Friday, August 14, 2015

Breaking Bernie: 21st Century Rat-Fucking

Deep Throat: What's the topic for tonight?
Bob Woodward: Rat-fucking.
Deep Throat: [lights a cigarette] In my day it was called double-cross. In simple context, it means infiltration of the Democrats.

What a difference a few months makes.  When I wrote about the state of the presidential race previously, I did not anticipate two events.  First, I did not foresee the Republican Party primary race being hijacked by a reality TV star.  Lord knows how long Donald Trump will keep sucking up all the oxygen from the rest of the personality-challenged GOP field, but with a personal bankroll nearly eleven figures large (insert your own Spinal Tap joke), the answer appears to be: as long as he goddamn pleases, so suck it, losers!  Second, it appears that I was wrong when I placed Senator Bernie Sanders "in the same camp as Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee and anyone else who wants to throw their hat in the ring: next in line in case Hillary Clinton is photographed abusing an endangered species or in bed with anyone other than Bill."

Sanders clearly is not in the same camp; clearly the man has more campaign savvy than the grassroots-left favorite single-digit polling Kucinich, which I thought he was.  Though it is still very, very early, he is currently polling ahead of  Clinton 44-37 in the pivotal early voting primary state of New Hampshire.  He regularly draws crowds in the tens of thousands, whereas the rest of the candidates struggle to regularly draw crowds in the thousands, with the exception of The Donald, who still exaggerates the size of his crowds to try to keep up with Bernie.  Momentum is clearly on Senator Sanders' side.  When Bernie speaks, his popularity grows.

There's no such thing as a perfect candidate (philosophically, I think perfect is an imperfect concept), especially in the corrupt unsustainable system we're currently saddled with.  Bernie's not about to address what truly ails civilization by changing the way money works so that it's no longer predicated on the debt machine of fiat currency, fractional reserves and compound interest and instead is representative of energy, both the human energy that we produce through our labor and the planet's energy that we utilize.  But Bernie has multiple planks in his platform that does address changing the way money is distributed in a significant manner.  Reinstating Glass-Steagall, breaking up banks that are "too big to fail," taxing Wall Street speculation, ending offshore tax havens and subsidies to Big Business, and fixing the tax code to alleviate systemic inequalities would be a monumental shake-up of the status quo, perhaps the most serious threat since Robert F. Kennedy's run in 1968.

It is for this reason that I don't believe the system will allow him to win.  Not just because of what he stands for, other people have run for the White House on a similar platform, but because of how many people he is reaching.  Rather than wait for Sanders to accrue a significant number of delegates so that he has bargaining power at the Democratic Convention in July at Philadelphia, I believe that powerful interests that stand the most to lose from a Sanders administration will work early to try to sabotage his campaign, which on a personal level would sadly make my vote for him in the California primary on June 7 a moot point.  For those who find the possibility of such a 'conspiracy' far-fetched, I would point you to the quote at the top of the page and remind you that the movie All the President's Men was based on a true story.

I would also like to point out the possibility of a rat-fucking trial balloon being floated this past weekend.  During an event in Seattle, activists from #BlackLivesMatter commandeered the stage.  They urged the crowd to "join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions."  Which is kind of strange, considering Sanders was already confronted with this issue at Netroots Nation and in response asked #BlackLivesMatter activist Symone Sanders to be his press secretary when he met her three weeks ago.  They refused to let anyone else, including Bernie, take the mike so eventually the organizer of the event declared it was over.

Now, I want to make a point about #BlackLivesMatter: I like and respect them in almost the same way that I like and respect #OccupyWallStreet.  Both activist groups have a powerful message and invigorating tools for mobilizing their constituencies.  It's just as important to wake Americans up to the reality that black Americans are being killed by police at nearly the same rate as Jim Crow era lynchings as it is to wake Americans up to the reality that 1% of the American population owns 48% of the wealth.  But the problem with both organizations that limit their potential for revolutionary change is that they are both very decentralized, leaderless groups.  As someone who participated in the Los Angeles chapter of #OWS outside City Hall, I witnessed first-hand activists sharing space with "libertarians" supporting Ron Paul.  (Frankly, I don't see how you can call yourself a libertarian and support denying a woman the right to have control over her own uterus, but I digress.)  I've also read about other #OWS chapters having participation from Oathkeepers, Larouchites and the American Nazi Party.  In other words, this type of organization is ripe for infiltration by parties intent on subverting it for less than honorable purposes.

My suspicion that this infiltration scenario might have happened to the Seattle chapter of #BlackLivesMatter began when I found out that the Facebook page that the two #BLM activists, Marissa Jenae Johnson and Mara Willaford were steering media toward did not exist until the day of the rally.  Also troubling was the admission on her personal Facebook page that Johnson used to be a Sarah Palin supporter and still calls herself a "radical Christian."  But what really stood out for me is that Johnson is also a member of a group operating within #BLM called Outside Agitators 206.  The '206' presumably refers to Seattle's area code.

But what specifically does Outside Agitators 206 stand for?  Well, here is a public statement that doesn't appear to hold the same goals as the larger #BLM movement.  This is the relevant text of that statement:

To succeed, the Black Lives Matter Movement must transform the politics of Black America. By definition, that means declaring war on the Democratic Party, and forcing Black politicians and activists to choose between the Party and the people’s struggle.

As usual, the Democrats will try to make Black people more angry at the terminally racist Republican Party than at the police and local administration of their (typically) Democrat-run city. Hillary Clinton is already making noises of empathy with Blacks suffering under the urban police state. However, the Black Lives Matter movement has no institutional stake in the victory of either party, but is, in fact, locked in mortal political struggle with other Black people in the Democratic Party. These Black Democrats will insist on a truce, a cessation of agitation against national or local Democrats, until after the election.

In a recent interview, at about the 29 minute mark, Johnson seems to echo this sentiment by stating, "We actually need to keep pushing people to dismantle the system."  The larger question then is are these the genuine sentiments of quasi-anarchists or the underhanded machinations of agent provocateurs?  Actually, it could be a combination of both: genuinely committed activists being manipulated by operatives with a vastly different agenda.  The answer may lie in the quest that Deep Throat gave to Bob Woodward in All the President's Men: follow the money.  Are there any powerful interests that stand to lose billions during a Sanders administration connected with Outside Agitators 206?  I'd like to thank alwyn from Rigorous Intuition (and Project Willow for posting the image) for posting what friend Lassiter Jones found through a traceroute of their IP address and a check of the ownership on which revealed it was owned by Merck and Co.



Most attempts that I've seen at debunking are inconclusive.  A poster at posted this, then someone said the arin whois server shows the IP address "is registered to and has been registered to Amazon Web Services" and that the Merck image is "fake information."  (Apparently, this self-styled 'debunker' either thinks that is a fraudulent website or that person really didn't do very thorough research.)  But another poster showed that through, that while the ownership is currently Amazon, Merck previously owned the IP as of April 22, 2015.  So that's at least two different sources making a similar claim.

So the big question is: when did Outside Agitators 206 begin hosting through this IP address?  Unfortunately, because I'm unable to verify their dns registration information, which is private, the question cannot be answered satisfactorily.  True, Outside Agitators does have a calendar posting events from January 2015, (thanks to nadinbrzezinski from Democratic Underground for that find) but it's possible any data on their site could have been manipulated at a later date.  Bottom line: I can't see the fire.  But there's a whole lot of smoke that makes me suspicious.  My suspicion is centered on the fact that as one of the largest companies in the Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex, Merck and Co. certainly would have a vested interest in making sure that Senator Sanders, who has single-payer health care as one of the major planks of his platform, has no chance of winning.  Then again, two years ago Amazon landed a $600 million contract to build an entire cloud computing system for the CIA.  Pick your poison.  If the concept of the government utilizing a private corporation, particularly one dealing with web services, to target an individual that they consider a threat seems unlikely, please remember the revelations from Edward Snowden regarding the wonderful cooperation between the NSA, DIA and CIA and Booz Allen Hamilton, Yahoo, Google, etc., ad nauseum.

Just to clarify, because I'm unclear of the point of origin of all this smoke, and because, as I've stated my commitment to clarifying the difference between theory and hypothesis, I'm currently listing this story as a conspiracy hypothesis.  But for those who find the possibility that an organization fighting for the rights of black people could be infiltrated and subverted ludicrous, I would like to point to a time in history, the 1960s, where that actually occurred under an FBI program called COINTELPRO.  MinM from Democratic Underground and Rigorous Intuition brought these observations to my attention in an exchange between the great Lisa Pease from Probe Magazine and and Marcy Wheeler from on Twitter:

Disrupting speaking events and meetings was one of the top 3 COINTELPRO activities, per this from the Church Comm.

Listing of some COINTELPRO techniques, from the Church Committee report

FBI efforts to prevent anti-war groups (and speakers like Bernie?) from speaking:

Ultimately, if this was indeed a rat-fucking trial balloon, it appears that Bernie has popped it with aplomb.  In addition to the hiring of Press Secretary Symone Sanders from #BlackLivesMatter that I mentioned before, Senator Sanders has come up with a new "racial justice platform" that won him praise from several prominent voices in the #BLM movement.  But in no way does this mean that he or anyone in his campaign should let their guard down.  There are a number of different tactics anyone seeking to derail his run have at their disposal.  Considering what a passionate speaker he is, my guess is that the top tactic to smear him will be to play a dirty trick aimed at making him look "unstable."  A good historical example within a presidential campaign would be the one referred to in All the President's Men: the Canuck letter.

In January 1972, Senator Edmund Muskie had won the Iowa primary and had a huge lead in New Hampshire.  Then on February 24, 1972, two weeks before the New Hampshire primary, the Manchester Union Leader published a letter implying that Muskie held a prejudice against Americans of French-Canadian descent.  Three days before the primary on March 4, Muskie delivered a passionate speech on the steps of the Union Leader offices calling the publisher a liar.  The media had a field day reporting this as "the crying speech" even though Muskie claimed it was not tears but snowflakes melting on his face.  Though he did end up narrowly winning the primary on March 7, the perception of Muskie as emotionally unstable lead to a defection toward George McGovern, who lost the election to Richard Nixon by a spectacular margin.  In October 1972, FBI investigators included the Canuck letter as part of the dirty tricks campaign orchestrated by CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President) against Democrats revealed by the Watergate break-in.

One big difference between now and then is that Muskie was targeted to make way for McGovern who was perceived to be "socialist" because they knew America couldn't elect someone with that label during the Cold War.  Now the Democratic-socialist Sanders will be targeted because socialism isn't the boogeyman it used to be; 47% of Americans in a recent Gallup poll said they would vote for a socialist.  But one thing that hasn't changed is the Radical Establishment Media's propensity to malign a presidential candidate as being "unstable."  The Fourth Estate doesn't even need a rat-fucking conspiracy to do that.  Remember the Dean Scream?

I remember.  It was January 19, 2004.  Howard Dean had just finished third in the Iowa primary.  It was disappointing, particularly since his poll numbers the month before showed he had a huge lead.  So Dean gave a passionate speech to rouse his supporters and keep their spirits high heading to New Hampshire, where he currently was polling in first.  It was amazing how the corporate media crucified him, particularly CNN, which showed his climactic “YEARGH!” over and over, almost in a loop, as the talking heads clucked about his presumed emotional instability.  It had a predictable effect: Dean lost New Hampshire and was no longer a serious contender for the nomination.

How can Bernie guard against such an array of forces whose interests run contrary to his platform?  I wish there was a more comprehensive answer beyond just staying vigilant against campaign sabotage.  There is no doubt in my mind that there will be concerted efforts, whether legal or not, to break Bernie and scatter his supporters.  How he responds and deals with such efforts will be the key to his success or failure.  I hope I'm wrong, I'm certainly rooting for him to weather the storm on the horizon.  If he does, I sure hope the Secret Service has his back.