A Life & Death Treason Party: Russia’s Recipe for Chaos
• As each day passes, connections between Donald Trump and Russia are becoming more clear—and his party is protecting him.
• This news is horrible on its own, but Russia has its tentacles in all over our political system, including a specific progressive segment.
• I spoke to a psychotherapist who says Facebook’s addictive allure has hypnotized vulnerable users with blips and flashes of false stories and divisive memes.
(this post has updates where noted.)
‘Tis the season for a Treason Party.
As I outlined in CrankyYank Vol. 51 last month, the GOP—a fractured American political throng of cretins, one of which pledged to impeach Sec. Hillary Clinton before the election last November—has suddenly gone mum as allegations of Trump’s collusion with Russia mount.
In this case, silence really isn’t golden. It’s rank hypocrisy in its rawest form.
But today’s edition isn’t about the GOP. Nor is it about Paul Manafort, who’s been the subject of multiple lines of inquiry; nor is this about Ivanka Trump’s complicity in enabling her father’s reckless ideological warfare, reportedly seeking top-line security clearance; nor is it about Trump adviser Sebastian v. Gorka’s links to a Hungarian Nazi clusterfuck; nor is it about multiple people in Trump’s orbit who may have association and/or collusion with Russia.
UPDATE: Trump and the GOP are aligned—and possibly in collusion—with a totalitarian regime in Russia that kills its opponents. Just yesterday a high profile ex-parliament member was killed on the streets of Kiev as he was on his way to meet another dissident.
But this post about a far-less reported Russian breech: a military-grade, Ebola-level virus unleashed by the Soviet Union 2.0 upon a subset of the American left. Let’s take a look.
“Bernie Sanders Lovers” is not a sexy dating site for love-thirsty Bernie singles (that’s here). As Rachel Maddow reported a few days ago, BSL is an active Facebook page run out of Albania. Facebook has allowed this page to continue running, even though its managers had lied about where they were based (it now reads “earth,” although until I see proof I’ll assume that’s a lie, too).
(Writer’s note: Facebook has culpability here and should be more active in taking these pages down. But we’re setting aside that important point for another day; this post will focus squarely on FB users and the impact false stories can have on a captive audience.)
The Bernie page is convincing, I must admit. Page runners put up sparkly memes; links to some actual journalism; and a banner pushing Bernie in 2020. But if you squint and read between the lines, the page also is a continuing hit job on Hillary Clinton.
For the record, yes, I voted for Hillary. I voted for the sane adult in the room. I believe in holding any politician’s feet to the fire regardless of party affiliation. Had she been inaugurated, I’d be working hard to make sure she held to the Dems’ most progressive party platform in history.
But for some that just isn’t good enough.
I have some experience with these folks. I was blocked by a gal on Twitter who wasn’t just a Bernie follower; she was actively working to disqualify Clinton as a corporate boot-licking evildoer. When I questioned this pal’s tweets, she flamed and instantly blocked me. I’d post that exchange here but she deleted it entirely. “I’m gonna have to block you Will” is all I can remember.
Luchia had been my friend since I started tweeting in ’08; I helped her rename her twitter handle and I celebrated with her when she named her first child.
Luchia is actually the poster child of a compromised progressive. When I first knew her, there was absolutely no sign of these leanings. And now, she’s using Trump vernacular and has added, interestingly, “#DemLeaks” in her twitter bio—which is basically celebrating the fact that Russia, through proxy Wikileaks, had infiltrated one party’s communication and vomited it all over the internet machine.
And today, I was just scolded on Twitter for being an elitist asshole who voted for that “corporatist” chick, and that I’m not allowed to have “resist” in my bio.
I’m a bad progressive!
How do Maddow-viewing, garden-variety liberals turn into fearmongers about open borders? How does a normal liberal get to assigning purity tests for acceptance or rejection? I’m putting my money on the Russia disinformation blitz, at least in part. And it’s actually landing much bigger fish that my dear pal Luchia.
congrats @RT_America: you've successfully Russianized an entire segment of the American left. https://t.co/eveJ60olip
— Will Is Social Chair Of Fani Willis Fan Club ⚖️ 🌻 (@bywillpollock) February 22, 2017
Ed Schultz used to be a firebrand liberal host on MSNBC, but he’s found a new home on RT America—widely seen as the Kremlin’s propaganda bullhorn in America. I’ve seen other anchors and journalists on the left—some of whom I respect greatly—who’ve adopted a “Russia first” sympathy in their public statements. And it makes no sense… unless you look at how the network has worked to cultivate their favor.
Sometime in late 2015 or early 2016 I was listening to Thom Hartmann on the radio, and all of a sudden he starts to recount a glossy eyed trip he took to Russia through RT America. He spoke of how wonderful everything was there and how great it was for both him and his wife. Which I’m sure is true.
What really stunned me is that Hartmann made absolutely no mention of a RT journalist resigning on-the-air in protest over the network’s obvious bias. Hartmann had consumed too much Kremlin kool-aid for my liking, and other blips and bytes of his further shows confirmed that feeling.
Which leads me back to Facebook. RT America—on Facebook with a robust presence of its own—is but a fraction of the bullcrap stories that hit the social-networking site. (The below graph via Buzzfeed is a bit misleading in that the progressive Sanders/Stein wing of the party had been courted even before this timeframe.)
NPR has an amazing post up about tracking down a fake-news creator named Jestin Coler, who lives in a leafy suburb of Los Angeles. From the story (emphasis mine):
During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. ‘It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of rabid Trump supporters waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,’ Coler says. ‘It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.’
This “red meat” ain’t just for right-wing nutjobs. It was aimed at the left as well.
So I wanted to ask a psychology expert: what is it about Facebook that creates a breeding ground for misinformation? What is the mindset of someone who is susceptible to having their worst fears not only confirmed, but augmented?
“Facebook is mesmerizing and has become a magnet for people,” says the licensed professional, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity out of mutual respect for clients. “The magnetism of logging on is numbing people to even question the news there. They’re already logged on and browsing, and they figure ‘I may as well get my news here too.'”
The professional goes on to liken Facebook’s experience with that of a carnival hypnotist, who can control people with his words and actions.
“It’s hypnotic and less discerning. It feels like a dissociative, hypnotic trance state. If you’re hyponitzed on stage and they tell you to go pick up that hat, what happens? Once you’re in that state for 10 minutes you’re in a trance. And the speed with which you can take in data—it’s totally superficial.”
Speaking only for me, when I’m presented with any news story my first order of business is to figure out what source I’m clicking to. Even then, I can smell bias from a mile away and want the impartial truth—not prepackaged propaganda designed for spoon-feeding.
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I have no idea what will happen with this Russia story. I’m greatly worried about the future of our republic and, no matter who’s in charge, it’s always important to push back and hold people accountable.
Allowing this type of activity to flourish is tantamount to treason. But the ship has sailed so far out in to the ocean that it’ll be hard to call it back—an no news outlets are covering it.
I launched CrankyYank more than a year ago—to counter profit media with independent journalism and analysis. If you like what you read, please subscribe, like and share. And to quote Mike Signorile: “don’t drink the kool-aid.” ❏
We’ll see you right back here next Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Will Pollock is an Atlanta-based freelance multimedia journalist focusing on pop-culture, politics, journalism & media, retail, real estate, travel, politics, and human interest.
He is the author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—and check out the book links below.
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