phobia indoctrination

Phobia indoctrination is one of the principle ways a charismatic leader will lull potential followers into his thrall, by putting them into a state of perpetual fear and anxiety. They know, either instinctively or through training (or both), that people can be induced into a prolonged state of confusion easily, and that many people in states of confusion act quite irrationally. Abusers, cult leaders, and other controllers use demagoguery and other tricks to hide in plain sight and continue to accrue power while passing themselves off as harmless or extremely patriotic.

These chaos agents use emotional manipulation as a tool of control. They whip followers up into a fear frenzy frequently enough to instill a set of phobia-like instinctual reactions to chosen stimuli. In addition to stoking fears of the enemies at the gates, they also inculcate irrational fears of the consequences of questioning their authority. Any doubts expressed about the leadership or its doctrine are subject to terrifying negative results. Cults use this formula to wield undue influence over followers, and prevent them from questioning or leaving the group.

Phobia indoctrination is a tool of cults

As part of a larger overall program of brainwashing or mind control, cults and destructive organizations use imaginary extremes (going to hell, being possessed by demons, failing miserably at life, race war, Leftist apocalypse, etc.) to shock followers into refusing to examine any evidence whatsoever. A form of unethical hypnosis, phobia indoctrination can now be carried out on a mass scale thanks to the internet and our massive media apparatus.

Sociopaths and other types of emotional predators are taking ample advantage of their advantage in time and distance over the slow pace of justice. The wielding of fear as a cudgel in America politics has reached a fever pitch, with anti-CRT hysteria, anti-vaxxers, anti-government, anti-science, Lost Cause-revival zombie MAGA footsoldiers screeching about the “freedom!!!” they wish the government to provide them for persecuting their enemies, and other social horrors are merely the tip of the climate changing iceberg.

Relevant book list:

brainwashing

A technique of torture and compliance, brainwashing is used in many contexts to control victims. From personal relationships and marriage to cults, all the way up to the scale of nation-states, removing or reducing independent thinking and action in a person or population gives the brainwasher enormous power and advantage.

The word’s origin is from a Chinese term meaning “forcible indoctrination to induce somebody to give up basic religious, social, or political beliefs and attitudes in favor of a belief system imposed by the brainwasher.” It’s also been referred to as mind control, thought reform, undue influence, or coercive persuasion — and is a form of highly unethical emotional and psychological manipulation.

Thought reform

Brainwashing is essentially a method of inducing a false personality into a target, after breaking them down psychologically. There are many different methods and techniques employed, from disinformation and sleep deprivation to hypnosis to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The goal of this “thought reform” project is to remove the individual’s agency and train them to follow the orders of the cult or high-demand group.

Seemingly normal, totally “average” people can fall under the sway of brainwashing techniques in use by cults much more easily than one might think. Cults and abusive organizations prey on people at vulnerable times in their lives, when they are most suggestible and least likely to mount an opposition. People who have gone through a loss, or a major life change, or are feeling particularly adrift may be lured by the sway of a deceptive organization. It can be very exhilarating to feel plugged in to an intense community after going through a period of grief or anxiety — almost irresistable, to some.

7 brainwashing tactics

  1. isolation — separating you from family and friends, or any kind of support network who may provide alternative and negative views of the abuser
  2. monopolization of attention — they seek to have the target orient their entire world around the abuser, leaving them little time to think about anything else
  3. weaken your resistance — wearing down your defenses over time, so their messages take firmer hold
  4. give occasional indulgences — providing temporary relief or even pleasure contributes to the overall program of intermittent reinforcement, to induce dependency on the abuser for stimulation of any kind
  5. demonstrates “all-knowingness” — becomes an absurd moral authority on your entire life, presenting the truth about your inner self and past history with more omniscience than you yourself possess. They know you better than you know yourself — and you believe them!
  6. destroy all sources of joy — the brainwasher needs to ensure that they are the sole source of pleasure and pain, for complete operant conditioning control over the target. All other pleasures in life are eradicated or eroded.
  7. degradation and humiliation — if the target gets close to figuring out the truth about the power imbalance and impropriety of the abuser’s behavior, the abuser will immediately begin a scathing shame campaign to punish the temerity of daring to stand meekly on one’s own

Brainwashing in politics and religion

Use of brainwashing by communist officials in China, Korea, and Vietnam gained attention in the U.S. in the mid-20th century. The brainwashing technique is also used by gangs, cults, and organized crime networks to control both members and outgroups.

Perhaps most commonly it is associated with fringe religious groups like the Peoples Temple, Unification Church (or Moonies), Children of God, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, The Manson Family, and thousands of other cults less well known. Sometimes the brainwashing is intended to limit the followers’ access to the outside world, and sometimes it is about grooming them to perform criminal acts from financial crimes to murder to starting a race war.

Important research

Many interdisciplinary minds across multiple fields have studied the topic of brainwashing and undue influence, or have contributed significantly to our understanding of behavioral influence. Here are some highly consequential thinkers, researchers, and experiments on the subject:

Related to:

  • Mao Zedong
  • Nazis
  • Moscow Trials
  • Jim Jones
  • David Koresh

See also:

  • undue influence
  • thought reform
  • mental predation
  • indoctrination
  • hypnosis
  • Stockholm Syndrome

Disinformation

Disinformation Dictionary of Psychological Warfare

The cat is well and truly out of the bag in terms of understanding how easily wide swaths of people can be misled into believing total falsehoods and even insane conspiracy theories that have no basis whatsoever in reality. In their passion for this self-righteous series of untruths, they can lose families, jobs, loved ones, respect, and may even be radicalized to commit violence on behalf of an authority figure. It starts with the dissemination of disinformation — a practice with a unique Orwellian lexicon all its own, collated in the below disinformation dictionary.

Disinformation is meant to confuse, throw off, distract, polarize, and otherwise create conflict within and between target populations. The spreading of falsehoods is a very old strategy — perhaps as old as humankind itself — but its mass dissemination through the media was pioneered in the 20th century by the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, the Nazis in Germany, Mussolini’s Fascists in Italy, and other authoritarian regimes of the early 1900s through the 1940s.

After World War II and the Allies’ defeat of Hitler, the role of disinformation lived on during the Cold War. The Soviet KGB were infamous for their spycraft and covert infiltration of information flows, while the United States experienced waves of anti-Communist paranoia and hysteria fueled by the spread of conspiracist thinking. Psychologists, social scientists, and others did their best to unpack the horrors revealed by the reign of the Nazi regime with a wellspring of research and critical thought about authoritarian personalities that continues to this day.

The John Birch Society rides again

In some ways, we haven’t really moved on yet from the Cold War — in fact, some appear not to have moved on since the New Deal and are hellbent on rolling its provisions back, almost 100 years later. The dregs of the JBS — an organization famously too koo-koo even for William F. Buckley, who excommunicated them from the conservative wing of the Republican Party — live on today in a reconstituted form known as the CNP, or Council for National Policy.

Founded officially in 1981 after almost a decade down in the political trenches radicalizing the right, the CNP is the shadowy organization pulling the strings of many of the set pieces in puppets in today’s political play. In alliance with other powerful networks including the Koch empire, the NRA, and the Evangelical church, the CNP is the group behind the recent hysteria out of nowhere about Critical Race Theory in public schools (where it is not taught). They are funneling the money of America’s billionaires into absurdist theatrical displays of performance artists who distract America with bread and circuses while the plutocrats make off with the cash in the form of tax cuts, tax breaks, tax carve outs, tax loopholes, tax policy, and other wealth-building sweetheart deals for themselves and their cronies.

The CNP, in partnership with Charles Koch’s massive database of all American voters (and of course, his money), have managed to brainwash the Evangelical flock and various assorted MAGA groups into believing a raft of nonsense from climate change denial to anti-masking to the Big Lie about the 2020 election and much more. They have leveraged new political technology in order to recruit and radicalize new cult members quickly and at now digital scale — via QAnon, Fox News, the even more extreme aggressively partisan coverage of Newsmax and OANN, and a fleet of “grassroots” astroturf operations peddling their brand of seditious aspirational theocracy to ruralites like it was going out of style… on accounta it is.

This disinformation dictionary covers (and uncovers) the terminology and techniques used by disinfo peddlers, hucksters, Zucksters, and professional liars of all sorts — and will be added to over time as neologisms are coined to keep up with the shifting landscape of fakes, deep fakes, and alternative timelines in our near and potentially far future.

TermDefinitionNotes
ambiguity
active measuresRussian information warfare aimed at undermining the West
America First Unity Rally
AntifaAnti-fascists
anti-governmentThe neo-Libertarians within the gOP have no more intention of governing than Trump did. Libertarians prefer the government to be non-functional: that's the "smallest" government there is!!They *will* lead us to war, with either Russia, North Korea, Iran, or China most likely.
assert the opposite of reality
the Big Lie
black and white thinkingA pattern of thought characterized by polar extremes, sometimes flip-flopping very rapidly from one extreme view to its opposite. Also referred to as dichotomous thinking; polarized thinking; all-or-nothing thinking; or splitting.
blackmailThe demand for payment (or other benefit) in exchange for not revealing negative information about the payee.
blaming the victimA popular strategy with sexual predators, blaming the victim involves alleging that the receipient "had it coming" or otherwise deserved the abuse they suffered at the hands of the blamer.
book burningThe ritual destruction of books, literature, or other written materials -- usually in a public forum to send a chilling message about ideas that are disallowed by the state.
Borderline Personality DisorderA personality disorder in the group once known as Cluster B, characterized by intense mood swings, impulsive behavior, fear of abandonment, unstable self-image, dissociation, and self-harm.
botA software program performing repetitive, automated tasks
botnetsAn interconnected network of bots, often used for nefarious purposes like DDoS attacks or propaganda.
bullyingHarming, threatening to harm, intimdating, or coercing others into doing your bidding (or for no reason at all)
cathexisThe concentration of one's mental energy on one specific person, idea, or object -- typically to an unhealthy degree.
@citizentrolling
#clevelandsteal
closure
cognitive dissonanceMental discomfort resulting from holding conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes -- or from behaving contrary to one's beliefs, values, or attitudes.
cognitive distortion
cognitive warfare
communist
con artistSomeone who swindles others with fake promises
confirmation bias
conspiracy theoryA false narrative or set of narratives designed to create an alternative story or history that distracts from the real truth and/or obscures or absolves the responsibility of those behind the curtain.
DARVOA rhetorical device used in mind control in which the identities of the perpetrator and the victim are reversed, such that the abuser is playing on the sympathies of the abused to help him rewrite the history they both wish to forget.
deceptionLying; intentionally misleading
deep fakesFabricated video footage appearing to show an individual speaking
deep state
demoshizaShort for ‘democratic schizophrenics’ -- a Russian slander against citizens of democracies. The ‘demoshiza’ tag also serves a useful purpose in conflating ‘democracy’ with ‘mental illness’. The word ‘democratic’ has an unhappy status in Russia: it is mainly used as an uncomplimentary synonym for ‘cheap’ and ‘low-grade’: McDonald’s has ‘democratic’ prices, the door policy at a particularly scuzzy club can be described as ‘democratic’ – i.e. they let anybody in
denialism
denial of death
denying plain facts
dezinformatsiyaRussian information warfare
"dirty tricks"
disappearing
diversion
doxxing
"drinking the Kool-Aid"Coming to believe the ideology of a cult
duty to warn
emotional abuse
emotional blackmail
emotional manipulation
empty promises
extortion
fake news
false consciousnessPart of Marxist theory regarding the phenomenon where the subordinate classes embody the ideologies of the ruling class, diverting their self-interest into activities that benefit the wealthy who are taking advantage of them.
false flagcovert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them
fifth world warNon-linear war; the war of all against all -- a term coined by Putin's vizier Vladislav Surkov.
flying monkeys
fraud
GamerGateEarly harbinger of the alt-right, emerging on social media and targeting professional women in the video games industry
gaslighting
"global cabal"euphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU
globalization
grooming
Guccifer 2.0
hate speech
honey pot
horseshoe theoryPolitical model in which the extreme left has a tendency to sometimes adopt the strategies of the extreme right.
hybrid warfare
hypnosis
influence techniques
information terroristsMedia personalities and professionals working against the interests of democracy in the United States. Many amplify their messages through automation and human networks, creating a Greek Chorus-like cacaphony of fake support for unpopular positions.
information warfare
InfoWars
Intermittent reinforcement
jumping to conclusions bias
kleptocracyform of government in which the leaders harbor organized crime rings and often participate in or lead them; the police, military, civil government, and other governmental agencies may routinely participate in illicit activities and enterprises.
Mafia stateA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates. A term coined by former KGB/FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. See also: kleptocracy
malignant envy
malignant narcissism
MarxistA catch-all derogatory slur for Democrats
maskirovkawar of deception and concealment
mass hypnosis
men's rights
mind control
minimizing
money laundering
motivated reasoning
moving the goalpostsChanging the rules after the game is played, when one side doesn't like the outcome.
"myth of tech misogyny"A form of denialism made popular by alt-right commentator and troll Milo Yiannopoulos, used to discredit feminist discussions about the tech and gaming industry's notorious levels of misogyny.
naive realism
narcissistic rage
narcissistic supply
The National Enquirer
neurolinguistic programming (NLP)
nihilism
non-linear warfare
novichokmilitary-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and used in the poisoning of former FSB agent turned Putin critic Andrei Skripal and his daughter in Lonson in March, 2018
one-way streetExpect loyalty from you while offering none in return
opposhort form of opposition research
paranoiaNurturing and maintaining enemies
passive aggressive
PizzaGate
plausible deniability
playing the victim
post-truth
projection
Project LakhtaInternal name for the operation that Prigozhin's IRA was running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Mueller indictments.
propaganda
psychopathy
PUAPick-up Artist
QAnon
received wisdom
#releasethememo
retcon
running out the clock
sadism
selective exposure
shame
shit-posting
silovikiRussian term for those who have backgrounds and employment in the Russian power ministries -- security services, the military, and police; and more specifically a reference to Putin's security cabal.
Snow RevolutionPopular protests beginning in Moscow in 2011, demanding the reinstatement of free elections & the ability to form opposition parties. Hundreds if not thousands of protestors were detained on the first day of action (Dec 5), continuing over the next 2 years as punishments grew increasingly harsh and more activists were sent to penal colonies.
social hierarchies
sockpuppet accountsFake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.
"sovereign democracy"system in which democratic procedures are retained, but without any actual democratic freedoms; brainchild of Vladislav Surkov
Special Mission
splittingSee the world as with them or against them; an extension of black and white thinking.
stonewalling
Tarasoff rule
thought-stopping
torture
trolling
undue influence
wallpaper effectThe "wraparound" pervasiveness of Right-wing Media and its Brainwashing effects at scale
white male identity politics
white nationalism
white terrorism

January 6 Attack: Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to stay in power

January 6: A Day that will live in ignominy. The day Capitol riots broke out when an angry mob, following instructions from Donald Trump, stormed the halls of Congress and came within minutes of a potential hostage situation or worse: a massacre.

I’m still processing the events of Wednesday, as are many. Even though I fully anticipated something horrifying given the utter obviousness of the confrontation brewing, I did not have a particular picture in mind of what that thing was going to be.

Despite having steeled myself for the past 4+ years, I wept many times at some of the imagery and video footage. The defilement of the people’s halls by a violent armed mob who took selfies with Capitol Police was just not something I could have conceived of.

There must be accountability

This was one of the darkest days of our nation. Even during the Civil War the Confederates never stormed the US Capitol, so to see the Confederate flag waving in Congress was a desecration. It twisted me up to have such a raw display of America’s deepest gash of white supremacist history taken symbolically and literally to the nation’s capital.

This event was broadcast around the world, to our allies and to our enemies. We received rebukes from Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran. We — the supposed bastion of democracy. The country that lectures other nations around the world on how to do democracy better. We have been humiliated for the entire planet to see.

We need answers about what happened here. The people deserve to know who planned this, who helped this along, who looked the other away, and perhaps most importantly: who still agrees with it (Hawley and Cruz, for one — they must go).

We must stop fascism in America

The rot of fascism has been allowed to spread to the point where a violent mob of white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy nuts, MAGA faithful and a demon’s host of all stripes came within minutes of taking hostages inside the chambers of Congress. Five people lost their lives and already are being made into martyrs.

This did not begin with Trump, but he certainly amplified the signal at a much more psychotic rate than under previous administrations, certainly of my lifetime. We are now at a dangerous precipice: in a time of staggering wealth inequality, a once in a century health crisis largely being ignored by the right wing, deeply bitter partisanship played out over decades, the creep of authoritarianism around the world — and now at home.

Wednesday’s Capitol Riots did essentially mark the “crossing of the Rubicon” that the Trump cult begged him to do — it was a coming-out day for fascism. It was the President of the United States instructing an armed mob to walk up to the Capitol where lawmakers were certifying the election for the guy who won it, and telling them to “take our country back” and give it to him — by force if necessary. Which, of course, was necessary.

That is the Rubicon — the Rubicon is the willingness to use political violence when you have exhausted all other legal, shady, illegal, and hideously criminal means. That is the fascist twist. If we do not react now; if we do not censure, remove, and allow justice to hold these individuals accountable — both inside and outside of the government — they will take it as permission to try again and again until we deal with this.

We must hold the insurrectionists accountable — if we are to keep this republic.

Hyper Partisanship: How to understand American politics today

Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride. Many of the serious scholars of political history and authoritarian regimes are sounding the alarm bells that, although it is a very very good thing we are getting rid of the Trump crime family soon, it is still a very very bad thing for America to have so rapidly tilted towards authoritarianism. How did we get here?! How has hyper partisanship escalated to the point of an attempted coup by 126 sitting Republican House Representatives?

These are some of the resources that helped me grapple with that question, and with the rapidly shifting landscape of information warfare. How can we understand this era of polarization, this age of tribalism? This outline is a work in progress, and I’m planning to keep adding to this list as the tape keeps rolling.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

  • Karen Stenner — Australian political psychologist Karen Stenner found that approximately 1/3 of populations are authoritarian, or have authoritarian tendencies.
  • Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Derrida — the logic of the unconscious; performativity in the act of lying
  • ketman — Ketman is the psychological concept of concealing one’s true aims, akin to doublethink in Orwell’s 1984, that served as a central theme to Polish dissident Czesław Miłosz‘s book The Captive Mind about intellectual life under totalitarianism during the Communist post-WWII occupation.
  • Erich Fromm — coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe the psychological character of the Nazis
  • Fascism — elevation of the id as the source of truth; enthusiasm for political violence
  • Tyrants
  • John Dean — 3 types of authoritarian personality:
    • social dominators
    • authoritarian followers
    • double highs — social dominators who can “switch” to become followers in certain circumstances
  • Loyalty; hero worship
    • Freud = deeply distrustful of hero worship and worried that it indulged people’s needs for vertical authority. He found the archetype of the authoritarian primal father very troubling.
  • Ayn Rand — The Fountainhead
  • Richard Hofstadter — The Paranoid Style
  • Lakoff — moral framing; strict father morality
  • Neil Postman — Entertaining Ourselves to Death
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Can be disguised as hyper-rationalism (Communism)

Cognitive and psychological data

  • conservative minds don’t accept new information coming in
    • vs. Bayesian logic
    • vs. Thomas Kuhn scientific revolutions
  • Psychological biases
    • Status quo bias
  • The Asch Experiment — more than 60% of the time, people bow to social pressure
  • Stanley Milgram 1974 — we will submit to the demands of authority to a far greater extent than we might expect
    • it absolves us of responsibility
    • a “loophole” to quickly route around our conscience, making “normal” persons susceptible to the appeals of psychopaths
  • The Marshmallow Experiment — drive towards instant gratification
  • Edward Bernays — Propaganda
  • Narcissism and Sadism | The Dark Triad — difficult personalities
    • narcissism = seeing oneself “above”
    • Christopher Lasch — Culture of Narcissism (1979). Idea that narcissism is a defense mechanism against social change and instability in the modern world. It’s a method of psychological self-preservation in a hostile, threatening world; a cynical ethic.
    • Tom Wolfe — The Me Decade
    • Jerrold Post — authoritarian parenting
    • The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump
    • Mary Trump — Too Much and Not Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man
    • narcissistic injury
    • narcissistic rage
    • aggrieved entitlement — elevated expectations combined with resentment at society for not meeting them (Michael Kimmel, 2013)
    • dehumanization of the Others
    • splitting; black and white thinking
    • object permanence
    • magical thinking — relation to Norman Vincent Peale and prosperity gospel
    • Political ponerology — the nature of evil; interaction of difficult personalities with power and politics
      • pathocracy — Andrew Łobaczewski (2007)
      • sadopopulism — Tim Snyder
    • Narcissistic collusion — the interplay of the grandiose expectations of the tyrant and his followers. It gives him power as a meshing of mutually compatible needs.
    • Narcissism of small differences — Freud 1991
    • Scapegoating
    • Psychological decompensation
    • Psychopath World
      • The Upside Down — up is down, black is white
      • No conscience
      • No empathy
      • The ultimate narcissist
      • Obsession with power, dominance, and hierarchy
      • Primitive goals, relentlessly pursued
      • Rigidity; inflexibility
      • No access to higher human ideals
      • Performative; mask-wearing
      • See people as objects for their use
      • Control issues
      • Cruel and sadistic
      • Empty and thrill-seeking
      • Enjoy breaking rules
      • Inauthentic; insincere
      • Projectivity
      • Destructiveness; recklessness
      • Conspiracy-minded
      • Cold and inaccessible
      • Reptilian
    • Terminology: ASPD and the shifting umbrella of personality disorder and Cluster B
    • Malignant narcissism as a historical conception of this group of personality traits
  • Paranoia
  • Abuse culture
    • Bullies
    • Emotional abuse
    • psychological abuse
    • physical abuse
    • financial abuse
    • legal abuse
    • abuse of power
    • Alice Miller — Her work identified the psychological impact of childhood neglect and abuse, not just at the individual level but at the societal level — where it has a tendency to produce a hierarchical worldview characterized by the need to control the environment.
    • One-sided development — Dąbrowski (1996)
  • Cults
  • “Big Cults” — rise to the level of nation-state and even beyond
  • Psychological warfare
    • Propaganda
      • Bernays –> Goebbels
      • Michiko Kakutani — The Death of Truth
    • Emotional abuse
    • Interrogation techniques
    • Disinformation
      • Conspiracy theories
      • Fake news
        • “Flood the channel” strategy
        • Overwhelm and drown out the truth
        • Deep fakes
      • Lying with statistics
    • Bot networks and cyborg botnets
      • agents
        • distraction
        • confusion
        • probing
        • persuasion
        • conversion
        • neutralization
      • flying monkeys
      • automated response
      • timed response
    • Extortion
    • Doxxing
  • Religious extremism
    • Evangelicals
    • Dominionism and extremist religious circles believing literally in the End Times and the rapture coming soon (Tim LaHaye et al), including at the highest levels of government (Pompeo, Pence, etc.)
    • Calvinism
    • Prosperity gospel
  • Living on Fantasy Island
    • Norman Vincent Peale — the power of positive thinking (1952)
    • Ernest Becker — The Denial of Death & the basis for fundamental self-deception
    • Buddhist / Shambhala conceptions of “The Cocoon” — a mental place of safety we construct for ourselves to remain shielded from Real Reality
    • Republican Denial Bubbles: climate change, trickle-down economics, “no one is racist,” birtherism, covid is a hoax, everything is hunky dory, you are getting very sleepy…
    • It Was All a Lie — Stuart Stevens, former GOP strategist and co-founding member of the Lincoln Project, spills the beans on the Republican capture of civic discourse with a set of false narratives all spinning out from the white supremacist backlash to the civil rights movement of the 60s.

HISTORY

  • Capitol Riots and Putsch — insurrectionists storm the Capitol
  • Raffensperger extortion call
  • Georgia runoffs
  • Biden elected + Big Lie begins (continues, really)
  • George Floyd murder and summer of protest
    • long struggle with police brutality and “driving while Black”
  • Votings Rights Act gutted
  • Citizens United
  • Growing nationalization of politics parallels the demise of local news

Hyper Partisanship in Congress: The Gingrich Years

  • Newt Gingrich and the Contract on America — Steve Kornacki, Julian Zelizer
  • Rise of Evangelicals and the deals with the devils (Paul Weyrich, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, prosperity gospel, etc)
    • ALEC
    • abortion as a 180-degree turn for use as a wedge issue
    • Brown v. Board of Education & the fight over segregated Christian private schools
  • White nationalism’s reputational laundering
    • David Duke popped back up in both the 90s and the 2010s
    • Some Vietnam vets nurtured their own “stabbed in the back” culture after the war
    • Rise of the militia movement
      • Many returning soldiers saw the fringe left Communist movement in the US as an “enemy at home”
      • Greensboro, NC massacre
      • The Order
      • KKK & KKKK
    • Paramilitary operations in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere in Latin America to “bring the war home”
    • After the fall of Communism, the movement needed a new enemy. During the immediate post-Vietnam era they claimed to be working on behalf of the state, but towards the end of the 80s they did a 180-degree turn to a hard anti-government stance
    • Survivalist fringe
      • Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing
      • Waco
      • Ruby Ridge
      • Unabomber / Ted Kaczynski
    • Intersection of militia movement with NRA
      • Intersection of NRA with Russian active measures
    • Lost Cause lineage
      • Confederate holdouts

Post-Soviet Capital Flight and the Rise of Russian Organized Crime

Rise of Dark Money

The explosion of Super PACs and other seemingly endless vehicles for anonymous money lending to political campaigns exploded after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010. The hyper partisanship tilted even further when the GOP quietly began accepting far more foreign contributions than many people realized.

  • Citizens United
  • Koch Brothers / Kochtopus
  • offshore tax havens
  • unregistered FARA agents (Flynn, Manafort, Elliott Broidy, etc)
  • Jane Mayer
  • Panama Papers — biggest offshore data leak in history
  • FinCEN files

Rise of Russian Hybrid Warfare

  • Gerasimov Doctrine
  • Vladislav Surkhov’s surrealistic war theater
    • Fifth World War: all against all
  • Cheka –> KGB –> FSB / GRU
  • Psychological warfare
  • Cyber warfare
    • energy grid
    • US Treasury
    • election infrastructure
    • nuclear weaponry
  • Information warfare
    • Disinformation
    • Cyborg bot networks
    • IRA & Robert Mueller indictments
    • Cambridge Analytica, data theft, and microtargeting
    • Astroturfing, fake activism, paid crisis actors
  • Financial warfare
    • Magnitsky Act
      • Bill Browder
      • Natalia Veselnitskaya
      • Trump Tower meeting June 9, 2016
    • Campaign funding
      • Marie Le Pen (France)
      • Viktor Orban (Hungary)
      • Brexit (UK)
      • Trump / GOP (US)
      • Law and Justice (Poland)
    • Corruption — organized crime, money laundering, bribery, human trafficking, drugs, arms, fraud, racketeering, etc.
  • Proxy warfare
    • Private security forces and arms’ length deniability
      • Yevgeny Prigozhin
      • Erik Prince
    • Ukraine
    • Belarus
    • Syria

Role of Facebook, Google, and Big Tech

Silicon Valley played its part in enabling — and profiteering from — hyper partisanship not just in the U.S., but around the world. Facebook in particular has a reputation for being callously cheap about moderating content from hate speech to live mass shooting video, including arguably playing a significant role in the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar.

  • Facebook as a rogue nation state with almost 3 billion non-voting citizen-serfs
    • Reluctant moderators require regulating
    • Questionable ethics
      • Moral hazard in political leanings
      • Paid propaganda machine for dictators and authoritarian regimes around the world
      • Allow disinformation to “skirt around” the rules too often, or fail to police bad actors at all
      • Fail to live up to their own moderating standards repeatedly
      • Refuse responsibility for arguably essential roles in geopolitical disasters including the Rohingya massacre in Myanmar and
      • A business model that fundamentally benefits from human conflict
      • Cambridge Analytica
      • Traumatic conditions of the Facebook moderation team, in the US and abroad
  • Google’s capture of the web
    • monopoly powers
    • surveillance powers
    • AI powers
    • collapse of online advertising market
    • collapse of local journalism
    • Youtube radicalization
  • Bozo Bezos & the Billionaire Space Race
  • Surveillance capitalism
  • Data as the new oil
  • Crypto & DeFi

Economic insecurity and staggering inequality

  • Piketty
  • Gilded Age
  • Progressive Era
  • Anti-Trust
  • Herbert Hoover –> FDR
  • Great Depression –> New Deal prosperity
  • Keynesian economics
  • Hillbilly elegy
    • Bowling Alone
    • The Big Sort
  • Globalization
  • Opioid crisis

Republican Myths

As further enabled by the rise of the PR-state

  • White supremacy and the myth of American innocence
  • Trickle down economics –> Reagan
  • Powell Memo –> Think Tanks
  • McCarthyism; John Birch Society
  • America as a Judeo-Christian nation
  • Immigration is bad
  • Climate change denialism
  • Smoking is good for you

Americana and Hyper Partisanship through the ages

  • 2020 election
  • 2016 election
  • Obama years
  • 2008-09 financial crash
  • 9/11, WMD delusions, Iraq War, Islamic terrorism
  • 2000 Bush v. Gore
  • Welfare queens
  • Clinton and the Crime Bill
  • Reagan years
  • Watergate
  • Spiro Agnew
  • Nixon’s war on drugs as a proxy for the war on 60s counterculture
  • White militia movement
  • Civil rights & Vietnam
  • Cold War
  • The Holocaust; Stalin’s Great Terror; Mao’s famine
  • WWII & fascism
  • New Deal
  • Great Depression
  • Warren G. Harding
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • WWI
  • Gilded Age
  • Snake oil
  • PT Barnum
  • Great Awakening preachers George Whitefield & Jonathan Edwards
    • they argued that church authorities should not own people’s direct relationship with God
  • KKK
  • Jim Crow
  • Reconstruction
  • Civil War & Confederacy — the ur-Hyper Partisanship.
  • States’ Rights
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Slavery
  • Racism, Misogyny
  • Federalism vs. Decentralization
  • The Constitution and the Rule of Law
  • Democracy overthrows monarchy
  • Spirit of the Laws — Montesquieu
  • Social contract; consent of the governed
  • Puritans
  • Religious freedom
  • Liberty vs. freedom
  • The Enlightenment
  • Magna Carta
  • The Bible

Design guru Don Norman’s shortlist of everything wrong with the internet

When usability pioneers have All the Feels about the nature of our creeping technological dystopia, how we got here, and what we might need to do to right the ship, it’s wise to pay attention. Don Norman’s preaching resonated with my choir, and they’ve asked me to sing a summary song of our people in bulleted list format:

  • What seemed like a virtuous thing at the time — building the internet with an ethos of trust and openness — has led to a travesty via lack of security, because no one took bad actors into account.
  • Google, Facebook, et al didn’t have the advertising business model in mind a priori, but sort of stumbled into it and got carried away giving advertisers what they wanted — more information about users — without really taking into consideration the boundary violations of appropriating people’s information. (see Shoshana Zuboff’s definitive new book on Surveillance Capitalism for a lot more on this topic)
  • Tech companies have mined the psychological sciences for techniques that — especially at scale — border on mass manipulation of fundamental human drives to be informed and to belong. Beyond the creepy Orwellian slant of information appropriation and emotional manipulation, the loss of productivity and mental focus from years of constant interruptions takes a toll on society at large.
  • We sign an interminable series of EULAs, ToS’s and other lengthy legalese-ridden agreements just to access the now basic utilities that enable our lives. Experts refer to these as “contracts of adhesion” or “click-wrap,” as a way of connoting the “obvious lack of meaningful consent.” (Zuboff)
  • The “bubble effect” — the internet allows one to surround oneself completely with like-minded opinions and avoid ever being exposed to alternative points of view. This has existential implications for being able to inhabit a shared reality, as well as a deleterious effect on public discourse, civility, and the democratic process itself.
  • The extreme commercialization of almost all of our information sources is problematic, especially in the age of the “Milton Friedman-ification” of the economic world and the skewing of values away from communities and individuals, towards a myopic view of shareholder value and all the attendant perverse incentives that accompany this philosophical business shift over the past 50 years. He notes that the original public-spiritedness of new communication technologies has historically been co-opted by corporate lobbyists via regulatory capture — a subject Tim Wu explores in-depth in his excellent 2011 book, “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.

Is it all bleak, Don?! His answer is clear: “yes, maybe, no.” He demurs on positing a definitive answer to all of these issues, but he doesn’t really mince words about a “hunch” that it may in fact involve burning it all down and starting over again.

Pointing to evolution, Norman notes that we cannot eke radical innovation out of incremental changes — and that when radical change does happen it is often imposed unexpectedly from the outside in the form of catastrophic events. Perhaps if we can’t manage to Marie Kondo our way to a more joyful internet, we’ll have to pray for Armageddon soon…?! 😱

The Trump Russia Scandal: 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… and beyond. The Russia scandal has continued to unspool throughout the Trump presidency, including the real estate magnate’s first impeachment over his extortion of Ukraine, and his second impeachment over the armed insurrection he incited following his failed re-election bid. It continues to this day.

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 the Russia scandal, the Trump family criminal organization, and Putin’s revanchist influence in American politics.

Bestiary

LabelNationalityTypeKnown for
AmericanCivil servantTop aide to Hillary Clinton
LatvianBankOne of the largest private banks in Latvia
RussianOligarchRussian steel magnate whose Evraz company was given the green light to supply steel to DAPL by the Trump administration
LobbyistA 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.
Russian
RussianOligarchEmin's father; a wealthy Russian-Azerbaijani oligarch who has received lucrative construction contracts from the Kremlin. Known as "Putin's Builder"
RussianOligarchPopular Russian-Azerbaijani singer and businessperson who may have facilitated a handoff of hacked information to Donald Trump Jr via surrogates
RussianRussian Mafia
UkranianOligarchUkranian steel magnate who brokered the relationship between Paul Manafort and defeated presidential candidate Victor Yanukovich
RussianForeign IntelligenceFormer Soviety spy who attending the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower between Don Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya
RussianOligarchCEO of Lukoil, Russia's second largest oil and gas company, that sought the services offered by Trump data firm Cambridge Analytica
RussianBankLargest 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.
AzerbaijaniWife of Emin Agalarov and daughter of the president of Ajerbaijan.
CompanyHead 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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceIRA-controlled Twitter account, an anti-immigration persona with 24,000 followers
AmericanMedia OutletHelped bury stories portraying Trump in a bad light before the election, via catch and kill methodology among others
ChineseCompany
Flight 93
AmericanCompanyThe House might come after messaging records for principals.
Oligarchco-founder of Bayrock and Kazakh-born Soviet official turned real estate tycoon
UkranianMember 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)
AustralianHackerEditor-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.
RussianOligarchRussian banker and consultant who bought Bank of Cyprus's Russian-based businesseses; a transaction overseen by Wilbur Ross
UkranianPoliticianFormer Prime Minister of Ukraine who was ousted in the Maidan revolution along with President Viktor Yanukovych.
CypriotBank
AmericanPrincipal actor
Suspected organized crime figure who accompanied Ivanka and Don Jr to Russia in 2007-2008
RussianOligarchHead of investor relations for Rosneft who met with Carter Page in Moscow after his 2016 speech.
RussianWorked at the Internet Research Agency
FrenchForeign IntelligenceCooperated 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.
CompanyEmployed Felix Sater for a number of shady real estate dealings involving Mr Trump. Founded by Tevfik Arif, a Russian oligarch.
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook group that bought ads in support of the Trump campaign, and had over 200,000 followers by the time it was finally deactivated in mid-2017
Civil servantTrump's pick to lead the DOJ's criminal division; once represented a Putin-tied Russian bank
RussianHackerHacker group
RussianJournalistWell-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.”
Russian26-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"
AmericanLawyerU.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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceIRA-controlled persona claiming to want to teach African-Americans self-defense to protect themselves when contacted by police, that hired an actual self-defense instructor in NY to offer classes sponsored by Black Fist
RussianForeign IntelligenceIRA-controlled account posing as grassroots activists
Americanhis company Colt Ventures provided data management services to the Trump campaign
AmericanCivil servantJohn Kerry's deputy secretary of state under Obama
RussianForeign IntelligenceWorked 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 gather intel.
PoliticianRussian deputy foreign minister
RussianForeign IntelligenceDirector of FSB circa 2015
Foreign IntelligenceWorked 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.
Civil servant
AmericanIntelligence CommunityActing CIA director under Obama; one of the 3 who brief Trump and Obama about the Russian attack on Election 2016
AmericanCompanyLLC begun by Maria Butina and Paul Erickson in South Dakota
AmericanLobbyistMajor 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.
AmericanActivistFounder 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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceOne 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.
AmericanPolitician(R-NC) and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the committees in Congress conducting Russia investigations
AmericanLobbyistHelped Trump write his first foreign policy speech
Russian
RussianForeign Intelligence"Personal assistant" to Alexander Torshin, she claims to have started several gun rights organizations in Russia
AmericanMedia OutletOriginally broke the story of the Steele dossier and published what of it they had.
RussianForeign IntelligenceOne 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.
BritishCompanyData analytics company that worked for the Trump campaign and has been indicted in the UK for data theft.
AmericanUnregistered Foreign AgentMember of Trump's campaign team, in charge of communications for New York. Left the campaign after voicing approval of the installation of Paul Manafort, replacing Corey Lewandowski as Trump's campaign manager.
AmericanCompanyCloud computing company that hosted the Trump Organization and may have information on the Alfa Bank link during the campaign
FrenchFrench right-wing group that hosted a Trump trip to Paris during the home stretch of the campaign
AmericanMedia PersonalityAlt-Right personality in the U.S. who lives in Orange County, CA
AmericanMedia PersonalityBowing out of politics after announcing a move to Fox and whining about the cost of living as a Senator
LawyerRussian prosecutor general
AmericanIntelligence CommunityDirector of National Intelligence under Obama; one of the 3 who brief Trump and Obama about the Russian attack on Election 2016
AmericanPolitician
AmericanPolitician
AmericanIntelligence CommunityDirector of National Intelligence who testified that there is no doubt Russia sees its 2016 efforts as having been successful.
AmericanLawyerTrump's personal lawyer. Convicted of various federal crimes including campaign finance violations; sentenced to 3 years in prison.
AmericanLawyerTrump's mentor and ruthless, vicious lawyer
AmericanPoliticianSenator 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.
AmericanIntelligence CommunityBeing fired by Donald Trump as the FBI Director
AmericanIntelligence Communitynew leader of the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe after the recusal of Devin Nunes
RussianCompanyCompany owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, known to be nicknamed "Putin's Chef" and inside the Russian president's inner circle.
AmericanCompanyprovided 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
AmericanPoliticianLeader of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the Congressional committees investigating the Russia scandal
AmericanLawyerHusband of Kellyanne Conway, a lawyer who has represented a corporation accused of bribing Russian officials
AmericanOligarch
AmericanPoliticianCriticized 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."
LobbyistManaging director of ACU Strategic Partners, a firm Mike Flynn was consulting for regarding building nuclear power plants in the Middle East.
AmericanMedia PersonalityIntermediary between Roger Stone and Wikileaks, an arm of the Russian intelligence apparatus
AmericanNew York Republican Party Chairman and son-in-law of Richard Nixon who recommends Carter Page to the Trump campaign
Roger Stone's publicly identified intermediary between himself and Julian Assange of Wikileaks. When subpoena'd by Congress, he pled the Fifth.
RussianCompanyReal estate developmenr firm owned by the Agalarovs, that secured the Moscow location for Trump's 2013 Miss Universe pageant
AmericanCompanyOne of the US private security contractors who implicated the Russians in the hack of the DNC servers.
AmericanMedia PersonalityThe reigning Miss Universe at the time of the 2013 Moscow pageant (and former Miss USA, and noted Trump favorite)
AmericanPoliticianranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, one of the first to request an investigation into Michael Flynn
AmericanIntelligence CommunityWhite House director of cybersecurity
American
AmericanCompanyPolitical consulting company created by Paul Manafort in 2005.
RussianForeign IntelligenceA cutout of the GRU, this account directly released and coordinated with Wikileaks to release more widely the stolen emails from Clinton, the DNC, and the DCCC
American
AmericanLobbyistGOP strategy firm hired by Facebook to besmirch its rivals and tar them with accusations of being tied to George Soros
OligarchEx-wife of Rupert Murdoch, friend of Ivanka Trump, and friend of Russian oligarhcs + Putin (rumored to be Putins' girlfriend)
American
AmericanGovernment agency
RussianOligarchRussian billionaire and Kremlin insider barred from the US due to organized crime links [contact w/Paul Manafort]
GermanBankBoth 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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceChief 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.
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.
FSB handler of Russian DNC hacker
UkranianTerritoryArea of Ukraine where a counter-revolution emerged after students ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and overthrew the government.
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook group with more than 250,000 followers by the time it was deactivated in mid-2017
AmericanTech tycoonCo-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square
Top Australian diplomat in Britain, who had drinks with George Papadopolous in London the night he blabbed about the Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton.
RussianForeign IntelligenceHacker group
RussianRussia's most well-known neo-fascist ideologue, & Kremlin confidant
RussianFounder 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
AmericanCivil servantObama White House press secretary in 2016
OligarchMMA star, former Trump business partner, and friend of Putin
CompanyOne of Oleg Deripaska's companies whose sanctions were lifted by the Trump administration.
RussianForeign IntelligenceHacker group connected to the Kremlin
American Unregistered Foreign AgentAttempted to set up a backchannel between the NRA and the Russian government during the Trump campaign.
Foreign Intelligenceex-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
LobbyistNGO entity created by Manafort and Gates in Belgium in 2012 to serve as an "arm's length" front for their work with Yanukovich.
RussianCompanyOne of Oleg Deripaska's companies whose sanctions were lifted by the Trump administration.
AmericanCompany
RussianPrincipal actorFictional 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?!?!
RussianForeign IntelligenceHacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 US presidential election; also hacked MAcros campaign emails in France.
BritishPoliticianFormer UKIP leader now under investigation for ties to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange
AmericanIntelligence CommunityInvestigation of domestic terror units and criminal cells, as well as foreign criminal groups within the U.S.
RussianRussian Parliament
AmericanPoliticianOverseeing the process generally of national and state elections
AmericanPoliticianUS Senator from California who published Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS's transcript of testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
AmericanCompanySecurity firm
UkranianOligarchUkranian oligarch and nagural gas magnate who got sweetheart deals within Putin's inner circle
AmericanCivil servantJohn Kerry's chief of staff
IcelandicCompanyIcelandic hedge fund with ties to Putin, that invested in Trump Soho via FBI informant and convicted felon Sal Lauria
AmericanIntelligence CommunityAs 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
AmericanCompany
CompanyHosted the meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund
AmericanMedia Outlet
AmericanMedia Outletsee: Washington Free Beacon
RussianOligarchinvested $200m in Uber (?)
AmericanCompanyErik Prince's company, who has ignored document requests from Congress relating to the meeting in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev
RussianForeign Intelligencethe Russian Federal Security Service
AmericanPolitical research firm hired first by conservative billionaire, later by the Clinton campaign, that ultimately led to the Steele dossier.
RussianPrincipal actorWorked at the Internet Research Agency before being employed at Facebook
Intelligence Community
AmericanIntelligence Community
AmericanLobbyistPaul 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.
RussianMedia Outlet
RussianCompanyRussia's energy monopolgy and largest gas company
American
GeorgianNation-stateFormer Soviet state
RussianMilitaryRussian General who wrote seminal asymmetric warfare doc
JournalistJournalist and author who has lived extensively in Russia and studied the rise of Putin
RussianActivistLeader of the Ukranian pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, he is alleged to have been connected to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
AmericanPoliticianPublicly "predicted" the Comey "re-opening" of Clinton's emails when the Anthony Weiner laptop was found
RussianRussian MafiaFormer Boris Berezovsky associate turned up murdered in the UK, 8 days after the poisoning and attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in London.
Russian MafiaPublicist of Russian-Azerbaijani singer Emin Agalarov who set up the June 9 meeting between Don Jr, Kushner, Manafort, and the Russians
AmericanCompanyOnline 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.
RussianPoliticianGlasnost
HungarianMedia PersonalityFormer 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.
AmericanA watchdog organization for financial and other high-profile crimes within the U.S.
AmericanPolitician(R-SC) Chair of the House Oversight Committee
AmericanPolitician(R-IA)
RussianIntelligence CommunitySoviety military intelligence services
AmericanGovernment agencyHas been asserted by TFA that documents were "unlawfully" given to the Special Counsel's Office by this agency, including parts susceptible to privilege.
RussianHackerA cutout of the GRU, this account directly released and coordinated with Wikileaks to release more widely the stolen emails from Clinton, the DNC, and the DCCC
AmericanCivil servantHillary for America IT chief
AmericanIntelligence CommunityTestified before the House Intelligence Committee on the probable ability of the Russians to hack an election
AmericanMedia PersonalityMade claims on his show that the Steele dossier launched the Russia probe, which isn't accurate.
EuropeanPoliticianInformal name given to the set of former European politicians whom Paul Manafort and Rick Gates paid to espouse pro-Yanukovich talking points.
AmericanLawyerRepresenting Trump in the Stormy Daniels case; also represented Terry Bolea in the Gawker trial
AmericanPoliticianMember of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the Congressional committees investigating the Russia scandal
The 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.
AmericanPrincipal actorYet 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.
American
AmericanCivil servantUS Ambassador to Russia
AmericanLawyerPaul Erickson's lawyer
Tied to VizSense Inc. and White Canvas Group, 2 firms that did business with Michael Flynn
RussianChristian fascist philosopher who inspired much of Vladimir Putin's political philosophy
AmericanCompanyPlatform used by the Russian disinformation campaign that House Democrats want to subpoena
AmericanCompanyPlatform used by the Russian disinformation campaign that House Democrats want to subpoena the transition team for records of
RussianPrincipal actorWell-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.
RussianForeign Intelligence
Media OutletThe main Bolshevik newspaper in the early 20th century
AmericanPolitician
RussianOne of Putin's closest allies, he's the head of anti-narcotics in Russia; has spoken out against marijuana legalization in the US (!)
RussianForeign IntelligenceIRA-controlled Twitter account claiming to be a Virginian Trump supporter with 70,000 followers
RussianPoliticianChechnya'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.
Russian, AmericanForeign IntelligenceFormer KGB agent who became a U.S. citizen and grew critical of Putin's regime.
RussianOligarchSole shareholder of Prevezon, implicated in the $230m theft of Russian taxpayer dollars
RussianRussian Mafia8th 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.
AmericanLawyerMike Flynn's lawyer
AmericanPoliticianGeorgia secretary of state who bristled at the idea of DHS's warning about the election integrity and attempts to hack voter registration
AmericanPoliticianSecretary of State under Obama from 2013 to 2018
AmericanCompanyWestern PR firm that helps place pro-Russian op-eds in Western media (like Putin's in NYTimes on 9/11/13)
RussianIntelligence CommunityThe Soviet secret service, renowned for ruthlessness and duplicity
RussianDaughter of a Russian oligarch, married to Alex van der Zwaan -- the first to go to prison in the Mueller investigation.
RussianOligarchRussian 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.
RussianOligarchEx-oil tycoon unexpectedly freed by Putin ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics
RussianPrincipal actorFAN's chief accountant and an indictee under Mueller's Russian investigation
RussianForeign IntelligencePaul Manafort's business associate in the Ukraine
RussianForeign IntelligenceRussian Ambassador who spoke with Mike Flynn [tracker] about lifting sanctions in undisclosed series of meetings
CompanyCompany formed by Peter Smith to facilitate and manage his question to find Hillary's missing emails.
RussianOligarchYoung Russian billionaire who claims to have been instrumental in getting Trump elected.
RussianForeign Intelligence
Cambridge Analytica researcher who oversaw the harvesting of 50 million Facebook user accounts' info who also moonlighted as a lecturer at St. Petersburg University
RussianMedia OutletLong-respected business newspaper purchased by pro-Kremlin oligarch Alisher Usmanov
RussianLeninist Youth League organization for Communists aged 14 to 28 in the late 80s & early 90s
Russian
RussianCEO of VTB, one of the largest Russian banks (and under US sanctions)
HungarianOne of the leaders of Jobbik, Hungary's pro-Putin rightist party, who is accused of being a Russian spy.
RussianForeign IntelligenceOne 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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceSenior Putin aide who attended the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in lieu of Putin.
RussianForeign IntelligenceThe Dutch intelligence community alerted the DNC way back in 2015 that they had been hacked back in 2014.
RussianPrincipal actor
Former Bayrock partner who filed a lawsuit in January, 2017 alleging tax evasion of as much as $250 million in income + Russian money laundering
RussianForeign IntelligenceServed as Director and 3rd highest employee within the Internet Research Agency, from at least September 2013. She was one of two employees of the IRA who obtained visas and entered the United States on June 4, 2014.
RussianForeign IntelligenceRussian diplomat recalled to Russia, fearing his cover would be blown re: heavy involvement in the 2016 election, including the veterans' pensions ruse
AmericanOligarchFather 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
AmericanPrincipal actorThe evil son-in-law so evil he owned a billion dollar building at 666 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan
AmericanCompany
AmericanIntelligence CommunityFormer chief of the DOJ's Counterintelligence & Export Control Section
Russian MafiaFBI 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
PoliticianRussian Foreign Minister
FrenchPoliticianhead of the French far-Right party
RussianHackerRussian hacker who ran the sprawling Kelihos botnet, a massive spam and scam network; indicted by a US grand jury on 4/21/17
Russian
RussianOligarchRussian "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
RussianFormer 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”.
RussianOligarchRussian Canadian CEO of developer Talon (Trump Toronto); had no previous experience in real estate or construction
AmericanLobbyistDonald Trump's first campaign manager; succeeded by Paul Manafort.
Alleged mobster and associate of John Gotti, who is on video with Trump in the 80s at a WrestleMania event
RussianOligarchRussian steel mogul who made $830m in 3 days after the election
RussianForeign Intelligenceformer Russian FSB agent who informed on Putin's connections to the Russian mafia and was assassinated by polonium-210 poisoning in 2006
Russian
Ties to the Romneys?!
RussianForeign IntelligenceOne 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.
RussianCompanyRussia's second largest oil company after Rosneft, they contracted with Trump data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica
AmericanCivil servantUS Attorney General under Barack Obama
AmericanJournalistHost 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.
Lawyerlawyer 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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceDivision of the GRU that carried out the second half of the Russian attack on our democracy -- cyber intrusions and hacking of stolen materials from the Clinton campaign, disseminated by WikiLeaks
AmericanPrincipal actor
AmericanIntelligence CommunityHead 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.
RussianForeign IntelligenceIRA-controlled accouunt created in May 2016 to promote IRA-organized rallies in support of the Trump Campaign
AmericanPolitician
AmericanIntelligence CommunityDeputy Nartional Security Advisor under Mike Flynn. Asked to step down by HR McMaster.
AmericanLawyerWhite House counsel from XXXX-XXXX
AmericanPolitician
AmericanCompanySocial media and blogging community frequented by the Russians during their efforts at sowing propaganda and discord during the American 2016 Presidential election.
RussianPoliticianRussian Prime Minister
AmericanOligarch
AmericanPrincipal actorShadowy billionaire Trump backer and donor who also backs Breitbart, Cambridge Analytica, and John Bolton.
Holds Trump debt
BritishForeign IntelligenceBritish intelligence agency; the rough equivalent of the American CIA.
Director of the London Academy of Diplomacy who meets with George Papadopoulos in Italy.
Oligarchpart owner of Novatek who made $1.9b from the stock pop post-Trump
RussianForeign IntelligenceGRU cyberunit dedicated to targeting military, politival, governmental, and non-governmental organizations outside of Russia, including the U.S. Separate from this investigation, Unit 26165 was charged by a grad jury for hacking the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the World Doping Agency, and other international sport associations.
RussianForeign IntelligenceA GRU unit engaged in cyber operations, including assisting in the release of the documents stolen by Unit 26165, the promotion of those releases, and the publication of anti-Clinton content on social media accounts operated by the GRU. This unit also hacked computers belonging to the stater boards of elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies supplying software and other technology related to elections.
AmericanPrincipal actorAggressively anti-immigrant advisor to Trump, co-writing many of his most vitriolic speeches
BelarusianRussian MafiaTrump associate, head of the Russian-American chamber of commerce, and one of the sources of the Steele dossier
RussianPrincipal actorFormer worker at the Russian troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, who told the Western press what it was like inside the farm.
RussianRussian MafiaNotorious mobster
EmiratiThe crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
LawyerWorld's fourth largest offshore law firm, whose files were published as the Panama Papers in a German newspaper
AmericanCivil servantSpecial Counsel at the DOJ, investigating RussiaGate
Ministry of Internal Affairs; supervises all police, prisons, and "public order militias"
AmericanLobbyistLebanese-American businessman who lobbies for the UAE, and was at the meeting in the Seychelles with Erik Prince and the Russians
RussianActivistPutin critic and activist blogger; has been arrested, charged, & sentenced several times (but recognized as a political prisoner by NGOs)
RussianPoliticianPutin critic and opposition politician who was shot dead in Moscow in 2015 by a member of the Chechen security forces
RussianCompanyRestaurant of Yevgeny Prigozhin that became a favorite of Putin's, netting Mr Prigozhin lucrative contracts for shady operations as "Putin's Chef"
Russian
BritishPrincipal actorCEO of Trump data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica
RussianForeign Intelligencea forerunner to the KGB under Stalin
AmericanLobbyistHosted a number of conduits between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals, particularly Russian billionaires and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin.
AmericanIntelligence Community
AmericanCivil servantFormer Trump aide who made a series of bizarre statements on cable TV before testifying to Robert Mueller's team
AmericanPolitician
AmericanMedia OutletWebsite owned by Jarek Kushner as part of Observer Media
AmericanMedia OutletMedia company owned by Jared Kushner.
AmericanMedia PersonalityAmerican TV host
UkrainianSuccessor ruling party in Ukraine after Victor Yanukovich fled to Moscow and his Party of Regions toppled.
HungarianPoliticianPresident of Hungary, noted for his pro-Putin and anti-refugee beliefs
BritishCompanySteele's research firm
dead — Bryan Cohen's father-in-law (brother of Trump's personal lawyer
RussianMedia OutletRussia's TV network
Holds Trump debt
AmericanPrincipal actor
RussianForeign IntelligenceIRA-controlled Twitter account claiming to be a Texan Trump supporter with 70,000 followers
AmericanPrincipal actorMember of the Trump campaign who has pled guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation and flipped to become a cooperating witness. Will serve jail time.
AmericanPrincipal actorHead of the Trump campaign's digital operation
UkranianUkranian political party run by Victor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin dictator ushered into power by Paul Manafort.
American
AmericanPrincipal actorHelped American Media bury stories unfavorable to Trump leading up to the election -- a campaign contribution violation, not to mention a moral violation
AmericanPrincipal actorVice President of the United States
RussianPrincipal actorPutin'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.
Fox News counterterrorism analyst & one of Trump's 5 initial national security advisors
AmericanCivil servantHis stolen emails were one of several tronches of stolen documents released by Wikileaks at strategic moments during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
RussianForeign IntelligenceRussian agent who received intelligence information from American energy consultant Carter Page beginning in January 2013
RussianWorked 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.
AmericanCivil servantCIA Director who went from praising to condemning Wikileaks
UkranianPoliticianUkranian president
CypriotCompanya 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.
AmericanCivil servant
RussianForeign Intelligence"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.
AmericanOligarchSec. 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.
AmericanMedia Outlet
RussianActivist
RussianPrincipal actor
AmericanPoliticianMember of the House Intelligence Committee, one of the Congressional committees investigating the Russia scandal
AmericanCompanyWas 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
RussianCompanyOne 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
RussianMoscow-based entity begun by Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin -- odd, in a country with no gun rights at all.
AmericanCompanyHosted Donald Trump during his 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant
Russianextreme 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
AmericanLobbyistHired by Alfa Bank: a former REagan administration official
AmericanIntelligence CommunityAdmiral and Director of the National Security Agency under Obama; one of the 3 who briefed Trump and Obama about the Russian attack on Election 2016
AmericanPoliticianRepresentative (R-CA 48th District) since 2013; dubbed "Putin's favorite Congressman"
RussianPutin ally implicated in the Panama Papers
RussianCompanyRussia's state oil company
RussianMedia OutletRussia's official government newspaper
AmericanPoliticianUS Secretary of Commerce and single largest shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus, the famous haven for Russian oligarchs to stash their billions
Russian
CEO 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
RussianMedia OutletRussian state-owned news service
RussianMedia OutletThe Kremlin's new video news agency
RussianCompanyOne of Oleg Deripaska's companies whose sanctions have been lifted by Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
RussianRussia's sovereign wealth fund
Russianpart of the far-right coalition within Russia seeking to build an international consensus, this group advocates "Christian Orthodox imperial nationalism"
RussianPoliticianRussian Deputy Foreign Minister
AmericanPoliticianSpeaker of the House (R-WI) and a Trump defender and denialist
RussianOligarchthe “Fertilizer King” — fertilizer billionaire who purchased Trump's Palm Beach mansion for $95 million, but never moved in
AmericanOligarch
AmericanCivil servant
RussianRussian MafiaRussian mobster and FBI informant who runs Bayrock, a money-laundering firm designed to hide dirty Russian money in Trump's taxes
Saudi ArabianNation-state
RussianBankRussia's largest bank
AmericanCivil servantTrump press secretary for all of 10 days
AmericanPrincipal actorManaged the Trump campaign's social media
AmericanPoliticianTop-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee overseeing that chamber's Russia investigation
AmericanTrump's longtime security chief and confidant
AmericanLawyerNew York State Attorney General who has a long history of legal cases with Trump
AmericanPolitician(D-NY) and Sen. Minority Leader
RussianOligarchPresident of Rosneft at the time Exxon violated Russian sanctions to help protect his property interest
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook group that bought ads in support of the Trump Campaign, and had over 130,000 followers at the time it was deactivated in mid-2017
AmericanLawyerTrump's personal lawyer
AmericanPrincipal actorTrump's first US Attorney General, before Bill Barr. He has recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his curious, multi-part memory loss of meetings with Russian agents.
UkranianOligarchUkrainian steel magnate & partner at Talon International who is managing Trump Toronto hotel as it goes into default
AmericanPresident of the Miss Universe Organization, who reported directly to Trump at the time of the 2013 Moscow pageant
RussianDirector of PArtnership Marketing for vKontakte, a Russian social media site, that had communications with the Trump campaign about setting up a profile.
Company
AmericanMedia OutletConservative broadcasting conglomerate gobbling up local TV stations and forcing them to air canned right-wing footage with each segment.
AmericanHead of research firm Fusion FPS who commissioned the Christopher Steele dossier.
AmericanOligarchBillionaire 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.
LawyerLaw firm retained by Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to "whitewash" Victor Yanukovich's imprisonment of his political rival, Yulia Tymochenko, in Ukraine.
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook account that organized a pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower in mid-2016
RussianFormer Russian official turned British spy who was attacked with his daughter Yulia with nerve gas in southern England, reputedly by agents of the Kremlin.
RussianSergei's daughter
AmericanCivil servantHead of the State Dept's intelligence bureau under Obama
AmericanAlleged to have solicited help on the dark web in finding Hillary's "missing" emails from the Russians
AmericanCompanyOne 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
AmericanIntelligence CommunityControversial 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.
PolishPolish workers' party confronting Communism in the late '80s
Russian
Nuclear non-proliferation expert who briefed Mike Flynn on the ACU's nuclear program and rejoiced that he would be named head of the NSA.
AmericanCivil servantTrump's press secretary
RussianMedia OutletRussian news wire proffering fake news
RussianPolitician
AmericanPrincipal actorEx-Facebook security chief
GermanForeign IntelligenceNickname for the Ministry of State Security in East Germany during the Cold War
BritishForeign IntelligenceFormer British MI6 intelligence agent who put together the Steele Dossier on Donald Trump's dealings with Russia
AmericanLobbyistLong-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
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook group
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook group that bought Facebook ads in support of Donald Trump
Media PersonalityWorks for Sputnik in Russia. Never responded to an official Congressional inquiry.
Russian
RussianMedia OutletRussia's largest blogging service via acquisition of LiveJournal from Six Apart
RussianPrincipal actorPutin's disinformation machine
RussianIntelligence CommunityRussian foreign intelligence service
AmericanPoliticianDemocrat on the House Intelligence Committee
Company
RussianRussian Mafiaorganized crime ring based in St. Petersburg w/ties to Putin; led by Gennadiy Petrov and Aleksandr Malyshev
LobbyistGOP strategy firm hired by Facebook
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Twitter account posing as the Tennessee GOP Party.
AmericanTrump for America, Inc., the business entity formed to handle the Trump transition
AmericanPrincipal actorU.S. Secretary of State and former CEO of Exxon
Oligarch23% owner of natural gas company Novatek, who made $1.8b from surges in pro-Russian market following Trump's election
RussianProgram 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.
RussianRussian MafiaNicknamed "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.
RussianPrincipal actorRussian central banker, Putin confidant, NRA whisperer, handler of Maria Butina
RussianRussian MafiaRan a Russian-American gambling crime ring out of Trump Tower. Serving 5 years for racketeering.
RussianForeign IntelligenceDepartment within the IRA dedicated to U.S. operations
AmericanPrincipal actor
AmericanPrincipal actor
American
AmericanPrincipal actor
AmericanOligarchDonald Trump's father, who built the family real estate fortune and handed it off to his son to ruin it
AmericanPrincipal actorDaddy's little girl
AmericanPrincipal actor
AmericanPrincipal actor
AmericanPrincipal actor
Russian
AmericanCompanyWas 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
UkranianCompanyUkranian 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.
TurkishNation-state
RussianMedia OutletIndependent Russian broadcaster
AmericanCompany
UkranianPoliticianRan against Victor Yanukovich in the 2010 Presidentials elections, and was jailed by him under spurious charges following his Paul Manafort-aided win.
Holds Trump debt
RussianForeign IntelligenceAn IRA-controlled Facebook account that had over 300,000 followers at the time it was finally deactivated in mid-2017
RussianPolitical Party of Russian PResident Vladimir Putin
RussianOligarchPutin-connected oligarch with connections to secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross [tracker]
RussianRussian 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.
AmericanCompanyProvided social media services to the Trump campaign and Michael Flynn
RussianRussian social network; equivalent analog to Facebook
RussianBankRussian state-owned development bank, under investigation for Russian election interference
Company$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
BankExecutive 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
RussianBankRussia's largest commercial bank; under US and EU sanctions for money laundering
AmericanPolitician(D-VA) — top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee
Media Outlet
AmericanMedia Outletvenerable local paper purchased by Jeff Bezos in 2013
American
American
AmericanPolitician
AmericanPrincipal actor
The House HPSCI committee wants to subpoena them for communication records relating to principals in the Trump campaign
AmericanIntelligence Community
AmericanLobbyistUndertook Turkey-related work for Michael Flynn
AmericanCivil servantSupposed to be a civil servant but often a lobbyist, The White House includes the President and high-level senior staff
Hacker
Globalumbrella term for Russia's movement to unite an international extreme far-right coalition
Americancandidate for the next FBI Director, to replace James Comey
AmericanWhistleblower from Trump data team Cambridge Analytica who revealed the existence of a formerly secret client: Lukoil, Russia's #2 oil and gas company
UkranianPoliticianUkraine'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.
AmericanDeputy 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.
American
RussianPoliticianFirst 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.
AmericanCompanyFavored propaganda platform for Russian agents used in the cyberattacks against the 2016 election
Russian
"Young Army" — created in 2015 by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to "encourage patriotism among schoolchildren"
AmericanOligarchCEO of Facebook, whose platform was used by the Russians in their influence campaign against the 2016 U.S. elections
DutchDutch 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.

The internet is a rage machine

Anger is the defining emotion of the internet.

It’s designed to whip you up into a frenzy in order to foment cheap pageviews. Its interest is in you becoming a histrionic attention whore, such that you suck in as much clandestinely stolen user data to your platform of choice as possible. Turns out, conflict gets attention.

Anger is also notably the “loophole” emotion — it’s the invisible one men get to have, while claiming for generations upon generations that “women are too emotional to be entrusted” with leadership or anything meaningful, really. Meanwhile male anger and aggression have killed hundreds of millions and wreaked destruction upon the earth many times over, as fragile masculinity is repeatably and predictably triggered over any little old thing.

A neat trick.

A story.

A lie.

HOWTO: 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: bots on Twitter had taken over.

Whatever your thoughts on the #RussiaGate corruption scandal 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.

Bots on Twitter have “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 of bots on Twitter: 


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

– Bots on Twitter have a 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

Activists: How (and why) to avoid issue policing (especially on Twitter)

It’s heartening to see many new faces and hear many new voices who may in the past have not explicitly considered themselves “activists,” or who have felt a greater call to stand up against a political administration whose ideologies show every indication of running counter to a constitutional democratic framework. 

If that describes you: THANK YOU! You are awesome. And if you’re an Old Hat at this sort of thing, this post is for you too — by way of initiating a civil dialogue with some of the fresh faces you see in your timeline or in your local community who may be exhibiting the following behavior:

Making claims that issue X, Y, or Z is “not important” or “not as important” as issue A, B, or C — which is what we should really be discussing right now.

Here’s why this behavior tends to do more harm than good:

Continue reading “Activists: How (and why) to avoid issue policing (especially on Twitter)”