on us for stability. The majority of Americans voted against Donald Trump. The system failed. Corruption, gerrymandering, foreign and domestic electioneering proved to be more than it could take. Now, we are mere days from the inauguration of a rogue, incompetent President-Elect with highly questionable foreign loyalties and risky behavior.

Since Election Day, many Americans have fought courageously and diligently for justice. We have protested, petitioned, called and written letters to our government leaders, departments and committees, raised money and organized actions to no avail. The American people are being ignored. Those we have elected to represent us lack either the will or fortitude to take action on our behalf. We look to you, now, as our last line of defense. We ask that you issue a Writ of Mandamus to stay the election, pending investigation into Donald Trump and his campaign, then hold a new election which is a globally standard action when an election has been compromised.

I’m not going to waste your time listing all the reasons why an investigation is warranted, as I’m sure you have been following the news. Unlike Trump, the American people do believe our Intelligence Agencies over Vladimir Putin. We know that he is able to release his tax returns. We know he lies constantly. We fear that Congressional leaders are putting party before country and allowing this travesty to continue due to either complicity or opportunism. You are not bound by the machinations of partisan politics. The American people deserve answers, they deserve accountability, and they deserve a fair election. We are looking to you, as are our foreign allies. Please stop this inauguration.


Rachel Murphy Azzara


An Open Letter to Donald Trump, Congress, SCOTUS, and DOJ

Dear Esteemed Leaders and Mr. Trump,

As 2016 draws to a close, the rest of the world looks on at our great country with combined feelings of ridicule, fear, and glee, for those who desire our demise and see opportunity in our chaos. Americans have been called the ‘best and the brightest’, and the good news is that we still are. 74 million Americans voted to reject Donald Trump as President. 66 million of these votes were for Secretary Clinton. Yet, it seems our Electoral College system, which Trump himself called a disaster, failed…but, not without help. 

The GOP spent years cultivating an anti-intellectual constituency and provided a fertile environment for Trump to play his con game. He preyed on the uneducated and the desperate, appealing to the basic instinct to blame, hate and divide, and found an audience well-primed to believe the lies of a demagogue and to be shaped by the propaganda of an adversarial foreign power. This group, the 63 million who voted for Trump, is a minority. Thankfully, the majority of Americans are a thinking people. The public outcry against Trump’s election-countless protests, petitions, millions of letters to electors-is unprecedented, as are many aspects of this election. Do not fool yourself that this is a partisan response against losing an election. Elections have been lost before, even with the rare discrepancy between popular and EC vote, but this phenomenon is quite different. Operating the government in a manner against the express will of a majority this large is a social experiment that will fail, and likely leave our country seriously damaged. This is what we, the thinking majority, America’s ‘best and brightest’, know to be true.

The GOP’s culpability in this train-wreck cannot and will not be ignored. Like the protagonist of a child’s fable, the Republican Party has allowed every wrong decision to be driven by greed and power. This stain will not fade easily, but the longer you place Party over Country, the more we see and the longer we will remember. 

We watched as you allowed an unqualified reality tv celebrity become your standard-bearer. We watched as you waffled back and forth between supporting him, endorsing him and shunning him, only to stand with him in the end, despite unignorable and compelling reasons not to. We watched you compromise morality, ethics, character, common-sense, and the well-being of this country, for the chance to push your own agenda through and secure SCOTUS seats. We watched you engage in witch-hunts aimed at Secretary Clinton, turn a blind-eye to foreign election interference, and ignore FBI Director Comey’s 11th hour electioneering. We watched you take advantage of the loss of the Voting Right’s Act to actively suppress the votes of the poor and people of color and purge millions of votes in cross-check. Now you watch on, as we do, as your President-Elect makes a mockery of our country in his transition process, proving his incompetence every day. I teach my children that it is better to right your wrongs, even if that means admitting fault and taking punishment. Our government leaders still have a window of opportunity to set this right and regain public trust and respect.

Mr. Trump, I imagine you are feeling overwhelmed, as you find yourself in a position for which you are in no way qualified. There is nothing similar between running a business and running a country-especially a superpower. There are literally hundreds of millions of eyes on your every move. Your habitual lying and ineptitude will get caught every time. Perhaps you are not finding the job as satisfying as riling up the adoring rubes at your rallies. You claim you do not need to attend intelligence/security briefings because you’re ‘smart’. Your campaign and transition has told a different story. You exhibit the behavior of a pathaological liar. Your vocabulary and communication skills are like a grade-schooler, you are not well read or educated in pertinent matters, nor do you show a willingness or aptitude toward preparation. Poor communication skills combined with your demonstrated lack of self-control is a dangerous combination for diplomacy and foreign relations. 

Your reputation for narcissism is your biggest appeal to those around you, both foreign and domestic, who know they can use you as a puppet to push their own agenda. The help you received in your campaign had purpose. Mercer and Bannon used you to raise the visibility and agenda of the alt-Right. Putin wishes to destabilize NATO and weaken the United States, unltimately to regain status and power. Our chaos is what they want. If it was your goal to put together a Cabinet that would systematically dismantle the progress of all our government divisions, then you succeeded. 

Just your Twitter use, alone, demonstrates your incompetence to be POTUS. But, this is the reality. This is a country of real people-with real consequences. While you’re tweet-baiting China, whining about the media, and trying to re-ignite the nuclear arms race with Russia, you may do irrevocable harm to our country, and that’s without making a single grossly uninformed policy decision. The majority of the American people knew this danger before the election, more and more realize it every day. 

If you truly want to help this country, you should step-down, acknowledge the illegitimacy of an election corrupted by foreign and domestic electioneering and gerrymandering. Go back to your businesses with the goal of utilizing American materials, manufacturing and operations. Use what you learned on the campaign trail to become a better American-pay your taxes, don’t engage in bribery, pay your subcontractors, try being honest (note: creative hyperbole=lying).

As for the rest of our government leaders, realize that you may very quickly have to figure out how to override this election catastrophe. This is not going to sort itself out. A POTUS put in place against the will of the American people and by the combined actions of a foreign adversary, gerrymandering and electioneering is not something our country can come back from. The dangers posed to us are too great, the implications are devastating. The American majority has spoken-we are educated, organized and motivated. We are the best and brightest. We are #TheResistance.

Note to 115th Congress:  Make no mistake, we also see that you attempted to make your first Congressional action the gutting of the Office of Congressional Ethics. Obviously, we did not allow that to happen. We are not going to be complacent and you will not be able to remove yourself from accountability. Judging from Mr. Trump’s tweet regarding the timing of this move, it is reasonable to infer that he has signaled his own message to you. If you investigate him (and you must), some of you are likely going down with him. An independent, bipartisan investigation must take place. You were not elected to represent yourselves,  Mr. Trump, oil and gun lobbyists, Russia or the 1%-you serve the American people. Do your job, or step down.

Clinton’s alt-Right Speech Moves Us Forward

Hillary Clinton’s speech in Reno, yesterday, marked a needed turning point in what has been a truly bizarre election.  She not only brought Donald Trump’s campaign to task for the hate-filled division it inspires and espouses, but also pointed out just how out of place it is in the political arena.  Finally, someone had the gumption to pull back and provide a little meta-analysis to the hot mess that has dominated this election cycle.

Despite Donald Trump’s complaints of media bias, members of the press and political commentators have actually gone quite easy on him.  His offensive has provided so many gaffes and shocking moments, that reporters, commentators and fellow politicians have been locked in a continuous reactionary response–essentially allowing one man to turn our election process into a circus, and, in the process, nullify any real progress toward finding legitimate solutions to our economic and social problems.

Earlier this week on the Rachel Maddow show, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, criticized the proposed content of Clinton’s Reno speech, complaining that she should be speaking on policy, not on Trump.  Clinton has spoken on policy, and she will continue to do so, but this speech was absolutely necessary.  It was long overdue to talk about the elephant (excuse the pun) in the room.  Donald Trump may be the Republican standard-bearer, but that does not mean that we must collectively lower the bar for him.  Political commentators spend so much time with Trump surrogates while they flailingly try to explain their candidate, when they should be taking a stand on the obvious throughlines of his campaign.  He play-acted his way into the nomination with uninformed, yet authoritarian and divisive rhetoric.  His ignorance is tangible everytime he opens his mouth.  Most of all, whether it was with intent or stupidity, he has become the Pied Piper of an openly racist fringe element.  It is a dangerous scenario, and it is what we need to be talking about before too much damage is done.

Trump vs. “The Media”

Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is blaming “The Media” for his falling poll numbers, and working his followers up into yet another poorly thought out lather.  Though Trump’s battle cries are about media bias and dishonest reporting, I suspect he is truly upset because he thought he was in control of the press–using them to his own benefit. He thought he had a firm understanding of how to play a game.  When he transitioned from the primaries to the general election, though, the game changed, because the players changed.  Trump’s shenanigans were now being focused on by the rest of America–judged, as they should be, in the harsh light of a serious Presidential election. 

“The Media” is not a thing, at least not in the collusive, conspiracy-cloaked way many Trump supporters are referencing it.  It is a broad collection of persons in a related profession.  Now, within the media, there are news outlets that are characterized as liberal media or conservative media.  It is up to the consumer to make sure they vary their sources.  This is of particular interest because Trump’s ire is directed at the media as a whole.  He claims he is treated unfairly even by notoriously conservative news outlets like Fox News.  What are they doing that is distressing him so?  Well, they’re doing what they’ve done all along.  They are reporting on and discussing the things he says in speeches, interviews and tweets.  But, here’s the rub…when he says something outrageous, sensationalistic or outright false, it dominates the press.  This is not a new phenomenon, and Donald Trump knows that.  Consider the following:

“One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better…The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.” – Donald Trump, The Art of The Deal, 1987

“I use the media they way the media uses me — to attract attention. Once I have that attention, it’s up to me to use it to my advantage…I learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you. … So sometimes I make outrageous comments and give them what they want — viewers and readers — in order to make a point. I’m a businessman with a brand to sell.” – Donald Trump, Crippled America, 2015

So, if he’s just doing what he’s always done and they are doing what they’ve always done, then what’s the problem?  The problem for Trump is how the audience is perceiving it.  You see, Trump’s “any press is good press” brand marketing style did work to get him the GOP nomination.  At that point, three things changed:

1). A general election is a lot more serious than a primary.  Trump did not enter into the general election with his game-face on, or implement any changes to his approach.  He continued to deliver the same demagoguery, supporting his claims with hearsay and falsehoods.  He continued with his “tell-it-like-it is” approach, littering his campaign with racism, sexism, and antagonism, behaving in an absolutely un-Presidential manner.

2). His audience changed. He was no longer only targeting a section of the Republican voting base.  The fact that he needed to alter his style to appeal to a much larger voting base seemed to allude him.  This is not just a matter of modifying his approach to connect with moderates and progressives, but to win the respect of educated people. Once he was on stage as a Presidential candidate, the bombastic buffoonery needed to stop.  Yet, his campaign has been fraught with overtly controversial statements and genuinely ignorant pratfalls.  When the press covers these situations, the “any press is good press” theory no longer applies to his new audience of potential voters.

3). Remember that brand he was trying to sell?  The one he estimates at $3.32 billion?  It went downhill fast.  In fact, his fellow Republicans have been so concerned about fallout from association with Trump’s brand that they have been refusing to endorse him and/or vote for him.  This number started small, but has grown with each one of Trump’s sensational outbursts.  In fact, today, a letter requesting that the Republican National Committee cut off funding to Trump has been signed by more than 120 Republican politicians and congressional aides.  The letter states:

“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” the letter says.

Donald Trump is not being treated unfairly by “The Media.”  He’s been playing a game for attention, it’s just a game he’s now losing.  And like a petulant child, he wants to accuse the other players of cheating.  I, for one, am waiting to see if he chucks the game board and goes home.