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The United States, Russia, and the 2016 Election

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The Washington Post has a comprehensive report on Russian electoral interference and the Obama Administration’s attempt to handle it without unduly interfering with the US election.

In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy. It was a case that took almost no time to solve, traced to the Kremlin through cyber-forensics and intelligence on Putin’s involvement. And yet, because of the divergent ways Obama and Trump have handled the matter, Moscow appears unlikely to face proportionate consequences.

Those closest to Obama defend the administration’s response to Russia’s meddling. They note that by August it was too late to prevent the transfer to WikiLeaks and other groups of the troves of emails that would spill out in the ensuing months. They believe that a series of warnings — including one that Obama delivered to Putin in September — prompted Moscow to abandon any plans of further aggression, such as sabotage of U.S. voting systems.

Denis McDonough, who served as Obama’s chief of staff, said that the administration regarded Russia’s interference as an attack on the “heart of our system.”

“We set out from a first-order principle that required us to defend the integrity of the vote,” McDonough said in an interview. “Importantly, we did that. It’s also important to establish what happened and what they attempted to do so as to ensure that we take the steps necessary to stop it from happening again.”

But other administration officials look back on the Russia period with remorse.

“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” said a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia. “I feel like we sort of choked.”

You need to read the report now. And then take a look at Thomas Rid’s series of Tweets on the cyber side of the equation.


To the extent that the report is accurate, it reinforces a number of important domestic and international political themes.

First, Moscow clearly believed that electing Trump, or at least weakening Clinton and faith in the US electoral system, served Russian interests. Of course, we already know this. But the length’s that Moscow was willing to, including tampering with the mechanics of the election process, should remove any doubts about the seriousness of the situation. For scholars and analysts, this means waking up to the degree that power politics are about far more than military and economic interests. But in terms of immediate US national interests, it highlights just how damaging Trump’s dispositions are to American security.

The reasons why Moscow preferred Trump over Clinton, and saw even a continuation of Obama foreign policy as a threat, are rooted in a desire to destabilize institutions and arrangements that have overall served the United States, and its allies, very well. It’s easy to dismiss the #neverTrump wing of the Republican foreign-policy establishment as neoconservatives overly prone to military adventures—because it’s generally true. But where neoconservatives, liberal hawks, and progressives should agree is in the desirability of the basic infrastructure—however in need of reform—of the liberal order.

Second, it should not require much elaboration to note the insanity of far-right fantasies concerning the Obama administration’s willingness to manipulate the political process in ways that undermine democracy. Ample evidence, even before the details of this story (again, if true), suggests that Obama and his advisors were far too cautious—and too concerned wth not putting their thumbs on the scale.

Third, we are facing a national emergency when it comes to the electoral process. The Obama Administration believes that it deterred much worse than classic information warfare. What will a Trump administration do? So far, they are attempting to weaken the sanctions voted on by the Senate. This should not bring comfort.

This goes far beyond coercive diplomacy. We can’t ‘slow walk’ the investigation into electoral meddling, and we need to throw serious resources behind electoral integrity measures designed, first and foremost, to secure the voting system. My gut instinct: this requires moving to paper ballots and rethinking how we secure voter rolls.

The second concern is how to cope with Russian information warfare. Here, the GOP is stuck in a political, but not a moral, vise. The marriage between right-wing media and foreign information warfare—both in form and content—serves Republican interests. It helped, at least at the margins, elect Donald Trump. But don’t think that the left doesn’t—or won’t—face a similar problem. We already saw this surrounding the Clinton-Sanders primary battle. In an era of intense political polarization, it’s going to be very hard to push back against disinformation that proves electorally useful. Over twenty years of embracing domestic disinformation laid the groundwork for extreme vulnerability.

Fourth, what does this mean for progressive policy toward Russia? I’ve spent many years trying to navigate between, on the one hand, a clear-eyed assessment of the clash between American and Russian interests and, on the other hand, a strong desire to avoid a new “Cold War.” When I volunteered as part of the unofficial Sanders foreign-policy cell, the course seemed clear: our bright line should be NATO allies. Regardless of whether NATO expansion was a good idea, the United States has an overriding interest in the security of our NATO partners. Ukraine, for its part, required a balancing act. Again, regardless of American mistakes, we needed a calibrated approach that did not recognize the legitimacy of, or facilitate, Russian efforts in Ukraine while also keeping in mind that Ukraine is not worth war with Russia. So, when it looked like Clinton would win the election, this meant progressives needed to prepare themselves for criticizing overly aggressive moves by a future Clinton administration.

Now, I just don’t know. I still worry about the risks of pushing the geostrategic relationship in overly confrontational ways. Indeed, the Trump administration seems to be sleepwalking into very dangerous territory in Syria, behaving schizophrenically toward NATO, and sending rather mixed signals about the overall relationship, This lack of obvious policy coordination at work here—and overall ambiguity it creates in the relationship—might prove the most dangerous of the possible approaches. It creates very significant risks of miscalculation. But it’s clear that the default position among too many progressives—of dismissing attention to Russia’s role in 2016 as ‘McCarthyism’, or seeing it purely through the lens of left-liberal policy fights—is hopelessly naïve.

I hate to be that person, but this is my bottom line: it’s all bad.

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  • JMP

    We still are seeing the effect of Russian propaganda on the supposed left with the Sanders dead-enders who still keep repeating the lie that the DNC “rigged” the primary for Clinton, even now we know that now only was that bit of misinformation false, but that like everything else from Wikileaks it was actually propaganda created by Vladimir Putin. Of course the “leftist” idiots who repeat that lie tend to be the same ones who claim there was no Russian interference in the election, despite all the proof, and even defend Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    • humanoid.panda

      The funny thing about this stuff, is how circular it is: if the conspiracy theories about rigging don’t become a thing in March, sometime between the Michigan and New York primaries, the potency of the DNC leaks in the summer is much reduced. And while I generally think we should move away from the primary wars, the SAnders’ camp choice to play footsie with those theories was a major, major, major deal. And what makes this whole thing even more fraught is that now that the “rigged” thing was introduced, even if future campaigns denounce it, there are left wing actors who have commercial interests in promoting those (The Young Turks..).

      • humanoid.panda

        Or, to put this more graphically: the soup was already boiling in June. All Putin did was add some spices to it in August.

      • JMP

        Yeah, I liked Sanders himself just fine, up until the point where he started egging on the worst of his conspiracy theorist supporters, at the point when a group of them attempted to steal delegates at Nevada’s convention was stopped and they threw a very public fit, and then started screaming about an alleged conspiracy against them, and he actually talked like that really existed instead of telling those assholes to shut the fuck up and act like adults.

        I actually used to like The Young Turks too, something that I’m very ashamed of now that Cenk’s gone full Greenwald.

        • humanoid.panda

          Right. If Clinton wins Michigan and the Sanders campaign folds, its very likely that the course of history changes (it’s hard to believe this, but if you go back in time, you see that until Michigan, the primary campaign was almost amazingly positive..)

          • djw

            Yeah; I’m still of the view that the Sanders campaign and its somewhat surprising success was an unambiguously positive development right up to the moment they thought they might be able to win.

        • Aexia

          Started well before that – Sanders’s Iowa state director posited that Microsoft might rig the Iowa caucus results because so many MS employees had given to Clinton.

          After they got caught red handed stealing data from the Clinton campaign, they claimed their national data director might be a DNC plant.

          As for the Young Turks, they’ve had a couple hosts JAQ off to Seth Rich conspiracy stuff recently, Konst didn’t seem to understand the difference between open primaries and voter id laws and their white CTO called a black writer a house n***** for supporting Clinton.

          • Colin Day

            Microsoft might rig the Iowa caucus results because so many MS employees had given to Clinton.

            Rigging caucuses? I caucused in Iowa, how would one rig a caucus?

            • Alex.S

              Microsoft built a cloud-based app to help tabulate the results of the caucus.

              Sanders’ Iowa campaign manager questioned why a corporation would do something for free. Other Sanders aides noted that Microsoft employees donated to the Clinton campaign.

              http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/sanders-campaign-suspicious-corporate-influence-iowa-caucus

              The difficulty with rigging, as you might have noticed, was that every single campaign was also tabulating the results and reporting them back to their campaign’s headquarters.

            • efgoldman

              I caucused in Iowa, how would one rig a caucus?

              Really accomplished conspiracy theorists don’t need a “how”. Mechanics don’t matter any more than logic.

            • MyNameIsZweig

              “how would one rig a caucus?”

              Hypnosis?

            • Captain C

              Not sure. Maybe send a bunch of screaming jerks to cause a ruckus and intimidate people?

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            Noteworthy that Konst is someone Sanders put on the DNC platform committee and the DNC unity commission.

      • nixnutz

        There’s also an irony in that the Bernie Bro truthers want to use Russia as an alibi while simultaneously dismissing it as fantasy.

        • Captain C

          Kind of like “Superdelegates are evil and used to rig the system against us!” followed by “Superdelegates must vote for us against the winner of the primaries because argle bargle!”

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Not just the potency of the leaks in the sense of it wouldn’t have been feeding a pre-existing narrative…

        The potency would’ve been highly reduced because those emails wouldn’t have existed. The emails that supposedly proved “rigging” occurred after Bernie effectively had no way to win, and many were in response to Sanders’s attacks on the DNC. If his campaign folds by March 16, those emails don’t even exist.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      like everything else from Wikileaks it was actually propaganda created by Vladimir Putin

      John Podesta’s risotto is a lie?!?!

      • Colin Day

        He uses Russian cottage cheese.

        • cleek

          zernyony tvorog

        • Breadbaker

          Soviet-style pizza!

    • Captain C

      Of course the “leftist” idiots who repeat that lie tend to be the same ones who claim there was no Russian interference in the election, despite all the proof, and even defend Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

      The funny thing, is these people are supposedly hardcore anti-imperialists. I guess it’s OK if people they like are doing it. “Imperialism is totally evil. We should let Russia dominate its neighbors like it always has, after all, it’s fair. Russia should be allowed its traditional sphere of influence. Not letting Russia dominate its neighbors is imperialism!” (OK, I haven’t actually heard the last sentence, but…)

      • JMP

        Apparently American imperialism is the only kind that’s bad. And I think some of them actually have claimed that Russia has a right to control all the former Soviet Republics, no matter what the people of those actually independent countries want.

        • humanoid.panda

          We have a prime example of that here (though in fairness, Dilan doesn’t seem to be a leftist).

        • Just_Dropping_By

          There’s an extreme difference between “Russia has a right to control all the former Soviet Republics” and “the United States has an obligation to intervene in all the former Soviet Republics to prevent Russian control,” but nice strawman.

          • humanoid.panda

            How about: “70 years of European peace and a norm that borders should never change by force are a good thing and an important American achievement, and we should deter Russia from destroying those norms?”

            • tsam

              That’s just crazy talk.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              How about: “70 years of European peace and a norm that borders should never change by force are a good thing and an important American achievement, and we should deter Russia from destroying those norms?”

              How about: “Borders have changed by force for thousands of years, and for the first 200 years of the American republic the US government had precisely zero influence over most of what was the territory of the Soviet Union, so Americans should concern themselves with preventing such changes only when such changes actually pose a material threat to American interests, especially when they involve an opposing nuclear-armed great power that views our involvement as a possible existential threat?”

              • Captain C

                Shorter JDB:

                Imperialism, conquest, pillage, and so forth are totally fine if done by someone I’m not rooting against. Also, we should cower every time someone threatens to mug us.

              • humanoid.panda

                And there is of course no way in which the a large nuclear armed state changing its borders by force might lead to more nuclear proliferation, or conflicts that might ravage the world economy, or draw the United States even though it is separated from them by an ocean..

              • Pete

                You may not recognize this, JDB, but Russia does not want a nuclear war, or any war, with the US either.

                The US is still much, much stronger than Russia — and the Russian govt. _hates_ it. That asymmetry of power is a prime reason they have focused so much on fighting us through cyber and disinformation techniques since the US began to interfere with Putin’s efforts to rebuild the Empire.

              • sigaba

                Christ. The United States is signatory and guarantor of a regime of international agreements, the most basic concept of which are that states will never invade and conquer each other as prizes of war. We are legally obligated to defend the sovereignty of foreign states, because they are obligated to defend ours. You speak from a position of incredible privilege, being in a country with the largest and most expensive professional military on Earth.

                Congratulations, you’ve just unlearned every horrible lesson of the 20th century.

                • MyNameIsZweig

                  Is there any evidence to suggest he ever learned them in the first place?

                • Origami Isopod

                  Yabbut that's all statist shit. VOTE JOHNSTON

          • JMP

            Do you not know what a strawman is? Because no, there actual people who claim to be leftists who in fact do make the argument that Russia does have a right to control its’ former republics, starting with Putin’s lackey Glenn Greenwald.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              [CITATION NEEDED]

              • humanoid.panda

                Here is an actual good to god example of an argument I wouldn’t impute to a strawman, so silly it is:

                “Borders have changed by force for thousands of years, and for the first 200 years of the American republic the US government had precisely zero influence over most of what was the territory of the Soviet Union, so Americans should concern themselves with preventing such changes only when such changes actually pose a material threat to American interests, especially when they involve an opposing nuclear-armed great power that views our involvement as a possible existential threat?

                • Breadbaker

                  We landed troops in Archangel in 1919. We sent convoys to Murmansk and Archangel in World War II.

                  Not zero. You want to set an absolute base line, get your facts straight.

        • veleda_k

          You know that bit about Republican’s loving America like a three year old loves mommy? Well, this particular kind of “leftist” hates America like a thirteen year old hates mom. Everything mom does is stupid and wrong, and only the thirteen year old is smart enough to see it, even though they’re totally being KEPT DOWN, MAN.

          • cleek

            love it

          • Captain C

            “I could totally survive on my own if you’d just let me move out and get my own place (and keep paying my way)!”

            • so-in-so

              And drop off meals, and do my laundry…

          • Pete

            +1

            And these guys post on the Internet about their angst on the mobile phones mommy bought them, using the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks while sipping drinks bought with their allowances.

            The surviving old-line Commies may be like the crusty old men at the end of the neighborhood bar muttering darkly about how the world has gone to hell, but at least they pay for their own drinks.

        • SatanicPanic

          What’s amazing to me is that they don’t seem to consider that a USA with the same military but run by a dictator isn’t going to result in more imperialism.

          • CP

            This, this, this, this and this.

          • so-in-so

            I suppose the assumption is that it all burns down before then. The GOP likes the future U.S. dictatorship (with them as the ruling party). The leftists like it as step to revolution, I’d guess.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Could we please stop calling Stein supporters (and the like) who act as useful idiots on the left for the Putin regime “Sanders dead-enders”? Just as Bernie Sanders endorsed and campaigned for Clinton, Sanders has also, consistently, said that Russian interference in our electoral process is a serious concern. Most of us who supported Sanders in the primary agreed with him about Clinton in the fall and about Russia then and now. Sanders and his supporters do not deserve to get tarred with this brush!

      • BloodyGranuaile

        Eh, I think that’s the work “dead-enders” is supposed to be doing.

        Unfortunately, there’s pretty much no way to come up with a phrase that means “X small faction of Y very large group” and not have people start working very hard on diluting the meaning to pretend you’re talking about Y large group in order to deny that the annoying X faction exists.

        • humanoid.panda

          Right. “Last Japanese soldier still fighting in the jungles of the Phillipines” does not imply that Japan is fighting in the Philipinnes.

      • Hob

        Huh? People who continue claiming that the Democratic primaries were rigged, i.e. that Sanders rightfully should have been the candidate, even though Sanders himself has conceded and mived on to other things, are by definition “Sanders dead-enders.” They’re not the “most of us” you’re talking about. Your complaint is like saying that to apply the phrase “crazy cat hoarder” to describe someone who has hoarded 200 cats is to unfairly slander all the regular cat people who have sensible numbers of cats.

        • JMP

          It particularly seems to be an extension of the sadly very common group who seem to reply to every statement criticizing the actions of a small group of misogynist dickhead men with, “How dare you attack all men!”.

          • Breadbaker

            See also, every word ever uttered on Fox News involving the phrase “Black Lives Matter” or any variant thereof.

      • HowardBannister

        For me the thing that sets most Bernie-Bros apart from just a standard Bernie supporter was when they called Bernie a sellout for getting on board the Hillary train. That was when I knew things were going to get wild.

        • postmodulator

          I always found it annoying that the term for the people booing Bernie was “Bernie-bro.” If the “Bernie” part doesn’t matter and the “bro” part doesn’t matter (not all of the most annoying ones were men), then the term is meaningless. I hate syntactic garbage. I was mad for a year about Joe the Plumber.

          • Nick never Nick

            I think you mean ‘booing Clinton’. Otherwise, I completely agree.

            • postmodulator

              No. Sanders was booed by his erstwhile supporters at the DNC, and at least one commenter here insisted that the booers were still “Bernie Bros.”

              • Nick never Nick

                Sorry!

              • cleek

                he was booed for betraying his pure and sacred Bernie-tude.

                • postmodulator

                  You know what they say: you vote for the leftist icon you wish you had, not the leftist icon you have.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            So this. These people have been off the Sanders bandwagon since at least the Convention. You may be a deadender when you boo Bernie Sanders, but you’re not supporting Sanders. Calling these folks Sanders Deadenders or Bernie Bros is like calling cargo cultists aeronautical engineers.

            • postmodulator

              I like that, that’s better than my comeback was in real time.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            There’s a reason I prefer the term “Sandernista”. Because one of the worst of them I knew was a woman. (And a genuine wannabe Communist revolutionary.)

            And they might have booed Sanders at the convention, but they still voted for him in November (as a write-in) – and were proud of it after Trump won. So they were in NO SENSE “off the Sanders bandwagon”.

      • JMP

        The vast majority of Sanders supporters are not dead-enders; I don’t know why no one should criticize that group of assholes when it’s pretty fucking clear the criticism is only directed at them and not all his supporters.

        Do we need to start every criticism of the dead enders with “NotAllSandersSupporters!”?

      • stonetools

        I hate to say it, a lot of Sanders supporters on Twitter do fit this profile. Sanders may be saying the right things, but many of his supports are on the “Clinton rigged/ Wikileaks revealed truth/Russian intervention is a neoliberal fiction bandwagon

        • Nick never Nick

          I think that one takeaway from the original post is that a non-insignificant number of the Twitter supporters that you’re talking about could be examples of manipulation (foreign or domestic), or have been goaded into it by such manipulation. Nexon’s point is that we have to figure out how to have the maturity to hold elections in a context where this takes place, and part of that is on every person, not just the most aggravating.

          • cleek

            we have to figure out how to have the maturity to hold elections in a context where this takes place

            wait till this starts taking place.

            we’re not smart enough to handle what our technology allows for.

            • postmodulator

              we’re not smart enough to handle what our technology allows for.

              The misanthropic view is that that has been true since fire.

            • Nick never Nick

              Not clicking on that from work

              • cleek

                totally SFW.

                though your reaction might not be

                • sigaba

                  I might have you beat:

                  Adobe Voco ‘Photoshop-for-voice’ causes concern

                  Adobe unveiled Project Voco last week. The software makes it possible to take an audio recording and rapidly alter it to include words and phrases the original speaker never uttered, in what sounds like their voice.

                  In order to make it work you need about 15 or 20 minutes of audio from a subject, but for most media figures that’s no chore.

                  I mean, just speaking for myself, I never really go by anything I see on video, you always need to have someone give an authoritative written account, under their own name, of what happened, and eyewitnesses are more credible than video. But most people aren’t like this.

                • postmodulator

                  “Hello, Smithers! You’re, quite, good, at, turning me, on!”

                • sigaba

                  @postmodulator

                  Here you go.

                • cleek

                  what beats both is the combination of the two.

            • Scott Mc

              Holy sh!t. We are f*cked.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          The point is THEY ARE NOT HIS SUPPORTERS. They may want to claim to be his suporters. But since they pretty consistently oppose a lot of things that Sanders actually stands for, e.g. supporting Hillary Clinton in the general election and investigating Russian hacking, they so not actually support him. And we should not give them the satisfaction of allowing them to claim that they do.

          • postmodulator

            There’s a certain amount of seething, irrational hatred of Sanders amongst Democrats, and it leads to a willingness to tar him with the handiest brush.

            I don’t want to say her name, but we had that commenter who basically showed up here on November 10th, has since vanished, and posted almost nothing besides “this is all Bernie’s fault, all of it.” For her, Sanders was basically the only player with agency in the entire US political system, and everything he’d ever done was bad. She derailed threads as badly as any of the purity leftists ever did, and somehow was never called on it. Although, unlike the purity leftists, she seems to have gotten bored and gone away.

          • nixnutz

            I think that’s a conversation you need to take up with those folks. They certainly haven’t lowered their Bernie banners, Bernie has never tried to dissuade them, in fact he’s even this week spending more time talking about how Dems are the real problem than anything else. You can make believe that these folks are deluded idiots all you want–it’s clear that you’re strongly motivated to do so–but while Bernie’s still courting their money and their support it’s going to be an uphill battle.

            • so-in-so

              I love that even in a post on how Russia corrupted the GOP and election, we get to take time out to revisit Bernie vs. Hillary.

              • postmodulator

                Who cares? We’re not hourly.

            • BloodyGranuaile

              From my position of not having TV but following Sanders on all the social medias, I’d been getting the impression that Sanders has spent most of this week talking about health care.

              I think there’s possibly a point at which we all need to take a good hard look at the difference between “What politician is doing” and “What politician is being seen to be doing,” and make sure we’re not getting played, and also the Democratic higher-ups need to do the same thing and start paying a lot closer attention to the ways in which the media can edit them up for clicks.

              • ForkyMcSpoon

                Fair point.

                I was seeing criticism of Pelosi along the lines of “why isn’t she introducing their plans and giving people something to vote foooooooooooorrrr instead of against?!”

                I noted that you don’t see Sanders getting tons of media coverage for that sort of stuff either. Is that because he doesn’t want to? Or because he doesn’t know how to do it either?

                What does the media pay attention to Sanders for? Oh, when he shits on the party. Because they love the “Dems in disarray” stories. Not blaming him for the fact that he’s not getting headlines for policy proposals, just saying the media is shitty and it’s not Pelosi or Sanders’s fault.

      • Justin Runia

        The thing is, there was bleed from the Syrian Civil War to the stance on Russian hacking. As dnexon mentions in his post, there was the assumption that HRC was pretty much a lock, so many on the foreign policy left were sharpening their rhetoric on airstrikes. Thanks to the echo-chamber effects of the internet, this rhetoric quickly morphed into “Hillary wants unilateral airstrikes, she’s gonna shoot down a Russian aircraft, thus we’re a mere 18 months away from WW III with Russia!!!!1!” Unfortunately, what followed has been more hyperventilating over the idea that any sort of confrontational stance toward Russia is a step down the slippery slope to WW III, even as the full scope of Trump administration entanglements with Russia is made more clear by the day.

      • econoclast

        I think we should go with IB’s suggestion. I certainly understand the impulse, since I regularly encounter loud-mouth Sanders supporters so annoying that I have to remind myself that good ideas shouldn’t be blamed for their bad advocates. But enough people who were Sanders supporters but who are on the right side of the big issues take the language personally that it’s not worth it.

        We need an unambiguous term that nobody would ever admit to voluntarily. I suggest “Eagles fan”.

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          “Purity wankers” and “pink [anarchist] bunnies” get around the problem rather nicely (and the latter term is already mildly popular around here).

        • The Pale Scot

          Eagles Fan it is.

          Go Big Blue

    • Scrooge

      The Bernouts neatly illustrated the definition of a useful idiot: Someone who agrees with your principles but is completely ignorant of how you’ll use those same principles for malice.

  • CP

    There is really no way to overstate how bad. Pretty much the entire GOP has decided to behave like the elites of your basic Cold War era CIA-backed third world dictatorship – “sure, we know there are foreign intelligence agencies futzing around in our politics, but as long as they’re keeping us in charge, why not? After all, the real enemy is our own people.”

    For all that I said in the previous thread about how Trump represents an epitome of previous conservative trends, the one thing you didn’t used to have to worry about with conservatives was that they’d merrily throw the doors wide open to a hostile foreign major power. But when the choice is put in front of them – then of course, to them, it’s not a choice.

    • dnexon

      “the entire GOP has decided to behave like the elites of your basic Cold War era CIA-backed third world dictatorship”

      Pretty much nails it.

      • so-in-so

        Even before Drumpf there were GOP politicians praising Putin. I think many in the GOP have long wished to be in control of a totalitarian state like the various South America dictatorships they were always quick to embrace. Now we can speculate that at least some of them have also been paid for this support.

        • CP

          Yes, but they wanted it to be their dictatorship, with them holding the strings, not to be some other country’s lapdogs. Or at least that’s what I assumed, up to this point. I was wrong.

          • so-in-so

            Now that Russia is openly oligarchic, they have much more in common with the GOP. I’m sure they can agree on how to divvy up the spoils.

    • postmodulator

      Speaking of the Cold War…I’ve said this before, and in other contexts, but the Soviet Union would have been terrified to treat us like this.

      • CP

        Absolutely. Not sure if it speaks more to the fact that Putin’s more willing to take risks, or the fact that he knows he has friends in high places the USSR never did.

        • SatanicPanic

          That’s got to be it. Because realistically, whatever he has invested in London is peanuts in comparison even to the London economy, but it might be real money to some important people.

      • BloodyGranuaile

        I’d guess the fact that Russia now has lots of money that’s tightly woven into the global capital system might have something to do with it. Or at least, that’s the going theory for why they’re killing dissidents in Britain and the British cops aren’t doing anything about it.

        • postmodulator

          Not “lots” of money” so much as “money in the right places.”

          I wonder if we can solve the NYC and London rent crises at the same time that we send Putin a message? Seize all the holdings of Russian nationals in both places…

          • ericblair

            I’m wondering too. All these assholes have significant money in either the USA, UK and possessions, Switzerland, or some little frigging island nation. They seem to have an awful lot of trust that this won’t get seized no matter what the provocation.

            • postmodulator

              Tangentially, I’m kind of watching for a big crash in China, because I figure that’s when I’ll be able to afford to move to LA.

            • so-in-so

              Hence Dump and company.

            • BloodyGranuaile

              *moves to Cayman Islands, enacts socialist takeover, expropriates entire world economy*

              *gets nuked*

    • JMP

      It turns out that for all the ‘evil empire’ talk, the Republicans’ hatred for the Soviet Union was entirely due to the egalitarian economic ideals it claimed to support but never actually lived up to, and official atheism, and not for the actual brutal repression of its’ citizens and contempt for individual liberties or attempts to install puppet governments in other countries all over the world.

      • CP

        Oh, I always believed that. But I also thought that simple nationalism and ego would lead them to continue treating Russia and China with hostility simply because they were major powers that weren’t us. I never expected them to throw the gates wide open the way they have.

        • diogenes

          Why not? We have done so with China.

          It is interesting to compare/contrast the US response to the godless communists in the USSR with our response to the godless atheists in China.

          You’d think we’d have a particular hard-on for China because racism…

          • CP

            That’s different. “Throwing the gates wide open” in the sense of opening up diplomatic and trade relations doesn’t mean bargaining away your national security stance, and it certainly doesn’t mean inviting them in to wreak havoc on your political system.

      • so-in-so

        Wasn’t that obvious from the way the GOP cozied up to RW despots and dictators. Recall “if those nuns didn’t want to be raped and murdered, they shouldn’t have been in Nicaragua” or whatever man-made hell hole it was.

        • Pete

          El Salvador, I believe.

          And, while this is not exactly the same, we see some of the same kind of crap from parts of the left (mostly young and ignorant) on the Eric Warnbier detention and death.

          • “I’d like to suggest to you that some of the investigations would lead one to believe that perhaps the vehicle the nuns were riding in may have tried to run through a roadblock, or may have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been an exchange of fire, and then perhaps those who inflicted the casualties sought to cover it up. And this could have been at a very low level of both competence and motivation in the context of the issue itself. But the facts on this are not clear enough for anyone to draw a definitive conclusion.”—Secretary of State Alexander Haig, suggesting to Congress how four American women came to die in El Salvador, quoted in The State of the Language, edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels (1990)

            Presumably the rapes were part of the cover up.

      • Captain C

        If you look at Tom Clancy books, the Soviet characters were (with necessary exceptions for plot purposes) always portrayed as honorable, worthy opponents who would be our friends if only they didn’t have such a horrible government. There’s always been a certain breed of conservative with a hard-on for Russians, after all, they’re rugged Manly Men who, like us, conquered an entire continent full of undesirables.

        • CP

          True, but I don’t think he exactly had Putin’s Russia in mind when he said “if only they didn’t have such a horrible government.” In his partial defense, in the gaggle of books that’s come out since he started writing (or ghostwriting?) again, Putin’s Russia is unequivocally portrayed as an enemy.

          Clancy has a weird sorting algorithm for foreigners. His portrayal of Russian, Islamic, Colombian et al culture was always admiring and supportive, notwithstanding some screwed up elements. It was always East Asians for whom he reserved a horrifying rabid racism. (And for some reason, American Indians).

          • Captain C

            True, but I don’t think he exactly had Putin’s Russia in mind when he said “if only they didn’t have such a horrible government.”

            Agreed, but I think some of his fanbois have missed this nuance.

          • Captain C

            Also, the new books are definitely ghostwritten, as I think Clancy himself went to the great Action Novel in the Sky a few years ago. Unless he had a reserve of unreleased material to rival Tupac’s.

            • CP

              Oh, well that, yeah. I just meant that he went on hiatus for most of the Bush years, and then at the end of last decade randomly started cranking out books again (always “in cooperation with” somebody). Not sure how much of those books was him and how much was his co-writer.

              • so-in-so

                I’d stopped reading by then, but the books I saw with “Tom Clancy” in big print and “presents – by never-before-heard-name” seemed like more of a promotion deal than co-authorship.

          • wjts

            (And for some reason, American Indians).

            I don’t remember that at all. (Not saying you’re wrong, I just don’t remember that. Though I pretty much quit reading him a few chapters into Without Remorse.)

            • CP

              Sum of All Fears. It’s easy to overlook, it was just one book. But one of the terrorists is an American Indian Movement activist, and not only he but the AIM and his ancestors’ cultures all get really thoroughly trashed by the commentary.

              I didn’t think that much about it until I read an interview of the guy. There’s a throwaway, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it comment, while he’s waxing poetic about how amazing the accomplishment of building the United States was – “look, two hundred years ago it was just a strip of dirty. That belonged to the Indians – assuming there were any Indians back then..” (Emphasis mine).

              So, yeah: the guy is pretty much a full blown Holocaust denier.

              • wjts

                Thanks. I know I started that one, but I don’t remember if I finished it or not (or even if I got far enough to meet the AIM character).

    • cleek

      Pretty much the entire GOP has decided to behave like the elites of your basic Cold War era CIA-backed third world dictatorship – “sure, we know there are foreign intelligence agencies futzing around in our politics, but as long as they’re keeping us in charge, why not? After all, the real enemy is our own people.”

      note that this behavior is exactly the behavior of the entire GOP with respect to Trump’s endless list of personal failures.

      the mob-connected, NYC slickster, twice-divorced, constnatly-lying, pussy-grabbing daughter-luster, whose patently phony attempts at religion should have sent all social “conservatives” screaming for the exist, but they eagerly embraced the serial bankruptor who refused to provide his no tax returns, asked Russia to meddle in the election, encouraged people to kill his opponent and to beat up the press and protestors.

      but no, all that they have is their commitment to the GOP. literally everything else is cover for that. they tossed aside decades of social conservative moralizing, they tossed aside their fiscal conservatism arguments, they tossed aside their motherfucking distrust of Russia, just so they could suck Trump’s warty little cock.

      fuck them.

      • CP

        Yep.

        To be fair, the only conservatives I know whose NeverTrumpism wasn’t full of shit – who have actually stuck to strongly criticizing the guy instead of rallying to him as soon as he won – are all from the social conservative wing of the party. But they were very much the exception rather than the rule in that wing.

        • Pete

          That’s my perception too.

    • njorl

      “After all, the real enemy is our own people.”
      That’s true, though. The wealthiest have not shared common interests with the rest of us since the Soviet Union fell.
      The biggest threat that most Republican donors face is that their countrymen will raise taxes. They pander to the hatemongers to get elective majorities, why wouldn’t they work with Russians to do the same?

      • CP

        That… actually is true, yes.

        And now that you mention it, this was actually one of my earliest observations about U.S. politics (I got interested in international relations first, then U.S. politics as an offshoot of that): historically, our corporate elites are actually not the ones leading the charge for war, at least not the big wars. (Civil War, World War One, World War Two). They go along with them, sure, but you never see the kind of hysterical terror or sense of “we’ve got to defeat them! At any cost!” towards the Confederacy, or the Central Powers, or the Axis, that you see towards the Communists from the late 1940s onwards.

        And I figured that this was basically why. What existential threat do these other guys pose to a Wall Street banker? None. If we lose the war, he’ll still be a Wall Street banker, he’ll find a way to come to new arrangements with the now-dominant fascists, and life will go on. The Cold War was the first time they faced a major conflict where an enemy victory might actually harm them and not the little people. And that’s what triggered the change from the pre-WW2 usual stance of “fuck it, let’s lean back and let everyone kill each other, we’ll sell to both sides and make a profit. Oh, okay, if you really want to go to war, I suppose we can do that too” to the post-WW2 stance of “we must lead the entire world in opposition to this horrifying menace! The consequences should we fail are too terrible to contemplate!”

        • so-in-so

          Another reason to blame the current mess on Reagan!

          I’d have thought it would start a bit earlier, since the USSR began after WWI. I guess it didn’t become a real threat until after the defeat of Germany.

          Then there is the attempted coup against FDR.

          • CP

            From what I understand, the Russian Revolution caused a lot of hysteria at home, out of fear that the local radicals might imitate it. (The Palmer Raids were fueld by that hysteria). But it didn’t translate to much in terms of major international commitment, other than opposing the recognition of the USSR. (Wilson actually committed the U.S. military to the Russian Civil War where they had some success, but they were recalled before the war was even over, IIRC).

            About that coup against FDR: frankly, I’ve never believed that was real. The business community, afraid of Roosevelt’s reforms, tries to gin up a military coup… and gives that coup to Smedley Butler of all people? A guy whose big claim to fame was that he hated the Wall Street types, was wracked with guilt for all the military expeditions he’d done for them, and denounced them in terms far worse than FDR’s? It’s as fantastically improbable as the modern GOP running Elizabeth Warren for president.

            • so-in-so

              I gather Congress at the time did, to some degree.

              Butler wouldn’t be my first choice, but he was not serving at the time, opposed the government, and was popular with veterans so maybe they figured he was the best they could get and he must have a price?

            • njorl

              “(Wilson actually committed the U.S. military to the Russian Civil War where they had some success, but they were recalled before the war was even over, IIRC). ”

              Not just the military. My grandfather was in the merchant marine in WWI. His whole convoy was shanghaid into service to defend either Murmansk or Archangel – I forget which – shortly after the Bolshevik revolution. They had no training but they had,literally, boatloads of supplies. He never saw any fighting fortunately. I doubt it would have gone well for him and his mates.

  • humanoid.panda

    I hate to be that person, but this is my bottom line: it’s all bad.

    And you haven’t even touched on the worst thing in the whole debacle: McConnell’s sabotage of any prospect of bipartisan counter-measures. That takes us into the “Russian and Swedish and Prussian parties tearing apart the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth” territory.*

    ** One of the dubious pleasures of being a Russian historian now is to observe how fomenting elite divisions in neighboring/rival/ countries to promote Russian interests is a permanent factor in Russian politics since the 18th century..

    • postmodulator

      In fairness, the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth had other problems. Like a legislature where a single representative could block legislation…

      Oh, shit.

      • humanoid.panda

        Well, I have to give some credit to Mitch McConnell here: his slaughter of Senate norms and procedures is actually a long term solution to this problem.

    • Colin Day

      “Russian and Swedish and Prussian parties tearing apart the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth” territory.*

      What? Austria’s annexation of Galicia is chopped liver?

      • njorl

        Austria would have preferred a healthy and independent Commonwealth to a slice of a sickly one. That wasn’t an option, though.

  • Karen24

    I’m starting to think that our best hope of completely resolving this is for Putin to have a heart attack.

    • humanoid.panda

      Not at all. First off, Putin is not an all-powerful ruler. If the Russian IC/foreign policy elites thought he was nuts, this wouldn’t happen.

      Second, and more importantly: now that the cat is out of the bag, other agents, starting with China and ending with a gamer-gater with strong twitter skills, have enormous incentives to keep doing more of the same.

      • CP

        Yep. Trump has basically announced, in more ways than one, that it’s open season on the United States.

        • postmodulator

          Like I said a couple of weeks ago, the way this story has come out is as much to Putin’s advantage as if it had remained hidden, so far. The only sticking point is that Trump doesn’t have total freedom to give Putin the store, now.

          • ericblair

            Trump is still a vain, narcissistic, completely volatile idiot. Russian media and its government spent months sucking Trump’s little orange member, even through they’re souring on it now. Considering that the main excuse for any of Russia’s self-inflicted ills is supposed to be the United States, this will end up being the stupidest foreign policy adventure in a multitude of stupid foreign policy adventures for Putin. I’m far more worried about starting an open war with Russia by idiocy or toddler anger by Trump than by calculation by Clinton.

            Putin is not a supergenius, he doesn’t play a long game, the Russian economy is in the toilet, and he is fed a bunch of bullshit by his subordinates to curry favor. The history of US politics is driven by backlashes and the next one is going to be a bitch.

            • humanoid.panda

              Yep. To put it mildly, “miscalculation leading to war” is much higher on my bucket list than “Trump conceding Kyiv to Putin.” Witness Syria, where Trump really did seem to want to let the Russians have the spoils, and yet we are edging close to war by very close proxy.

          • CP

            Putin basically can’t lose as long as Republicans continue to do his job for him.

            Whether Republicans were loudly and angrily opposing the inquiries into Russian hacking, or, as they will be from here on in, saying “nothing to see here, move along” and refusing to take any steps to secure the electoral system, the entire world is seeing the same thing: that the GOP has decided, for whatever reason, to turn a blind eye to the gravest breaches of national security as long as they were being done by Russia. And it’s quickly coming to the obvious conclusion: whether actively or passively, the Republicans are now Putin’s puppets. That’s why you’ve seen NATO allies starting to take measures to distance themselves to the U.S. on the one hand, and third world leaders like Mahmoud Abbas going to Moscow and asking them to lean on their puppets (because why talk to the puppet when you can talk to the puppetmaster).

            Strictly speaking, Putin didn’t even have to do anything. He could’ve completely failed to make any impact at all on our electoral process, and the Republican obstinate refusal to even look into it would still send the same message to everyone watching: We Are Putin’s Useful Idiots.

    • Whirrlaway

      Putin is the main stabilizing agent now, in the sense that he can achieve whatever level of global chaos he likes. My guess, he wants more and bigger Crimeas, so he wants to jiggle things loose but he doesn’t need a global Chechnya any more than we do.

    • Pete

      I’m not even sure how much it would help if _Trump_ had a heart attack. That might end up being a net gain for the GOP now.

    • charliekilian

      Putin isn’t the problem. Russia isn’t the problem.

      The problem is the GOP, and how they are willing to take and keep power at any cost. They’ve become disinterested in our shared national mythology. They’ve been systematically ignoring our common mythology, and creating their own mythology in its place. Now they’re using it for cover for their actions.

      This is an enormous crisis. Much larger, I think, than most of us have grasped.

  • Slothrop2

    The DNC and Obama turned out to be milquetoast pussies. I’m beginning to think they deserve to lose.

    • postmodulator

      Yes, you are “beginning” to think that, person who just showed up here and who has never posted before.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        Um, Slothrop posted a *lot* during and shortly after the election, even though he’s been quiet the past few months. He was one of the early Bernie-or-bust trolls.

        But it is true he’s not “beginning” to think that. He’s *always* denigrated Democrats as insufficiently leftist.

        • MyNameIsZweig

          I read postmodulator’s comment as sarcasm all the way through, including his description of slothrop.

    • davidsmcwilliams

      Yup, the party that killed Bin Laden sure are a bunch of beta cucks. Top kek, bro.

    • JMP

      Such a shocker to see that the longstanding fauxgressive troll immediately turns to using a misogynist slur.

      And haven’t you been banned? That means “go away and never come back”. Good job cheating, cheater who should not be commenting here ever.

    • Captain C

      Which means you also think that millions need to suffer and die if the ACA passes, plus however many more suffer due to Trump/Ryan/McConnell’s other depredations.

      I guess it’s ok, though, if it’s not you personally suffering.

      Maybe you should go and do the honorable thing.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      It’s cute* that a certain portion of the left thinks that this problem has nothing to do with them.

      Putin loves Bernie, I’m sure of it. No way he’d do this to him. No way that Bernie and co would have any trouble responding to it or convincing people that it was true if Putin did do it.

      It happened to Hillary. Who cares, she sucked. Can’t happen to us.

      *actually very irritating

  • so-in-so

    I’m almost surprised to be five comments in (as I type) without a “but the U.S. interfered with Russia/Libya/other countries politics, so we need to shut up and pretend there is nothing to see here” comment. I doubt it will last.

    We DID get a “bi-partisan” additional sanctions bill passed, I suppose that isn’t nothing. I suppose Drumpf has a hard time doing much pro-Russia at this point, but I doubt we see much to improve elections since the GOP wants to hide the effects of anti-democratic efforts of their own as well as not admit they were helped by Russian efforts and maybe even allow further Russian efforts as long as they help the GOP.

    • humanoid.panda

      I will say one thing about this: no matter what the US did in the past, the only possible equivalent to what Russia did now is if it intervened to try and get Zhirinovsky elected in Russia in 1996. Trying to get Christian-Democrats elected in Italy, or even supporting a coup in Chile are everything from problematic to catastrophic. These things are also an order of magnitude better than trying to put Donald Trump in charge of greatest arsenal humanity ever built.

      • Captain C

        If you take away the nuclear weapons, the coup in Chile is actually pretty close (especially given that around 3,000 dissidents got disappeared by Pinochet’s regime), but I’ll definitely grant you the CDs in Italy, and Zhirinovsky is a great analogy that I’m going to steal.

        • humanoid.panda

          My point is that the nuclear weapons are the key issue: no matter how morally abhorrent the coup in Chile was, it did not threaten the future of humanity in any way or shape. Trump is atogether different.

          • Nick never Nick

            The thing that I don’t like about this point, even though it is probably valid, is that it has the effect of making a crime against the United States de facto more severe than a crime committed by the United States. Its corollary is that if this is so, then the United States has a moral obligation to develop a maturity and seriousness about its politics and approach to the world that reflects its ownership of thousands of nuclear weapons; or, to develop institutions that control the weapons that are semi-immune to a corrupted political process; or, to start seriously reducing its arsenal.

            Preferably, all three.

            • humanoid.panda

              Yeah, to me the point seems obvious. The United States attacking Iraq was a terrible crime, but a hypothetical scenario in which Saddam attacks the US with WMDs somehow would be a far more terrible crime, because it would have been bound to create millions of dead Iraqis.

    • Captain C

      “but the U.S. interfered with Russia/Libya/other countries politics, so we need to shut up and pretend there is nothing to see here”

      The answer to that is “So, in principle, you’re actually fine with this sort of thing as long as it’s done either by someone you’re rooting for, or to someone you’re rooting against. Nice principles, dude.”

      • so-in-so

        I think some feel it wouldn’t happen if we didn’t do it, because of course only WE have agency. Others, yeah, as long as people they don’t dislike do it it’s fine.

  • CP

    God. You know the most embarrassing thing about the guy in the White House? He’s not even Hitler. He’s Mussolini. He’s not turning us into the bad guy, he’s turning us into the bad guy’s comically inept butt-monkey sidekick.

    (Not the worst thing by far, but most embarrassing for sure).

    • Colin Day

      Except Mussolini with the US military wouldn’t be as comically inept as Trump.

    • humanoid.panda

      Not even Mussolini: Berlusconi. Bad replica of the original, plus more gilded stuff, and some hawt chicks.

  • epidemiologist

    I am reading the report now. It’s terrifying stuff. Although I am disappointed that, at least online, it has pushed the Senate murder bill way below the fold.

    So what do people think are the short and long term goals for… not even liberals, but people who have a problem with treason?

    I know there are differing opinions here about paper ballots as the solution. To me they feel like a good short term solution at least because they sound like they would take so little sophistication to put into place in a hurry, and give us time to figure out what would be optimal for the future of our democracy. Is this something we should be pushing in our own states?

    I think what is so frightening to me about our government right now is that there is no mechanism to call a special election if the result is suspect. Even impeachment would just move us down the line of officials who may or may not have been lawfully elected. What does a good solution look like in the form of democracy we are trying to have? Is there one?

    • humanoid.panda

      Here is what any security expert will tell you: there is no technological system that can stop attacks, if people are dumb. So, the only way to make our system robust is to reduce polarization. And I have no idea how to do that.

      Another thing: this, like all stories about Russian intervention, make clear that for now, at least, there is no evidence that voter tallies were altered. (and that the one place where Russians attempted to toy with altering record was IL, which is a bizarre choice..)

      • postmodulator

        It’s surprisingly common for foreign black hats to have bad aim, due to the language barrier, cultural differences, and them just plain not being as bright as they think they are. For example: some Eastern European group got pissed off at the state of Ohio over some animal-rights story that made the news there. So they launched a DDoS attack against Ohio University, which isn’t even the biggest university in Ohio (I don’t think it’s in the top five).

        But remember: your last sentence should read “one place where we have learned that Russians attempted to toy with altering the record was Illinois. This story isn’t done coming out. How hard is it to imagine that some right-wing Secretary of State in a swing state is sitting on records of successful tampering right now?

        • MyNameIsZweig

          Yeah, the funny thing is that my first thought when I read about the Illinois thing was, gee, that’s like right next door to Wisconsin and Michigan … not that that thought is especially well-grounded in logic or in specific knowledge, of course. Just that the geographic proximity to two states that ended up flipping red by razor thin margins was something I noticed.

      • epidemiologist

        I saw that too and couldn’t fathom it. (I am in Chicago.) Our truly evil current governor notwithstanding, no one would seriously believe that Illinois would go for Trump.

        But aren’t we really looking for (at least) two technologies? One to make actual ballots harder to delete or change, and easier to audit; and some change to our system of government that would allow us to be resilient to such an attack if protecting our election failed. Like the ability to call a special election– but how, and by whom?

        I am only up to the part of the report where state and Congressional Republicans refuse federal aid to states to secure the election. Morally, what they did is treason and it obviously resulted from a combination of polarization and grotesque self-interest. So I agree with you that reducing polarization ought to help, if we could figure out how to do that. But is there nothing else we could make it our goal to change, even if it’s not something we think we could get right away? People will die because of this situation, history has been changed, seemingly because no one thought to make a rule about it.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          no one would seriously believe that Illinois would go for Trump.

          No one seriously believed Michigan would go for Trump either.

          (Actually, I did, and said so in comments here before the election when we were discussing Electoral College maps and folks were saying Trump couldn’t possibly win. I was, of course, ridiculed. On the other hand, I was wrong about Virginia, which I though would stay red, and didn’t predict Pennsylvania.)

          • epidemiologist

            Hey, apparently, maybe they still shouldn’t.

            OTOH Fake News! showed us that you’ll find lots of people to believe anything and everything, especially if it benefits them.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    This is awful in so many ways (including the Obama administration’s response to it).

    But paper ballots really do provide a defense against the very worst sort of cyber interference in our elections, i.e. the direct, online manipulation of votes.

    Many other democracies, including the UK and Canada, use hand-counted, paper ballots. And we have the advantage, which they don’t, of a very long transition period between elections and the time when newly elected officials take office. So the biggest downside of hand-counting paper ballots — the time it takes to count them — is less of a problem in our system than in systems that are already counting paper ballots by hand.

    That states are not moving swiftly in this direction mystifies me.

    • Nick never Nick

      You know what’s awful about it? That President Obama, who generally maintained a stubborn regard for the wisdom of the American people, didn’t let that guide him in this case. Sure, the Republicans were playing politics with national security — but Obama was as well, by gambling on a double bill of Don’t Raise A Stink/Clinton Will Win. I understand that he did this to avoid the bad-faith accusations of ELECTION TAMPERING; but this was a case where the better gamble would have been the maturity of the American electorate, even if it turned out to be a loser.

      • postmodulator

        Counterpoint: his faith in the maturity of the American electorate was the “Trump won’t win” part.

        • Nick never Nick

          It might be — but the sad thing about this is that if true, it means that he was, like the GOP, playing politics with American security; gambling it on the pretty good chance that the Russian gambit would fail, and that raising a stink would alter the dynamics of the race.

          • postmodulator

            Yeah. It sounds from this article like just about everyone involved would reel it back if they could, but there’s a saying about hindsight.

            It’s utterly incredible how much damage Mitch McConnell has done to the US. I won’t live to see the end of it.

            • humanoid.panda

              If it’s any comfort, the members of the Bar Confederacy are not popular figures in Polish history..
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Confederation

            • ericblair

              I want to see McConnell hang for treason. Allowing a foreign hostile power to attack the United States for partisan gain.

          • stonetools

            Yup. It goes to the nature of Obama. Theodore Roosevelt once said in an emergency , the best thing to do is the right thing, the second best is to do the wrong thing, and the worst thing to do is nothing. Obama’s view is that in a crisis, the best thing to do is nothing, followed by a long, thoughtful pause, then maybe SOMETHING.While this caution may have served us well over 8 years of careful foreign policy, there occasionally are situations where you need to plunge ahead quickly ( “There is a tide in the affairs of men,” etc.)He also tends to freeze when faced by Republican obstruction.There never seems to any counter move by Obama when the Republicans rear up and say , “NO!”

            • so-in-so

              Yes, and if he had “something” and the press followed the GOP line that it was made-up to help Clinton we’d all be asking why he hadn’t just handled it quietly; HRC was OBVIOUSLY winning before his ham-handed action.

              I wonder how much of this was what Reid was pushing Comey to talk about in October?

              • humanoid.panda

                It seems to me that any Obama announcement would have worked only if he could present hard evidence. (which the WAPO says he had). Which then opens the question of statecraft: if you have a source in the Kremlin, do you burn it? I think that,yes, you do, because in the end, if intel can’t be used to stop an attack, what is it for, but it’s a very difficult decision to take.

              • Pete

                “I wonder how much of this was what Reid was pushing Comey to talk about in October?”

                This was exactly what Reid was pushing Comey to talk about in October — at least, as much of it as the Congressional leadership knew them.

            • MyNameIsZweig

              “There never seems to any counter move by Obama when the Republicans rear up and say , “NO!””

              Which is why the ACA never even came close to passing, I guess?

              • stonetools

                Dude, let’s be honest. McConnell constantly obstructed during the Obama Presidency, and got away with it most of the time, with no real punishments for doing so. Yeah, Obama did rally the Democrats to push through the ACA, with plenty of help from Pelosi, but for most part McConnell’s massive resistance campaign was successful, mainly because Obama never a found a way to make the Republicans pay.

                • so-in-so

                  That green lantern won’t hold itself aloft!

                  You realize that much of this is baked into the system.

              • econoclast

                It’s a long time ago, but I remember after the Scott Brown election that the White House sunk into paralysis, and it was Pelosi and Reid who got the job done.

  • Bri2k

    What a great post about a situation that seems to have been mostly under the radar here at LGM given that stuff about this has been coming out almost daily.

    While I can’t vouch for the veracity of everything I read, word on the street is that many top Republicans are up to their eyeballs in this, mostly for accepting Russian money. And here, the money really is the thing.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is a frequency of comments and articles claiming the Russia thing is totally over-blown seem to be from people that might be getting paid to say those things. I’ve been incredibly disappointed to see that Jim Kunstler http://kunstler.com/ is totally in the tank for Russia when he used to be an independent, if somewhat eccentric voice. Recent Dilbert strips (“Elbonian Collusion”) show not only is Scott Adams in the tank for the Russians as well but that he lacks any real understanding of the situation or is intentionally gas-lighting.

    I wish the sun was over the yard-arm. It’s too early in the day to want to drink.

    • postmodulator

      Recent Dilbert strips (“Elbonian Collusion”) show not only is Scott Adams in the tank for the Russians as well but that he lacks any real understanding of the situation or is intentionally gas-lighting.

      “You have to remember that Scott Adams is a genius.” –Scott Adams

      • so-in-so

        Dilbert always sucked when he left office/engineering things and tried to talk about life. Since discovering what an ass-hat Adams is I can’t even read the strip any more.

        • HowardBannister

          Also, he openly crowd-sourced the strip for years. That really helped to paper over his own deficiencies.

          • postmodulator

            Yeah, the real story is how funny Oracle’s internal behavior sounds coming out of crude drawings.

    • Nick never Nick

      I think it’s very strange that general skeptics like Kunstler have taken that approach. I myself have no particular love for US foreign policy, or our interventionist history, and I do think that the current moment holds lessons for us if we can notice them — but that doesn’t mean that I support Russian interventionism, or Chinese, or whatever. Thinking that the US has screwed up terribly for decades doesn’t need to mean that Trump is seen as our pus-filled karmic comeuppance.

      Even worse is one of Kunstler’s sometimes collaborators, Dmitri Orlov, who has retreated into a form of historical Russian mysticism. “The Russian people understand the sweep of history, they will grow beets on their windowsills while Americans eat each other” sort of thing.

      As for Scott Adams, he’s just a complete moron.

      • humanoid.panda

        Yeah, the idea that Scott Adams is on the Russian payroll because he is making stupid, tortured arguments requires ignoring his output for the last few years..

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Thinking that the US has screwed up terribly for decades doesn’t need to mean that Trump is seen as our pus-filled karmic comeuppance.

        Except that getting people to generally accept that Trump is “our pus-filled karmic comeuppance” seems the only plausible way to actually change the course of American elites’ behavior (see also “the Vietnam Syndrome”).

        • farin

          plausible

    • SatanicPanic

      Kunstler was always kind of a crackpot

      • postmodulator

        I never got completely comfortable with the fact that his descriptions of the post-peak-oil-crash society were clearly giving him an erection.

        • Nick never Nick

          I kind of liked his analyses of suburbia and Peak Oil, but I stopped reading when he decided to turn them into weird fan-fiction. And then, of course, I came to understand that his and my understanding of Peak Oil DRAMATICALLY (and font restrictions here prevent me from emphasizing that word sufficiently) underestimated the role of economics and human ingenuity in production curves.

      • Justin Runia

        Yeah, I liked the Eyesore of the Month at first, but he slowly revealed himself as a particular kind of cultural conservative with his random rants against tattoo parlors and body piercing. That bit of Peak Oil apocalypse fantasy that he published was when I wrote him off.

      • Origami Isopod

        Yes.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      The same’s happened to Terrence “Deep Hurting” Nowicki.

      • Origami Isopod

        Ewwww. I’d never heard of the guy until I spotted him on Twitter a few months ago, excreting a steady stream of manarchist misogyny.

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          Thing is, he always was (and still is) a pretty talented political cartoonist…but he lost his shit a loooong time ago – around the primaries. It’s always a damn shame when an artist/writer’s goddamned mind goes before his skill does, as it makes it both hard to enjoy their work on its merits and to wholeheartedly dismiss it.

          Also, I never checked his Twitter, I just went to his site a few times.

  • Dilan Esper

    What the OP calls the liberal order isn’t liberal at all- it’s US imperialistic domination of the world. And we don’t give a shit about liberalism- ask the Saudi people if we are on the side of human rights. We aren’t- we are on the side of people who bend to our will.

    And that imperialism doesn’t serve Americans well at all. It causes terrorist blowback. The reason we are a target is because we insist on running the show in the Middle East. Thousands of Americans have been killed due to this “liberal order”. Plus all those American servicemembers who died in the wars.

    The people served are the military industrial complex and imperialists who enjoy pushing the world around and dropping bombs on anyone who stands up to us. Ordinary Americans would benefit from a big slash to our defense budget and a renunciation of American dominance.

    Having said all that, OP is right that we have to take steps against Russia meddling in our elections.

    • cleek

      dropping bombs on anyone who stands up to us.

      except for Russia, and China, and Iran, and North Korea, and…

      • humanoid.panda

        And who can forget the American firebombing of Canada in response to minor trade disputes?

        • Nick never Nick

          That’s still remembered up here, actually

          THE NORTH DOES NOT FORGET

          ‘WARE YOUR BORDER, TRUMP-ELECTING YANKEES, WE SLEEP NOT ALONG THE SOUTHERN LINE

          • humanoid.panda

            Did you see that Times story about the great Candadian conspiracy to subvert Trump’s policies? I for once, welcome our Canadian overlords.

            • Nick never Nick

              I presume you are aware, Humanoid Panda, of the crown jewel of Canadian classic cinema:

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canadian_Conspiracy

              • humanoid.panda

                OMG Leslie Nielsen’s brother was Trudeau’s vice-PM? MIND BLOWN.

                • Nick never Nick

                  Canada is basically a continental version of Iceland.

                  Tommy Douglas, the most admired (by Canadians) Canadian of all time, was the grandfather of Kiefer Sutherland.

                • Colin Day
      • Just_Dropping_By

        except for Russia, and China, and Iran, and North Korea, and…

        I’m sure the nuclear arsenals of three of those four countries have nothing to do with American hesitancy to go after them. (And there are numerous sources saying an American attack on Iran would have happened under the George W. Bush administration but for things going sideways with the Iraq occupation.)

    • humanoid.panda

      Yep. Europe does indeed suffer under the misery and everyday violence brought about by American hegemonism. And just think on the terrible violence that is eating up the Pacific basin? Seriously, one could criticize the American hegemony all day long, and still recognize that it vast swathes of the world (which include the world’s two largest countries) it had contributed to the making of a long era of peace.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Except that the acts of American hegemony that promoted a peaceful and stable liberal order in Europe and Asia were overwhelmingly completed by the 1970s. The successes from that work are at this point being sustained as much, if not far more, by the locals’ actions than by anything the US is doing. The US has been a net force for global disorder for the last 20 years or so, with the peaceful and stable liberal order surviving despite US actions, especially since 2003, not because of them.

        • humanoid.panda

          If you think American hegemony, NATO, and such had no impact on the peaceful transition from Communism in Europe, and the peaceful way in which China’s rise is being managed by its neighbors, then I don’t know what to tell you.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        “one could criticize the American hegemony all day long… and still recognize it had contributed to the making of a long era of peace”

        well, one could, but Dilan couldn’t

        • Nick never Nick

          we’ve had our disagreements but this made me laugh, thank you

    • AMK

      The “liberal order” means the US and Western Europe. It has nothing to do with alliances of convenience with the Saudis.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Congratulations on mentally compartmentalizing Saudi Arabia from anything purporting to be a principled stand on human rights! You’re now qualified to run as a Democratic candidate for president.

        • postmodulator

          Not the point. Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to be in our liberal order. What do we do about it?

          • Just_Dropping_By

            You mean besides not selling the Saudi government hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons over the past 40 or so years (including under Democratic administrations), providing training for Saudi military, security, and intelligence service, providing them with information that facilitates a war of aggression against Yemen, etc., etc. without at least conditioning such assistance on liberalization and democratic reforms?

            • postmodulator

              Oh, I’m absolutely opposed to all that stuff. But if we stop, do they hold free elections and stop chopping the heads off Indonesian housemaids?

              My preferred policy regarding Saudi Arabia, and it’s definitely the best of a bad lot, is the same as the approach of Hunter Thompson’s physician: wait for the collapse and see what can be done with the rubble. Note that Thompson’s collapse never came.

              • AMK

                All the military shit is conditioned on their role in the oil market and as a counterweight to Iran. One of the most attractive benefits of clean energy (and domestic natural gas) and at least semi-normal relations with Iran is is that the rationale for being in bed with the Saudis goes away.

                • postmodulator

                  Sure, and there’s even hopeful signs on the horizon in that regard, but in the short term I think it’s likely to make the Saudis’ behavior much worse.

            • econoclast

              Saudi Arabia could literally crush our economy any time they wanted. They did it in the 70s. To think we have any serious leverage over them is delusional.

              You know how the whole post-WW2 social democratic-friendly order collapsed in the 70s, leading to Reagan, Thatcher and everyone’s favorite bogey-man, neoliberalism? All of that happened because the Saudis were mad at us.

  • AMK

    (1) The Russia-GOP axis is not surprising at all when you consider that Russia–as an authoritarian, ethno-nationalist oligarchy with a powerful quasi-state church and security state–is exactly what the major GOP constituencies want in America. Of course they don’t give a shit about NATO, the liberal order, etc…they have much more in common ideologically with Russia than Western Europe.

    (2) Russian propaganda efforts started on the left before running parallel on the right. RT got its start by posturing as a truth-telling independent media source after the Iraq War mess and grew from there as a pseudo “anti-establishment” organ.

    (3) Low-information voters on the left and right and apolitical morons are easy fodder for propaganda, in ways that elites as a whole (particularly liberal elites) have a hard time adjusting to. It’s obvious that the people who planned this operation in the Kremlin have a far better grasp of American political dynamics than most American politicians, pundits, etc..

    • JustRuss

      That’s a good point, American conservatives have been demonizing Europe for years. Why would they support NATO, defender of those secular libertine socialists, over that manly, dreamy Putin?

      • CP

        I made the point a few times right after the election that the anti-NATO thing was in at least some ways a continuation of what we saw during the Bush years.

        Yes, there’s a difference between John Bolton saying that most of the UN should be “dynamited” and the Security Council left with only one seat on it, or Donald Rumsfeld trying to move NATO’s seat from Belgium to Poland after the Belgians declined to follow his Iraq idiocy… and altogether saying “NATO is obsolete.” But it’s also not hard to see how the latter sprang from the former.

        I was starting to follow right-wing blogs at the height of the Bush years, and there were already plenty of people fantasizing about disbanding NATO and settling down into a Righteous World Order of us-and-Israel-(and-maybe-Britain)-versus-the-world. And of course, there was the war hysteria of 2002 and 2003 – the way it was going, you could almost be forgiven for thinking that France and not Iraq was the country we were going to war with.

        • econoclast

          Steven den Beste, who was a prominent right-wing blogger at the time, wrote a post saying “What happens when France enters the war on Iraq’s side? What will you liberal do then?”

  • Amadan

    Hate to say it, because the world is a much better place when the USA stands up for democracy (which it does, sometimes) but I think you’re facing an insoluble mess.
    To the extent that Russian interference gets any traction in your MSM it will be in terms of why Obama failed to go public and warn all those good Americans about to vote. Rs will talk about how Ds are incapable of governing and the permanent punditocracy will furrow its collective brow in Troubled Concern.
    Trump will claim vindication for saying that the election was rigged and his snarling hordes will cheer without ever worrying their ugly little heads about how it was rigged. Trump then appoints Sessions to oversee a comprehensive review of election systems to restore their whiteful integrity just in time for 2018, or better still, the 2020 census.
    The only way to counter that narrative is to hammer on why Yertle vetoted Obama making a bi-partisan announcement. Pelosi and Schumer should be crucifying him on that 24-7.

    • humanoid.panda

      Man, it’s so nice of you to give this piece of wisdom to us, benighted Yanks. We would never know we were doomed without your sophisticated understanding of of the media landscape.

    • MyNameIsZweig

      “Yertle vetoted Obama making a bi-partisan announcement”

      Right, because that’s exactly the sort of thing that works in American politics.

  • royko

    I generally don’t want to jump to any conclusions about collusion, and even if there was some, a smoking gun may never surface. But it’s hard not to.

    The more benign version of the story is this: Russians didn’t like Obama, didn’t like Clinton, didn’t like American-led hegemony. They saw a good opportunity to mess with our elections, just to cause chaos and confusion and instability, and possibly (though unlikely) help get a total boob elected President. At the very least, they get to mess with our heads a bit. But if they got really lucky, they would help elect a total boob, which could undermine America’s interests in world affairs.

    And sure, that alone is plausible.

    But the more we find out, the more it looks like they went after this election HARD. They really tried to screw with it. They were risking blowback from getting caught, and the chance of getting Trump in office was always pretty slim. It seems like an awful lot of effort and an awful lot of risk just to take a shot at landing America with an embarassing President. And if they were just trying to put a blunderer into the White House, how could they know his serial blundering somehow wouldn’t hurt them?

    And then you look at the other side. Trump’s complete reversing of the Republican plank on Ukraine. The communications between various high level members of his campaign with Russians. The fact that Trump makes such friendly gestures toward Russia and seems to do his most to undermine the EU. Aside from Syria, everything he does that might influence Russia seems to benefit Russia.

    The whole story just makes a lot more sense if he’s an asset. Obviously, that doesn’t have to be the case. But if they were just messing around, trying to hurt American’s faith in our elections, why not 2012? Why not 2008?

    • djw

      But if they were just messing around, trying to hurt American’s faith in our elections, why not 2012? Why not 2008?

      But that’s easily answered, isn’t it? Aside from any specific compromises, Trump’s politics, personality, and choice of advisers could easily be interpreted by Russia as providing opportunities for them that McCain and Romney did not.

      • Nick never Nick

        And possibly also the accumulation of irritants — Syria, Ukraine — that may not have been there in earlier cycles.

        But you don’t even need that, McCain and Romney were clearly hostile to Russia, and potentially more so than Obama.

        • so-in-so

          Also, maybe they didn’t have the access to carry out the cyber attacks at that point. But mostly, the GOP in 2012 was sure it was going to win on its own and Romney wasn’t appointing Russian friendly assets to his campaign staff.

          I wonder where Sessions is in this, paid asset or opportunist?

          • humanoid.panda

            Right. Say what you say about Romney, clearly having his as president was not in the Russian interest (and, one needs to admit: his Russian hawkish talk was more accurate than Obama’s argument that Cold War is in the past. This was more on the lines of a stopped clock being right, but still..)

            Edit: its really hillarious to ponder a world where Russia hacks the RNC and the Koch Brothers to help secretary Clinton, who after all helped run the reset, get elected to office after 4 years of clashes with Romney.

            • postmodulator

              Putin’s inner motivations are unknowable. But if you could go after him with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that at least part of the issue is his special horror at a woman in a position of power.

              • Nick never Nick

                I think that goes too far, Putin is an intelligent functionary. I doubt that he feels abstract horror at the thought or sight of Clinton, Merkel, or anyone else; perhaps more irritation when he bangs heads with them than he would feel if they were a man, who knows?

                I think a few years ago Putin’s wife divorced him, I don’t remember any extreme angst that he displayed at being dumped.

              • humanoid.panda

                Very skeptical of this. Misogyny, like everything else, is culturally bound, and Russians tend to have much less horror of powerful women than of “weak” men.

                • postmodulator

                  Well, that’s the nice side of speculating about unknowable things…

              • farin

                But if you could go after him with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch,

                …then you really should.

          • Nick never Nick

            useful racist

      • royko

        But that’s easily answered, isn’t it? Aside from any specific compromises, Trump’s politics, personality, and choice of advisers could easily be interpreted by Russia as providing opportunities for them that McCain and Romney did not.

        I think that’s where I start wondering about this. They look at Candidate Trump, and here’s what they see:

        1) Trump’s an incompetent, childish moron. Could be useful to them, could also be disasterous.

        2) Trump’s easily manipulated. This definitely works in Russia’s favor, but is still no guarantee. They can’t be sure he won’t be manipulated against their interests.

        3) He’s running on a strong anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim wave. I can’t see them caring about the former. The latter could actually work against them if he gets into trouble in the Middle East.

        4) Similarly, he’s courting the white nationalist vote. White nationalists do seem to be pro-Putin for reasons I can’t be bothered to follow, so I suppose this helped.

        5) Otherwise he has almost no real interest in policy and would govern like a crazier and more annoying version of a generic R.

        6) Despite the fact that he really doesn’t give two craps about policy, and despite the fact that his party has been historically hard-line against Russia, and despite the fact that he likes to saber-rattle at virtually everyone else…he’s very pro-Russia and pro-Putin.

        #6 is obviously by FAR the most compelling reason to go all-in on this election. And surely it was. But I’ve just never been able to figure out why #6 is the case. Is it the money, the loans? Is something else going on? I don’t think there’s any way Russia could have engineered this thing Manchurian Candidate-style from the beginning, and clearly they saw an opportunity and took it. But I also find it hard to believe that Trump, just out of the blue, decided to be super pro-Russia. It’s not like the crowds were calling for it, egging him on in that direction. Maybe Manafort sold him on the wonders of Putin? I dunno.

        • so-in-so

          Russian financing keeping him afloat? Maybe loans he couldn’t pay off? Hoping for deals. He likes Flynn and Manafort, and they like Putin.

        • BloodyGranuaile

          My guess is, all his nice businessman friends from that area like him and say such nice things about him. And they’re such very nice businessman friends, they keep giving him money and loans when those mean old American banks won’t just because he went bankrupt a couple of times.

    • Alex.S

      The Sony hack might also be a big thing. The response from America was tepid at best, and the response from the media was heavy on the “Who cares, let’s look at the boring details and blow up the story”.

    • CP

      I think the explanation for why they went for it so hard is simple – there has historically been a bipartisan consensus that supporting NATO against Russia is the right thing to do among Democrats and Republicans, which left few opportunities to support a Le Pen like pro-Russian spoiler. Then, along comes Trump, who is a total break from his party on this – and, impossibly, he actually wins the nomination. I think Putin and his SVR buddies basically decided “this is it, this is a one in a million shot, it will not come again, we have to do everything we can to help this guy to power.”

      That doesn’t necessarily mean Trump is an asset (though at this point I can’t imagine that there wasn’t collusion). He can just be a useful idiot whose ideology aligns with their policy preferences.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        There were reports that other Republicans were also hacked, like Marco Rubio.

        I don’t think this started when Trump won the nomination.

    • GCarty

      I wonder if Hillary Clinton’s embrace of nuclear energy was one of the reasons why Putin was so desperate to defeat her?

      Up until this point, our efforts to wean ourselves off fossil fuels have largely failed, because the right is in bed with the fossil fuel rentiers (made clear in more ways than just their climate change denial) while the left was afflicted by anti-nuclear fanaticism (leaving only inadequate renewable power sources as acceptable alternatives to fossil fuels). But a pro-nuclear Democrat would break this logjam: the ultimate nightmare for all countries (of which Russia is the biggest) whose economies depend on fossil fuel exports.

      Incidentally, I wonder if the traditional anti-nuclearism of the left was in part bought by Soviet money? Russia’s status as a petrostate does after all go back to the 1970s (the decade when the anti-nuclear-power movement first flowered) and it was arguably the 1980s decline in oil prices which dealt the death blow to the Soviet Empire…

  • I’m dubious about the first point in the OP, or maybe I don’t understand it. To say a state acts for reasons other than military or economic is to say it’s behaving irrationally. What I would expect is for the Intercept crowd to respond that Russia is defending itself against the US’ acting for military reasons, not for some ideal “standing”. That it’s the US acting for military (rather than economic) reasons, and only claiming to be acting for some third kind of reason but really being irrational.

    • djw

      To say a state acts for reasons other than military or economic is to say it’s behaving irrationally.

      Not at all! Why can’t states have non-irrational interests that aren’t strictly economic or military? Other kinds of corporate entities far less complex than states can.

      • Surely the OP assumes this is what’s behind such a claim (not necessarily that the claim would be fair) about some other country, when Dan speaks of “waking up” and so forth. And what’s behind the reaction of the “ant8-anti-Russia” crowd when they jump to insist that the “irrationality” is on the other foot.

  • addicted44

    The left needs to stop worrying about a cold war with Russia. If the Russians are gonna have a cold war with anyone ifs with the Italians if the Italians withdraw from the EU because Italy and Russia are equivalent actors.

    The problem is that the history of the cold war makes us feel that Russia is more important than they are. Let’s accept that it’s a terrible failed society that is barely in the top 10 of important nations in the world led by a ridiculous fellow harboring historical illusions of grandeur and grudges from the cold war.

    The reality is that Russia isn’t attacking the US. I’d venture Putin isn’t even worried about the US much since it’s so far ahead. What they are attacking is Europe and the liberal democratic order. He is the Joker of our time and by giving him more importance and value than he deserves we are screwing ourselves.

    The EU and US need to completely economically isolate the Russians and we will see how long these shenanigans persist.

    Doing without their oil will only help by forcing us to make the actions we need to stave off climate change. Even if it costs families a couple of dollars a year.

    • Nick never Nick

      Look, if someone hacked into my bank account and messed with it, I’d consider that an attack. Why isn’t the US election system, which is only the infrastructure that we use to determine who rules us, given the same consideration?

    • postmodulator

      The problem is that the history of the cold war makes us feel that Russia is more important than they are. Let’s accept that it’s a terrible failed society that is barely in the top 10 of important nations in the world led by a ridiculous fellow harboring historical illusions of grandeur and grudges from the cold war.

      No. Russia has nukes. This overrides everything. And I agree with your assessment: they're a crumbling rust heap and there's no improvement on the horizon. But they have a nuclear arsenal. It's probably a crumbling rust heap too, but they only need about five to actually work. That allows their conventional military a freedom of action that no other tenth-rate power can muster, and that in turn allows them more freedom on the international stage than any other tenth-rate power could ever dream of.

      • so-in-so

        Being a crumbling rust heap may make things worse as they try to get what they can, while they can (and paper over the rust).

      • humanoid.panda

        This is overstated- in the last decade or so, they overwhauled their arsenals, nuclear and conventional. They are still far behind the US and China, but probably on par with any other military in the world.

        • postmodulator

          Yeah, it probably is overstated. Russia pisses me off.

    • cleek

      The reality is that Russia isn’t attacking the US.

      you should probably tell the US intelligence agencies . they seem to think Russia did attack us.

      • addicted44

        I misstated that. My point was they aren’t just attacking the US. They are attacking Europe and the liberal order as well.

  • shah8

    With regards to Obama doing more…

    1) He probably thought it was better to demonstrate the *strength* of the system.

    2) He doesn’t have control over the tools he’d need to use, and active opposition (NY FBI office, for example), for overt suppression of Russian efforts.

    3) As a matter of practice, I think a lot of people are eliding past the fact that Obama would have faced opposition from the Republicans and the press (what, you thought that emails game was done in good faith?, awwww). It really would have become a clusterfuck, in concert with the information war conducted via Facebook and Twitter. With what went on with the Clinton-AG tarmac meeting, an escalated media response to an overt investigation leading up to the election would have crippled any ensuing Clinton presidency.

    And I see that the Clinton camp is at it again with the whole “Obama didn’t help us enough!” angle, thinking of Melissa McEwan’s essay today. This is annoying.

    The actual problem are the Republicans, and, effectively, dark money. CP at 11:26 really pretty much nails it.

    • jeer9

      1.) to demonstrate the *strength* of the system.

      Ha Ha. Very funny.

      2.) Make it public.

      3.)would have crippled any ensuing Clinton presidency.

      Finally, an argument that makes Trump’s ascendancy palatable.

      • postmodulator

        Finally, an argument that makes Trump’s ascendancy palatable.

        Jesus H. Christ in a bunny suit.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          that was the whole point of these professional leftists bitching whining pissing and moaning about how horrible Clinton was all the way to election night. They weren’t a damn bit different from Comey in their inflated sense of their own rectitude or their desire to monkey wrench a President H Clinton from the get go

        • jeer9

          Was sarcasm font really necessary?

          • postmodulator

            Demonstrably, given that there are at least two people posting in this thread who would agree with that statement unironically.

            • jeer9

              Jesus H. Christ in a bunny suit, I thought I had a recognizable voice.

              • postmodulator

                Sorry.

          • Colin Day

            I don’t see sarcasm font.

    • stonetools

      A we have seen, a crippled Clinton presidency was not the darkest timeline.
      In the end, Obama is the fricking President. Sure, there would have been a partisan clusterfuck. But it would have been worth it to prevent a Trump win, a lost SCOTUS seat, and the rest of the current unpleasantness. Also, you don’t make McConnell have veto power in taking action against a major attack by a foreign power. You take action, and let the chips fall where they may.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Does it prevent a Trump win, though? Necessarily prevent?

        And because the risk of an 1860-esque reception of the election results, while small, are non-zero, it’s a balancing act.

        • stonetools

          Nothing is necessary. But it would have discredited the Wikileaks revelations, further discredited Trump, and kept the leftists focused on keeping out Trump, rather than “protesting” Clinton.On the whole, I think it helps Clinton, and helping Clinton even a little most likely gets her over the hump. Now the ensuing Clinton Presidency is a mess , but again, that’s better than this.

          • so-in-so

            Wot, the same leftist saying there is no Russian connection, it’s McCarthyism! The ones STILL saying Drumpf is better than Clinton would have been?

            • postmodulator

              Yeah, this. There’s more evidence now than there was then, and an awful lot of people remain stubbornly unconvinced.

              The only people genuinely upset by the Russia revelations, modulo some small margin of error, are people predisposed to dislike Trump anyway. The purity leftists and the Republican base have continued to disbelieve. I can’t presently picture the event that changes that.

              • humanoid.panda

                Well, it’s comlplicated. Remember: one of the key reasons that Comey’s letter was important is because it moved people who disliked Trump back into his camp. Could something like the Russian news do the opposite?

                • so-in-so

                  Lord I hope so, but I don’t think they’ll be Greenwald follower purity leftists.

                • postmodulator

                  In a way that actually matters? I’d say demonstrably not. It might hurt Trump’s chances in 2020, but he doesn’t seem to be sweating that at the moment.

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              But part of that is motivated reasoning in wanting to place all the blame for Clinton’s loss on her because the result has been so horrible.

              If presented before the election, it might have a different effect (although I assume some, like Greenwald, would’ve called it BS no matter what). Then again maybe not.

              It probably couldn’t be worse though, right?

  • jeer9

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims. Through a spokeswoman, McConnell declined to comment, citing the secrecy of that meeting. Key Democrats were stunned by the GOP response and exasperated that the White House seemed willing to let Republican opposition block any pre-election move.

    In August of 2016 BHO is still hoping that RWNJs will meet him halfway on a topic in which further obstructionism only helps their electoral and legislative agendas. Yeesh.

    • stonetools

      He never learned!

  • so-in-so

    Interesting side thought 9way to optimistic, but), suppose Mueller finds that a significant part of the GOP in congress are actually in collusion with Russia, and issues indictments. I know removing the President without impeachment is unlikely, but Senators and Reps can end up behind bars for criminal offenses while still in office, right?

    • postmodulator

      Depends what the indictments are for. Post McDonnell v. United States, bribery is legal. Time was that a Senator would resign when his hands were caught in the cookie jar; catch Mitch McConnell with a briefcase full of rubles, and I’m pretty certain he’d just brazen it out.

      • so-in-so

        Sure, that’s why I positing actual arrest. FBI agents or state police, perp walk, etc.

        Of course if today, if there isn’t a requirement that the members be in the facility a minimum amount of time I can see McConnell and Ryan saying their is no reason a member can’t server while in prison.

        • ericblair

          I figure that’s when shit starts to get real: the perp walks out of the White House and the Capitol. For a lot of people, all this talk is just the same hysterical cable news noise as always. When they start rounding up the supporting cast to this shitshow for a stint in Club Fed, the proles might start paying attention.

          • postmodulator

            It has to really scare the shit out of them. Like, you’re Mike Flynn or some backbencher from Texas, the penalty has to be years and years in prison followed by a penurious and disgraced retirement. Six months playing tennis followed by a lucrative speaking tour wouldn’t cut it.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Post McDonnell v. United States, bribery is legal.

        An 8-0 decision without even any distinguishing concurrences: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/mcdonnell-v-united-states/ Did Putin get to Sotomayor and Kagan too?

        • econoclast

          So what? A case can be wrongly decided, even if liberal heroes disagree.

  • Philip

    My gut instinct: this requires moving to paper ballots and rethinking how we secure voter rolls.

    I don’t have time to catch up on the thread right now, so maybe someone else has already said this. But it bears repeating: I work in a security-adjacent field, and have a lot of friends in security, both offensive and defensive work. I know 0 people who think electronic voting systems are safe. Not few, literally 0. And the people who I know who’ve actually looked at voting systems are absolutely convinced if they haven’t been tampered with yet, it’s mostly a matter of luck.

  • so-in-so

    Should we start referring to the GOP as the “Unindicted Co-conspirator Party”?

    Sure it’s juvenile, but no more so than most of what lead people to view HRC as corrupt.

  • Bri2k

    And this story apparently isn’t big enough for NPR to bother with. I listened to the first 1/2 hour of All Things Considered (but Not Much You Really Care About) and the only brief mention made was during a political round table with two guests that quickly shifted to discussion of GA-6. I turned it off when they started saying this race showed how “dysfunctional” the Dems are.

    The good news is that it’s no longer too early to start drinking.

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