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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
Number of posts: 9,778

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WaPo: Vladimir Putin's virus How the Russian president has infected our national trust


Such a good analysis. Hope many of you can read it.

The president of the United States fires his director of national intelligence after aides brief a congressional committee on new Russian efforts to interfere in the 2020 election. His acting replacement is a man whose main qualification appears to be his skepticism that Russia is meddling in our politics at all. Meanwhile, intelligence officials tell Sen. Bernie Sanders, the leading candidate to unseat the president, that Russian bots have infiltrated his online army to sow discord in the Democratic Party. They say the goal is to help Sanders, but Sanders thinks it is a leak designed to hurt him.

It’s ironic that Americans of all political stripes have contributed to Putin’s success — by failing to understand what he wants and why he wants it. His goals are not the goals of the former Soviet Union (though he has described the collapse of the U.S.S.R. as a “disaster”). During the Cold War, the Kremlin pursued the spread of communist ideology. Putin is nonideological, according to former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, now of Stanford University and a Post contributing columnist. “I see him as impulsive, emotional, opportunistic. Putin sees himself as the last great nationalist, anti-globalist leader.”

Putin’s rise through the chaos of the post-Soviet period had left him convinced that Western-style capitalism, unrestrained by a centralized controlling authority, was incompatible with Russian greatness. And to be fair, the United States and its Western allies had not done enough to help the Russians build a market economy. Though Americans helped design the stock exchange and other elements of the post-Soviet economy, the state-owned industries that made up the backbone of the old system were swiftly privatized in a frenzy of corruption and opportunism.

Since then, Putin has transformed the anarchic plunder of the 1990s into a centralized structure of state-approved oligarchs, with himself at the top of the pyramid. Putin is believed to be among the richest people on Earth — impressive for a man who has worked his whole life for the government. His palace on the Black Sea was built on a reported $1 billion budget, and that’s just one of his many palaces and retreats.

Agree with Mr. Ected (above) but for a different reason - Unitary Executive

As this is proceeding the Executive Branch will have all powers and will remain in the hands of the current peeResident and whoever else is anointed by the master.

Congress (especially the Senate) is performing a self-emasculation. All of the (r)epuglicons have a higher master also with bigger paychecks than those supplied by their US voting constituents. In other words the (r)'s don't give-a-shit what happens any more.

The remaining branch (judicial) needs teeth to enact their findings - assuming some may be against the executive. They have no power, only opinions.

The remaining power lies directly with the people, perhaps the states.

Toensing and hubby diGenova have always been (r)atfuckers.

Sorry to report that they made a nest in Vermont for a while.

Hope they get taken down along with the (r)est of the mob.


Wow! Thanks so much for that personal account. Too bad you/we have to battle with the stoopids

and the ones who won't/can't believe that what they've bought into is false.

We're seeing that ratcheted up much further now, I think.

Strange that nobody talks about the US taking out Mussadegh or other foreign gov't officials

We've always acted in only our own best interests, in a limited time-frame and with almost no understanding of cascading events.

We seem to have inherited this stupidity and blindness from the British colonial empire as well as other wannabe european ones.

We are doomed to repeat history.

We are doomed to similar failures.

"The tip of the iceberg", which itself is just one of many

Emma Briant, an academic at Bard College, New York, who specialises in investigating propaganda and has had access to some of the documents for research, said that what had been revealed was “the tip of the iceberg”.

Even thought this CA set of operations were exposed, I'm sure there were many more within CA that have quietly moved elsewhere.

And I'm sure that there are many more CAs. This line-of-business has always been very attractive. White-collar, no heavy capital investment, trading on knowledge, rarely need to get your knuckles bloody.

Agree: dump has rid himself of "adults. Disagree: dump is being played by others

There is a disease afoot that is hollowing out the ability of the US government to make rational decisions.

dump is just a figurehead. Lindsay is a pawn as are most of the (r)epuglicons.

The pathogen may be foreign or US or both. But the pathogen wants this country to die.

Dave Barry's Year in Review: 2019 was an 'eventful' -- bad -- year


An egregious example of "both-siderism". I'm surprised, coming from Barry.

It was an extremely eventful year.

We are using “eventful” in the sense of “bad.”

It was a year so eventful that every time another asteroid whizzed past the Earth, barely avoiding a collision that would have destroyed human civilization, we were not 100 percent certain it was good news.

We could not keep up with all the eventfulness. Every day, we’d wake up to learn that some new shocking alleged thing had allegedly happened, and before we had time to think about it, the political-media complex, always in Outrage Condition Red, would explode in righteous fury, with Side A and Side B hurling increasingly nasty accusations at each other and devoting immense energy to thinking up ways to totally DESTROY the other side on Twitter, a medium that has the magical power to transform everything it touches, no matter how stupid it is, into something even stupider.

FACT: This year O.J. Simpson got a Twitter account, and the reaction of nearly a million people was: “What? The attention-seeking psychopath who got away with murdering two innocent people wants followers? Count me in!”

Speaking of attention-seeking psychopaths: The epicenter of the year’s eventfulness was of course Washington, D.C., an endlessly erupting scandal volcano, belching out dense swirling smoke-plumes of spin, rumor, innuendo, misdirection and lies emitted by both sides, A and B — or, if you prefer, B and A — filling the air with vicious rhetoric, always delivered with the pious insistence that OUR side, unlike the OTHER side, is motivated not by ego, power-lust, greed or hatred, but by a selfless desire to Work For The American People.

Meanwhile, from out beyond the Beltway, the actual American people warily watched the perpetual tantrum that was supposed to be their government. And more and more their reaction, whatever side they considered themselves to be on, was: Nah.

Excellent post by Heather Cox Richardson: Chuck Todd, Turley on impeachment, media / disinformation


Today began and ended with Trump melting down. This morning, after a silence during the holidays, he came out swinging at the Democrats generally, and at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi specifically. Then this evening, apparently against the advice of his lawyer, he retweeted a story that named someone claimed to be the whistleblower, a person who currently has a security detail for protection, not in a foreign war zone, but in our own nation’s capital.

It seems clear that Trump cannot bear that Pelosi—whom he is calling “Crazy Nancy”-- is not rushing to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate for a trial… a trial that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already promised will exonerate Trump. It is worth noting that it has been only a week since the House passed the articles of impeachment, and we have had major religious holidays in that time, and yet Trump is obviously angry and desperate for movement on impeachment. But he’s got to wait even longer. The House will not be in session again until January 7—twelve days from now—and the Senate calendar for January is still in flux.

In other impeachment news, you will recall that Noah Feldman, the Harvard Law Professor who testified before the House Judiciary Committee in favor of impeachment, wrote an op-ed last week saying that Trump was not officially impeached until the House sent the articles of impeachment over to the Senate. Trump jumped on this idea, and has been saying that he is not really impeached. Today one of the other law professors who testified, George Washington University’s Jonathan Turley, who was called by the Republicans and was opposed to impeachment, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled “I testified against Trump’s impeachment. But let’s not pretend it didn’t happen.” The title pretty much sums it up. As Turley concluded: “The House speaks in its own voice and in its own time. It did so on Dec. 18, 2019.”

For all the drama of these two stories, I have been more interested in what feels to me like a changing trend: it appears that media is finally recognizing that it cannot simply report “both sides” of the news as if they are equally valid when one side is lying. On the evening of December 24, Rolling Stone magazine published a short interview with Chuck Todd, an NBC journalist who moderates Meet the Press and who is the Political Director for NBC News. On December 29, Meet the Press is doing a show on disinformation and how it is weaponized, and this interview was a teaser.

It's really important to understand that “misinformation” and “disinformation” are different things. “Misinformation” is bad information caused by errors-- someone makes a mistake. “Disinformation,” though, is deliberately false information intended to manipulate public opinion. Another word for disinformation is propaganda.

In the interview, Todd laments that he has been “absurdly naïve.” Right up until he had Senator Cruz on his show recently and Cruz echoed Russian propaganda, Todd apparently believed that the Republicans were acting in good faith when they talked to the media. Todd says he was “stunned” by Cruz’s embrace of Russian disinformation, especially since he was the third senator to do exactly that on the show. Cruz had asked to come on, and Todd thought that since Cruz had always been a Russia hawk, he wanted to set the record straight. When, instead, he followed the party line, Todd finally got it: Trump Republicans are using the media to spread propaganda.

Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, responded to this revelation by pointing out that it was on Todd’s own show in January 2017 that Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway launched the concept of the administrations lies simply being based on “alternative facts.” But, Rosen writes, media leaders nonetheless treated officials’ lies as hyperbole, just Trump and his spokespeople being ridiculous.

The upshot is that, three years later, Trump’s base is divorced from reality, while other Americans are so tired from incessant gas lighting we have lost faith that we can still perceive reality. This is why gaslighting is effective propaganda: having lost confidence in their own perceptions, people are so eager for peace they are willing to accept a strong leader who will promise to create stability.

I’m with Rosen on this. There is no excuse for such “naivete” on Todd’s part. He’s the Political Director for NBC News, after all, and should have had a better handle on the well-known methods at play here.

Even more, it has been very clear that today’s Republican Party has risen to power by rejecting facts and creating its own reality. After World War Two, Republicans and Democrats both shared a belief that the government had a role to play in regulating the economy, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure. Indeed, that belief about government was so widely embraced it became known as the “liberal consensus.”

In 1951, William F. Buckley, Jr., fresh out of college, wrote a book attacking that consensus by attacking fact-based argument. In God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of “Academic Freedom,” Buckley said that trying to reach the truth by constructing arguments out of facts—the premise of the Enlightenment-- was a worse superstition than the Dark Age traditions the Enlightenment tried to root out. When presented with fact-based arguments, voters kept choosing the liberal consensus. So far as Buckley was concerned, that consensus flew in the face of God’s laws. So, Buckley concluded, it was imperative to stop arguing based on facts, and simply promote a “Conservative” view of the world by whatever means necessary.

The construction of a narrative undercutting the popular liberal consensus took the modern Republican Party further and further away from a fact-based reality, until by 2002, journalist Ron Suskind had this extraordinary exchange with one of President George W. Bush’s aides.

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles…. He cut me off. 'That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. '…When we act, we create our own reality…. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'”

Ten years later, in 2012, Thomas E. Mann from the left-leaning Brookings Institution and Norm Ornstein from the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute warned that it was imperative to stop saying “both sides do it,” because the parties were not equally polarized. “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics,” they wrote. “It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

We now have a president who has made more than 15,000 false or misleading claims in fewer than three years in office, and it has become increasingly clear recently that those lies echo Russian propaganda. Senior officials repeat his claims to the media, creating their own reality.

It is my sense that Todd’s revelation is a sign that media figures are starting to see how they are being used to advance disinformation. There has been discussion emerging of how to report the news without providing a platform for lies. If it takes hold, there will be an important shift in media coverage of the administration and congressional supporters in the new year.

Personal benefit vs. intentional national damage. That's probably the usual viewpoint

But when someone like the peeResident is being blackmailed by his moscow buddy (vlad, not mitch) and being told to perform certain actions against the US national interests; is that one or thother? Or is it both.

I think poor donny-boy(db) is caught in Mr. Dobson's dilemma. He has committed crimes against the US (and states and others), and he is beholden to foreign interests. db will try to survive as long as possible but one of his adversaries will get to him and his family. Maybe slowly, maybe speedily. Maybe painfully or perhaps ...
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