THE STREET CORNER – Look around you. See anything suspicious? I thought not. Oh, those Ruskies are clever. We are looking for our old friends, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova and Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik. If you recall, those are two top Russian agents who came to Texas checking out our gullibility to see how they could tilt the last presidential election to Donald Trump, and it worked. Texas went for Trump over Hillary Clinton by a whopping 9 percent margin. Earlier, a secret Russian program to help Trump was only our suspicions, but the Mueller Report confirms that this sleepy fishing village on the bayou, Houston, Texas, would be the center of spies and foreign intrigue. Indeed, we were the Number 1 choice for creating chaos. (I find it humiliating that the Russians looked all over America and determined that their softest target would be Houston.)
A Confederate rally planned here November 2015 was the “earliest evidence” that Russians attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Mueller report. An Instagram post on an account called Stand For Freedom (which was later linked to Russian online trolls) tried to organize a rally in Houston. “Good evening buds!” the post read, according to the report. “Well I am planning to organize a confederate rally in … Houston on the 14 of November and I want more people to attend.”
Apparently not much happened, but they tried again in May 2016 by staging a rally outside the downtown Houston Islamic Da’wah Center, which attracted about a dozen protesters. A group called the Heart of Texas had organized the rally to protest what it consider the “Islamization” of Texas. The group had also encouraged followers to bring legal firearms. About 10 people bearing flags of the United States, Texas and the Confederacy came, but more than 50 counter-protesters also showed up. So there were two opposing rallies at the same time at the same place. Unfortunately for the Kremlin, no riot ensued.
All of this derring-do is the work of the Internet Research Agency or IRA, the Russian government’s agency which engages in all sorts of dirty deeds: fake news, fake names, divisiveness and general troublemaking. These days every U.S. intelligence official says the IRA is already making plans and plots to influence the 2020 presidential election and keep Trump in the Oval Office. So what can we do to spoil their schemes? First, check out yard signs for Trump, especially if they are written in Cyrillic. See if your neighborhood stores have had a run on Stolichnaya or borscht. Look for weird cowboy outfits. Last time the Kremlin Two were in town they wore the most ridiculous Texas clothes and looked like a Roy Rogers clown. Check your mail. If the stamp has a picture of Vladimir Putin, toss. Robocalls can be made by the millions. If your Caller ID reads, “Anonymous” or “You just won the Mega Million,” don’t answer, but give me the phone number and I’ll take it from there.
Russian President-for-Life Putin likes to split us apart, us-versus-them. Remember his spies promoted both “Black Lives Matter” and “White Lives Matter.” If you are of another hue, you don’t matter. Just to be safe, in my neighborhood I’d never put up a sign reading “Democrats’ Lives Matter.” The Mueller Report states: “The IRA continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attendance at rallies varied. Some rallies appear to have drawn few (if any) participants, while others drew hundreds.” Don’t attend any Confederate rallies featuring real Confederate soldiers who say “youse guys” or “fuhgeddaboudit.”
As the election heats up, tempers rise, emotions are strained. So here’s how the IRA works: There is a big demonstration in favor of, say, Trump. In the midst of it, six paid goons (hired by a fictitious front) come in carrying “Warren for President” signs. Pushing ensues, fights break out. TV cameras zoom in on the scuffles and follow the cops as they escort the troublemakers away. The cost: $500. The results: Priceless. And that 3-minute scene will make the network news programs time after time. The big push from Putin’s Paratroopers is social media, and they are brilliant. They manipulate by swamping Americans with emails, rumors, Facebook, Google, Twitter, anything to turn us against one another. Each of these messages has just enough truth in it to make the rest believable.
Whomever the Dem presidential candidate is, get ready to be inundated with false charges. Example: “Beto O’Rourke wants open borders and, if elected, would allow hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to come to our beloved country to rape, steal, murder and park in handicap spaces.” The accusation stems from this: MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked O’Rourke on-air: “Would you, if you could, would you take the wall down here — knock it down?” O’Rourke answered: “Yes, absolutely.” But the charge is silly, because illegal immigrants swimming across the Rio or climbing over the wall can’t park in handicap spaces because they don’t have cars. Another one: “Kirsten Gillibrand was born in Kenya.” That charge, too, has an ounce of truth, she was born. “Pete Buttigieg is an atheist. Even though he’s the mayor of South Bend, he watched Notre Dame play Baylor and didn’t care who won.” True, he’s the mayor. Congress is demanding that Facebook and the others stop allowing such false news and misinformation about the candidates. When asked if this abuse would be ended, a representative of Twitter replied: “Da.”
If you doubt all of this and toss it off as rampant paranoia, I’ll ask you: How did the Kremlin feel about the outcome of the 2016 election? On the night of Nov. 9, 2016, Hillary Clinton called Trump to concede the presidential election. Shortly thereafter, the feds were listening in as the head of Russia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, apparently a Kremlin front, received a message from New York: “Putin has won.” I rest my case.
Ashby conspires at firstname.lastname@example.org