How the Russians have fine-tuned their attacks on our elections

I spent time (doesn’t take long) reading the new criminal complaint against Russian trolls — in particular, this time, one Russian troll who was the CFO of recent assaults on our democracy via Twitter and Facebook, etc. Her name is Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova. (I had to copy that down in my notebook by hand, very very slowly.)

The complaint sites violations of 18 U.S.C. ยง 371.

Go directly to page 14, paragraph 27 and read as much as you can stomach through to the last (38) page. The complaint quotes a slew of posts and shows posters and the like produced by the Russians, as well as general directions for attacking and/or influencing specific American groups.

I wanted to quote a couple of them here but find I can’t copy and paste anything in the complaint. But there it is, linked up top, for you to read.

You might have one of several possible reactions to seeing this stuff:

  1. I’m proud as punch because I never let any of these things influence me or my vote.
  2. Why did I ever get trolled by Elena? I feel very left out: I’ve never seen any of these trolls before they appeared in this complaint.
  3. Gee, some of these — trashing Paul Ryan, et al — are pretty accurate. [Indeed, I’m not sure what these trolls are trying to do. Are they trying to capture liberal minds and then–….then what? Get us to send money to phony election support groups? (There are a bunch of them sprinkled throughout. Do you send money to mysterious election support groups the names of which you’ve never heard of before? Do you???)
  4. OMG I have been such a sucker!!!!!! I believed all these things about how wonderful Trump is and how awful those libs are!!!!!!!!!!
  5. I don’t care if the Russians think they own my mind — I still support Trump.

In some ways, what the Russians have been doing lately does on the surface seem more sophisticated than what they did against the 2016 election. But I’m still seeing some obvious mistakes they’re making — mistakes which should help any of us easily identify them as Russian trolls rather than American…trolls.

Rather than tip off any Russians who read this blog (and, oh yes, I get stats and even emails in my spam box showing that Russians are onto me), I’ll ask you to take a look at what they’re spilling out on social media and pinpoint their telltale errors.

It’ll be fun, a weekend game. See how many screw-ups Putin’s troll makes!



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A fictional Robert Mueller?

Last night I finished re-reading Call For The Dead, David Cornwell’s first spy novel.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read it. This, and a few other great crime novels, are collectively my security blanket while I am in a state of near suspicion about encountering new mysteries, new heroes, new complications.

I have found the exquisite comfort in re-reading loved books is enhanced by discovering characters or actions which, while so thoroughly known they have become family members, suddenly illuminate something beyond themselves, something in our real lives.

So it was when I read what Mendel, a retired police inspector, considered as he pursued Dieter Frey, the story’s complex arch-criminal, through fog-bound London streets. Is this how Mueller thinks in his pursuit?

There was a curious expression on Mendel’s face, not of hatred or iron purpose but of frank distaste. To Mendel, the frills of Dieter’s profession meant nothing. He saw in his quarry only the squalor of a criminal, the cowardice of a man who paid others to do his killing. When Dieter had gently disengaged himself from the [theater] audience and moved towards the side exit, Mendel saw what he had been waiting for: the stealthy act of a common criminal. It was something he expected and understood. To Mendel there was only one criminal class, from pickpocket and sneak-thief to the big operator tampering with company law; they were outside the law and it was his distasteful but necessary vocation to remove them to safe keeping.

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Taking one of my two breaks from MSNBC

It’s after 5 pm; do you know where my attention is?

Not with Chuck Todd and his panelists on MSNBC. I’ll tell you why — I have the time.

I think Chuck Todd is a ninny and certain of his panelists (does he choose them?) are still relentlessly selling the GOP, which, on Todd’s show, means crazy, petty slashing at Democrats because there is nothing left to sell about the GOP. So they attack, because they’ve got nothing else to do.

The few who aren’t slashing away — and who would on another set be intelligent and reasonable commentators — are so trapped by the Chief Ninny’s leading, misleading and inane questions, the only thing they can do is answer within his limited strictures and sound as inane as he does. (Ruth Marcus: don’t go on Chuck Todd if you have any interest in retaining my respect.)

My new regimen for watching MSNBC is:

4 pm. Nicolle Wallace, whom I’ve come to love and love her guests, too.

5 pm. Break from Todd. See above.

6 pm. Back for Ari Melber. He’s a lawyer, smart and witty, and has lots of lawyers on to remark in depth on the illegalities and investigations of the illegalities we’re suffering through. Best thing about Ari’s hour: so many desperate people, clinging to the hope we’ll de-Trump our country imminently because we can’t take any more of this, need to be reminded that legal processes initiated by a general sense of horror (“He can’t do this, can he?”) take much longer than, say, throwing up. Or screaming. (And a “president” who is running his crime business out of the White House can be indicted, by the way. It may be an indictment sealed until he’s booted out of office, but it’s an indictment.)

It’s good to listen to lawyers who know how it all works, especially when we get too much misinformation, wildly hopeful information, depressing rumors and what not from journalists who may be good journalists but don’t know law. It saves me from all the corrective muttering I do when a journalist opines on plea deals and cooperation deals and criminal liability but he’s wrong. If you were here, you’d hear me murmur, “No, that’s not what’s happening, that’s not the way it works.”

I’m not a lawyer but I’m usually right.

7 pm. OMG I have to get away from Chris Matthews who spits questions at guests, interrupts them as they open their mouths, answers his own questions, occasionally yammers dementedly. Can’t take it. But I have discovered that on some golden oldie channel, M.A.S.H. reruns start at 7, so off I go to Korea.

8 pm. Love Chris Hayes but sometimes wander off the reservation into MhZ, the streaming service which gives me thousands of hour of European TV crime shows, many of which are terrific, and even the ones that aren’t are.

9 pm. Rachel. Always Rachel. I do not feel I have a full and deep grasp of the major news stories without her.

10 pm. Love Lawrence O’Donnell but now I go back to European crime, in order to forget the real American crime show into which we have all been dragged as extras.

So. It’s now 5:47 pm and I’ve accounted for my hour. Thirteen more minutes to kill — probably on Twitter — until Ari.

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