Why is Russia Helping Republicans Win Elections?

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/06/why-russia-helping-republicans-win

Another week in the Trump administration, another shit storm of news.

Republicans were busy redistributing wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy by taking healthcare away from millions of Americans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was preoccupied creating memorable optics with ordering Capitol Hill police to forcibly remove disabled wheelchair-bound protesters from the building’s hallways. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was desperately trying to get reporters to listen to his talking points about some veterans’ bill that nobody’s heard of or seemed to care about. Donald Trump’s baby sitters held a rally to encourage him and remind him of the good ‘ole days. Because they won’t take responsibility for their failure, Bernie bros were attacking Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi because their Hillary attacks no longer get them any press. And once again, Donald Trump made false allegations in an attempt to intimidate a government witness and wasted everyone’s time.

Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that Russia not only hacked the DNC, but they actually hacked some of the voter systems in 21 states, likely affecting the actual vote totals of the 2016 presidential race.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Since the Russian hacking of the DNC was reported, there have been rumors circulating about the possibility of individual state and county voter systems and rolls being hacked. The denials of both stories followed the same pattern: deny the rumor, admit some of the reports once they become undeniable and then finally ignore the subject and pretend it never happened even though it’s been proven without a doubt. It’s all a narcissistic way of rewriting the past to be whatever you need it to be, leaving some people to wonder if it really happened at all.

Which if you think about it, that is the modus operandi of the Trump administration and Trump himself. Take the Republican platform: rumors were that Trump campaign officials changed the terms to be kinder to Russia than the Ukraine. They denied it, then admitted than someone (not them) did change it and then finally they admitted to doing it and even admitted that Trump himself said to do it but then refused to talk about it. Or take the whole Flynn fiasco: denied the rumors that he had Russian connections, admitted a few connections but claimed they were innocent and then sort of gave in and admitted that yes Flynn did do all those treasonous acts he’s accused of but he was actually fired for lying to Mike Pence. One more: they denied that Trump told Russian officials top secret information during their White House meeting, then Trump the next day admitted to disclosing the information thus damaging relations with our allies and now refuses to talk about it as if it never happened.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but this leaves me with little hope for an answer or even a solution for this new problem.

As McClatchy reported early this week, state government officials were warned by the Obama administration about the likelihood that their voting systems had been compromised. Yet for months, these state officials denied any evidence of Russian hacking and some even refused the help offered by the administration.

Only now have we started to see reports in the press that those rumors were true. Some state officials have come forward and testified before congress that yes, in fact, it was true: hackers were able to break into their state and county voting records and change voter data in Illinois. In Durham, North Carolina, Russian hacking is thought to have succeeded in making it impossible for poll workers to access the voter rolls during the 2016 election. Workers were forced to verify voter registrations by hand using a paper copy, which took more time and created long lines. Many voters reported giving up and leaving the polls without voting which would actually change the vote count.

Currently, no state or county is admitting that the vote totals were changed or that it could have changed the outcome. However, voter system experts have commented that many systems have either not been audited or cannot be audited, and therefore it is entirely possible that some Clinton votes were turned into Trump votes. Of more concern is that in every district where this hacking occurred, those voters who were kicked off the rolls were most likely to be Democrats. Those counties that found Russian IP addresses in their systems were districts where registered Democrats outnumbered the Republicans.

Time is now reporting that Mueller is now looking into whether or not the Trump campaign may have benefitted from these hackings. The House Intelligence Committee wants to speak with Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale. Perhaps this is the part where they admit the facts before they swear us all to never speak of their shame again. Who knows?

To date, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show has done the most in-depth reporting. It’s highly likely that government officials will continue to try and downplay the affects this Russian hacking had on the 2016 election. To admit such a breach of our security would be an indictment on both the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ failure to keep our country’s election systems safe from foreign enemies. At the same time, it would call into question every single midterm election that has and will take place since districts are still using those same hacked systems.

With very few outlets investigating this, expect some more admissions of voting system breaches and then silence on the part of our elected officials. Elected officials have given us no reason to hope that they would do the right thing, as they’ve tried their best to ignore the situation. Hopefully they will at least fix the system. Most likely, we will never know why Russians were helping Republicans win elections or if Republicans were in on it.


Dear Paul Ryan, Save Your Prayers

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/06/dear-paul-ryan-save-your-prayers

No Democrat, Republican or Independent in their sane mind thinks that yesterday’s shooting in Washington D.C. that left five injured including Representative Steve Scalise was justified. Using violence to argue your point effectively makes that point moot. No one can hear you when you have a gun in your hand. They cannot even see you, the gun is the sole focus. That shooter’s concerns, his anguish over the direction this country is going in, died along with him. His atrocious actions are all we heard, all we saw and all we will remember of him.

But ideas, thoughts, philosophies, ideologies are bigger than one person, and one person’s insane actions does not represent those concepts alone. One misguided fundamentalist Christian’s actions can no more speak for all Christians as can one suicide bomber claim to speak for all of Islam. The murderous actions of one Trump supporter cannot speak for the whole movement nor can the murderous actions we saw yesterday from a so-called liberal activist.

In times such as these, we seek guidance from our leaders. We require assurances from them that something will be done. Government’s top function is to keep its citizens safe if nothing else. Safe from violence, disease, famine. To ensure that we, as a people, can pursue “life, liberty and happiness” and that our elected representatives will defend these “unalienable rights.”

The guidance given by our leaders to citizens after yesterday’s shooting in D.C. was consistent with what we’ve heard for the last twenty, thirty years: pray. I don’t take this as good advice. It’s flippant, self-serving and degrading. It allows our leaders to shame us, to shame our outrage at their incompetence and ineptitude by invoking God’s name while allowing them to continue ignoring their sworn duties as elected officials.

To be clear, when Speaker Ryan addressed the Congress yesterday, he was not addressing the nation. He was addressing his fellow members of Congress. “An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us.” He never mentioned those who died at the hands of another American, in yet another mass shooting on that very same day in San Francisco. Neither did Trump in his address to the nation.

Rarely, if ever do they mention the gun violence that Americans encounter from our own families and friends on a weekly basis. Unless that is, it occurs to one of their own or it is so egregious that they are forced to.

Still then, they say, “Pray.” Well I’m tired of praying. I’m tired of good thoughts and positive vibes. I’m tired of them invoking God’s name to just turn around and continue on the same self-serving path they’ve been on. Have they no shame? No honor? No dignity?

Words don’t matter. Deeds do.

Our elected officials might consider venturing outside of their bubble for a few hours, a few days and see why Americans are fed up with their lack of leadership. There, our elected leaders will discover that Americans are working fifty, sixty, eighty hours a week to make ends meet.

We have seen our homes repossessed and our savings drained every decade because politicians let their large donors engage in illegal banking and lending schemes, only to shrug their shoulders and claim that no one is responsible and therefore no one can be held accountable.

Congress would see how one family member’s illness can destroy generations because of a lack of affordable healthcare. They would hear how we are tired of seeing those that have rigged the system to their favor steal from us and pay no price. We are exhausted from listening to their political diatribes of how corporations cannot pay their fair share of taxes and benefits.

All the while, they are giving those millions, billions to politicians to rig the system. Millions and billions that could be used for benefits and taxes.

We are not blind. Americans see congressional leaders taking campaign contributions so that businesses may pollute our air, water and land. We are watching as Congress sells out our children’s education to the highest bidders. We see how they are gerrymandering the system so that one party is stronger than the other. We are aware that many of our minority brothers and sisters are being disenfranchised.

Even with everyone (save Trump) agreeing that our election was hacked — a blatantly aggressive act of war — our elected officials have taken to making a mockery of the investigation. There is no investigation. There is only wasted taxpayer dollars used to grandstand and pontificate for one’s political leanings while attacking the other. And what has been done? Nothing.

We are still voting with those same systems that cannot even be audited. It’s a f*cking joke. A f*cking shame when our elected leaders cannot even come together to defend us from a foreign adversary.

The government cannot and is not doing its job when it plays political chess with our life, liberty and happiness. It does not function as a democracy when elected leaders refuse to listen to their constituents by evading town halls, phone calls and letters simply because it does not agree with their political ideology. We cannot call our government a democracy when one political party holds secretive meetings regarding healthcare bills and refuses to allow debate.

Who do they serve, anyway?

Congress and the president would do well to remember that they work for us and not themselves. That this is a government by the people, for the people, not by the corporations, for the rich alone or for one party over another. That this is a democracy and not a business or autocracy. That corporations are not people and money is not the answer to everything. That we deserve and demand better representation for our taxation and a truly open government.

So, Speaker Ryan, keep your prayers to yourself as they’ve done Americans no good. God is not listening to you. Neither is America.


Sessions Refuses to File Criminal Charges Against Corporate Criminals

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/05/sessions-refuses-file-charges-against

It’s an easy bet that what the Trump administration says and what it does are almost always complete opposites. The word hypocrite comes to my mind, though it seems to miss the point. No, they are much more than that because they pretend to be so moral and just in their claims. They remind me of Tartuffe from Moliere’s play of the same name, the hypocrite, the impostor with his self righteous blatherings.

One day they claim to support women’s health, the next they are slashing all funding to women’s clinics around the world. As they pretend to care about equal rights for all, they are quietly cutting LGBTQ rights in an attempt to make them invisible; much like the clearly offensive way the White House left out the Luxembourg Prime Minister’s husband from the 1st spouses EU picture last week.

Then there was last weeks announcement by White House spokeswoman Kelly Love that, “The Trump Administration has an unwavering commitment to the civil rights of all Americans.” A lovely yet ever so empty collection of words used to brace us for what would be coming in the following announcement: a complete gutting of civil rights departments across all federal government agencies. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, who audits companies with federal contracts to ensure they are not violating laws against discrimination, is soon to be but a memory. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cutting the Environmental Justice Program that assists citizens when there are oil or chemical spills. The Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Health and Human Services will all be cutting or slashing their civil rights programs

So when Sessions announced he would be reversing President Obama’s order that eased prosecutions for minor drug charges, and proclaimed with feigned moral conviction that it was the ethical and just action to take, I wondered just how long it would take for him to step knee deep into that giant pile of horseshit. As a reminder, this was his comment:

“Our responsibility is to fulfill our role in a way that accords with the law,
advances public safety, and promotes respect for our legal system. This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency.”

For the record, it took 12 days.

On May 22nd, Citigroup agreed to pay a fine of $97.4 million for knowingly violating banking laws in regards to reporting suspicious activity of money laundering. Citigroup bought Banamex, a Mexican banking company, in 2001. From 2007 – 2012, Banamex USA intentionally hid thousands of money laundering transactions from review. According to the Boston Globe, “As part of the agreement, Banamex USA ‘admitted to criminal violations by willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money-laundering’ compliance program, the Justice Department said.”

Banamex USA “willfully” committed “criminal” acts. In all, there were $1.3 billion dollars in remittances that should have been flagged for review according to the law. The belief of law officials is that much of this money was from the sale of illegal narcotics.

Yet, Mr. Hard On Drug Offenders – Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has chosen to not seek the harshest charges possible in this case. In fact, he’s completely dismissed all criminal charges against anyone involved. So much for a “moral and just” application of the law. Should he really want to deliver a moral and just decision, he should have fined them the full amount they laundered at the very least.

Tartuffe Sessions can mumble his sanctimonious carefully formed speeches all he wants, but he’s full of it. Once again, the leaders that be have chosen to lock up those people with a few ounces of pot, but refused to hold those making billions from said drug trade to the same standard.

But what did anyone expect but pure hypocrisy from Tartuffe…I mean Jeff Sessions and this administration?