Will the Russians help the GOP again this year? What can we do about it?

The Democratic lead in the race to control the House has lessened in recent months, and it is unclear if the Dems can mobilize core voters on a level that will compensate for the advantage the GOP has gained from recent gerrymandering and racially targeted voter suppression laws. I have a suspicion that the Christian Right, thanks to Trump’s Supreme Court picks, is going to mobilize its base this November in the most spectacular manner ever seen in midterms–the 20 percent asserting its Dominion over the 80 percent while the 1 percent laughs all the way to the bank.

As to the rest of the Trump base: even their idol’s appalling performance in Helsinki, operating like Putin’s lapdog, is unlikely to have a sobering effect. It is obvious from the performance of the crowds at recent Trump rallies that they will for the most part be unmoved by appeals to the national interest or to patriotism and the importance of the Western Alliance in the wake of Helsinki. For they have replaced national interest in their minds with the white nativist interest, patriotism with white nationalism, and the Western Alliance (insofar as they have any knowledge of the outside world) with the insurgent Putin-financed international movement known as “populism.” And most other Republicans stand and will continue to stand with Trump on the basis of an ersatz conservative ideology, desire for higher profits resulting from deregulation, or a cowardly conformism.

The race will probably be close. All Democrats should therefore be concerned that Russian government hackers will find a a way to influence the outcome in swing districts by just enough to maintain Republican House control and even help the GOP increase its majority in the Senate. Already the Russian GRU intelligence agency has attempted to hack the computers of  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), who is one of the chief targets of Trump and the Republicans in their fight to maintain control of the Senate.

Our intelligence community keeps warning that Russian cyber warfare in this country continues on a massive scale, but no one is doing much about it. The majority of states are expressing little concern over the possibility of new electoral attacks. And in many states there are no paper ballots, so no easy way to challenge suspicious results.

The Russians may do the hacking directly or provide cover for the Mercer family to once again use its own mercenaries with a little outside help. The hacking may eventually be discovered (or may not, as in the case of the suspected ballot machine tampering in the 2000 Presidential election) but before that the Republican candidates who benefited will be safely occupying their seats–and no one will be able to unseat them (or indict those in the United States who were involved) since the Republicans, flush from victory and continuing to control all three branches of our government, will support Trump in firing Mueller and dismantling the Russia investigation, and in dismissing questions about the November results as “fake news” or a deep-state “witch hunt.”

The GOP leaders may already anticipate that Putin will bail them out, but they don’t frame it as unpatriotic or treasonous to accept Russian support, because they think the Democrats are FAR WORSE than Putin. Same with the Christian Right, which has been allying with Russian Orthodox rightists (backed by Putin-linked oligarchs) for years.; it is more concerned with taking away a woman’s right to control her own body and the right of LGBTQ people to marry–issues more important to them than any abstract and relatively trivial (as they see it) national security or integrity of the ballot issues. For both the Republican legislators and the Christian Right fanatics, the enemy of our enemy is our friend and the Constitution is to be interpreted as whatever keeps the Trumpublicans in power.

The federal government under Trump is not going to ride to the rescue on ballot security this November. Nor will Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department. Nor will the intelligence community. And certainly not Kirstjen Nielsen’s Department of Homeland Security.

The hour is late, but perhaps not too late for the following measures:

1. The Democratic National Committee and/or civil rights groups should file suits in every state without paper ballots, demanding immediate steps to protect the integrity of the computerized elections in those states; and where a state board of elections is not moving in an aggressive manner on this danger, the plaintiffs should ask the court to appoint an outside trustee to manage the election process.

2. The DNC should encourage computer scientists and highly skilled programmers, specially those with expertise in security issues, to join in a volunteer Save the Vote Corps to help any state board of elections in protecting its computer system. (Something similar is already being done to help protect the computers of Democratic congressional candidates.) Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other tech giants should be asked to provide experts for this volunteer corps.

At the least, these measures would help us to accumulate more knowledge of the background of any suspicious results, and thus make it easier to challenge such results in the courts, in the media, and in the streets.

Report from the Left Forum

On Sunday, June 3rd, Patty Friend, Sheldon Ranz, and I got ready to present our second panel of the weekend: “Domestic Violence: How Capitalism Fails Survivors.” This panel was a little different than most that were offered at Left Forum. Following this year’s theme of “Towards a New Strategy for the Left,” the SD, USA decided to present a series of panels that focused on real, pressing issues and how, as leftists, we can rally to find solutions. Domestic Violence, though not a new concern, is finally gaining national attention. We felt that a discussion about how American Capitalism protects abusers and falters survivors, and to outline some practical solutions, would be a fitting addition to the conference.

Well, it seems we were wrong. Fifteen minutes after we were supposed to start, we were looking at an empty room. While some panels, debating obscurities of leftist purity were packed to standing-room-only, no one showed up until we had already broken down and called it a loss.

The day before, we had a good turn out at our panel “Mental Health in America: The Capitalist Crisis and Socialist Solutions.” We were booked in a day-long series of healthcare related panels. We had a surprising amount of doctors, social workers, and mental health professionals in attendance and we were able to facilitate some great discussion. We also had the opportunity to see a panel, moderated by Howard Waitzkin (author/editor of the book “Health Care Under the Knife”) which offered an array of insight into America’s long-broken health care system.

Coming out of the first day, we were hopeful that the engagement we experienced would continue, but I started seeing the growing bark of sectarian squabbles first thing Sunday Morning. I went to a panel that morning entitled, “What’s left of the Left?” hosted by a delegation from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). They discussed the current state of affairs in Germany and parallelled them with what is going on here, suggesting that anti-establishment conservatism is on the rise.
One of the speakers also suggested that a huge base of support for people like Trump and Merkel are more interested in finding people from “outside the system” and that is why Trump and Bernie had a lot of the same supporters.

Here is where people in the audience began to push back. For some reason, a “revolutionary” in the audience was so angered at the mention of Bernie Sanders as an outsider, he interrupted them to tell them “Bernie is not an outsider! He is a part of the system, too!” Regardless of your opinions of Bernie as an outsider (and I definitely have some) this outburst speaks volumes about the revolutionary left: they are much more concerned with calling out enemies within the left than they are with actual enemies from the far right. The man had no issue with Trump being seen as an outsider, worthy of popular appeal, but someone who speaks about socialism from a two-party podium could not be stomached.

Someone asked the panel “Why not participate in a REAL leftist party? Isn’t the SPD a bunch of neoliberals?”

To this, the panelist said “Because, I want to get shit done!”

I clapped. Alone.

The point of the conference was coalition building, to connect and strategize so that we can move “Towards a New Strategy for the Left.” I believe the conference was run well and that the organizers are in the right place. The big-ticket panels, featuring Kali Akuna, Ajamu Baraka, and Jane Sanders, were productive and featured a variety of approaches and suggestions on how we can all move forward together. Unfortunately, this message was lost on petty protestors who took these opportunities to grandstand instead of listen and disruptors who had no intention of contributing to the conversation, but came to take away from it.

I commend Left Forum on the unyielding amount of dedication they put into this and I appreciate the opportunity I had to participate. I also plan on attending in the future. Hopefully, as the need for unity and actual progress becomes more apparent, more of the attendees will come in the name of Solidarity.

Audio of the Mental Health panel: https://youtu.be/fK43xHFItJA

Families Belong Together—Attend a June 30 Event!

    Donald Trump and his administration have cruelly separated thousands of children from their families. Now they’re jailing families — and they haven’t yet reunified the families already brutally torn apart.

    But we won’t allow it to continue. On June 30, we’re rallying in Washington, D.C., and around the country to tell Donald Trump and his administration to permanently end the separation of kids from their parents. End family internment camps. End the “zero-humanity” policy that created this crisis. And reunify the children with their parents.

    Trump and his administration have been systematically criminalizing immigration and immigrants, from revoking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to ramping up intimidating ICE tactics. 

    Join us on June 30 to send a clear message to Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress: Families Belong Together! 

    If there’s not an event near you, keep checking back or create an event at the link below.

      All Events

     

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    With 700+ Events Planned for Saturday, Nationwide Rallies Will Demand End to Trump’s ‘Zero-Humanity’ Policy

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    With 700+ Events Planned for Saturday, Nationwide Rallies Will Demand End to Trump’s ‘Zero-Humanity’ Policy

    “All people deserve the right to raise their children in a healthy and safe environment without being targeted by aggressive immigration tactics and being forced to live in constant fear.”

    Protesters who marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants on June 28, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)Protesters who marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants on June 28, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    More than 700 direct actions are planned in cities and towns across the country on Saturday, as Americans rally against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, the forcible separation of families, and the imprisonment of children.

    A list and map of events with start times and details is available at MoveOn.org.

    “Donald Trump and his administration have cruelly separated thousands of children from their families. Now they’re jailing families—and they haven’t yet reunified the families already brutally torn apart,” wrote the Families Belong Together coalition. “But we won’t allow it to continue. On June 30, we’re rallying in Washington, D.C., and around the country to tell Donald Trump and his administration to permanently end the separation of kids from their parents. End family internment camps. End the ‘zero-humanity’ policy that created this crisis. And reunify the children with their parents.”

    A main event in Washington, D.C. is expected to draw tens of thousands of marchers, two days after thousands of women marched to Capitol Hill and nearly 600—including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—were arrested for demonstrating in the Hart Senate Office Building.

    Organizers are asking attendees to wear white as a symbol of unity and solidarity.

    Smaller protests are planned in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and in front of the U.S. embassy in Lisbon, Portugal.

    The Trump administration’s practice of separating families began last month after Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented a “zero tolerance” policy under which all adults who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without passing through an official port of entry are prosecuted. Following Trump’s signing of an executive order last week—only after the policy sparked international outrage—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will no longer separate families.

    More than 2,000 children remain in detention centers without their parents, and the Trump administration is planning to detain families together indefinitely while adults await immigration trials.

    Dozens of social justice groups were mobilizing their ranks to participate in the Families Belong Together protests this week, including Planned Parenthood, Win Without War, and National Nurses United.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have both spoken out against the Trump administration’s practice of separating families, citing the grave psychological damage being done to both children and parents who have been forcibly separated—many after fleeing violence in their home countries.

    The United Nations has also denounced the practice as well as the indefinite detention of families, which is a violation of international humanitarian law.

    On Twitter, the Families Belong Together coalition applauded the tens of thousands of Americans planning to march on Saturday, and urged the public to continue fighting the Trump administration’s anti-immigration agenda in the weeks and months ahead.

    Families Belong Together

    Families Belong Together

    Can you show up at an immigration enforcement office near you this Friday for a Families Belong Together Rally?

    The Trump administration has cooked up a vile new scheme: ripping children away from their parents in order to discourage immigration.

    ICE, Border Patrol, and other Homeland Security agencies are taking the children of immigrants and asylum-seekers and sending them to faraway detention centers. It doesn’t matter how young the child, how terrible their situation, or how unnecessary their separation. They have one goal in mind: to warn immigrants not to come here, or else they might lose their children.

    But the Trump administration is showing signs that it will bend to public pressure. That tells us that if enough of us raise our voices, we can end this practice for good.