We’re Making Progress. Keep Pushing.

Dave Troy
8 min readDec 22, 2022
United States Vice President Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy exchange flags after his address to a joint session of Congress on December 21, 2022. (BBC/EA)

As I reflect back on this past year, it is with a sense of both sadness and relief. Sad, in that many of our worst fears were realized, but relieved because we managed to avoid the worst outcomes.

Ukraine was indeed invaded, but 300+ days later, it is still standing. President Zelenskyy delivered a speech to Congress that exemplified the very best values of democracy, and showed real solidarity between our nations.

We conducted free and fair elections, and the outcomes were overwhelmingly pro-democracy — rejecting extremism and authoritarianism. Joe Biden and the Democratic party managed not only to avert a ‘red wave’ but outperform every president in midterm elections since JFK. The American people have spoken, and they are resoundingly uninterested in election denial or fomenting hate.

The January 6th Committee completed its work and has documented, in extraordinary detail, a plot to overthrow the American government. The Senate has just passed an omnibus spending bill that will fund Ukraine with $47 billion — 20% more than what President Biden asked for. And the House is expected to follow suit.

Nancy Pelosi has wrapped up a truly historic turn as Speaker, delivering victory after victory, and has named a successor in Hakeem Jeffries. This is what organized, disciplined leadership looks like.

And then there’s Elon Musk, Vladimir Putin, Mike Flynn, and the Republican Party. These are the dark clouds that hang over what otherwise might be called a restoration of sanity. It’s increasingly clear that this network is fully aligned and pursuing the same goals. Delusional and high on their own supply, they seem to have badly miscalculated the degree to which people support the “anti-woke” agenda. Yet, we can’t stop hearing about it because they are hell-bent on controlling every news cycle, all the time.

Extremism, racism, anti-Semitism, hate, and violence remain serious and imminent threats.

As dumb as this culture war is (and Putin’s war is, to be very clear, the same dumb war), it is an irreducible conflict, and we’re likely to be living with it for quite some time. I wrote up some thoughts about what to expect next year in my latest column for The Washington Spectator here.

My biggest concern remains over the debt ceiling, and the notion that Kevin McCarthy will try to actually crash the economy by defaulting on the debt, tanking the dollar, and sparking a global financial crisis. Why? To promote “shock therapy,” cudgel the Federal Reserve system, and rebuild the financial system with gold doubloons and fairy-crypto money the way Ron Paul, God, and Elon Musk intend it to be. And they’re tightly aligned with Jeffrey Sachs, the guy who invented “shock therapy.”

This legit keeps me up at night — not because I think it’s going to succeed, but because I think they’re going to try, and it’s going to be exceedingly damaging and dumb, in the same way that January 6th was doomed to fail, but also damaging and dumb. And this will be much more damaging. COVID caused about a $4 Trillion global impact; this could be more like $15 Trillion.

And yeah, I know, it’s unlikely, but my job is to worry about stuff that’s unlikely but possible. This is entirely possible and all the signals I’m getting are suggesting increasing likelihood. All eyes should be placed onto the debt ceiling crisis as we head into 2023. It’s the main event. Once that has passed, we’ll see how the threat landscape changes.

Overall, my bet is that as each big gamble fails (invading Ukraine; Twitter; blocking the omnibus bill; sparking a debt crisis), the network will begin to tire and realize they’ve been working with faulty info. That will either lead them to a final crazy gambit, or they’ll take their toys and go home. The next six months are pivotal in determining how that plays out.

Podcast Update

I’ve been on a bit of a break from podcasting since October, but have a bunch of new content planned for next year. Because I record episodes a) when I have something to say, b) when the guests I want are available, sometimes that means waiting until the right conditions come together. Lately the guests I’ve wanted to highlight have been unavailable for various reasons. But fear not, we’ll continue the conversation soon. I might even try to fit in an end-of-year summary episode this week. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, there are now 27 episodes of content, most between 90 and 120 minutes. Most people haven’t heard them all yet, so please take this opportunity to go back and get filled in on the episodes you may have missed.

Podcast Plug: American Psyop

Back in summer 2020 when I was doing network analysis around election integrity, researching various ongoing bizarre information operations, we had a realization that there were several people who were involved in Occupy, the protests at Standing Rock, and QAnon. One of the people who helped us figure this out was Wesley Clark, Jr. (whom I interviewed on my own podcast this year, too).

As it turns out, Wes has an amazing story to tell, and my friends Jack Bryan and Emily Bicks worked with him to tell it in the podcast series “American Psyop.” I heard draft cuts of it back in August 2021, but it’s taken until now to fully finish, fact-check, and polish. And let me tell you… it’s worth the listen. They’ve done a great job.

Listen to Wes’ tale and you’ll see why his experience in 2016 at Standing Rock informs so much of what’s going on now. Please, enjoy this richly-told story. (And it’s funny as hell, too!)

Join us on Toad Social!

In the wake of Musk’s disastrous and nerve-racking takeover of Twitter, I decided it would be a good idea to setup a social media presence that I could own and operate… in case things got even worse.

So I decided to take a look at Mastodon. I have an extensive background in tech, and it turns out Mastodon is built using technologies with which I have deep experience. So it was pretty easy to setup. And… then I spent the next few weeks tuning it and learning how it all works.

Bottom line is that I now have Toad Social setup on IBM’s cloud computing platform on bare metal hardware, complete with S3-compatible object storage, a caching proxy, and a CDN (content delivery network), for lightning-fast performance anywhere in the world. In plain English, this means I have plenty of room for myself and 10,000 or so friends, so please join us! If you’re looking for a way to check out the Mastodon, Toad Social is optimized for stability, civility, and performance.

You can interact with the entire Mastodon federated universe (i.e. other ActivityPub compliant hosts) using Toad Social. So again, in plain English, you can follow and interact with users on any Mastodon instance, not just our site. And you can use one of the several good Mastodon clients for iOS and Android, along with the Twitter-like web interface.

Many people very kindly asked if they could contribute to help offset server costs for Toad Social. A few weeks ago I set that up as well using DonorBox, and you can contribute on a one-time or recurring basis. Monthly donations are especially appreciated as it insures we can meet the ongoing cost and ensure scalability as we grow. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we have covered our costs to date!

And if you’re wondering… “why toad?” Well, I have a story about that, too.

Thank You For Your Ongoing Support

This year has been challenging in many ways — seeing the world descend into war and conflict has been painful. But our response to it has been very reassuring, and I am extremely grateful for all of the people who have supported me on this journey.

Under normal circumstances, I’d really like to be an entrepreneur. But events demanded that I get involved in trying to protect our democracy, and doing research to support that effort. And that research has required me to become more public as a writer and analyst.

I’d especially like to thank Anne Nelson and Hamilton Fish (editor of The Washington Spectator) who encouraged me to develop my historical research on the gold standard and its ties to January 6th and Putin’s war into a coherent narrative. This became the widely-shared long-form article, “Paranoia on Parade,” which I routinely use as an evergreen reference for people who are trying to better understand our current predicament.

My monthly column “The Wide Angle” is the result of Ham Fish’s mentoring and insistence that I had something to say that his readers needed to hear on a monthly basis, and I’m grateful to have that outlet to articulate what’s on our radar; and I should point out, this is very much a collective effort.

All of this work is made possible by a network of volunteer researchers, most of whom would prefer to remain anonymous. Without them, I would simply not be able to track down and assemble all of the information needed to try to decode and contextualize the seemingly bizarre events we call “news.”

My piece on Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey’s collaboration was selected by Medium as one of the best of 2022, and has received millions of views. It was gratifying to see so many people take a deeper dive into the geopolitical implications of Musk’s Twitter buy. And thanks to Peter Jukes, editor of the UK-based Byline Times, I had a chance to expand on that topic further with another piece that reached European audiences as well.

I’ve always been a writer — in that I’m a guy who writes. I’ve had work published in tech and business magazines since I was a teenager. But being given the opportunity to expand that work and move deeper into journalism (thanks in large part to encouragement from my top-notch journalist friends, you know who you are) has been a real gift, and I take it extremely seriously.

I’m excited for all the work that’s in progress, and to keep sharing this journey with you in 2023 and beyond. Onward!

Dave Troy is an investigative journalist addressing threats to democracy. You can follow his work on Twitter at @davetroy, on Mastodon at @davetroy@toad.social, and can find his monthly column “The Wide Angle” in The Washington Spectator.

For an even deeper dive, check out Dave’s other writing here on Medium, and his podcast series, “Dave Troy Presents,” wherever you get your podcasts.

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Dave Troy

Investigative journalist addressing threats to democracy. Public speaker, writer, podcaster. @davetroy on Twitter. See davetroy.com for contact info.