Monday, February 19, 2018

Mueller Investigation Continues: Russians Indicted

The big news from last Friday is that the US Justice Department has charged 13 Russians and 3 companies in an indictment for conspiring to interfere in US electoral and political processes, including the 2016 election.

The full indictment can be read here, but here are some highlights of the charges:
  • One of the Defendants, the Internet Research Agency, registered as Russian corporation in 2013, occupied an office in St. Petersburg, Russia, and sought to conduct "information warfare against the United States of America" via false social media personas on social media platforms and the Internet.
  • The Defendants posed as U.S. persons on social media sites addressing "divisive U.S. political and social issues." These sites "reached significant numbers of Americans." For instance, one fake "Tennessee GOP" Twitter account obtained over 100,000 followers. And, I have a question about that right away: did the real Tennessee GOP not realize that someone had co-opted their Twitter presence? How does that happen?
  • Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fake personas to post content focusing on U.S. politics "and to 'use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump - we support them).'" Now, with respect to that, I think it's somewhat obvious why Russia would favor Trump: he's incompetent and they possibly have compromising information on him. But, why would they have supported Bernie Sanders? Did they support him primarily to undermine Hillary? Did they believe that, had he won, he would have been a weak/ineffective leader? How much of Bernie's oft-discussed "stunning" primary run was attributable to Russian interference? The mainstream media needs to pursue these answers, particularly if Sanders is planning a 2020 run.
  • Defendants communicated with and distributed materials to "unwitting" members of the Trump Campaign.
  • Defendants, via their social media personas, began alleging voter fraud on the part of the Democratic Party. Here I'll note that Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the 2016 election was being "rigged" against, or "stolen from," him. Bernie Sanders, for his part, has done little to disabuse the American public of the notion that the Democratic Primary was stolen from him, even though evidence to support that claim is lacking.
  • Some of the Defendants traveled to the U.S. to collect intelligence and meet with real U.S. persons.
  • After the election, the Defendants organized both pro- and anti-Trump political rallies. The aim with respect to these rallies seems to be to sow discord.
  • Defendants and their co-conspirators opened fraudulent bank and PayPal accounts to send money into and out of the United States to promote Internet Research Agency's operations and for enrichment.
In response, Donald Trump has stated on Twitter that that his campaign did nothing wrong.

Now, unless there's been a drastic change in legal procedure that I'm not aware of wherein Cadet Bone Spurs' Twitter denials automatically halt an investigation, Mueller's work will continue, for now.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tales In Fauxbjectivity: "Indian Marauders" Edition

My grand experiment of reading at least one biography of every US president slogs along at number five, James Monroe.

For this one, I'm reading The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call To Greatness, by Harlow Giles Unger.

Summary: Somebody save me from the uncritical fawning.

For instance, how can a thinking person take the following seriously, regarding the status of western expansion during the Revolutionary War (emphasis added):
"As primogeniture became the guiding principle of inheritance, thousands of disinherited Americans - usually younger sons of eastern farmers - stood poised to move west as soon as the American government cleared out Indian marauders and made the territory safe to inhabit and farm."
As far as I can tell, Unger uttered in complete earnestness this notion that Native Americans had somehow pre-stolen land that non-firstborn white men did not yet occupy but were nonetheless entitled to by virtue of their white male American-ness. It's so typically American: if white men create a system that disadvantages a proportion of other white men, but is still better than what they've arranged for white women and all people of color, we're supposed to sympathize with and relate first and foremost to the disadvantaged white men.

Add this one instance to the thousands of others in US history wherein white male Americans take from others what is not theirs to take. Multiply that by the thousands upon thousands of white male historians who uncritically repeat this entitlement-coddling perspective. Then, factor in those who teach this perspective and repeat it and share it and learn it and come to believe in it.

A very clear story of white male American entitlement takes shape.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Galentines Day

This is just to pop in and provide a very important Xena update:
Love to all the dykes on Twitter right now unashamedly sharing what the show meant to them back in the day.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Quote of the Day: The Tone From the Top

Dahlia Lithwick on Rob Porter, White House staff secretary and the latest powerful man revealed to be an abuser:
"Taken together, all the grown-ups in the room protected, privileged, and covered for Rob Porter despite everything they knew about his pattern of abuse, because his career was important to them. Even well-educated, high-status, articulate white women who were lawfully married to Porter didn’t matter enough to be taken seriously. 

Please stop asking why women don’t come forward. These women did. They believed that once the police, the FBI, the White House, and John Kelly knew what they knew, Porter would stop ascending in their ranks. They were wrong. 

Rob Porter’s father wrote eloquently about the presidency and 'a tone from the top.' The tone from the top of the Trump administration has unerringly been that women are to be cherished and protected right up until the moment they stop being docile and decorative, and then they are to be dismissed and humiliated. Rob Porter’s defenders knew everything they needed to know. They did nothing because he was visible to them and his accusers were nothing. But the tone comes from the top, and nobody should be even a bit surprised"
In case anyone has yet to connect the dots from the past year or so: Donald Trump is a misogynist who surrounds himself with other misogynists and he was supported by millions of Americans who are also misogynists who wanted to see a powerful woman humiliated when for daring to compete with a man for the same job.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 6)

Over at Shakesville, I have written a roundup of recent queer-related news.   

Spoiler Alert: It turns out that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not allies!

Check it out.