Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me drinking a soda while standing in front of a flaming dumpster, pictured in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

With a nod to my complicated feelings about this series, because I worry about the implicit suggestion that we're going to have free and fair elections in 2020 despite the fact that all signs point to the terrible likelihood we won't, I want to start today's thread with this important piece by Richard Engel, Kate Benyon-Tinker, and Kennett Werner at NBC News about future Russian interference in our politics and culture:
Russians who were linked to interference in the 2016 U.S. election discussed ambitious plans to stoke unrest and even violence inside the U.S. as recently as 2018, according to documents reviewed by NBC News.

The documents — communications between associates of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-linked oligarch indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for previous influence operations against the U.S. — laid out a new plot to manipulate and radicalize African-Americans. The plans show that Prigozhin's circle has sought to exploit racial tensions well beyond Russia's social media and misinformation efforts tied to the 2016 election.

...One document said that [Donald] Trump's election had "deepened conflicts in American society" and suggested that, if successful, the influence project would "undermine the country's territorial integrity and military and economic potential."

The revelations come as U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of probable Russian meddling in the 2020 election.

...Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director of counterintelligence at the FBI and an NBC News contributor, who reviewed the documents, said that they offer a warning to the U.S.

"Regardless of whether or not these plans are an amateurish thought experiment, the fact that these people are talking about doing this should disturb Americans of all stripes," Figliuzzi said.

"The unfortunate reality is that we're seeing an adversary that will consider virtually anything to get what it wants, and if it means violence or splitting America along racial lines or eroding our trust in institutions, they'll do it."
Again, I want to emphasize that the abject failure to hold Russia accountable for interfering in our last presidential election, and the tangential failure to make any move at all to protect the integrity of our elections from foreign meddling, means that Russia will almost certainly intervene again — and they will probably not be alone, as other foreign organizations and states see there is no consequence for such behavior.

Democratic candidates need to start talking about this. And the candidates who are legislators, sitting members of the House or Senate, need to sponsor serious legislation to defend our elections from meddling foreign and domestic. At least try.

* * *

Julián Castro continues to call for unequivocally for impeachment proceedings to begin against Donald Trump:

GOOD, because everyone needs to shake Speaker Nancy Pelosi from whatever stupor has gripped her. I have no fucking idea why she is failing so comprehensively on the impeachment question, which shouldn't even be a question at this point, but I am glad for the candidates who are calling, repeatedly, for hearings.

Castro also continues to lead the way on immigration issues, including highlighting the deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody: "Five children have died in United States custody in LESS THAN SIX MONTHS. This is an outrage. And it is the legacy of the Trump Administration — they don't care about this human life. Accountability NOW."

On that terrible subject, Senator Cory Booker asks the pertinent question: "Another child has died in U.S. custody. Who are we if we can't protect the most vulnerable?" Who are we indeed.

Senator Kamala Harris also weighs in, urging us to pay attention: "Don't let this go unnoticed: Children are dying in our care and it must stop. A society is judged based on how it treats children and history will judge this Administration harshly."

The present should be judging them harshly, too. The present should be impeaching this president.

* * *

FUCK YES, Senator Elizabeth Warren:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed the nation's first state-level "public option" into law. Known as "Cascade Care," the program will "offer standardized plans for individual health coverage, to be offered by private insurers on the benefit exchange." The plans will be available in January of 2021.

Following Mayor Pete Buttigieg's ill-advised town hall on Fox News, Donald Trump's favorite show, Fox & Friends, "devoted significant time on Monday to undermining Buttigieg's presentation." Huh! Who could have possibly predicted that would happen?! Media Matters' Matt Gertz notes:
Appearing on the network did give Buttigieg the opportunity to speak directly to its audience. But the town hall does not exists in a vacuum; Fox is a right-wing propaganda machine that constantly pushes disinformation in order to damage progressives and help conservatives. And within hours — after the commentariat had stopped watching Fox — the network began smearing Buttigieg in an effort that will likely minimize any gains he might have made with its viewers.

..."He had some interesting comments last night, sounds like a nice guy, but do you agree with his policies?" co-host Ainsley Earhardt said at one point before rattling off a misinformation-laden litany of Buttigieg's purported positions.

This onslaught will almost certainly continue throughout the day and into the night, when the network's stars perform for an audience that will surely be much greater than Buttigieg's. That was also the trajectory Fox's coverage tracked after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) partnered with the network for a town hall recently.

No matter how persuasive the candidates might be, they can't reverse years of propaganda in a single evening.
And the fact that they believe they can does not speak well of them, frankly. It suggests an extremely unappealing combination of outsized ego and aggressive ignorance.

And, to be clear, Sanders, Buttigieg, and other Democratic candidates visiting Fox News was not a neutral decision:
Fox, on the other hand, reaped dramatic benefits from Democratic participation in its town halls. Because of both the network's role as a malevolent force that shills for the president and the volatility and bigotry of its stars, Fox entered the spring in a state of crisis as advertisers fled the network for safer harbors. But these town halls allow the network to rebrand itself and thus make the case to advertisers that it is safe to return.

As Fox faced disaster, Democratic presidential candidates bailed it out. And now the network will pay them back by doing whatever it can to undermine their message and ensure their defeat.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is still campaigning as the Republican Whisperer: "Biden used the first major rally of his presidential campaign to push back against the idea that Democrats need anger to defeat [Donald] Trump in 2020, instead issuing a call for unity and arguing he understands better than any other Democratic candidate the entrenched Republican opposition the party's nominee will face. 'Let's stop fighting and start fixing. And we can only do it together,' Biden told a crowd of thousands in a park near the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps made famous by the Rocky movies." Epic eyeroll.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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