Tag Archives: Hillary

Clearly You’re New Here

In the latest chapter of America’s Ongoing Struggle to Explain Trump Without Acknowledging its Massive Problems With Racism and Wealth Inequality, we learned that Facebook took $100,000 from shady Russian companies for political ads targeting the US. According to some claims, the ads had a potential audience of 70 million Americans, so theoretically, the Russians might have done more to reach certain voters than the Hillary campaign.

But seriously though, there are some huge problems with this latest bombshell, some of which are addressed in this article in Vanity Fair, which points out:

“The psy ops campaign described by Facebook, however, mostly predates the D.N.C. hack. Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said in a blog post later Wednesday that most of the 3,000 Russian-linked ads it sold between June 2015 and May 2017 didn’t reference the election, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump. The ad buy was also relatively small, relative to the impact of fake news posts and misleading information in the media. Only about one quarter of those were geographically targeted, and of those, more ran in 2015 than 2016. But they wouldn’t have needed voter data to be effective. According to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies, Russia wasn’t initially focused on boosting Trump specifically but rather sowing discord in the early months of the election. That tracks with Stamos’s conclusion that the Russian ad buys “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum.”

There is a much bigger question with this story, however. Speaking about the potential size of the audience is meaningless without looking at what that money actually bought and how effective the ads would be. So what did these Russian buyers get for their money? Here’s a fine example:

hillarysharia

Now if I read my audience correctly, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain that the quote and claim in this meme are obviously false. This thing doesn’t even have a verification code!  But I ask you now- who would be convinced by this thing? More to the point- who among those who at the very least were considering voting for Hillary in 2016 would have been convinced to change their vote or stay home based on seeing something like this on their Facebook feed? If you want to see more, have a look at this gallery of ugliness.

It’s pretty clear that the majority of these “memes” closely resemble the kind of crap your elderly relatives often share, which is the “Web 1.0” equivalent of forwarded chain emails. If you were fortunate enough never to receive one of those, they were typically fake photos or stories about some God-fearing Christian Marine humiliating a pompous atheist professor. These stories, like their social media descendants, are basically designed to confirm conservatives’ worldview. I’ve never heard of someone viewing such material and actually changing their political views based on it. I could see it happening to a younger person just forming their political views, but only after a long period of only consuming this messaging with no alternatives. Otherwise this kind of propaganda wouldn’t convince anyone.

Basically the sensible centrists are acting as if they didn’t know America’s politics have been ridiculously polarized for decades now. They’re acting like it wasn’t just eight years ago when the mainstream conservative media was either implying or explicitly declaring the Democratic president elect to be:

-Not a natural born citizen of the USA, thus ineligible for office.

-An attendee of a madrassa! 

-A Muslim Marxist Fascist who attended a bad Christian church.

-A possible anti-Christ, who was destined to confiscate Americans’ guns, institute socialism, and give away the United States’ sovereignty to the United Nations or some other “New World Order” global government.

Eight years later, Obama hadn’t done any of the things conservatives had been screaming about for years, but do you think that changed their minds? Do you think any of them said “I was so terrified that Obama was going to bring in UN troops and deputized street gangs to come take my guns and send me to a FEMA reeducation camp to turn me into a gay transsexual Muslim, but he didn’t even attempt to do any of that! All that hatred and anxiety for nothing! My face sure is as red as the flag I thought Obama was going to fly over the White House!” Of course nobody said that. They went from “Obama’s going to bring the Marxist Sharia Apocalypse” to “Hillary’s going to bring the Refugee Sharia Apocalypse” without blinking an eye. Hell, they even called Hillary a warmonger. Many of these people are the same folks who would call you a treasonous coward for opposing the Iraq War during the Bush administration, but in 2016 it was fine for them to play Chomsky.

I could go on, but I think this suffices to show how liberals, especially those freaking out about Russian-bought memes, don’t really understand how conservatives think after all these years. Liberals think that most conservatives are just uneducated and unaware of the “facts.” If someone just provided them with facts instead of right-wing memes, they’d see that Hillary is the obvious choice, and the Democratic establishment is totally right when it comes to policy and the party needs no significant changes. But alas, Russia added to the already bloated supply of right-wing memes and thus these people voted for Trump.

In reality, even if Facebook had cut these people off from nearly all their sources of “fake news,” whether domestically-produced or imported from Russia, these people would most likely not have been swayed toward Hillary. They would just use some other medium with which to share their “memes.” These people get a high out of hating “liberals” and “leftists,” by which I mean the caricature of those types they have in their heads. Facts are not going to sway them, because if they accept a fact that contradicts their belief, that forces them to acknowledge that the pansy-ass, latte-drinking, elitist, Social Justice Warrior Cultural Marxist beta cuck was right, and they were wrong. If you believed that such people imperil “Western civilization,” which you think you’re trying to preserve, would you agree with them? Would you admit your mistake and apologize? Of course not- this is war.

Liberals simply can’t understand this because they can’t imagine how anyone could ever believe such things. They must be duped, confused, or stupid. For them, the age of ideology ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and what triumphed is a system that’s based on cold hard facts, data, and GDP growth. Sure, some people get screwed or killed by the thousands in this system, but we’re making omelettes here. This isn’t to say that the bizarre beliefs Trump supporters have are correct or even that they’re not incredibly stupid. But it’s a lot easier to woo people to your side when you tell people you care about them and their plight, that you’ll be their voice, than it is when your message is basically “drop all your expectations; the best you can ever hope for is extremely modest, incremental change over a period of many years.” In a sense, the liberal centrists’ “moderate” or “realistic” worldview can be just as delusional and inaccurate as the Trumpling’s belief that building a wall will restore America to full-employment. Apart from understanding why Americans won’t be swayed by “the facts,” the liberals ought to ask themselves why so many Americans have become so cynical and mistrustful of the media that they would find the most ridiculous conspiracy theories plausible.

Without being able to answer or even understand that question, the Democratic party elite comes off even worse, because the implication is that a massive amount of Democratic voters or at least Democratic-leaning voters changed their votes to an extremely repulsive candidate simply because they saw some Russian made memes with over-the-top, racist rhetoric. In reality the Russians just created more of something that had already been there- right-wing propaganda. There’s zero reason to think it was any more effective than the already-massive right-wing media machine that has existed for nearly three decades now. Even the messages the Russians used were just ripped off from already existing right-wing talking points. I could write another dozen pages on how idiotic this whole affair is, but I doubt it would help. These days questioning the efficacy of Russian attempts to influence the US election is automatically equated with denying that they interfered at all. Saying the Russia doesn’t do things one way is similarly equated with saying “Russia isn’t a threat.”

Sure, Russia intervened in the election and it does pose a threat (though the threat it poses to the US is far less than to Ukraine or Georgia), but this isn’t cause for America’s self-professed leaders to start acting like America’s politics haven’t become incredibly polarized and radicalized in the past decade or so. And speaking of which, do these geniuses truly believe that things would have been much better on that front had Hillary won? The whole point of Russian interference was to put the legitimacy of her victory under suspicion, and Trump himself was telling his rabid supporters the election would be “rigged.” If you’re not busy pretending you can’t remember the past eight years, think about how the right reacted to Obama’s victory in 2008 and then imagine how they’d react to a Hillary victory in 2016 after the DNC email leak plus the Orange Loser screaming about three million illegal votes. Then again, I can understand why many Hillary supporters can’t imagine the bloodshed and domestic terrorism that would result, seeing as how some of the same people were seriously advocating that the electors give their votes to Hillary instead of Trump.

At the end of the day, folks are missing the lessons of this whole Facebook ad scandal. The first is yet another lesson about the danger of money in politics. Prior to this election, there was a lot of talk about the so-called Citizens United ruling, which prohibited many restrictions on political ads and led to the creation of Super PACs, which might have a bit more sway over American elections than a St. Petersburg troll factory.  Now, however, we’re talking about Facebook taking $100,000 from Russia- and nobody else it seems.

The other takeaway is that the Russians were able to find an audience in the US because they learned how to talk like all the other angry conservatives. They saw an opening and they charged through it. America’s immune system is weak after decades of bad domestic and foreign policy, and it shows in both spheres. How do you build up that immunity again? You do it by focusing on the American people instead of whining about how your precious “qualified” candidate didn’t win. You need to present a better vision of the future and when you manage to get any power at all, you need to work towards that goal and produce concrete results. Or you can go on blaming a foreign government for your failures, and start advocating for restrictive laws that could just as easily hurt or otherwise restrict American citizens. And then you will have fulfilled the message of Putin and his state media- you’ll have made America like his Russia.

Advertisements

Brainstorming session

Although the article that inspired this post came out late last week, it’s rather appropriate that I’m writing it on 12 September. Before I give you the link (rejoice, Russophiles, for it is an Applebaum piece), let me set the context by taking us back to the months following 9/11. Insofar as I had access to TV at the time, it seemed a great deal of coverage was dedicated to brainstorming all the different ways terrorists could kill Americans in the US. It was as if they went to action screenwriters for expert opinions on terrorist tactics.

To be sure, the terrorists did get a bit creative around that time. After using planes as missiles, there was the infamous “shoe bomber,” for example. The anthrax letters turned out to be unrelated to Al Qaeda, but this wouldn’t become known until much later. Still, there were times when it seemed like they were just winging it in order to fill gaps in the news cycle. One example I remember was the “threat” of terrorists using emergency services vehicles in order to carry out their attacks a la Die Hard With a Vengeance. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 contains a short montage of news stories warning about exotic threats such as poison pen guns and model airplanes laden with explosives. It’s not that any of these threats were inconceivable, but they were just as possible before 9/11 as after.

This brings us to Applebaum, who apparently phoned in a piece about all the terrible things big bad Russia could do to upset or manipulate the US presidential election. At first I was thinking of answering it point-by-point, but really many of the claims are overlapping and thus I thought would be better to answer the main thrust of the piece. In general, everything centers around attempts to put the legitimacy of the US election in question via propaganda and/or hacking.

applebaum

Before I take on the article I must admit that I’m just a bit disappointed in the media establishment as of late. Just earlier last week we had open mic at Foreign Policy, and here we have an award-winning journalist who is taken very seriously in political circles introducing a piece by saying “Yes, I know it sounds insane.” And as for “If the USA were Ukraine,” well, I think this Italian chef put it best:

 

Alright enough joking around. So in case you still haven’t read the short article, Applebaum lists a number of ways Russia could try to sabotage the election so as to make it seem illegitimate, thus leading to a propaganda coup and perhaps extreme anger from one half of the population. Let’s get one thing clear, the idea that the Kremlin is trying to have an influence on the US election is very believable. The problem is how much of an influence they can actually have. The truth is that when it comes to Trump’s base, the Kremlin’s hackers and propagandists need not lift a finger nor utter a word for those angry people to declare the election rigged or illegitimate should their candidate lose in November. Trump himself already raised the idea that the election might be rigged weeks ago. If you think these people need Russia’s help to come up with a conspiracy that explains why they and their candidate failed, you simply don’t know these people, and you might be grossly out of touch with American political reality.

Once again I think we should back up again, back to 2000 in this case. When most people think of the stealing of the 2000 election, they think of George W. Bush and the Supreme Court’s decision that effectively made him president. However, if you were on the conservative side in those days, as I was, there were accusations that Gore was trying to steal the election as well. As I remember it, the accusation you’d hear from other Republicans was that Gore wanted to recount and recount until he won. Both before and after that election you’d hear rumors about illegal aliens being organized to vote Democrat, and I guarantee you’ll hear it come this election. Where was RT back then? Where was Sputnik News? How did AM radio hosts and ordinary conservatives come up with these conspiracy theories without Putin to help them?

Now for the biggest rebuttal, let’s look at the last administration and the so-called “Birthers.” I have a step-father who most likely went to his grave sincerely believing that Barack Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya, and by virtue of the latter illegitimate. Anyone who remembers the Birther movement knows that a number of its leaders attempted to file lawsuits essentially arguing that Barack Obama was not the the legitimate president of the United States. To my knowledge, every such suit has been thrown out of court. This means that anyone still believing that Barack Obama is not a natural born US citizen eligible to serve in the office of the president implicitly believes that for the past eight years the presidential administration has been legitimate even if it was legally elected, and what is more, the entire court system is almost certainly corrupt and thus illegitimate. Did anyone need RT to come up with that? My late step-father had probably never heard of RT.

The point I’m getting at here is that when you’re talking about Trump’s base and the far right, you don’t need any kind of special action to get them to dispute the legitimacy of an election that doesn’t go their way. These are people who already “know” what really happened, and all the Youtube videos or viral links they share thereafter to support their claims are just justification after the fact. Just take a look at how such people react whenever there’s a terrorist attack or mass shooting, for example. Typically they’ve already declared it to be a “false flag” carried out by the US government long before the blood has even dried. Media erroneously reports something in the first few minutes of the event? False flag! A person in the background of a photo doesn’t “look right?” False flag! In short, these people don’t really place a high value on concrete evidence and critical thinking, and as such, they don’t need any kind of Russian manipulation to make them question the legitimacy of the presidential election should they lose. If Zimbabwe had an English-language news service promotig a story about Hillary rigging the vote, they’d snatch that right up and have it on their news feed in seconds.

It’s here that I get to my main problem with this piece by Applebaum, or at least the problem apart from the fact that it looks as though the thought process behind it went something like: “Dammit! I’ve got to publish another article this week about how Russia’s going to screw us.” In a word, the problem is projection.

I, like most people used to think that psychological projection just means that you constantly accuse others of doing what you actually do, as if you’re the Russian foreign minister. As it turns out, it’s not quite that. In layman’s terms, it’s basically a way of coping with uncomfortable impulses or thoughts by denying them and instead attributing them to others.

You can see this in Russia in the statements and behavior of certain government officials and celebrities. They insist that Russia has this other civilization, a true European civilization, which embodies Christian traditional values and morals unlike the decadent, decaying West that always seems to have higher standards of living and more stability for some unknown reason. But when you observe Russian society as it is, it’s clear that this idea is laughably false. It’s not that Russia is actually worse or more immoral than many other countries out there (once we exclude the activities of the government and its bureaucracy), it’s just that Russians are basically like everyone else in the world. They sometimes get drunk and act stupid in public just like American college students (I must say Russians are a lot cooler about this than Americans). They like porn. They can be consumerists and put crass materialism ahead of higher values. But when confronted with the fact that Russia is by no means morally superior to other developed countries, the self-proclaimed patriots always have an excuse- these things exist in Russia because of the West. The West makes girls want to learn to twerk and it makes boys hungry or internet porn. To be sure, many fashion trends or ideas have spread into Russia from the West and other countries, but the fact is that if Russians were truly a civilization with higher morals and an inherent aversion to such “degeneracy,” these things wouldn’t take hold in Russian society; they’d be rejected. More importantly, they wouldn’t need laws or groups of violent thugs to suppress them or weed them out. Russia is what Russia does, not what some jackass in the Ministry of Culture or the State Duma imagines it is.

Now brace yourself, readers- the same thing I just wrote about projection in Russia also applies to the United States. Ever since political pundits and policy wonks suddenly woke up to the fact that there are these Russian foreign language news outlets, they seem to have become very eager to offload responsibility for our own political dumpster fire on the Russian propaganda apparatus. Here’s a tip, my punditchiki. See all those fringe guests they have on RT and Sputnik News? They’re Americans and other Westerners. Many of them have been peddling their conspiracy theories for decades. Alex Jones started his empire of conspiratorial bullshit circa 1996, four years before Putin became president of Russia. Oliver Stone’s conspiracy film JFK was released literally weeks after the Soviet Union fell. In case you haven’t heard, there’s been something of a conspiratorial streak in American society for some time now. One fellow even called it a “paranoid style.” In 1964.

I could go on for pages and pages about how the American establishment lovingly tilled the soil and made it fertile ground for right-wing extremism, but for now I’ll keep it brief. Russia didn’t inflict Trump on us. Russia didn’t create our far right. They’re not the reason why, should Hillary win, millions of perpetually enraged Americans will be screaming about rigged voting and possibly expressing their fury through violence. This cancer on American society was one of the few things the post-industrial United States manufactured entirely on its own.

The deregulation of media made it possible for one viewpoint to dominate the AM band. Conspiracy theories started to become mainstream. During the Bush administration it became acceptable political discourse to accuse dissenters of treason. From 2008 onward we saw a return of incoherent, nonsensical red-baiting that would make Joseph McCarthy cringe. In a sense, a large part of America, as much on the left as the right in some cases, has decided that reality simply does not matter. People make their own realities. All the while the establishment either did nothing to combat this trend, or at times they encouraged it because it was politically expedient. Trump, the “alt-right,” the neo-Nazis coming out into the mainstream spotlight- they’re all just the natural consequence of a society that puts the profits and power of its top elite ahead of public good and the mental health of society.

In this sense, there is nothing Russia can do to American politics that Americans haven’t done better. All the Kremlin is doing is gathering up our garbage and dumping it back through our kitchen window. When you start engaging in projection and blaming other countries for your problems, you’re on your way to Putopia.  I’m sorry, DC pundits, but Trump and his movement are an American mess, and Americans have to deal with it.

And Anne, if you need more ideas for columns just let me know. There’s always a story about someone saying something positive about Stalin somewhere in Russia, or something equally “ominous” to warn Western leaders about.

They pull me back in…

Alright I know I kind of made a promise to stop writing about the Trumputin affair, but now that reasonable voices are starting to rein in some of the recent hysteria, and as the goals of the Kremlin become clearer (HINT: It’s more about screwing Hillary than supporting Trump), an interesting picture is starting to emerge.

Trump may have royally screwed up. Possibly due to his advisers’ connections in Moscow and his all too predictable say-the-opposite-of-whatever-the-perceived-establishment-does style of speaking, it’s beginning to look like he may have made a grave miscalculation as to his base and their influence.

When we think of Trump’s base, we often look at the most extreme examples such as the ultra-edgy “alt-right”and the neo-Nazis. This is where you’re most likely to find the anti-American Putin fanboys. They’re seriously alienated by American society and they have bought into the fantasy that Russia somehow embodies the kind of society or values they hold. Trump’s problem is that this demographic, while loud and obnoxious, is rather tiny and holds little sway in politics.

A much larger portion of Trump’s base obviously consists of the more mainstream Republican party base, and this is where the problem lies. These people support Trump because he talks like the pundits they listen to on the radio; he talks tough and shoots from the hip (incidentally this is the worst way to shoot in case you didn’t know). He says he’ll be tough on immigration, stop Muslims from getting into the country, bomb Muslims abroad, and punish the Chinese. This is going to make America “great” again, because it’s apparently less than great at the moment.

It is here that we get to the crux of that problem. That base, the bulk of conservative voters, simply don’t go for the whole “screw America, hooray for Putin” rhetoric. Many of these people still see Russia as the “Cawmyoonist” Soviet Union, headed by an anti-American KGB “agent.” These are people who got pissed about Obama “apologizing” for America in Cairo, and bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. Hell, those people see Obama as a Marxist agent intent on destroying America. If Obama’s a Marxist and you don’t know that the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, you’re probably not going to be too happy about Trump’s sucking up to the Russians, however superficial it may be.

What is more, Trump has increasingly been portraying himself as the opposite of a “hawk,” but he’s really in the wrong party for that. I don’t want to sound like Sean Hannity here, but speaking as a leftist myself I know that if you want to be genuinely anti-war and stick up for foreign governments over the American government, you’ll find more support on the left. That speaks very poorly for the state of the modern left these days, but it is a fact. By contrast, the vast majority of conservative voters don’t see anything wrong with hawkishness. That’s what makes America great- bombing the shit out of everyone because they failed to recognize that America is America and they didn’t America properly when America told them to America right for the last goddamned American time. They complain about wars when Democrats are leading them, but more often than not they charge them with being too soft, too cautious, too weak.

inyelling

“Why yes, I’d love to have a conversation about how Russia is actually better than America, the anti-Israel Ay-rab Assad is a good guy, Iran is cool because Russia likes them, and Hezbollah is not a terrorist group.”

It’s really starting to look like Trump has fallen into a trap, an outgrowth of the feedback loop between his anti-establishment pro-Russia statements and Russia’s pro-Trump propaganda. This short interview transcript I just picked up off Twitter seems to give us a very vivid image of His Royal Orangeness painting himself into a corner. And what is more, he seems to realize it:

trumpinterview

You see that? That’s Trump furiously attempting damage control, trying to balance the pro-Putin stuff that appeals to a loud but tiny part of his base with the typical hawkish tough talk that the much larger base expects and demands. The Russians don’t respect Obama? So how are you going to earn their respect, Donnie? Are you going to earn their respect by caving into their every demand? If so then who next, Agent Orange? The Chinese? ISIS? Mexico?  Yes, Orange Julius, you’re going to have to use military force to get that respect, aren’t you? But keep it a “secret” because you don’t want to upset several thousand internet-bound alt-right nerds who fap to photos of Putin and dream of one day moving to Russia to marry a demure, submissive blonde virgin with supermodel looks, excellent cooking skills, and a total lack of self-esteem, dignity, and personal goals. Yes, Mr. Tangerine, you don’t want to lose their vote!

The Russians who think highly of Trump had also better reevaluate their best buddy based on this. Assuming he’s not a total coward who has no intention of backing up any of his showmanship, Trump is probably more likely to start a conflict with Russia, and for the stupidest reason. It may be because “Russia is threatening our strategic mayonnaise reserves.” More likely it will start around 9 May, the reason being that Russia celebrates the victory of the Red Army instead of acknowledging the “true winner of World War II, who is Ronald Reagan, of course.” Oh my little vatniki, won’t you feel stupid then?

Granted, a lot of this is admittedly speculation on my part, based on my own personal experience and knowledge of the American far right and Putinophilia. I’m sure many of those people hate Hillary Clinton so much they’ll swallow their disgust and vote for Trump. Many conservative voters, like most Americans, don’t care about Russia or Putin; those folks may still vote for Trump. But I think there’s bound to be a significant, possibly rising number of Republicans who may turn against Trump or fail to turn up for him on that fateful day in November. They will be those who supported other candidates in the primaries, people who have value conflicts with Trump, and yes, some might see him as “soft on the Reds.” After all, you don’t spend nearly eight years standing around in public dressed as an 18th century Bostonite and screaming “COMMIE! COMMIE! COMMIE!” just to elect a guy who says the “KGB agent” in Moscow is a pretty swell guy. Do I need to bring up the reaction to Obama telling Medvedev he could be more “flexible” after the 2012 election again?

The funniest thing about all this is that as it starts to shape up, it’s all too Kremlin-y, from both sides. Trump is a man unconcerned with reality and the consequences of his words and deeds. Ditto on the Kremlin. They both decide they want something and the world is however they see it. Then they inevitably bite off way more than they can chew and and their desperate, ever-changing denials end up making them into a laughing stock. Trump takes the anti-establishment image to a place where many conservatives won’t follow. As such, he may cost himself the election as a result (let’s hope). The Kremlin, motivated largely by a petty grudge with Hillary Clinton, hilariously finds itself hemmed in by America’s two-party system as it expresses support for a guy who says he’ll shoot down their planes. It’s a tragic comedy practically begging to be made into a screenplay.

 

Trump & Putin: Final Summary

As you might have imagined, I’m getting real sick of writing about the supposed Trump/Putin love affair. The Hillary campaign is making it such a focal point that I’m starting to come off as a Trump supporter to those whose brains cannot function beyond 140 characters. As such, I’m going to wrap this up so I can say I put the information out there while Hillary’s campaign made a conscious decision to give this election to an orange abomination.

Yes, I said she’s handing him the election. If this race has taught us anything so far, it’s that Trump’s tactics have been effective. Trump spends virtually all his time talking about domestic issues. This is kind of important in a country where a significant portion of the population has never even had a passport. Regardless of how you feel about documentary producer Michael Moore, at least read point one in this article of his and tell me if you honestly think that the rust belt voters Trump’s concentrating on give two shits about Russia and the Baltic NATO members.

Sure, there was a Democratic candidate who talked about issues which were important to such people, and without attributing the problems they face to Mexicans and Muslims. We had such a candidate, but the geniuses within the Democratic party considered pro-worker politics to be the utopian pipe-dream of aging hippies and naive young people. They knew what’s best for us, which of course is more of the same. Oblivious to the world outside of their clique, they are quite possibly driving their own campaign off a cliff, and the worst thing about it is that after they hand Trump a victory they’ll naturally blame everybody but themselves. “It couldn’t have been our fault! We all have advanced degrees in political science and marketing! It must be those stupid rednecks and unrealistic radicals voting for Jill Stein! It was Putin! Nothing is ever our fault!”

I am so fatigued by all this that I’m going to do two things here. First I provide the reader with a list of all the articles where I have written about Trump’s alleged Kremlin connections and why they are not what people seem. Thereafter I shall provide some final insight with a plea for people to use critical thinking and perhaps urge the Democrats to return the focus of their campaign to domestic issues so as to have a chance against Trump this November.

Trumpapalooza

STOP…DOING…THIS…NOW!

One-Trick Ponies

Not Gonna Happen

Now onto some of the key arguments about Trump and Putin. Some of these were covered in detail in the links above, but I guess some people need them broken down even further. This is as simple as I can explain it without the use of puppet theater.

But Trump said he wouldn’t honor NATO’s Article 5!

No, actually he didn’t say that. What he said was characteristically stupid, but just look at his statement through the lens of things he’s said in the past whenever he’s asked a question about something he knows nothing about (in other words most topics). They ask if Trump will honor obligations to dirty foreigners with strange names, and Trump says he’ll do so if they honor their obligations to America, the country beset upon by parasites the world over. That’s the gist of the worldview there. That’s what he was expressing.

Trump said nice things about Putin! 

Yes he’s said things about building a wall, making Mexico pay for it, and of course he’s going to make US military personnel commit war crimes and they won’t refuse. I’ve said before that Trump’s praise for Putin is part of a strategy, part of his character. Both Trump and the Kremlin choose whatever position is seen as the opposite of the “establishment.” If Hillary had made the foreign policy side of her campaign about the so-called “reset” and called for better relations with Russia, Trump would go after her as a quisling of the “Commies.” Keep in mind this guy heads a party with a significant amount of voters who believe that Russia is still “Communist.” Some don’t know that the Soviet Union hasn’t existed since 1991. There was football on, dammit!

People keep focusing on the friendly things Trump says about Putin, while ignoring the negative things he’s said about Russia. In the article above entitled “Not Gonna Happen,” we see a Trump ad that clearly casts Russia and Putin as America’s enemy, on par with ISIS. The message is that Hillary is weak, so America’s “enemies” will laugh at her.

This isn’t the only example. Trump said the US should shoot down Russian planes if diplomacy fails. Here are the key excerpts:

“It just shows how low we’ve gone where they can toy with us like that,” Trump said, describing such scenarios as “terrible.” He insisted that the problem is Russia’s lack of respect for U.S. President Barack Obama.”

See? The problem is that Russia doesn’t respect (i.e. fear in Trump’s mind) America and it’s Obama’s fault. So what do you do?

“Normally, an Obama—let’s say a president, because you want to make at least a call or two—but normally Obama would call up Putin and say, ‘Listen, do us a favor, don’t do that, get that maniac, just stop it.’ But we don’t have that kind of a president. He’s gonna be out playing golf or something,” Trump said. “But I don’t know, at a certain point, you can’t take it.” (emphasis mine)

See that? You “can’t take it.” You can’t back down. This is the underlying foundation of the worldview Trump is appealing to. America is weak; make it great again. As such, the idea that Trump would actually put up with Russia’s trolling is ludicrous. If anything, Trump would inevitably turn more hawkish toward Russia than Hillary ever would, and if the Kremlin hacks believe otherwise they clearly don’t understand the mentality Trump is tapping into.

Okay but what about Ukraine? Trump has actually removed support for Ukraine from the GOP party platform!

As troubling as this is, what exactly has the Obama administration been doing to truly support Ukraine? For the most part they’ve been sending old equipment they no longer want and non-lethal aid. Democrats have been just as if not more worried about “escalation” of the conflict by providing Ukraine or even letting Ukraine buy higher-quality weapons. Meanwhile Russia’s clearly not concerned about escalation as their proxies in the Donbas routinely launch dozens of attacks on Ukrainian positions, killing and wounding Ukrainian servicemen on an almost daily basis. Let’s also not forget that Russia had to accidentally shoot down a passenger liner full of 298 civilians for the US and EU to step up and slap Russia with some real sanctions, and since then all the talk is about when the sanctions will be removed or weakened- nothing about additional sanctions.

Has Hillary said anything at all that would give us reason to believe that her behavior on this matter will be significantly different in any way? I don’t think so. Knowing the Kremlin’s propensity toward holding grudges over the smallest slight, their support for Trump could be little more than “revenge” on Hillary for the time they accused her of meddling in their “election.”

And speaking of Hillary’s relationship with Russia…

Trump has business interests in Russia! 

Yes, as do many other Americans, including those who support Hillary. Goldman Sachs, for example. In fact, Hillary herself has done a bit of business with Russia. The “Manchurian candidate” crowd also forgets that John McCain’s campaign manager in 2008 was Rick Davis of Davis-Manafort. Yeah…That Manafort. One of Romney’s top campaign advisers was also a lobbyist for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

Basically what’s going on here with talking points and connections is an example of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. Everyone is scrambling to find evidence to confirm the Trump-as-Putin’s proxy hypothesis that they’re ignoring contrary evidence on one hand, and on the other hand ignoring all the other business that American companies are doing with Russia in spite of the sanctions. Perhaps it’s comforting to some to believe that it’s just Trump doing business with dictators.

Are you denying that Russia is trying to influence the election?

No, they almost certainly are. But how effective their efforts will be really depends on the reaction from the Democrats. First on the matter of the emails- while they don’t contain anything terribly scandalous, the fact is that they were written. They might have been exposed by dirty means, but that does not make them squeaky clean themselves. The Democrats chose to favor someone with a poor reputation amid voters, someone who comes off as feeling entitled to the presidency and who does not feel accountable for her actions. Now they are choosing to make this election about Russia and Putin instead of pressing domestic issues. Russia can’t make them lose the election; only they can do that.

And that seems to be what they’re doing. In the wake of the email attack, the best response would have been to publicly say something like: “Awww isn’t that cute? They think they’re a superpower!” Then move on. Get back on message. The Kremlin relies on being seen as more powerful, more dangerous than it is. The only tactics it has against the vastly superior forces opposing it are passive-aggressive trolling, hysterical ranting about WWII and nuclear weapons, and pathetic stunts like this email hack. They want attention, they want to be seen as a great power, and nothing makes them angrier than aiming a salvo right at their raging inferiority complex. Conversely, panicking and acting as though Putin is secretly manipulating the US is something that will make every Kremlin propagandist positively orgasmic.

I suspect this advice will fall on deaf ears though. We’re not talking about a campaign that is known for accountability, and more importantly, focusing on Putin and foreign policy is a great way to distract from the fact that Clinton has no plan for America. The best reason to vote for her is that she is not Trump, period.