Capitalism vs. Democracy

Gather ’round, y’all — it’s the fight of our times…

How much decision-making should be privately made, vs. collectively? Arguably, decisions that affect most of us ought, in some way, to incorporate input from the public.

But as Elizabeth Warren 2020 (!!) notes — it’s getting harder and harder to do that, even as economic opportunities dry up and the wealthy capture more and more of the political class.

With Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders all exploring bids too, it’s shaping up to be a very interesting 2020 indeed. With so many all-star Democrats in this mix, it’s hard to imagine we won’t come out of this with an interesting campaign season — beginning approximately now, with Warren’s semi-official entry into the arena and owning the airwaves as Trump comes unhinged at “Pocahontas.”

She dressed him down easily, gracefully, and quickly — before moving on into substantive economic issues most Americans are going to want to hear a lot more about. Trump cannot speak this way about the economy, which means his ruse on the Hillbilly Elegies of the world is about to come to an abrupt end, with many of their rude awakening.

For some it will never dawn on them that the man of the golden toilets (and golden showers!) who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his New York real estate mogul father before bankrupting himself 4 times in the casino business, in point of fact can in no way understand their experience living in a motor home or ramshackle apartment complex in some run-down suburb in the rust belt. But many may finally see that he’s just been pretending, like all the other rich people who still rule their damn lives despite all the promises to “drain the swamp” of corruption.

Let’s hope.

Here’s to 2020! 🥂

Happy 2019, United States and world!

We have endured much together these past 2-3 years, Team America. Thankfully our civil society is incredibly robust — and time is accelerating demographic gains in an inexorably democratic direction. As Boomers give way to Millennials — slated to happen as early as this year — we are experiencing a seismic shift in the national consciousness.

Look out, Boomers!

Our values as a nation-state have always been evolving as the political consciousness and cultural landscapes shift, but in recent political times the changes have been radical, seemingly sudden, and jarring in a way that collective memory does not easily recall. I believe we are witnessing the swan song of a generation — the largest post-WWII generation dominant demo for decades, now facing only the long decline.

Much is said of the Hillbilly Elegies of our country, but to be fair these elders are legitimately terrified: of the U.S. they see around them today — bearing little resemblance to the nation of their boomingly patriarchal childhoods; of the world outside our borders and the immigrants (theoretically; allegedly) streaming into them illegally; of long disused portions of America drying up and economically (and in some cases literally) tumbleweeding away; of their own impending mortality.

We go high

Michelle Obama was right. Is right. We should make ourselves aware of the kinds of games the other side is willing to employ, but endeavor not to play them ourselves as much as we can. But beyond a moral reason to love thy neighbor, there’s the practical matter that we may find common cause in surprising territories. Non-wealthy elder whites and young Millennials who struggled through the 2008 housing and banking crash both have reason to want a robust safety net, for example. This is the essence of democratic politics done well: coalition-building — not among special interests, but among elected leaders representing their constituents in good faith.

The arc of justice

…goes at its own pace, or something like that. Fascism has a creep (or at the moment, more of an open stride), and justice has a methodical process of evidence-gathering and weighing; we can have some solid faith in the latter to do its work. Regardless of the levels of bitter partisanship in the air, we have an enormous cadre of professional civil servants who do their often thankless jobs tirelessly for years and decades out of the limelight, for sub-private sector pay and little recognition. This cohort works tirelessly for us now, investigating the many tentacles of the Trump corruption operation stretching back years and decades into American life and foreign investment.

Mr Mueller, do your worst. By which I mean your best. We understand each other, I think. 👍🏽⚖️

Palmer Luckey and Peter Thiel: Welfare queens

Luckey and Thiel are a particularly toxic breed of billionaire welfare queen, who outwardly revile government with every chance they get while having both sucked at its teat to make their fortunes, and currently making a luxe living on taxpayer largesse.

Thiel’s Paypal and Facebook-induced riches rode the coattails of the DARPA-created internet, while Luckey had his an exit to internet giant Facebook. Now Thiel helms creepy-AF data mining company Palantir, whose tentacles are wrapped all the way around the intelligence community’s various agencies, while Luckey’s Thiel-funded new startup Anduril is bidding for lucrative defense contracts to build Trump’s border wall.

If we’re lucky, Luckey will create some sort of VR seasteading community that sucks them both right in and traps them in a sort of Libertarian Matrix forever.

RussiaGate Bestiary: Cast of Characters for the new Cold War

This list casts a wide net in enumerating the various principals of interest to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Plus, don’t miss the RussiaGate Lexicon — and please note these are both works in progress and being updated frequently as new details emerge about Putin’s revanchist influence in American politics.

Bestiary

Huma AbedinTop aide to Hillary Clinton
ABLVOne of the largest private banks in Latvia
Roman AbramovichRussian steel magnate whose Evraz company was given the green light to supply steel to DAPL by the Trump administration
ACU Strategic PartnersA company seeking to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East in partnership with a sanctioned Russia company; Mike Flynn was working for them without having disclosed it to the US government as required.
Aeroflot
Aras AgalarovEmin’s father; a wealthy Russian-Azerbaijani oligarch who has received lucrative construction contracts from the Kremlin. Known as “Putin’s Builder”
Emin AgalarovPopular Russian-Azerbaijani singer and businessperson who may have facilitated a handoff of hacked information to Donald Trump Jr via surrogates
Rinat AkhmetovUkranian steel magnate who brokered the relationship between Paul Manafort and defeated presidential candidate Victor Yanukovich
Rinat AkhmetshinFormer Soviety spy who attending the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower between Don Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya
Vagit AlekperovCEO of Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil and gas company, that sought the services offered by Trump data firm Cambridge Analytica
Alfa Bank / Alfa GroupLargest private commercial bank in Russia, that reportedly had a mysterious secret server connection to the Trump Organization during the campaign. The head of Alfa Group is the father-in-law of Dutch lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan, currently serving 30 days in federal prison after being indicted by the FBI in the Mueller investigation.
Leyla AliyevaWife of Emin Agalarov and daughter of the president of Ajerbaijan.
Dmitri AlperovichHead of Crowdstrike, the US security firm that first broke the results of the DNC hack investigation, concluding the Russian military intelligence agency was behind it.
Anbang Insurance
Michael AntonFlight 93
AppleThe House might come after messaging records for principals.
Tevfik Arifco-founder of Bayrock and Kazakh-born Soviet official turned real estate tycoon
Andrey ArtemenkoMember of the Ukranian parliament who says Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen and business crony Felix Sater confirmed the White House received his “peace proposal” (suggesting Russia “lease” the country for 100 years)
Julian AssangeEditor-in-chief of Wikileaks and former hacker from Australia, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on the lam from rape charges in Sweden; he is suspected of coordinating with the Russian government on the cyber attack on the American election in 2016.
Artem AvetisyanRussian banker and consultant who bought Bank of Cyprus’s Russian-based businesseses; a transaction overseen by Wilbur Ross
Mykola AzarovFormer Prime Minister of Ukraine who was ousted in the Maidan revolution along with President Viktor Yanukovych.
Bank of Cyprus
Steve Bannon
Andrey BaranovHead of investor relations for Rosneft who met with Carter Page in Moscow after his 2016 speech.
Fabien BaussartCooperated with Russia in the Syrian civil war and nominated Putin for a Nobel Peace Prize; Donald Trump, Jr. spoke at an event held by Baussart’s French think tank.
Bayrock GroupEmployed Felix Sater for a number of shady real estate dealings involving Mr Trump. Founded by Tevfik Arif, a Russian oligarch.
Brian BenczkowskiTrump’s pick to lead the DOJ’s criminal division; once represented a Putin-tied Russian bank
Berserk BearHacker group
Leonid BershidskyWell-known journalist who was the founding editor of Russia’s top business daily, Vedomosti, as well as the first publisher of the Russian edition of Forbes; left the country during the Brain Drain. “The Kremlin doesn’t care because it doesn’t consider the likes of me Russia’s best and brightest,” he told me by email after his departure to Germany in the summer of 2014. “To them, we’re the traitors, the fifth column.”
Vitaly Bespalov26-year-old former worker at the Internet Research Agency in Russia who has spoken to the US media about his experiences in the “factory of lies”
Preet BhararaU.S. Attorney who was prosecuting the Prevezon Holdings case when he was fired by Trump, shortly after which the huge case about to go to trial abruptly settled.
Black Sea Cable
Darren Blantonhis company Colt Ventures provided data management services to the Trump campaign
Tony BlinkenJohn Kerry’s deputy secretary of state under Obama
Anna Vladislavovna BogachevaWorked for the Internet Research Agency from at least April 2014 to at least July 2014; she served on the translator project and oversaw the group’s data analysis operations. she is one of the operatives who traveled to the United States to gasther intel.
Mikhail BogdanovRussian deputy foreign minister
Gen. Alexander BortnikovDirector of FSB circa 2015
Maria Anatolyevna BovdaWorked for the Internet Research Agency from at least November 2013 to at least October 2014. She was at one time head of the translator project, along with other positions.
Donna Brazile
John BrennanActing CIA director under Obama; one of the 3 who brief Trump and Obama about the Russian attack on Election 2016
Bridges LLCLLC begun by Maria Butina and Paul Erickson in South Dakota
Elliot BroidyMajor Trump campaign donor and Deputy Finance Chair of the RNC, who suspiciously took hundreds of millions of dollars from the UAE and was working on a business deal with the corrupt Prime Minister of Malaysia implicated in a heist of $4.5 billion dollars. Had himself been charged with felony bribery, ended up turning state’s witness, plea-bargained his case down to a misdimeanor while those he bribed went to prison. Also, he was reportedly negotiating a deal wherein he stood to benefit to the tune of $75 million, to drop the Feds’ case into the Malaysian theft.
William BrowderFounder of Hermitage Capital, who worked with Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky to uncover a $230 million money laundering scheme from Prevezon Holdings into NYC real estate. He has sought justice for the murder of Magnitsky in 2009.
Mikhail Leonidivich BurchikOne of the 13 Russian nationals indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in February 2018, in connection with the Internet Research Agency’s attack on the U.S. 2016 election. Burchik was Executive Director, the #2 in the organization, from at least March 2014.
Sen. Richard Burr(R-NC) and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the committees in Congress conducting Russia investigations
Richard BurtHelped Trump write his first foreign policy speech
Evgeny Buryakov
Maria Butina“Personal assistant” to Alexander Torshin, she claims to have started several gun rights organizations in Russia
BuzzfeedOriginally broke the story of the Steele dossier and published what of it they had.
Mikhail BystrovOne of the 13 Russians indicted by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel in February 2018, Bystrov was General Director — the organization’s highest-ranking position — by April 2014.
Cambridge AnalyticaData analytics company that worked for the Trump campaign and has been indicted in the UK for data theft.
CendynCloud computing company that hosted the Trump Organization and may have information on the Alfa Bank link during the campaign
Center for Political and Foreign AffairsFrench right-wing group that hosted a Trump trip to Paris during the home stretch of the campaign
Mike CernovichAlt-Right personality in the U.S. who lives in Orange County, CA
Jason ChaffetzBowing out of politics after announcing a move to Fox and whining about the cost of living as a Senator
Yuri ChaikaRussian prosecutor general
James ClapperDirector of National Intelligence under Obama; one of the 3 who brief Trump and Obama about the Russian attack on Election 2016
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Dan CoatesDirector of National Intelligence who testified that there is no doubt Russia sees its 2016 efforts as having been successful.
Michael CohenTrump’s personal lawyer. Convicted of various federal crimes including campaign finance violations; sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Roy CohnTrump’s mentor and ruthless, vicious lawyer
Susan Collins (R-ME)Senator from Maine who has been a voice of moderation within the Republican-controlled Senate, siding several times with the Democrats and voting against her own party.
James ComeyBeing fired by Donald Trump as the FBI Director
Mike Conawaynew leader of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe after the recusal of Devin Nunes
Concord CateringCompany owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, known to be nicknamed “Putin’s Chef” and inside the Russian president’s inner circle.
Sam Clovis
Colt Venturesprovided data management services to the Trump campaign, and an investor in VizSense — a social media company who worked reportedly for the campaign and for Michael Flynn
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX)Leader of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the Congressional committees investigating the Russia scandal
George ConwayHusband of Kellyanne Conway, a lawyer who has represented a corporation accused of bribing Russian officials
Kellyanne Conway
Rep. John ConyersCriticized the firing of Sally Yates: “If dedicated government officials deem [Trump’s] directives to be unlawful and unconstitutional, he will simply fire them as if government is a reality show.”
Alex CopsonManaging director of ACU Strategic Partners, a firm Mike Flynn was consulting for regarding building nuclear power plants in the Middle East.
Ed CoxNew York Republican Party Chairman and son-in-law of Richard Nixon who recommends Carter Page to the Trump campaign
Randolph “Randy” CredicoRoger Stone’s publicly identified intermediary between himself and Julian Assange of Wikileaks. When subpoena’d by Congress, he pled the Fifth.
Crocus GroupReal estate developmenr firm owned by the Agalarovs, that secured the Moscow location for Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe pageant
CrowdstrikeOne of the US private security contractors who implicated the Russians in the hack of the DNC servers.
Olivia CulpoThe reigning Miss Universe at the time of the 2013 Moscow pageant (and former Miss USA, and noted Trump favorite)
Rep. Elijah Cummingsranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, one of the first to request an investigation into Michael Flynn
Michael DanielWhite House director of cybersecurity
Davis Manifort Partners, Inc. (DMP)Political consulting company created by Paul Manafort in 2005.
Rick Dearborn
Definers Public AffairsGOP strategy firm hired by Facebook to besmirch its rivals and tar them with accusations of being tied to George Soros
Wendi DengEx-wife of Rupert Murdoch, friend of Ivanka Trump, and friend of Russian oligarhcs + Putin (rumored to be Putins’ girlfriend)
Diana Denman
Oleg DeripaskaRussian billionaire and Kremlin insider barred from the US due to organized crime links [contact w/Paul Manafort]
Deutsche BankBoth the Risk Division’s Goup Risk Office and Credit Risk Management teams are under scrutiny from House Democrats at the HPSCI for due diligence on Trump transactions that have anything to do with the bank’s own confirmed history of laundering Russian money.
Igor Diveykin
Kirill DmitrievChief executive of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, their sovereign wealth fund, who met with Erik Prince at a bar in the Seychelles, with George Nader present.
DMP International, LLC (DMI)Company started by Paul Manafort in 2011 to consult, lobby, and do PR for Ukranian dictator Victor Yanukovich, whom Manafort helped get elected in 2010 until fleeing the country in 2014.
Dmitry DokuchaevFSB handler of Russian DNC hacker
Donbas regionArea of Ukraine where a counter-revolution emerged after students ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and overthrew the government.
Jack DorseyCo-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square
Alexander DownerTop Australian diplomat in Britain, who had drinks with George Papadopolous in London the night he blabbed about the Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton.
DragonFlyHacker group
Alexander DuginRussia’s most well-known neo-fascist ideologue, & Kremlin confidant
Pavel DurovFounder of the successful VKontakte social network website, often described as Russia’s Facebook. Durov said he had been forced out of the company over his refusal to co-operate with the security services, and that his company was now under the “full control” of Kremlin-friendly figures
Arkady Dvorkovich
Josh EarnestObama White House press secretary in 2016
Fedor EmelianenkoMMA star, former Trump business partner, and friend of Putin
En+ Group PlcOne of Oleg Deripaska’s companies whose sanctions were lifted by the Trump administration.
Energetic BearHacker group connected to the Kremlin
Boris Epshteyn
Paul Erickson
Oleg Erovinkinex-KGB chief linked to helping the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump, reportedly found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day
European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (the Centre)NGO entity created by Manafort and Gates in Belgium in 2012 to serve as an “arm’s length” front for their work with Yanukovich.
EuroSibEnergo JSCOne of Oleg Deripaska’s companies whose sanctions were lifted by the Trump administration.
Facebook
FAN (Federal Agency of News)Fictional corporate twin entity to the IRA (indicted by Mueller) that is suing Facebook on First Amendment grounds… surely to go up to a COTUS tipped by Kavangaugh, as all such hyper-controversial cases are liable to be?!?!
Fancy Bear
Nigel FarageFormer UKIP leader now under investigation for ties to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange
FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)Investigation of domestic terror units and criminal cells, as well as foreign criminal groups within the U.S.
Federal AssemblyRussian Parliament
Federal Election Commission (FEC)Overseeing the process generally of national and state elections
Diane FeinsteinUS Senator from California who published Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS’s transcript of testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
FireEyeSecurity firm
Dmitry FirtashUkranian oligarch and nagural gas magnate who got sweetheart deals within Putin’s inner circle
Marc Elias
Jon FinerJohn Kerry’s chief of staff
FL GroupIcelandic hedge fund with ties to Putin, that invested in Trump Soho via FBI informant and convicted felon Sal Lauria
Michael FlynnAs the new NSA director he advocated military intervention in the Middle East and an alliance with Russia; later it turned out he’d accepted undisclosed payments from the Rurkish government and lied about undisclosed meetings with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak
Four Seasons Hotels and ResortsHosted the meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund
Fox News
Free Beacon see: Washington Free Beacon
Mikhail Maratovich Fridmaninvested $200m in Uber (?)
Peter Fritsch
Frontier Services GroupErik Prince’s company, who has ignored document requests from Congress relating to the meeting in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev
FSBthe Russian Federal Security Service
Fusion GPSPolitical research firm hired first by conservative billionaire, later by the Clinton campaign, that ultimately led to the Steele dossier.
Michael Gaeta
Gang of Eight
Rick GatesPaul Manafort’s right hand man, indicted along with the former Trump campaign manager for a number of federal crimes from money laundering to illegal foreign lobbying and tax evasion.
Gazeta.ru
GazpromRussia’s energy monopolgy and largest gas company
GeorgiaFormer Soviet state
GerasimovRussian General who wrote seminal asymmetric warfare doc
Masha GessenJournalist and author who has lived extensively in Russia and studied the rise of Putin
Igor GirkinLeader of the Ukranian pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, he is alleged to have been connected to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Rudy GiulianiPublicly “predicted” the Comey “re-opening” of Clinton’s emails when the Anthony Weiner laptop was found
Glavplakat
Nikolai GlushkovFormer Boris Berezovsky associate turned up murdered in the UK, 8 days after the poisoning and attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in London.
Richard Goettlich
Rob GoldstonePublicist of Russian-Azerbaijani singer Emin Agalarov who set up the June 9 meeting between Don Jr, Kushner, Manafort, and the Russians
GoogleOnline search company whose system was gamed, hacked, or perhaps simply used intentionally to sow disinformation to some of the most vulnerable citizen targets, as identified by stolen and purchased predictive user data.
Mikhail GorbachevGlasnost
Sergei Gordeev
J.D. Gordon
Sebastian GorkaFormer counterterrorism analyst for Fox News who joined the administration as an adviser; his ties to the Hungarian right had come increasingly under scrutiny before his departure from the White House. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Gorka had mounted an unsuccessful political career in Hungary and, in doing so, once expressed support for a far-right militia in the country.
Sergey Gorkov
Nikolai Gorokhov
Government Accountability OfficeA watchdog organization for financial and other high-profile crimes within the U.S.
Trey Gowdy(R-SC) Chair of the House Oversight Committee
Sen. Chuck Grassley(R-IA)
GRUSoviety military intelligence services
GSAHas been asserted by TFA that documents were “unlawfully” given to the Special Counsel’s Office by this agency, including parts susceptible to privilege.
Guccifer 2.0Russian hacker believed to be a Kremlin agent
Alex HaldermanTestified before the House Intelligence Committee on the probable ability of the Russians to hack an election
Hapsburg groupInformal name given to the set of former European politicians whom Paul Manafort and Rick Gates paid to espouse pro-Yanukovich talking points.
Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA)Member of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the Congressional committees investigating the Russia scandal
Hermitage Capital ManagementThe investment fund client of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a $230 million money laundering scheme through New York real estate via Prevezon, a Russian holding company.
Hope HicksYet another former White House Communications Director, she resigned the day after giving 9 hours of testimony on the Hill to the House Intelligence Committee. Til then she had been the longest-running current member of the Trump campaign.
Rick Hohlt
Jon IadonisiTied to VizSense Inc. and White Canvas Group, 2 firms that did business with Michael Flynn
Ivan IlyinChristian fascist philosopher who inspired much of Vladimir Putin’s political philosophy
ImgurPlatform used by the Russian disinformation campaign that House Democrats want to subpoena
InstagramPlatform used by the Russian disinformation campaign that House Democrats want to subpoena the transition team for records of
IRA (Internet Research Agency) Well-known troll farm with ties to the Kremlin, funded and run by Russian oligarch and “Putin’s Chef” Yevgeniy Prigozhin (who also oversees private mercenary military forces in Syria and Ukraine.
Iron Liberty
IskraThe main Bolshevik newspaper in the early 20th century
Darrell Issa
Viktor IvanovOne of Putin’s closest allies, he’s the head of anti-narcotics in Russia; has spoken out against marijuana legalization in the US (!)
Ramzan KadyrovChechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader, who is thought to be behind the murder of Putin critic and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Kadyrov received a medal from Putin the month after Nemtsov’s murder.
Oleg KaluginFormer KGB agent who became a U.S. citizen and grew critical of Putin’s regime.
Denis KatsyvSole shareholder of Prevezon, implicated in the $230m theft of Russian taxpayer dollars
Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze8th person at Don Jr’s June 9 meeting; VP at Crocus Group, owned by Aras Agalarov — a lawyer for the Russian real estate firm, he has been identified by the Government Accountability Office as part of a large ring of Russian money-laundering operations.
Robert KelnerMike Flynn’s lawyer
Brian KempGeorgia secretary of state who bristled at the idea of DHS’s warning about the election integrity and attempts to hack voter registration
John KerrySecretary of State under Obama from 2013 to 2018
KetchumWestern PR firm that helps place pro-Russian op-eds in Western media (like Putin’s in NYTimes on 9/11/13)
KGBThe Soviet secret service, renowned for ruthlessness and duplicity
Eva KhanDaughter of a Russian oligarch, married to Alex van der Zwaan — the first to go to prison in the Mueller investigation.
German KhanRussian oligarch billionaire, principal of Alfa Bank (Russia’s largest privste bank) and the father-in-law of Alex van der Zwaan who has pleaded guilty to MUeller’s team.
Mikhail KhodorkovskyEx-oil tycoon unexpectedly freed by Putin ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics
Elena Alekseevna KhusyaynovaFAN’s chief accountant and an indictee under Mueller’s Russian investigation
Konstantin KilimnikPaul Manafort’s business associate in the Ukraine
Sergey KislyakRussian Ambassador who spoke with Mike Flynn [tracker] about lifting sanctions in undisclosed series of meetings
KLS Research LLCCompany formed by Peter Smith to facilitate and manage his question to find Hillary’s missing emails.
Artem Klyushin
Koala
Aleksandr KoganCambridge Analytica researcher who oversaw the harvesting of 50 million Facebook user accounts’ info who also moonlighted as a lecturer at St. Petersburg University
KommersantLong-respected business newspaper purchased by pro-Kremlin oligarch Alisher Usmanov
KomsomolLeninist Youth League organization for Communists aged 14 to 28 in the late 80s & early 90s
Konstantin Kosachev
Andrei KostinCEO of VTB, one of the largest Russian banks (and under US sanctions)
Béla Kovacs (KGBéla) One of the leaders of Jobbik, Hungary’s pro-Putin rightist party, who is accused of being a Russian spy.
Dmitry KovtunOne of the two main suspects in the UK’s murder investigation case of former FSB/KGB spy turned informant and expat dissident, Alexander Litvinenko — killed by polonium-210 poisoning after having tea with the two then-current KGB officers in November, 2006.
Vladimir KozhinSenior Putin aide who attended the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in lieu of Putin.
The Kremlin
Jody KrissFormer Bayrock partner who filed a lawsuit in January, 2017 alleging tax evasion of as much as $250 million in income + Russian money laundering
Aleksandra KrylovaServed as Director and 3rd highest employee within the Internet Research Agency, from at least September 2013.
Mikhail KulaginRussian diplomat recalled to Russia, fearing his cover would be blown re: heavy involvement in the 2016 election, including the veterans’ pensions ruse
Charles KushnerFather of Jared, the elder Kushner committed campaign fraud, blackmailed his own sister, and spent time in federal prison before re-emerging to help run the family business and, of course, suck at the teat of the Presidency
Jared KushnerThe evil son-in-law so evil he owned a billion dollar building at 666 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan
Kushner Companies
David LaufmanFormer chief of the DOJ’s Counterintelligence & Export Control Section
Sal LauriaFBI informant and convicted felon who brokered a $150 million deal for Sater with FL Group, an Icelandic hedge fund tied to Putin that also invested in the Trump Soho project
Sergei LavrovRussian Foreign Minister
Platon Lebedev
Marie Le Penhead of the French far-Right party
Pyotr LevashovRussian hacker who ran the sprawling Kelihos botnet, a massive spam and scam network; indicted by a US grand jury on 4/21/17
Lenta.ru
Lev LevievRussian “king of diamonds” who was a partner in Prevezon (involved in the Magnistsky-exposed money laundering of $230m in Russian tax dollars) and sold several floors of the NYTimes building in Manhattan to Jared Kushner
Ruslan LeviyevFormer police investigator from the Siberian city of Surgut, who left the force after becoming disgusted by the “culture of corruption” he had witnessed, and moved to Moscow in 2009. Inspired, like so many others, by the anti-Putin protests of 2011–12, Leviyev, a tattooed 29-year-old, is now one of the country’s top “social media dissidents”.
Val LevitanRussian Canadian CEO of developer Talon (Trump Toronto); had no previous experience in real estate or construction
Corey LewandowskiDonald Trump’s first campaign manager; succeeded by Paul Manafort.
Robert LiButtiAlleged mobster and associate of John Gotti, who is on video with Trump in the 80s at a WrestleMania event
Vladimir LisinRussian steel mogul who made $830m in 3 days after the election
Aleksandr Litvinenkoformer Russian FSB agent who informed on Putin’s connections to the Russian mafia and was assassinated by polonium-210 poisoning in 2006
Marina Litvinenko
Andrey LugovoyOne of the two main suspects in the UK’s murder investigation case of former FSB/KGB spy turned informant and expat dissident, Alexander Litvinenko — killed by polonium-210 poisoning after having tea with the two then-current KGB officers in November, 2006. Lugovoy is currently a sitting member of the Russian parliament: deputy of the State Duma.
LukoilRussia’s second largest oil company after Rosneft, they contracted with Trump data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica
Loretta LynchUS Attorney General under Barack Obama
Rachel MaddowHost of the most popular nighttime news show on MSNBC; she’s been following the Russia story aggressively for over a year in meticulously detailed fashion.
Sergei Magnitskylawyer who tried to expose the theft of $230 million of Russian taxpayers’ money by Prevezon Holdings (laundered into NYC real estate) before being arrested and allegedly tortured prior to his death in a Moscow prison in 2009; the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act is a landmark human rights act named after him.
Paul Manafort
Jeanette ManfraHead of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security who confirmed to NBC News that the Russians successfully infiltrated “an exceptionally small number” of voter regidstration rolls in 21 states.
John Mashburn
John McCain
Evan McMullen
MediumSocial media and blogging community frequented by the Russians during their efforts at sowing propaganda and discord during the American 2016 Presidential election.
Dmitry MedvedevRussian Prime Minister
Menatep
Rebecca Mercer
Robert MercerShadowy billionaire Trump backer and donor who also backs Breitbart, Cambridge Analytica, and John Bolton.
MI6British intelligence agency; the rough equivalent of the American CIA.
Joseph MifsudDirector of the London Academy of Diplomacy who meets with George Papadopoulos in Italy.
Leonid Mikhelsonpart owner of Novatek who made $1.9b from the stock pop post-Trump
Stephen MillerAggressively anti-immigrant advisor to Trump, co-writing many of his most vitriolic speeches
Sergei MillianTrump associate, head of the Russian-American chamber of commerce, and one of the sources of the Steele dossier
Marat MindiyarovFormer worker at the Russian troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, who told the Western press what it was like inside the farm.
Semion MogilevichNotorious mobster
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al NahyanThe crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
Mossack FonsecaWorld’s fourth largest offshore law firm, whose files were published as the Panama Papers in a German newspaper
Robert MuellerSpecial Counsel at the DOJ, investigating RussiaGate
MVDMinistry of Internal Affairs; supervises all police, prisons, and “public order militias”
George NaderLebanese-American businessman who lobbies for the UAE, and was at the meeting in the Seychelles with Erik Prince and the Russians
Alexsei NavalnyPutin critic and activist blogger; has been arrested, charged, & sentenced several times (but recognized as a political prisoner by NGOs)
Boris NemtsovPutin critic and opposition politician who was shot dead in Moscow in 2015 by a member of the Chechen security forces
New IslandRestaurant of Yevgeny Prigozhin that became a favorite of Putin’s, netting Mr Prigozhin lucrative contracts for shady operations as “Putin’s Chef”
Newsru.com
Alexander NixCEO of Trump data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica
NKVDa forerunner to the KGB under Stalin
NSA (National Security Agency)
Sam NunbergFormer Trump aide who made a series of bizarre statements on cable TV before testifying to Robert Mueller’s team
Devin Nunes
Observer MediaMedia company owned by Jared Kushner.
Keith OlbermannAmerican TV host
Opposition BlocSuccessor ruling party in Ukraine after Victor Yanukovich fled to Moscow and his Party of Regions toppled.
Viktor OrbanPresident of Hungary, noted for his pro-Putin and anti-refugee beliefs
OrbisSteele’s research firm
Alex Oronovdead — Bryan Cohen’s father-in-law (brother of Trump’s personal lawyer
OstankinoRussia’s TV network
Ozero Cooperative
Carter Page
George PapadopoulosMember of the Trump campaign who has pled guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation and flipped to become a cooperating witness.
Brad ParscaleHead of the Trump campaign’s digital operation
Party of RegionsUkranian political party run by Victor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin dictator ushered into power by Paul Manafort.
Sam Patten
PBK
Mike PenceVice President of the United States
Pericles Emerging Markets
Perkins Coie
Dmitry PeskovPutin’s press secretary. Michael Cohen was in touch with him as late at June 2016, during the presidential campaign, in talks over the Trump Tower Moscow deal.
Walid PharesFox News counterterrorism analyst & one of Trump’s 5 initial national security advisors
John PodestaHis stolen emails were one of several tronches of stolen documents released by Wikileaks at strategic moments during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Victor PodobnyyRussian agent who received intelligence information from American energy consultant Carter Page beginning in January 2013
Sergey PolozovWorked for the Internet Research Agency as its head of IT from April 2014 to at least July 2014; he oversaw the buildout of the U.S. infrastructure for the Russian operations.
Mike PompeoCIA Director who went from praising to condemning Wikileaks
Petro PoroshenkoUkranian president
Prevezon Holdingsa Cyprus company that has invested in Manhattan real estate and which prosecutors allege was the receptacle for some of the $230 million stolen from Russian taxpayers in 2007; part of Hermitage Capital, the investment fund Magnitsky was investigating until his murder in a Moscow prison in 2009.
Reince Priebus
Yevgeniy Prigozhin“Putin’s Chef” — a former caterer and restauranteur who now runs Vladimir Putin’s internet propaganda operations via the Internet Research Agency as well as overseeing mercenary forces operating in Syria and Ukraine.
Erik PrinceSec. of Education Betsy DuVoss’s brother, who met a Russian oligarch in the Seychelles during the campaign to talk about lifting sanctions. Founded and runs Blackwater, a formidable private security firm often accompanying US military operations as the theater of war becomes increasingly privatized and mercenaries find themselves duking it out in the desert armed with the plausible deniability of being at arm’s length from their country’s official foreign policy.
Project Veritas
Pussy Riot
Vladimir Putin
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)Member of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the Congressional committees investigating the Russia scandal
RedditWas asked by House Democrats on March 7, 2018 to provide intel on the scope and scale of the Russian disinformation effort on their platforms during the 2016 election
RelcomOne of the first private companies or “collectives” formed under Gorbachev’s glasnost reforms, it brokered the first proto-Internet within the Soviet Union and first connection to the outside world — playing a key role in thwarting the attempted coup against Gorbachev by the KGB in August, 1991
Right to Bear ArmsMoscow-based entity begun by Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin — odd, in a country with no gun rights at all.
Ritz CarltonHosted Donald Trump during his 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant
Rodinaextreme nationalist party in Russia c. 2003 that hinted at ethnic cleansing; The Guardian reported it had actually been set up as a prop by Putin & cronies, to draw votes away from the other far-right Communist Party
Ed RogersHired by Alfa Bank: a former REagan administration official
Mike RogersAdmiral and Director of the National Security Agency under Obama; one of the 3 who brief Trump and Obama about the Russian attack on Election 2016
Dana RohrabacherRepresentative (R-CA 48th District) since 2013; dubbed “Putin’s favorite Congressman”
RosneftRussia’s state oil company
Rossiiskaia GazetaRussia’s official government newspaper
Wilbur RossUS Secretary of Commerce and single largest shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus, the famous haven for Russian oligarchs to stash their billions
Rossotrudnichestvo
Steve RothCEO of Vornado, a $20 billion real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns 49.5% of Jared Kushner’s building at 666 Fifth Avenue; he’s also on Trump’s economic advisory team
Andrei Rozov
RT.comRussian state-owned news service
RUPTLYThe Kremlin’s new video news agency
RusalOne of Oleg Deripaska’s companies whose sanctions have been lifted by Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA
Russian Direct Investment FundRussia’s sovereign wealth fund
Russian Imperial Movementpart of the far-right coalition within Russia seeking to build an international consensus, this group advocates “Christian Orthodox imperial nationalism”
Sergei RyabkovRussian Deputy Foreign Minister
Paul RyanSpeaker of the House (R-WI) and a Trump defender and denialist
Dmitry Rybolovlevthe “Fertilizer King” — fertilizer billionaire who purchased Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for $95 million, but never moved in
Sheryl Sandberg
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Felix SaterRussian mobster and FBI informant who runs Bayrock, a money-laundering firm designed to hide dirty Russian money in Trump’s taxes
Saudi Arabia
SberbankRussia’s largest bank
Anthony ScaramucciTrump press secretary for all of 10 days
Dan ScavinoManaged the Trump campaign’s social media
Rep. Adam SchiffTop-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee overseeing that chamber’s Russia investigation
Keith SchillerTrump’s longtime security chief and confidant
Eric SchneidermanNew York State Attorney General who has a long history of legal cases with Trump
Chuck Schumer(D-NY) and Sen. Minority Leader
Igor SechinPresident of Rosneft at the time Exxon violated Russian sanctions to help protect his property interest
Jay SekulowTrump’s personal lawyer
Jeff SessionsCurrent US Attorney General. He has recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his curious, multi-part memory loss of meetings with Russian agents.
Alex ShnaiderUkrainian steel magnate & partner at Talon International who is managing Trump Toronto hotel as it goes into default
Paula ShugartPresident of the Miss Universe Organization, who reported directly to Trump at the time of the 2013 Moscow pageant
Konstantin SidorkovDirector of PArtnership Marketing for vKontakte, a Russian social media site, that had communications with the Trump campaign about setting up a profile.
Siemens AG
Sinclair MediaConservative broadcasting conglomerate gobbling up local TV stations and forcing them to air canned right-wing footage with each segment.
Glenn SimpsonHead of research firm Fusion FPS who commissioned the Christopher Steele dossier.
Paul SingerBillionaire financier who originally commissioned research firm Fusion GPS to start compiling opposition research on Donald Trump. He abandoned the project after Trump secured the nomination.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & FlomLaw firm retained by Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to “whitewash” Victor Yanukovich’s imprisonment of his political rival, Yulia Tymochenko, in Ukraine.
Sergei SkripalFormer Russian official turned British spy who was attacked with his daughter Yulia with nerve gas in southern England, reputedly by agents of the Kremlin.
Yulia SkripalSergei’s daughter
Dan SmithHead of the State Dept’s intelligence bureau under Obama
Peter SmithAlleged to have solicited help on the dark web in finding Hillary’s “missing” emails from the Russians
SnapchatOne of the social networks the Democratic oversight committees want to send document requests to, to request more intel on the scope and scale of the Russian campaign on their platforms
Edward SnowdenControversial former employee for private firms working within the US government who absconded with millions of top secret NSA and other departmental intelligence documents, fled to Hong Kong where he alerted the press, and flew on to Moscow where he lives under the protection of the Kremlin.
SolidarityPolish workers’ party confronting Communism in the late ’80s
Oleg Solodukhin
Reuben SorensenNuclear non-proliferation expert who briefed Mike Flynn on the ACU’s nuclear program and rejoiced that he would be named head of the NSA.
Sean Spicer
SputnikRussian news wire proffering fake news
Joseph Stalin
Alex StamosEx-Facebook security chief
StasiNickname for the Ministry of State Security in East Germany during the Cold War
Christopher SteeleFormer British MI6 intelligence agent who put together the Steele Dossier on Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia
Beny Steinmetz
Daniel Steinmetz
Raz Steinmetz
Roger StoneLong-time political advisor best known for being part of Richard Nixon’s “Dirty Tricks” crew who perpetuated Watergate among much else; he “predicted” the release of Clinton’s hacked emails
Lee StranahanWorks for Sputnik in Russia. Never responded to an official Congressional inquiry.
Strana.ru
SUP MediaRussia’s largest blogging service via acquisition of LiveJournal from Six Apart
Vladislav SurkovPutin’s disinformation machine
SVRRussian foreign intelligence service
Eric SwalwellDemocrat on the House Intelligence Committee
Talon International
Tambov-Malyshev grouporganized crime ring based in St. Petersburg w/ties to Putin; led by Gennadiy Petrov and Aleksandr Malyshev
Targeted VictoryGOP strategy firm hired by Facebook
TFATrump for America, Inc., the business entity formed to handle the Trump transition
Rex TillersonU.S. Secretary of State and former CEO of Exxon
Gennady Timchenko23% owner of natural gas company Novatek, who made $1.8b from surges in pro-Russian market following Trump’s election
Ivan TimofeevProgram director at the Russian International Affairs Council, a government-funded think tank, who met with George Papadopolous to try to establish a meeting between Trump and Putin.
Alimzhan TokhtakhounovNicknamed “The Little Taiwanese,” he’s one of Russia’s most notorious mobsters. At the time of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, he had been indicted in the U.S. for protecting a high-stakes illegal gambling operation run out of Trump Tower.
Alexander TorshinRussian central banker, Putin confidant, NRA whisperer, handler of Maria Butina
Vadim TrincherRan a Russian-American gambling crime ring out of Trump Tower. Serving 5 years for racketeering.
Donald J. Trump
Donald J. Trump Jr
Eric Trump
Fred Trump
Ivanka Trump
Tsargrad
TumblrWas asked by House Democrats on March 7, 2018 to provide intel on the scope and scale of the Russian disinformation effort on their platforms during the 2016 election
TurboatomUkranian state-owned company who was the target of a bribery offer from ACU Strategic Partners — who Mike Flynn was working with — to accept a $45 billion contract to build reactors in Saudi Arabia in exchange for supporting the lifting of sanctions levied against Russia by the US and EU.
Turkey
Twitter
Yulia TymoshenkoRan against Victor Yanukovich in the 2010 Presidentials elections, and was jailed by him under spurious charges following his Paul Manafort-aided win.
UAE
United RussiaPolitical Party of Russian PResident Vladimir Putin
Viktor VekselbergPutin-connected oligarch with connections to secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross [tracker]
Natalia VeselnitskayaRussian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who met with Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort, and Kared Kushner at Trump Tower in June 2016 about the dirt Russia had on Hillary Clinton. At the time she was representing Prevezon Holdings in the case the U.S. Justice Department had brought against them for a $230 million money laundering scheme that lawyer Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered.
VizSense Inc.Provided social media services to the Trump campaign and Michael Flynn
vKontakteRussian social network; equivalent analog to Facebook
VnesheconombankRussian state-owned development bank, under investigation for Russian election interference
Vornado$20 billion REIT that’s an ~equal partner with Jared Kushner in the 666 Fifth Ave. building in Manhattan; Steve Roth, CEO, is an advisor to Trump
Rosemary VrablicExecutive at Deutsche Bank’s private wealth unit who helped finance many of Trump’s real estate projects after other banks (and the “regular” side of Deutsche Bank) wouldn’t deal with him any more, following massive losses
VTB BankRussia’s largest commercial bank; under US and EU sanctions for money laundering
Sen. Mark Warner(D-VA) — top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee
Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Postvenerable local paper purchased by Jeff Bezos in 2013
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Jeff Weaver
Anthony Weiner
WhatsAppThe House HPSCI committee wants to subpoena them for communication records relating to principals in the Trump campaign
White Canvas GroupUndertook Turkey-related work for Michael Flynn
Wikileaks
World National-Conservatism Movement (WNCM)umbrella term for Russia’s movement to unite an international extreme far-right coalition
Christopher Wraycandidate for the next FBI Director, to replace James Comey
Christopher WylieWhistleblower from Trump data team Cambridge Analytica who revealed the existence of a formerly secret client: Lukoil, Russia’s #2 oil and gas company
Viktor YanukovychUkraine’s former pro-Moscow president; he paid $12.7 million to help influence the Ukranian election his way before being ousted from power in 2013. Paul Manafort made many of the millions he later laundered with Rick Gates via undisclosed lobbying for Mr Yanukovych.
Sally YatesDeputy Attorney General under Barack Obama and Acting Attorney General following the inauguration of Donald Trump. She was dismissed by him after 10 days when she instructed the Justice Department not to allow Trump’s Muslim ban to be enforced because it violated the law and the Constitution.
Steve Yates
Boris YeltsinFirst President of the Russian Federation, after he orchestrated Russia’s exit from the USSR (and thus, its downfall, as all the Soviet satellite republics followed suit). He ruled from 1991 to 1999, never quite managing to usher in a true democracy before settling on a successor, an obscure and unknown former KGB officer stationed in East Berlin during the Second World War: Vladimir Putin.
YoutubeFavored propaganda platform for Russian agents used in the cyberattacks against the 2016 election
Yukos
Yunarmia“Young Army” — created in 2015 by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to “encourage patriotism among schoolchildren”
Mark ZuckerbergCEO of Facebook, whose platform was used by the Russians in their influence campaign against the 2016 U.S. elections
Alex van der ZwaanDutch lawyer caught lying to the FBI about his law firm Skadden’s report on Ukranian dictator Victor Yanukovich’s imprisonment of his presidential rival Yulia Tymochenko in Ukraine. Has plead guilty to Robert Mueller’s team.

Inequality and the Creep of Fascism

Some people like to argue that more economic inequality is a good thing, because it is a “natural” byproduct of capitalism in a world of “makers and takers,” “winners and losers,” “wolves and sheep,” [insert your favorite Manichaean metaphor here]. However, too much inequality is deleterious for both economics and politics — for reasons that are intertwined.

Those who amass exorbitant wealth often increasingly use a portion of their gains to capture politics. While the mythological promise of trickle-down economics is that we must not have progressive taxation, because giving more money to the already wealthy is the only way to spur economic investment and innovation and create jobs — in actual fact the majority of tax cut windfalls go to stock buybacks, offshore tax havens, regulatory capture, political lobbying, and campaign donations. All this is a runaway amplifying feedback loop that tilts the playing field further away from equal opportunity, social mobility, and democratic process.

Wealthy elites seek to preserve the power structures that have benefitted them, and keep them (and their descendants) in the ruling class. It is a slow recreation of the aristocratic societies of old Europe that we fought a bloody war of independence to separate ourselves from. Yet the erosion of civil values, public engagement, and collective will — largely as fomented by the conservative elite over the past 50 years in America — and the ascendancy of the myth of “rugged individualism” have conspired to create a perilous condition in which corruption operates so openly in today’s White House and Wall Street that democracy itself is in great danger.

Moreover, we have learned these lessons once, not quite a century ago, yet have forgotten them:

“Where there is a crisis, the ruling classes take refuge in fascism as a safeguard against the revolution of the proletariat… The bourgeoisie rules through demagoguery, which in practice means that prominent positions are filled by irresponsible people who commit follies in moments of decision.”

— Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind

Putin’s Greatest Weakness: The Russian Economy

Dictatorships generally do not foster, or even tolerate, the kind of creative disruption of the status quo necessary to the existence of a dynamic free market. Plus, the economy of the Russian state can best be described as a kleptocracy. Thus Vladimir Putin needs to find other ways to shore up both the national finances and the support of his cronies (much less so, of his people, who are primarily afterthoughts in the Russian power structure).

Here is a granular look at major indicators of the economy of the Russian Federation.

OECD Country Dashboard: Russia

The Mafia State: Russia Since the “End” of the Cold War

We Americans thought it ended, anyhow — but we were wrong. The revanchism that in some sense was of high potential after the fall of the former Soviet Union indeed came to pass — and later to be accelerated by the rise of Vladimir Putin to power.

Along with that trajectory, a curious development path for the former Soviet state: mostly, a descent into organized crime at the highest echelons of government. In some sense, organized crime is the government.

Here’s a great #longread from the Guardian about the history of a modern-day mafia state.

Putin’s Playbook: Pull factions apart from center; exacerbate democratic crisis

While we wring our hands in the United States over whether or not such a strategy is even conceivable, the erstwhile President of Russia has been running this playbook out in the open in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for some time. With help from Propagandist-in-Chief Vladislav Surkov, Putin has leveraged the open secrets about the psychology of crowds we learned in the late 19th and early 20th century to stir up emotional antagonisms within the political spectrum — to predictable results.

It’s no accident that fascism is on the march in America. The conditions have been brewing for some time, predominantly since the Conservative movement began breaking away more militantly from democratic principles and towards authoritarian philosophy (elite rule by force: preferably invisible force via economic hegemony for the middle and upper classes, and violent force / the carceral state for The Undesirables) in the late 1970s and 1980s. All Putin had to do was make use of available prevailing conditions and tools — the rise of social media in the 2000s counterintuitively blew a gaping wide security hole in the American persuasion landscape that Cold War Soviet operatives of the 1960s would scarcely have believed.

Today, as in parts of Europe between the world wars, the U.S. has partisan gridlock within The Establishment sector of politics; this exacerbates the impatience with and contempt for the status quo (aka the Liberal world order) that in some sense naturally congeals at the far right and far left margins of the political spectrum as a simple consequence of the Normal Distribution (the Median Voter Theorem captures this tendency quite succinctly). Under such conditions, an influence campaign like the one Russia wielded against the United States during the 2016 election season was tasked merely with tilting the playing field a little further — a task that platforms like Facebook and Twitter were in some sense fundamentally engineered to accomplish, in exchange for ad revenue.

New World Order? Be careful what we wish for

“Both Italian and German fascists had done their best to make democracy work badly. But the deadlock of liberal constitutions was not something the fascists alone had brought about. ‘The collapse of the Liberal state,’ says Roberto Vivarelli, ‘occurred independently of fascism.’ At the time it was tempting to see the malfunction of democratic government after 1918 as a systemic crisis marking the historic terminus of liberalism. Since the revival of constitutional democracy since World War II, it has seemed more plausible to see it as a circumstantial crisis growing out of the strains of World War I, a sudden enlargement of democracy, and the Bolshevik Revolution. However we interpret the deadlock of democratic government, no fascist movement is likely to reach office without it.”

— Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism

100 years on, it feels like we’re back at the start.

All politics is identity politics

There is no point belaboring a “stop the identity politics!” argument because there is simply no way to excise the political clash of factions from the identities of those factions. There would be no point in clashing if there were no identities.

There is no polity without identity. The root of the word itself in ancient Greek referred to the relationship between a citizen and the state, and the rights one has in relation to that state. Whereas individual communities have historically had rights infringed — often precisely because of their identities — it is of course a logical imperative to defend one’s rights under the rule of law. You use whatever tactics are available to you and that your ethics comport with to get your rights. All factions would do the same.

Some might say the predominant historical thread since the founding of this nation is the gradual parity-seeking of the many groups that have migrated here over the past 241 years (and much longer still, before that). Most of them have had a long, hard road; many of them still do; and still new groups are becoming the focus of persecution in America as time goes on.

Economics is also identity

How does one even have a political position without an identity? I often hear “economics” presented as the “alternative” to discussing identity, as if one’s economics can be separable from one’s identity; as if economics is separable from history (or as Jefferson called it, the “dead hand of the past“); as if economics is separable from one’s nationality; as if one’s choices in life have no relation to one’s station, or aspiration

James Madison himself believed the unequal distribution of property was itself the most common cause of factionalism. There aren’t a lot of rich socialists. There aren’t a lot of poor Libertarians. So it goes.
The question isn’t whether or not we talk about identity — the political question is “whose identity(ies) do we talk about?” Who gets resources, accolades, airtime, contracts, lucrative careers, investment funds, bailout funds, bail funds, etc. etc. Who gets rights, and who doesn’t.

There are mathematically-speaking two predominant positions one can take on this question:

  1. we all have equal rights
  2. some groups should have more rights than others

The former position is the classic view of liberal political philosophy (not to be confused with liberal economic policy, with which it is much conflated to all our detriment). The latter position is a belief in supremacy. Typically, this belief is accompanied by the belief that one’s own group is, of course, the dominant group and that other groups are the inferior groups that ought to be generally submissive to the in-group. Unsurprisingly to game theory or statistics, each faction tends to have such believers amidst its distribution of policy positions and political leanings. Some are more militant than others (quite literally).

Clearly the nation’s founders in any of even the most skeptical reads believed in the former, however, and intended it to be the law of the land for their fledgling republic: 

Whether we can live up to it is the question still, as it was when it began. In our time the “question” appears to loom large once again — a time when it is convenient for the powerful and wealthy to avoid even sharper scrutiny from a public set against itself like dogs trained for a fight. We all must have an answer to the question: equality or supremacy?

Your answer becomes part of your identity and thus, your politics.

A Field Guide to Identifying Bots on Twitter

While multiple formal investigations against the Trump family and administration continue to unfold, and Drumpf supporters weirdly deny the probable cause for concern, Putin’s troll army continues to operate out in the open on Twitter, Facebook, Medium, and other social media networks. The sheer scale of this operation started to become clear to me in the months leading up to Election 2016, having both spent a lot of time on social media both professionally and personally for over a decade as well as a hefty amount of time on political investigation during this presidential cycle.

Whatever your thoughts on #RussiaGate may be, it should concern any citizen that an enormous group of bad actors is working together to infiltrate American social media, with a specific intent to sway politics. Media literacy is one part of the answer, but we’re going to need new tools to help us identify accounts that are only present in bad faith to political discourse: they are not who they claim to be, and their real goals are kept carefully opaque.

Cold War 2.0

We should consider our nation embroiled in a large international game of psychological warfare, or PsyOps as it is referred to in intelligence circles. The goal is to sow disinformation as widely as possible, such that it becomes very difficult to discern what separates truth from propaganda. A secondary goal is to sow dissent among the citizenry, particularly to rile up the extremist factions within America’s two dominant political parties in an attempt to pull the political sphere apart from the center. 

We didn’t really need much help in that department as it is, with deep partisan fault lines having been open as gaping wounds on the American political landscape for some decades now — so the dramatically escalated troll army operation has acted as an intense catalyst for further igniting the power kegs being stored up between conservatives and progressives in this country.

Luckily there are some ways to help defray the opposition’s ability to distract and spread disinfo by identifying the signatures given off by suspicious accounts. I’ve developed a few ways to evaluate whether a given account may be a participant in paid propaganda, or at least is likely to be misrepresenting who they say they are, and what their agenda is. 
Sometimes it’s fun to get embroiled in a heated “tweetoff,” but I’ve noticed how easy it is to feel “triggered” by something someone says online and how the opposition is effectively “hacking” that tendency to drag well-meaning people into pointless back-and-forths designed not to defend a point of view, but simply to waste an activist’s time, demoralize them, and occupy the focus — a focus that could be better spent elsewhere on Real Politics with real citizens who in some way care about their country and their lives.

Twitter Bot “Tells”

1) Hyper-patriotism

– Conspicuously hyper-patriotic bio (and often, name)  – Posts predominantly anti-Democrat, anti-liberal/libtard, anti-Clinton, anti-Sanders, anti-antifa etc. memes:


2) Hyper-Christianity

– Conspicuously hyper-Christian in bio and/or name: 


3) Abnormally high tweet volume

Seems to tweet &/or RT constantly without breaks — supporting evidence of use of a scheduler tool at minimum, and displaying obviously automated responses from some accounts. The above account, for example, started less than 2 years ago, has tweeted 15,000 more times than I have in over 10 years of frequent use (28K). Most normal people don’t schedule their tweets — but marketers and PR people do.


4) Posts only about politics and one other thing (usually a sport)

– Posts exclusively about politics and potentially one other primary “normie” topic, which is often a sport – May proclaim to be staunchly not “politically correct”:


5) Hates Twitter Lists

– Strange aversion to being added to Lists, or making Lists of their own:


6) Overuse of hashtags 

– Uses hashtags more than normal, non-marketing people usually do:


7) Pushes a one-dimensional message

– Seems ultimately too one-dimensional and predictable to reflect a real personality, and/or too vaguely similar to the formula:


8) Redundant tweets

– Most obviously of all, it retweets the same thing over and over again:


9) Rehashes a familiar set of memes

– Tweets predominantly about a predictable set of memes:

Mismatched location and time zone is another “tell” — and although you can’t get the second piece of data from the public profile, it is available from the Twitter API. If you know Python and/or feel adventurous, I’m sharing an earlier version of the above tool on Github (and need to get around to pushing the latest version…) — and if you know of any other “tells” please share by commenting or tweeting at me. Next bits I want to work on include:

  • Examining follower & followed networks against a matchlist of usual suspect accounts
  • Looking at percentage of Cyrillic characters in use
  • Graphing tweet volume over time to identify “bot” and “cyborg” periods
  • Looking at “burst velocity” of opposition tweets as bot networks are engaged to boost messages
  • Digging deeper into the overlap between the far-right and far-left as similar memes are implanted and travel through both “sides” of the networks