Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Latest Leak from Guccifer 2.0 Goes Unnoticed by Media

As of 2 p.m. EST, a Google search for news on the latest Guccifer 2.0 leak returned just three results:

1) "Clinton hacker teases identity and calls Snowden and Assange heroes" (from International Business Times UK);
2) "DNC Hacker Denies Russian Link, Says Attack Was His 'Personal Project'" (from Motherboard); and
3) "Dem party hacker answers skeptics on nationality, politics" (from The Hill).

Please note that all three headlines accurately signal the purpose of the articles, which is to focus on the identity of Guccifer 2.0 instead of analyzing the information he leaked. (Note also that since Guccifer 2.0 identified himself as a male in his latest blog post, I will no longer use gender-ambiguous pronouns such as s/he to refer to him.)

Televised coverage of the latest leak from Guccifer 2.0 appears to be non-existent here in the U.S., and high-profile corporate print media outlets are staying mute.

It's almost as if CrowdStrike is suddenly as adept at controlling the national media as the Clinton machine has been for years. Weird.

So now seems like an opportune time to share the wisdom of a purported "professional penetration tester" named Nathan McGinty who commented on a sloppy article that Cory Doctorow churned out for BoingBoing immediately following the appearance of the Guccifer 2.0 blog. Near the middle of his lengthy comment, McGinty observes:
However, it is important to remember that a company such as CrowdStrike -- or Mandiant, with Sony -- a big gun, serves multiple roles in such an incident. First is to prevent further damage. Second is to gather evidence and gain attribution. Third is PR and damage control. The third job of CrowdStrike can at times be orthogonal to the public truth. Nowhere in their job description is included the public truth. There is no penalty (that I am aware of) for them to disclose a non-truth or shade the truth. Heck there's almost no penalty for a politician to do so, and they are ostensibly called upon to serve such a thing as the public truth. [Emphasis added.]
Either my Google-fu is weak or Nathan McGinty is a more common name than you might expect. But for whatever reason, I have been unable to contact Mr. McGinty to confirm his expertise or request further analysis concerning the DNC hack. (Unfortunately, comments on the Doctorow article are now locked, so I can't simply reply to McGinty's remarks.)

Whether McGinty is an expert pen tester or not, the fact remains that the DNC, the Clinton media machine, and CrowdStrike all share jobs that "can at times be orthogonal to the public truth." Since Clinton and the Democrats routinely push for war and Shawn Henry of CrowdStrike routinely uses scare-and-sell tactics to promote his approach to cyberdefense for "the homeland," we should all be wary of these articles that focus on whether Guccifer 2.0 is really a Russian spy or not. Even when the articles leave that question up in the air, they frame the discussion in such a way that Russian cyberespionage remains the central topic.
Obviously, the central topic of the Guccifer 2.0 discussion should be the materials he leaked. And that's the one topic that the DNC, the Clintons, and CrowdStrike all have a vested interest in burying, as they're doing right now with a little help from their friends in the corporate media.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Gotcha Moment in Motherboard's Interview with Guccifer 2.0

On June 21st, Motherboard presented readers with two versions of their Guccifer 2.0 interview: a transcript and a summary.

Since both documents were prepared by the same writer (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bichhierai), I was surprised to discover that the summary and the transcript bear little resemblance to one another on the subject of Guccifer 2.0's facility with Romanian.

Of the summary's fourteen paragraphs, exactly one is dedicated to evaluating just how Romanian Guccifer 2.0's Romanian really is:
But when we asked him to explain to us how he hacked into the DNC in Romanian, he seemed to stall us, and said he didn’t want to “waste” his time doing that. The few short sentences he sent in Romanian were filled with mistakes, according to several Romanian native speakers.
Got that? He only gave them a "few short sentences" of Romanian before losing patience.

In fact, Guccifer replied in Romanian to eleven out of thirty questions. But instead of debating whether eleven qualifies as a "few" of anything, let's focus on the aggravating feature of Motherboard's sudden switch from Romanian to English to Russian in a transparent attempt to trick Guccifer 2.0 into exposing himself as the Russian cyberspy that CrowdStrike and the DNC say he is:
De ce faci toate astea? [Why are you doing this?]
Asta e din partea următoare [That's the next]
Am spus deja, e un filigran, un semn special [I have already said, it's a watermark, a special sign]
Do you like Trump?
I don't care at all
кто-то говорит мне, что ты румынская полна ошибок [Someone tells me that your Romanian is full of mistakes.]
What's this? Is it russian?
You don't understand it?
R u kidding? Just a moment I'll look in google translate what u meant. "Someone tells me that you are full of mistakes Romanian."
Hai sa-ti pun cateva intrebari, ca sa vad ca esti cu adevarat roman [Let me ask you a few questions to see that you are truly native.]
Man, I'm not a pupil at school.
What do you mean?
If u have serious questions u can ask. Don't waste my time. 
Although I can understand Motherboard's impulse to do some linguistic sleuthing on an unknown source of unverified information, I can also understand Guccifer 2.0's display of impatience (under these circumstances) as far more justifiable than the summary made it out to be.

But is this seeming discrepancy even worth mentioning? Shouldn't our primary task concerning anything leaked in the public interest be to focus on what was leaked rather than who leaked it?  

I thought so a few days ago. I'm less certain now. As I see the Guccifer 2.0 story dissipating into background noise, it's plain that the main takeaway CrowdSource wanted to impose on the public is almost the only part of the story that is sticking in the public consciousness: "That DNC hack was probably done by Russians, though you can never tell with cybercrime, but it was definitely probably Russians, including that Guccifer 2.0, who was undeniably and indisputably part of a Russian disinformation campaign in all probability."

Even if Guccifer 2.0's claims regarding her/his ethnicity and first language are irrelevant (as I think they are, since hackers generally rely on anonymity and deception), it's still a good idea to keep facts separate from rumors. The fact is that Motherboard's interview proved nothing conclusive about Guccifer 2.0's Romanian-ness, and yet the interview was used to support rumors about the hacker being a Russian who couldn't convincingly impersonate a Romanian in an online interview with web translation tools at his disposal.

That's how things feel today. But I had a DM conversation with @Guccifer_2 this afternoon that makes me think things won't feel that way for long. More on that tomorrow. 

Cenk Uygur Perpetuates the Myth That Democrats Are Somehow Less Corrupt Than Republicans

Two minutes and forty-five seconds into the video linked above, Cenk Uygur explains why the conservatives on the Supreme Court love bribery: because "they [the conservatives] got there through bribery."

Uygur makes an excellent case throughout the video that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the conviction of Bob McDonnell demonstrates that our government is openly for sale because the highest court in the land is unwilling to consider anything bribery.

But that conclusion somehow becomes ancillary to Uygur's primary contention, which is that this lamentable state of affairs is the fault of deeply corrupt Republican justices appointed by deeply corrupt Republican administrations.

By the end of the video, Uygur is sputtering with rage against conservative Republican corruption. (Watch his apoplectic fit for yourself if you like.)

At no point, however, does Uygur mention that the Supreme Court's decision concerning McDonnell was unanimous.

He doesn't even bother to wonder why the justices appointed by Democratic administrations are every bit as eager to make bribery legal as their Republican colleagues.

So the question TYT viewers need to confront is simple: Is Uygur blind, or is he trying to impose blindness on his viewers?

Is his point in discussing the corruption of the Democratic Party to expose it--or to pretend that it is somehow less treacherous and less pervasive than the corruption of the Republican Party?

Each time he explains his convoluted reasoning behind supporting Clinton out of a fear of Trump, I think he answers that question.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Will the UK Treat Jeremy Corbyn the Way Brazil Treated Dilma Rousseff?

2016 has not been kind to left-leaning government leaders who dare to oppose neoliberal policies and systemic corruption.

Dilma Rousseff, the democratically elected leader of Brazil, was ousted in May on bogus charges of corruption by the very people whose corruption she was in the process of exposing.

Bernie Sanders, who challenged a foreign policy based on regime change and proposed a domestic policy based on infrastructural reinvestment, appears to have lost the nomination of his nation's so-called liberal party to Hillary Clinton, who sees spending cuts at home as the easiest way to finance wars abroad.

Earlier today, Jeremy Corbyn, the overwhelmingly popular leader of the UK's Labour Party, lost a no-confidence vote conducted among his own Members of Parliament, retaining support from only 20% of them.

But even though political officials may have lost confidence in Corbyn, the people of the UK apparently still consider him their best bulwark against neoliberal encroachments. According to an instant (and unscientific) poll conducted by The Guardian in the wake of the no-confidence vote, more than 90% of the people who voted to put Corbyn in charge of the Labour Party intend to vote for him again if presented with the opportunity to do so.

For his part, Corbyn has indicated that he will fight to represent the people who put him into his current position of power instead of kowtowing to the MPs who consider him unfit to lead:
I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.
If Corbyn had to run against likely challenger Angela Eagle today, I don't doubt that Corbyn would win.

But such a vote won't happen until UK officials (in conjunction with their media spokespeople) have had a chance to educate the hoi polloi concerning the dangers posed by Corbyn's leadership. I suspect the process will follow (in broad strokes at least) the outline of what happened in Brazil.

The corporate media of Brazil worked actively to plant seeds of doubt concerning Rousseff's leadership (often by using the airwaves to make staged protests look far more widespread than they were). That campaign to undermine Rousseff was effective enough to shake the confidence of the electorate in the one person in the national government who was working most conspicuously to weed out corporate-sponsored corruption--with the result that the bought-and-paid-for politicians against whom Rousseff fought most fiercely were the ones who ended up in power.

Here in the US, I know plenty of people who see through what MSNBC is doing when it trots out Barney Frank to agree with Chris Matthews about what a tremendous threat Bernie Sanders poses to America's future. But I know plenty more who don't. Even people who fundamentally distrust news broadcasts end up repeating "facts" they "learned" from networks that they consider unreliable.

The media machinery that misrepresented Rousseff in Brazil and Sanders in the U.S. will doubtless give Corbyn the same treatment. I'm already hearing an overlap in the dismissive rhetoric applied to all three figures. Pundits and fellow politicians acknowledge that they are "decent" people, but go on to assert that they lack the fundamental "leadership" qualities necessary to steer their ships of state through the troubled waters ahead. After that grave pronouncement is made, the speaker pauses for a beat to let it sink in before adding something along these lines: "Look, I'm just as committed to breaking out of this neoliberal cycle as anyone else, but the global situation is simply too volatile right now for us to take the drastic steps proposed by Rousseff/Sanders/Corbyn. The only reasonable course of action is for us to temporarily entrust the government to the guidance of a compromise candidate such as Temer/Clinton/Eagle."

Monday, June 27, 2016

Corporate Media Drains You of the Energy to Consume Anything but Corporate Media

Fellow American citizens, you are surrounded by clear-headed individuals who are using plain language to report on the world exactly as it is, but you'll never even notice these folks as long as you keep staring into the black hole of corporate news.

You know full well that the job of CNN is to distract you from troublesome facts and inconvenient information by ignoring some stories and coating others in a veneer of impotent moral outrage. You don't (and can't) expect Wolf Blitzer to diagnose the 2016 election with anything approaching lucidity. But since it's no trouble to turn on the tube and passively soak up lies and distortions, you let access-based reporters tell you how the world isn't instead of letting research-based journalists such as Chris Hedges tell you how it is, as in this excerpt from a recent article for TruthDig:
The liberal class refuses to fight for the values it purports to care about. It is paralyzed and trapped by the induced panic manufactured by the systems of corporate propaganda. The only pressure within the political system comes from corporate power. With no counterweight, with no will on the part of the liberal class to defy the status quo, we slide deeper and deeper into corporate despotism. The repeated argument of the necessity of supporting the “least worse” makes things worse.
People ignore such points out of convenience, not stupidity. It's easy to follow Hedges' logic, but even easier to have a newscast playing in the background while doing household chores. Why should you spend time reading thoughtful political commentary when the only result of doing so is the sense that you're now duty-bound to demand accountability in government?

Your job is hard. Your family is demanding. You're tired and you need a little downtime, so you drown out your own memories of how terrible the Clintons have been with fanciful narratives from MSNBC about how terrible Trump might be. You let Rachel Maddow spew nonsense into your ear instead of heeding Michael Howard when he writes:
[T]he notion that voting third party is a reckless and ultimately dangerous decision is losing its cogency, if it ever had any to begin with. Third-party voters—and hopefully there are many more of them this time around—understand that meaningful change in this country presupposes a subversion of our inveterate two-party (or two-factions-of-the-same-party) political system. By “holding your nose” and voting for Wall Street’s vetted candidate, you are casting a vote for the system itself, and you’re hindering real progress. And all for the sake of… what, exactly? Expediency? It’s always rich to hear establishment pundits charge the #NeverHillary crowd with myopia. Nothing could be further from the truth. In trying to establish a viable third party, one not subservient to the economic elite, these voters have an eye to the distant future, one in which the U.S. actually functions as a democracy. How short-sighted of them!
Do Hedges and Howard sound like petulant brats--or like adult human beings who have seen firsthand what we accomplish by electing the less obnoxious servant of plutocracy every four years?

The main lesson we should all have learned about Hillary Clinton by now is that she wouldn't be inevitable if we weren't already convinced of her inevitability. The important corollary of this lesson, however, is that we wouldn't be convinced of her inevitability if not for a few dozen highly paid, well-placed Clintonite mouthpieces assuring us of her inevitability 24/7.

Let's say that you're a person with a sweet tooth who is trying to lose weight. You take pains to eliminate all forms of candy and dessert from your house, but your paper boy starts including a complimentary chocolate doughnut with your daily paper. Is the paper boy helping you out--or tempting you to backslide into self-destructive behavior?

Now let's say that you're a person with limited free time trying to help build a better future. You take pains to educate yourself about political realities, but the New York Times and Washington Post and every other major news publication in the country keep inserting themselves into your Facebook feed with stories about how you had better settle for Clinton to avoid Trump. Are those news sources helping you out--or tempting you to backslide into self-destructive behavior?

We're killing each other. We're killing the world. We're killing ourselves. And the only reason we accept this reality is because the articles we read from the Wall Street Journal, the stories we hear from NPR, and the reports we soak up from cable news all tell us this is the way things have to be and that any attempt to bring change will only make things worse.

Please dig deep enough within yourself to find the energy required to tune that garbage out. Please don't allow the corporate shills to manufacture your consent for the destruction of your political voice.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Lullaby for the DNC before It Slumbers Eternally

Trump v. Clinton: epic fail
that proves democracy's for sale.

He plays with debt the conman's way.
She'll do the same with Fannie Mae.

It's bad he slurs Latino kids,
but ask Hondurans what she did.   

Call him a bigot, a disgrace;
ignore the Syrians she displaced.

The Hillbots shriek and snarl as one:
"Fear what he says, not what she's done."

Apocalyptic claims abound
on their side, so let's turn that 'round:

If his words might start World War 3,
then her deeds will—I guarantee.

Flournoy, Sherman—ladyhawks
rouse old bloodlust with new warsquawks.

But they can't be as bad as Dick
because they're women. See the trick?

I've swallowed pills from Dems before.
They've brought me debt, disgrace and war.

So try to jam Hill down my throat
and watch me give the Greens my vote.

Prez Trump is your fault, DNC.
You could have had support from me.

If Hill's the nom, then I'm with Stein.
To stop Trump you should fall in line.


New World Progress Has Become Old World Obstructionism

The Solar Impulse (a zero-fuel airplane) successfully completed its transatlantic flight earlier this week when it landed in Seville, Spain on Thursday after taking off from New York on Monday.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard remarked after the landing: "The Atlantic has always been this symbol of going from the Old World to the New."

The jarring thing about Piccard's comment is that in the strict geographical sense, he didn't travel from the Old World (Eurasia) to the New (the Americas). He plainly went from the New World (New York) to the Old (Spain).

But if we look at the world through the lens of energy paradigms, there's a sense in which Piccard got things exactly right.

Only in America (the New World) do we have significant numbers of people (with an even more significant amount of political clout) who deny that carbon emissions from fossil fuels are impacting the global climate.

Our fossil fuel lobbyists (and the political machinery that they fund and keep in place) have seen to it that America does everything possible to keep the entire world trapped in the fossil fuel era despite the fact that billions of human beings recognize that energy paradigm for the destructive and unhealthy process that it is.

Clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels pose an economic threat not only to America's energy corporations, but to the banking industry that supports those interests and the war profiteers who use conflicts in the Middle East and Latin America to tinker with oil prices worldwide.

If the world ran on clean energy, the recent coup in Brazil would have been impossible (because the bankers and their political puppets would have had no motive to conspire with the petroleum companies to subvert democracy). If the world ran on clean energy, Dick Cheney would never have had a motive to embroil the U.S. in a war with Iraq over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. If the world ran on clean energy, the American approach to global finance and diplomacy would simply be unrecognizable compared to what it is today.

But since the special interests that benefit from the current state of affairs are determined to perpetuate that state of affairs for as long as possible, the American government has become a tool for trapping the entire world in the status quo. The nation that once stood as a beacon of progress and democracy now serves as a bastion of stasis and oligarchy.

All the accusations that previous generations of Americans leveled against Europe and the Old World (e.g. being mired in systems of political corruption and cronyism) now apply to the current generation of U.S. citizens and the political machinery that is beyond their control.

So I don't think Piccard could have put things more accurately. America has become the Old World, the world of stifling and entrenched power structures that serve only to squelch new ideas and deter progress in the name of ensuring that the profit pipelines of crony capitalists continue to spew dollars into their coffers (and, of course, the wallets of the puppet politicians who do their bidding).

The progressive and democratic ideals that will lead us out of our current self-destructive path will have to come from the other side of the Atlantic or the Pacific--because America has become too old and crotchety to consider changing its ways.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How to Spot a Hillbot: Entitled Shill Is Entitled

It's always slightly saddening to see one online poster respond to another by typing nothing more than "Troll."

It's not sad because trolling is sad. Sometimes trolling is funny.

It's not sad because the epithet is meant to shut down online arguments. Many online arguments need to be shut down.

It's not even sad because it's name-calling. I'm pretty sure the internet was invented for name-calling.

It's sad to see that one-word response because it's a lazy and witless way of asserting what we used to assert with a gloriously lulzy four-word formulation: "Obvious troll is obvious."

So part of me wishes that instead of reflexively labeling Hillbots trolls with a single word, we would all just go the extra mile and type out "Obvious troll is obvious" in our responses.

But that doesn't really go far enough. We should actually type "Entitled shill is entitled" because entitlement is what their primary argument ("Opposition to Clinton is support for Trump!") boils down to.

Seriously. The Hillaryans genuinely feel entitled to our votes.

It's not Clinton's job to earn our votes. It's our job to justify voting for anyone else. But of course, if we try to justify voting for any other candidate, we can't even finish our first sentence before the Hillbots interrupt with indignation, "But don't you see that if you vote for [insert candidate here], you're just throwing your vote away and helping to elect Donald Trump?"

No, I don't see that at all. The way I see it, the Democratic Party is electing Donald Trump by presenting us with an alternative who is a warmongering advocate of the carceral state with a track record of lying and a deeply unprofessional aversion to press conferences. Although she has a slight edge over Trump in the polls at the moment, history demonstrates that the longer Clinton remains in the public eye, the less people can stomach her. She's going to lose not because I refuse to give her my particular vote, but because she is unelectable. And when the Democratic party's unelectable candidate goes down to Donald Trump, the real finger of blame should point at the superdelegates who insisted on nominating an unelectable candidate--not the voters who failed to achieve the impossible by electing the most unelectable candidate in history.

That response only makes Hillaryans laugh because they are convinced that my vote started out belonging to Clinton and that any attempt to cast it for someone else is a deep perversion of immutable justice.

But the thing is my vote NEVER belonged to Clinton. I'm one of those pesky independent voters--you know, the folks who outnumber both Democrats and Republicans and wait for some candidate to step forward and win our support.

Of course I won't give that support to Trump. He's terrifying because, as Clinton says, his ideas are "dangerously incoherent." But neither will I support Clinton. Her ideas are terrifying because they are "dangerously coherent." I know exactly what her agenda is and that she has the political chops to accomplish it. I just happen not to be in favor of more police brutality, more displaced populations throughout the world, more poisoned water, more poverty, and more consolidation of power in the hands of those who are already abusing it. 

To say so, however, is to invite the scorn of countless Correct-the-Record minions who will gleefully point out that whatever atrocities Trump permits will be on my hands.

To which the first response is obviously that at least the atrocities Clinton would have perpetrated won't be on my hands.

But the second (more important) response is that if I can't vote for Bernie Sanders, then I'm going to vote for the candidate whose values correspond most precisely to my own. That candidate is neither trump nor Clinton. It's Jill Stein.

If we reach November and Clinton and Trump really are still the major party nominees (a matter I hardly take as settled), then I'll vote for Stein not as an act of petulance, but in the hope that enough other people will be disgusted enough by the Trump-Clinton binary to do the same.

I know that Hillaryans can't take that claim seriously. They understand that Trump is utterly loathsome and repugnant, but they can't grasp that their candidate is equally loathsome and repugnant. They know that the prospect of a Trump presidency is terrifying, but they can't grasp that the prospect of a Clinton presidency is even more terrifying to a lot of us.

Any attempt to express these sentiments to them prompts a sarcastic, "Thanks for electing President Trump"--to which the suitably sarcastic reply is, of course, "You're welcome."

Followed by: "Entitled shill is entitled to Trump."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Is Guccifer 2.0 a Pseudohacktivist Puppet Working for Shawn Henry of CrowdStrike?

Earlier today, Guccifer 2.0 announced via his Twitter feed (@Guccifer_2) that he would accept and respond to direct messages.

Here's the DM I sent him:
Hi Gucc! I hope you are the real deal, but I worry that you may be a pseudohacktivist puppet working for Shawn Henry of CrowdStrike the same way Sabu turned out to be a pseudohacktivist puppet working for Shawn Henry of the FBI. Can you allay my concerns? (If you don't remember LulzSec and AntiSec, I can send you some articles.)
I'll update this post if s/he a) responds and b) gives me permission to share. Note that Guccifer 2.0 has already indicated that not all questions will be answered and that answers will appear on the Guccifer 2.0 blog.

Update #1 (12:52 p.m. EST): Guccifer 2.0 has replied to indicate that s/he will be answering the "most popular" questions he receives via DM, which suggests that if there is a question s/he doesn't want to answer s/he can simply claim that not enough people asked questions in that vein. I therefore encourage anyone who doubts the authenticity of a hacker whose "leaks" to this point have consisted mostly of information that is a matter of public record to DM @Guccifer_2 with iterations of the question I posted above.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why Should We Doubt Anything Asserted by the DNC, Repeated by the Company They Hired (CrowdStrike), and Confirmed by that Company's Industry Partner (Fidelis)?

According to news sources all over the internet, the verdict is in concerning the hack of the Democratic National Committee. A headline from Business Insider UK reads "Yes, Russia Really Did Hack the Democratic National Committee." Similar headlines have poured in from other sources, such as The Washington Post ("Cyber researches confirm Russian government hack of Democratic National Convention"), Computerworld ("Russian hackers were behind DNC breach"), and Neowin ("The Russian government hacked the DNC after all").

Apparently the world can breathe a sigh of relief and rest assured that the matter has been settled once and for all.

These headlines are generated with such certainty primarily because a cybersecurity outfit called Fidelis has independently corroborated the assertions of CrowdStrike, the company hired by the DNC to mitigate the damage done by the breach.

But none of the stories attached to the headlines question how "independent" the analysis of Fidelis really is. Certainly none of them mention that Fidelis joined a 7-member intelligence exchange program sponsored by CrowdStrike in August of 2014. Nor do they point out that a press release from General Dynamics that same month characterized Fidelis and CrowdStrike as "partners" rather than competitors in the cybersecurity industry.

The Washington Post attempts to bolster its case by referring to a statement from Marshall Heilman, a researcher from Mandiant (long considered a genuine rival of CrowdStrike), according to which "the malware and associated servers are consistent with those previously used by 'APT 28 and APT 29,' which are Mandiant’s names for Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, respectively."

The Post article doesn't explain how Heilman obtained his malware samples, but gives us a hint in its invocation of yet a fourth cybersecurity firm, ThreatConnect, which "followed up on CrowdStrike’s analysis by looking at computer Internet protocol addresses that CrowdStrike said it had found while investigating the DNC intrusion." (Neither Mandiant nor its parent company, Fireeye, responded to my queries about how Heilman obtained the DNC malware samples.)

So for those keeping score, we know that Russians hacked the DNC because 1) The DNC told us so; 2) CrowdStrike (the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC) told us so; 3) Fidelis (one of CrowdStrike's industry partners) told us so; 4) Mandiant (based on an examination of malware samples presumably provided to them by CrowdStrike) told us so; and 5) ThreatConnect (based on an examination of IP addresses admittedly provided to them by CrowdStrike) told us so.

Monday, June 20, 2016

CNBC Thinks You've Forgotten the Story of Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch

"Oh please don't throw me in the briar patch," Brer Rabbit begs Brer Fox in one of the most famous scenes of reverse psychology in all of literature.

As all readers--even children--understand perfectly, Brer Rabbit wants nothing so much as to be released into the briar patch, where he will enjoy a territorial advantage over all would-be predators, including Brer Fox.

In this story released by CNBC's Ben White, Brer Rabbit is apparently still with us in the form of Wall Street--and the briar patch has morphed into a VP slot for Elizabeth Warren.

We're supposed to believe that Wall Street is shouting, "Please don't make Elizabeth Warren your VP" at Hillary Clinton--as if Wall Street lobbyists wouldn't love to see Warren removed from her current position of power in the senate to a position of powerlessness as Clinton's veep.


Did White have a straight face as he wrote this nonsensical attempt to hoodwink citizens into imagining that finance industry lobbyists are wailing, "It's true that Warren has supported legislation to protect consumers against financial fraud as a senator, but the absolute nothing that she will be able to accomplish as VP is what really has us scared. So if you name her as your VP, then it means we no longer support you!"

If and when Clinton does name Warren as her VP choice, her campaign will presumably point to this development as evidence of Clinton's dedication to reining Wall Street lobbyists in when it signifies nothing so clearly as letting them run rampant.

Who does Ben White think he's kidding?

And more to the point, if he's committed to being this bad at his job, shouldn't he have considered a less public line of work?

Guccifer 2.0 and the Corporate Media's Credibility

If you googled Hillary Clinton over the weekend, you had a hard time finding mainstream stories about Guccifer 2.0 because they were all buried beneath layers of commentary on the birth of Clinton's newborn grandson Aidan.

That's not evidence of an elaborate plot to forge a media narrative; it's simply business as usual for our corporate news sources, which routinely privilege distractions over substance.

The limited coverage of the Guccifer 2.0 story appeared in news outlets such as Gawker and The Inquisitr and on fact-checking websites such as Snopes.

Guccifer 2.0 was barely mentioned (if at all) in more high-profile/mainstream publications, and the stories concerning the leak that did appear in such publications (e.g. Wired and The Wall Street Journal) focused far less on the content of what was made public than on arguments about culpability for the breach.

Here's a representative paragraph from the Wired article by Andy Greenberg:
But just as lurid as the leaked data has been the fingerpointing that came after. Earlier in the week, the security firm Crowdstrike, which the DNC brought in to remediate the breach, published a blog post claiming that a pair of hacker groups based in Russia and associated with the government’s intelligence apparatus carried out the intrusion. The post pointed to the specific malware and tactics linked with the Russian groups known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. Both have a history of hacking high-value international intelligence targets.
Note that Greenberg can't vouch for the veracity of CrowdStrike's assertions; his purpose here is merely to summarize what their website claims. This tone of responsible skepticism is the most striking distinction between the way the Guccifer 2.0 leak is being handled in the mainstream press and the way it is being handled in more partisan outlets.

The notoriously right-wing New York Post, for example, ran this headline on the 16th: Leaked document shows DNC wanted Clinton from start. The purpose of that article isn't to establish the authenticity of the Guccifer 2.0 leak, but to presume its authenticity and spin a specific point as negatively as possible against the likely Democratic nominee.

We saw a similar slant taken by the The New York Observer (owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and therefore presumably more sympathetic to Trump than Clinton). On the 17th, the Observer ran this piece by Michael Sainato: Guccifer 2.0 Leak Reveals How DNC Rigged Primaries for Clinton.

The Sainato article is especially noteworthy because of its final paragraph, which reads more like an excerpt from a Bernie Sanders speech than a piece of journalism concerning cybercrime:
The Democratic primaries exhibited a stark disregard for the values endemic to democracy, nearly solidifying an oligarchy in which corporations and wealthy donors use the government as a means to perpetuate their own agendas. These interests circumvented democracy to help Hillary Clinton out-raise Bernie Sanders by over $80 million from Super-PACs. These are the companies who offshore thousands of American jobs, who pushed for a Wall Street bailout when their greed and recklessness delivered our country into the worst recession since the Great Depression, and who have destabilized foreign regions around the world through unnecessary military intervention. Hillary Clinton represents an extension of disastrous policies, and her coronation by Establishment Democrats ensures corruption and dirty politics will continue as the status quo for years to come.
Although The Observer isn't backing Sanders, egging Sanders supporters on in their resistance to Clinton could definitely play to Trump's advantage, so it's not hard to see why this article ends on such a polemical note.

Just think how the title of Sainato's piece would have been edited before appearing in something like The New York Times: "Guccifer 2.0 Leak (If Genuine) Suggests Premature Partnership between DNC and Clinton."

But The New York Times didn't run any such headline because it wasn't interested in the Guccifer 2.0 story.

The Grey Lady's editors may, as many Sanders supporters suspect, have chosen to ignore this story because they think it would be too damaging to their darling candidate.

But what if they're ignoring the Guccifer 2.0 leak because they have good reason to believe it's a hoax?

This possibility keeps nagging me as I see prominent alternative media analysts (including Jordan Chariton and Jimmy Dore of TYT) arguing that the Guccifer 2.0 leak must be authentic simply because the DNC refuses to go on record denying its authenticity.

I love the zeal of Chariton and Dore, but I urge all Sanders supporters to proceed with extreme caution concerning anything on the Guccifer 2.0 website. So much of the leaked information is a matter of public record that we should be skeptical about anything that isn't already part of the public record--such as a letter that neatly confirms all the suspicions of outraged Sanders supporters being posted on a newly launched website by some unknown person/people claiming to have hacked the DNC.

C'mon guys--let's calm down.

Less than five years ago, CrowdStrike's president (Shawn Henry) used the notorious LulzSec/AntiSec hacker Sabu to deceive the world when both he (Henry) and his informant (Sabu) worked for the FBI. It is therefore entirely possible that Henry is using Guccifer 2.0 to deceive us in the same way.

Remember that CrowdStrike officially works for the DNC, not the public interest. The DNC has, under our noses, mounted a months-long disinformation campaign concerning Hillary Clinton. That disinformation campaign has largely failed because its primary vehicle (the corporate media) is widely distrusted by the American public.

Please consider the obvious ways in which the Guccifer 2.0 leak--if it proves to be a hoax--will simultaneously discredit all the alternative media sources that embraced it and restore credibility to the mainstream corporate news entities that ignored it.

Again, proceed with caution.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Clinton Vs. Trump: Voters Choose between America Destroying the World and the World Destroying America

In 2016, American voters are being told to make a very difficult choice that turns out to be no choice at all--because we're going to destroy our species and our planet either way.

If we elect Clinton, we'll get to watch America destroy the world. Hillary Clinton will talk sweetly and incessantly about the importance of protecting women, children, and other vulnerable people around the globe as she forges diplomatic, economic, and military alliances with their oppressors.

She will say that she has kindness in her heart for all Muslims and that America has always stood for freedom of religion. Her rhetoric sounds positively mellifluous compared to anything coming out of Trump's mouth, but what she really means is that she will provide the Saudi royal family the weapons and credibility necessary for them to quash dissent among their subjects. 

She and her husband have always been sneaky that way. And they're very good at what they do. The honeyed words of the Clintons are toxic--but so sweet that the people they poison often die with smiles on their faces.

As the atmosphere chokes on its carbon content, Clinton will say just the right things to make distracted folks believe that important work is being done behind the scenes to improve matters.

As populations are displaced throughout the world by the various military campaigns that Clinton will doubtless sponsor in the name of "humanitarian relief," Americans will take solace in the fact that they are "winning" because widespread human misery will be confined (at first at least) to other people in other regions.

Under Clinton, America will be #1 again . . . by virtue of seeing to it that the rest of a blighted world has to fight over scraps for several decades--perhaps even the better part of a century--before we have to do the same here.

If we elect Trump, we'll get to watch the world destroy America. Donald Trump will talk angrily and provocatively about how everything that's going wrong is the fault of people outside our borders. When it becomes plain that no one really believes climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, Trump will acknowledge that it's a real phenomenon--but nevertheless the fault of the Chinese . . . and the Russians . . . and every Muslim nation on the planet . . . and any other perceived threat that he can get a vocal segment of the American population excited about bombing out of existence.

He has already alienated Muslims everywhere, and for his success with his base in America to continue, he will have to keep antagonizing disaffected Muslim-Americans. If only we could predict what kind of fallout there might be from ratcheting up antagonisms within the American population . . .

Unlike Clinton, however, Trump lacks the political skill, the patience, and the connections to start wars all over the globe and destroy/displace populations before they have a chance to strike back.

Unlike Clinton, Trump will make his enemies scared (instead of persuading them that they are dying because of humanitarianism gone horribly wrong). He will unite his enemies in opposition to the U.S.A. Even Canada will realize that unless we are stopped, we'll simply end up killing everyone. Our loyal Israeli allies will begin to wonder whether it's more important to accept our financial aid or to prevent us from deploying tactical nuclear strikes just outside their borders--because radiation has this pesky habit of not staying where one puts it.

Donald Trump will make America look like the Death Star that it has become, and all the orphans that the Clintons, the Bushes, and Obama have worked so hard to create will aspire to become Luke Skywalkers. Sooner or later, one of them will identify and destroy the exact right vulnerable target in our system to cause the whole shebang to collapse under its own weight.

The worldwide resistance to the Trump agenda will be strong enough to stop us and destroy us--but not before we do enough damage to the planet and other civilizations to ensure that those who defeat us end up as smoking ruins a few decades thereafter.

The strange thing is that refusing to choose between these two equally genocidal alternatives prompts scorn and derision. If I would rather support Jill Stein than the idea of America destroying the world or the world destroying America, then I'm apparently just a chump guilty of throwing my vote away.

But it's hard for me to believe that as Trump and Clinton compete over who will get to throw away the future, the only chumps in this picture are the ones willing to take a gamble with their votes.

I present these thoughts on Juneteenth to support YahNe Ndgo and the Revolt Against Plutocracy as outlined in the #GoGreen619 video. I recommend that everyone hear Ms. Ndgo out.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

You Can't Spell Guccifer without Gucci: A Pronunciation Guide

If Guccifer was meant to rhyme with Lucifer, it would be spelled with a single c.

There are two c's for a reason, as Andrew Higgins made clear in the The New York Times back in 2014. The Romanian hacker whose real name is Marcel Lazar Lehel chose the handle Guccifer with a famous Italian designer in mind:
[He] signed off as Guccifer (pronounced GUCCI-fer) — a nom de guerre coined, he said, to combine “the style of Gucci and the light of Lucifer.”
Language lovers will note that even though this explanation settles the matter of how to pronounce the hacker's name, it does so only by providing a deeply dissatisfying etymology.

The problem is that the /fer/ part of Lucifer has to do with carrying, not illuminating. Lucifer does mean "light bearer" (as Guccifer plainly understands), but the reference to light is embedded in the /luci/ portion (derived from lux, which is simply Latin for light).

Since the /fer/ part of Lucifer conveys bearing/bringing/carrying, Guccifer's name really seems to mean "bearer of designer goods."

So when you hear newscasters pronouncing the first syllable of Guccifer's name as "goose" (rather than "gooch"), the way to keep yourself from becoming annoyed is to pretend that they are intentionally mispronouncing his handle to reproach him for his own sloppy approach to etymology.

Whether the same pronunciation should apply to Guccifer 2.0 is a more complicated question--one that I think Guccifer 2.0 is better suited to answer than anyone else. So I posted a comment on the Guccifer 2.0 blog asking the hacker to settle the matter. I'll update this post if I ever see a response to my query.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Call Tony Podesta at (202) 393-1010 and Tell Him to Make His Brother Stop Talking about UFOs

In the second release of documents allegedly filched from the DNC, Guccifer 2.0 includes lists of various DNC donors along with some personal details.

Before plunging into the leaked documents, Guccifer 2.0 calls out Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for claiming that "no financial information or secret documents were stolen."

The hacker challenges this claim from Wasserman-Schultz by providing screenshots of Excel spreadsheets that contain "donors lists and their detailed personal information including email addresses and private cell phone numbers."

The screenshots certainly look authentic to my eye (though my eye isn't especially well-trained in detecting spreadsheet chicanery).

But I'm not sure the doxing is as thorough as Guccifer 2.0 suggests. The first entry in the first screenshot lists Ellen Tauscher as a donor whose phone number is (202) 234-4671. One way to check on whether that really is Tauscher's number is to throw it into Google. If you do so, you'll find that it comes up (along with Tauscher's name and address) in a whitepages entry.

The third screenshot for this new post by Guccifer 2.0 includes a highlighted entry for Tony Podesta (brother of the infamous John, who cannot stop yammering about the potential declassification of Area 51 files under a Hillary Clinton presidency). I googled the phone number associated with Tony and found it listed on the contact page of the Podesta Group's website (under the "Anything" category). When I googled the two email addresses, I found the first ( plastered all over teh interwebz. The second email address listed ( appears to be a predictable variation on (which is listed on the bio page that the Podesta Group dedicates to Tony).

I haven't checked any other data "exposed" by these spreadsheets. Maybe some of it will turn out to be far more "secret" than the two entries I randomly decided to examine. (Random is the wrong word. I picked the Tauscher entry because it came first and the Podesta entry because it was highlighted and because I hoped it really would include Tony Podesta's private cell phone number so that I could tell him to punch his brother in the nose the next time he diverts attention from Clinton's message-less campaign by invoking UFOs).

So far, I'm not blown away by the secret info I've encountered, and I want to share one comment from a reader (Tyrone Russ) of the hacker's blog:
Holding back +1’ing anything like this until it’s confirmed. The Trump report appears to be just a dump of media reports about the Teflon Donald, with no authorship/masthead noting who created the report.
The spreadsheets? Again, no way to verify who created them. They’re way too generic to be any kind of smoking gun without corroborating metadata.
Not a Shill-bot, just being careful – the Kool-Aid can be strong, but can also be subtle.
EDIT: Going through all the doc’s linked, they all have the concerns I stated. No confirmation, no email headers, no metadata. It’s smelling a little fishy. Just because you want something to be true, doesn’t necessarily make it true.
Like Russ, I just want my fellow Sanders supporters to take a few deep breaths before they go hog wild with this Guccufer 2.0 stuff. Yes, it confirms a lot of what we already know about collusion between Clinton and the DNC. But the problem is that if we make too big a deal out of that supposed confirmation and the info turns out to be doctored or in any way inauthentic, the Hillaryans will simply point to the Guccifer 2.0 story as proof that there was never any collusion.

Let's not go overboard.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Perhaps CrowdStrike : Guccifer 2.0 :: FBI : Sabu

Less than five years ago, when Shawn Henry headed cybercrime investigations for the FBI, he oversaw multiple cases involving an informant known as Sabu.

Numerous hacktivists (such as Jeremy Hammond) offered their assistance to Sabu because they assumed that his AntiSec movement worked in opposition to the FBI and the surveillance state.

Where did they get that idea? It may have had something to do with a weekly AntiSec event that took social media by storm: the #FuckFBIFriday campaign (a cointelpro operation that was in fact monitored by the FBI).

Many of Sabu's hacktivist accomplices failed to learn (until it was too late) that he was working for the FBI even as he whipped up hacktivist enthusiasm against the surveillance state.

As journalist Quinn Norton points out, just three days after the FBI shut down its AntiSec operation, Shawn Henry retired from his government post to join a cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike, the same outfit recently hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate an alleged data breach.

Henry's CrowdStrike lost no time in blaming the breach on Russian hackers (supposedly associated with two groups known as "Cozy Bear" and "Fancy Bear"). Almost immediately, however, a real or fabricated hacker with the handle Guccifer 2.0 claimed individual responsibility for the theft of opposition research from the DNC concerning Donald Trump.

Just as Sabu was fond of showing public scorn for the FBI, Guccifer 2.0 enjoys taunting CrowdStrike: “Shame on CrowdStrike: Do you think I’ve been in the DNC’s networks for almost a year and saved only 2 documents? Do you really believe it?"

In fact, it wasn't enough for Guccifer 2.0 to boast about turning the hacked goodies over to WikiLeaks. The hacker contextualized that revelation within a direct jab at Henry's cybersecurity firm: "The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to WikiLeaks. They will publish them soon. I guess CrowdStrike customers should think twice about [the] company’s competence."

My title asserts something that I cannot prove--but that I nevertheless deeply suspect: that the relationship of Guccifer 2.0 to Shawn Henry's cybercrime outfit in 2016 (CrowdStrike) is precisely analogous to the relationship of Sabu to Shawn Henry's cybercrime outfit in  2011 (the FBI). And since we now know that the FBI was deeply complicit in the infamous Stratfor hack, I can't help wondering who's really responsible for the DNC breach.

So when Donald Trump suggests that instead of being hacked by outsiders, the DNC simply handed its opposition research over to CrowdStrike, I'm not as quick as those unfamiliar with Shawn Henry to dismiss his claim as conspiratorial fantasy.

Is Donald Trump irresponsible with his rhetoric? Plainly. Is he incendiary when it comes to interpreting the world around him for his rabid supporters? Certainly. But is he nuts for suggesting that the story we're getting from CrowdStrike and the DNC is more likely to be a devious media ploy than a genuine breach of cybersecurity? I'm not sure--because I've seen this page from Shawn Henry's playbook before.

Henry knows how to establish credibility for an informant by having that informant heap public scorn on the agency that controls him. Just because we know for a fact that it happened less than five years ago with Sabu doesn't mean that it's definitely happening now with Guccifer 2.0--but it could be.

Those who want to cheer Guccifer 2.0 should remember how Sabu betrayed Hammond and do their cheering from a safe distance. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Sane Progressive Wants a Revolution Because She Knows We Need One

Debbie Lusignan, host of YouTube's The Sane Progressive, released a segment earlier today in which she took TYT's Cenk Uygur to task for "kicking the can [of revolution] down the road [of history]."

She was responding directly to Uygur's #TeamRevolution campaign, which he kicked off yesterday with a video in which he explained that "election days come and go"--and that when they don't go our way, we have to keep looking forward and thinking about what we can achieve in the future.

According to Uygur, it's unsurprising for people to claim that the election of 2016 is the most important of our lifetime--since we hear similar claims about every election.

But according to Lusignan, the claim is actually correct this time because we are on the brink of irrevocably compromising the habitability of our planet.

Although I share Lusignan's alarm about what we're doing to the planet, I think she actually understates the importance of the 2016 election because of what a Trump or Clinton presidency is likely to do to net neutrality and our ability to tell each other what we're thinking (instead of letting mainstream media tell us what everyone else is supposedly thinking).

Part of Sanders' success is attributable to widespread environmental concerns, but an even more important part of it is the fact that despite a mainstream media blackout on Sanders, he continues to attract throngs of supporters throughout the country and around the world. The role of alternative media in fueling the Sanders revolution cannot be overstated.

That's why it frightens me to hear the sense of resignation in Uygur's plea. It's one thing to say "Let's get 'em next time" at the end of a soccer tournament that we lost fair and square, but another thing to say it as we watch footage of the winning team cheating its way to victory, destroying every soccer field on the planet, and proactively working to prevent rival squads from communicating with each other about how they can get together for practice in the future.

Uygur's lack of urgency is alarming, just as it's alarming to hear so-called progressives saying that Sanders' agenda will inevitably become the future of the Democratic Party simply because it appeals to voters under 30.

In 2016, the Sanders agenda never reached the people who rely on mainstream media for information. And in 2024, a similar agenda will never reach the people who rely on an establishment-mediated internet.

But even though I share Lusignan's sense of urgency, I'm still willing to give Sanders and his team the benefit of the doubt--at least until the convention in Philadelphia.

Sanders may not be as thoroughgoing a revolutionary as Lusignan likes, but he has proven himself to be a canny and adept politician. It's reasonable to wonder why he hasn't made more of a stink about election fraud in the Democratic primaries, but it's also reasonable to consider the possibility that he is managing that narrative to his own advantage and--more importantly--to the advantage of his cause.

Winning elections means getting more people on your side than the other candidates have on theirs, and Sanders has shown a keen understanding of crowd psychology throughout the primary process. Sure, there are plenty of people like Lusignan and myself who are ready to follow him right now in a full and open assault on our deeply corrupt establishment.

But there are other people who haven't woken up yet. They would do the right thing if they knew what it was, but they haven't paid enough attention to suspect that this election is any different than the other pantomimes of democracy we go through every four years.

Sanders would have alienated those folks if he had started whining about election fraud earlier in the primaries.

Perhaps even more importantly, he would have put the Clinton campaign on guard.

By pretending not to notice what was happening, he encouraged the Clinton camp to become ever more brazen in its efforts to rig the election. What started as a deeply suspicious series of six consecutive coin tosses going Clinton's way in Iowa has since turned into rampant voter suppression in Puerto Rico and statewide fraud in California.

The evidence is certainly overwhelming enough for Sanders to present an ultimatum to the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. They can either award him the nomination that he rightly won, or he will justifiably break his pledge not to run as an independent.

Then, instead of the narrative being, "That Sanders guy is always whining about cheating," it will be, "That Sanders guy showed video evidence of cheating in almost every state. I don't blame him for turning his back on a party that screwed him over."

Maybe Lusignan is right to be distressed about Sanders' low-key speeches since the California primary. If Sanders does behave as she fears by falling in line behind Clinton, then I will be right beside Lusignan championing Jill Stein.

And I won't be hoping to get Jill Stein over the arbitrary thresholds necessary for the Greens to receive federal assistance or an invitation to the debates; I'll be fighting tooth and nail to win her the presidency because the 2016 election--even with all its irregularities and disenfranchisement--might really be the last time voters have any influence at all on an electoral outcome.

But until Sanders actually concedes and offers his support to Clinton, I'm going to trust his judgment in guiding the revolution more than Lusignan's or my own.

I think he's got some aces up his sleeve.

He's not just good at policies; he's not just good at principles; he's not just good at integrity. He's really good at politics.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Parsing Comments Sanders Made on Sunday, June 12

At one point in Bernie Sanders' brief press conference on Sunday, he remarked, "We are going to take our campaign to the convention with the full understanding that we are very good at arithmetic and that we know, you know, who has received the most votes up to now."

Those who have internalized the distortions of the corporate media assumed that he was talking about Hillary Clinton as the person "who has received the most votes up to now."

I don't believe that's what he meant at all--because she doesn't have the votes that our news sources claim she has.

Evidence of rampant and systematic election fraud--not just in California, not just in New York, not just in Puerto Rico, not just in Arizona, but everywhere in the country--is prompting lawyers to file a racketeering lawsuit against the Clinton campaign.

That lawsuit will attempt to prove what many of us suspect: that Sanders has already won the Democratic nomination.

Americans don't pay attention to their own politics, much less the politics of other countries. But we need to wake up and prevent the corporate media from accomplishing the same sort of coup for corruption here that we recently saw engineered in Brazil.

In 2016, coups are no longer achieved with guns in the halls of power, but with bullets of misinformation being fired into the brains of incredibly busy and easily distracted populations.

We must oppose those bullets of misinformation with a vigorous demand for transparency.

Whatever happens in the coming days, please consider exercising your constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly in Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention at the end of July.

When we showed up on social media for Sanders, the establishment said we wouldn't show up to vote.

When we showed up at the polls, they threw out our votes, misreported them, or even turned them into votes for Hillary with the magic of their black box voting machines.

If we let them get away with it--if we fail to show up in Philadelphia--they will say that American citizens are satisfied with things the way they are.

This is the way democracy ends . . .

This is the way democracy ends . . .

This is the way democracy ends . . .

Not with a bang but a whimper--unless we show up in Philadelphia.

You can think of that qualifier at the end as Woody Allen improving on T.S. Eliot--since Allen is the one who observed that 80% of life is showing up.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Dog Has More Sense Than Noam Chomsky

My dog Twinkie fears two household items: vacuum cleaners and bathtubs.

The roar of the vacuum scares her simply because it’s loud and annoying. She’s never had an unpleasant experience with a vacuum. There’s no traumatic tale of a suction accident in her puppyhood. She just hates and fears the racket instinctively—so much so that she will do whatever gymnastics are necessary to avoid coming within five feet of a running vacuum. 

As for bathtubs, they didn’t scare her until she learned to associate them with becoming wet and miserable.

She reacts to the sound of the vacuum running and of tap water filling the downstairs bathtub in exactly the same way. As soon as she hears either one, she freezes and then, sneakily, peers left and right, plotting the course of her escape.

One night I happened to be vacuuming the hallway just as my wife was preparing the bathtub for Twinkie, who was napping in the bedroom between us.

The nightmare clatter of the vacuum and the filling tub roused her to the doorway.

First she looked my way—presumably to see if the vacuum cleaner was far enough down the hall for her to clear it at a safe distance on her way to the doggie door.

No chance. The hallway was blocked.

She looked the other way and saw my wife approaching with her sleeves rolled up and a towel over her shoulder.

We chuckled at each other as poor Twinkie gulped in terror. For a moment, she seemed paralyzed. 

But then she made up her mind. She bolted towards me and leapt over the vacuum.

She fears the vacuum because of what it might do to her—not because of anything it’s actually done. But the bathtub makes her miserable every time she’s plunged into it, so her decision wasn't difficult.

She evaluated her options and made the correct choice.

I wish Noam Chomsky could be as clear-headed as my dog.

On one hand, Chomsky must be smarter than Twinkie because he explains the role the corporate media plays in manufacturing consent far more lucidly than my dog can. 

But on the other hand, Twinkie must be smarter than Chomsky because she understands that sometimes we have to overcome our fears of the unknown if we want to avoid an outcome that we know in advance to be miserable.

Donald Trump is as loud and annoying as any vacuum. Most of us share the instinct to steer clear of him.

Hillary Clinton makes a much more soothing sound. The gentle whoosh of flowing water is attractive to us even if there’s lead in it.

But what do Clinton’s benign words about fighting for ordinary folks really portend? Presumably the same things they’ve always portended: 1) people of color being shipped off to prisons at disproportionate rates to perform slave labor; 2) fossil fuels being called “clean” as long as their pollution takes the form of invisible methane leaks instead of visible smoke; 3) helpless women and children being championed on camera while they are systematically murdered and displaced behind the scenes as a direct result of compulsive international meddling; and 4) American citizens being deprived of the basic protections of citizenship against international corporate profiteers through instruments such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clinton calls herself a progressive who gets things done.

She’s right—as long as your idea of progress involves enslaving an ever-broadening swath of the American population to pay for wars that they never asked for—wars that are somehow supposed to make us safer from terrorists by killing innocent civilians all over the world.

If that thoroughly predictable future is less frightening to Chomsky than the unknowns associated with a Trump presidency, he needs a phobiametric recalibration.

But the most frustrating thing about Chomsky’s coerced-by-the-circumstances endorsement of Clinton is that it buys into the very binary logic we must explode. When you get trapped in a binary, the mistake is almost always to race towards one extreme or the other.

Twinkie didn’t charge towards the vacuum to embrace it. She took the risk of coming too close to it so that she could escape to safety. Life presented her a choice between the vacuum and the bathtub, and she selected option #3: the doggie door.

For me, option #3 will be Bernie Sanders until he refuses to run any longer. I think the abundant evidence of election fraud and voter suppression in this year’s primary process may yet prove that Clinton’s campaign lacks much of the support it claims. I think it’s possible (though improbable) that James Comey of the FBI and Attorney General Loretta Lynch will hold Clinton to the same standard of law as any other American entrusted with classified information. I admit that superdelegates are unlikely to betray their donors by representing their constituents, but I remain hopeful that enough Americans will rally in Philadelphia on July 25th to pressure the Democratic Party as dramatically as Icelanders pressured their government leaders in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. Non-violent assembly can be very persuasive when it occurs on a large enough scale. 

Maybe that’s all wishful thinking.

Maybe the Democrats really will decide that the recipe for winning the presidency is to nominate a widely despised candidate under criminal investigation—as long as her opponent is Donald Trump.

If that’s their decision and Sanders subsequently endorses Clinton, then Chomsky is free to run towards misery with his vote.

As for me, I prefer to face the dangers associated with coming too close to Trump in order to move towards a brighter, safer, healthier, saner world. Even if Sanders becomes a fearmongering party hack on Clinton’s behalf, I’ll attempt to jump over Trump by supporting Jill Stein.

The strategy of jumping will work if enough people who are paying attention (such as Chomsky and the swing state voters he hopes to influence) are willing to vote out of hope instead of fear. 

But what if it doesn’t work? What if Stein shaves off just enough votes for us to land on the surreal comb-over of an orange-faced vacuum?

That’s still preferable to ending up miserable for a minimum of four years.

The vacuum will be loud and annoying. Everyone who hears it will try to turn it off or unplug it. Frightening though it sounds, the vacuum probably isn’t going to eat us even if we land on it. 

As for the tub, we know for a certainty that it will leave us wet, shivering, and miserable. 

I don’t care how pleasant the bath tap sounds relative to the vacuum. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that leads to poisoning the planet, enslaving my fellow citizens, and murdering/displacing innocent civilians all over the globe.

I won’t be taking my cue on this one from a graying academic—however highly regarded he may be. Instead, I’ll be following the lead of a mutt rescued from a local pound. This vacuum-bathtub binary is unacceptable, so I’m taking my chances on reaching the doggie door whether I succeed or not.

Call me a low-information voter if it makes you feel better. Depict me as an unwashed mongrel if you like. But even if there is something canine about my rationale, I fail to see anything humane about Chomsky’s.

It’s really that simple. Bernie or bust.