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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Where Would Bernie Have Been Without the Russians? (Or, the Ukraine Tads Really Knock Me Out)

I defended Bernie Sanders probably a bit longer than I should have. I was never an outright Sanders supporter during the 2016 Democratic primaries, but I was Bernie-curious briefly (until reading his economic plan that just didn't add up) and thought that his ideological presence in the primary was a positive one. A week after the election, I even referred to Bernie as "one of my heroes."

But that's gone quite downhill since. Last Saturday, after Mueller's indictments against the 13 Russians said this:

The document, which spells out in detail how the Russians worked to support Trump’s campaign, alleges that on or about Feb. 10, 2016, the Russians internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted on social media accounts. 
“Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump – we support them),’” the indictment said.

... I thought to myself, "Forget 'Would Trump have beaten Clinton without the help of the Russians? (SPOILER: No.)' I wonder if Bernie would have risen as far as he did without the help of the Russians? Would Bernie have been able to separate himself from O'Malley, Chaffee, and Webb (remember them?)?"



In essence, how much of the shrinking of the gap in the shaded area on the chart above (cribbed from 538) was made up by Russian campaigns?

I started going backwards in time last weekend, but didn't get further back than the 2016 Democratic National Convention in July... what I found was super interesting, though -- that a pro-Trump, likely Russian bot with apparent insider knowledge started the #BernieWouldHaveWon hashtag.

I still haven't had the time to really dig further back than that, and didn't want to tip my hand that I was starting to suspect something fishy with Bernie and the Russians, but he hasn't behaved well this week, blaming the CLINTON campaign for not doing anything about Russian interference on HIS behalf, and now he appears to be caught in a bit of a lie about the whole affair:

Bernie Sanders is taking credit for action to combat the Russian incursion into the 2016 election that he didn’t have anything to do with — and didn’t actually happen.
Twice this week, in response to questions about whether he benefited from the Russian effort, as prosecutors allege, or did enough to stop it, Sanders said a staffer passed information to Hillary Clinton’s aides about a suspected Russian troll operation.
It turns out that the purported Sanders’ staffer who said he tried to sound the alarm was a campaign volunteer who acted on his own, without any contact or direction from the Vermont senator or his staff. When the volunteer, John Mattes of San Diego, said he communicated with the Clinton campaign in local press accounts, he was confusing it for a super PAC supportive of Clinton.
He also doesn’t know why Sanders is taking all the credit. “I’m going to send him a bill for my back pay,” Mattes joked.
“He could have called me,” Mattes added. “He maybe doesn’t have my phone number.”

At this point, this is just stuck in my craw and I want to get to the bottom of this. However, I only have time to tackle one aspect today. To get my thoughts together and for the use of anyone else who is interested in helping to pursue this topic, I pulled together an archive of all of my own writings referring to Bernie since the 2016 election:

2/21/18 -- Bernie, You're Not Helping

2/19/18 -- Who Started #BernieWouldHaveWon?

11/5/17 -- I Think I'm Paranoid

11/4/17 -- The Last Words on Donna Brazile

11/3/17 -- Donna Brazile Backs Down

11/3/17 -- Fuck Donna Brazile

11/3/17 -- Friday Morning Twitshit

10/7/17 -- The Times Doesn't Get #TheResistance

6/15/17 -- Liberals Shouldn't Have Guns, Either

6/15/17 -- Who Woulda What?

6/3/2017 -- The Silencing of the Hillary Clinton Supporter

4/3/17 -- Peel Back the Skin from All the Lies

1/22/17 -- Planning Sessions

12/31/16 -- On the Same Side


Those three posts in the middle of that list with Donna Brazile's name in the titles are not a coincidence. Neither her statement about having to inform Bernie Sanders about the DNC favoring Clinton and about considering unilaterally removing Hillary from the ticket herself when that wouldn't even be possible, nor her motivation for doing so, made sense. The whole thing was bizarre. Back then, I wrote:

By now, you've likely heard that former interim chair of the DNC Donna Brazile is accusing the Clinton campaign of rigging the 2016 primaries against Bernie Sanders.
This is an insane accusation for reasons I'll let others explain below, but I have never been impressed with Brazile. She ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign, which chose Joe-friggin'-Lieberman as a VP candidate and which ran away from Bill Clinton, who had a 60%+ approval rating. She's since held a number of different positions in the party, but also was one of the first Democratic talking heads I became familiar with when I began watching cable news in the early 2000s. She was never very strong on TV, and as I started to identify with the Democratic Party more and more, I always cringed to see her represent the Democratic point of view. I am a huge Debbie Wasserman-Schultz hater, but didn't think that Brazile was much of an upgrade when Wasserman-Schultz had to resign last year.
So, I'm establishing here that I'm not a fan of hers. At all. And now she's gone from being disappointing to me to being infuriating. Perhaps the reason she's lost pretty much every election she's been involved with is that she doesn't understand how American politics works.

Well, over the years, there have been a couple of other Democratic consultants/TV personalities that I just regarded as dopey losers... one was Tad Devine. Mr. Devine, aside from being lousy on TV, has lost every Presidential campaign he's worked on -- Jimmy Carter in '80, Walter Mondale in '84, Mike Dukakis in '88, Bob Kerrey in '92, Al Gore in '00, John Kerry in '04, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. Every *American* Presidential campaign. While sitting out the next three American Presidential races, he actually won a Presidential race. Just not an American one:

... He worked again with Yanukovich in 2009 and 2010 for his successful Presidential bid.
Yes, THAT Yanukovich:

A new indictment against former Donald Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort focused a spotlight Saturday on uncovering the former European leaders who prosecutors contend were secretly paid by Manafort to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.
The U.S. indictment handed up Friday by a grand jury doesn’t name the European politicians, although it notes they worked in coordination with Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates and two Washington lobbying firms — the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs — to lobby U.S. officials and lawmakers.
At least four leaders — former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko — were named last year in public filings by the two lobbying firms. The firms said the politicians were involved in U.S. speaking events and meetings with U.S. lawmakers and others to promote Manafort’s client at the time, Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovych.

I'd known for quite some time that Devine had worked for Yanukovych, but he comes across as so much of a dope that I couldn't assign malice to him. But with all of the recent developments, I think I'm coming around on this. Jen Kirkman came all the way around on this several months ago, and she's not letting it go:


Back when I was writing about Brazile, a writer on Medium who goes by "S. Novi" tied together both Devine and Brazile:

Now that Donna Brazile has come forward to create a distraction with her negative comment about the DNC, her profile is also coming under scrutiny. Many of us have known Brazile as the political strategist that seemed to bring clarity in her comments on CNN. But Brazile is a professional in the realm of politics and has also held loose relationships over the years with Tad Devine, the campaign adviser for Bernie Sanders. During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Brazile was Al Gore’s campaign manager and Tad Devine was Gore’s chief advisor. But working on the same campaign doesn’t necessarily make you best friends, but in the world of politics, it does offer connections for communication.
Accusations of wrong doing by Brazile isn’t new. In 2008 she accused Hillary Clinton of breaking the rules when the then DNC chair, Howard Dean, brought it to the attention that the Republicans in Michigan and Florida had moved their primaries ahead of the DNC. When Obama complied and removed his name from the ballot, it left only Hillary Clinton and Brazile claimed that Hillary broke the rules. Even the governor of Michigan stated that Hillary had complied with the rules, but Brazile seemed to disagree and this was just one of quite a few instances where she was a spoiler.
In politics, you have to know how to play chess, and play it well and both Donna Brazile and Tad Devine have become excellent at this game.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of S. Novi -- for one thing, she cites Bill Palmer, a pretty lousy "journalist," in that piece. But we know that Paul Manafort, who worked with Devine on the Yanukovych campaign, likely committed a lot of the crimes he did because of being tens of millions of dollars in debt to a Russian oligarch. After losing, losing, and more losing, could Devine and Brazile be in the type of dire straits that would lead them to work with an American campaign that Russia was helping?

We need more data points on this... by the time the Russian agents said on February 10th, 2016 that they were supporting Sanders, Sanders had already made about 3/4 of his leap. Tad Devine, according to his Wikipedia entry, started with the campaign in 2015 -- so, before that date, and he made over $10 million from the campaign, which would be enough to pay off an awful lot of debt. With or without Bernie himself knowing, would Devine have accepted Russian help in the campaign?

Did the Russians do anything else to help Bernie between April 30th, 2015 (when Bernie got in the race) and February 10th, 2016? I'm going to keep looking.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you connect things and your line of thinking. I believe Bernie knew during the second debate when he said, "people were tired of hearing about her damned emails". That was only to bring show that something was involved in her emails. I don't trust Bernie at all.

    ReplyDelete