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Putin Can’t Melt Steel Beams

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There’s one surefire way of knowing that the latest Nation story about how the DNC hack was an INSIDE JOB is a ludicrous conspiracy theory:

By Patrick Lawrence

For those not familiar with Lawrence’s oeuvre, the clues that the conspiracy theory is nonsense appear clearly in the text itself:

There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.” This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak.

A free lifetime subscription to LGM to whoever can name the five languages this went through in Google Translate before finally arriving at English! Anyway, if you can make it through this word fog you can see that Lawrence is more or less openly conceding that the conspiracy theory allegedly being produced by anonymous but definitely longly credentialed and strongly experienced people is being reverse-engineered to produce the pre-determined conclusion that Russia could not have possibly attempted to influence the 2016 elections and the Trump campaign certainly could not have colluded in any such effort.

Anyway, the Deep State has tasked Brian Feldman with explaining why Lawrence’s theory is transparently bogus engaging in a McCarthyite smear campaign designed to cover up Hillary Clinton’s plot to repeal Social Security and use the proceeds to establish a farm of private email servers:

But this article is neither conclusive proof nor strong evidence. It’s the extremely long-winded product of a crank, and it’s been getting attention only because it appears in a respected left-wing publication like The Nation. Anyone hoping to read it for careful reporting and clear explanation is going to come away disappointed, however.

If you want to get to the actual claims being made, you’ll have to skip the first 1,000 or so words, which mostly consist of breathtakingly elaborate throat-clearing. (“[H]ouses built on sand and made of cards are bound to collapse, and there can be no surprise that the one resting atop the ‘hack theory,’ as we can call the prevailing wisdom on the DNC events, appears to be in the process of doing so.”) About halfway through, you get to the crux of the article: A report, made by an anonymous analyst calling himself “Forensicator,” on the “metadata” of “locked files” leaked by the hacker Guccifer 2.0.

This should, already, set off alarm bells: An anonymous analyst is claiming to have analyzed the “metadata” of “locked files” that only this analyst had access to? Still, if I’m understanding it correctly, Lawrence’s central argument (which, again, rests on the belief that Forensicator’s claims about “metadata” are meaningful and correct) is that the initial data transfer from the DNC occurred at speeds impossible via the internet. Instead, he and a few retired intel-community members and some pseudonymous bloggers believe the data was transferred to a USB stick, making the infiltration a leak from someone inside the DNC, not a hack.

The crux of the whole thing — the opening argument — rests on the fact that, according to “metadata,” the data was transferred at about 22 megabytes per second, which Lawrence and Forensicator claim is much too fast to have been undertaken over an internet connection. (Most connection speeds are measured at megabits per second, not megabytes; 22 megabytes per second is 176 megabits per second.) Most households don’t get internet speeds that high, but enterprise operations, like the DNC — or, uh, the FSB — would have access to a higher but certainly not unattainable speed like that.

If that’s your strongest evidence, your argument is already in trouble. But the real problem isn’t that there’s a bizarre claim about internet speed that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s that Lawrence is writing in techno-gibberish that falls apart under even the slightest scrutiny. You could try to go on, but to what end? As an example: Lawrence writes that “researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer’s top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? We don’t know what “metadata” we’re talking about, or why it comes in “layers,” and all I’m left with is the distinct impression that Lawrence doesn’t either. Even if you wanted to take this seriously enough to engage with, you can’t, because it only intermittently makes sense. There may be evidence out there, somewhere, that a vast conspiracy theory has taken place to cover up a leak and blame Russia. But it’s going to need to be at least comprehensible.

I will give Lawrence credit for this: AFICT he doesn’t even pretend to support a full investigation.

UPDATE: I hate to pick on Tracey, given the vicious assault he recently had to endure, but EL OH OL:

Yes, when Even The Seth Rich Troofer Patrick Lawrence thinks the DNC hack was an inside job, you know it’s credible! And certainly it would be without precedent for The Nation to publish an apologia for Vladimir Putin.

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  • brad

    Is it just me or is this plainly about walking up to the edge of Seth Rich conspiracy mongering?

    • Justin Runia

      Lawrence pretty much goes straight there in the comments, indicating that the use of anonymity was to prevent the investigators from being offed by the Derp State.

      • brad

        Meh, so I thought. The Nation is now publishing several thousand incoherent conspiracy theorist words that amount to “a guy I met online says he has proof the Earth is flat”.
        I wonder if Putin gives them a bonus for every shred of dignity they shed.

        • woodrowfan

          he puts the money on the dresser when he leaves.

          • brad

            Sex workers have so much more self respect than this, which I don’t even really mean with any snark or irony.

        • TJ

          Does anyone wonder if, given the impending nuclear conflagration of the Korean Peninsula, that Putin is saying to himself, “Damn what was I thinking? I should have hacked the RNC and planted stuff about Trump, not Hillary!”???

          • farin

            Nah, he’s as concerned as Trump with personal ‘wins’. A US nuclear attack, or even a conventional annihilation of a whole nation, would be the end of American global hegemony; Putin would have done what every previous Russian leader failed at, to hell with the eastern provinces.

    • aab84

      He’s gone full Seth Rich truther on twitter.

      • david spikes

        Has anyone ever seen Lawrence and HaHagoodman together?

    • Yixing’s Fluffer
    • brucej

      More like running full tilt and flying out over the edge like a skydiver.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Do they even have editors working at the Nation anymore? That excerpted paragraph is the exact kind of meaningless “the exports of Libya are numerous in amount” gibberish that is used to cover up the lack of any meaningful content. No exaggeration: the editor who let that through should be fired.

    Also, isn’t it far past time for any writer who is actually worth anything to stop publishing at the Nation? Do they really want to be in between the covers with the likes of people like Patrick Lawrence?

    • “Do they even have editors working at the Nation anymore?” My first thought, too.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        It seems kind of similar to Harper’s Magazine in a way, which continues to publish some good writing but also clearly dropped their standards in the last decade or so (maybe longer) of what kind of crap they would publish.

        • It’s sad, really. I was a proud subscriber to The Nation for many years, but it’s been a while now.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            I only dropped my subscription in the last year. I held out too long.

        • Scott Lemieux

          That Trudy Lieberman piece about how the ACA was worse than nothing really held up well http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/2015/06/the-harpers-story-on-the-aca-is-a-disgrace

          • Lost Left Coaster

            For sure! That was such useful journalism. Harper’s actually lost me years before that, when they bizarrely published an HIV-denier article. I canceled my subscription shortly thereafter.

            • Justin Runia

              Holy shit, I just looked this up, it is horrible. There’s been some real shit takes from Harper’s over the past decade, but this is the one takes the cake.

              • Lost Left Coaster

                Yeah if I taught journalism I would definitely use that article in a unit on journalistic malpractice — not just bad, but dangerously so.

        • The Great God Pan

          Harper’s kills me because there’s always at least one good piece of long-form journalism per issue but the cover story is usually bullshit. Shortly after the election they ran a symposium nominally about what could be done to counteract Trump’s agenda that in actuality consisted almost entirely of florid, verbose bitching about the Democratic Party by people like Corey Robin.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            “florid, verbose bitching about the Democratic Party”

            (imagines a room full of Lewis Lapham wannabes trying to outdo one another and shudders) It would be like trying out airplane motors in a drawing room

          • FlipYrWhig

            Omg “florid, verbose bitching” is a phrase both apt and beautiful.

    • Editors are all part of the conspiracy. Just ask! You will be filled in with infallible geometric.
      Would you like some strawberries?

      • the actual Bajmahal

        Well, given the amount of time that has passed since Project Mockingbird was in effect and actively co-opting young college journo majors and the standard career advancement curves, editors very likely would be part of pretty much any ongoing conspiracy. /s (kind of)

    • Yixing’s Fluffer

      You are deliberately misleading the cadres with key events and numerous others, at a kinetic pace! If you do not cease your momentum the fruits will be significant.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        “At a kinetic pace” needs to enter the LGM lexicon for sure, alongside the recent “tasked by the Deep State.”

        • mattmcirvin

          We are becoming aware of all internet traditions at a kinetic pace.

    • rm

      A kinetic pace! Kinetic, I tell you!

      I would like to think that anything published in a national, important magazine would be written at higher than a C-in-freshman-English level. And that’s just the style. One would also like to see logic and evidence.

      • Hogan

        “Moving at a kinetic pace” means “moving,” right? Either he garbled “frenetic” and his voice recognition software got confused, or he’s just a dumbass. Fifty quatloos on “dumbass.”

        The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

        • david spikes

          When the kinetic pace hit his brain they both exploded.

        • Eh, I will be charitable and guess it’s something he’s thought he heard his entire life, never realizing after his initial mistake that the word is “frenetic” and not “kinetic.”
          The most common example of this is “home in.” As in, “He was trying to home in on the correct word.” What I see from many people–even highly educated and literate people, is “hone in.” Having mis-heard the phrase in grade school, they are convinced it’s “hone in.”

    • bassopotamus

      It seems like they really have deteriorated over the years. I let my subscription drop probably 7-8 years ago. Before that, they were pretty good, or perhaps I was just young and dumb

    • Worth noting that The Nation picked up Patrick Lawrence almost immediately after Lawrence – as Patrick L. Smith – and David Daley were shitcanned from Salon. This, by the way, was two years after he rendered its foreign-policy section an immediate laughingstock.

      James Carden, formerly of The American Conservative, is also the mag’s resident, somewhat-dumber, Greenwald wannabe.

      • twbb

        What was the point of the Patrick L. Smith name? Or did he just want to ruin the reputation of the other Patrick Smith writing for Salon (for a while I thought they were the same person).

        • My impression is that “Patrick L. Smith” was his go-to byline, and that he changed it to Patrick Lawrence in 2016 once “L. Smith” had gained him a very-much-deserved reputation as “Ace Cockburn for people who can’t read.”

          Have he and Carden always been this terrible? I asked Cheryl Rofer this morning, and her response was that as far as Russian FP was concerned they were both pissants.

    • In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrasts.

    • jlk7e

      I suspect the editor in question is Vanden Heuvel (or Cohen), published over strong objections from most of the other people who work there.

  • dmsilev

    Perhaps Mr. Lawrence is himself an agent of the Deep State, tasked to discredit the “Russia couldn’t have done it” crowd.

    Didn’t think of that, did you? Checkmate!

    • Mellano

      And when he’s eventually fired, those payroll savings will go right to The Nation’s bottom line!

  • majeff

    Supporting Putin’s support of far-right white ethno-nationalist movements and extractive industry oligarchs is now left?

    • CP

      Yeah, this is the thing that keeps boggling my mind. I can sort of understand why a certain kind of left-wing cretin would fall for Russia’s crap back when it was still the Soviet Union. Marxism-Leninism, world socialism, workers of the world unite, and all that shit. But nowadays? What the fuck’s their excuse?

      • Gwai Lo, MD

        I can’t wait for them to hire Louise Mensch to further confuse the issue.

      • mattmcirvin

        These are people for whom being “left” primarily means opposing US imperialism, without any abstract ideological dimension beyond that. For most of the 20th century, the main opponents to US imperialism mostly nominally identified as far left, but it turns out that for some of them an explicitly right-wing-authoritarian check on the US will also suffice.

      • Anthony Bruck

        You’d have to ask Stephen F. Cohen, husband of the Nation’s editor and publisher.

      • thy hate the Dems because the Dems aren’t left enough. so, they cast about for ways to weaken the Dems.

        they don’t care that they help the GOP. all that matters is hurting Dems.

        in other words, they are terrible at politics.

    • rfm

      It’s geopolitics as team sports.

      • Daniel

        You, sir, just won the internet.

  • woodrowfan

    and the USB stick was inserted back and to the left. wake up sheeple!!!!

    • the actual Bajmahal

      Please. There were at least three USB sticks. It’s called triangulation.

      • david spikes

        It was illuminatied.

    • Tom Riker

      The perfect Moebius strip of conspiracy theorizing. Bravo!!

    • Jon Hendry

      Inserted back and to the left. Then flipped over, inserted back and to the left again. Then flipped again, and inserted back and to the left, upon which it actually went in.

  • I don’t want to use up my 5 Nation articles, and I’m not sure I want to buzzkill the entertainment value of this for those who find it entertaining, but “layer of metadata”, rhetorically, is a bad choice for “incomprehensible.” Unless you’re writing clickbait. But there aren’t too many people with technical knowledge around, so there’d really be no point in trying to get their clicks, I guess.

    • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

      next week on the Nation: “You’ll Never Guess Which Six Socio-Economic Trends are Depressing the Wages of the White Working Class!”

      • LeeEsq

        Internet English makes for some very bad headlines.

    • SatanicPanic

      I’d give you one of my other four if I could

    • I get six Nation articles. and without signing up I can only read three.

      • rea

        I get six Nation articles

        I do too, but frankly, i’m not that interested in the Iroquois.

        • wjts

          How about rugby?

  • Daniel

    “Layers of metadata”, indeed.

    I mean I work in IT and I know some people manage to put together layers upon layers of all kinds of crap to build fantastic Rube Goldberg machines. But as you say, without specifying what exactly he’s talking about, this is just tech-gibberish covering up that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      But are you sure that they didn’t just reverse the polarity with their tricorders?

      • Justin Runia
        • Lost Left Coaster

          Enhance and rotate the image!

          • Technocrat

            That was my first thought!

            This is triggering for anyone who actually works with computers.

      • Megalovanian

        He used multi modal reflection sorting. You’d have known that if you were a computerologist like him.

    • Owlbear1

      The Plasma Inductor is anti-fibrillating into an Harmonic Cascade Failure, Cap’n!

  • Yestobesure

    Leonid Bershidsky (russian journalist writing for Bloomberg view) picked up this conspiracy theory yesterday and attributed it to ex- intelligence officers who had also questioned the Iraq intelligence.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/view/articles/2017-08-10/why-some-u-s-ex-spies-don-t-buy-the-russia-story
    It’s obviously nuts… the DNC fabricated the hack to cover up a leak?

    • That article is apparently much better but draws conclusions I don’t see supported by the linked text. He links a piece that uses he words “first” and “initially” a lot, but and reports it as meaning “on the DNC server,” which certainly is implied, but has no evidence for it that I can see. IOW, they’ve proved at best that the data was transfered to a thumb drive at some point but not from where,.

  • humanoidpanda

    So.. if the usb theory is true, who hacked Podesta and the DCCC?

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Ummm….LOOK OVER THERE! —->>>>>

      • Daniel

        Behind you, a three-headed monkey!

    • Owlbear1

      The USB Stick was deviously attached to a drone?

    • Joe Paulson

      Whoever it is their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak.

      • Anna in PDX

        It might even bear consequential or inconsequential fruit.

        • The tree of neoliberalism bears consequential fruit.

    • mattmcirvin

      uh BENGHAZI

    • Shantanu Saha

      The only person who had contact with all three was… Hillary Clinton herself! That’s the next phase of this “inside job” theory. And the rubes, being accustomed to the dogshit they’re served now, will eat it up.

    • I’m fairly sure it was the same cabal who put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder.

      • Hogan

        And put the ram in rama lama ding dong.

  • Jay B.

    Amazingly not amazing!

    http://russia-insider.com/en/patrick-lawrence

    That joint is an absolute cesspool. The Nation is disgusting for aligning with them.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Oh my god. “DNC Fabricates Russian Hacker Conspiracy to Distract From Its Bernie Scandal.” By Patrick Lawrence.

      Now it’s starting to make sense why Lawrence’s article was so poorly edited. I bet he wrote it and Katrina vanden Heuvel just bypassed all editorial and plugged it directly in.

  • aachrisg

    Sheesh, that bandwidth claim is absurd. 22 megabytes per second is pitiful for even a cheap consumer 1GB connection. My inexpensive home connection has no trouble sustaining 90+.

    • gedde

      Even if, and it’s a big if, this “analyst” had access to this “meta data”, and I would presume it to be file creation times, it would likely reflect the last time this information was copied to whatever medium on which he examined it.

      There’s zero chance he examined the data in the originally “hacked” storage location. It was probably copied to and from dozens of USB sticks or hard drives before it got to him/her. Sure, the original timestamps COULD have been preserved across all these copies, but nobody is that thorough. Especially the Derp State.

    • Jon Hendry

      USB 1 is about 12 Mbps. USB 2 is 400 Mbps.

      I suppose the data could have been transferred using a Zip disk.

      • aachrisg

        Copying files to a usb device in the most obvious way preserves the time stamps. So if file timestamps were the “evidence” for this “theory”, the speed of usb wouldn’t matter because the files would have most likely been downloaded to internal storage first.

  • AlexSaltzberg

    There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.”

    We are? A quick Google News search has only a few people using it.

    I thought there would be a much better scandal name by now. Adding -gate or -ghazi just seems to minimize it, at this point.

    • Dalai_Rasta

      Russiapalooza!

      • gocart mozart

        Putinghazi

        • farin

          Teapot Russia!

    • Jay B.

      “Russian pimps employ American President”

    • Bloix

      The debunkers call it Russiagate to belittle it.

    • gocart mozart

      The unofficial official term seems to be “Trump/Russia”

      • mattmcirvin

        Trussia, the new power couple!

        • Anna in PDX

          Ha ha ha, I cannot stop giggling at this. It’s the “brangelina” of 2017

          • mattmcirvin

            It’s that or Rump.

        • Daniel

          Well, I’m glad for once the bad guy isn’t Prussia.

    • the actual Bajmahal

      Pee-pot Dome.

    • CD

      “Narrative” was also a key term for that loon who just got fired from the NSC.

  • brucej

    Every freaking ethernet connection in our building is a 1gbps connection, about 6x the speed they’re claiming is ‘impossible’ . Hell, campus Wifi is 450 mbps, I just checked.

    • JustRuss

      Well yes, getting 1 GB is trivial inside your own building, but sustaining that once you’re outside is expensive, you pay for that kind of bandwidth. But hardly out of reach for the DNC or any dedicated hacking outfit. I’m more intrigued by the metadata, I’ve been in IT quite a while and I’ve never seen metadata showing how fast a file was downloaded. Sure, you can extrapolate it from log files and such, but that data typically isn’t part of a file’s metadata.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a network expert, it’s possible I’m full of crap.

      • Click through the Bloomberg piece, where it says “DNC server,” to the deliciously named “forensicator” site, and it shows them using a variety of things like file modification times that are contained in the archive format. Assuming all the files were copied at once, they can get a rough start and end time, at least, for the copying process. (One is rough and the other is hard, but I don’t feel like taking the time to figure out which.)

        But all this processing could have been done by the hacker at a second site, so it’s pointless. A hacker for that matter could have done any number of things to change the modification times.

        • brucej
          • Right. They even insert a “find -touch” command as an example in the text, maybe for lulz, I don’t have time to find the jokes that type loves to put in their stuff, especially when it has to do with “security.” But even beyond that, anyone can take a binary editor and change the archive file, deliberately use a system with an incorrect date setting, or write their own version of the rar tool.

            It just becomes more and more pointless the more you look. At best we have a choice between “this is the story this hacker wanted to tell” and “this hacker did exactly this, starting from some time and moving forward, but we don’t know at what point in the narrative our data starts.”

        • Technocrat

          They make a big deal of the fact that the files were zipped on a local computer, according to the metadata. But that’s what a hack is. You’re logged into the target’s computer. I don’t find it at all odd that the first thing he did was zip up the folders and stash them somewhere.

          • Where did they even get the files? Nation (okay I’ve read it) says no one else has it, but I don’t trust a damn thing this guy says now. I don’t know what format the Wikileaks dump was in, or what trouble this jerk might imagine someone would be in if they claimed they did know how to access it, and I’m not about to go look, but how is this even news?

          • Hob

            And in that case, the modification dates on the individual files would have absolutely nothing to do with how quickly anything was transmitted to another location.

            • Technocrat

              Right. He could have made a zip, copied it, and then uploaded it over hours or days.

        • stepped pyramids

          It seems implausible to me that a bunch of emails would have been copied piece by piece from a target server. Compressing them into a single archive and slurping the whole thing in one go makes a lot more sense.

          • nixnutz

            Is there a claim that this was taken from a webmail system? Because if they penetrated a desktop or a server they’d take the .pst or .ost, there’s no other reasonable way to do it. All the times would be from when they extracted the .msgs, and I’d be curious what kind of tools a hacker would use for that job.

            If they downloaded stuff off webmail, which would probably be easier to get into, the times would be from their local machine but the claim that the speed is unreasonable seems doubtful and the idea that we know it was on the east coast because the time stamps were output as EDT is nonsense.

            • nixnutz

              I have to correct myself a bit because I found some screenshots of the metadata, I guess Guccifer supplied some kind of text file with metadata in it and it looks like they’re from a MacBook. I think on Apple the attachments are stored in a folder separate from the database with the emails, so that part’s not incoherent.

              Still, you could zip it locally, and the speed’s not ludicrous, and for sure the time zone is only whatever he chose to use when he generated that file, the actual dates would be in a universal format. And there are all kinds of Russian names in the author fields and stuff, it’s definitely not what I would call defensible.

              Although more importantly that article is gibberish and it’s maddening how many other places have picked it up already.

      • brucej

        Doh!!!

        I hadn’t even thought of that…you’re absolutely correct. That is absolutely impossible; a file’s “metadata” will never change due to transport speed. It SURE as hell doesn’t change by being copied to a USB device, no matter what the underlying filesystem is.

        Charitably, Lawrence got played by some troll from 4chan posing as ‘Forensicator’. Uncharitably, he’s effectively acting as an enemy agent.

      • LNM_in_LA

        I am a network guy, and you is correct, sir.

      • Hogan

        Judging from what I read of the comments yesterday, the rejoinder is “But it was downloaded in Romania! They just discovered fire last week!”

        • Daniel

          You would be surprised, but from what I’ve heard some Eastern European countries have surprisingly fast broadband widely available, and cheap. Faster and cheaper than around here in Germany, in fact.

    • LNM_in_LA

      The connection speed is a PART of transfer throughput, but not as much as a lot of people seem to think. You may have a 1Gbps NIC (Network Interface Card), but a lot rides on what transfer protocol is being used, and the ‘stack’ on either side of the connection.

      If you’re using Windows Explorer (CIFS/SMB) and there are a number of switches or routers between you and the files, you prolly will be lucky to get 80-120 Mbps. IF you use a good FTP client, AND there is a FTP server giving you the files, AND your PC and the server have memory & CPU cycles to spare, you *might* get over 200Mbps, unless there are 5 or 6other folks trying to get other stuff off the server. Then math happens.

      And G-d help ya if the connection is over a latent WAN link, even a 10Gbps one; every millisecond of latency drops your throughput.

      Or so I’ve heard.

  • The Lorax

    I’ve been amazed at how Russia friendly VandenHuevel is the last year or so. So I’d already largely written off the Nation.

    • gocart mozart

      I wonder if Putin has some “leverage” on Stephen F. Cohen

    • LNM_in_LA

      I listen to pubic radio (sic, it’s a little meta-ness thing, I crack meself down) on occasion, and Ms. VandenHeuvel has a regular berth on Left, Right, And Center, where she is the Ostensible Left.

      I yell at the radio a lot during that show.

      • Why do you hate yourself so?

        • LNM_in_LA

          Because the classical station is playing lousy Opera, and the rock station is playing Journey? ooh, and the other college stations either have that screechy ‘experimental’ music on, or even crappier talk radio. I can’t reliably get the consistently good college rock station from the Valley here in the South Bay, at least not until I’m like a mile from home.

          • I assume this is when you haven’t brought your iPhone?

            Also: “pubic” radio

      • The Lorax

        Yep, I spend a fair amount of time yelling at the radio when she is on. As I did Sheer before her.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Cohen, and subsequently VandenHuevel, have always been for too supportive of Putin and too willing to print official Russian lies. What’s new is that it matters more now than it used to.

  • Joe Paulson

    Reporter: Are we going to go to war?

    Trump: I think you know the answer to that.

    Think we have a new meme.

    Q: Is this nuts?
    A: Yeah.

  • estebanico

    I just did a speed test on my $50/month home fiber optic internet. It’s running both download and upload at 950 megabits per second. That gives a speed of 118.75 megabytes (8 bits to a byte), over 5 times the supposedly impossible speed. And yes, I had it in mid-2016.

    • brad

      It also appears to be a pretty slow rate for even the older USB 2. But the point is that when you can debunk this article with a single google result it’s not there to be true, it’s there to be an available response to the truth.

      • Jon Hendry

        I bet it was a parallel port Zip disk.

    • LNM_in_LA

      Remember, those speed tests are NOT a predictor of transfer rate. The tests are basically mini Denial of Service attacks to swamp the line, not transfers of data in the sense we are talking about here.

      If I had a buck for every time I have had to explain this to otherwise very bright people, I would have retired by now.

      • estebanico

        It’s not off by a factor of five. I transfer things way above the “impossible speed” quoted here, and ALL THE TIME.

  • Wojciech

    in the not-too-distant past, “even The New Republic” was shorthand for shilling by some Democrats in that magazine’s pages that the wingnuts then in turn used as a fig leaf for whatever god awful dreck the Republicans were pushing at that moment. and meanwhile The Nation was keeping the progressive torch burning (more or less).

    funny how that’s flip-flopped in the Age of Trump. now The New Republic does its share of Bernie Bro pandering whilst The Nation is providing cover for Russian perfidy. Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen Cohen are going full Martin Peretz on this matter.

  • SpiderDan

    Irrefutable proof that the DNC was not hacked by Russia: “22MB/s internet doesn’t even exist, man.”

    I am at a loss for words. You could multiply that by a factor of ten and it MIGHT raise an eyebrow. 22MB/s hasn’t been unattainably fast since Dubya was in office.

  • WinningerR

    My home Internet connection (Comcast) is *much* faster than 176 megabits. Thirty seconds of Googling would have revealed that the “transfer was too fast” argument is ridiculous.

    • sanjait

      I recall when Comcast offered me “Blast!” Internet service with advertised 150MB/s speed.

      And that is not business speed, but home user speed. Two years ago ….

      Admittedly, actual speeds are famous for falling short of advertised speeds, but still.

  • Ryan Denniston

    Portuguese is what they speak in Brazil, right?

  • david spikes

    Shortly before swearing off Salon forever, I read(tried to read) a couple of Lawrence’s things. It seems strange to say-because it’s such a right wing trope-but he really, really hates the US and all its works while loving Russia and all of its. Because that level of incoherent dementia has to be a labor of love, based totally on emotion and damn the facts.

    • Did Salon ever have a foreign-policy writer who didn’t turn out to be a total shitbag?

  • This article is further proof that journalists don’t understand technology, as if any were needed. As an IT major, the excerpted text makes my eye twitch. I would be surprised if Lawrence has the faintest idea what “metadata” even means.

    This is a serious problem for democracy. The email stories last year were terrible for a number of reasons, but an often overlooked one is how factually wrong they were on the most basic elements of technology. The problems with voting machines aren’t getting covered as they should be either, and I suspect that’s because both journalists and politicians don’t understand them. They demonstrated some alarming hacks at Defcon a few weeks ago. It’s no exaggeration to say this is an existential threat to our democracy.

    • postmodulator

      As another IT professional, is it much worse than the fact that journalists don’t understand statistics? And we’ve been dealing with that for decades.

      • sanjait

        Or economics. Or science. Or medicine. Or law…

        Journalists are generalists who can read, write and talk to people. That’s ok, unless and until they get suckered (willingly or not) by false authorities on topics, and then things go horribly and publicly awry.

      • kvs

        There are at least organizations and programs dedicated to trying to fix that, like stats.org.

      • I don’t honestly know. Statistics illiteracy affects coverage of almost everything, but if our voting machines are compromised, we basically don’t have a democracy anymore.

        • sigaba

          We COULD use paper ballots, but that would mean trusting human beings and not the Impersonal Objective Super Machine that’s supposed to solve all of our problems.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        Not to worry, Columbia just announced a new one-year master's of science in data journalism that costs a mere $147,514. I'll repeat that: 1 year master's program, $147,514 cost of attendance.

        • Shantanu Saha

          At that price, I hope they throw in your own private supercomputer.

          • Jonathan Roth

            Or one-on-one classes with Stephen Hawking.

    • stepped pyramids

      A big problem is that it’s pretty difficult to imagine people with a tech background going into journalism, because of how much more money you can make in tech. I would love to work as a consultant on tech for a news organization, but even if they were creating jobs like that it’d probably pay half what I could make at a tech company. When these companies do hire programmers it’s to do, well, programming.

      • Hob

        I don’t know why they’d make a whole in-house job out of that, rather than just paying people for advice as needed. Surely reporting about, say, finance, gets done without there having to be a bunch of people on staff who used to have careers in finance.

        • sanjait

          Reporting on finance, or financial markets at least, is notoriously bad.

          At best it’s people who relay facts about current data on forms, markets and econometrics. Though usually they delve into interpretations of events that are so reductionist as to simply be wrong. And then there are those who give actual investment advice …

          It all gives the rubes the feeling of being well informed while being hopelessly stuck in Dunning Kruger-town.

          • Hob

            I’m sure it’s bad, but “facts about current data” plus oversimplified interpretations sounds 1000x better than the average piece of press coverage of anything involving computers, or medical science. I feel like the equivalent would be if a financial reporter said that stock shares are literal pieces of pie stored inside a vault.

            On the other hand, maybe this is just a case of people being more attuned to mistakes in fields they happen to be closer to.

          • Hogan

            The useful part ends after “The Dow was up 20 points today” and before “on news that . . . “

      • Paul Thomas

        I think this is akin to reporting on legal issues, where there are a
        handful of actual lawyers doing excellent reporting on high-profile cases (e.g. Lyle
        Denniston) but the vast, vast majority of reporting is done by
        nonlawyers who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about and
        consequently end up misstating or ignoring key issues.

        And I think medical issues (not health policy per se, more actual reporting on diseases) get similarly short shrift. It all comes down to the fact that journalism school does not prepare you to convey all ideas, and in high-paid professions, there’s a real shortage of expertise.

    • The article is bad but is it worse than any similar article? At most slightly. Most journalists would allow themselves to dress up their prose with words like “penetrate” and “Russian fingerprints . . . artificially inserted,” or to allow themselves to say there’s proof the files were leaked by the DNC because that’s what previous journalists already said.

      • That’s kind of my point, actually, though I might not have been as clear as I wanted to be. The standards for technology journalism in the mainstream press are abysmal, and this was a little-discussed contributing factor in the almost universally terrible coverage of anything relating to Clinton and emails.

        • Sorry, I tried to find a way of phrasing that that didn’t make it sound like I was disagreeing but obviously failed.

  • D. C. Sessions

    FYI: 22 MiB/s doesn’t even qualify as “high speed” in Korea. Your run-of-the-mill Seoul entry-level apartment has better connections than that because you can’t buy any slower.

    My crappy DSL in Socorro is not much slower — and this in a small town in New Mexico with the crappiest connection available (although I pay more for it than that apartment dweller in Seoul does for his.)

  • Joe Paulson
  • Hypersphrericalcow

    > only because it appears in a respected left-wing publication like The Nation

    The Nation won’t be respected much longer at this rate.

  • randykhan

    Besides everything else that’s wrong with the article, the possibility that the files were copied locally would not preclude the conclusion that they were stolen by the Russians. I mean, it’s not like nobody’s ever broken into DNC headquarters before.

  • Mike Schilling

    After many years of reading project status reports, I can confidently translate paragraph 1 as “We got nothing.”

  • Abigail Nussbaum

    Very OT, but: guys, I won a Hugo.

    http://www.thehugoawards.org/2017/08/2017-hugo-awards-announced/

    (Scroll down, it’s there.)

    I also got to meet Daveed Diggs. And then after the ceremony I got to be congratulated by Daveed Diggs.

    • Damon Poeter

      That’s fucking awesome!

    • Damon Poeter

      You put the Gen X in genre

      • Abigail Nussbaum

        I’m actually not sure if I’m gen X or millennial – the definition seems to change all the time.

        • Damon Poeter

          It seems fungible but if you were born before 1985, you’re Gen X (going by 20-year generation clumping) …

    • stepped pyramids

      Congratulations!!

    • Darkrose

      Congratulations! And squee!

    • Anna in PDX

      Wow! Congrats!

    • Scott Lemieux

      Woo-hoo!

    • Hogan

      I am completely awesomed by you.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      Fantastic!

    • Congratulations.

  • weirdnoise

    I didn’t even need to read the PL screed. The comments for the NYMag article are a hoot, but they do give the supposedly damning technical details. Maybe it’s because I work in the internet industry, but the commenters claiming that math and physics prove that the Russians can’t possibly have downloaded 1976MB in 87 seconds are far more wrong than they know. 22MB/s is right around what the DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems Comcast and others are configured for. For a medium-sized internet provider this is a fraction of a percent of capacity (and even more negligible for Comcast), and unlike some commenters claim this isn’t going to raise any alarm bells — someone downloading a video game is likely to pull several times that many bytes, something that happens many thousands of times a day (not to mention purloined media files, porn, etc).

    And that bit I mentioned about cable modems? It provides a clue. Unlike what the tinfoil-hatted “security experts” PL cites assume, it’s not like some hacker sitting in the basement of the FSB in Russia is going to connect and download 1976MB directly. It’s going to be someone’s home computer, either compromised remotely or operated by some minor stooge, right here in the U.S. of A. The file will wander through several intermediaries before reaching its destination, perhaps on a USB stick or a micro-SD sewn into someone’s underwear.

    But I’m sure the kerning on the bytes shows how it was all an inside job, a false-flag operation.

  • Kerans

    Kinetic flimflamery -> prig Latin -> cockholstery rhyming slang -> pine city bro tech jargon -> mar-a-argot

    • sigaba

      “Kinetic” 2017 word of the year, mark it.

  • kdbart

    Was this one also run out of a DC pizzeria?

  • In the meantime, VIPS has assembled a chronology that imposes a
    persuasive logic on the complex succession of events just reviewed. It
    is this:…

    and it lists a bunch of things that happened around June 12th 2016

    it cleverly leaves out the fact that this was the exact time when Trump was promising that he was getting ready to share a bunch of explosive info about Clinton, and just a few days after Jr had his meeting with the Russians (June 9th) who were promising to deliver a bunch of info about the Clintons.

  • sigaba

    Patrick Lawrence is a longtime columnist, essayist, critic, and lecturer, whose most recent books are Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World and Time No Longer: America After the American Century.

    Thank God America is collapsing so now the REAL FREEDOM can start.

  • sigaba

    This is as close as you can get to a serious set of independently-reviewable claims. And they’re pretty dubious, there are a lot of prior assumptions built into the whole analysis.

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