Reading the Mueller Report: Part 2, The Hacks

Fancy Bear a.k.a. Unit 26165: how the GRU hacked the Dems.

[Part 1 is here. This post deals with Volume I, Section III. A. The full report is here.]

The hacking of Democratic networks by the Russian State is the part of the Trump-Russia scandal (picturesquely known as Stupid Watergate) that most closely matches the break-in into the DNC headquarters during Watergate, at the eponymous office complex.

Except instead of five men, the break-in was carried out by Russia’s military intelligence, GRU. And instead of breaking into DNC headquarters, the break-in was into the DNC, DCCC, and the Clinton Campaign staffers’ computer networks. The break-in was virtual but much wider in scope. And the documents they stole, unlike during Watergate, were later weaponized by releasing them drip-by-drip through DCLeaks, Guccifer 2.0, and Wikileaks, timed for maximum impact during key moments of the campaign.

Continue reading “Reading the Mueller Report: Part 2, The Hacks”

IANAL but I’m reading the Mueller Report: Part 1, Active Measures

I am a layperson trying to make sense of the Mueller Report. Read along with me!
Part 1: Active Measures.

In this post I read Volume 1, Section II, which deals with the Russian Active Measures social media campaign to interfere with the 2016 election.

The entire report is here. Read along with me as I call out interesting details.

Both Watergate and the Trump-Russia scandal—some call it Stupid Watergate—started with a purloining of Democratic materials. This investigation started in mid-2016 when the DNC announced that “Russian hackers had compromised its computer network.”

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Howard Schultz: this is your brain on platitudes

Schultz has shown himself to be militantly banal and uninterested in these details

Howard Schultz on Velshi and Ruhle | MSNBC | 4/5/2019

I’ve sat through speeches by CEOs with my brain melting from the unceasing assault of platitudes. We all have. The future looks bright, every graph is rising, every employee is dedicated, every manager is a leader, we have one mission and our ideas will shake up the business.

What I didn’t know is that apparently some CEOs get drunk on applause and come to believe their nonsense.

Many people noticed the Ali Velshi/Stephanie Ruhle interview with Starbucks founder and currently unaligned Presidential candidate for 2020, Howard Schultz. It was trenchant.

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Should the filibuster die?

Do the arguments against killing the filibuster hold up?


Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during the National Action Network convention in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Last week Elizabeth Warren threw down the gauntlet by arguing for killing the Senate filibuster as the only means of accomplishing the agenda that 2020 Democrats have set out for themselves. Without it, given that any decent-sized legislation needs 60 votes to pass, and accepting the impossibility of getting even one or two Republican votes, any progressive agenda is dead in the water.

So the argument in favor of nuking the filibuster is clear and obvious. As Harry Reid said back in 2013 when he invoked the nuclear option to kill the filibuster for most nominees, the Senate must evolve beyond Parliamentary roadblocks.

But generally, the idea of losing the security blanket of 60 votes is not pleasant for the times when one’s party is in the minority; so it isn’t surprising that this idea has not caught on. Senators as diverse as Corey Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand have shown reluctance to go there, without really admitting that this makes most of their plans moot. But I understand. The possibility of terrible Republican legislation has most of us in a defensive crouch.

So rather than make the positive case in favor of dropping the filibuster, I want to examine the main arguments in favor of keeping it, to see if they hold up. Will the end of the filibuster bring about apocalypse, or be the means of un-jamming a jammed up government?

Continue reading “Should the filibuster die?”

Adulting: a How-To for my Teen

Parents of teenagers will be familiar with the turn in their child’s personality: from playful, precious little pets they turn into blasé know-it-alls who can barely be bothered to raise an eyebrow to your fussing. 

Well, you little smart-asses, there’s a lot you don’t yet know. 

How to be an adult

You cannot call yourself an adult until you are able to do these things. I’m aware that many 40-year-olds would not fit this bill. Nor did I, long after my teenage years. But these are the rules. Fail this test, and you are not yet an adult in this here modern world. To be an adult you must:

  1. Be able to open a bank account, deposit and withdraw money.
  2. Have a credit record enough to get a credit card.
  3. Personal grooming: learn how to shower, use deodorant, floss and brush, regularly without anyone nagging you.
  4. Learn to drive and have a license.
  5. Learn to break out of a procrastination cycle. Make todo lists for yourself on something more substantial than sticky notes and check them off.
  6. Exercise regularly. Get outdoors.
  7. Be able to provide meals for yourself: this includes grocery shopping, refrigerating when needed, operating the cooking range and microwave, and cooking basics like pasta, rice, eggs, oats, etc. Have a passing familiarity with spices.
  8. Make grocery lists so you’re not going to the store for each item.
  9. Maintain a set of email addresses and stay on top of spam.
  10. Keep passwords secure, don’t use the same one everywhere, and come up with a way to manage them. Don’t use “password”, “123456”, or your birthday.
  11. Don’t post embarrassing pictures or opinions on social media.
  12. Learn to hurry when needed. Learn to get out of the house without needing to remind yourself of each item separately—keys, phone, money, etc.
  13. Periodically put things away and pick up the room. Organize your things and neaten up. Dust.
  14. Wash your sheets once in a while. Lay your towels flat so they dry.
  15. Learn how to file a claim for insurance.
  16. Stay in touch with friends and family.
  17. Learn how to be polite, greet people and bid goodbyes. Learn how to congratulate and condole. Be able to make pleasant small talk with hairdressers and store clerks without goggling like a fish. 
  18. Catch onto social cues: be aware if you’re being perceived as a boor, a bore or a bully; be able to detect deadpan humor. Catch on if you are being used. Detect if you are being flirted with. Catch on if someone around you needs help; help them.
  19. Know the capitals of several major countries and their currencies. Know what languages are spoken there.
  20. Keep your phone charged. 
  21. Learn to use Google. With quotes.
  22. Keep up to date with major news. Be skeptical of headlines.
  23. Be sufficiently aware of the world so you can detect conspiracy theories. Be aware that sometimes people with platforms will lie to you.
  24. Learn how to vote. Vote.
  25. Develop hobbies so you’re not relying on drugs or alcohol to fill up the empty hours.
  26. Learn how to kick a habit; any habit. Learn how to break out of addictive cycles, whether it is smoking or video games or gambling. Learn to shake yourself free.
  27. Read.
  28. Focus.
  29. Learn how to save and invest your money. Don’t run up thoughtless debts.
  30. Be on time most of the time.
  31. Learn to do laundry and dishes. Try not to send your money or phone or keys through the laundry cycle too frequently.
  32. Be nice to people by default. Don’t be nice if someone’s harassing you or using you.
  33. Visit the doctor for wellness checks and don’t eat too much junk food. Get your shots.
  34. Eat your cereals with milk.
  35. When you travel, immerse yourself.
  36. Exercise moral judgment. Make sure it is your own.