The Russians are Here


Picture from the March for Our Lives in DC which I attended.

“THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE NAZIS ARE COMING!”

She’d yell at 3:30 in the morning as I jumped to my six year old feet in sheer panic. It wasn’t the first time she’d woken us up in fear of nuclear annihilation or the movement of the Wehrmacht. My maternal great-grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.


She didn’t even know who I was. She’d often look and me and say, “Wow, Paul you look so good.” She’d then thank me for taking good care of Gina. Gina was my mom. I am named after my father. I guess I did look rather well for a man in his 30s. Then again, I could’ve looked like a worn out child who aged entirely too fast.


No one took her seriously. We knew that Russia and the United States had come to some sort of peace and that Nazis and White Supremacists were just idiots who appeared sporadically to knock over chairs on Jenny Jones and break Geraldo’s nose.


Fast forward to March of 2016 when the absence of two missing letters changed the course of the United States’ Presidential election. An aide to John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton Campaign, received an email stating that Podesta’s email account was possibly compromised and that he needed to click on an embedded link to change the password. After realizing that the email was an attempt at phishing, he forwarded it to other aides stating, “This is a legitimate email.” He meant to type illegitimate.


Hackers now had access to over 60,000 emails and would soon gain access to the Democratic Congressional Committee and the DNC’s main computer network. I consider myself somewhat of a tech geek. Cyber warfare scares me. Many Americans just don’t understand it. Others don’t quite grasp the magnitude of it. I’m not even sure our intelligence agencies can truly gauge how continued Russian hacks have affected our country and how they will continue to do so. Those who care about Russian interference in the election wait with bated breath for Special Counsel Bob Mueller to release his findings. To our country’s own peril, some Trump supporters dismiss the investigation or, even worse, side with Russia simply because it helped their candidate.


Back in January of 2017, the day before the inauguration of the man that resides in the White House, I wrote a piece about why I would never refer to Trump as my president. (You can read that piece here: http://tinyurl.com/PaulTrumpPost) For years now, I’ve been trying to follow it up.

Each time I’d focus on something that angered me or worried me, he’d do something even more outrageous that would steal my attention away. I was beginning to feel like the dog Doug in the Disney movie Up, I would start creating a piece in my head and then SQUIRREL. Or in this case it was NUCLEAR FOOTBALL! COMEY! APRIL RYAN AND THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS! FREDERICK DOUGLASS IS ALIVE?! HE TWEETED WHAT ABOUT JOHN LEWIS? STORMY DANIELS? HE DID NOT ATTACK A DEAD BARBARA BUSH?!

HE TWEETED. HE TWEETED. HE TWEETED.


It’s exhausting. Does the entire country have this Trump induced ADHD that plagues me? I’m fighting not to check social media now. I fear not being able to finish this.

In the summer and early fall of 2017, I had the great privilege of living in Virginia. I’d never seen a more beautiful place, and the town we lived in was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting with its lush mountains and the nightly serenade of the cicadas. A month after we moved there, just a few hours from Roanoke, a woman just one year my junior was killed while protesting Nazis. Let that sink in for a minute, in case you haven’t processed it 1,000 times like I have. A woman in the year 2017 in the United States of America was protesting Nazis and was killed because of it. Her death live Tweeted. The now infamous picture of bodies flying through the air was on the front page of our town’s newspaper. The Nazis had come. The Russians had come. Grandma Blanchard was right, albeit 26 years too early.


Forgive me as I use a Trumpian phrase, many people are saying they can’t believe this happened. Those people weren’t paying very close attention. Did they not remember the old, white man who punched the black protester at a Trump rally in March of 2016 and then followed up his assault with this gem, “Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” How about Trump himself who told a protester at his rally, “I’ll beat the crap out of you,” in Kansas City not long after the previous assault. In St. Louis, Missouri as protesters were being escorted out of a rally he said, “You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?” How about when he defended the attacking of a Black Lives Matter protester by six of his white attendees? “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Protesting, perhaps the most American activity to engage in, is disgusting to Trump, yet only when he’s the subject of the protest. (Here’s the piece I’m citing which has several links to other sites which are far from “Fake News.” http://mashable.com/2016/03/12/trump-rally-incite-violence/#IQ_V1DCPYiqx)


I didn’t expect that he would unite us after the event in Charlottesville. I knew there was no chance he’d attend a local church and lead the congregation in Amazing Grace or weep alongside the mourners. That kind of leadership belongs to far greater men with much smaller egos. But to react as he did sickens me on a visceral level.


“You had many people in that group other than Neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he said. He’s right in his first statement. There were people there that weren’t Neo-Nazis or white nationalists. They included: immigration foes, anti-Semitic bigots, Neo-Confederates, Proud Boys, Patriot and militia types, outlaw bikers, and Ku Klux Klan members. Truly fine specimens of people. The Southern Poverty Law Center was tracking this event and predicted it to be, “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.” (Their link is here: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/07/extremists-unite-right-rally-possible-historic-alt-right-showcase)


Flashback to election night 2016, a night I remember very well. It was the first time I’ve wanted a drink in a very long time. I gave up alcohol in the summer of 2010 and have rarely missed it, but looking at my friend’s fully stocked bar, the thought of a fruity, little drink to take the edge off didn’t sound so bad. I was glued to the television, while my friend and I shared a Domino’s Pizza as my mood quickly went from hopeful to Holy Fuck, We’re Doomed! Well after midnight, I tried to force myself to sleep. I knew how this was going to play out. I knew after Pennsylvania and Florida went red. I vacillated between panicking and praying. My ex texted me, “How are you holding up?” He knew exactly how I was feeling. I let the text go unanswered.


“Relax,” my friend said. “So what if he wins? Will your life change?” His efforts to calm me weren’t working, but I was in no mood to argue, so I lied down. My eyes would close and I’d drift off to sleep, only to reawaken and check my phone. After about 4 cycles of this, I saw that CNN had called it. I prayed that I could pull a Rip Van Winkel and wake up in a Post Trump World. I wasn’t so lucky. The next day my friend sent me a text message, “Are you okay? I’m worried about you. I’ve never seen you that anxious.”


I wasn’t okay. I left work after a few hours, went back to his apartment, hid my feelings under a couple of Taco Bell tacos (with extra nacho cheese) and crashed in his bed.

At the suggestion of my best friends, I went AWOL from social media. I was hurt. I was angry. I was fucking terrified. Every election cycle you’ll hear, “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” Watching the rallies, the election cycle coverage, and listening to the disgusting words that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth made this the most important election of my lifetime. A lot of GOP politicians will blow dog whistles to their base on occasion. Ronald Reagan began his presidential campaign just miles from the Mississippi Burning murders while preaching about states’ rights. Racist dogs heard this whistle. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, went on a conservative radio show in 2014 and talked about how men in inner cities don’t value a “culture of work.” Racists dogs heard this whistle. When Mitt Romney spoke before the NAACP he told them that if they wanted “free stuff” to vote for Obama. That dog whistle was a little louder than others.

Trump ditched the dog whistles and went straight for the megaphone. Some in this country had been waiting for that moment. Don’t believe me? Check Reddit. Check 4Chan and 8Chan. Read nearly any article about gaming chat rooms in 2016. In 2009, a report was released by the FBI about the increase in white nationalism since Obama declared his candidacy. Conservatives claimed Obama was trying to silence the right…ummm, only if you’re a right-wing extremist. During the Tea Party reign of 2009, it was simply lost amongst the noise. Remember, Obama was trying to kill Grandma with his death panels and “Moochelle,” guided by the homosexual agenda, was trying to force feed your children carrots from her socialist garden? The country had critical things to focus on and white nationalism? We let out a collective, “Meh.”


Two weeks ago Robert Mueller released his over 300 page report to the attorney general. The attorney general claims to have read it in less than three days and wrote a 4 page “summary” of it. It took two years for Republicans to release their 800 page report on Benghazi. Imagine if someone Hillary hired was the only one who got to read it and wrote their own summary of it, claiming innocence. Hell someone went to shoot up Comet Ping Pong and Pizza because of online conspiracy theories claiming that she was running a child sex ring out of the basement. Side note: Comet Ping Pong and Pizza has no basement.


I thought the self-anointed patriots of this country would say enough after Trump attacked the wife of a fallen soldier. I thought they would cry out when he went after a dead John McCain. I knew they would turn on Trump when he went after the retired Admiral that killed Bin Laden or when rain kept him from appearing at a World War I memorial in Paris. Remember this is a man who feels like he’s worthy enough to attack a man who spent years being tortured in a Vietnamese prison while he couldn’t serve in Vietnam because of his bone spurs. I’ll never understand how anyone serving would vote for him, and I don’t have to. They’ve more than earned their right to the commander in chief of their choosing, and I’m not a person who’s earned the right to criticize them.

I need this country to wake up. This isn’t about Hillary anymore. This isn’t me being a sore loser or me being a precious, little snowflake…but thanks for calling me precious. This is about national security and the possibility of another civil war. If there were no collusion, if Trump didn’t work with foreign adversaries to steal an election, then why can’t Congress see the un-redacted report? Why is Trump continuing to encourage the rise of White Nationalists and suggesting that maybe we kill those attempting to claim asylum with machine guns? Why is he out verbally attacking a Muslim congresswoman who just had death threats issued against her? Could he be throwing red meat at those 4-Channers and 8-Channers that were so instrumental in his election? Is he trying to assemble an army of Proud Boys to literally fight back in the event of his impeachment? The New Zealand shooter praised Trump in his manifesto. A man in Florida (oh I wish this was the beginning of a funny news story), obsessed with Trump mailed pipe bombs to Democrats who’ve criticized Trump. A man in Pittsburgh shot up a synagogue after becoming obsessed with the Migrant Caravan that Trump used as a tool he thought would bring the GOP more votes in the midterms. The racist dogs are listening and waiting.


Please tell me that true Patriots are listening too. Have you had enough?


“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” A post on Heather Heyer’s Facebook before she was killed by Nazis.

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