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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Right-wing conspiracy theory: The most dangerous substance on earth


Despite the hilarious efforts of the Trumpers to defend Il Duce's claim that millions voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, there have been only three (Brad Friedman says four) confirmed cases of voter impersonation in 2016, at least so far. Guess what? Those three were TRUMP SUPPORTERS.

Fake news watch: Heather Digby Parton has the best brief summary about the fake news explosion that did so much to elect Donald Trump.
This is just the latest story over the past couple of weeks involving the issue of “fake news” and its effect on this last election. It has been revealed that Facebook, one of the most important news purveyors in the world with 44 percent of Americans saying they get news from the site, was responsible for a vast number of false stories being pumped out to millions of people, most of them helpful to Trump.

Earlier this year Facebook had been hit with accusations of suppressing conservative stories, so the company eliminated human news curators and replaced them with a new algorithm that, well, ended up providing more conservative stories. Most of them were fake, many of them focused on lurid pseudo-scandals about Hillary Clinton.

On Reddit, a Clinton fake scandal called #Pizzagate continues to rage. It is entirely false, yet the site’s Trump-supporting users are up in arms over Reddit’s decision to ban the board that had fueled the conspiracy theory, involving accusations that Clinton had been running a pedophile ring out of the back of a pizza parlor. Reddit would not have banned it if its users hadn’t been publishing the private information of innocent people and accusing them of pedophilia.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, The Washington Post unveiled a big story about Russian involvement in disseminating fake news. Other news outlets have tracked down fake news purveyors as well, including individual entrepreneurial types as close as California and as far flung as Macedonia and the nation of Georgia, where the perpetrators coincidentally found that fake news benefiting Donald Trump could be very lucrative on the internet. The Post article has been challenged for its reliance on a questionable group that claims to be tracking fake news sites that aren’t actually fake news sites. (And there’s good reason to suspect that much of the spike in fake news traffic came from good old Matt Drudge, a phenomenon that I wrote about months ago.)

The Intercept published a fascinating account of fake news being created by Floyd Brown (a famous associate of Trump intimates Kellyanne Conway and David Bossie and the founder of the right-wing “oppo” group Citizens United, which drove Whitewater coverage in the 1990s). It’s not surprising that the man who created the Willie Horton ad would be involved in an enterprise like this. The article also tracks fake news stories circulated by the site Lifezette of possible Trump administration hire Laura Ingraham and far right institutions like World Net Daily.
A while back, I posted a piece which argued that some left-wing conspiracy theories were on the mark (or at least headed in the right direction) but all right-wing conspiracy theories were bullshit. An angry reader blared that I was woefully ignorant of Pizzagate. He was right: All I knew about it was that it had something to do with child abuse allegations.

Now that I know more. Good Lord. What can I say? Every week, it seems, one encounters a new contender for the title of Stupidest Conspiracy Theory of All Time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Right-wing conspiracy theories are junk. I don't mean "junk" as in "trash" -- I mean "junk" as in heroin.

Right-wing CT is an addictive substance, the deadliest yet devised. You think that's an overstatement? Look up Auschwitz on Google Earth. I can't consider the addicts to be anything other than subhuman garbage until they pull the goddamned needles out of their arms.

We could add much more to Parton's observations. For example, she does not mention that the creation of fake news has essentially been monetized. Even pro-Blue writers have found that they can make a good living concocting Clinton-hate for $$$.
Coler is a soft-spoken 40-year-old with a wife and two kids. He says he got into fake news around 2013 to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right.

"The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction," Coler says.

He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.

"What that turned into was a state representative in the House in Colorado proposing actual legislation to prevent people from using their food stamps to buy marijuana based on something that had just never happened," Coler says.

During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. "It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they're about to get served," Coler says. "It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election."
Here's the part I love best:
Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.
I can verify. The most popular thing I've ever written -- by far -- was this post published on April 1, 2006. Even today, and I mean this very day, that post will receive more than two hundred viewings; all of the incoming links come from right-wing conspiracy theorists. If I had written something of that sort every day for ten years, and if I had found a way to monetize the "hits" (as Coler did), I would now be a wealthy man. Lefties simply don't fall for that sort of thing -- at least not in such numbers, and not for any length of time.

Guys like me are routinely accused of acting in a "condescending" fashion toward those poor, beleaguered red-staters who can't understand why they lost those good-paying factory jobs. Guilty as charged. You know why I'm condescending? Because red-staters and Trumpers just plain fucking deserve it. They really are inferior. They will always blame the wrong parties for the loss of their middle-class status -- and they will never understand that the only time in history when they had good jobs was when both parties hewed to the mantra "We're all Keynesians now." (Those were Nixon's words, uttered just when the assault on Keynesianism began in earnest.)

As long as you Trumpers continue to revile Keynesianism and to defend Milton Friedmanism -- as long as you continue to act like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving -- I will continue to treat you as my inferiors. Because that's precisely what you are.
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Comments:
Nobody called for an investigation into whether or not NRA members volunteered for the voting stations on November 8th, 2016. Statistical odds are that one out of every two voting stations would have an NRA member just based on the sheer size of the NRA at five million members.
Then factor in that the NRA had a 31 million dollar pro Trump PAC and one has to ask, could they have generated either additional votes for Trump or simply thrown out votes for Hillary Clinton.
If one NRA member is statistically to be found for every two voting stations, then if a concerted effort was made to get NRA members to volunteer at voting stations, that number could easily double or triple.
Recounts are silly because all they do is recount the existing votes without forensically comparing ballot totals to signature totals in the signature book that each voter signs. Nor has anyone asked to check to see if signatures may have been forged.
Once a ballot has been forged, it becomes a legitimate ballot once it is counted. The present method of recounting simply generates more and more temptation to infiltrate and cheat at the ballot box.
 
Test post. Every time I try to post here lately, I get an error message.
 
This time I didn't get an error message.

The next-to-last time I tried to post, I previewed the message, and then got the error message when I posted.

This last time, I did not preview the message, and I got no error message.

Maybe the problem lies with the preview function?
 
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Friday, December 02, 2016

What is Obama hiding and why is he hiding it?



I had wanted to keep David Morris' superb essay at the top of this blog for another day or so, but election-related news keeps piling up. Let's take a brief look at a couple of important developments.

A bombshell letter from Dems in the Senate. Senators with access to intelligence briefings want Obama to declassify important information about Russian interference in our election on behalf of Donald Trump...
Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation into Russia's hacking say the US intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian meddling in the US election was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine or in other ways disrupt the political process. The sources say there is some new information but would not specify due to the classified nature of the intelligence.
The call to release the information came in a short letter to the president released by seven Democratic senators that said "there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election" and called for the details to be declassified and released to the public. The public letter was signed by all the Democrats on the Senate intelligence community except the ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein did sign the second, classified message sent conveying more information about the request.
Here is what independent Senator Angus King of Maine has to say:
Sen. Angus King of Maine said he supports declassifying information on Russian attempts to intervene in November’s presidential election, not to revisit the outcome but to shed light on a “national security issue of the gravest consequence.”

“This is an arrow aimed at the heart of democracy by a foreign government and I think we need to take it very seriously,” King said Thursday in an interview.
The senators’ letter to Obama was as succinct as it was unusual.

“We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public. We are conveying specifics through classified channels. Thank you for your attention to this important matter,” reads the text of the three-sentence letter.
Why is Trump trying to prevent democracy? You know damned well that if Trump had lost, he would be demanding recounts. But since he is the ostensible winner, he seeks to oppose any attempt to audit the results.
A team of Trump attorneys filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania late Thursday requesting a dismissal of Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s recount effort, arguing that she lacks a valid claim and merely “alleges speculative illegality.”

On Friday morning, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit to stop the recount there, a move that came hours after Trump attorneys had filed a complaint to block the proceedings.

And soon after, a pro-Trump super PAC filed suit in Wisconsin, insisting Stein’s recount push could “unjustifiably cast doubt upon the legitimacy of President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s victory.”
That's quite correct, if by "unjustifiably" the PAC means "justifiably." After all, there can be no shadow on the legitimacy of the election unless the recount/audit effort finds actual evidence. So what are the Trumpers afraid of? (And yes, I'd say the exact same thing if the party positions were reversed. Principle before party.)

The Trumper response reminds me of what the cop said in L.A. Confidential: "You've got a big guilty sign around your neck."

Some Trump supporters have said that the recount is a waste of taxpayer dollars. How can this be so, if the money is coming from individual donations? Both Republicans and Democrats have intimated that Stein is engaging in a money-making scheme. Balderdash. The money is going to the recounts! And the price increases certainly are not the fault of Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton or any other recount supporter. The state of Wisconsin has suddenly jacked up the amount of money that they're asking for to $3.5 million (up from around $1 million). Don't blame Stein: Blame Wisconsin.

As all fans of Life of Brian know, Jesus did not say "Blessed are the cheesemakers." If Wisconsin keeps raising the price of democracy, he'll probably be very cross with those cheesemakers.

The best source of election integrity news is, as always, BradBlog:
Over the past 24 hours, Donald Trump or his surrogates have filed multiple legal complaints in three different states in an effort to stop the "recounts" (hand-counts, machine counts and/or forensic analyses of computerized voting and tabulation systems) as lawfully sought by Green Party Presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein. As the Stein camp noted today, the sudden interest by Team Trump comes as Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton has dropped from about almost 70,000 votes to about 46,000 votes (out of some 6 million tallied) as PA counties finally complete their initial tallies. The Stein camp notes today: "With his margin of victory in the state nearly halved as of last night, and now within 0.2% of triggering an automatic statewide recount, Donald Trump is desperately fighting to stop the recount in Pennsylvania." His attorneys filed a suit [PDF] late Thursday to dismiss her filings in the Keystone State.

He is also attempting, somewhat successfully, to stop hand-counting from moving forward in MI, where he reportedly leads Clinton by just over 10,000 votes out of about 5 million tallied, including more than 75,000 ballots with no vote reported for President at all, many of those cast in or near Detroit. That figure, Stein charges, "is double the number [of undervotes] from 2012."
In Wisconsin, pro-Trump outfits calling themselves the Great America PAC and the Stop Hillary PAC filed a complaint [PDF] in federal court to immediately stop the counting of ballots, which is now in its second day in the Badger State. That complaint, citing Bush v. Gore from 2000, argues that counting ballots violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and "may cast an unjustified pall over the election of President-Elect Trump, undermining public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process." Sounds familiar, ironic and, yes, hypocritical.
Remember, the "Brooks Brothers riot" in 2000 was largely the work of Trump's best friend, Roger Stone. (Which is ironic, since Stone would never wear Brooks Brothers.)

And now please scroll down to read Dave Morris' piece. It's damned good. 
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Comments:
Why? Never tell anyone outside the family what you think. After two terms, Obama can trust his sources because they can trust him. It's good to be Commander-In-Chief.

The recounts are essentially trivial matters to him, but they might be cited when the time comes. First, the Electoral College has to meet and cast votes. Second, the new Congress has to be sworn. Third, Obama has to decide if he'll allow a new president (you know who) to take the oath.

We have to wonder if martial law would serve the United States better under Obama or under Trump. I will not be upset watching Obama on TV explaining the new rules of order and providing his legal brief for the extraordinary action. As a footnote, I suppose that Hillary had access in 1973 (while she served the House Committee during its impeachment proceedings) to the Nixon White House contingency plans (from VP Agnew's staff) to cancel the 1972 election, suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and round up enemies. It's also likely that she, for one, had read the secret Lewis Powell Memo that circulated and established the momentum for what became the far-right success story.

Congress will not be able to meet, the Supreme Court is still 4-4 and three Justices are women.

I predict that Chief Justice Roberts will administer the oath of office to Trump in a tweet and trump will take the oath in a tweet.
 
No less than Roger Stone, himself, (and he should know!) has been quoted in The Hill as saying Scott Walker and Reince Priebus know how to rig an election, and in fact have done so five times in Wisconsin. http://www.wpr.org/former-trump-advisor-scott-walker-has-rigged-5-elections
 
In an ideal world, Tim Kaine would now officially respond to team Trump's court filings. As VP candidate with a chance to win if the results are overturned, this would destroy their major argument while perhaps sparing Hillary from the full force of Trump's vindictiveness if (as is likely) the whole thing still goes south.

Dream on, David.....
 
If a volunteer grabs a hundred ballots and fills them out prior to the voting stations opening, or simply does the voting where no one will see them, those votes will look normal during a recount. What won't look normal is if the signature book each voter signs has 300 total signatures but that voting station delivered 400 votes, which apparently happened in 3 or 4 precincts in Wisconsin.

Also, what if 100 Clinton votes were replaced with 100 manufacture Trump votes so the totals match the signatures in the book? I presume the unused ballots are returned and counted to make sure that all ballots are accounted for.

Simply recounting ballots is very, very dumb if no other investigation is simultaneously going on.

I would like to know if NRA members were permitted within one hundred feet of a voting station other than to vote once and then leave. The NRA makes up 5% of all Trump voters and since the NRA had the largest anti Clinton PAC they should not have been allowed to volunteer at any voting station. Of course the FBI is on this to the degree that OJ Simpson was searching for his murdered estranged wife's killers.
 
Broken seals machines tampered with??? http://grabthem.blogspot.com/2016/12/election-recountl-shockers.html
 
I have come around to all legal recounts being done.

Wisconsin AND Michigan should have full recounts because it is within the rules for both.

There will be end to this uprest unless they do them.

Pennsylvania will only get a full recount if the margin gets down to .5-where it seems it is headed.
Otherwise they should follow their laws with a partial.

Trump should get out of the way. Not allowing recounts in wisconsin and Michigan will just delegitimize his Presidency.

If Pennsylvania gets to .5 he should get out of the way for that
 
also -in wisconsin nearly 60 percent of Trump winning counties are doing hand recounts.

some others are using combinations.

the big urban areas that were heavy Clinton are doing machine recounts.

Also on a daily basis Wisconsin is posting spreadsheets on the counts that are done.

these are excel sheets i cannot access though. However they are telling you if any candidate picks up or loses 10 or more seperatly.

so far after 2 days mostly one's or 2's or no changes. No big changes yet
 
anonymous-the broken seals have been shown to be the original warranty seals from when the machines were bought. these machines are very old and most manufacturers no longer exist.

I'm sure most of them have had warranty seals broken and repairs done on these machines over the years
 
I saw an interesting tweet from a NYT "reporter" that said something to the effect that as the election drew closer Trump had been advised to focus campaign efforts in Michigan and Wisconsin. The NYT "reporter" wondered why that advice was given and who was behind it. Well, NYT "reporter", if you all hadn't been so obsessed with all Hillary emails all the time someone may have investigated that.
 
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Thursday, December 01, 2016

A slow-motion coup d'état

How did fascism (or something perilously close to it) come to America? The quick answer is here. A Trump surrogate has come right out and said: "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts." Context does not change the meaning of that sentiment; check it out for yourself.

But you want a more detailed answer, don't you? Cannonfire reader David Jay Morris, a former news editor, has written a remarkable essay on the rise of Trumpism, and he has graciously offered it to this humble blog for publication. It's long, it's juicy, and it's the best I've seen on the topic. Everything below the asterisks is his, not mine.


* * *




A Slow Motion Coup D’état

With the alleged election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States, have we just witnessed the final act in what comedian Bill Maher recently called, “a slow-motion right wing coup d’etat?”

Amid all the bloviating and lies that characterized his campaign, Trump does appear to have gotten one thing right…the election was rigged.  The problem is, it’s the Republicans who did the rigging.

They’ve been at it for decades and once Trump is sworn in and his first Supreme Court nominee is seated, all checks and balances will be gone. Thirty-plus years of right-wing subterfuge and guile will have paid off big time, although not necessarily in the way most Republicans intended.

The cult of Trump will be ascendant.

Should-be-president-elect Hillary Clinton once said that there was a “vast right-wing conspiracy” arrayed against her and her husband.  These words elicited mainly sneers at the time, but can anyone seriously doubt them now?  Let’s take a quick look at some of the main elements of this “conspiracy” and see if you still think that Donald J. Trump is the legitimately elected president of the United States of America.  All of them have been presented and analysed in much greater depth elsewhere – and links to a few articles about each of them are included for those who would like to start investigating further – but here is an attempt to outline them all. 

Intensive Voter Suppression  

Back in 1980, leading right-wing Republican operative Paul Weyrich said,

"Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome. Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Ever since, the Republican party has engaged in a systematic effort to make voting more difficult for African Americans, young people, Hispanics and other groups who tend to strongly support the Democrats.  

Especially  since the Supreme Court trashed the Voting Rights Act in 2010, states with Republican governments have pulled out all the stops to keep as many likely Democratic supporters as possible off of the voting roles.  No one knows exactly how many people have been disenfranchised through these efforts, but estimates of Democratic votes lost range into the millions.  Trump’s alleged margin of victory in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida could easily have been erased if all those who should have been eligible to vote had been able to do so.




Creation of an Alternative Right-Wing Reality   

Fox News, Breitbart, Alex Jones, the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, home schooling, biblical literalism, well-funded right wing “think tanks” (or should we say propaganda factories), climate change denialism, fake news planted on social media – the list goes on and on.  For more than 30 years, the right wing has undertaken a systematic and well-organized campaign to dumb down a large portion of the American electorate, destroy their capacity for critical evidence based thinking and leave them susceptible to the wildest sort of demagoguery. 

The stage was set for Trump.




Corruption and Weaponization of Christianity 

Back in the day, most fundamentalist Christians could be counted on to reject the theory of evolution, but also to think that Jesus meant it when he told his followers to care for the least among us and that it might be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven.  Abortion, on the other hand, was nowhere on their radar as it wasn’t touched on at all by their saviour. 

How times have changed.  Back in the 60s and 70s, right-wing Republicans and their wealthy backers realized that there was no better way to undercut support for the Democrats who were championing civil rights for minorities, the right to choose for women and a more equitable distribution  of income and wealth than to paint them as not only political opponents but as actual agents of the devil.  Politically, their program has been an astounding success…but in the process any remote connection to the actual teachings of Jesus seems to have been lost.



Demonization of the Media

Along with the creation of their own propaganda organs, a core tactic of fascist movements is the discrediting and demonization of the mainstream (i.e. fact-based) media.  Starting with Rush Limbaugh and Fox “News,” this has been a staple of the Republican playbook for years.  Trump has, however, taken it to a whole new level, to the point where reporters trying to cover his rallies became concerned for their personal safety. 

Such demonization is crucial if the voters are to be kept “safely” away from the truth about the people and policies for which they are voting.




Demonization of their Foes, Especially the Clintons  

From the time Bill Clinton first stepped into the governor’s mansion in Arkansas, right-wing Republicans have regarded him – and his wife Hillary – as very serious threats and they have spared no effort or expense in their efforts to demonize them.  The attacks in Arkansas were constant, but things really took off once Bill and Hillary moved into the White House. Remember Whitewater, the years-long multi-million dollar partisan witch hunt conducted by “independent” prosecutor Kenneth Starr which led to absolutely nothing but the opportunity for the Republicans to bring a trumped up impeachment charge against the president for lying about consensual sex.

Treatment of Hillary has been no better.  In spite of the Republicans undying efforts to find something – anything – to charge her with over Benghazi, her private e-mail server or the life-saving Clinton Foundation, they have come up with absolutely nothing.  What the right-wingers have succeeded in brilliantly, however, is in smearing Hillary’s reputation and painting her as “crooked Hillary” in the public mind.

That is the real scandal.



Florida 2000 and the Judicial Coup D’etat

If there had been a fair and complete count of all the votes cast for president in Florida in 2000, Al Gore would very likely have been the 43rd President of the United States.  If the thousands of (mostly black) people who were improperly prevented from voting by Republican Secretary of State Katharine Harris had been allowed to cast their votes, he would certainly have won by a safe margin.

Due to the unprecedented – and seemingly unconstitutional – decision by a partisan majority of the Supreme Court – two of whom should have, by any standards, recused themselves due to conflicts of interest – we never had the chance to find out for sure.  What we got instead was eight years of Bush buffoonery, 9-11, the Iraq war and near economic collapse.



The Weaponization of Social Media  

As just about every high school student knows, Facebook, Twitter and the like can be cruel places, but Donald Trump, his allies in the neo-Nazi alt-right movement and the growing army of professional Russian trolls have taken things to a whole new level.  Cross them and you will pay.

As Trump knows better than anyone, social media is also the perfect way to bypass fact-checking and spread the most nonsensical conspiracy theories and drivel of every sort unfiltered to his gullible followers.




Extreme Gerrymandering

In almost every election, in state after state and at a national level, significant majorities of Americans consistently vote for Democrats – yet Republicans consistently gain large majorities in the House of Representatives and many state houses.

Why?  Extreme – and probably unconstitutional – gerrymandering. 

The practice of adjusting the borders of electoral districts to favor one’s own side has long been an unfortunate feature of American political life, but in 2010 the Republicans activated a brilliant scheme to give themselves vastly more electoral power than their opponents.  Called Redmap, the first stage of the plan was to pour massive amounts of money into elections for governorships and state legislatures in the year of the census and then use that power to shamelessly (and scientifically) redraw the districts in a way that had never been seen before.

The result?  A right-wing stranglehold on the House and numerous state governments which has allowed unrestricted voter suppression, gridlock in Washington, and an endless series of partisan witch hunts.

So much for one man one vote!


Conspiracy to Undermine the Obama Administration

The very night that Barak Obama was being inaugurated in 2009, a group of leading Republican lawmakers and operatives gathered in a Washington DC restaurant and decided that their priority would be to make him a one-term president by opposing and obstructing him in absolutely everything he tried to do.  Unfortunately for the country, they stuck to this plan religiously throughout Obama’s entire eight years in office.  Of course, they then turned around and blamed all the suffering caused by their failure to go along with anything on the Democrats – and huge numbers of people believed them.

Working, as this effort did, so clearly against the interests of the American people, another word for it might be treason.



Corruption of the FBI

Not since the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover have we seen such blatant and unethical interference by the FBI into an American election as occurred this year. 

FBI Director James Comey’s unprecedented bad-mouthing of Hillary Clinton was bad enough in July when he announced that she had been exonerated in the private e-mail server non-scandal and then proceeded to do everything possible to undermine her credibility. 

Totally beyond the pale, however, was his announcement ten days before the election that new evidence was being examined in the case – leading to the obvious assumption that it might be reopened – only to come back a week later, after all the damage had been done, and let us know that there was absolutely nothing there after all. 

Shameful…and totally at odds with FBI policy.

Of course, Comey was not the only one causing trouble. After Comey’s bombshell, it emerged that deranged Trump cheerleader-in-chief Rudy Guiliani was basically able to use the New York FBI office as a tool of his dear leader’s campaign. 



Money in Politics

The influence of money in politics has always been a problem in the United States, but the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs the FEC totally blew the roof off on all attempts to impose any sensible limits.

It seems that the only way now that you can be elected is to either prostitute yourself to big money interests – or else to be one yourself like Donald Trump.  Either way, the interests of the middle class, let alone the poor, are way, way down on the priority list.



The Cult of Trump

Trump once famously said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still not lose any of his voters. 

He was probably right.

He might not have shot anyone, but he was caught on tape bragging about being a sexual predator, numerous shady business dealings were exposed, he was shown to have defrauded customers and not paid his suppliers, he told one demonstrable whopper after another on a daily basis, and it didn’t make a damn bit of difference to his fanatical supporters.

For those with a sense of history, his rallies were chilling affairs as he whipped his followers into a frenzy and skilfully directed their rage against blacks, immigrants, Muslims, the Clintons, the press, women he may well have assaulted, and anyone else that happened to get under his skin that day.

 Chants of “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” filled the hall, protesters were roughed up and respected members of the press had to have police protection. 

It’s hard to say if the whole scene reminds you more of cults of strongmen such as Idi Amin or Vladimir Putin, the horrifying political/racial cult of Nazism, or out-and-out pseudo-religious cults such as the Church as Scientology.

Take your pick. 

The bottom line is that Trumpism shows all the signs of being a genuine cult. 

In the long run, this could lead to disastrous results, especially when something doesn’t go the way the Donald wants and he urges his well-armed followers to take matters into their own hands.



Election Fraud

Anyone with the remotest interest in facts knows that Trump’s and the right-wing’s claims of massive voter fraud – millions of individuals voting illegally – is complete nonsense.  A recent in-depth university study found that out of almost one billion votes cast over a ten-year period, only 31 actual cases of such voter fraud could be found. 

Election fraud, on the other hand, is a whole different matter.

For years investigative organizations such as the Election Defense Alliance and BlackBoxVoting.org  and academics such as Princeton professor Andrew Appel have been warning about the relative ease of tampering with many of the nation’s electronic voting machines and the tabulators which compile the results.  Numerous demonstrations have shown that their fears are valid, especially if insiders were to be involved.  

Electronic voting systems are, in fact, considered so unreliable and subject to manipulation that in 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany forbade the use of computers to count the country’s votes, and ordered a return to the hand counting of all ballots in front of citizen observers.

The evidence suggests that there is good reason to be suspicious of the results of any election in which the final results reported vary greatly from the polls, especially the normally reliable exit polls.  This is the standard the U.S. government itself recommends for evaluating if an overseas election might be fraudulent.  

And which party has benefited from these statistical discrepancies here at home?  Surprise, surprise, it always somehow seems to be the Republicans - and 2016 was no different.  In the words of election integrity expert Theodore de Macado Soares:

“According to the exit polls conducted by Edison Research, Clinton won four key battleground states (NC, PA, WI, and FL) in the 2016 presidential election that she went on to lose in the computerized vote counts. With these states Clinton wins the Electoral College with a count of 302 versus 205 for Trump. Clinton also won the national exit poll by 3.2% and holds a narrow lead in the national vote count still in progress.

“Exit polls were conducted in 28 states. In 23 states the discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote count favored Trump. In 13 of these states the discrepancies favoring Trump exceeded the margin of error of the state.”

So can we state with certainty that Clinton’s loss was due to deliberate tampering with the voting systems in key areas?

The answer is no.  That would take a serious investigation by the FBI…but they seem to have been too busy looking into Secretary Clinton’s e-mail server to be bothered by such a trifling matter as the basic integrity of our national elections. 

Directly tampering with the tallies produced by electronic voting machines might be the holy grail of Republican efforts to prevent demographic realities from consigning them to the dustbin of history, but, so far at least, we have only circumstantial evidence that this has actually been happening. 

Fortunately, a faint glimmer of hope has been given to us by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s call for a recount/audit in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the massive public support it has received. 

Needless to say, the Republican authorities in these states have already started doing everything they can to shut down or stymie the effort.  As of the writing of this article, Wisconsin has just more than tripled the fee they will charge the Greens from $1 million to $3.5 million, and it is likely to go higher. 

Worse, they are trying to arrange the recount so that it will be nothing more than running the same data through the same tabulators again in exactly the same fashion.   Of course, this will tell us nothing - and that is, no doubt, the intention.  Rather than this, what is essential is a full manual recount of all votes available in any way on paper, and an in-depth forensic analysis by top-level impartial specialists of the voting machines and tabulators themselves, along with their installed software.

The Greens are trying to make this happen, but it is by no means certain they will succeed.

Let us pray that they do.






Vladimir Putin 

With the possible exception of the Trump cult, the conspiratorial elements listed above are not particularly new.  Some of them even go back decades or more.

The 2016 election did, however, bring us an entirely new phenomenon, one that might be the most disturbing of them all.

I refer, of course, to the likely involvement of a hostile foreign power in an organized attempt to undermine and influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential election.

Such efforts are nothing new for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Back in the Soviet Union days, interfering in the elections of countries where there was some sort of communist – capitalist struggle going on was said to be a standard practice in the KGB playbook (as it also was, to be fair, in that of the CIA).  In more recent years, the regime of ex KGB officer Putin is believed to have become increasingly active in this area, particularly in the realm of cyberspace.

Forbes and the Wall Street Journal have reported on Russian cyber-attacks on the 2012 election in Georgia and 2014 one in Ukraine.  The Washington Post reported that Russia has conducted operations aimed at disrupting U.S. alliances and others designed to influence elections in Latvia, Greece, Italy and France with the apparent aims of discrediting the democratic systems of Western countries and creating the illusion of a moral equivalence between them and Russia’s own authoritarian and corrupt system.  

As is now well-known, U.S. intelligence is virtually certain that it was Russian players operating under Putin’s orders who hacked the e-mail accounts of the DNC, Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta and others and passed on damaging material to Wikileaks to be released at the worst possible times in an attempt to derail the Clinton campaign and increase the chances of Putin BFF Donald Trump winning the election.

Much of the nasty, anti-Clinton troll campaign was also believed to have been carried out by paid Russian operatives and strong evidence exists that the Russians attempted to – and perhaps succeeded in – hacking the voter registration systems of several states and the computers of at least one major electronic voting machine manufacturer. 

If true, either of these activities could have provided the Trump supporting Russians with a way to tamper with the actual vote count in his favour.  This possibility is one of the main reasons why the Green Party and their supporters are so adamant that any recounts must be done by hand, rather than with the same potentially corrupted equipment.




Conclusion

The implications of all this are staggering. 

If even a part of the theories put forward above are true, there is every chance that the person who was declared the winner of our 2016 election is not a legitimate president-elect, but a usurper.

A usurper who got where he is not just because of his own extraordinary skill as a con-man – perhaps the best in history – but through a long-term and carefully crafted and executed plan to subvert American democracy carried out by a group of right-wing zealots now aided and abetted by the government of a hostile foreign power.

If this doesn’t qualify as a conspiracy, I can’t imagine what does.

By David Jay Morris

December 1, 2016

About the author: Now semi-retired, long-time believer in progressive causes David Jay Morris is a former international news editor and columnist for the Guam Daily Post and has worked for the New York Daily News and Long Island Business Review.  Holding British-American dual nationality, he now lives in the UK with his wife, cat and three dogs and works part-time as a teacher, Japanese – English translator and editor. 
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Comments:
Excellent article, thought provoking.
 
There is just an unbelievable amount of anti Stein, Anti Recount chatter going on among the mainstream media. I find it appalling and very telling. Nobody should be against a manual recount, there just is no compelling reason to be against a manual recount, none. Whatever the outcome, it truly is all good.
Stein keeps being accused of asking for more and more money with the intent of bilking those who donated to the recount even as each state asks for more and more money. Clinton is being bashed even though she had nothing to do with the recount. And still other articles claim the recount won't change anything so why are they bothering.
Did the FBI bother to investigate how many of the 5 million NRA members served at voting locations the day of the election when those members NRA fees went directly to a 31 million dollar anti-Clinton PAC.
 
Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia

Then there is

Stein, Stein, Stein, Stein

Oh well.
 
I must point out that in 2000 Gore made a strategic mistake in not asking for a whole state recount.

He only asked for Miami -dade area.

Because of the constitutions 'equal protection' clause he in effect made miami -dade votes more important than the rest of florida

Thats what the 5 supreme court justices used as the basis for stopping the recount.

Now whether you were on one side or the other it's a valid reason.
 
Alseesandro-they might be less sceptical if she had picked at least one Hillary won stat-like MN instead of Michigan.

Also the basis of the recount is 'questionable'.

supposedly Hillary got 7 percent less votes than expected in machine areas as oppossed to optical scanner ballot areas.

However most ballot areas are in the boonies where Trump over performed.

Most machines were in the big cities dominated b Clinton voters. Since Trump over performed they would seem deficient.

anyways Wisconsin will be counted and the boonies ballots confirmed.

 
Joseph, so we have a resident troll now? I remember that BS about Gore only asking for the Miami recount --- he did also ask for state-wide. I don't remember all the details now, but I remember that was the troll-line then.
 
prowler-i cannot respond to you by Josephs order

 
As part of the alt-write, I demand the ouster of all apostrophe deviants. Still waiting to hear if we have to stomach a resident troll.


 
PZ, the presence of a troll tells me that this site is being read.
 
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