Even a slight preference for homophily results in excessive segregation

This was economist Thomas Schelling’s insight way back in 1969 — just one of many examples of “unknown knowledge” that exists in the world today. His Spatial Segregation Model takes a few simple premises and shows that a set of quite tolerant people, who genuinely prefer to live in a diverse neighborhood in terms of race, income, and other factors, nevertheless end up self-segregating into clusters of like individuals — as follows:

Slight preference for homophily: 30%

We set up a fairly dense environment with a low preference for similarity — people are quite tolerant and are only looking to have 30% of their near neighbors be similar to them:

But when we run the simulation, we end up with an equilibrium state where individuals are surrounded by 75.2% similar neighbors:

If we run the model with a 50% preference for similar neighbors, the outcome is even more stark: the agents achieve equilibrium at a whopping 87.7% similarity:

Continue reading “Even a slight preference for homophily results in excessive segregation”

DIPTYCH: Equality vs. Supremacy

EqualitySupremacy
opportunitygatekeepers
democracyautocracy
diversitymonoculture
rule of lawfealty
entrepreneurshipfeudalism
accountabilitycorruption
Golden Rulepersecution
freedomoppression
fairnessarbitrariness
inclusivenessxenophobia
progressiveconservative
legal customsphysical force
creativerent-seeking
noveltystatus quo
favors challengersfavors incumbents
meritocracyaristocracy
holocracyhierarchy
consensusdictatorship
consenttyranny
diplomacyviolence
curiosityfear
toleranceintolerance
flexibilityrigidity
multi-facetedsingle-mindedness
organicbureaucratic
emergentcontrolling
radialtop-down
deliberaterash
carefulreckless
self-actualizedinsecure
logical reasoningmagical thinking
universaltribal
comprehensivedismissive
caretakingmilitaristic
communitygated community
independenceconformity

Racism is lazy

Racism is a shortcut for small minds. It’s a cheat for lazy people who don’t want to do the work of being discerning about people.

It is insecurity and fear of The Other. It’s ready-made scapegoats and easy answers. A made up story to channel one’s anger into. Deflection away from one’s own faults and flaws. Denial of responsibility. Worldview myopia. Reductionism at its worst. Shallow; vapid. Unseemly.

The stuff of weak minds.

Optimism and the Condorcet jury theorem

Is it possible the Condorcet jury theorem provides not just a mathematical basis for democracy and the justice system, but a model predictor of one’s political persuasion as well?

If you’re an optimist, you have no trouble believing that p > 1/2. You give people the benefit of the doubt that they will try their best and most often, succeed in tipping over the average even if just by a hair. That’s all it takes for the theorem to prove true: that the larger the number of voters, the closer the group gets to making the “correct” decision 100% of the time.

On the other hand, if you’re a pessimist, you might quibble with that — saying that people are low-information voters who you don’t think very highly of, and don’t find very capable. You might say that people will mostly get it wrong, in which case p < 1/2 and the theory feedback loops all the way in the other direction, to where the optimal number of voters is 1: the autocrat.

A political sorting hat of sorts

Optimists will tend to believe in the power of people to self-govern and to act out of compassion a fair amount of the time, thus leaning to the left: to the Democrats, social democrats, socialists, and the alt-Left. Pessimists will tend to favor a smaller, tighter cadre of wealthy elite rulers — often, such as themselves. They might be found in the GOP, Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, Libertarian, paleoconservative, John Birch Society, Kochtopus, anarcho-capitalist, alt-Right, and other right-wing groups including the KKK and other white militia groups around the country.

Granted the model is crude, but so was the original theorem — what is the “correct” choice in a political contest? Or does Condorcet’s political science theory imply that, like becoming Neo, whatever the majority chooses will by definition be The Right One for the job? 🤔

…if so, we definitively have the wrong President.

We crave the sacred

… some pure, holy, unchanging thing. A perfect, Platonic form.

But there is nothing unchanging. And religion is overall fading — except at the edges; the extremes.

We want desperately to believe in something. This can make us vulnerable to hucksters, tricksters, deceivers, and all kinds of charms and fakery. The modern life condition exacerbates this, with its fractious social isolationism, vapid consumerism, and erosion of community.

May I suggest that we could find solace by cultivating belief in ourselves, and in each other? Be critical when warranted, but beat back this terrible cynicism that engulfs public discourse, filling it with day to day ennui. We don’t have to be at each other’s throats.

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.

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.

On the dangers of attacking the media in a democratic republic

“The most dangerous ‘enemy of the people’ is presidential lying–always. Attacks on press by @realDonaldTrump more treacherous than Nixon’s”
Carl Bernstein, journalist who broke the Watergate scandal  


“These systematic attacks on the media accomplish two things. First, they fire up the base, which believe that traditional media do not represent their interests or concerns. Second, they provoke the media itself, which feeling threatened, adopts a more oppositional posture. This in turn further fuels the polarization on which the leaders depend and paves the way for the government to introduce legal restrictions.

The most dramatic example was in Venezuela, where elements in the media embarked on a campaign of open warfare, engaging in overtly partisan coverage intended to undermine Chávez’s rule. Some media owners were alleged to have conspired in a 2002 coup that briefly ousted the president. Once Chavez returned to power, he rallied his supporters behind a new law imposing broad restrictions on what the media could and could not cover under the guise of “ensuring the right to truthful information.” Across the hemisphere, other restrictive legal measures were adopted, including Ecuador’s notorious 2013 Communications Law, which criminalizes the failure to cover events of public interest, as defined by the government. In the first year, approximately 100 lawsuits were filed under the law, stifling critical reporting.”
Columbia Journalism Review


“Brian Stelter, in his Reliable Sources newsletter, rounds up elite-media Twitter reaction:

  • NPR’s Steve Inskeep: “A journalist is a citizen. Who informs other citizens, as free citizens need. Some are killed doing it …” NYT’s Maggie Haberman: “He is fighting very low approval ratings. Gonna be interesting to see how congressional Rs respond to this tweet”
  • Joe Scarborough: “Conservatives, feel free to speak up for the Constitution anytime the mood strikes. It is time”
  • NBC’s Chuck Todd: “I would hope that our leaders would never believe that any American desires to make another American an enemy. Let’s dial it back.”

At the same time, understand that this is partly a game to Trump. His confidants tell us he intentionally exploits the media’s inclination to take the bait and chase our tails.”
Axios


John McCain:
“… slammed President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media this week by noting dictators “get started by suppressing free press.”
It was a startling observation from a sitting member of Congress against the President of the United States, especially considering McCain is a member of Trump’s party.

“I hate the press,” the Arizona Republican sarcastically told NBC News’ Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” “I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It’s vital.”

But he continued, “If you want to preserve — I’m very serious now — if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” McCain said in the interview. “And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”


Evan McMullin:
“Authoritarians routinely attack checks on their power and sources… Donald Trump does exactly that.”
http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2017/02/05/are-trumps-attacks-on-media-authoritarian.cnn

Working Hard vs. Hardly Working: An Illustrated Guide

Much has been said regarding the so-called laziness of the poor. Hands have been wrung, glasses have been drained, Davos hotel rooms have been trashed year after year in elite consternation over The Perennially Perplexing Plight of the Poor.

Meanwhile in the American political landscape, the answer is already clear:

THEY’RE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH!!!!

But perhaps there’s some confusion over what is meant by the term “hard work” — certainly it’s ambiguous, and no one takes a pause in the middle of a vigorous, breathy debate to define their terms, curiously. So, for the barely literate cretins out there who can barely manage to hold down a job much less participate in the ever-prosperous U.S. economy — a visual guide:

Working hard vs. hardly working: An Illustrated Guide to Hard Work

Working hard

(direct link: https://tpc.quip.com/00POAlXJ6I8Y)

British filmmaker Adam Curtis explains what’s going on

The creator of the also excellent Century of the Self film series released his latest film in October, 2016. Dubbed HyperNormalisation, it offers both a history lesson of the complicated relationship between the West, the Middle East, and Russia, as well as an unflinching look at the roles played by technology, surveillance, and the media on our modern condition of general confusion, destabilization, and surrealism.

No one knows more about diversity than old white dudes

For every thoughtful, measured perspective on the gigantically thorny problem of Diversity in the Valley, there has to be at least 10 angry white dudes who feel entitled to take a shit all over the idea that being more inclusive has to involve, like, actually learning to be inclusive — or really, making any changes at all.

There are “values” far more pressing than equality, they say — EFFICIENCY! ALPHA ELITISM! SHAVING OFF ANOTHER 5 MINUTES OF SOME FULL STACK ENGINEER’S TIME (by outsourcing it to someone poor who should feel lucky to have the opportunity to schlep around the dirty laundry and fetch the burritos of Today’s World-Saving Heroes — preferably someone brown) so that someone, somewhere else (outside of the Valley, one presumes) can do all the theoretical Morally Good activities that serve as the philosophical prop that is supposed to justify the tech industry’s frantic, breakneck pursuit of getting filthy fucking rich the mission critically important “time-saving efficiency” that has literally the rest of the world economy scrambling to catch up in its wake.

Ergo, in response to an interview with Slack engineer Erica Baker — whose 20% work-time role in contributing to company diversity strategy later in the thread apparently renders completely invisible her 80% role Writing Code with the Big Boys — this fellow feels he has an obligation to weigh in:

Yes, Kevin. TELL ME MORE about how I would be treated in an interview with you as hiring manager. One thing’s for sure, I could be completely confident that you lack a shred of skepticism about whether my qualifications make me “The Best” candidate in the self-fulfilling prophecy of your own perception.

Nevermind all the actual data that is finally beginning to show what the reality of nature already knows: DIVERSITY WINS. Being inclusive of a multiplicity of experience and perspective (which come along as a byproduct of the heuristic we can make use of — demographical appearance — as a rough approximate solution to our complete inability to objectively measure anything meaningful about the internal complexities of real people) makes companies stronger and more resilient.

Diversity makes companies moreantifragile by embracing the comparative disorder that is counterintuitive to the homogenous systems and societies we keep inanely trying to collectively build despite all the evidence of their abject failure throughout history. Our friend in Idaho is proof of this point: the dominant assumption that diversity definitionally reduces efficiency, thereby reducing profit.

Beyond being flat out wrong when you look at the data (which, curiously, diversity always seems to be a special case where otherwise ruthlessly data-driven engineers don’t dare to tread), this carries with it the hidden assumption which is the self-fulfilling prophecy that actually proves Erica’s point: the fundamental skepticism that people who aren’t white and male can possibly be The Best. That the only way they ever get a seat at the communal, lunch-ordered-by-bot-and-hand-delivered-by-poor-non-alpha-elite-coder-people table is by the magnanimous grace of some Do Gooder hiring manager or recruiter slavishly following regulatory orders from the government — and not by their own merit.

The plank in our own eyes

Part of this has to do with the historically definitional white male privilege that, for some reason, we’re still arguing about in our supposedly enlightened and modernized society whose blinders prevent the deep self-examination of our human past required to truly make progress. As if the human tendency to Other were somehow wiped away with the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) Fourteenth Amendment (1868) Brown v. Board of Education (1954) Civil Rights Act (1964) Voting Rights Act (1965) Loving v. Virginia (1967) Fair Housing Act (1968) Community Reinvestment Act (1977) end of the carceral state (TKTK).

Having grown up a person saddled with two X chromosomes my whole life with almost no choice but to wrestle with this reality from every single angle intellectual and emotional, I at least finally understand the fundamental psychological biases that lead to this kind of abject refusal to deal with our own skewed perspectives — opting instead for ratcheting up ever more impressive shouting matches to peacock about how our dizzying intellectual prowess is surely proof enough of our obvious objectivity.

We are all wrong. And I’m no different.

I know that we desperately want to believe in our own superiority, both to everything that came before us throughout history (the “illusion of progress” we cultivate — despite no such guarantee existing in the natural world — only adds to this effect) and to our fellow humans. Elitism is the ultimate -ism.

It subsumes racism, sexism, religious fundamentalism, and all forms of tribalism that each have, at their roots, the core premise that whatever group I’ve chosen to join up with (or been allotted to by random lottery) is clearly and objectively The Best Group. It’s the undeniable tautology of naive realism that leaves us trapped in the pathetically, perennially distorted view that “I know best, and by the transitive property of awesome, all the groups I consider myself a part of are therefore clearly also The Best (else, why would I be part of them?!).” This automagically relegates all the groups with which we don’t identify to the bottom of the heap: obviously inferior, as anyone can see!

Combine this native human bias with the delirious modern cocktail of vicious neoliberalism and aggressive techno-utopian libertarianism, and it’s a formula in which People Who Don’t Appear White and Male are definitionally suspect because of the statistics we’re blanketed with ever day that tell us they are under-represented in fields like technology.

“If this is so,” says the mind of a brilliant and inarguably logical engineer, “it can only be because their Rugged Individualism hasn’t endowed them with the skills to pass muster. It’s a shame, really — at least Other People, somewhere else who care about human beings more than machine learning are concerned with this dilemma (so I don’t have to be: after all, I’m really fucking busy saving the world so STOP BOTHERING ME with this irrelevant claptrap distraction already! AND WHERE IS MY GODDAMN BURRITO?!?! It’s my Soylent off day!!!) — but honestly I have no choice but to treat The Next Brown or Curvy Data Point I See with some measure of statistical skepticism.”

Lack of diversity is a self-fulfilling prophecy

Therein lies the rub. When we take an observation about the “way things are” and leap to the moral conclusion that this is rightly so — that things ought to be this way, because clearly they are this way for some reason — we commit the logical fallacy that so consumed Hume: the idea that we can derive what ought to be from what is, also known as the fact/value problem.

I don’t think most white male engineers would go quite so far as to claim that their industry must remain homogenous to succeed (although clearly some do, like our friend Kevin, who apparently believes that diversity is definitionally both inefficient and a straight ticket to the business failure shitter — and that our only moral interest in the problem is spurred by the meddlesome interference of that old bugaboo The Government). Instead, in Silicon Valley it tends to take the form of justifying inaction: they might provisionally admit (over an artisanally-prepared, locally-sourced (from a Tenderloin window box herb garden) cocktail at Bar Crudo, or perhaps a Blue Bottle americano) that the problem of diversity may warrant some moral scrutiny, but not by them. They are just way too busy swimming for the shores of a Better World (so long as a Better World enriches them and their investors, natch) to be bothered with this issue that they perceive as not having the slightest effect on them. In times like these (which seems to be All Times), we simply can’t afford the moral luxury of anything but lifeboat ethics.

Right? Well, wrong — unless we’re not troubled by the absurd logical paradox of making ourselves subject to both the zero-sum philosophy this requires and the free market ideology of infinitely available value creation that is supposed to be driving the entire economic party bus (with karaoke) we’re riding in. So, we have to decide: which is it? Is there economic opportunity for all, or do the pathetic losers who fail to become startup founders get left at the curb? And if so, who will sing the songs of their people?!

Our own worst enemies

A reference to the old saw that “attitude is everything” is appropriate here. Because one of the few things more exasperating than the unexamined privilege of ignoring the issue is the endless infighting that those of us in marginalized groups do with each other over what the solution should be.

…where to even start? Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up: this comment from some random white dude who loves extreme sports begins and ends with the outrageously outsized entitlement of trying to tell Slack how to run its own goddamn business, from atop his lofty perch of Somewhere That Is Not Anywhere Even Remotely Near being an actual employee of Slack with some potentially arguable skin in the game, much less a leader or decision-maker within the company.

I mean, Jesus. This is what we’re dealing with. A worldview so vehemently opposed to the idea of apparently even discussing the matter of diversity (in case some terminology or phrase or godforsakenly challenging idea might be construed as controversial and somewhere, someone might possibly be offended — like the entire LGBT community he tries to lump me in with and in a follow-up comment — without a shred of irony! — attempts to claim he was only “speaking for himself” when demanding both a public apology and insinuating that Erica Baker the Slack engineer should literally lose her job for daring to state an opinion while black (p.s. we’ve truly come full fucking circle now, haven’t we?!)) that people feel compelled to spend their time offering free, unwarranted, and undoubtedly unwanted “business advice” to the company THAT PRESUMABLY KNOWS BETTER ABOUT WHAT IT IS DOING than Richard Fucking Burton The Third of His Name!

How can you even hold such a logical paradox in your head, much less lay it out in a single paragraph: the idea that somehow, bizarrely, Slack itself not only lacks the control over whether or not Erica Baker may be “let go for similar remarks” (I mean, who would be doing the firing in this case?! Is there some vigilante regulatory-required Anti-Social-Justice-Warrior in tights and a cape flying around Silicon Valley waiting for bat signals sent from comments on TechCrunch to swoop in from outside the company and authorize her termination?!), but may also be on such shaky ground from some available success metric (I assure you it’s not. It’s one of the few blindingly amazing success stories of recent memory and continues to be one of the fastest growing enterprise startups Of All Time) that they might just have to resort to taking the advice of some Totally Irrelevant Troll about what their fucking brand should be?!?

I. JUST. CAN’T. EVEN!!! (can you?! if so, better abandon all ye hope of ever working at Slack.)

Just goes to show: we’ll cling to whatever flimsy life raft of privilege we think we’re on, even as the Leaky Lifeboat (not to mention the Queen Friggin’ Mary) sails past, breathing a sigh of relief that we don’t seem eager to hop on and capsize it.

Everyone calm down. But be prepared to leave through the eastern gate

Let’s all dial down our Adderall drips for just one minute (but that’s all we can afford — the lifeboat awaits and all) and take a chill pill (feel free to take this as literally as you like). Do some soul-searching reflection, consult our Headspace apps, meditate in VR, or whatever the frak we need to do to enter the Tao Space.

Now let’s ask ourselves: if we believe we’re striving ever more harriedly toward a Better World, then what the heck does that world even look like? Close your eyes and picture it: what do you see? Are people happy in this world? Do they seem to go about their lives effortlessly and with graceful purpose in the human-connected face of god (for lack of a better term… so far), or are they still scurrying to and fro in the franticness of Trying To Get There?

Do people treat each other well, and with respect despite their differences, and in the face of overwhelming obstacles and risks we will have an impossible time solving from within isolated bunkers — or are they still spewing vitriol at each other over their gleefully intentional mischaracterizations of each other’s intentions?

Do they exhibit peace in the struggle, or are they still trying to shout each other down inside of every comment thread and social media exchange on the internet just to win a tiny provincial shadow of an urgently important argument about who has The Best Idea on how we can live in peace and harmony with each other, and how to impose it on the rest of those poor, lazy suckers who simply aren’t as gifted as the elite leaders who so grudgingly bear the wearisome heavy burden of Saving The World whilst being rewarded ever-so-handsomely with Real Non-Inflation Eaten Wages, lucrative stock options and liquidation preferences, artisanal cocktails, and Magically Appearing Burritos?

If we don’t even know what it looks like, then how will we know what values we should be working for, or recognize if and when we’ve arrived?

What Ellen Pao and Obama have in common

Both are subject to an extra heaping of criticism, skepticism, and scorn because there is some culturally-validated argument to be made about how they are different from some perceived status quo.And in modern mercenary America, the mythology is “win at all costs” whether it’s politics, business, religion, education, or Returning That Thing You Broke even though it’s out of warranty because goddammit we’re entitled to All The Things!!!!Ergo:

  1. To gain or preserve power, you need to win
  2. It is acceptable — even laudable — to win by any means necessary (legal, ethical, loophole, grey area, “disrupting” or otherwise)
  3. To win you must be good and work hard, but plenty of winners take shortcuts, cheat, break rules/laws, harm others, and/or fraud their way to the top — so in order to stay on the field, you need to become open to those tactics whether you believe it’s right or not (see: Lance Armstrong). Meanwhile internally, you have built-in psychological mechanisms that enforce your justification and carve out a special view of yourself as being ultimately a good person (see: Jonathan Haidt) and even, more twistedly, a “good person who does bad things” (see: BTK serial killer) — whereas other people who do bad things are not simply constrained by their environments (as you are); they are just bad people.
  4. In the struggle for power, those who have (or want) it aggressively seek out any thread of weakness, real or perceived, in whatever individuals or outgroups appear to threaten their dominance.
  5. Difference from the norm is widely and cross-culturally perceived as weakness and carries a negative connotation socially.
  6. Anyone who suggests or espouses difference is subject to derision and confrontation, as a matter of course.
  7. Those who have “outward difference” characteristics — i.e. women, members of different races, religions — therefore tend to be the subject of derision and confrontation as a matter of course: because it leads the Normal to winning, and therefore preserving power.
  8. Any method of fomenting confrontation and contempt is acceptable in the noble pursuit of power, even including vociferously denying and decrying the unethical tactics used by other Normals championing for the same outcome (see: Gamergate).
  9. The age of Political Correctness took some tactics off the table, namely the overt invocation of gender or race (to a lesser extent, religion) to “name” the difference and call out the offending anti-Normal, immediately discrediting any perspective they put forth via ad hominem attack.
  10. …but the underlying game remains the same. Identify and publicly shame a perceived difference — they “kill the buzz” or they “aren’t aggressive enough” or conversely are “too pushy” or they don’t lean in enough or they don’t have the mind of a hacker. Whatever the red herring is, it’s often a derivative of a stereotype we apply to a marginalized class — but it’s trumped up and re-packaged, perhaps with some shoddy, easy to find pseudo-evidence in support — not terribly dissimilar from the way Wall Street made subprime mortgage loans appear like the bedrock of America’s financial future via complicated and inscrutable re-branding.

Stinks just as bad.