Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Paul Singer Donated Money to Devin Nunes... So What?

Per the irrepressible Scott Dworkin:

Devin Nunes' Campaign Donor Was Original Funder Of Trump-Russia Dossier

Republican Congressman Devin Nunes received a $5,400 contribution to his campaign committee from the owner of the Washington Free Beacon, the original funder of the Trump-Russia Dossier. The contribution was made on April 7th, 2015. It was reported in the NY Times in late October that Paul Singer’s conservative website originally funded the research for what became known as the Dossier.

I've gotta give this one a big yawn... first, the donation was a year and a half before #TrumpRussia was a thing.

Second, Singer has since come around on Trump. He put up a million dollars for his inauguration.

Singer gave to every Republican and his (nearly every one was male) mother in the 2016 cycle -- a total of over $25 million in contributions.

The list includes:

  • Joan McCarthy Lasonde
  • Dean Heller
  • Ed Royce
  • Jenniffer Gonzales Colon
  • Orrin Hatch
  • Scott Tipton
  • Scott Jones
  • Darryl Glenn
  • John Kennedy
  • Jason Chaffetz
  • Kelly Ayotte
  • Dave Reichert
  • Bruce Poliquin
  • Dave Joyce
  • Don Young
  • Jack Martins
  • John Bergman
  • Erik Paulsen
  • Denise Gitsham
  • Justin Fareed
  • Susan Brooks
  • Virginia Foxx
  • Mike Lee
  • Todd Young
  • Dan Carter
  • Kevin Brady
  • Peter Roskam
  • Thomas Earl Emmer
  • Kelli Ward
  • John Thune
  • Kevin Yoder
  • Will Hurd
  • Mike Gallagher
  • Don Bacon
  • Taylor Griffin
  • Daniel Innis
  • Roy Blunt
  • Marco Rubio
  • Pete King
  • James Lankford
  • Jerry Moran
  • Paul Ryan
  • Scott Walker
  • Erin Houchin
  • Ted Cruz
  • Rodney Frelinghuysen
  • Ryan Zinke
  • Ann Wagner
  • John Faso
  • David Jolly
  • John McCain
  • Mia Love
  • Chuck Grassley
  • Mike Crapo
  • Tim Scott
  • Sean Duffy
  • Pat Meehan
  • David Valadao
  • Kenneth Buck
  • Carlos Curbelo
  • Adam Kinziger
  • Ryan Costello
  • Ileana Ros-Lehitnen
  • Darrell Issa
  • Bob Dold
  • Mario Diaz-Balart
  • Mike Coffman
  • Devin Nunes
  • Charlie Dent
  • Dan Donovan
  • Rodney Davis
  • Frank Lobiondo
  • Jeff Denham
  • Joe Heck
  • Mimi Walters

He gave millions to the RNC and a number of Republican PACs as well.

So, yeah, there's a bit of irony here, but that's not the story... the story is that someone thought it was worthwhile to buy off basically every Republican elected official in the country. And after last week, I'd have to agree.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cashing Out

I've been looking for a good way to say this for a while, and Joy Reid's got it:

This bill is essentially an endgame. Every Republican in the House and Senate could lose their seats and be provided with a job that pays them a million dollars a year for 30 years by the Koch Brothers alone and just the estate tax repeal would net the Kochs over $20,000,000,000. And this tax heist saves the Kochs and people like them trillions. So you can pretty much rest assured that any Republican who loses her or his seat will have a cushy job waiting for them at Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, or in some other corporate or "think tank" office.

These guys will be laughing all the way to the bank with their Viagra-fueled dicks inside this country.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trump May Be Ending American Democracy, But...

... so is the rest of the Republican Party, and that shouldn't be forgotten. And in his book, the Despot's Apprentice, Brian Klass seems to do that:

Critics call Klass partisan, but he says that throughout the book he uses something he calls the "McCain, Romney test”—referring to the past two Republicans nominees Senator John McCain and businessman Mitt Romney—to gauge Trump’s behavior.
“Anything that they would do, I don't criticize,” Klass says. “I’m genuinely advocating for the things that two years ago, before Donald Trump’s arrival in the political scene, would have been viewed as universally accepted opinions, both in the Republican and Democratic party.
“I focus on violations of democratic procedure, democratic norms. I focus on things that we should all value: a free press, a rule of law society, the idea that people should be hired not because they are family members but because of their merit.”

McCain helped push us to war in Iraq and voted for the horrendous GOP tax bill. He nominated Sarah Palin, the Proto-Trump, as his potential Vice President. Mitt Romney elevated Paul Ryan, one of the people behind that tax bill, and a major Trump enabler, to the same position.

This sort of thinking lets the rest of the GOP, who will try to run away from Trump as soon as it's no longer politically expedient to support him, off the hook. We can't allow that.

If the time of reckoning ever does come for those who backed Trump, there should be no lifeboats waiting for Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The #GOPTaxScam Fallout

Is Lawrence O'Donnell right?

I'm often Pollyannish on this stuff, but I don't think Lawrence is right. My understanding is that this bill is going to zoom through conference. I hope I'm wrong.

Other people's reactions so far today:


Saturday Morning Twitshit

Huh. Not gloating quite as much as I'd expected...

I wonder why? This same guy bragged incessantly when the House passed the ACA repeal months ago, and then it went nowhere. This doesn't seem right. 1. This one's a lot closer to all done than that one, and 2. Trump doesn't learn lessons.

So what gives?

Friday, December 1, 2017

New Addition to the TGC Blogroll -- Leah McElrath

Watch her space. She was one of the first people I followed after the election, and she's terrific.

Also, drop her a few shekels if you can:


Earworm of the Afternoon -- Prison Sex

Friday Morning Twitshit

Just yesterday I was saying that I was finding writing these deflating. Not today. Today's tweets from the Fontange Fuhrer are not as notable as the ones that don't exist.

He starts his morning by screaming about his favorite things -- false accusations against people of color:

"Obama border." Heh.

On to the tax bill he's trying to force through with the sheer volume of his fingers:

But Flynn?

Should be a good afternoon when he releases what he's been holding in...

In Like Flynn

In prison, that is...

What a nice thing to wake up to:

He's charged with one count of lying to the FBI about Russia, and he's pleading guilty. That may mean he's made quite the deal. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Late Night Track -- I Wish

Something Bigger Than Tweets

I've been trying to get back to writing my morning column about Trump's tweets, but I'm starting to find it exhausting and deflating. Too much is going wrong right now. The biggest is the tax bill going through Congress. It's much more than a tax bill; it's a society killer:

The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.
Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.
Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.
With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.

This isn't about Trump. He's just a hand with a pen to the Republicans. Despite their lack of legislative success to date in 2017, this wraps almost their entire agenda into one bill. Despite the fact that one bill has passed the House and another looks like it will probably pass the Senate, the complexity of it will make it quite hard to roll everything into one bill that can pass both Houses at once. But it still might happen. If it does, America as we know it is fucked. There's no other way to put it. The Democrats are itching to run against the fallout, but it's not that simple:

I can't deny it; I'm really, really scared right now. And even if this bill doesn't pass, it's incredibly demoralizing to know that people that can support this even exist, let alone hold almost all of the power in this country.

Literally the Greatest Campaign Ad Ever

I wasn't planning on posting anything tonight, but... lordy, just watch.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Woodstock

Tuesday Morning Twitshit

Looks like we start this morning with some racism:

12 teams are reporting that they're averaging seating beyond capacity, and none are under 82%. I think they're doing just fine (whether I want them to or not is another story).

Pretty much none of that is true. I don't think even Putin, who got him to run, believed he'd really win.

No deal? Good! Right on cue:

Keith Olbermann Signs Off

For the record, I'm not with him. All of the things he describes are possibilities, but the whole situation could just as easily go in the opposite direction.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Late Night Track -- You Get What You Give

Thanksgiving 2017

Just perfect.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Whoever You Are

Pre-Thanksgiving Twitshit

So, normally this rambling tweet would be more than enough crazy for one morning:

But Josh Marshall flags this:

And then this:

It's really, really hard to be thankful for anything this year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday Morning Twitshit

If you ever wondered whether someone could shit racism, there's your answer.

Meetings and working the phones, my ass. He's trying to save his business.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Daisy Jane

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

It's hard for me to accuse any women reporting sexual misconduct of exaggerating. I'm a man, and I have no clue what it's like to experience the things women go through every day. However I think I've had my tail stepped on way too many times by Republicans and I have to reluctantly say that I'm not sure I believe all of Leeann Tweeden's story. Frankly, it's almost scary to me to say that.

Earlier today, I tweeted:

Within five minutes, I found my tweet had been included in a Twitter moment entitled "Misogynists on the left attack Tweeden."

If you go through that Moment, curated by @SchenkNethery, who seems to be a totally decent person (and also hails from my former home, Brooklyn!), there really are a number of tweets in there that "slut-shame" Tweeden. But that's not what I was trying to do. Leeann has the right to pose in any magazine, or appear on any show, or express any political opinion that she wants to.

The problem is, that the Republicans just have too much of a record of figuring out ways to turn Democrat against Democrat -- that happened throughout the 2016 election and is still going on today.

There is no doubt that Al Franken, at the very least, did something inappropriate and juvenile that is barely appropriate for a comedian and certainly not appropriate for someone with political ambitions or anyone outside that realm.

He very well may have touched Tweeden there, but he clearly was not touching her in the picture. Presuming she was asleep, it's a pretty dirtbag move. There's talk that they were just rehearsing a skit and that was part of it, but still would be undignified and deserving of an apology from a grown man.

But this is all we have, other than Tweeden's word. And this is her word:

"You knew exactly what you were doing," Tweeden wrote. "You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed."

If he did, in fact, forcibly kiss her without her consent and actually grab her breasts, then I believe he should resign. I'm just not sure that's the case.

Franken apologized to Tweeden, as he should have:

"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.
"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.
"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them."

A few points here. One, that's the way to apologize.

Two, he's right. Many jokes that used to be funny are just plain offensive. I thought Modern Family was so progressive a decade ago, and now it makes me cringe.

Three, he never said he did anything but take the picture.

Four, he called for an ethics investigation against himself! At a time where the Republicans control the Senate. Either he doesn't believe they'll do it, or he doesn't think they'll find that he did what Tweeden said.

There are also a few ways in which this is suspicious:

First, the easy one. Roger Stone knew ahead of time that this announcement was coming. We all know what happened last time he displayed his magical clairvoyance. Roger Stone is one of the pioneers of "ratfucking" (political sabotage that often involves trying to make someone look guilty, and commonly to cause infighting) and has never stopped engaging in such behavior since the Nixon administration.

Second, as I mentioned above, is that the picture does not exactly display what Franken is being accused of doing.

The third is the sequence of events since Franken's apology. Tweeden accepted it right away. In a vacuum, that seems slightly weird, but OK, maybe she's a forgiving person. But then consider the context (outside of #MeToo, which is a very welcome development). Roy Moore is looking to stay in the Alabama Senate race despite the fact that he can barely even deny that he's a pedophile. He's been let go by the Senate fundraising arm of the GOP. The Alabama GOP is still sticking with him, and look at their argument:

On Wednesday evening, the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, comprised of 21 members, met to discuss the events and circumstances regarding the December 12 U.S. Senate race.
The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race.

Let the voters decide.

After "accepting" Franken's apology, Tweeden said:

When asked if Franken should step down, Tweeden says: "That's not my call. I didn't do this to have him step down ... I think that's for the people of Minnesota to decide."
The two statements were within 18 hours of each other. Can't be a coincidence. Franken isn't up for reelection until 2020, so the voters of Minnesota can't decide for quite a while. But Moore is up in less than a month. And the Republicans REALLY need to hold that seat. This seems like "whataboutism" at its finest, and the GOP is probably trying to muddy the waters.

This is why Steve M. believes Franken should resign -- so the Republicans can't use him for false equivalence. It's hard to disagree with him, but I think Franken should hang in there.

Keep in mind, the Republicans have a history of using women in this way:

Should we give into that?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Late Night Track -- Silvergun Superman

The Pee Pee Tape Is Real

As you've probably read, Keith Schiller, Trump's former personal bodyguard, testified that a Russian did, in fact, offer Trump five Russian women at the hotel that the dossier indicated, on the day that the dossier said the "pee pee tape" was recorded, but that Trump turned him down and went to bed, and Schiller went to bed too and didn't see anything.

What are the odds of such a wholly unlikely story having one of its deniers confirm that 95 percent of it is true and then not have the end be true? This sort of trail doesn't stop at the water's (or urine's) edge. I went from 80 percent believing in the pee pee tape to sure today.

Simple logic, kids.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Can't Stop the Sun

Orwell Rolls Over in His Grave

TPM highlights two examples of Republican punch-me-face smugness today.

Paul Ryan on the San Antonio shooting:

When asked about the backlash on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” show, Ryan said the criticism was “disappointing” and said “people who do not have faith don’t understand faith,” and claiming the “secular left” is responsible for some of the “disunity” in the U.S.
“It is the right thing to do in moments like this because, you know what? Prayer works,” he said. “And I know you believe that and I believe that and when you hear the secular left doing this think, no wonder you have so much polarization and disunity in this country when people think like that.”

No, FUCK YOU. You don't get to tell us prayer stops shootings when you're talking about 25+ people killed IN A FUCKING CHURCH! Were the victims members of the "secular left?" Did they get shot because they were praying incorrectly? It should be criminal to be that much of an asshole.

On to someone I haven't heard of before -- Seema Verma, Trump's Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And of course, being selected by Trump, she's a dickbag. She unveiled a plan to "overhaul" Medicaid, which will result in fewer people getting covered, and makes it sound like a good thing:

In a statement distributed to reporters Tuesday morning, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma called the goal of covering more people a “hollow victory of numbers,”
"A hollow victory of numbers?" I am just at a loss for words over this one. All I have is a burning sensation in my face.

and instead called for changes that “reduce federal regulatory burdens, increase efficiency, and promote transparency and accountability.”

None of those terms are ever good coming from the mouth of a Republican, and of course it's all horseshit:

The announcement also promises to fast-track approval of states’ proposed Medicaid changes (which HHS grants in the form of waivers from existing Medicaid requirements) and to scrap some of the requirements that states report back to the federal government whether the changes improve health outcomes for recipients.

As usual, "reducing federal regulatory burdens" leads to LESS transparency and accountability -- this EXPLICITY reduces transparency and accountability.

One of the biggest changes Verma signaled Tuesday was a rule change allowing states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid recipients and kick people out of the program who cannot find gainful employment.
“Every American deserves the dignity and respect of high expectations and as public officials we should deliver programs that instill hope and say to each beneficiary that we believe in their potential,” Verma said. “CMS believes that meaningful work is essential to beneficiaries’ economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, well-being, and health of Americans.” 

So taking people's healthcare from them because they can't find a job, often because they're too sick to work is giving them "the dignity and respect of high expectations." That's based off of a Michael Gerson original, and it's a doozy.

A 2017 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 27 percent of Medicaid recipients are adults without disabilities, and 60 percent of that group are already working. Most of those not employed are either caring for a family member full-time, have a criminal record, live in an area without job opportunities, or face other “major impediments” to employment. 

Yup. So 73 percent of the people they're fucking over are people who can't possibly work.
“I’m not sure how denying coverage for people based on their inability to find work really meets the objective of providing health insurance to low-income individuals,” said Jessica Schubel, a senior advisor for CMS during the Obama administration.

Liberals, always having low expectations for people...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Late Night Track -- Chile

It's hard to tell the right from the wrong
When the right is protecting the wrong...

The Last Thing I'll Ever Ask For...

Can Mueller make Trump shut the fuck up?

Not only is Trump acting unethically, his behavior could result in action from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman warned that the president had defamed a potential government witness — his former campaign official George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“This could be grounds for Mueller to obtain a gag order on Trump,” Akerman said. “It would be unprecedented, but he is interfering with the government’s right to a fair trial.”
A gag order would prohibit Trump from speaking publically about parts of, or possibly the entirety of, Mueller’s investigations, depending on the scope of the order.



Open Thread -- Welcome

We've had more traffic in the last three days than any entire week in the last year. So, if you're new, feel free to say hi in the comments.

Also, I'm traveling all day, so let me know if I'm missing any big news...

Weekend Long Read -- The Paradise Papers

The Guardian's Jon Swaine and Luke Harding report on MORE Russian-Kushner ties, along with Russian investments in Facebook and Twitter:

Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal.

The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.

The discovery is likely to stir concerns over Russian influence in US politics and the role played by social media in last year’s presidential election. It may also raise new questions for the social media companies and for Kushner.

Read the whole thing. Also make sure you read the backgrounder on the whole trove of Paradise Papers. Wilbur Ross is implicated in them too:

Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, is doing business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law through a shipping venture in Russia.

Leaked documents and public filings show that Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.

Ross, a billionaire and close friend of Trump, retained holdings in Navigator even after taking office this year. The relationship means that he stands to benefit from the operations of a Russian company run by Putin’s family and close allies, some of whom are under US sanctions.

Make an afternoon of it. It's worth it.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- The Battle of Evermore

The Professional Left Podcast, Episode 413 -- Memo to the Next Democratic President

Spoiler -- the message is to tell the mainstream press to go fuck themselves!

Listen to the podcast here.

Is Flynn Next?

According to NBC News, he is:

Federal investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring charges in their investigation of President Donald Trump's former national security adviser and his son as part of the probe into Russia's intervention in the 2016 election, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation.
Michael T. Flynn, who was fired after just 24 days on the job, was one of the first Trump associates to come under scrutiny in the federal probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

If the story is true, the only way he's getting out of this is if he flips on someone bigger:
Mueller is applying renewed pressure on Flynn following his indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

It doesn't get much bigger than a recent Cabinet member... and Mueller getting pretty much anyone I could think of that's higher on the food chain would make me awfully happy.

Jared Kushner was basically shadowing Flynn for a while. He's my best guess.

UPDATE (11/5/17, 12:28 ET): Seth Abramson thinks Mueller's thinking bigger than that:

Sunday Morning Twitshit

Not much to report from Japan:

No fun today...

I Think I'm Paranoid

Soundtrack for this post...

Victoria Brownworth flagged a tweet by an organization called "Northeast Democrats" this morning.

The organization's timeline appears to make it look like a mainstream (read: non-Bernie) group. So there's a Hillary-supporting Twitter feed spouting some seriously awful stuff.

Victoria calls them out for the racism and misogyny, but also for being counterproductive.

It felt more like sabotage to me, so I decided to look a bit deeper, particularly in light of this story:

According to information released by House Democrats earlier this week, Abrams was one of more than 2,750 fake Twitter accounts created by employees at the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” funded by the Russian government based in St. Petersburg. In addition to the Abrams account, several other popular conservative social media personalities — @LauraBaeley, SouthLoneStar, Ten_GOP — were all revealed to be troll accounts. All have been deactivated on Twitter.

I'm sure the number is much higher, but the point here to me is that the mainstream press is now writing stories the give background into some of who these fake accounts were supposed to be.

According to the Daily Beast, the agency developed a following around the Abrams account by offering humorous, seemingly non-political takes on pop culture figures like Kim Kardashian. The agency also furnished the fake account, which dates back to 2014, with a personal website, a Gmail account and even a GoFundMe page.
Once the Abrams account began to develop a following, the tone of its tweets shifted from pokes and prods at celebrities to divisive views on hot topics like immigration and segregation.

I started writing this piece looking to see if the Russians were involved in that Twitter account or in the creation of that meme. (SPOILER: They weren't; the truth is both way more interesting and way less interesting that that. Bear with me here.)
I began with the Twitter account that posted this, @Jon4Vermont. Its username is "New England Democrats," but "Jon4Vermont" refers to a guy who briefly launched a 2018 Senate campaign against Bernie Sanders. The account was opened in July, right when I find the first evidence of him running:

The man who wants to take Bernie Sanders' seat in the U.S. Senate has been at odds with Sanders for more than three decades — from 1980s homeless shelters to last year's presidential campaign.
Jon Svitavsky was a supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid who feels it is his duty to run for office.
"Sanders can't continue to split the party," said Svitavsky, 59, of Bridport. "I don't understand why he's been coddled for so long."
Svitavsky is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the six-year term in the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sanders. In interviews and social media posts, he has slammed Vermont's junior senator as a "control freak," an "arrogant egomaniac," and an inspiring speaker who has failed to pass legislation.
"I see him as a straw man in the sense there’s all rhetoric and there’s nothing behind it," Svitavsky said.
Svitavsky, a longtime political activist who has never held elected office, launched his campaign through Facebook and Twitter. He has not yet filed candidate paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.

So, OK, fringe candidate. But why was he really running against Sanders? Click through to the story for the specifics, but he had a beef with Sanders because he Svitavsky ran a homeless shelter that didn't allow drinkers and Sanders, as mayor of Burlington, funded the opening of a competing shelter that didn't believe that leaving people homeless because of addiction issues was OK. He then left in the mid-90s and tried and failed to open another shelter in 2015. So he had an axe to grind. Maybe Bernie wasn't fair to him; it's not clear. But I'm going to give Bernie the benefit of the doubt here because, well, Svitavsky has a history of being a racist:

Svitavsky is also active on his personal Facebook page, where in 2015 he called Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush a "psychopath" and Ben Carson an "Oreo Bozo," using a derogatory term for an African-American perceived to be acting like a white person. When asked about the post, Svitavsky said he had also used the term to describe former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice but did not consider the term to be racial. Svitavsky said he would probably choose different words today.

So, that's a pattern. But whatever, not where this is going... I'll get to that soon.

Before Svitavsky opened his campaign Twitter account, he had another, @jonsvit. He started it in 2011 and only posted 17 times. Three were in October 2011:

So, he sounded like the kind of guy who would actually SUPPORT Bernie.

He tweeted twice to raise money for the shelter in 2015, and then three times against Bernie in 2017, ending with this one as his campaign was launching:

His first few tweets on his campaign account were in early July, and were retweets of the Vermont Democratic Party, like this one:

He then retweeted a Barack Obama tweet from a few weeks earlier:

His next ten tweets were retweets about Burlington-area politics and commerce, like this one:
Then this one about his campaign launch:
His tweets for the rest of July were mostly anti-Sanders retweets, like this one:

The whole time, he never actually wrote a tweet. But once again, whatever.

NOW the interesting part begins. One more anti-Bernie retweet on August 1st:

... and then on the same day:

The next three tweets were of this article from the Burlington Free Press (a local version of USA Today) with the following insults against Svitavsky: "OFD dropped this fool! Svitavsky backs Michelle Bachman, believes vaccines 'very likely a contributor' to autism," "OFD Dropped this fool! 'I also hate the intolerance, at times of the gay rights movement'. - Jon Svitavsky," and "'Svitavsky's past encounters with law enforcement are also receiving scrutiny'."

According to the Free Press article, those things are true:
Svitavsky also has posted online about vaccines, which he believes are "very likely a contributor" to autism, contrary to statements from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention that studies have shown no link between vaccines and autism.
"I'm not anti-vaccine at all, but I think that it's wise to check what the preservative is in your vaccine," Svitavsky said, citing research done by his wife.
In 2015, Svitavsky defended the conservative evangelical leader Franklin Graham against what Svitavsky called the "in your face" gay rights movement.
Svitavsky said Wednesday that he opposes Graham but finds the gay rights movement "very, very intolerant."
In another post in 2011, Svitavsky suggested that Satan was the leader of the Republican Party. Svitavsky, who is a Christian, said he stands by the statement.
"The truth is being twisted at great harm to the name of Christ and Christianity," Svitavsky said.
Svitavsky's past encounters with law enforcement are also receiving scrutiny. Svitavsky had a number of interactions with the Bristol Police Department in 2014 and early 2015, according to records provided by Chief Kevin Gibbs.
"He seemed to have an ongoing issue with keeping his license valid and would drive," Gibbs said. Svitavsky was ticketed for driving with his license suspended, for driving without registration, and for driving without liability insurance, according to police records. The records were first reported Wednesday by Seven Days.

If Jon was gone, who was running his account? The next tweet, on August 2nd, gives us an idea:

What is OFD? Per the Free Press article, it's the organization that recruited Svitavsky into the race:

Svitavsky said he was asked to run for the Senate seat after being contacted by a group called Organizing for Democrats, led by a North Carolina man named David Moore who noticed Svitavsky's posts on Facebook.
The group continues to advise Svitavsky and runs his campaign Twitter account, which posts frequent criticism of Sanders.
"No-Show Bernard Sanders supporters have killed or injured 8 people in June," an apparent reference to the former Sanders campaign volunteer suspected of shooting a Republican member of Congress and four others.
Another post claims that Svitavsky's interim campaign manager is the "Architect of the 2016 Southern Firewall," a reference to Clinton's presidential campaign strategy. The person running the account did not respond to a Twitter post asking for an interview.

OFD also created that Warren Pocahontas meme that was posted by @Jon4Vermont.

In the August 3rd tweet, Tracie Flowers, who claims to be OFD's "Comms Director," includes a Facebook post that she had written on the same day. In that post, she accused Svitavsky of being a secret Trump supporter, and then of being a secret Bernie supporter. That post has now been deleted from Facebook. Tracie has a Facebook profile that is still live, but she has not posted since August 3rd. This was her second to last post, which was probably an allusion to the ending of their relationship with Svitavsky:

It appears that OFD is, in fact, continuing to run Svitavsky's Twitter feed, and they're vicious:

As I've been writing this, they also doubled down on their racist and misogynistic attacks on Elizabeth Warren:

It's either David Moore or Tracie Flowers, or both, who is keeping Svitavsky's feed going. But why? The feed is a mix of anodyne Hillary support (a lot of retweets of pro-Hillary Twitter stars like Peter Daou and Sally Albright). Their Facebook page is pretty much the same stuff, including the Pocahontas references.

Flowers has a history of invective against Bernie -- this is back in January 2016, even before the Democratic primaries got bitter:

She posted that in response to Bernie coming to visit her Congressional district in North Carolina. And her anti-Bernie posts go way back into the summer of 2015.

But she's probably not behind the Elizabeth Warren post that kicked this all off:

According to an independent Vermont newspaper, Svitavsky is still in the race. Svitavsky says David Moore, a North Carolina man who claimed to represent a group called "Organizing for Democrats," approached him about managing the campaign. "He did do a hell of a job of attracting national attention for my campaign," Svitavsky says. "He arranged a lot of interviews. But I think he was playing me." During a face-to-face meeting about two weeks ago, according to Svitavsky, Moore laid out a plan for a "dirty campaign." The Twitter account, presumably authored by Moore, bears that out; it refers to Sanders as a "commie," a fraudster, even a pedophile. "I told him, 'I'm Andy Griffith. I want to run a clean campaign," Svitavsky says. The last straw came when Moore sent a contract for his services. "He wanted complete control over me and my campaign," Svitavsky claims. He refused to sign. That's when Moore apparently terminated the Twitter account. 

Svitavsky said he fired Moore because he was in favor of posting crazy stuff on social media, but Moore said he stopped working with Svitavsky because HE was already posting crazy stuff on social media:

Moore said Svitavsky refused to delete a "wide range of problematic social media posts."
"His social media presence is probably worse than Donald Trump's," Moore said. "He wouldn’t take advice."
Anyway, who is Moore? Not much of anyone. Really all there is of substance about him online is a comment on this post, written in 2015. He called himself "Chair, North Carolina; Organizing For Democrats – Hillary Clinton 2016."

At the end of the day, the story is about the nature of the internet in our political system today. A random racist dude in North Carolina manufactured some level of self-importance and somehow got a random racist dude in Vermont to challenge the 2016 Democratic Presidential runner-up for his Senate seat, with the help of a random woman with a made-up job.

So, it appears this time it wasn't the Russians, and was in fact some dude on a computer in a basement. And 2017 has seriously driven me nuts.