Bern & Rave at Close of Day / Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Campaign

The Revolution does not go gentle...and remains Russian.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas

THREE DAYS AGO, Joe Biden registered a resounding victory in the Super Tuesday primaries. By Wednesday morning, the Twitter trolls were out in force, grousing about Biden’s “cognitive decline.” Some of the trolls were MAGA. Some of the trolls were Berners. It was hard to tell them apart. Which makes sense, when you consider that so many of them work in the same St. Petersburg office building.

The irony here is that neither Donald John Trump nor Bernie Sanders look particularly full of vim these days. There was a clip of Sanders on Tuesday’s campaign trail. His face is flushed. His shoulders are stooped. He’s breathing heavy. He looks decidedly unwell. Remember, the man had a heart attack a few months ago, but instead of taking time off to rest and recuperate, he continued his rigorous campaign schedule. Twitter sounded the alarms; these looked like warning signs of an impending heart attack:

We can’t know if Raden’s diagnosis is correct, though, because Sanders has refused to release his full medical records—notably his “ejection fraction,” a measurement of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction. One imagines that if the EF were at healthy levels, the campaign would trip over itself to share this information. So we must continue to ask:

Ideology and politics aside, we have an elderly man who appears to be exacerbating a serious heart condition by continuing his quixotic presidential run—and who is almost certainly hiding the severity of these health issues from voters. It’s fair to ask what his motivations are.

As I wrote in my “Bern After Reading” piece of 14 January:

So, like, why is Bernie running? Seriously: why? The guy will turn 79 in September, and he just had a heart attack. Why is he doing this? What’s the point? If he wins the nomination, he picks some divisive running mate (Tulsi? AOC? Eugene V. Debs?), the GOP open the treasure trove of oppo research on him, Trump skates to re-election, and the republic falls. The guy already fucked up the 2016 election. Why does he risk fucking up an even more important one? Seriously: why? Is it ego? Delusions of grandeur? Or is the sudden millionaire more than just a Useful Idiot for Putin?

For Bernie Sanders, the slim chance of winning both the nomination of a political party which he neither likes nor belong to—and which, three days ago, repudiated him bigly—and then the White House, is worth the enormous risk to his health and well-being…not to mention the health and well-being of the republic.

(Whatever his Kool-Aid-drunk surrogates tell you, Old Man Moscow cannot win the general:

O’Reilly’s read here is so absolutely spot-on that when I saw it in my feed, I stared at my screen for a full minute, wondering if it was really he who tweeted it; most of the Trump allies were encouraging Bernie to stay in the race. “No Spin Zone” indeed!)

I have no doubt that Sanders is a narcissist of some noxious stripe, and that his ego demands the adulation and attention his campaign provides. I’m sure it is quite a rush to be the recipient of so much positive regard, especially from young people, especially from young women.

The thing is, I wouldn’t even care all that much—I’ve fallen for active measures myself—but that Sanders’ Russia ties remain so disturbing.

We know Bernie’s campaign was helped by Russia in 2016. The Russians continue to help him in 2020. Zarina Zabrisky, whom I interviewed in this space a few months ago, posted a nice piece on Medium examining Bernie’s ties to Moscow. She cited the involvement of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian front operation indicted by Mueller:

On or about February 10, 2016, the day after both Sanders and Trump won their respective parties’ New Hampshire primary contest, a troll factory in Russia circulated a memo outlining themes to be posted to its social media accounts in the US. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them),” said the memo.

In February 2018, the Special Counselor office’s indictment charged this organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), with interference with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with a strategic goal to sow discord. According to the indictment, IRA, funded by Putin’s close ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, stole identities of real U.S. persons, created fake accounts, groups, and pages on social media and posted profusely to address divisive U.S. political and social issues. The agents “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.” Tweets sent from Russia included: “Bernie Sanders looks to black voters to boost his underdog campaign”; “Hillary Clinton’s summer of drama creates openings for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden”; and “I’m for Bernie all the way!”

She notes Bernie’s insufficient response to this:

Less known is the role played by Russia Today, or RT, the state-owned media company that likes to feign objectivity. Zabrisky explains:

In 2015, Russia started meddling in the US elections, using RT and Sputnik, two state-funded behemoths, as a weapon. Russia’s effort to promote Sanders as a way to influence the U.S. election began shortly after he declared his candidacy in the spring of 2015.

RT (Russia Today) was founded by Putin’s decree in 2005 and is a brand-name for ANO TV-Novosti, a company, funded by the federal budget of the Russian Federations with a budget of 288,227,264 USD in 2019. RT claims to be the most-watched news network on YouTube with 10 billion views as of February 2020. Since February 2018, YouTube puts a label “RT is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government” on RT videos if the location is set in the US.

Before February of 2018, of course, YouTube did not label RT videos that way. So most viewers had no idea that the content they were watching—extolling the virtues of Bernie Sanders—were bankrolled by Vladimir Putin’s government. For example, as Zabrisky cites, check out this hagiographical Thom Hartmann segment comparing Sanders to F-D-Fucking-R:

Zabrisky continues:

On February 2, 2016, Sanders gave an exclusive one-on-one interview to RT (formerly Russia Today).

On February 21, 2016, RT ran a story about Sanders’ 1988 honeymoon in Yaroslavl, Russia, praising the senator and showing the suite that was only booked for “foreign dignitaries.” (Notably, at the time, all foreign tourists were under KGB surveillance. On his return, Sanders held a press-conference that gave glowing reviews to life in the USSR.)

So it’s not just the Russian bots coming to Bernie’s aid. Putin’s personal TV network also supported the campaign. Zabrisky, who speaks Russian, cites an interview given to Russian media in February 2016:

Alexey Nikolov, the managing director of RT, in an interview to Siberian Forum of Krasnoyarsk, said, “Bernie Sanders, who became an absolute surprise of the current presidential election campaign in the US—he did not come to interview with us by accident.”

He also stated that RT invited Jeremy Corbyn, “whom no channel wanted to interview, calling him a leftist and extremist” using the principle “we do what others don’t do.”

Corbyn is the British leftist MP, often compared to Sanders with regard to his politics, personality, ideological purity, and inability to form an effective coalition.

Too, the 2016 Sanders chief campaign strategist was longtime Dem operative Tad Devine. It is widely known that Devine worked with former Trump campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort in Ukraine. This week’s release of 302 reports from the Mueller investigation give us important insight into the dynamics of that working relationship, as Eric Garland notes:

This is like Tony Soprano bringing his nephew Christopher Moltisanti to the Old Country to work directly for the capo di tutti i capi, and then, once they got back to New Jersey, Tony going to work for Trump, and Christopher going to work for Bernie. True, Davine did not advise the Sanders campaign this go-round—but many of Bernie’s current staff are Jill Stein voters. You may remember Jill Stein from her seditious dinner with Putin and the traitor Mike Flynn:

Why does Bernie keep picking people with ties to Moscow? Are there no other political operatives who would work for his campaign? Like, why hire human Russian-troll-bot David Sirota?

Finally, there is the matter of Bernie’s fundraising. Simply put, how could a candidate who raked in so much actual cash from so many actual small donors not see better results at the polls?

Did an army of young people really fork over money to his campaign and then…not bother to vote? Or is there a more nefarious explanation?

Now, it may well be that the Saudis and Emiratis who allegedly funded the Trump campaign via a plethora of small donations from unwitting people whose identities were stolen by the Chinese did nothing of the kind, and certainly did not repeat this grotesque malfeasance with the Bernie campaign. But in Sanders’ case, as the Patribotics thread shows, there were enough red flags to compel a whopping 501-page letter from the Federal Election Commission. It sure smelled fishy:

What does it all mean? John Schindler, the former NSA intelligence analyst/ counterintelligence officer and current national security columnist for the Observer, has said he doesn’t believe Bernie Sanders is a Russian asset, as such. I agree. I don’t think Moscow has kompromat on Sanders, beyond that grainy footage of him singing socialist drinking songs on his Yaroslavl honeymoon. I don’t think he was paid off. Honestly, I don’t think Bernie is smart enough to work the system, or greedy enough to try. But that doesn’t mean the Russians did not work hard to exploit his soft spot for CCCP, as Anton Troianovski explained in his devastating New York Times piece last night:

Sanders is not a Russian asset, sure, but there’s little doubt that he’s a very Useful Idiot. Egomaniacs are easy to manipulate, especially not-very-smart ones with Soviet socialist sympathies, and that’s what Moscow has done here. If you ask me, Bernie Sanders is a malignant narcissist on his last legs, raging, raging against the dying of the light. Like Trump, he will accept help from anyone who cares to help him: Jill Stein voters, Shaun King, David Sirota, Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Uygur, Joe Rogan, Michael Moore, Marianne Williamson, Susan Sarandon…and yes, Vladimir Putin.

Let him peddle his commie horseshit in Yaroslavl, Burlington’s “sister city” he loves so well. Such a man has no business in the White House.