• The Russians Only Mattered Because Hillary Lost

    June 27, 2017

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America



    I’m going to ask you to try a thought experiment.

    Shut off the part of your mind that thinks Trump is bad (or good) and focus instead on the process in America that brought us to the present state of affairs. Because what unfolded in America is bigger than Trump, and will survive Trump to influence the next presidential election, and the one after that, and…

    Elections in America, 2016

    Here’s what an election looked like in America.

    — Bill Clinton met with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch on June 27, 2016. Days later, on July 5, Lynch’s subordinate, FBI Director James Comey, announced candidate Hillary Clinton was not under investigation for security violations relating to her personal email server, extraordinary financial contributions by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation many saw as quid pro quo, or anything else. Clinton is then nominated, with the last barrier to her move into the White House, the possibility of indictment, removed on schedule. Timing and coincidence are everything it seems.

    — According to the Washington Post, in late summer 2016 the CIA presented Obama with evidence that Russia, on Putin’s personal orders, was trying to influence the U.S. election. The accusations were the country obtained emails showing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) heavily favored Clinton over Sanders. The Russians also used social media to push a number of stories about Clinton that were false/exaggerated/true but negative.

    — According to the Post, so as not to appear to be supporting Trump, who at this same time was publicly stating the election was rigged against him, Obama did nothing regarding the Russian activities beyond allegedly telling Putin to stop doing them. This was largely predicated on the certainty that Clinton was going to win in November.

    — The DNC refused DHS/FBI cyber security assistance. The DNC did not allow DHS/FBI to physically inspect its computer hardware.

    The state of things as of late summer-early autumn 2016 was that Russia activities were just not that big of a deal. Clinton seemed comfortably headed to the White House. If this was a crisis, nobody acted like it.


    Clinton Lost

    The Russians’ activities at the worst consisted of those DNC emails and social media. The DNC emails’ primary content seemed to be confirmation that the organization favored Clinton over Sanders, not exactly news to Sanders’ supporters.

    Social media, the other side to Russia’s efforts, is confirmational; it tends to reach people who already believe what they are reading. Much of the Russian influence on the election was ascribed to RT.com, the Russian cable television channel. RT has very limited viewership among American households and arguably limited credibility among American voters. Quick now — what channel is RT on your cable box?

    The November election approached. Obama took no significant action. Democrats didn’t balk until November 1, almost a month after the information became publicly known, and only as polls started to show Trump pulling ahead. Hillary lost.


    A Whole-of-Government Effort

    A whole-of-government effort nearly immediately unfolded to overturn the election.

    Recounts were called for amid allegations of vote tampering. Constitutional scholars proposed various Electoral College wishful-thinking scenarios to unseat Trump. Lawsuits were filed claiming the hereto-largely unheard of Emoluments Clause made it illegal for Trump to even assume office. Leaks begin pouring out, focused on information sourced from signals intercept material available only to limited persons inside the intelligence community (IC), implying the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government.

    (Here’s more on the IC, Russia, and Trump.)

    Serious people in the United States government claimed outright the person elected president was a Russian agent, placed in the White House to follow instructions from Moscow. His very presence in the Oval Office was a treasonous act.

    The American mainstream media reset itself to the goal of enabling the impeachment of the president, spinning up the process even before Trump took the oath of office. It is now a rare day when the top stories are not bombastic accusations, based on a whole litany of anonymous sources, so-called reports, according to people familiar withs, government officials who have seen the documents, and so forth. No bit of gossip is too small, no accusation too grand, and it is all presented unsourced, rocketed from Rawstory to HuffPo to the New York Times in the morning, the other way around for the scoop-of-the-day in the afternoon.

    What was largely ignored by the White House in the summer of 2016 on the assumption Clinton would win became in the autumn after she lost, in the words of the Washington Post, “in political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy.”

    In other words, whatever the Russians did only mattered and only was a crime because it contributed to Clinton’s loss. The hacking itself is immaterial; what matters is the way it affected the White House’s and media’s favored candidate.

    Only after Clinton lost did it become necessary to demonize the Russian threat and create a crisis that might be inflated big enough to justify impeachment.


    Minority Rulez

    Even among intelligent people well-versed in how government really works the thinking seems to be “well, it’s justified to get rid of Trump.”

    Trump is a terrible president. It is unlikely the United States will be a better place four years from now. But the problem isn’t so much Trump as it is the longer game. We’ve had crappy presidents before and mumbled through.

    Try as hard as you can to forget Trump is, well, Trump. Focus instead on the sheer amount of high-level manipulation, collusion if you will to use a popular term, involved in the recent election. What role did the FBI and the intelligence community play in the election? Why did they play any role at all? Why did the White House take little-to-know action against Russia, and shield what they knew from the American people, as long as their favored candidate was in the lead? What role is the media playing now in fanning the flames? Name a media source you consider impartial anymore.

    What is the broader significance of a relative minority of people inside government and the media seeking to overturn the results of an election?




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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      Deep State was just pissed that Russia was stealing its act. Syria-ously, it didn’t make any difference, did it?

      06/27/17 7:13 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      2

      I’ll post this again. Would Obama have done anything if the chatter suggested Putin was trying to help Hillary and discredit Trump? That’s the more interesting contrafactual exercise to me.

      06/27/17 8:23 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      The answer to PVB’s closing question. “We’re gonna need a bigger pump”. But that won’t help since the whole country now is one giant tributary of detritus ending in DC.

      06/27/17 9:09 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...

      4

      Thought-X : TRUMP – WOR$E; But CLINT0N – WOR$T.

      06/27/17 11:16 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      5

      PVB: “What is the broader significance of a relative minority of people inside government and the media seeking to overturn the results of an election?”

      – Expanded war in the Middle East, with regime overthrow still a centre-piece policy

      06/27/17 11:36 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Off topic but I cant resist- FUCK Jason Fullofshits who says his ilk really needs more money to live in Dc- they needs a $30,000 housing allowance per year. Meanwhile, he thinks federal employees are overpaid

      06/27/17 11:37 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      7

      Expanded war also means flowing money, unchecked. Meanwhile our economy and debt tank, and we slip to second world status while the two parties try to attrition each other in continued political paralysis

      06/27/17 11:38 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      8

      06/27/17 11:42 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Fullofshits from Utah is setting his sight firmly on federal employees’ retirement. Speaking to reporters on January 9, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he wants to do away with the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity and keep only the 401K-style benefit, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), for new and recent hires.

      This means federal employees will lose an important element of their compensation. They would no longer be eligible for any defined benefit annuity at all. The pension that Chaffetz would eliminate produces modest but important benefits for federal retirees.

      Current FERS retirees receive an average of under $20,000 per year from this benefit. Chaffetz seems to take joy from hurting government workers, including those in his district. Do you think he remembers that nearly a third of federal employees are also veterans?

      06/27/17 11:45 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      10

      Join Veterans For Peace. Have a nice day!

      06/27/17 12:51 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      11

      Chuck A few years ago I tried to join the Philadelphia chapter of VFP. I met with the group and had my dues money ready met with complete disinterest. John Grant led the team discussion and the vibe I got was that they had “moved on” from any vibrant engagement of the MIC.

      06/27/17 1:16 PM | Comment Link

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