Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections (Intelligence Community Assessment) 01.06.17

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Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections (Intelligence Community Assessment) 01.06.17

Read for yourself… this is what our intelligence community has determined in the alleged Russian activities (and intentions) regarding the 2016 US Election.

Scope
This report includes an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies.
It covers the motivation and scope of Moscow’s intentions regarding US elections and Moscow’s use of cyber tools and media campaigns to influence US public opinion. The assessment focuses on activities aimed at the 2016 US presidential election and draws on our understanding of previous Russian influence operations.
When we use the term “we” it refers to an assessment by all three agencies.
This report is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment. This document’s conclusions are identical to the highly classified assessment, but this document does not include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence on key elements of the influence campaign.

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Democracy at its Most Complacent

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Hurry Up and Wait. ‘Merica.

Man… we are lame.

Official numbers aren’t officially tallied quite yet, but estimates put our Voter Turnout for 2016 somewhere in the neighborhood of 56%.

Fifty. Six. Percent.

If you took at your cues from social media, you would swear that 100% of eligible voters turned out (plus some dead guys voting, of course) and each and every one of us is a political pundit who has the “true” pulse of the nation. Polls, op-ed’s, TV segments with 19 talking heads cramped onto a studio set table – we feel like a society filled with civic-minded politicos that are plugged in to the issues facing our republic.

Then… a super gaggle (political term) of us sit home on Election Day.

You know, for the World’s Greatest Democracy, we are sure pretty crappy at getting out and performing the glorious action of a free and democratic selected leadership.  What’s the deal?

So, why? Why is this such a slog to get us all to get out and vote?

Well some of it is apathy, disinterest and cynicism.  There will always be a percentage of the population that flat out won’t be too thrilled about the election. It’s like that guy in your group when you pick a place to go eat and he mutters, “Sure.. I guess that will be okay.” And then proceeds to whine all evening about the service, the portions, the steak’s overcooked, and the crème brûlée being too runny. Jerk.

But the rest of us… what’s the problem? I have a couple of factors that just can’t be overlooked as to why our democracy is just a tad light on the whole democratically elected thang.

  1. Tuesday Sucks.  What in the name of churned butter are we still doing with elections taking place on the first Tuesday of November? Why Tuesday? One dumb law. From 1845.  Yep. That’s right. Our “Most Powerful Democracy in the World” status hinges on a stupid law that was done PRE Civil War.  See, when folks were thinking about voting, they allowed for travel (to and fro) and since one couldn’t travel on the Sabbath (you know, because of God and the New England Patriots kicking off at 1pm EST)… Tuesday was picked. The End.  Talk about an anti-climatic explanation for our institution of representative democracy in action…. the consideration of “Trigger the Horse” and how it would be wicked long to get to the county courthouse from “East Lostinthewoods.”  C’mon  people! We’re better than that?! Let’s undo this dopey reason, and give ourselves a proper Election Day: make it a national holiday! Have the election on Saturday! Any of these options beats this Tuesday thing!  Tied to this is….
  2. Everyboday’s Workin’ For The Weekend.  Thank you, Loverboy.  You know what the #1 reason for not voting is? “Too busy/Couldn’t Get Off Time At Work” The irony. One of the most consistent political talking points and issue in just about every election is “jobs” and “job creation” and yet a job is the top reason so many of us missed voting! By creating a day where everyone would be free to make it to the polls unencumbered by a J-O-B would spike the turnout massively (see point #1).
  3. Can I Get A Lift?  Polls are set up in a whole lot of venues. Schools, libraries, churches, and community centers make up  a good percentage of the polling stations, but still there’s the “how do I get there?” question the always looms. Let’s face it. If you have a couple of cars and a good job, you probably never considered this an issue. But if you are without wheels, getting to certain places is a logistic nightmare.  Municipalities can make the process more convenient by offering free bus rides. Setting up special “Poll Shuttles” or getting creative with transportation businesses and services to make getting to the polls safe and easy. Think it’s too much to budget for such things? ….what, you mean we can offer to make our DEMOCRACY more inclusive?! There’s no better use of taxpayers’ dollars than to help – oh, I don’t know – TAXPAYERS get out and vote!
  4. WWW.THISSHOULDBEDONEONLINE.COM.  Seriously, it’s 2016. We have FitBits, Netflix, and Drones. You can get meals delivered to your door weekly, do all your banking from your laptop, and even spend an entire day getting lost in the rabbit hole that is Reddit.. but we can’t yet vote online? Seems to me building a secure site and system wouldn’t have any more security concerns than our banks, credit cards, or my membership to “Pocket Square On Demand” (don’t judge, I love me a fresh pocket square in my jacket.)
  5. Media Madness.  Seems like every four years, the same ol’ media angles are processed through our TVs and into our brains. There’s the “let stand outside and show you the MASSIVE line that isn’t moving too much” live shot; of course, there is also the “I’m inside the polling site but I can’t talk to anyone because they are too busy handling this here big line” sh0t; next up, we have the “gaggle of voter officials huddling around the broken poll machine” angle…. and so on and so one. What do all these “storylines” have in common? All basically say to those who are on-the-fence about voting, “Hey Mr. Not-So-Sure Voter. It’s a madhouse here at Sister Mary’s of the Poor Polling Station #3. Maybe you ought to sit this one out. It sure is nutty busy here!”  Maybe we could reduce the number of unnecessary media coverage non-stories and focus on the optimism of getting out to the polls and voting. All that talk about voter fraud, broken machines, and long lines creates even more reasons for some of us to just call off the whole “get activated” thing around election time.

voter_turnout_boothThe 2016 election was indeed one for the history books. Whether you voted for President-Elect Donald J. Trump or not, this year’s election will go down as one of the most contentious, most negative, and most unconventional in recent time.  But with all the, well, amazing headlines that could come from this bonkers election season, only one for me is going to stick and make me wonder…

With only 56% of eligible voters participating… what would have happened with the other 44% get into the arena?  If we want to demand more of our candidates, expect more from our elected officials, and hold our local, state and national governments to a higher standard of excellence.. we must all first get into the game.

Because as the man said, Just Do ItMake Your Dreams Election Participation Come True!

~DK


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An Open Letter to President-Elect Trump

Dear President-Elect Trump,

elks_us_flagHey Don (do you mind if I call you ‘Don’?).  It’s DK. I hope you and your family finally got a few seconds to absorb this contentious and grueling election cycle, take a moment, and rested a bit. Because what’s about to happen next, well that’s going to make what you just went through for 18 months a little walk in the park.

I know friends, donors, and members from the “Washington Establishment” both Rs and Ds are probably beginning to circle around you looking for jobs, appointments, cushy ambassadorships and all the like. Trust me, I lived right in the heart of Washington, DC for 15 years – I totally get it.  But I hope you don’t mind getting this here note from Yours Truly with an idea that maybe would be something to consider – if not for just helping you steer into a solid direction for your policy rollouts… but to help heal America a bit.

Okay, first thing’s first. Full disclosure: I totally didn’t vote for you.

In fact, I pretty much thought from the moment you jumped on your golden escalator that this campaign was more P.T. Barnum than U.S. Grant. I had no confidence in you, your ability to govern, your experience, your sensibilities to issues, your personal bankrupt moral compass, your xenophobia, your misogyny, your knowledge of Geo-political situations, the works.  Oh, and I think your “TV celebrity” just makes you no better than a Paris Hilton in terms of true substance (other than that, I’m sure you’re a swell guy).

But… you won. So that’s a thing.

Now you are about to take the oath and get rolling. I have a suggestion that might be something that you – and only you – can be massively qualified and positioned to take on (yes, I’m not kidding. After listing a billion thing I think you lack, I am saying you have something super rare and advantageous for this idea to work).  Wanna know what I think you should hit the ground running on immediately following your swearing in?

A War on Infrastructure.

Don, you are perfectly aligned to make a massive, country-wide “New Deal-esque” frontal assault on the crumbling infrastructure of our nation. We have talked literally for years about how our country is falling apart from the inside with very little national push from the top out to the countryside. Roads, bridges, airports, trains, the entire transportation system is due for some serious facelifts. But not just words, placating a typical talking point every political office holder promises into every microphone and rubber-chicken dinner speech. Nope, a full-on WAR on Infrastructure. Why? Well there are a number of reasons why you are best positioned for this:

  • Divided Nation, Unifying Project: Don, you know that this election was split. It may “appear” you have a mandate because the Electoral College numbers were surprisingly one-side more than most thought, in addition having the House and Senate both Republican-led is a nice thing. But HALF of the popular vote went elsewhere. In fact more people voted for Secretary Clinton than you.  Tensions are high, nerves are shot, anger is boiling over in many parts of the land. But you know what many, many Americans can get behind? Fixing that pothole.  Rebuilding that bridge that looks rusted out. An actual real-deal national tain rail system that isn’t Amtrak’s joke of a fleet. This is not only super needed.. it could be super unifying.

 

  • Get People To Work:  Tons of people who voted for you are blue collars workers having it tough over the last few years. Few years?! Hell, since President Reagan working class jobs, manufacturing jobs, builders, construction-based jobs… all have been melting away. With a massive push to infrastructure, you can rally these workers and get them back on the job. And not just direct line workers, committing to this large-push for large projects means work for work clothing, equipment (assembly & maintenance), urban planners, architects, developers, catering/food trucks, event management pros, energy workers, etc. PLUS, new infrastructure means new places to start new jobs, new businesses, and new employment opportunities.  New projects? New jobs.

 

  • Um, You’re A Builder: This is your thing, isn’t it, Don? Consider yourself the General-Contractor-in-Chief.

 

  • We Need To Unite, Literally: You know what I think might be the best part of this idea, Don? This doubling-down on infrastructure could bind us closer to one another more than anything. Look at the final Electoral College map. See those red states in the middle? Okay, now check out the coasts? All blue, right? Part of the common language that we use speaks to this split in the nation, blue and red. Many call it “flyover states” or the “liberal coasts” when talking about us. How about this: let’s connect everyone more directly by creating an actual trans-continental rail system. Let’s have people go THROUGH the flyover states and travel across the liberal coasts. If we move through and interact, we might even start seeing what is means to live in other areas of OUR country, and then begin to understand and LEARN from one another.  There was a time when traveling cross-country meant experiencing the many sights and sounds of our diverse nation. Today? It’s flight with some bad food and terrible movie. Gate to gate, no experiencing other parts of our collective culture.

 

  • Everyone Hates You: Here me out, Don. This could be a not-so-bad-thing. What I mean is that your campaign ticked off everyone. Democrats and Republicans alike were horrified, shocked, angered, confused, and every other emotion to you. You have allies and foes from both sides of the political fence. But….. BUT…. that also means you are not held to a “follow the party line” standard like many others face once they take the Oath of Office.  Political promises to leadership or party? Forget it. You can use this to your advantage by pushing both sides to invest the political and financial capital to make this happen. Put is this way: everybody needs and road and a pothole doesn’t care if you’re a Dem or a GOPer.

 

  • Your “America First” Talk Could Be Realized Without Being A Dick:  There’s a not-so-subtle dog whistle about your yapping on about “America First” that is unsettling. Xenophobia, religious intolerance, the fear of “others” makes you look weak., ignorant.  But by saying we will rebuild “America First” – you show willingness to unify and connect. Metaphor AND Reality. Boom-shaka-laka.

 

  • Let’s Make A Deal (without the stupid costumes like on theTV show): You think you can make the best deals? Cool, hire some guys to fix I-80.  Feel like you can negotiate quality contracts? Awesome, let’s connect everyone to smart rail and ties our rural/suburban/urban corridors together. Put that NYC-contractor-relations to good use.

 

  • Talk Tech, Nerd: Infrastructure work will need the necessary tech savvy people to make the system hum. We can’t have a 21st century full-transportation and run on computers from the 1980s – yet in many place, that’s the reality. Trust me, I worked on a FAA contract in the 90s about the Air Traffic Control System and so much of it (radar system, traffic control hardware/software) was ancient… ANCIENT. Like Pong-looking displays. Scary. Recruit our top tech minds to back a huge (you say “yuge” when I mean huge, don’t you Don?) implementation strategy, and voila! High speed rail, driver-less vehicles, HOV lanes, modernized airport systems… check and mate.

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So there you go, Don! There are so many things that you will have to address and tackle as our new President. You said some outlandish things, hateful speech, and honestly… some flat out un-American rhetoric.  You need something that shows off your skills, knowledge, and core work experience… infrastructure is the thing!

You’ve got a mountain of worries and concerns from a whole lot of America, Mr. President-Elect. My advice to you is to do what you say you’re the best at:  Building.

First, build America’s Infrastructure…. then start to think how you could help rebuild America’s broken soul.

I’ll let you go now. Thanks for your time, Don.

Sincerely,

~DK

PS — Just a quick logistical question: Will there be a “White House Hair Wrangler” on staff? I’ve got to think you’d need a well-trained person on staff to manage that lettuce atop your head, and someone to travel with you at all times, kind of like a body man who carries your luggage. Just wondering.