As discussed on Friday, DAG Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian military-cyber-operative guys.  In the process, he ruled out any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the DNC/Clinton campaign email hack and distribution.  Also, I guess he verified that the emails were authentic all along.  Donna Brazile hardest hit.

I’m not going to rehash everything since we have an active thread on it already, but what we know from this indictment has a tie-in to this week’s horribly cringe-inducing Congressional hearing with Peter Strzok.

I didn’t have much of a chance to watch the hearing live, so I missed a lot.  The clips I have seen are terrible, from Gohmert personally attacking Strzok for lying to his wife over screwing one of his co-workers to Steve Cohen suggesting that Strzok should get a Purple Heart for, apparently, lying to his wife about screwing one of his co-workers while he was poisoning the two most important FBI investigations of 2016.

Congress’s procedural antics and grandstanding aside, my worst suspicions of Strzok were confirmed by the hearing.  He’s a creepy psychopath who fully believes in the righteousness of every shitty thing he has done.

The giveaway was that “duping delight” smirk he wore repeatedly throughout the hearing, when he wasn’t sneering.  It’s the look of a guy who not only thinks he’s better and smarter than the people he’s conning, but that he’s already proven it.

It’s not a stretch for me to say this.  His text messages to Page said as much for his contemptuous attitude toward our elected representatives.  It’s good that he’s no longer in charge of investigations, but the fact that he ever was  highlights why the FBI is such a shitshow on wheels.

That, plus the politicization of the FBI’s role.

In Obama’s defense, Wikileaks didn’t really expect Trump to win either.  They gave it a 25% chance.  So there’s some consolation.

What else for scandal news?

Jim Jordan savages Rosenstein, runs for Speaker, and totally coincidentally gets accused of ignoring old cases of sexual abuse.  Also, not uncoincidentally at all, the same law firm that hired Crowdstrike to scrub inspect the hacked DNC server hired Fusion GPS to build the Trump Dossier is all over it.  Of all the scandals going on, this one is the dumbest and most transparently political, I think.   I’m so bored with these obvious Deep State plot twists.

Let’s see; Manafort hasn’t been convicted and is locked up in solitary confinement.  Flynn has been convicted and Mueller hasn’t gotten around to locking him up.  His sentencing is delayed for the third time.

Outside of DC, there’s Harvey Weinstein, who you should feel sorry for, you jerk.

“You were born rich and privileged and you were handsome. I was born poor, ugly, Jewish and had to fight all my life to get somewhere. You got lotsa girls, no girl looked at me until I made it big in Hollywood. Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone. But I never, ever forced myself on a single woman.” 

Is it bad that I have about as little pity for his victims as I do for him, on that basis?  Not the office employees and regular women he victimized, but the ones who became A-list actresses with his support.  The whole system is disgusting.  Is he simply unlucky to have become not the face of the problem, but to be portrayed as the entire problem?

That’s all I have.  There’s plenty of entertainment on pfluffy’s DJ thread.

Oh!  Hey, Hal wrote an article over at Ordinary Times on the human trafficking thing I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  Check it out.

42 comments

  1. Such a lot to love about Trump’s latest foreign travels but this is possibly my favourite…

  2. With regard to Rosenstein and Jordan, the move is afoot to impeach the former.

    https://www.bizpacreview.com/2018/07/14/rosenstein-not-smiling-anymore-after-house-republicans-spotted-with-his-impeachment-docs-654125

    I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. The House might pass articles of impeachment, but there’s no way the Senate votes to remove him from office.

    The better option is to find Rosenstein in contempt for stonewalling and have him jailed if they’re really wanting to target him now. I’m on the fence as to whether or not that’s the best idea right now.

  3. Apparently the ENTIRE European Union is now the enemy:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/15/trump-says-european-union-is-foe-to-us-ahead-summit-with-putin.html

    France won the World Cup. So depending on your POV, 2018 continues to suck, or not.

    You can no longer marry a 15 year old in Missouri. You have to wait until she’s at least sixteen, and not a cousin:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/15/missouri-governor-signs-law-banning-marriage-15-year-olds.html

    “Two children dollars! I want my two children dollars!”
    https://pjmedia.com/trending/pelosi-tax-cut-will-add-two-children-dollars-more-to-deficit/

  4. Apparently the ENTIRE European Union is now the enemy:

    He’s really throwing Europe out of the nest and telling them to flap their wings, isn’t he?

    You can no longer marry a 15 year old in Missouri. You have to wait until she’s at least sixteen, and not a cousin:

    Yeah, I have no idea how we let that go on this long. I’ve lived here for years and never knew I could do that.

  5. We do?

    You mean “wee doo” 😉

    Like almost everyone else in existence, I don’t see any other plausible explanation.

    I’ve read the story in four sources and can’t figure out what she’s being charged with or why any of the described activities are illegal.

    If the sources haven’t revealed that information it’s probably because they don’t have that information.

  6. Like almost everyone else in existence, I don’t see any other plausible explanation.

    It’s totally baffling why Trump might want to de-escalate needless tensions with a major nuclear power that presents no threat to our core national interests if left alone and might even be willing to help us contain another nuclear power that is threatening our core interests.

    But sure, forget all about geopolitics and strategy. It’s obviously about the mythical pee tape.

  7. It’s obviously about the mythical pee tape.

    Sure, you can replace the pee tape with something else. It could just be his own personal gain (post Presidency).

    It’s totally baffling why Trump might want to de-escalate needless tensions with a major nuclear power that presents no threat to our core national interests if left alone and might even be willing to help us contain another nuclear power that is threatening our core interests.

    The costs of the immense damage don’t make this plausible. Your democracy and institutions are about as ‘core’ as it gets, and Russia is absolutely not leaving them alone.
    That’s just woeful.

    Khrushchev: But we aren’t putting any nuclear weapons on Cuba.
    Kennedy: Oh, ok then …

  8. And don’t forget escalating needless tensions with pretty much ALL your allies. Which works against you containing nuclear powers (unless you believe you only need Russia as an ally). Germany have already noted that they can’t trust the whack-job in the White House.
    Has division in the US made the US stronger? If not, how does division in the world make it stronger?

  9. Sure, you can replace the pee tape with something else. It could just be his own personal gain (post Presidency).

    I don’t know what to tell you then. I offered you a plausible explanation and you’d rather indulge in conspiracy theories about the possible existence of some unknown blackmail material.

    Your democracy and institutions are about as ‘core’ as it gets, and Russia is absolutely not leaving them alone.

    With what? Facebook ads? You must think our institutions are pretty weak if you think that those same democratic processes that persisted even during an apocalyptic civil war and all manner of social changes can just be wiped out by a few Twitter trolls.

    Even then, what do you propose we should do about it? Bomb Russia? Hack them back? There’s no point to it. I say the best alternative is to eliminate any grievances that incentivize them to work against us.

  10. And don’t forget escalating needless tensions with pretty much ALL your allies.

    By demanding that they pay their fair share of the costs of being our allies? That’s hardly needless nor is it any type of escalation of tensions. We’re tired of being taken advantage of.

  11. Is there anything suspicious going on between Trump and Putin? We may never know for sure, but the media sure is having another freakout about it. That aside, I don’t trust Putin any further than I can throw him across the Finnish border. Meanwhile, you can caption this picture. I’ll start-“Coming, Master…”:

  12. By demanding that they pay their fair share of the costs of being our allies?

    What do you mean by this?

  13. I offered you a plausible explanation and you’d rather indulge in conspiracy theories about the possible existence of some unknown blackmail material.

    It just wasn’t/isn’t plausible. I’m the last to buy into conspiracy theories but in this case it makes the most sense. And it’s not just me, so that strategy doesn’t really work either. I would rather a better plausible explanation be found. I’ll keep looking.

    With what? Facebook ads? You must think our institutions are pretty weak if you think that those same democratic processes that persisted even during an apocalyptic civil war and all manner of social changes can just be wiped out by a few Twitter trolls.

    Obviously it’s far more than just ‘a few Twitter trolls’ or even wider use of fake news (actual fake news, not what you and your ilk pretend is fake news in order to delegitimise what happened). Trump is taking the word of Putin above his own intelligence agencies and specialists. It’s even finally gone beyond partisanship this time (although I’m sure it’ll be no more than grumblings from the GOP, to placate their supports who might be wavering on all this). Not to mention the ‘core national interest’ of having a functioning State Department, and court system that isn’t devalued by repeatedly pardoning people purely on personal political grounds (not much point having law if ultimately it depends on whether the King lets you go free even if you’re guilty). Then there is the trust people have in their POTUS, etc etc.
    None of this damage is worth the massive risk that if you play nice to a murderous dictator, he MIGHT help you on some future possible problems.

    Even then, what do you propose we should do about it? Bomb Russia? Hack them back?

    For a start how about not enabling them to weaken you, and not weaken your alliances with your oldest allies? Additionally, sanctions, in line with your values and consistent with your belief in retaining your own democracy and institutions.
    It sure seems like you’re just intent on watching it ALL burn.

    There’s no point to it. I say the best alternative is to eliminate any grievances that incentivize them to work against us.

    They don’t need ‘grievances’, they’ll do it anyway. They did it the first time when suck-up Obama was in charge, FFS.

    We may never know for sure, but the media sure is having another freakout about it.

    It’s incredibly disingenuous to imply that only the media is shocked and appalled by Trump’s performance.

    What do you mean by this?

    And how does it help that Trump repeatedly lies about the defense spending of his (former?) allies and how the alliance works? Again, Trump relies entirely on ignorance (willful and actual). Apparently conflating how Russia meddled in the 2016 election with whether Trump was involved is a big no-no, but conflating several different measures of the alliance’s military spending in order to confuse and lie is ok because it’s just part of ‘pushing them out of the nest’.

  14. What do you mean by this?

    I’m speaking colloquially. You want to be in a club, you pay your dues. I mean that if they really need US protection, they should maintain adequate defense funding and recognize that the US demands trade agreements that provide us with tangible benefit as well as them.

    As I see it, Western Europe gets more out of this arrangement than it puts in and the US gets very little despite putting a great deal of money and risk into it.

  15. It just wasn’t/isn’t plausible.

    No, you can say that you don’t think it’s likely, but you can’t say it’s not plausible that Trump would try a rapprochement with Russia based on the fact that there’s no compelling reason to be locked into a cold war with that country. It is plausible and you can either try to show me that there are compelling reasons for having a cold war with Russia in which we wage proxy wars against them in areas where we have no vital interests and wreck their economy with sanctions as they retaliate by using cyber attacks.

    Before you tell me that it’s not plausible, I want you to explain why Russia is a threat to the United States. And don’t tell me it’s because of election interference. This goes back further than that with NATO expansion, Western interference in Ukraine, and our sanctions–all of it because we got involved in a business that wasn’t ours.

    I’m the last to buy into conspiracy theories but in this case it makes the most sense.

    We’ve had an investigation going on for two years to figure out if Putin has anything on Trump. Nothing has been found and yet you’re still taking it on faith that it exists and rejecting plausible, alternative explanations. I’m sorry, but that’s conspiracy theorist thinking.

    Trump is taking the word of Putin above his own intelligence agencies and specialists.

    Which intelligence agencies and specialists? The ones who papered over his opponent’s and her associates’ crimes during the election? The ones who sent confidential informants against his campaign and won’t even clearly admit when they started the investigation? Are you speaking of the same intelligence agencies and specialists who submitted false information gleaned from a contractor hired by his opponent’s campaign to a FISA court so they could run surveillance against his campaign? Surely you don’t mean the same intelligence agencies and specialists who spread damaging leaks about the Administration to the media. Gosh, I wonder why Trump would be critical of the intelligence agencies and specialists who are so blinded with partisan mania that they attack him on every front.

    For a start how about not enabling them to weaken you, and not weaken your alliances with your oldest allies?

    For the first, I’m an advocate of hardening our election systems. After all, if the Russians can steal voter information, anybody can. There isn’t really any other way Russia can weaken us. As for our alliances, they’re not worth maintaining in their current iteration. NATO was designed for an enemy that no longer exists from a time when Europe was too weak to defend itself. The threat is gone, or at least almost entirely diminished, and Europe has a large enough economy, population, and technical capability to protect itself from whatever is left of the Soviet Empire.

    The US has bigger fish to fry.

  16. Here’s a fresh perspective. Russia can’t beat us in a cyberwar.

    https://kek.gg/u/LJyY

    Explains one former CIA officer: “Given that we clearly had so much of the Russian internal communication and cyber footprints, they must be asking what else do we have? Do we have communications between the units and more senior officers in the GRU? With the General Staff? With the Kremlin? With Putin? Probably not the latter directly, but the Russians are very bureaucratic and it’s hard for me to imagine there is not a clear trail of higher level approvals, progress reports, etc.”

    Friday’s indictment is a legal document. But it’s also a shot across the Kremlin’s bow. The message is: If you don’t stop cyber operations against the United States, we have the detailed information to identify and disrupt your intelligence services, officers and sources and methods. Mueller isn’t asking Russia to stop; he’s warning them of the consequences of going forward.

    I’d still like someone to explain to me why we should fear Russia. I don’t see it.

  17. Which intelligence agencies and specialists? The ones who papered over his opponent’s and her associates’ crimes during the election? The ones who sent confidential informants against his campaign and won’t even clearly admit when they started the investigation? Are you speaking of the same intelligence agencies and specialists who submitted false information gleaned from a contractor hired by his opponent’s campaign to a FISA court so they could run surveillance against his campaign? Surely you don’t mean the same intelligence agencies and specialists who spread damaging leaks about the Administration to the media.

    Yep, them. But also the CIA. And the office of the director of national intelligence. And the NSA. And Trump’s own Justice Department. And the House Intelligence Committee. And the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    But, hey, maybe they’re all in on the conspiracy.

  18. No, you can say that you don’t think it’s likely, but you can’t say it’s not plausible that Trump would try a rapprochement with Russia based on the fact that there’s no compelling reason to be locked into a cold war with that country.

    Your whole argument relies on false choice fallacy. Nobody is calling for a war with Russia, cold or otherwise.

    Before you tell me that it’s not plausible, I want you to explain why Russia is a threat to the United States.

    Their actions helped tip the balance to get their preferred candidate elected and he’s been busy sowing divisions within the US and across the world as much as possible, which is exactly what they want. That’s a big medium-to-long term threat to the US.

    Nothing has been found and yet you’re still taking it on faith that it exists and rejecting plausible, alternative explanations. I’m sorry, but that’s conspiracy theorist thinking.

    Unless you’re privy to everything they have found, and their overall strategy, you simply can’t say that. You’re guessing. Recently you tried to claim that because there were no Americans involved in the most recent indictments, that means no Americans were involved in what they’re investigating period. Which isn’t even remotely the case, but you seem to keep over-reaching (while at the same time mocking others for doing the same thing in the opposite direction).

    Gosh, I wonder why Trump would be critical of the intelligence agencies and specialists who are so blinded with partisan mania that they attack him on every front.

    Cress has provide the obvious response. But I’d add:
    Having significant issues with what Trump does and says from an intelligence point of view isn’t being ‘blinded with partisan mania’, there are a significant number of Republicans/conservatives who have come out strongly against how Trump has publicly treated US intelligence agencies and specialists, and dismissed their work because he prefers his own narrative (which is just a string of untruths). If he doesn’t like it he could take responsibility for his own behaviour. But of course he won’t because (a) he can’t, and (b) he thinks it works for him.
    He also did this in a foreign country that isn’t an ally, taking the murderous thugs side against his own country. Because apparently the only alternative is a war with a weak nation…..

    There isn’t really any other way Russia can weaken us.

    Exhibit A: the election and resulting presidency of Trump.

    The US has bigger fish to fry.

    Like brazenly sowing the seeds of political crisis in the UK?

    Russia can’t beat us in a cyberwar.

    They don’t need to, they’re already winning.

  19. NATO was designed for an enemy that no longer exists from a time when Europe was too weak to defend itself. The threat is gone, or at least almost entirely diminished, and Europe has a large enough economy, population, and technical capability to protect itself from whatever is left of the Soviet Empire.

    I’d still like someone to explain to me why we should fear Russia. I don’t see it.

    I’ll take a swing at this. This isn’t meant to persuade you, but just to try and explain (my understanding of) Western Foregin policy thus far.

    Essentially it boils down to the fact that it’s in the US interests for there not to be conflict among Western Democracies. That’s the genius in the post war alliances. The US stands as the lone superpower, and in return they prosper from it. Think of NATO not as the US acting as big brother, but more as the US acting as president of the homeowners association with the Penthouse suite. The agreement is meant to avert the sort of conflict that would ruin everyones apartments.

    So it’s not about ‘fearing Russia’ in terms of an attack (although they did attack cyber style) it’s about fearing that the chaos that Russia could wreak in the world will affect US prosperity. It’s not just Russia, but they’re the actors who look most threatening – annexing Crimea, looking suggestively at Estonia, murdering other countries citizens, shooting down airliners. The US (and the West in general) does well in stability, uncertainty makes things more difficult.

    In addition – it was generally accepted that the US and it’s allies were ‘for’ the spreading of western democratic values across the globe. That Human Rights abuses were not to be tolerated, and that freedom of the press, or religion etc etc were more beneficial neighbours than the, lets say, less classically democratic values espoused by Russia. So the Eastern Bloc buffer countries were exactly that – a buffer against the expansion of a way of life that was antiethical to western values.

    Russia of course objected to this, and saw this as the West’s expansion into ‘it’s’ territory, and fought/is fighting back (I assume that’s what Trump is talking about, reversing the US policy here?). There’s a legitimate view that the actions in Serbia and Kosovo were misguided – but more politically than about whether it’s good for the Western Alliance to have Russian influence spreading further across into Europe.

    This is all to say that the historical policy towards Russia is based on the historical actions of Russia – and the preference of the current world order over one with a greater influence by the Eastern Bloc one. It’s not to say that this is the right path – and maybe there is an argument for a change in global foreign policy (a ‘reset’ perhaps – how do you think the GOP would like that?) but Trump hasn’t really outlined a case for this shift? Maybe fiddling while Rome burns is a path to prosperity – although in an age of globalisation, isolation seems to look more and more of an impossible dream.

    It IS plausible that Trump would want to change US foreign policy with regard to Western/Eastern relations. And if that’s the case, then let him make that case. ‘We’re both to blame’ is about as far as he’s got – four days after Russia was indicted in an international crime against the US would be a weird time to make that argument, but hey, I’m keen to hear him out.

    Doing a complete 180 on your (previous) allies, and actively helping your (previous) adversaries is a hell of a plot twist – ‘truth Justice and the American Way’ becomes ‘Fair Play if you can get away with it’. But it would be great to know that there’s an actual reason for it that’s been thought through, and can be explained to the American people as being good for their wellbeing, and the prosperity of the country.

    I’m sure that press conference is coming.

  20. Nobody is calling for a war with Russia, cold or otherwise.

    Then what are you calling for? People who are angry that Trump doesn’t think we should be in a state of war with Russia never explain what they think should be done. I’ll let you tell me what you think the best option is, or at least what the available options are.

    Their actions helped tip the balance to get their preferred candidate elected

    There is no proof of that whatsoever. Comey had more impact on the election than Putin, at least as far as Nate Silver is concerned. Can you find a single poll in which a significant amount of respondents in key swing states said that the Wikileaks revelations, Russian sponsored ads on social media, or anything related lead to them changing their vote from Clinton to Trump?

    he’s been busy sowing divisions within the US and across the world as much as possible

    The insane Resistance is sowing division on its own. I’d argue that they’re being the Putin stooges.

    Unless you’re privy to everything they have found, and their overall strategy, you simply can’t say that. You’re guessing.

    I don’t have to be privy to any special meetings. Trump said before and after the election that he believed it was better to work with Russia on issues, such as Syria. More recently he has claimed Putin is willing to assist more with North Korea. This meshes with reality.

    Recently you tried to claim that because there were no Americans involved in the most recent indictments, that means no Americans were involved in what they’re investigating period.

    I made the observation that if no Americans knowingly cooperated with the Russians on either the DNC hacking or troll farms, then there is no collusion. You can’t have collusion without Americans colluding. It was the chief purpose for Mueller’s appointment. Could Mueller still generate some other, non-collusion crimes from his investigation and charge American citizens? Yes, and he has. However, collusion is dead.

    Exhibit A: the election and resulting presidency of Trump.

    I see it differently. Trump has strengthened us more than the globalist, neocon policies of Clinton would have.

    Like brazenly sowing the seeds of political crisis in the UK?

    What do you call this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6giLpmbvvY4

    They don’t need to, they’re already winning.

    Not at all. All they’ve proven is that they can get Democrats to fall for phishing scams like Sasha Baron Cohen can get Republicans to read off a teleprompter if he lets them ride in a limo. What Putin learned last week is that the Americans will respond by doxing his entire cyber-intelligence unit. That’s not “winning” for him.

  21. I’ll take a swing at this.

    Thank you, sincerely. I was about to give up on having any sort of reasonable answer.

    Everything you said is valid, though I think you’re overemphasizing the purity of the West’s motivations in expanding democracy and human rights instead of economic and strategic motivations. But everything you said about how the reason for this shift needs to be articulated is correct.

    The truth is that what’s happening now is long overdue–25 years or so overdue. It seems sudden, but American dissatisfaction with the old status quo is very real and would be present regardless of whether or not Putin is blackmailing Trump.

    Like I’ll say here that I agree with Obama, who wanted to disengage from the Middle East since there is no longer anything happening there that really concerns us anymore. He was pilloried by conservatives for making a deal with Iran to help us accomplish that. He was accused of being a secret Muslim and selling out Israel. In other words, he was attacked over that necessary change to our foreign policy just as Trump is being attacked now.

    If there’s one aspect of Trump’s foreign policy that baffles me, it’s why he lets Israel entangle us in foreign policy headaches that aren’t ours to suffer even as he says that he won’t do it for Europe.

    The US is currently withdrawing from its commitments and supporting the president as he does this because of millions of us–but not all–who feel those commitments aren’t serving us well anymore. It doesn’t mean that we love Russia. It means we don’t care about Russia.

    For the first time since Hitler blew his brains out, you have a world-weary United States asking, “What’s in it for us?” and it’s confusing the hell out of a world that has never had to answer that question before. Until now.

    I do think we at least owe the world an explanation…but that’s all we owe it.

  22. Then what are you calling for?

    I’m not ‘calling’ for anything. Again, why are you adamant that the only options are two extremes?

    People who are angry that Trump doesn’t think we should be in a state of war with Russia never explain what they think should be done

    Have you stopped to consider that perhaps they’re not saying the US should be in a state of war with Russia?

    There is no proof of that whatsoever.

    It’s hard to measure because of wasn’t one discrete event, but as this piece notes, it’s now extremely difficult to deny.

    https://www.wired.com/story/did-russia-affect-the-2016-election-its-now-undeniable/

    Comey had more impact on the election than Putin, at least as far as Nate Silver is concerned.

    He doesn’t quite know, because again it’s difficult to measure and nobody has yet seriously tried.
    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-much-did-russian-interference-affect-the-2016-election/

    Unless you know of something he said more recently?

    Can you find a single poll in which a significant amount of respondents in key swing states said that the Wikileaks revelations, Russian sponsored ads on social media, or anything related lead to them changing their vote from Clinton to Trump?

    Of course not, but obviously I wouldn’t expect to.

    The insane Resistance is sowing division on its own. I’d argue that they’re being the Putin stooges.

    Again, opposition to Trump’s actions and statements (where he continually treats you like you like a complete moron) goes far far beyond ‘The Resistance’. They are just an obviuous scapegoat.

    I don’t have to be privy to any special meetings.

    In order to make a definitive claim, like you did, you have to know what they know. And you don’t, so you can’t. As cress said, it all certainly seems suspicious. What is it now, over 80 contacts with Russia-linked operatives, more than 15 false blanket denials of contacts, multiple separate offers of Clinton dirt from Russians or their proxies, and a request for Russia to hack Clinton’s emails?

    Trump said before and after the election that he believed it was better to work with Russia on issues, such as Syria. More recently he has claimed Putin is willing to assist more with North Korea. This meshes with reality.

    Seeking a pragmatic accommodation on these issues makes sense, but a potentially compromised president who’s willfully blind to Putin’s brutality can’t make these deals. Especially one who has so considerably weakened himself domestically (and now seemingly with his own party) with what he keeps saying, and then insulting your intelligence in his awful attempts to try fixing them .

    I made the observation that if no Americans knowingly cooperated with the Russians on either the DNC hacking or troll farms, then there is no collusion.

    This assumes there are no other ways of, or reasons for, colluding.

    Trump has strengthened us more than the globalist, neocon policies of Clinton would have.

    Time will tell. I don’t think your opinion is widely shared, and for good reason.

    What do you call this?

    A weak attempt at whataboutism.

    Not at all. All they’ve proven is that they can get Democrats to fall for phishing scams like Sasha Baron Cohen can get Republicans to read off a teleprompter if he lets them ride in a limo. What Putin learned last week is that the Americans will respond by doxing his entire cyber-intelligence unit. That’s not “winning” for him.

    Yeah, those are not the only things that have happened.
    Even now Trump is lying about whether it’s still happening, and Sanders is having to lie about his lying. And that’s directly following Trump lying (to your face like you’re a complete moron) about what he meant in the press conference about whether they meddled in the election at all.

  23. I’m not ‘calling’ for anything. Again, why are you adamant that the only options are two extremes?

    I’m asking you because I want to know your opinion. What do you think US policy should be toward Russia? To me, it comes down to whether we will stop treating them as an enemy or not. What do you think; that’s what I’m asking.

    It’s hard to measure because of wasn’t one discrete event, but as this piece notes, it’s now extremely difficult to deny.

    https://www.wired.com/story/did-russia-affect-the-2016-election-its-now-undeniable/

    Yet they didn’t find a single person who would be interviewed and say, “Yup, I changed my vote from Clinton to Trump because of a tweet I read from a Russian bot.” Once you get past the clickbait headline, you’re left with this blurb in the article:

    So anyone trying to tell you there was little impact on political views from the tools the Russians used doesn’t know. Because none of us knows. No one has looked.

    If you really want to know what helped Trump, speaking as an American who voted in the election, it was probably the endless and free coverage the American media gave him. They should have marginalized him, but they made the entire GOP primary about him and what he was saying.

    Of course, what’s hilarious about this is that it’s exactly what the Clinton campaign wanted them to do.

    But Russians? No, they didn’t influence my vote in either the GOP primary or the general election. I voted for Cruz in the former and was always going to vote against Clinton (unless the GOP nominated Jeb Bush).

    But Wired didn’t ask me.

    Seeking a pragmatic accommodation on these issues makes sense, but a potentially compromised president who’s willfully blind to Putin’s brutality can’t make these deals.

    That remains to be seen. Trump is the president and that’s not going to change anytime soon. If anything, I think Trump has an advantage in dealing with Putin in that he’s willing to acknowledge the US’s screw ups that have worsened relations with Russia.

    If I thought anything might screw it up, it’s that Trump has been arming Ukraine and killing Russian mercenaries in Syria, among other things. FWIW, I oppose both arming Ukrainians to kill Russians and any US involvement in Syria.

    This assumes there are no other ways of, or reasons for, colluding.

    What other ways? The hacking of the DNC/Podesta is the only known instance where there was a possibility of collusion that included an illegal act.

    Whatever else Trump’s campaign did, you know what it didn’t do? It never hired a foreign spy to interview Russians to build a case to have the US government place the Clinton campaign under intensive surveillance.

    When you consider that, it’s very hard for me or any Trump supporter to care about random meetings with Russians. There could be 2,000 such contacts between Trump associates and Russians and it wouldn’t matter.

    A weak attempt at whataboutism.

    Invoking “whataboutism” is a way of saying, “That comparison is perfectly valid, but it’s unfair to point it out.” Explain to me how it’s any different since you’re so interested in the topic of foreign leaders interfering in the democratic processes of other countries.

    Even now Trump is lying about whether it’s still happening, and Sanders is having to lie about his lying.

    This is the one thing I’d be relishing if I were an anti-Trump guy. Trump is pretty much stuck. If he unquestionably accepts the truth of Russian meddling, then he opens himself up to questions about the degree to which it affected the election (which you’re already doing), has to answer questions about whether he still thinks Mueller’s investigation is a witch hunt, and it does nothing to diminish the bleating about “collusion”. If he denies it, he’s at odds with too many mainstream Republicans.

    You’re justified in being delighted with his problem. I don’t know how he gets out of it. He’s over a barrel. I mean, I know what I would do in his position, but I can never say what he’ll do.

  24. https://www.wired.com/story/did-russia-affect-the-2016-election-its-now-undeniable/

    Good God Almighty…..

    Mueller “indicted” a bunch of Russians knowing full well they would never appear in a US court, so it’s all utterly meaningless. Mueller can concoct whatever “sophisticated” scenarios he can dream up, because he will NEVER have to prove any of it in a court of law. But it is enough for left-wingers to cling to, to “confirm” their “Trump is Illegitimate Hillary Shoulda Won” preconceptions.

    It’s all a load of horseshit, but it’s enough for you, apparently. And Wired, of course.

  25. I’m asking you because I want to know your opinion. What do you think US policy should be toward Russia? To me, it comes down to whether we will stop treating them as an enemy or not. What do you think; that’s what I’m asking.

    The US policy towards Russia should be to continue to try and stop the advancement of illiberal power that is a danger to the stability and security we’ve all largely enjoyed for 70 odd years. Bascially as described in this thread:
    https://twitter.com/ClaireBerlinski/status/1015872007521603585
    No one is suggesting you go to war with Russia, but the actual path to war is to make Putin think there are no consequences for his attacks on the US or your allies until it escalates to a point where action becomes inevitable. You can still seek to work with him on matters of common interest.

    Yet they didn’t find a single person who would be interviewed and say, “Yup, I changed my vote from Clinton to Trump because of a tweet I read from a Russian bot.”

    Of course not, and nobody would expect to. Even if someone did, it would be more likely that they changed from potentially voting Clinton to not voting, or from not voting to voting Trump.

    If you really want to know what helped Trump, speaking as an American who voted in the election, it was probably the endless and free coverage the American media gave him. They should have marginalized him, but they made the entire GOP primary about him and what he was saying.

    But it being all about him and what he was saying should have disqualified him anyway (disqualified meaning, he’ll never get enough support to win). However the usual ‘rules’ don’t apply to Trump.

    Of course, what’s hilarious about this is that it’s exactly what the Clinton campaign wanted them to do.

    Hindsight provides 20/20 vision though. It’s unprecedented that such a person could get away with so many things and still become POTUS.

    But Russians? No, they didn’t influence my vote in either the GOP primary or the general election. I voted for Cruz in the former and was always going to vote against Clinton (unless the GOP nominated Jeb Bush).

    The campaign didn’t advertise itself as being Russian, and you’re only a single data point.

    What other ways? The hacking of the DNC/Podesta is the only known instance where there was a possibility of collusion that included an illegal act.

    Direct agreements through all the various contact.

    Invoking “whataboutism” is a way of saying, “That comparison is perfectly valid, but it’s unfair to point it out.” Explain to me how it’s any different since you’re so interested in the topic of foreign leaders interfering in the democratic processes of other countries.

    Using whataboutism (as you did) is a way of avoiding an inconvenient example of something which doesn’t mesh with your narrative. How does stepping in and intentionally stirring up internal political shit for your closest ally assist with your goals? it certainly assists with Putin’s.

    This is the one thing I’d be relishing if I were an anti-Trump guy. Trump is pretty much stuck. If he unquestionably accepts the truth of Russian meddling, then he opens himself up to questions about the degree to which it affected the election (which you’re already doing), has to answer questions about whether he still thinks Mueller’s investigation is a witch hunt, and it does nothing to diminish the bleating about “collusion”. If he denies it, he’s at odds with too many mainstream Republicans.

    You’re justified in being delighted with his problem. I don’t know how he gets out of it. He’s over a barrel. I mean, I know what I would do in his position, but I can never say what he’ll do.

    But it strengthens the US regardless?
    Thing is, you don’t have to be “an anti-Trump guy” to see this as part of an extremely serious mess (and part of a consistent pattern of messes that fewer and fewer people are bothering to making excuses for). FWIW I’m not delighted at all. Trump seriously fucking up the US and possibly the world by assisting with the breakdown of the Western Alliance gives no pleasure at all. I wish he wouldn’t.

  26. It’s all a load of horseshit

    That’s purely a narrative you can believe in (for some weird reason), but that doesn’t make it true.
    Can you point specifically to which parts of the indictment have been shown to be bogus/bullshit?

  27. I was in Times Square yesterday and saw the beginning of this. It was something special…

    Just when I think I’ve seen it all, liberals are now mad at a president for criticizing the CIA and trying to prevent conflict with another country.

  28. Great feedback, CM. Let me finish up tomorrow’s DJ thread and ruminate on what you said for a bit.

  29. The US policy towards Russia should be to continue to try and stop the advancement of illiberal power that is a danger to the stability and security we’ve all largely enjoyed for 70 odd years.

    I’d agree on stopping Russia’s advancement into, say, Poland. However, why does that also mean that we have to advance our own power into the sphere of influence that they have maintained is their’s since the end of the Cold War?

    You’re saying that we should put up a defensive front against Russia expanding to the West, and I agree with that in theory (I say that because I don’t believe they can go very far in any event) but the US and NATO are not behaving defensively. We’re behaving aggressively.

    The Ukraine crisis was the result of Western meddling. It came from years of pushing to include it in NATO, attempting to pull it into the EU’s economic orbit and away from Russia, and supporting the 2014 coup.

    All of that has made the situation worse and none of it was about stopping Russia’s spread of illiberality. It was about boxing them in and the way they responded should have been predictable.

    Bascially as described in this thread:
    https://twitter.com/ClaireBerlinski/status/1015872007521603585

    Her historical facts are basically accurate, but she’s philosophically wrong.

    The US established its system of alliances, freedom of the seas, and free trade to fight the Cold War. It didn’t even matter if the countries involved were liberal democracies. We recognized that they were too weak to defend themselves against the very militarily powerful Soviet Union and gave them every incentive to work with us, the very economically powerful United States.

    We had to do this and it was recognized by both parties in the US for 45 years because the Soviet Union was ideologically driven to threaten us. They really were interested in worldwide hegemony through the pretense of Communist liberation and they had the military might to do it. They presented an ideological threat and so we made a bunch of agreements with strategically important countries to neutralize them.

    The downside is that we had to fight other people’s stupid wars (Korea, Vietnam) and interfere in countries that we wouldn’t ordinarily have bothered with (Zaire, Greece) and we often made horrible mistakes that we’re still living with (Iran, Afghanistan).

    So here’s my issue. Putin’s Russia isn’t Stalin’s USSR. It’s a shadow of the old Soviet Union’s strength, even in late 80’s. Additionally, Putin’s Russia does not have the ideological drive to threaten the US. We don’t have anything they want and they don’t have any need to destroy us (even if they still have the capability with their nukes). Even better, Europe has a strong economy and plentiful enough population that they could field an army that can easily hold back the Russians.

    There is no longer a threat from Russia, but here’s the kicker: the US is supposed to keep fighting stupid wars, interfering in other countries, and inevitably make horrible misjudgements that blow back on us despite the fact that we derive no benefit from it.

    We still have to overthrow or coddle Middle Eastern dictators so Europe can get oil (we don’t get ours from there). We have to intervene in Syria to stop the flow of refugees to Europe, who keeps accepting them. We have to support coups and arm Ukrainians to kill Russians because Europe wants cheap natural gas and then deal with Russian election interference (which they wouldn’t have reason to do otherwise). We do all of this at tremendous cost in blood and treasure so that Europe can sit around and get fat, dumb, and happy.

    I don’t like it. I don’t see what we get out of it and want it to go away. Berlinski thinks it’s our job to protect and spread democracy, apparently. It isn’t. When we try, it usually ends in disaster whether we’re trying to turn Iraq into a democratic republic that respects minority rights or Afghanistan into a country that respects the rights of women. It’s neither within our power to do nor is it our responsibility.

    No one is suggesting you go to war with Russia, but the actual path to war is to make Putin think there are no consequences for his attacks on the US or your allies until it escalates to a point where action becomes inevitable

    This is half-right. What you’re missing is that Putin would think there would be no consequences for attacking our allies because we’ve made agreements to protect allies that we never should have made in the first place.

    Why did the British get sucked into WW1? Because they had an old security guarantee with Belgium. The Germans marched through Belgium to get to France because they didn’t think the British were stupid or crazy enough to go to war with them over a country that presented no vital interest to their empire. They were wrong. The British were that stupid and crazy and their involvement helped prolong the war and they suffered greatly over it.

    We’re in the same position with Montenegro and other countries. What’s their value to us? None. To Russia? Important but not vital. If Putin makes the calculus that the US won’t really join into a cataclysmic nuclear war with him for the sake of worthless Montenegro, it’s our fault for ever agreeing to fully commit ourselves to its defense.

    The US created the doubt that we would follow through on our obligations the minute we decided to risk everything for a country that provides nothing to us. It doesn’t have anything to do with Trump either. 99% of Americans couldn’t find Montenegro on a map of ex-Yugoslavia. 75% probably couldn’t even tell you which continent it’s on. You think we’d be jazzed about sacrificing our cities on the Eastern seaboard for the sake of Montenegro if Hillary were president? Think again. Putin is fully aware of all of this, of course.

    NATO Is outdated. It no longer serves any purpose and dissolving it would benefit the US more than Russia.

    However the usual ‘rules’ don’t apply to Trump.

    True. His ability to manipulate the media is astonishing.

    The campaign didn’t advertise itself as being Russian, and you’re only a single data point.

    I’m saying I didn’t vote according to anything I read on social media or because of anything that was released in Wikileaks. I had made up my mind to show up and vote for Trump mostly because of the Supreme Court seat, though there were other reasons.

    It’s certainly possible that a lot of potential Democrats didn’t turn out to vote because Wikileaks proved that the primary election was rigged against Sanders, but that was already at least suspected ahead of time. There were already many Democrats who wouldn’t vote for Clinton under any circumstaces. Again, if there are any “data points” who would like to say that they didn’t vote because of what was in the Wikileaks emails, we can discuss how much of that is Russia’s fault and how much is the DNC’s.

    Trump seriously fucking up the US and possibly the world by assisting with the breakdown of the Western Alliance gives no pleasure at all.

    Trump isn’t fucking up the US. It’s fine. It’s almost impossible to fuck us up at this stage of the game. As for the world, it’ll have to manage. Again, running the world and handling its problems isn’t something Americans want to do and aren’t even good at. This would be true no matter who the president is. Obama understood this, Trump believes in it, and his successor won’t question it.

  30. That’s purely a narrative you can believe in (for some weird reason), but that doesn’t make it true.
    Can you point specifically to which parts of the indictment have been shown to be bogus/bullshit?

    It is hard to know where to begin.

    Mueller has absolutely zero jurisdiction over Russian citizens. Zero. He can “indict” them until the end of time, but he cannot force them into a US court of law, and they have no compelling reason to be tried voluntarily. From their perspective, they were just doing their jobs, and their jobs amounted to little more than astroturfing.

    Now, American groups astroturf all the time. People like George Soros spend millions to influence the outcomes of elections, and people like Michael Moore peddle propaganda for a living. I do not believe these activities are illegal.

    Since Russians attempted to hack both Democrat AND Republican computer systems during the campaign, it is hard to claim they were absolutely wanting one or the other candidate to succeed. For all we know, there are factions on the Russian side that have conflicting interests. Maybe some wanted Trump to win, while others may have wanted Clinton to win, which is why both the RNC and DNC were hacked.

    Regardless, the simple fact that “the Russians” spent a lot of money and time on the effort doesn’t automatically mean they had any measurable success. The article pretty much admits that nobody knows whether the efforts had any payoff in terms of changing votes.

    No matter what Mueller “discovered” and no matter what he put in the indictments, there is no reason to expect it will ever go to a trial. The “evidence” won’t be cross-examined. Mueller doesn’t have to prove a damned thing.

    Because of these reasons (and others), Wired’s implied conclusion that “the Russians absolutely influenced the election” is simply not warranted. Mueller is just providing theater to show that he is “doing something”. The fact that he is reduced to “indicting” people over whom he has no jurisdiction pretty much proves that he has nothing. He and Wired are simply advancing the narrative that the election was “stolen” from its rightful heir, Hillary, and handed to Trump on a silver platter.

    The left cling to this narrative because the alternative, that Hillary was a horrible candidate who sucked at campaigning and that the people in flyover country simply didn’t want, is too unpalatable to deal with.

    This is why I call it all horseshit. You can buy into it if you want. From a bonafide Trump-hater, I expect nothing less.

  31. Mueller doesn’t have to prove a damned thing.

    You know why I think the indictments are just for show? They shouldn’t have been made public. The US should’ve kept the indictments sealed, waited for the targets to leave Russia for a country where they could seize them, and then bring them back for trial.

    Publicly announcing the indictments did absolutely no good and it’s as good an indicator as any that Mueller doesn’t actually intend to prosecute them.

  32. Sorry Will, I did read your response but didn’t get a chance to completely absorb it and respond before family life rudely got in the way. Rather than keep this alive I’ll pick it up somewhere else. Cheers.

  33. Although I will say that Russia being weak and no threat to the US makes the possibility that they have blackmail material on Trump MORE likely (as an explanation for all his behavior on Russia, notwithstandingall the campaign contacts), not less.

  34. Sorry Will, I did read your response but didn’t get a chance to completely absorb it and respond before family life rudely got in the way. Rather than keep this alive I’ll pick it up somewhere else. Cheers.

    Understood and appreciated.

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