Category Archives: Election 2016

How Many Dots Does it Take to Make a Smoking Gun? Trump Campaign Collusion with Russia Should Nullify 2016 Election

 


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet at a presidential election debate in 2016: Clinton calls Trump, “Putin’s Puppet.” Now she has suggested that the Trump campaign helped “weaponize” Russian hackers, contributing to her defeat © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

How many dots does it take to make a smoking gun?

By now it is irrefutable that Russia meddled, interfered and likely tilted the 2016 Presidential Election enough to cheat Hillary Clinton out of the presidency and hand it to Donald Trump. That should be enough to nullify the election, but, like the Republicans’ refusal to follow up on blatant impeachable offenses – conflicts of interest, self-dealing, violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, obstruction of justice (firing FBI Director James Comey in order to interrupt the Russia investigation, witness tampering by threatening to expose tapes, prodding other heads of intelligence agencies to end the Russia investigation or come out with some favorable statements; firing US Attorney Preet Bharara, who apparently was getting too close in his investigations into Trump financial dealings) – they are more interested in controlling every branch of government in order to have unimpeded path to fulfill their agenda, than they are in insuring the sanctity of the election process and our democracy.

But as the revelation by the NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner, the 25-year-old Air Force veteran charged with mailing classified information to a news organization, showed, the Russian engagement with the election process was a lot greater than the government has revealed. In fact, Russian actors tampered with the election databases in 39 states. We are being led to believe that they did not alter votes or tabulations, but how do we really know that to be true, especially with the ease and vulnerability of “black-box voting”?

Now Trump is blaming Obama (what else is new?) for “allowing” the Russians to hack into election databases and “doing nothing” (not true) and after months of denying Russian interference altogether, now accuses Obama of “collusing” and “obstructing”. Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others have said that Russian attempts to meddle in elections is nothing new, but what was achieved in the 2016 election was way more intensive and more effective than ever before. What if they only tossed people off the rolls – in Wisconsin, where Trump “won” by about 23,000 votes, there were 200,000 votes suppressed.

And as Hillary Clinton (who has been proved right in all her claims) said, the Russians needed help – an enabler – to “weaponize” their hacking and their interference. They needed to know just which electoral districts they could penetrate in order to move an imperceptible number of votes for Trump to win. That’s why despite winning the national popular vote by 3 million, it took only a difference of a mere 70,000 votes across three states to give Trump the Electoral College.

So here’s my theory on the case: The Russians were hacking and having a fake news campaign designed to destabilize the election and engender mistrust in the democratic election process, and weaken Clinton’s presidency once she won. (Trump constantly claiming that the election would be “rigged” if he didn’t win, and inciting his followers to take 2nd Amendment remedies is what shut up the Obama Administration from going public and kept Democrats from screaming “foul” after the election). And Obama also feared that unleashing a counter cyber strategy, like shutting down their power grid, or some major sanctions, would cause Putin to cause more havoc in the election, since “black box voting” has so little security to begin with.

But at some point, either the Russians made Trump an offer he couldn’t refuse (because of what they had on him, financially and personally), or the Trump campaign actively partnered with the Russians to “weaponize” – that is pinpoint – where their cyber attacks, fake news and social media trolling could be most effective.

It is notable that while the Russians released hacked emails from the DNC in order to embarrass Clinton and discourage (suppress) voters, they also hacked into the RNC but did not release any of the information.

Russia could have used the threat of releasing the information to blackmail or extort support from the Trump campaign, in order to insure promises or force Trump campaign to more actively engage with the Russians. Evidence? The only change the Trump campaign demanded of the Republican platform was to soften its stance against Russia over the Ukraine and Crimea. In December, when Obama kicked out Russian diplomats from their two compounds (one in Glen Head) as punishment for the election meddling, Michael Flynn met with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, apparently to give assurances that the sanctions would be lifted once Trump was inaugurated, which is likely why Putin didn’t counter with sanctions against US diplomats, and more importantly, reverse the economic sanctions that crippled the Russian petro economy (and would have paved the way for Exxon-Mobil’s $500 billion deal with Rosneft).

But let’s look at the web of ties between Trump, his campaign and Russia that go back a decade or more to business connections, and begin with financial ties:

The Trump boys boasted that they didn’t need money from American banks (which had stopped lending because of the string of bankruptcies), but had all they needed from Russian oligarchs. There were efforts to launch real estate ventures in Russia through Bayrock Associates, a shady Russian-connected outfit, which had partnered with Trump on at least four major but failed American projects: the Fort Lauderdale Trump Tower, the Trump Ocean Club in Fort Lauderdale, the SoHo condominium-hotel in New York, and a resort in Phoenix. (Trump claimed he didn’t know Felix Sater, the Russian-born managing director at Bayrock, who was convicted of fraud for running a $40 million penny stock fraud in collaboration with the New York and Russian Mafia, even though Sater resurfaces as an “adviser” to Trump campaign to try to “fix” a deal with Russia, has a business card that identifies him as an adviser, has an office in Trump Tower a floor below Trump’s and there are photos of them together.)

People are only looking at Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign – but what if it began even earlier. Like when that Russian oligarch paid double what Trump had spent on a Palm Beach mansion just two years earlier, handing Trump a $45 million windfall which Trump could use to fund his campaign. A big appeal for Trump supporters was that he was supposedly self-funding his campaign (nonsense), so that he could appear “independent” of “special interests” and “The Establishment.” This may well have been a ploy to funnel foreign donations into a campaign, evading legal restrictions.

One of the only banks to continue to capitalize Trump businesses was Deutsche Bank, which has been fined $425 million over laundering $10 billion  for Russian oligarchs. Coincidence? Deutsche Bank also gave Jared Kushner’s business a $285 million loan just before the election, a loan which Kushner had to give a personal guarantee, but which Kushner failed to disclose on his financial and security forms (along with meetings with Russian Ambassador and the head of VEB, a state-run “bank” tied to Putin and Russian oligarchs, used purely to launder money whose CEO is an alum of Russia’s spy college; as well as Kushner’s talks with the Russian Ambassador over establishing a back-channel to Putin that would evade US surveillance.).

Jared Kushner was responsible for the Trump campaign data mining operation that pinpointed districts needing to be turned. And it was Robert Mercer, the billionaire who is Trump’s principal donor (and who chose many of his cabinet members and aides, including Michael Flynn), whose data operation, Cambridge Analytica, was used (Steve Bannon was VP) – that’s how the Russian hacking and fake-news operation may well have been “weaponized.” The purpose of the data-mining operation, as noted in Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s report, was to suppress voting by key pro-Clinton demographics: women, blacks and liberals. (See also: “Did Russians Target Democratic Voters, with Kushner’s Help?” Newsweek).

But I believe the key was Michael Flynn, who Trump was forced to remove as National Security Adviser, who had the contacts, knowledge, and motive as the former Director of Defense Intelligence Agency from which he was fired by Obama, plus had financial ties to Russia and Turkey which he failed to disclose or get authorization for, a criminal act, to marshal the Russian hacking campaign. That’s why Trump went to such lengths to try to get Comey to stop investigating Flynn.

More evidence of collusion? Paul Manafort, who Trump was forced to fire as his campaign manager, a decade ago had secretly worked for a Russian oligarch to advance the interests of Putin and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, according to The Associated Press, expertise and contacts he could have adapted to the Trump campaign. Roger Stone, whose dirty-tricks experience dates from the Nixon campaign and boasted of ties to Wikileaks, “predicted” when Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails would be released by Wikileaks; Nigel LeFarge, the British Brexit vote guy who became Trump’s ally, met with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in London pretty much just as Trump, on the campaign trail, was delighting in the latest Wikileaks anti-Clinton leak and cheerleading Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails.

More contacts between Trump campaign and Russia: Jeffrey Sessions, now Attorney General; Erik Prince (formerly Blackwater), a major campaign donor (his sister is Betsy DeVos, now Education Secretary), met secretly to set up back-channel with Russians on Trump’s behalf; Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is being investigated as whether he discussed Russia’s hacking of Democratic National Committee emails with a Russian official in Prague (he denies it).

Trump’s campaign, and now his cabinet, is chock full of Russian connections: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, was on the board of the Cyprus Bank used by Russian oligarchs to launder illegally gotten cash (did Trump also use that bank); and Jared Kushner, plus Carter Page (who was actively being recruited as a Russian agent), Steve Miller and likely others. (For a more complete list, see Politico).

The hold over Trump goes way beyond the puppy love he has for the murderous dictator. It suggests he is fearful of what Putin can do to him, what Putin has on him and/or his family. The influence was first apparent during the Republican Convention when the only modification the Trump campaign made was to loosen the platform item against Russia for Ukraine. The impact has already been clear in Trump actions:  bringing Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov into the Oval office, where he boasted about firing Comey and unmasked an Israeli spy; weakening NATO, pulling out of the Paris Climate Change agreement, isolating the US and ending US global leadership.. And of course, Trump has been dying to end sanctions and give back the Russian compounds.

It is also telling that while Trump is obsessed over the Russian investigation, he has done nothing at all to secure elections from cyber attacks by Russia or any other foreign government (except to blame Obama for everything and accuse Obama of “collusing” and “obstructing”).

Finally,Trump doth protest too much about the Russian investigation, and worked way too hard to protect Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor who Trump was forced to fire, who had the intelligence background (he was fired by Obama as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency) to make contacts with the Russian hackers. Why go overboard to protect Flynn? Likely because Flynn is the key to collusion with Russia, along with Paul Manafort who he was also forced to fire as campaign manager.

If there were no “there” there, Trump would want a thorough and speedy conclusion, rather than first firing US Attorney Preet Bharara, who apparently was getting too close in his investigations into Trump financial dealings; and then Comey.

The final evidence of collusion during the election and corruption now is that Trump and Sessions have done absolutely nothing to secure our elections from interference, while doing everything possible to appease Putin’s interests and obstruct the investigation.

Trumpers/Republicans keep moving the goal posts to what would have been prosecuted as obstruction of justice and collusion with adversarial foreign power to steal the election. Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner – bless her – shows that the government already has information that shows more aggressive interference with voting than the massive hacking and disinformation campaign designed to suppress turnout among those who might have otherwise voted for Clinton. It suggests that Russian agents may have gone so far as tampered with voting lists (perhaps contributing to the 200,000 fewer voters in Wisconsin, where Trump won by about 25,000) and even vote tabulations. The government may have more information about that that it is withholding from Congress and the American people, or has yet to pursue the investigation to its conclusion where it might demonstrate that to be true. It is very telling that Trump only won the battleground states that up until election day were polling in Clinton’s favor, by less than 1% – small shifts and tilts by Russian operatives, working in collusion with the Trump campaign (as Clinton noted, the Russians needed help to most effectively “weaponize” their campaign, to know which districts to focus on) indeed could have swung enough votes to secure the Electoral College.

So far, Trump keeps insisting there is no evidence of actively colluding to steal the election. But we don’t actually know if that is true, especially since the investigation is just unfolding despite everything being done to obstruct, slow and end the investigation, thanks to a free press (so far), we are learning more each day. If it is found that the Trump campaign in fact had ties to Russia, it would not be sufficient remedy to impeach Trump and leave Pence and Trump’s cabinet in place.  There would be cause to nullify the election altogether, remove his entire administration (who are “fruit of a poison tree), and install Clinton who actually won.

Never happened before? Nothing like Trump and the Russian election tampering ever happened before either.

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Trump Insists ‘There was No Collusion’ Between Campaign & Russia

Donald Trump insists any suggestion of collusion between his campaign and Russia is “ridiculous” and he did not obstruct justice in firing FBI Director James Comey © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump, during a joint press conference with President Santos of Colombia, May 18, in answer to a question, “Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape, or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?     And also as you look back –“ dismissed it saying, “No.  No.  Next question.” 

Here’s more:

Q    Next question.  As you look back over the past six months or year, have you had any recollection where you’ve wondered if anything you have done has been something that might be worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or impeachment, as some on the left are implying?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think it’s totally ridiculousEverybody thinks so.  And again, we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have.  We have plenty of problems.  We’ve done a fantastic job.  We have a tremendous group of people.  Millions and millions of people out there that are looking at what you had just said, and said, “What are they doing?”

Director Comey was very unpopular with most people.  I actually thought when I made that decision — and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein.  But when I made that decision, I actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision, because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side — not only the Republican side — they were saying such terrible things about Director Comey.

Then he had the very poor performance on Wednesday.  That was a poor, poor performance.  So poor, in fact, that I believe — and you’d have to ask him, because I don’t like to speak for other people — but I believe that’s why the Deputy Attorney General went out and wrote his very, very strong letter.

And then, on top of that, after the Wednesday performance by Director Comey, you had a person come and have to readjust the record, which many people have never seen before, because there were misstatements made.  And I thought that was something that was terrible.

We need a great director of the FBI.  I cherish the FBI.  It’s special.  All over the world, no matter where you go, the FBI is special.  The FBI has not had that special reputation with what happened in the campaign, what happened with respect to the Clinton campaign, and even you could say — directly or indirectly — with respect to the much more successful Trump campaign. 

We’re going to have a director who is going to be outstanding.  I’ll be announcing that director very soon, and I look forward to doing it.  I think the people in the FBI will be very, very thrilled.

And just in concluding, we look forward to getting this whole situation behind us so that when we go for the jobs, we go for the strong military, when we go for all of the things that we’ve been pushing so hard and so successfully, including healthcare — because Obamacare is collapsing.  It’s dead; it’s gone.  There’s nothing to compare anything to because we don’t have healthcare in this country.  You just look at what’s happening.  Aetna just pulled out.  Other insurance companies are pulling out.  We don’t have healthcare.  Obamacare is a fallacy.  It’s gone.  We need healthcare. 

We need to cut taxes.  We’re going to cut taxes.  Forget what I want; it will be the biggest tax cut in the history of our nation.  And that’s what I want.  It’s going to bring back companies.  It’s going to bring back jobs.  We lost so many jobs and so many companies to countries that are not so far from you, Mr. President — they’re very close to you, actually — and to many other places throughout the world.  We’re going to change that.  We’re going to have expansion.

We already do.  You look at what’s happening with Ford and with General Motors in Michigan and Ohio.  You look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced in so many different fields.  That’s what I’m proud of, and that’s what we want to focus our energy on.

The other is something I can only tell you:  There was no collusion.  And everybody — even my enemies have said, there is no collusion.

So we want to get back and keep on the track that we’re on.  Because the track that we’re on is record-setting, and that’s what we want to do, is we want to break very positive records.

Q    Mr. President, I’d like to get your reaction to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Russian interference in the campaign.  Was this the right move, or is this part of a “witch hunt”?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt.  And there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians, zero. 

I think it divides the country.  I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things.  So I can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together, Jon.  And I will also say very strongly, we’ve had tremendous success.  You look at our job numbers, you look at what’s going on at the border, as we discussed before; if you look at what will be happening — you’re going to see some incredible numbers with respect to the success of General Mattis and others with the ISIS situation.  The numbers are staggering, how successful they’ve been, the military has been.

Tomorrow, as you know, I’m going to Saudi Arabia, going to Israel.  I’m going to Rome.  And we have the G7.  We have a lot of great things going on. 

So I hate to see anything that divides.  I’m fine with whatever people want to do, but we have to get back to running this country really, really well.  We’ve made tremendous progress in the last 100-some-odd days.  Tremendous progress.  And you see job numbers, you see all of the production that’s starting.  Plants starting to open again.  Haven’t been open in years.  I’m very proud of it.  That’s what I want to be focused on.  Because, believe me, there’s no collusion.  Russia is fine.  But whether it’s Russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the United States of America.

So, thank you very much.

Hillary Clinton at Women in the World Summit: ‘Women’s issues are national security issues’

Hillary Clinton with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof,  in her first interview since the 2016 Election, at Tina Brown’s Women in the World Summit, New York City, April 6, 2017.

Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, US Senator and the first woman to run for President on a major party ticket, in her first sit down interview since the bruising election, nonetheless encouraged others to pursue political office, but warned to be prepared for the personal attacks, bullying. “Take criticism seriously but not personally.” She said that the Comey letter, the Russian hacking and disinformation campaign were factors in her defeat, but so was there an element of misogynism. As always, she spoke out intelligently and substantively, saying that the US should take action against Assad in Syria for the war crime of gassing civilians (later that night, Trump launched a bombing raid on the Syrian airfield where the gas attacks were launched from).

She also spoke out against the actions this administration, now in full control of right-wing Republicans, has already taken against women. “The targeting of women is absolutely beyond any political agenda’,” Clinton said. Referring to that photo of white men sitting around a table with Trump talking about removing maternity care from mandated health coverage and defunding Planned Parenthood, she said incredulously, “maybe you were dropped by immaculate conception?” And on the Trump administration’s punitive global gag order that goes beyond anything that Reagan or Bush did to defund international agencies by losing all funding if an agency helps a woman who will die if she bares another child.

This is just not the right and moral position for the United States to take this is in our national security interest. The more we support women the more we support democracy, the more we backhand terrorism and fundamentalism that can creep into countries. So women’s issues are national security issues.”

Here are highlights from her interview with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, in which she discusses frankly the election, her loss, her future, Putin and Russia’s unprecedented interference in the US election, and Syria (See the full interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0iLIwfa2w) – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Hillary Clinton on Putin: He’s not exactly fond of STRONG women (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhTKcu6-Gos)

I’m hopeful that the Congress will pull together and realize that because of the success the Kremlin feels it’s had they’re not going to go away. So whatever party you are whatever business you run whatever concerns you have, if we don’t take action together to hold whoever was involved accountable they will be back time and time again. Look from my prospective, I know Putin. I’ve sat with him. This is somebody who plays the long game. He plays 3-dimensional chess, he’s always trying to figure out how to advantage himself, his oligarchy companions, and his country in that order. He is very much focused on He wants to destabilizing EU , NATO, the US, real democracies. People have asked me, why did he do that you? I don’t think it’s too complicated. I think he had his desire to destabilize us and others. He’s not exactly fond of strong women so you add that together and that’s pretty much where it leads. Although he did shake hands with me (laughs and applause) 

HRC on white men sitting around the table with Trump discussing removing maternity care from mandated health coverage, defunding Planned Parenthood: “The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths..” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9QbpXjr02Y)

The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths like why do we have to cover maternity care? Oh I don’t know, maybe you were dropped by immaculate conception? (laughs and applause)

Hillary Clinton, “In this election there was a very real struggle…” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWXm-iXQDyE)

Well I’m currently writing a book (APPLAUSE) where I spend a lot of time wrestling with this. As you might guess I’ve thought about it more than once. I don’t know that there is one answer. Let’s be clear in any campaign there’s many different crosscurrents and events and some have greater impact than others. But it is fair to say that certainly misogyny played a role and certainly that has to be admitted. Why and what the reasons were I’m trying to parse out myself.

I would just say this: there is a constant struggle, and not just women, women & men, in a time of rapid change like the one we are living through between something that is different, that may hold out even possible positive consequences and something that is familiar and something that is really first and foremost about security of what you have right now.

I think in this election there was a very real struggle between what is viewed as change that is welcomed and exciting to so many Americans and change which is worrisome and threatening to so many others. Layer on the first woman president over that and I think some people, women included, had real problems. It’s fair to say that President Obama, my husband, they also really struggled for white votes as many as they could get. So we have to do a better job in speaking to and with people who are on the downside of the change equation and wondering what do we have to offer and why should they vote for us as opposed to well I don’t agree with him, not sure I really approve of him but he looks like somebody that has been a president before so why do I want to add more change or more potential anxiety to my life. We’re just going to go and hope he does a little bit of what he says and I think that’s where a lot of people are.

Hillary: On if she will run for office again and what her plans are (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0VGfb06X-s)

00:15 I am really focused on just doing some things that I think I can help make a difference with. Like the supporting of young people and getting more women into politics. I very much want to help Democrats take back the congress (applause).

00:40 I have no plans. I have no plans at all other than trying to find some interesting things to do, trying to support other people to pursue their interest, spend time with my grandchildren which is a great joy. I’m not making plans to do anything.

01:10 I am looking at doing interesting things I don’t think that will ever include running for office again as interesting as I find that to be because I think you can have a big influence. I think that there are lots of ways to make difference to work in all sectors in of our society, the for-profits, the not-for-profits. I am looking for ways to help people live their own lives better, tell their own stories better.

01:38 I’ve always been really focused on kids and find some good ways to help organizations that are helping particularly kids that faced difficulties in their lives. I am passionate about the unfinished business of the 21st century, the rights and the opportunities for women and girls so I think I have a lot to do.

Hillary: I prepared for being President (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEFjxA9fHzA) 

START: First let me say that, I don’t take any pleasure in seeing the kind of chaotic functioning … I thought I was going to win and I had a really good transition operation going. Because I understood. Remember the debates, remember that one point in the debate when my opponent was ridiculing me yet again for having prepared for the debate? And I said yes I did prepare for the debate and I’ll tell you something else I prepared for and that’s being president.

00:48 It’s the hardest job you can imagine. I thought we would’ve been prepared we would’ve been ready to move on arrange events we worked so hard on policies and already lining up personal and the likes. So clearly that wasn’t well prepared for the incoming administration and I think they’re going through some very public growing pains.

01:18 But here’s what I don’t understand. I don’t understand the commitment to hurt so many people that this administration this White House seems to be pursuing. There’s so many examples in just the first 100 days: the ban on people coming into our country. Yes it was originally aimed at 7 not 6 countries but it really set a chilling effect across the world. Not just to Muslims but all kinds of people that are saying well wait a minute don’t you still have Lady Liberty in the New York harbor aren’t we still the land of opportunity and freedom. It had a terrible impact.

02:11 And then of course what they did or tried to do with the health care bill. Which I will confess l..having listened to them discuss repeal and replace for 8 or 7 years now, they had no clue what that meant. I don’t know if any of them read the bill, read the law, understand how it worked. It was so obvious. Healthcare is complicated. They don’t know what to do. I do admit that was somewhat gratifying (cheers applause).

03:03 The targeting of women which is what’s going on is absolutely beyond any political agenda. There is something else happening here. The global gag rule bounces back between Republicans and Democrats, but the way they wrote it this time is not like Bush, and not like what Reagan did. This time, [the gag rule] would remove all aid if there is some kind of alleged breach because you provide family planning services but somebody says to a woman desperate to get an abortion because she’s told she’ll die if she tried to bare another child, if you try to help her then you lose everything.

04:00 You follow up that with [defunding] UN population fund. Which I’ve seen… the impact that those dollars have in saving women and children’s lives, in helping women having a better shot at a future because maybe she can get contraception and not have her first child at 14 and now has had 6 or 7 and is now 27 and she’s desperately trying to prevent another pregnancy and she needs it.

04:35 This is just not the right and moral position for the United States to take this is in our national security interest. The more we support women the more we support democracy, the more we backhand terrorism and fundamentalism that can creep into countries. So women’s issues are national security issues. 

Hillary: on how she is doing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZmrQV3liMw)

I’m doing pretty well all things considered. Aftermath of the election was so devastating and everything that is come to light in the days and weeks since have been also troubling. So I just have had to make up my mind that was I was going to get out of bed and yes I was going to go for long walks in the woods. I was going to see my grandchildren a lot and spend time with my family and my friends that have rally around me in an amazing way. We’ve had lots of fun, adventures, long nights talking and laughing. So I’m ok I will put it this way. As a person I’m ok. As an American I’m pretty worried. So I will take off my person hat and put on my citizen hat and there’s a lot to be concerned about.

Hillary Clinton talks Syria, Assad and the future of the Syrian people. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6-A9milFYY )

00:56 I was Secretary of State I teamed up with Dave Petreaeus then director of CIA, Leon Panetta Secretary of Defense to present a plan for us to move more aggressively to support protestors to try to provide some back up in what was I thought likely to turn out to be a very one-sided battle. This was before ISIS came to public awareness for a caliphate and they’re setting up headquarters in Rocca. I believed that and I’ve said this repeatedly that we should’ve done more at that point.

01:49 Now, I’m the first to say these are not easy decisions. That’s why you want to get the best information you can from the best advisers you can and really drill down into this whatever the situation is.

02:03 I left the government. I then did promote a no fly zone. I still believe we should’ve done a no fly zone. I think we should’ve been more willing to confront Assad. Because remember the Russians didn’t get in at first. Iranian help was pretty much on the ground with the so called revolutionary guard force. They were enlisting Hezbollah units to fight on the ground because there was a really fight going on. But Assad had an air force, that’s the cause of most civilian deaths. As we have seen over the years and as we saw over the last few days. I really believe that we should’ve and still should take out his air field and prevent him from using them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.

03:20 I wish the international community at large had been able to reign this in. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Russians, the Arab states, the Gulf states, and I actually had worked out an agreement for a transition in June of 2012 in Geneva. We hammered it out all day long, the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov actually agreed to it and it was calling for a technocratic government and in the easing out of Assad. I know that he had, he left our meeting. I know he went to his embassy, I know he asked for guidance and he came back and agreed. So it lasted for about 24 hours because basically Assad said I’m not going anywhere.

04:15 Part of the reason Assad has been so dug in is because some of you who follow Syria follow history, his father destroyed a city that was a hot bed of opposition to his rule. Literally massacred more than 10,000 people and almost ceded the ground so that nothing would ever grow there again. That was the impact that it was meant to have. So the people around Assad that was never the person that the people expected to succeed his father thought it would be older brother so you know was viewed as a much tougher character. His brother gets killed in a car wreck he gets summoned home and given the responsibility of being the dictator of Syria.

05:22 Why do I tell you all of this. Because it mattes if you know a little bit more about that’s going on in the minds that are your adversaries. He is absolutely a prisoner of his families expectations his dead fathers looming presence and his delusion that I believe he now can pass lied detector about that everybody that opposes him is a terrorist. That’s how Putin thinks. Putin has basically weighted in particularly with air power to support this fight to the death policy that Assad has.

06:11 I think that we have to try change the dynamic and all through the campaign I would say I’m for a no fly zone and immediately whether it was in the primary or the general election people would ask aren’t you afraid of Russians? It’s time the Russians were afraid of us because we were going to stand up for the human rights, the dignity and the future of Syrian people and I actually had a lot of confidence that I could say to Putin and his team look whether you’re with us or against us with this no fly zone and here’s what we’re going to do. We don’t want any confrontation with you. We cannot let this massacre continue and the consequences that are effecting the entire region so I feel pretty strongly where we are now and what happened in these last days  with a neurotoxin sarin gas is just …

07:15 Let me just say this. There will be people who say its not your fight, we don’t care, what difference does it make, we’re not involved. First of all we are an interconnected interdependent world unlike any we’ve been in history before because of mobility because of communications so what happens in other place can very have an impact on you.

07:38 But the world took a position after the first World War who’s 100th anniversary of starting we will be commemorating and we took a stand against the use of chemical weapons. We have a whole unit attached to the United Nations that is devoted to preventing chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands to be used.

08:11 It is important we take a strong stance against chemical weapons and we thought with the deal that the Obama administration negotiated that we got rid of their stocks but who knows whether they hid some or bought more we don’t know. We just know the impact. It’s in our interest, we have to start recognizing norms of behavior in our own country and globally are just as important to keeping peace and preventing atrocities as any law that is written down. People have to know that they will be held accountable as war criminals as committing crimes against humanity if they engage in these kinds of aggressive violent acts (applause).

Secretary Clinton was introduced by Samantha Bee of Full Frontal:

Samantha Bee intro to Hillary Clinton – “It should’ve been you”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1BnZqO15sw 

 

 

To Get to a More Perfect Union, Reform Electoral College, Promote Access to Ballot Box

Electoral College reform and a greater federal role in setting minimum national standards for access to the ballot box are necessary to insure that Americans get the president who reflects the will of the majority in a free and fair democratic election © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Electoral College reform and a greater federal role in setting minimum national standards for access to the ballot box are necessary to insure that Americans get the president who reflects the will of the majority in a free and fair democratic election © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

There is no question that the will of the majority was thwarted in the presidential Election of 2016 – but if ever there was a time when the Electoral College should have proved its purpose, it was this election.

Instead, the Electoral College demonstrated the worst of all anti-democratic worlds: denying the popular will while also enabling the exact sort of candidate that Alexander Hamilton described in justifying the Electoral College: so “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” and to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”. Trump fails on all accounts.

And here, you have not only Hillary Clinton receiving nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump – the most in history for any candidate who did not go on to win the presidency – but you have clear evidence of foreign manipulation (the Russian hacking, very possibly with collusion by the Trump campaign), fake news, not to mention voter suppression (interesting that every battleground state where Clinton lost was also where Republican legislators had imposed measures designed to suppress the vote of groups inclined to vote Democratic; in Wisconsin, 300,000 registered voters lacked the photo ID necessary to cast their ballots. Indeed, two weeks after the election, a federal court struck down Wisconsin’s legislative map as illegally partisan. And,  “on Election Day, there were 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina,” (www.thenation.com/…)

The result was that Democratic-leaning voters had hours-long waits which many could not afford. And then there was the call-out by Donald Trump for vigilantes to police “you know which” neighborhoods. Turnout was affected. Indeed, despite historic levels of engagement in Election 2016, the number of votes cast in Ohio was down 1.1% and down 4.0% in Wisconsin – more than the margin of victory for Trump. That’s the art and the science of voter suppression, which was the primary strategy for the Trump campaign.

But instead of serving properly as a check-and-balance, everything that is undemocratic and archaic about the Electoral College (devised to give disproportionate power to slave-holding states and small rural states) was in play. As a result, a single voter in Wyoming is worth 200 times a voter in California, rendering this country’s notion of “one person, one vote” and “equal justice” a fraud.

(Why is it that only rural, white Middle Americans are considered “Real Americans,” but coastal, urbanites, professionals, college-educated people are considered “elites” not deserving of a say in their governance?)

Its malfeasance justifies the rising calls to abolish the Electoral College altogether – which would require amending the Constitution which is unlikely. Instead, there are calls to dramatically reform it to more properly address 21st century America, through changes that the states can make to the regulations that bind their Electoral Voters, now termed “faithless” if they vote against their state’s popular vote.

The predominant reform is for states to join the National Popular Vote (NPV) compact would require participating states to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. It wouldn’t take effect until enough states joined in to add up to the 270 electoral votes required to elect the president– ten states and the District of Columbia have already signed on, totaling 165 electoral votes.

If the compact were in place, Hillary Clinton, who received nearly 3 million more popular votes than Donald Trump, who only won the Electoral College by winning the slimmest of margins (less than 1%) in a few battleground states (amounting to about 70,000 votes altogether, the result of concerted voter suppression actions by Republicans), would have been President.

But this election also demonstrated how easily even a 21st century populace can be manipulated by fake news, social media and a populist snake-oil salesman, not to mention the possibility of hacking the election architecture. Indeed, it would seem that the Electoral College does have a purpose as envisioned by the founders of the Republic, as a check on populism.

Still, there are ways to make the Electoral College more democratically representative, while still functioning as a “check and balance.”

First, there needs to be an end to “winner take all” which basically erases the votes of millions of voters. Instead, states should apportion their electoral votes based on the popular vote in the state. That would be a much more representative method and more efficiently make each state and each person’s vote count.

During this election, we kept hearing how discouraged and disaffected those who would vote for third-party candidates, and their complaint that the two-party system is what is so detrimental to a true democracy. But multiple candidates virtually guarantee that the winner does not represent the majority, as is clear in 2016, where the scant votes for Jill Stein in Michigan gave the state to Trump, putting him over the Electoral top despite winning only 46% of the national popular vote.

So the second element is to allow the lowest vote-getting candidates to give their Electoral Votes to one of the top two candidates.

Another idea which would be very possible in the age of sophisticated electronic voting, is for “second choice” weighting, and if no candidate gets 50.1%, then a run off of the two top vote getters (as is the case in some primaries).

The end to “winner-takes-all” and allocation by popular vote in a state could not happen until virtually all the states (and not just Blue states or Red states which have voted for a Democratic president) have approved the policy.

Federal Government Needs to Guarantee Minimum Standards for Voting

It may surprise people to realize the federal government has no authority over elections, which are controlled by states – even within states, counties may have different rules (so much for Equal Protection). Indeed, the Constitution does not actually provide a right to vote at all, and the Roberts right wing Majority on the Supreme Court did its damage to remove what oversight the federal government had when it eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

There needs to be a new Voting Rights Act that protects the essential principle of one-person, one vote and the federal government, under the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, should have the ability to establish minimum standards for access to the ballot box. It should protect more than racial discrimination, but should acknowledge partisan discrimination as a threat to the spirit and essence of democracy.

What else is needed to reform a weakened election system in these days of technological sophistication, a sprawling and diverse voter population, and the huge stakes to controlling the political reins of power? Here are more ideas:

  • An end to partisan-control of drawing district lines; standards that affirm – as the Voting Rights Act did – that districts have to be contiguous and make sense
  • And end to partisan control of state elections (like Katherine Harris, Secretary of State in Florida 2000 and also the chair of George W Bush’s campaign who purged voting rolls of 20,000 people and did all she could to insure Gore never got a fair count)
  • Requiring notification to every voter before an election confirming their registration, voting place and hours, and if a voter has been removed or purged or changed for any reason, timely notification with a process to challenge
  • A standard to allow voters to vote where they were last registered
  • To address the very real possibility of hacked black-boxes, require a paper trail and mandatory audits of a certain number of voting places to confirm the veracity
  • Minimum national standards for where polling places can be designated, how many voting machines per voting-age population, minimal number of hours open, early voting days, including spreading voting to the weekend before Election Day, and making Election Day a national holiday
  • A requirement that if a voter moves and re-registers, that notice be sent back to the prior voting place to be removed
  • Clearer, more uniform regulations about where people can vote if they are in college or have moved (for example, allowing people to vote by absentee at the last previous registered place)
  • Automatic sending of voter registration materials upon 18th birthday
  • Establish criminal penalties for interfering with voting, whether fraudulently telling people the wrong date, time or place to vote, ripping up voter registrations or interfering with voter registration; penalties for states that impede voter registration such as failing to process registrations in a timely way
  • Restore reasonable controls on spending – by wealthy donors and corporations – eliminate SuperPacs, pass the DISCLOSE Act, overturn Citizens United
  • A new Voting Rights Act that goes beyond racial discrimination but includes any type of systematic discrimination to dilute “one-person, one-vote”
  • Constitutional amendment that affirms the right to vote (the Constitution doesn’t actually provide it now)

None of this will happen because the Republicans have realized they can keep power without ever having to worry about the demographic shifts and pesky things like needing a majority. Putting a gate at the ballot box has worked very well.

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Obama Levels Sanctions at Russia in Response to Interfering in Election, Harassing Diplomats

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The US has evidence that Putin was directly involved in orchestrating cyber attacks and information dissemination intended to tilt the US election toward Donald Trump’s victory. Trump has dismissed the unified analysis of more than a dozen US intelligence agencies and has indicated he would be a close ally of Putin or as Hillary Clinton put it during the campaign, “Putin’s Puppet.”© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The US has evidence that Putin was directly involved in orchestrating cyber attacks and information dissemination intended to tilt the US election toward Donald Trump’s victory. Trump has dismissed the unified analysis of more than a dozen US intelligence agencies and has indicated he would be a close ally of Putin or as Hillary Clinton put it during the campaign, “Putin’s Puppet.”© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Today, President Obama authorized a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.  “Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.  These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the White House stated.

“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,” President Obama stated . These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.  These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year.  Such activities have consequences.  Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response.”

The President issued an executive order that expands upon his authority to respond to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners.

Using this new authority, Obama sanctioned nine entities and individuals:  the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.  In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.  The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, that the government charges were being used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes. Also, the State Department is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives who will have to leave the US within 72 hours.

Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity –including the codes and IP addresses – to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.

“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities,” the President added. “We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized. In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”

As for the timeline, senior administration officials, answering journalists’ questions, stated:

“Our first priority was publicly disclosing the information – it was most important to make public what we knew – and we did that October 7. That was a unique if not unprecedented step to come out with the common view of US intelligence agencies that a foreign power was influencing our election. We also wanted to give warning directly to the Russians, in public and in private, numerous times, that we knew what they were doing and were preparing a response. We wanted them to absorb that message and have that affect their behavior. We were concerned about securing the election – and there is no evidence that the Russians tampered with the vote. The priority for our cybersecurity efforts was to make sure our election was secure. But the material that had been hacked and was being released – it was not like that genie could be put back in the bottle. We were putting this together in context with [hacked] information being shared, publicly released and reported on by the news media. We wanted to do [respond] as methodically as possible: what we could do with sanctions, with diplomats, with the Joint Analysis Report (JAR), and preparing other elements.”

They added that it takes considerable time to put together a package of sanctions – you need to have the evidence sufficient to stand up in court to justify the actions.

“Sanctions packages are time consuming – establishing the basis, then finding the target list. JAR itself is complex procedure as putting together info we can share publicly that provides the best possible guidance about what we know – and response to harassment [of our diplomats] is something focusing on for some time.”

The incoming administration, under Donald Trump, has dismissed the allegations. Trump stated that “we should just get on with our lives,” and signaled he would undo sanctions leveled against Putin, including the sanctions that were put into place after Russia annexed Crimea and engaged in hostilities intended to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

But the Administration officials, pointing to “flagrant violation of norms” that have also seen in interference in our election as well as a level of harassment of US diplomats in Russia – one even being assaulted by a Russian police officer – along with malicious cyber attacks that have been leveled against critical American infrastructure and American companies. to a level that is unprecedented during in the post-Cold War era and has been developing over a period of years,” threaten national security and democratic regimes.

“There is no debate in the US administration: it is a fact that Russia interfered in our democratic election. We have established that to our satisfaction. We would never expect Russia to acknowledge what they did, don’t do it; still deny they are interfering in Ukraine. We say to journalists, look at what they say and what they do. This is a country that has intervened in sovereign country even though can see – bombed civilians, but they deny it. It is not a ‘he said/she said’ situation.  There are facts.”

“We have one president at a time. President Obama will execute the duties of his office until January 20. He’s acting on what he believes is in best interest of the United States.”

There are any number of actions that we’re taking that will [fall to next administration]. .When a new administration takes office, entirely in their judgment a to whether to continue the course we set in number of areas.

“But Russian actions have been sustained over an extended period of time, and by any definition, are against our national interest, not just the interests of this president – harassment of our diplomats is a direct threat of ability of US to conduct diplomacy. Interference with our election is a pattern we see in other western democracies, including some of our closest allies. Malicious cyber targeting of American critical infrastructure would be of concern to future administrations.

“We know from our own consultations this is of concern to American business, and we would expect future administrations to be concerned about the impact on the American economy of Russian cyber activity.  We are taking these actions because of pattern of behavior of period of time, replicated in other countries. We believe is the right approach to take.

“We’re taking these actions consistent with our assessment of what Russia has done – they have been interfering in both the American democratic process and in the conduct of American diplomacy. That should concern all Americans and members of both parties – a sustained effort to both harass our diplomatic personnel and interfere in our democratic process. We have no reason to believe that Russia’s activities will cease – they have been engaged in malicious cyber activity not just here in the United States but in other democratic countries. One reason to sustain [these] activities is that there is every reason that Russia will continue to interfere… These are executive actions. If a future president decided to allow in Russian intelligence agents, reopen those diplomatic compounds that are being used for intelligence, that compromises US national security.”

Here are the details from the White House:

Sanctioning Malicious Russian Cyber Activity

In response to the threat to U.S. national security posed by Russian interference in our elections, the President has approved an amendment to Executive Order 13964.  As originally issued in April 2015, this Executive Order created a new, targeted authority for the U.S. government to respond more effectively to the most significant of cyber threats, particularly in situations where malicious cyber actors operate beyond the reach of existing authorities.  The original Executive Order focused on cyber-enabled malicious activities that:

  • Harm or significantly compromise the provision of services by entities in a critical infrastructure sector;
  • Significantly disrupt the availability of a computer or network of computers (for example, through a distributed denial-of-service attack); or
  • Cause a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain (for example, by stealing large quantities of credit card information, trade secrets, or sensitive information).

The increasing use of cyber-enabled means to undermine democratic processes at home and abroad, as exemplified by Russia’s recent activities, has made clear that a tool explicitly targeting attempts to interfere with elections is also warranted.  As such, the President has approved amending Executive Order 13964 to authorize sanctions on those who:

  • Tamper with, alter, or cause a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.

Using this new authority, the President has sanctioned nine entities and individuals:  two Russian intelligence services (the GRU and the FSB); four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.

  • The Main Intelligence Directorate (a.k.a. Glavnoe Razvedyvatel’noe Upravlenie) (a.k.a. GRU) is involved in external collection using human intelligence officers and a variety of technical tools, and is designated for tampering, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election processes.
  • The Federal Security Service (a.k.a. Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti) (a.k.a FSB) assisted the GRU in conducting the activities described above.
  • The three other entities include the Special Technology Center (a.k.a. STLC, Ltd. Special Technology Center St. Petersburg) assisted the GRU in conducting signals intelligence operations; Zorsecurity (a.k.a. Esage Lab) provided the GRU with technical research and development; and the Autonomous Noncommercial Organization “Professional Association of Designers of Data Processing Systems” (a.k.a. ANO PO KSI) provided specialized training to the GRU. 
  • Sanctioned individuals include Igor Valentinovich Korobov, the current Chief of the GRU; Sergey Aleksandrovich Gizunov, Deputy Chief of the GRU; Igor Olegovich Kostyukov, a First Deputy Chief of the GRU; and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev, also a First Deputy Chief of the GRU.

In addition, the Department of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals,Evgeniy Bogachev and Aleksey Belan, under a pre-existing portion of the Executive Order for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.

  • Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev is designated today for having engaged in significant malicious cyber-enabled misappropriation of financial information for private financial gain.  Bogachev and his cybercriminal associates are responsible for the theft of over $100 million from U.S. financial institutions, Fortune 500 firms, universities, and government agencies.
  • Aleksey Alekseyevich Belan engaged in the significant malicious cyber-enabled misappropriation of personal identifiers for private financial gain.  Belan compromised the computer networks of at least three major United States-based e-commerce companies.

Responding to Russian Harassment of U.S. Personnel 

Over the past two years, harassment of our diplomatic personnel in Russia by security personnel and police has increased significantly and gone far beyond international diplomatic norms of behavior.  Other Western Embassies have reported similar concerns.  In response to this harassment, the President has authorized the following actions:

  • Today the State Department declared 35 Russian government officials from the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco “persona non grata.”  They were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status. Those individuals and their families were given 72 hours to leave the United States.
  • In addition to this action, the Department of State has provided notice that as of noon on Friday, December 30, Russian access will be denied to two Russian government-owned compounds, one in Maryland and one in New York.

Raising Awareness About Russian Malicious Cyber Activity

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing a Joint Analysis Report (JAR) that contains declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence services’ malicious cyber activity, to better help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.

  • The JAR includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have co-opted without the knowledge of their owners in order to conduct their malicious activity in a way that makes it difficult to trace back to Russia. In some cases, the cybersecurity community was aware of this infrastructure, in other cases, this information is newly declassified by the U.S. government.
  • The report also includes data that enables cybersecurity firms and other network defenders to identify certain malware that the Russian intelligence services use.  Network defenders can use this information to identify and block Russian malware, forcing the Russian intelligence services to re-engineer their malware.  This information is newly de-classified.
  • Finally, the JAR includes information on how Russian intelligence services typically conduct their activities.  This information can help network defenders better identify new tactics or techniques that a malicious actor might deploy or detect and disrupt an ongoing intrusion.

This information will allow network defenders to take specific steps that can often block new activity or disrupt on-going intrusions by Russian intelligence services.  DHS and FBI are encouraging security companies and private sector owners and operators to use this JAR and look back within their network traffic for signs of malicious activity. DHS and FBI are also encouraging security companies and private sector owners and operators to leverage these indicators in proactive defense efforts to block malicious cyber activity before it occurs. DHS has already added these indicators to their Automated Indicator Sharing service.

“Cyber threats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges the United States faces today.  For the last eight years, this Administration has pursued a comprehensive strategy to confront these threats.  And as we have demonstrated by these actions today, we intend to continue to employ the full range of authorities and tools, including diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, and law enforcement mechanisms, to counter the threat posed by malicious cyber actors, regardless of their country of origin, to protect the national security of the United States,” the White House stated.

______________

© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Appeal to Electoral College Voters: You Can (Should) (Must) Save US and Elect Winner of Popular Vote, Hillary Clinton

The Electoral College voters need to have courage and show they are true patriots and elect Hillary Clinton, winner of the popular vote, the next president © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Electoral College voters need to have courage and show they are true patriots and elect Hillary Clinton, winner of the popular vote, the next president © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Petitions are circulating such as this one from Credo:

“Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president and did not win the support of the majority of the American people. Hillary Clinton is set to win the majority of the vote by more than 2 million votes despite widespread voter suppression and the FBI’s interference in the election. Honor the majority vote and elect Hillary Clinton on Dec. 19.”

I’m wondering how many of the electoral voters are actually Never-Trumpers, and now, since they have seen how Trump would govern, who he intends to appoint to run the country (a climate denier to run the EPA; an anti-public education billionaire to run Education; an unhinged fired General to run national security), might be having a twinge of remorse, especially given the fact that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes (most ever for a candidate who didn’t actually win the presidency), and new revelations about Trump’s conflicts of interest, his lack of transparency and his pay-to-play approach to foreign relations (an echo of Richard Nixon’s, “If the president does it, that means it’s not illegal”).

Nor did Trump “win” the key swing states that put him over 270 electoral votes fairly.

Reports of Russian interference that turned the tide of the election should be a grave concern to Electoral College voters, if they consider themselves patriots. Throughout the campaign, it was clear the Russian government was actively working to influence the outcome in Trump’s favor. State-sponsored Russian hackers provided troves of damaging emails and documents to WikiLeaks and other websites. Paid Russian trolls disseminated fake news across US social media sites to spread misinformation favorable to Trump. And though Trump lied about it, his campaign was in direct contact with the Russian government throughout the election, including his strategist Roger Stone (who cut his teeth on the Richard Nixon campaign).  Trump has well established connections to Russia through many business dealings, and he spent considerable time during the campaign praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Now that Trump has access to classified intelligence and the nuclear codes, we can’t trust what he will do with them. His presidency is a clear threat to American democracy and our national security,” writes Josh Nelson, Deputy Political Director for CREDO Action from Working Assets.

Moreover, there is strong evidence of voter suppression aimed at likely Democratic voters (minorities), including making it difficult to obtain newly required voter ID materials, closing polling places and reducing early voting.  In Wisconsin, where Clinton lost by only 27,000 votes, 300,000 eligible voters lacked the strict forms of ID needed to vote, and the state saw its lowest turnout in 20 years, especially in Black communities. And across the country, Black people were forced to wait in line twice as long on average as white people.

In North Carolina, there were 158 fewer early voting polling places in Black communities, and Black turnout was down 16 percent. And by the way, how is it possible that the Democratic won the Governor’s race, but that Clinton at the top of the ticket didn’t win? – why is there no challenge to that vote, as the losing Republican Governor has waged?

“It’s entirely possible that without voter suppression, Clinton would have won the Electoral College along with the popular vote,” Nelson states (though it is harder to prove voter suppression than lie about the existence of voter fraud).

Indeed, Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.5 million – a bigger margin than many elected presidents won by, and the biggest margin of any person who did not go on to actually become president (Al Gore included). Trump has already proved he will dismiss the will of the majority. Why is it that the “Real America” disqualifies urbanites, women, minorities, professionals, college educated people, especially Ivy Leaguers?

In just the first week since seizing the election, Trump has demonstrated that he will be exactly who he showed himself to be, starting with the Team of Thugs, Reprobates, Misogynists, Corporatists, Racists, White Supremacists, not to mention those who are totally inexperienced to carry out the functions they are tasked with, he has surrounded himself with and who he is naming to cabinet and key offices. It is emerging as a “Team of Billionaires and 1-Percenters,” who built their financial empires on the backs of the very white working class people that Trump pretended to care about.

He has shown that he will protect his own business profits at the expense of the national interest – unabashedly doing business and extracting favors from foreign dignitaries, evoking Richard Nixon’s line, “If the president does it, then it isn’t illegal.” There is no doubt that he has realized he could leave office $100 billion richer. He absolutely doesn’t care about conflicts of interest. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had done anything remotely like that upon becoming the president-elect. They would have impeached her before inauguration day (Republicans mounted a special investigation into the Clintons’ Christmas card list when Bill took office).

Trump already showing he will trample transparency and a free press, preferring to continue to tweet outright lies should also have the Republican electors who claim to be the guardians of the Constitution quaking. That he will attack the press and a Hamilton actor appealing for his administration to just consider all Americans, but not condemn the Neo Nazis who are cheering his victory with a Hitler salute, that he dictates to the media how they will photograph him, and shuts out media that he feels don’t represent him well, are only the preview to the propaganda he will wage.

And now Trump declares he would take away citizenship and jail anyone who burns the flag, which the Supreme Court has already ruled is protected free speech – further evidence that he aspires to follow Vladimir Putin’s model. Trump doesn’t know and doesn’t care about civil rights or the Constitution.

And those Electoral Voters should be downright shaking about the fact Trump has declined taking the daily Presidential intelligence briefing (instead obsessing over convincing Carrier Air Conditioners not to move to Mexico), and from all accounts, dismissive of Obama’s advice to him on such critical topics as the urgency of keeping North Korea in check – an echo of George W. Bush’s dismissal of President Clinton’s intelligence advisers warning him of Osama bin Laden as a grave threat, only to stand by as four hijacked planes, circling around for hours, hit their targets on 9/11 without any defense. But Trump believes, “I know more than the generals” and yet, he was shocked to hear General Mattis tell him that torture doesn’t work. Shocked!

The Republican electors may be cheering Trump’s plan to install climate deniers to run Energy and Interior and overturn climate action, the Iran nuclear deal, cancel international agreements,  repeal Obamacare and women’s reproductive rights; that he will voucherize Medicare and privatize Social Security, create a registry for Muslims, and install one billionaire to destroy public education and another billionaire who amassed his fortune taking advantage of bankrupt companies to be Secretary of Commerce – but they who claim to be patriots should have concern that Trump will do all of this without care, awareness or interest of the larger consequences to the majority of Americans who rejected him.

But the Republican electors should be downright quaking in their proverbial boots over Trump’s irresponsible, erratic and ignorant foreign policy, already demonstrated in how he praised the Philippines President (for his extrajudicial murders), antagonized China in speaking directly to the President of Taiwan (when China could instantly crash the US economy and move more aggressively into Asia-Pacific territorial waters), dismissed the nuclear threat from North Korea, even as South Korea’s presidency is toppling, and embraced Putin, effectively giving him license to stampede through Ukraine and into the Balkans.

And the only reason Trump will be president is for the voter suppression and likely election (not voter) fraud tactics (not to mention the unprecedented intrusion by FBI Director James Comey just 11 days before the election) that managed to tilt key swing states by the 1-2% margin for him to hit the magic number of 270 Electoral Votes despite losing the popular vote by a wide margin. You only needed Russia to tamper with a few votes here and there in precincts in the swing states to swing the election – indeed, only 100,000 votes among three battleground states that were polling in Hillary’s favor just before the election: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

And so I write this as a last-ditch appeal to the Electoral College voters to do the right thing, the moral thing, and in those narrowly decided battleground states, vote for Hillary Clinton. This isn’t a violation of the Constitution; at most, they would have to pay a $1000 fine for respecting the will of the people. A chance to show courage and be a true patriot.

It is clear that along with the myth of the American Dream, the US has never actually been a democracy, even in present times – between the limits on access to the polls, gerrymandering, the ways that money influences elections, and the Electoral College. And instead of getting better – with the 15th, amendment giving black men the right to vote, and the 19th amendment giving women the vote – those who would obstruct democracy have only gotten more lethal, devious, and technological.

Face it, the Founders weren’t gods from Apollo, they were human beings, embarking on a great experiment in governance and were skeptical of actually giving power to ordinary people. In fact, the Constitution only gave the vote to white property-owning men. How did it happen in Jacksonian times that white men without property all of a sudden got to vote, without a amending the Constitution, while non-white males and women had to wait for Constitutional amendments?

Now, in a capitulation to the idea that 2016 may be a done deal, a movement is underway to democratize the election in time for the 2020 presidential contest.

It may be time to abolish the Electoral College but that would require amending the Constitution but since that is not likely (look at how miserably efforts to amend the Constitution to overturn the notion that corporations are people and cash is free speech). Or, since that is not likely given the fact that the party is power has benefited so royally, the Electoral College needs to be modified, which can happen at the state level.

This nation was founded as an imperfect union, set on a journey to become a more perfect one. We have yet to get there, but over time, there has been movement toward the ideal of one-person, one-vote democracy.

The Electoral College is yet another archaic relic of the Founders’ experiment and concession to small states and slave-holding states in order to keep a fragile union together. But while the furor over the 2016 election has people talking about a Constitutional Amendment to abolish it, that won’t happen because it has worked so effectively for the party in control, along with gerrymandering, Citizens United, Voter ID and all forms of anti-democratic, voter suppressing tactics.

The electoral votes awarded to states are not even reflective of the state’s population, once again giving small, rural (white) states (that Republicans like to call “The Real America,” effectively dismissing the citizenship of urban-dwellers, college-educated, professionals, women, non-whites, non-Christians) disproportional representation (like the US Senate) and moving this nation even further away from the mythical principal of “one person, one vote.”

Indeed, if California was apportioned electoral votes based on its population, it would have 200 votes instead of the 50.

“Today, the vote of a citizen in Wyoming is four times as powerful as the vote of a citizen in Michigan,” Lawrence Lessig writes in the Washington Post. “The vote of a citizen in Vermont is three times as powerful as a vote in Missouri. This denies Americans the fundamental value of a representative democracy — equal citizenship. Yet nothing in our Constitution compels this result.”

For this reason, Republicans, who, in their 2012 “autopsy” only feigned concern for Hispanics, women, blacks because they believed the demographics were going against them, have realized that, just like in controlling the House and Senate, they can control the White House very effectively without a popular majority. They can advance policies that go against the interests of most Americans (so much for the white working class “finally” getting their populist advocate).

“Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president,” Lessig writes, arguing that the Electoral College should vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump and not veto the people’s choice. “That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions  — most important, the electors themselves.

“The framers believed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, that ‘the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the [president].’ But no nation had ever tried that idea before. So the framers created a safety valve on the people’s choice. Like a judge reviewing a jury verdict, where the people voted, the electoral college was intended to confirm — or not — the people’s choice. Electors were to apply, in Hamilton’s words, ‘a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice’ — and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about ‘winner take all.’ It says nothing to suggest that electors’ freedom should be constrained in any way. Instead, their wisdom — about whether to overrule ’the people’ or not — was to be free of political control yet guided by democratic values. They were to be citizens exercising judgment,  not cogs turning a wheel.”

And so I write this as a last-ditch appeal to the Electoral College voters to do the right thing, the moral thing, and in those narrowly decided battleground states, vote for Hillary Clinton. This isn’t a violation of the Constitution; at most, they would have to pay a $1000 fine for respecting the will of the people. A chance to show courage and be a true patriot.

See also:

Election Irregularities Demand Audit Before Vote is Certified

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Election Irregularities Demand Audit Before 2016 Vote is Certified

An audit of election results in battleground states, deemed “too close to call” on Election Night, is necessary so Americans can have confidence the right candidate takes oath of office on January 20, 2017 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
An audit of election results in battleground states, deemed “too close to call” on Election Night, is necessary so Americans can have confidence the right candidate takes oath of office on January 20, 2017 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Let’s be clear: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes (the largest number for anyone who didn’t actually win the presidency) and pretty much by the margin that was forecast. She wasn’t a “bad” candidate. It wasn’t that she didn’t talk enough about an economic policy that would lift up everyone, or that she didn’t have enough policies. It wasn’t that she didn’t offer the so-called white working class a vision of a better future. The election was stolen.

Yet, she lost every “toss-up” battleground state by the narrowest of margins, only 1-2%, resulting in Trump winning the Electoral College votes (theoretically; there is still hope the voters will do the right thing and cast their ballot for the winner of the popular vote).

Does anyone doubt that if the situation reversed and Trump won the popular vote by millions but failed by thousands to win the Electoral Vote that Trump would have fought the result up to the Supreme Court (a la Bush v Gore), and his minions would have taken to the streets with guns? Even now, he is fomenting the lie that three million votes were cast illegally. This is who claims the presidency?

But in a brilliant manipulation, Trump railed about how the election would be stolen (from him), forcing Democrats –and particularly Hillary Clinton – to assert that American elections have integrity, and that any challenge would undermine the essence of a democratic republic, a peaceful transition of power, in order to prevent any contest. They were played, as is apparent with Trump replaying Clinton’s own statements (omitting the fact that it was Green Party candidate Jill Stein, not Clinton, who is demanding recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania). This isn’t up to Hillary Clinton or anyone. The voters need to know if the votes were accurately counted.

Meanwhile, Trump is now trumpeting – without any proof – that 3 million votes were cast illegally (the only person I have heard who was caught casting 2 ballots was a Des Moines woman who voted twice for Trump).  And if he believes that, he more than anyone, should be demanding recounts.

It is apparent that the shortfall in Electoral Votes was chiefly the result of Voter Suppression, with states unleashed by the weakening of the Voting Rights Act, and voter repression tactics in key sections of swing states designed (successfully) to shift 1-2% of the votes. This was clear in Wisconsin and North Carolina. But there is evidence also that in some key districts, the electronic voting machines may have been hacked in order to give the win to Trump, which demands proper audit and recount to assure Americans the rightful outcome of the election.

Add to this the reports that Russia hacked some state elections rolls, interfered with the election by hacking into Democratic National Committee and by paying trolls to disseminate false news (viewed 15 million times). Is it so implausible that a few – not an entire state – but enough precincts which rely on electronic voting without a paper trail could be hacked?

“Americans should demand this simple step to ensure that the machinery of democracy worked.

DFA members have spent years working to ensure our elections are fair, accessible, and verifiable,” Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America, wrote in an email.

This shouldn’t even be controversial. There should be routine audit after every election to assure that the electronic tallies conform with paper ballots, and full recounts where less than 2% margin separates the winners. Most urgently, given the fact that we have now seen cyber warfare with penetration of even the most secure government sites including the National Security Agency, electronic-only voting systems should be replaced with systems that generate a paper trail.

The Department of Justice was mum when I asked whether or how many complaints have been filed – whether voters found they were purged from the rolls when they arrived to vote, or whether long lines or inaccessible polling places kept them from casting their ballot.

“The Justice Department does not tally the number of callers to determine whether federal action is warranted. Investigatory decisions are based solely on the facts and evidence as they relate to the federal statutes the department enforces.”

But with Republicans now content they have found the means to control power without needing to secure a majority of voters – not for the House, the Senate or now the White House – necessary election reforms will never happen. And Trump is already signaling further attacks on voting rights, under the guise of promulgating the lie of rampant “voter fraud.”

That’s why this audit is so important now. And why the Electoral College should make the moral choice and cast their votes for Clinton.

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

What’s at Stake in this Election? Everything

Hillary Clinton at a rally following the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Long Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton at a rally following the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Long Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Most elections involve some measure of hysteria, assertions that they are “transformative,” “historic,” and “the election of our lifetime.” This election between Hillary Clinton, the most qualified candidate ever to seek the most powerful office on the planet and the first woman to ascend to the Presidency, and Donald Trump, the most unfit, is just such an election.

“We’ve never had such a stark contrast – of character, of vision. The stakes in this election could not be more clear,” First Lady Michelle Obama declared.

Their differences are not merely matters of degree, these two individuals are diametrically opposed in every conceivable way.

But even if Donald Trump weren’t the most temperamentally unfit, inexperienced, morally bankrupt and wrong-headed candidate to ever seek the presidency, I would still whole-heartedly endorse Hillary Clinton, beginning with her biography, her career, her values, and finally, her experience, her competence, her platform and agenda.

I could go down the list of the extraordinarily detailed policy plans she has presented – to address income inequality, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, climate action, education, college affordability, health care, drug prices, infrastructure development, research and development, women’s reproductive rights, gun violence prevention, voting rights,  workers rights, parental leave (I could go on and on and on). (Go to her website, hillaryclinton.com, for details.)

I am cheered that at last, a Presidential candidate really “gets it” – prioritizing issues that have never before been at the forefront precisely because she is a woman and understands what families are going through, what women are still going through, the struggle the middle class is going through. She knows the slings and arrows of being the first woman to have crashed through the barriers to become a major party’s nominee for President and (hopefully) and would be the first woman to hold the office in our history. She brings that sensibility, that understanding, that lifetime of triumphing over adversity as a true trailblazer for women’s equality, going back to her earliest years after Yale Law School, fighting against discrimination and the backlash in Arkansas until she dropped her “Rodham” name for a married name of “Clinton.”

And in the same way as I whole-heartedly supported Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, she has the skills, the big-picture vision, the pragmatism and the tools to actually get these done (assuming she isn’t blocked, obstructed, stymied and delegitimized by the Republicans as they already promise they will do as they did to Obama). I am excited about a pragmatic progressive as President.

But while Hillary Clinton has been specific in her long, long list of policy proposals, which indicate her sensibilities and priorities, Donald Trump, has been vague, offering pie-in-sky – promising on Day 1 to end criminal violence, restore law and order, defeat ISIS (the list goes on and on giving you the idea that Day 1 will be Biblical in length). To the extent he has been more detailed, he has been frankly, frightening.

His pronouncements of what he would do to the nation domestically (repeal Obamacare, rescind the Clean Power Plan, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, shut down the EPA, overturn regulations, eliminate corporate taxes, round up millions of undocumented immigrants), would destroy millions of jobs, raise the national debt and plunge the US into another recession. But while what he would do domestically is chilling, his outrageous, erratic statements about military and foreign policy are horrifying.

His fawning over dictators, strongmen and tyrants like Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, while gushing in the admiration they express for him, and indeed, his close collaboration with Russian interests (including encouraging Russian espionage and interference in US elections) is unsettling, but his willful ignorance, naivete about his role as Commander-in-Chief should strike terror.

Trump has said he knows more than the generals, has touted using torture and killing family members of suspected terrorists. He has said he would not come to the support of NATO allies who don’t pay and would advocate nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea, and is cavalier about using nuclear weapons in Europe (“If you have weapons, why wouldn’t you use them?” “I would bomb the shit out of them.”). He tries to disguise is lack of an actual plan by saying he wants to keep it “secret” and he wants to be “unpredictable.”

Trump has demonstrated over and over that he is temperamentally, intellectually and morally unfit as commander-in-chief, and completely ignorant and inept in anything approaching foreign policy. His undisclosed but suspected business dealings, including Russian oligarchs and debt to the Chinese National Bank, coupled with his propensity to use his campaign to enrich his business, are warnings that he would run foreign policy for his own self-interest. Indeed, as a narcissist, he would conflate the national interest with his own.

Since declaring his candidacy, he has swept away decades that have slowly led to a cultural acceptance of diversity, reinvigorating racism, misogyny, religious bias. He’s made it okay to hate “others” and brought White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis unbelievably out of shadows and into the mainstream.

Trump has run as the “successful businessman,” the anti-politician, the outsider with the predictable outsider, non-politician slogan of bringing “change” to Washington and “draining the swamp”.  And during a campaign built upon one lie after another (75% of the time, according to fact checkers), the biggest lies are that he is a successful businessman, a philanthropist (he isn’t), and basically everything he has promised. Trump has basically boasted that he sees politics as a sales job – or more accurately, a Con Job – leaving a string of defaulted and defrauded investors, contractors, workers and customers. For him, getting sued and suing (3500 lawsuits, including pending ones concerning Trump University and an allegation of rape) are all par for the course – he thinks because he has more money than his adversary, he will win. (Not to mention his henchman, Roger Stone, who may well have been the connection between Russian hackers and Wikileaks, was a dirty trickster for Richard Nixon.)

He has stoked a strain of populism that is virulent, divisive, full of hatred and bigotry – because it has served his political purpose. He has shown contempt for the Bill of Rights protections of religious freedom, press freedom, freedom of speech and ignorance of the Constitution.

Consider who Trump, who has surrounded himself with bullies, misogynists, profligates, sexual predators, racists and corporatists, would appoint to key offices: Roger Ailes, Steve Bannon, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Steve King, David Duke, Carl Icahn. And he has already provided a list of Supreme Court likely nominees, each and every one who would overturn Roe v Wade and continue down the anti-democratic path to oligarchy.

Finally, consider the fact that if Donald Trump wins the election, it means that the Senate and House will also remain in Republican hands, the Supreme Court will shift wildly further toward right wing extremism overturning civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, criminal, economic and environmental justice for decades; all the committees will remain in control of Republicans who have been responsible for the stagnation, gridlock and dysfunction in government that is the source of national malaise.

“We can’t have a racist climate denier who lies about his personal fortune lead our country,” said Raúl Grijalva. “Our country needs a president who understands that issues like climate change, systemic racism and immigration reform are serious and demand a competent federal response.

“Donald Trump has nothing to offer but anger and grievance and blame. And so he – his closing argument asks, what do you have to lose? Well, I’m here to tell you: everything,” President Obama said at a campaign event in Miami Gardens, Florida. “Progress is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot.”
Quite literally, all the values that America is supposed to stand for are on the ballot.

It’s why this is not an election where out of pique against Hillary Clinton (recognizing a 30-year propaganda campaign waged, yes, by a right-wing conspiracy), voters either cast a ballot for the absolutely unvetted third party choices, Gary Johnson (whose outrageous comments suggest he broke his own promise not to smoke marijuana during the campaign), or Jill Stein (if the same level of scrutiny had been leveled, or the same standard of measure, would they get a vote?), or stay home. Staying home is exactly the objective of Donald Trump’s campaign, whose officials have declared that the only way Trump can win is to suppress the vote of three key groups: idealistic white idealists, young women and African-Americans.

On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton is elected, there will be comprehensive immigration reform, a further move toward universal access to health care and rationality in drug prices, continued push to climate action and environmental protection, tax reform that both promotes jobs creation and narrows income inequality, pay parity and paid parental leave, more access to child care, affordable college tuition, and a wide array of policies that promote the well being of families and working people, and the biggest investment in infrastructure since World War II.

“This is truly an unprecedented election,” First Lady Michelle Obama declared in Winston-Salem. “I don’t think we’ve ever had two candidates with such dramatically different visions of who we are and how we move forward as a nation. One candidate has a vision that’s grounded in hopelessness and despair, a vision of a country that is weak and divided, where our communities are in chaos, our fellow citizens a threat. This candidate calls on us to turn against each other, to build walls, to be afraid.

“And then there’s Hillary’s vision for this country, a vision of a nation that is powerful and vibrant and strong, big enough to have a place for all of us, a nation where we each have something very special to contribute, and where we are always stronger together.”
What’s at stake? The Supreme Court. Climate Action. Immigration Reform. Civil Rights. Criminal Justice Reform. Tax Reform. Economic Justice. Environmental Justice. Women’s Reproductive Rights. Women’s Rights. Voting Rights. Gun Violence Prevention. Diplomacy. Alliances. National Security.

And on January 20, 2017, if she is elected – as I pray she is – I hope she will take the oath of office as Hillary Rodham Clinton and forever be known as President Rodham-Clinton. She never gave up her individuality and her personhood because she was married, and her legacy should be in her own name, as well.

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Hillary for America Highlights Differences in Candidates’ Vision; Releases ‘Trump Effect’ Video

New Hillary for America video documents “The Trump Effect.”
New Hillary for America video documents “The Trump Effect.”

Hillary for America has released a new video on the “Trump Effect,” highlighting the differences between Hillary Clinton’s vision and approach and Donald Trump’s.

“Hillary Clinton believes in an America where everyone counts and everyone has a place. She’s spent her life acting on those beliefs, from her early work at the Children’s Defense Fund through a campaign that has consistently called out Trump’s division and hatred while offering a policy agenda that would bring people together and address the issues that keep us apart. Hillary has prioritized issues like immigration reform, endingLGBT discrimination and criminal justice reform.

“American voters face a choice of two different visions for America:  Donald Trump’sdark and divisive vision that could tear our country apart, or Hillary Clinton’s hopeful, inclusive vision that says we’re stronger together.

“Donald Trump set the tone of his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants and has continued using those kinds of insults and divisive comments through today. From Muslims to Gold Star families to a judge of Mexican heritage born in America to one of his own African American supporters just this past week, no one has been safe from Trump’s insults and lies.Trump has also built his political identity on conspiracy theories, starting with the racist lie that President Obama was not born in America and support from hate movements like the alt-right—whose leaders Trump has embraced.”

Clinton has been  campaigning in Nevada and Arizona where she highlighted Trump’s divisive agenda and the high stakes in this election by pointing to Trump’s long record of insults against communities of color. In Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio’s backyard, Clinton will counter their attempts to silence Latinos by mobilizing the community to break with history and turn the state blue on November 8th.

Also today, Hillary For America is launching a new video showing how Trump words and actions have encouraged bullying and fear in schools across our country, something experts are calling the “Trump Effect.”  Children — members of the groups that Trump so frequently attacks — are speaking out about the harassment and threats they are facing because the Republican nominee has targeted who they are or how they pray.

WATCH: “The Trump Effect

“As millions of Americans continue to vote early, and with election day less than a week away, it’s worth taking a look back at Trump’s history of divisive and hateful rhetoric,” the campaign noted:

THE “TRUMP EFFECT”

  • Trump’s rhetoric has given rise to bullying and violence in schools and communities across America.
  • Adopted children in Wisconsin and New York worried they would be sent back to Africa.
  • A child in New Jersey worried he, his mother, and sibling would be separated from his father because they have a different skin color.
  • California school children have endured xenophobic taunts on the playground, including being told they were “born in a Taco Bell.”
  • Students broke out into chants like “build the wall”  when their sports teams competed against Latino students in ColoradoIndiana and Wisconsin. A fraternity in Louisiana constructed a wall made of sandbags “emblazoned with pro-Trump slogans.”
  • A teacher in Arizona allegedly told a student “I can’t wait until Trump is elected. He’s going to deport all you Muslims.”
  • A man and a woman were attacked in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. respectively by people who attributed their motivations to Donald Trump.

AFRICAN AMERICANS

  • Trump, for years, peddled a racist lie that President Obama was not born in the U.S.
  • Trump pointed at an attendee and called him “my African American” during a campaign rally.
  • Trump to African Americans and Hispanics: ‘You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?’
  • Trump retweeted “racially loaded” and “wildly inaccurate” statistics claiming Blacks were responsible for 81 percent of White homicides.
  • Trump blamed crime in majors cities on Hispanics and African Americans.
  • Trump claimed crime in Oakland and Ferguson was so bad that it was dangerous like Iraq and has continued to compare inner cities to war zones.
  • Trump to a Black Lives Matter protester: “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
  • Trump paid for a racially provocative ad calling on New York lawmakers to reinstate the death penalty for five young African American men who were wrongfully accused of raping a woman.

IMMIGRANTS, LATINOS

  • Trump called Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists.”
  • Trump said Mexican immigrants bring “tremendous infectious disease.”
  • Trump on Judge Gonzalo Curiel: “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
  • Trump refused to stop using the term “anchor baby.”
  • Trump referred to some Hispanic immigrants as “bad hombres.”
  • Trump has said he would have a “deportation force” to go roundup and deportundocumented immigrants.
  • Trump would deport children born in America because he does not think their citizenship is valid.
  • Trump said Mexico was sending “The bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them.”
  • Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, is currently on leave from his job as head of Breitbart News. Breitbart drove conspiratorial reporting about Chobani in retaliation for hiring immigrants and refugees, making the company’s founder the target of vicious social media attacks.

MUSLIMS

  • Trump called to ban an entire group of people based on their religion.
  • Trump on his proposed Muslim ban: “I’m not softening my stance at all … In fact, you could say it’s an expansion.”
  • Trump said “I’m looking now at territories. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim… Now, we have a religious, you know, everybody wants to be protected. And that’s great. And that’s the wonderful part of our Constitution. I view it differently. ”
  • Trump defended his Muslim ban by comparing it to Japanese internment camps. Not surprisingly, he said he might have supported internment camps.
  • Trump suggested he would create a database to track American Muslims.

VETERANS, SERVICE MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • Trump repeatedly attacked a Muslim Gold Star family who lost their son in Iraq.
  • Trump claims that U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan would be alive if he had been president.
  • Trump calls our military “a disaster.”
  • Trump said “our military can’t beat ISIS.”
  • Trump said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
  • Trump said the generals have been “reduced to rubble.”
  • Trump said John McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured.
  • Trump suggested veterans experiencing PTSD aren’t “strong.”
  • Trump’s businesses have reportedly fired employees for their military service.
  • Trump scammed veterans through his sham Trump University.

DISABLED AMERICANS

  • Trump mocked a disabled reporter.
  • Trump reportedly called a deaf actress on the Apprentice “retarded.”
  • Trump referred to a paralyzed news commentator as a “guy that can’t buy a pair of pants.”
  • Trump faced a series of lawsuits for failing to comply with the ADA.
  • Trump repeatedly attempted to kick disabled veterans off of Fifth Avenue over two decades, calling the situation “deplorable.”

DISCRIMINATION IN TRUMP BUSINESSES

  • Trump was twice sued by the Department of Justice for discrimination in housing.
  • Trump employees marked applications from minorities with “C” for “Colored.”
  • The housing complex that was one of Trump’s first real estate deals faceddiscrimination charges.
  • Trump’s businesses lagged in minority hiring. Former employees who worked for Trump over several decades said they don’t remember a single black vice president-level executive at Trump Tower.

TRUMP AND HATE MOVEMENTS

  • Trump’s campaign shared an anti-Semitic image on his twitter that first appeared on white supremacist websites.
  • Trump has received an outpouring of support from hate movements like the alt-right.
  • White Supremacists used Trump’s candidacy as a recruiting tool.
  • White Supremacists and Klan members supported Trump, comparing his views to their views.
  • Former KKK Leader David Duke said Trump has “Made it OK to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view.
  • Virginia KKK Leader Endorses Trump: ‘What He Believes In, We Believe In.’”
  • Trump on being supported by White Supremacists: “A lot of people like me.”

TRUMP ENCOURAGING VIOLENCE

  • Trump said to a protester “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya” and mourned “we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days … They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
  • Trump offered to pay the legal fees of a supporter who attacked protester.
  • Trump claimed he could “shoot somebody” and not lose any votes.
  • Trump called to throw a protestor out into the cold without their coat.

Trump’s Own Words Show He is Unfit to be President, Commander-in-Chief

Donald Trump has advocated giving nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan, has expressed wonder why we can’t use nuclear weapons if we have them, and has described his strategy for dealing with foreign enemies is to be “unpredictable.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald Trump has advocated giving nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan, has expressed wonder why we can’t use nuclear weapons if we have them, and has described his strategy for dealing with foreign enemies is to be “unpredictable.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The newly disclosed possibly “pertinent” (or possibly not) Hillary Clinton emails, which are all part of the same single issue of using a private server and have nothing to do with deliberately handing classified information to enemy forces (does anybody really understand what the issue is all about), do nothing to reverse the clear and present danger that a Donald Trump presents if he becomes the “leader” of the Free World and the most powerful person on the planet, with unique control over nuclear weapons.

To remind you of this, the Hillary for America campaign provided a handy list of what The Donald has already said and done.

The comparison with Hillary Clinton’s experience, her steady hand, her maturity, her ability to see the long view, to balance complex competing constituencies, and her willingness to listen, learn and most importantly, admit and learn from mistakes, makes it clear:

The Choice is Clear: Trump is Unfit to be President and Commander-In-Chief

Americans deserve a president who’s ready on Day One to keep us safe. As a former Secretary of State and senator, Hillary Clinton brings vast experience to the Oval Office, having dealt with the key issues facing Americans around the world for decades. Traveling nearly a million miles as America’s top diplomat, Hillary has handled issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to military readiness, from women’s rights  to climate change, and is ready to lead from day one.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has proven himself again and again to be temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief.

Beyond his lack of understanding of foreign policy and unwillingness to learn, Donald Trump is a loose cannon with dangerous views on major global issues. Trump would encourage the spread of nuclear weapons around the world, has insulted our allies and praised several authoritarian dictators.  He even encouraged a foreign government to hack Americans, and since then has refused to acknowledge the U.S. Intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government has done just that.

Americans deserve a president who understands the challenging world in which we live, not one who is too erratic and uninformed to have control of nuclear weapons.

Throughout his career, and throughout this campaign, on subject after subject, Trump has proven he is unfit to be commander-in-chief. As we begin the final week of the presidential campaign, here is a look back at Trump’s dangerous record on matters of defense and foreign policy:

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

On nuclear weapons, Donald Trump has displayed a reckless disregard for fact and fails to understand the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Simply put, he doesn’t have the temperament to be trusted with the nuclear codes.

  • Trump has said he “loves war.”
  • Trump has embraced a reckless “shoot first” foreign policy.
  • Trump reportedly wondered why we can’t use nuclear weapons, if we have them.
  • Trump said he wanted to be “unpredictable” with nuclear weapons.
  • Trump exhibited ignorance on whether he would adopt a “no first use” doctrine.
  • Trump would allow countries like JapanSouth Korea and Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Trump appeared to have no idea what the nuclear triad was.
  • On the prospect of nuclear war in Asia, Trump said, “good luck, enjoy yourself folks.”
  • Trump’s rhetoric pushed dozens former nuclear launch officers to sign a letter saying Trump “should not have his finger on the button.”

U.S. MILITARY AND VETERANS

Trump has repeatedly insulted our military, our veterans and their families. He has been disrespecting our veterans for decades, continually proving he’s unqualified and temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief.

U.S. INTELLIGENCE

Trump has disparaged the U.S. intelligence community – not only rejecting their conclusions, but questioning their motives.

  • When asked whether he trusts U.S. intelligence, Trump said “not so much.”
  • Trump invited a foreign government to commit cyber espionage in the U.S.
  • Trump maintains that we don’t know if Russia is behind recent hacks, despite being personally briefed by Republican Representative Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
  • Trump called the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind that hack was “public relations, frankly” and repeatedly denied their conclusion.
  • Trump has been accused by a former acting CIA director of being “an unwitting agent of Putin.”

AMERICA’S ALLIES

For decades, America has held strong alliances across the world – including those with NATO countries. NATO has stood with the United States, for example, invoking Article 5 after 9/11 and collaborating to fight the war on terror today. But on the campaign trail, Donald Trump has outlined plans to cut off America’s allies.

  • Trump said he would be fine if NATO broke up.
  • Trump accused NATO countries of ripping off the United States, saying “either they have to pay up… or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.”
  • Trump said NATO “may be obsolete” and “doesn’t really help us.”
  • Trump said he might not defend NATO allies against Russian aggression.
  • Trump has extended his threats past NATO to countries like Japan and South Korea.

FOREIGN DICTATORS

Donald Trump seems to have an admiration for dictators from across the world. From Vladimir Putin to Saddam Hussein and beyond, Trump has repeatedly complimented foreign leaders known for their records of oppression and abuse..

  • Trump said North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un deserves “credit” for taking out his rivals and has “got to be pretty smart.”
  • Trump gave Saddam Hussein undue credit, saying “he did one thing well, he killed terrorists.”
  • Trump believes that, during the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Chinese government showed “strength.”
  • Trump thinks Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama, “saying in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A and our president is not doing so well.” (But of course, his praise for Putin doesn’t stop there.)

FOREIGN BUSINESS ENTANGLEMENTS

Trump’s extensive foreign dealings would present significant conflicts of interest and endanger our national security. Trump refuses to disclose the full extent of his foreign business entanglements – but without knowing the details of them, how will Americans know whose interests Trump is putting first? What we do know is concerning.

  • Trump has extensive global financial dealings.
  • Trump admitted that if his business interests were threatened by another country’s government, he would retaliate with the power of the US government.
  • Trump has a record of business dealings with foreign governments – including Iran and China that we don’t know the extent of.
  • Trump has also had numerous foreign business partners we don’t know much about – including one that is allegedly linked to an international money laundering network.
  • Trump is in debt to foreign institutions for hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Trump’s foreign entanglements would pose unprecedented challenges for U.S. foreign policy and national security.

ISIS

Despite Trump’s claims that he has a “secret” plan to defeat ISIS, he has no real plan at all. And his rhetoric is dangerously playing into terrorists’ hands.

  • Trump would “ask [his] generals” – the very same generals he believes he knows more than – for a plan to defeat ISIS, since he doesn’t currently have any plan at all.
  • Trump would continue to promote Russia’s brutal bombing campaign in Syria that is targeting civilians instead of ISIS.
  • Trump has suggested he would allow Syria to become a “free zone for ISIS.”
  • Trump would ban Muslims from entering the U.S., a policy that feeds radical jihadist propaganda.
  • Trump would engage in torture in the fight against ISIS and kill the families of terrorists.

IRAN

Donald Trump’s approach to Iran is devoid of any substance. He has prefered to denigrate American leaders and spew lies when it comes to Iran — though he was willing to deal with Iran when it made him money.

NORTH KOREA

Trump doesn’t understand the threat North Korea poses. On the campaign trail, Trump has taken positions that would endanger the security of the  United States and our allies and embolden North Korea.

  • Trump would meet with Kim Jong-Un, despite his continued violations of  international obligations to abandon his nuclear and missile programs.
  • Trump would consider cutting off defense support to Japan and South Korea.
  • Trump would open to door to nuclear proliferation in the region. When asked whether it’s “fine” for Japan and South Korea to get nuclear weapons, Trump said, “Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen anyway.”
  • Trump joked about the prospect of nuclear war between Japan and North Korea, saying “good luck, enjoy yourself folks.”

RUSSIA

While Clinton has stood up to Russia, Trump panders to Putin. He has voiced support for policies and positions that align exactly with the Kremlin’s interests.

SYRIA

To date, Donald Trump has not laid out any real plans with respect to Syria or offered any indication that he takes the conflict and humanitarian disaster seriously.

  • Trump suggested Syria should be a “free zone for ISIS.”
  • Trump raised the possibility of sending 20,000 – 30,000 U.S. ground troops to Syria and Iraq.
  • Trump praised and encouraged Russia’s brutal bombing campaign in Syria, despite the climbing total civilian casualties and attacks on U.S.-backed forces.
  • Trump peddled lies about Syrian refugees.