Will Graham and McCain stand alone against Trump on intel?

Donald Trump’s insistence on doubting intel indicating that the Russians tried to tip the election in his favor is a remarkable instance of his flaws coming together over one issue.

Combine his lack of faith in people who obviously know more than he does (a large set) with his inferiority complex (in this case, his touchiness over the suggestion that anything other than his own wonderfulness won the election for him), and you have a guy willing to sacrifice the nation’s intelligence-gathering apparatus for the sake of his own fragile ego. This, of course, takes petty self-absorption to a level previously unseen in U.S. history.

Which is, you know, a pretty good illustration of why it was utterly insane for anyone to consider for a moment voting for him to be president of the United States. But that’s water under the bridge, right? This is the irrational world in which we now live.

I was a bit encouraged when I saw this headline leading The Washington Post this morning: “Trump’s criticism of intelligence on Russia is dividing Hill GOP.” An excerpt:

McCain will hold a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday on “foreign cyber threats” that is expected to center on Russia. Intelligence officials — including Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcel J. Lettre II and U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers — will testify, and some Republicans are hoping they will present evidence that Russia meddled in the elections.

“The point of this hearing is to have the intelligence community reinforce, from their point of view, that the Russians did this,” Graham said. “You seem to have two choices now — some guy living in an embassy, on the run from the law for rape, who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us. I’m going with them.”

Graham was referring to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder accused of helping Russia leak emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee….

Unfortunately, it’s not much of a split, going by this story. So far, it looks a bit like another case of John McCain and our own Lindsey Graham standing on the side of reason and national security, and too many others cowering, unwilling to tell the incoming emperor the obvious: that he has no clothes, and that it’s not a good look for him.

Sure, McConnell has spoken up in the past, and Marco Rubio might get on board with McCain and Graham. And Paul Ryan, bless him, had the presence of mind to call that Assange creep a “sycophant for Russia.”

But only time will tell whether the GOP Congress will live up to its obligation to check and balance the absurdities of our president-elect…

146 thoughts on “Will Graham and McCain stand alone against Trump on intel?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    The choice before us so very stark…

    This is a situation in which we can’t examine all of the evidence ourselves since so much is based on confidential sources, so we have to do something people often have to do in a civilization (but so many hate): We have to decide whom we trust.

    On one side we have 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that are seldom unanimous about anything saying yep, the Russians were behind the hacking. We’re talking professionals in government service who are standing up to say something their new boss definitely does not want to hear.

    On the other side we have Donald Trump, Julian Assange and Vladimir Putin saying otherwise.

    Deciding whom to trust in such an instance isn’t something I would expect rational people to have to sweat over…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s like we’ve got Batman, Superman, Sherlock Holmes and George Smiley all saying it was the Russians — and the Joker, Lex Luthor, Moriarty and Karla all denying it…

  2. Claus

    Why does anyone care what Lindsey Graham has to say? He’s the white version of Al Sharpton… always looking for a camera to stand in front of and thinking he has something important to say. You’d think the idiot would have learned what people thought about him when he ran for President and couldn’t even carry his home state and received less than 1% of the primary vote.

      1. Claus

        I was thinking it was more like an Editorial Board meeting at The State newspaper from about 10 years ago.

    1. Juan Caruso

      The “redacted version” of the intel implicating Russia unambiguously is yet to be published.
      Even Admiral Spruance would not have been privy to this alleged intel. Who had greater motive to hack Podesta’s poorly passworded e-mails, Russia, Israel, the NSA itself (due to demonstrable HRC security incompetences)?

      Just think! Can the 17 intelligence heads appointed by Obama cite an actual motive that hold water? Let me just hear the BEST motive — motive alone would require no redaction, and it easily withstands lame, unfactual rebuttals. What can the Obama appointees at the NSA and CIA, etc. be hiding?

      Wait a few months and Trump will know.

  3. Doug Ross

    Nobody has yet to explain what the Russian hackers allegedly did that tilted the election in Trumps favor.
    Releasing DNC emails?

    Please understand that the extent of the “hacking” was sending John Podesta a phony email that he stupidly clicked on a link to reveal his email password. That’s it. Are we truly thinking that Putin set this up? With all the resources accessible to Putin, this is what he masterminded? It goes beyond naive to believe any of this is important. What it really is is people who are still in shock that they were clueless about what was really going on in the country. Admitting you’re out of touch is a tough thing to do.

    As for McCain and his boy wonder Lindsey, they are just playing for TV time. Neither is relevant. They’ll believe anything the intelligence guys want them to believe. Remember WMDs??

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Given that you and I live in separate cognitive universes — you see black when I see white, and vice versa — nothing I say will have the slightest effect on your perception.

      But I have to say it. I’ll limit myself to one point.

      Russia has gone out of its way to interfere in an American election. This is an extraordinarily hostile act by a foreign power. It doesn’t have a damned thing to do with any such nonsense as “What it really is is people who are still in shock that they were clueless about what was really going on in the country.”

      If Hillary Clinton had won the election, we would still have this problem, but we’d have one less problem. We wouldn’t have an incoming president who refuses to believe what all the intel says. At least the president would be looking at the problem from a reality-based perspective.

      I don’t know what she could do about it that would make Putin stop doing such things, because this is who Putin is; it’s who the Russians are these days. But at least we’d have our eyes open to the problem.

      And maybe you wouldn’t be so confused as to what’s going on here…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        OK, I lied… I’ll address one other point.

        Graham and McCain are NOT “just playing for TV time.” They are saying things that are true because those things need to be said, ESPECIALLY by GOP officeholders, because we have an incoming president who apparently would like the truth suppressed.

        And that means not only are they not “irrelevant,” but they are more relevant than ever. Their role is utterly critical at this point in time…

      2. Doug Ross

        You keep saying the Russians interfered. What did they do? Define the interference. Define the impact it had on the election. Convince me it had more impact than Hillary’s own terrible decisions during the campaign or her unacceptable response to the email server issue.

        Then convince me that Putin orchestrated sending an email to John Podesta to get him to give up his password. Can you at least admit that this is all the hacking we are talking about?

        You (and others) are grasping for any straws to help you cope with your lack of understanding of the political mindset of the U.S. last year. Just like Lindsey and McCain, you are out of touch and stuck in a neocon’s view of the world as a place that is all about fighting wars.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Again, I’m talking about A and you’re talking about X.

          You’re talking about the election results. I’m talking about what the Russians did, and what they intended to do, which is a thing that is separate from the issue of what actually happened in the election.

          It is impossible, and will always be impossible, to draw a direct line between Russian actions and how people actually voted on Nov. 8.

          So set that aside.

          What we are left with is that the Russians intended to screw with the American election, and did everything they could to accomplish their goal — whether it had an effect or not.

          Bryan will appreciate this: In the Aubrey-Maturin novels about the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars that he and I enjoy so much, one of the favorite toasts offered by the officers at their vinous gatherings was “Confusion to Napoleon.”

          “Confusion to the enemy” was a phrase very much in vogue at the time, and it expressed a truth about warfare — if your enemy is confused, you’re at an advantage.

          The one thing we know the Russians DID achieve was to sow confusion among the Americans, and to do so right at the core of our democracy.

          The very fact that I look at this and see one thing and you look at it and see something entirely different is but one tiny illustration of said confusion…

          1. Doug Ross

            There’s no confusion at all. There is merely ignorance and obstinance from a variety of sore losers.

            The Russians did not hack the election. They didn’t interfere with the election. Somebody (maybe a Russian, maybe not) got John Podesta to stupidly give up his email password. Then Podesta’s actual emails were released. Those emails revealed what many people already knew – that political parties are corrupt and highly integrated with segments of the national media. That the DNC was doing everything it could to hurt Bernie Sanders. No surprises. It’s no different than the old tapes of Trump’s “grab her by the XXXX” bravado. Somebody released those tapes to “interfere” with the election. Apparently that is okay as long as a) whoever did it is American and b) it hurt Trump.

            The biggest culprit in interfering with Hillary’s election was Hillary herself. Passing out, lying about the email server, taking off days during the critical moments of the election, the deplorables comment, assuming she had the Rust Belt in her back pocket. SHE BLEW IT. It wasn’t taken from her.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Let me try one more time.

              “The biggest culprit in interfering with Hillary’s election was Hillary herself.” I don’t care, because this has nothing to do with what this post is about.

              “Passing out, lying about the email server, taking off days during the critical moments of the election, the deplorables comment, assuming she had the Rust Belt in her back pocket.” I don’t care, because this has nothing to do with what this post is about.

              “SHE BLEW IT.” I don’t care, because this has nothing to do with what this post is about.

              “It wasn’t taken from her.” I don’t care, because this has nothing to do with what this post is about.

              You see where I’m going with this?

            2. Bill

              No confusion at all ?

              Apparently some of the voters were totally confused. Here’s an observation made by USA Today’s DC bureau chief Susan Page from about 3 weeks ago:

              “I listened to a focus group last night in Cincinnati that Peter Hart was conducting for the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania and these were 12 Trump voters from Cincinnati. About half of them had voted for Barack Obama or Bill Clinton in the past so they were swing voters who had swung toward Trump and they completely conflated the state department email story with the Russian hacks. They thought the Russians had hacked state department emails that Hillary Clinton had sent.”

              In short, if you’re a voter who conflates the Clinton email scandal with the Russian hack and concludes from that that Clinton can’t be trusted — because, well, she let the Russians hack into her State Department emails — then, yeah, that’s a significant amount of confusion — the kind that could potentially swing an election.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                It’s not impossible that the Russians did, in fact, intercept Hillary’s e-mails. Frankly, I’d be surprised if her home-brew server wasn’t compromised by a hostile foreign actor.

                1. Bill

                  Yeah, I know you’re still eager to believe anything negative about Clinton. But the fact is, the FBI examination of the computer security logs and servers showed no unauthorized outside access to the Clinton servers. And there’s no evidence that any records from that cache were put in circulation, other than those released by US government sources.

                  The Russian campaign was aimed, as all disinformation campaigns are, at purposefully sewing confusion and distrust. As Friday’s report by the CIA, FBI and NSA said:

                  “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

                  “We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

                  “When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the presidency the Russian influence campaign focused more on undercutting Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy and crippling her presidency from its start, including by impugning the fairness of the election.”

                  “We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion.“

                  As the old song puts it: “From Russia with love I fly to you,” Donald.

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    “But the fact is, the FBI examination of the computer security logs and servers showed no unauthorized outside access to the Clinton servers. And there’s no evidence that any records from that cache were put in circulation, other than those released by US government sources.”

                    I move to admit this as Exhibit 1 of my last comment. Bill is so determined not to let anything politically damage his preferred candidate, he can’t acknowledge the truth – even after the election is over. For both sides, it’s the party, uber alles.

                    We’re in a bad place, people.

                    I’m just going to go back to shooting hoops with my 5 y/o on his new Nerf basketball set. It’s vastly more enjoyable that observing the political landscape.

                2. Bill

                  What’s more, all other things remaining the same, if it were now an incoming Democratic administration holding out the prospect of a closer relationship with Russia, Republicans would be raising holy hell, with charges of “treason” rumbling around the airwaves. But the only semi-conservative using terms like that now is Kathleen Parker. Otherwise it’s the sound of chirping crickets.

                  “In July 2014, four months after Putin annexed Crimea, only 10 percent of Republicans held a favorable opinion of Russia’s president, according to an Economist/YouGov poll. Today, that figure is 37 percent. A recent poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that, while 65 percent of Americans support a congressional inquiry into Russian election interference, a narrow majority (51 percent ) of Republicans oppose it. Now that Russia has dropped its official atheism and anti-capitalism, claiming to be the protector of traditional values and Christendom, a growing number of American conservatives are receptive to Trump’s Russian rapprochement.”

                  My, my, how things do change.

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    Yeah, it’s extremely disappointing that GOP politicos are defending Putin.

                    It seems like we’re at a stage where the each of our political parties hate each other so much, distrust each other so much, and want to hurt each other so much, they would rather side with hostile, foreign actors if they think it gives a political advantage.

                    Our political parties are so divided against each other, I don’t see how they can stand together against much of anything. This is probably how everyone in the US felt in the 1850s.

                3. Bill

                  “I move to admit this as Exhibit 1 of my last comment. Bill is so determined not to let anything politically damage his preferred candidate, he can’t acknowledge the truth – even after the election is over.”

                  On the contrary, I’m willing to admit anything that’s based on fact, rather than innuendo, supposition, speculation, manipulation or selected omission. I realize this isn’t the way with lawyers, who treat reality and truth as fungible, malleable things. That’s why real historians say, beware of law office historians, because the latter’s job isn’t about uncovering and defending truth, it’s about making the best case possible for a particular point-of-view. That may be fine in the courtroom. But when it comes to general matters, most of the rest of us take a different approach: we prefer living in a more straightforward and principled kind of reality.

      3. Claus

        Can someone explain it to me like I’m 5 years old? What exactly did the Russians do to take the election away from Hillary? Interfering doesn’t explain anything… I want specifics.

    2. Bob Amundson

      PSYOPS are reality. When do they cross the line into psychological warfare? I’m sure both the Army and Navy War Colleges have studied the issue. Hopefully PEOTUS is actually listening to the many smart people to whom he has access.

    3. Norm Ivey

      The issue isn’t whether or not their interference had any effect on the election. I agree with you that it did not.

      The issue is that they tried to interfere. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that fact sets an ominous tone for future crises he may have to deal with.

      1. Doug Ross

        Ok, Norm, do you think the U.S. has ever TRIED to interfere in the elections of other countries? I think we have.

        1. Doug Ross

          From The Guardian yesterday:


          . According to research by political scientist Dov Levin, the US and the USSR/Russia together intervened no less than 117 times in foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, or “one out of every nine competitive, national-level executive elections”.

          Indeed, one cannot understand US-Russian relations today without acknowledging America’s role in the internal affairs of its defeated cold war foe. As Stephen Cohen puts it, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the approach of US advisers “was nothing less than missionary – a virtual crusade to transform post-communist Russia into some facsimile of the American democratic and capitalist system”.

          As soon as Bill Clinton assumed the White House in 1993, his experts discussed “formulating a policy of American tutelage”, including unabashed partisan support for President Boris Yeltsin. “Political missionaries and evangelists, usually called ‘advisers’, spread across Russia in the early and mid-1990s,” notes Cohen: many were funded by the US government. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser, talked of Russia “increasingly passing into de facto western receivership”.

          “Take Italy in 1948: as the cold war unfolded, the US feared that a socialist-communist coalition would triumph in Italian elections. It barred Italians who “did not believe in the ideology of the United States” from even entering the country; funded opposing parties via the CIA; orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign, including millions of letters from Americans of Italian origin; and made it quite clear, via the State Department, that there was “no further question of assistance from the United States” if the wrong people won. Its efforts were a success. This was the first of many Italian elections featuring US interference.”

          And we’re concerned now about hacked DNC emails that had little impact on voters? Seriously??

        2. Norm Ivey

          I do. We have. It was wrong to do so. Just as it was wrong for Russia to meddle with our election. It’s the height of arrogance and ignorance for Trump to deny it.

          1. Doug Ross

            Well, he’s only doing what our government has done in the past. Deny, deny, deny. He’s a quick learner.

          2. Doug Ross

            And if you accept that Bill Clinton was engaged in disrupting Russian politics in 1993, it must not be a big deal to consider his wife worthy of the Presidency. Did she denounce Bill’s actions then or now? Of course not.

      2. Bob Amundson

        Yes, the United States has influenced elections. The issue is PEOTUS is (for now) denying Russia most likely tried to influence ours.

        1. Doug Ross

          Except they didn’t until it is proven. We need something better than the equivalent of grainy photos of “WMDs”.

          Obama apparently didn’t care until after the election… the emails had been out for a long time before that. The “It was the Russians” deflection was going on from day one. Yet it wasn’t big enough of a concern to the White House apparently until after Trump was elected. It’s all sour grapes at this point.

            1. Doug Ross

              Should it matter? Do we have Russia’s best interests at heart? Who cares? The question is did they hack the election and if so how? My take is that Putin didn’t hack the election. Hillary lost. I’ll await proof otherwise.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    Here’s where I am on this whole thing. Let’s start with the basic facts:

    Fact 1: Podesta’s e-mail was successfully fished by a link that led to a known Russian FSB server.
    Fact 2: The contents of these e-mails were then publicly released and covered by the press just before the election.
    Fact 3: The target of the release (Hillary) lost to Trump because Trump stitched together some slim victories in historically blue states.

    These are the facts, and they are not in dispute.

    Now, does this mean that that we can conclusively deduce the election results were changed by the Russian actions? No. You certainly can’t conclusively say that. However, is it a possibility? Yes, It’s inescapable that this is a possibility.

    Then you have to decide if Russia/Putin have America’s best interests as an objective. Obviously, the answer here is no. You don’t have to come to the conclusion that this event led to the election of Trump. However, it’s obvious that it wasn’t a negative for Trump.

    Accordingly, the bottom line for me is that Russia is not our ally, they don’t want America to be a world power, and nothing Russia/Putin does helps America. But that’s been the case since time out of mind. If it takes Podesta’s e-mail being fished to have Democrats realize this, then fine. I just wish they had realized this years ago.

    The stupid “reset button” and the Obama’s feckless policy with respect to Russia have been awful. My guess is that Trump will likely continue to be feckless with Russia, but probably in a different way.

    My guess is that Trump will eventually realize Putin is not his friend when/if Putin does something that makes Trump realize it. Once Trump is POTUS, Putin will target him.

    1. bud

      Trump and Putin are both plutocrats with zero interest in the welfare of their respective people. This bromance will continue as long as each man benifits financially. I suspect this to be for a very long time. Neither man has a soul so any “norms” regarding national interests are of zero relevance. The sooner people understand that Trump only cares about Trump the sooner we can stop pretending national security factors into this narcissist’s decision making.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I think you’re making a mistake if you don’t think Putin wants to return Russia to a position of power on the world stage.

        True, he likely doesn’t care about the people of Russia. True, he’s likely interested in personally enriching himself, but I suspect that Putin is also interested in elevating Russia’s influence and power around the world. And I’d hazard a guess that the people of Russia aren’t all that upset about the idea of Russia gaining power and influence.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I agree with everything you say except the last point. I think it will remain in Putin’s interest to keep the president of the United States as his besotted fanboy. It won’t take much. Putin can just put out a statement now and then pointing out how, compared to Trump, Ah-nold is a pathetic girly-man as host of that stupid “reality show.”

      Because we know what Trump cares about, as evidenced by the latest illustration of the fact that our POTUS-elect has the maturity and social skills of an insecure 5-year-old:

      Note that taking that pathetically self-aggrandizing shot at the Terminator was so important that it was worth TWO Tweets. Despite his vaunted Twitter skills, he couldn’t squeeze all his schoolyard scorn into one…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I agree with you that Putin will want to keep Trump tagging along behind him. However, I think at some point, Putin could pull the rug out from under Trump when he feels like he’s gotten everything he wants by being nice.

      2. JesseS

        That Twitter exchange does leave one feeling …dumbfounded? Why couldn’t the GOP nominate someone far more reasonable like Ric Flair?

          1. JesseS

            My natural instinct is to go with the crass “Because Rod Blagojevich was detained”, but that really doesn’t nail political oiliness and obviousness with Hillary, while looking for someone more likable.

            So I guess the answer is “Because Bill couldn’t run for a 3rd term?”.

            Still when I think of all the possible branching universes we could have landed in, I feel least comfortable in the one that has President Trump in it. It’s the one that is literally a joke for all others. Even the Gary Johnson-verse chuckles at it.

    3. Bill

      Actually, even if the Putin/Trump bromance ends, it may not make things better. Could be it just turns into a different kind of bad. As Russia watcher Masha Gessen pointed out in the wake of the recent twitter exchange between Trump and Putin over nuclear policy:

      “Both men share a primitive idea of power as something that is based on superior strength asserted and acknowledged publicly. Trump will tweet nuclear policy again, and Putin will not be as accommodating in the future.

      Does this mean that we are entering a new Cold War? No—it’s worse. The Cold War was fought by men who had different visions of the future—the ideologies of the two sides were battling for the right to define societies to come. This made the prospect of mutually assured destruction an effective deterrent. We now know that on several occasions one or the other side took a crucial step back from the brink.

      Trump and Putin, on the other hand, lack a concept of the future. In Putin’s version of the clash of civilizations, we have only a threatening Western present versus an imaginary Eurasian past. In Trump’s case, the threatening present is global while the alluring past is American. Both men traffic in appeals to the local and the familiar from the past against the frighteningly strange future. They are also both short-tempered, thin-skinned, not very bright, and disinclined to listen to advisers—all major risk factors for escalation. But it is their shared inability to look ahead that poses the greatest danger to the world.”

    4. Juan Caruso

      Bryan, your “Fact 1 (“Podesta’s e-mail was successfully fished by a link that led to a known Russian FSB server.”) sounds conclusive, but IT IS NOT1

      Just as phone caller IDs are can be spammed to appear to come from a government authority, police, power utility company, etc. unauthorized “links” to known servers have also been spammed.

      Fact 0001: FBI director Comey told us that his team (with the NSA’s help) could find no EVIDENCE in Hillary’s private (LOL) server to a foreign state hacker ALTHOUGH it was VERY LIKELY that her CLASSIFIED e-mails had been hacked by at least 5 foreign states.

      Fact 0002: Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, a.k.a Guccifer breachedidney Blumenthal’s emails to access HRC’s server later telling us, ‘it was easy’. Lehel used an IP scanner to find live servers with open ports.

      Fact 0003: Lehel does not believe Russia tried to sway the U.S. election, and even Lazar used a proxy to make it look like his computer was in Russia, not Romania. Had Russia actually hacked the DNC, Russia could easily could have used a mainland U.S. proxy (appearing perhaps even to be from Hillary’s private (LOL) server rather than linked to a “known Russian FSB” link.

      Fact 0004: Lehel led to his own arrest in Romania by sending an e-mail to TSG claiming responsibility for a malicious hack of author Candace Bushnell by using the AOL account of English actor Rupert Everett.

      Fact 0005: Lehel’s big MISTAKE appears to have been seeking vicarious recognition for “Guccifer’s” hacking episodes of a popular U.S. TV series and forgetting that photos and e-mails posted earlier in connection with the George Bush family contained the watermark “Guccifer”. Once the FBI/Secret Service began investigating intrusions into Bush Family e-mails and posting of their private photos on the web, they certainly did connect the “Guccifer” watermark as the same hacker’s online alias.

      My (TENTATIVE) Conclusion: Foreign state hackers spam their links through multiple servers worldwide in order to hide and misdirect those who trying to find them.

  5. Doug Ross

    It’s really crazy how many leaps of “logic” will try to make to say that Putin wanted Trump to be President and used his vast resources to make it happen.

    It requires you to first believe that the email hack influences enough voters to change the results in key states (and ignore any other possible more plausible reasons).

    It requires you to think that the whole Putin plan depended on John Podesta clicking on a link in an email, one that even my 80 year old mother knows not to do. This is the one that is so laughable. Putin – a guy who has probably had many of his rivals KILLED and has one of the most powerful espionage agencies at his disposal – said “Hey, Vladimar – get your teenage son to send Podesta a fake email — the future of the country depends on it!!!”. It’s beyond absurd… and it’s the point where every belief that Putin was involved fails. If Putin wanted to guarantee a win rather than hope for some key swing states to narrowly go for Trump, he could have done a lot more with a higher probability of success.

    It requires you to think that black voters who voted for Obama stayed home because of John Podesta’s emails.

    I go back to something I wrote before Christmas – I had an Uber driver in Pittsburgh who was from Uzbekistan. Asked him what he thought of Putin rigging the election. He got a big laugh out of that. He said Putin doesn’t care who the President is. He can handle Trump or Hillary just the same.

    1. Doug Ross

      Remember – Clinton won the popular vote, right? So somehow the Podesta emails only worked in key battleground states, right? That’s what we are supposed to believe. That voters in Florida were swayed but those in California were not.

      Clinton lost the election. The corrupt DNC lost the election. The Russians didn;t have any impact.

      1. bud

        Doug it’s ridiculous to say “the Russians had no impact”. That unknowable. In an election so close many factors likely were the last straw. But even if they didn’t Brads point still stands. We can’t tolerate foreign meddling in our political process. THAT is the important point Brad is making. I suspect you understand that but just enjoy being contrarian.

        1. Doug Ross

          They didn’t meddle any more than we do every day in their government. It’s a never-ending game.

          This would never have been an issue I if Hillary won. It would have been forgotten immediately.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              … of course, I’m one of the dwindling minority of Americans who keep up, at least somewhat, with international affairs, and actually CARE…

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Another way to put it is that I’m sure there are some DEMOCRATS who are more interested in the issue because Hillary lost.

              Because normally you can’t get Democrats very interested in national security at all.

              But I can’t speak for them; I can only be responsible for myself…

              1. Doug Ross

                Replace “some” with “nearly all”. And since you have no power or influence regarding US-Russia relations, your concern would be meaningless,

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, that’s a problem we don’t have, do we? It’s a problem I WISH we had — the Democrats not caring, because Trump lost — but we don’t.

                  We have a far worse situation. And it’s cold comfort to me that all of a sudden the Democrats are caring about our cybersecurity.

                  In THIS universe, we have to take what comfort we can from the fact that Trump came out of his intel briefing saying it was a “constructive meeting” — which means that for once, actual facts had a tiny, incremental effect on his thinking. Which is a start…

              2. Bill

                You consistently draw a very silly caricature of Democrats and national security. If folks don’t talk exactly like McCain or Graham, you label them “uninterested in national security.” Actually, there are probably about equal numbers on both sides of the aisle who have a serious appreciation of national security matters. But many of those who give the outward appearance of doing so actually aren’t doing anything more than engaging in public posturing for partisan political consumption (in other words: they don’t really know what they’re talking about).

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yes, I’m making a broad generalization, based on an entire life of observation.

                  Get two or more Democrats together, and they are not likely to bring up national security or global affairs on their own. They’re more likely to want to talk about domestic issues, usually in the “fighting for working families” vein. This has been broadly true since Vietnam.

                  There are important exception to this general tendency. Obviously, over the years we’ve seen people like Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn and Joe Lieberman.

                  But the best RECENT exception was Hillary Clinton herself — a Democrat who had gone out of her way to develop solid national security credentials. You say, “if folks don’t talk exactly like McCain or Graham…” Well, as it happens, Hillary speaks more like McCain and Graham than any Republican who ran for president last year, with the exception of Graham himself.

                  Which adds to the tragedy of Trump’s victory. She actually had a clue…

                2. Bill

                  Well, I’m just gonna make a broad generalization here, but from my lifetime of observation, it seems to me that many of those Democrats you disparage simply have a different concept of what “national security policy” entails, that it shouldn’t be as mono-dimensional and simple-minded as the one some around here embrace.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          “We can’t tolerate foreign meddling in our political process.”

          I bet Putin is laughing his rear end off seeing the Republicans and Democrats in DC chasing their tails (and each other) on this. I bet he thinks it’s hilarious that we’re trying to figure out his “motives”. I bet he thinks it’s hilarious that people like you are saying “we can’t tolerate” this.

          Putin hates the West. He’s not our ally. He wants us divided and weak…and unfortunately, he’s been getting exactly that for years.

          Did anyone raise a fuss when China hacked the OPM and got millions of records? Nope. I don’t remember Obama retaliating against China for that because it had to be downplayed, else it might look like a black eye for the administration, and we couldn’t have that. Russia invades Crimea and Obama just sort of shrugged. Russia shot down a freakin’ passenger airliner, and the Obama Administration was basically like “Hey…don’t do that.” So I sort find the Democrats cries of “this shall not stand!” to ring a bit hollow.

          If Hillary had won, this “the Russians hacked us!” wouldn’t even be a story. The Democrats are using it as an excuse for why they lost, and Trump can’t figure out how to say that the Russians are bad actors without feeling like he’s losing face because he can’t see past the nose on the end of his face.

          Heck, I can halfway see why the Russians have such contempt for our political leadership. I have contempt for them, too.

          What a stupid time to be alive.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      “He said Putin doesn’t care who the President is. He can handle Trump or Hillary just the same.”

      I don’t entirely disagree with that. Personally, I think the whole point of releasing the Podesta e-mails was not to swing the election, but to simply embarrass America and to show the world how corrupt and scheming our political leaders are…not that they need much help with that.

      1. Doug Ross

        Exactly. How many people do you think were actually surprised or influenced by the emails to change their vote or stay home? Any more than the ones who saw or heard all the Trump stuff that was bombarded across the media for months? Trump was hammered day after day as a racist rapist. But that;s okay.

      2. Bob Amundson

        Bryan, Putin thinks like PEOTUS in many ways, including hitting back “twice as hard.” Putin believes both President Obama (by calling Russia a “regional power) and Secretary Clinton (when mass protests against Putin erupted in Moscow in December 2011, Putin stated clearly he thought SOS Clinton was behind the protests) “attacked” him. Many (not all) cybersecurity experts believe Putin sought revenge – which, to use your words, seems to be a “possibility.”

        1. Doug Ross

          The back-and-forth between the U.S. and Russia has been going on for decades. We do something to them, they do something to us. We make all sorts of hyperbolic claims, they do the same. It’s sabre rattling nearly all the time. Keep the people fired up, keep them scared, keep them supporting the military industrial complex.

          To what end? What is our objective? Remove Putin (interfere with their government)?

          1. bud

            Doug you sort of have a point. We do get hysterical about non threats. ISIS is the current example of this hysteria. Still we can’t just ignore this.

          2. Bob Amundson

            Sabre rattling between two nuclear triad powers is concerning. Most of the western world trusts, and counts on, the United States to counter Russia’s nuclear capability.

            1. Doug Ross

              Most of us understand that if Russia uses their nuclear weapons it will be the last thing they do. I don’t spend a moment worrying about it.

          3. bud

            Doug the problem isn’t that someone will intentionally launch a nuclear strike. That is extremely unlikely. The big danger is that tensions become so great an accidental launch becomes more likely. That’s why any meddling has to be taken very seriously. Especially wit someone as thinned skinned as Trump. There were several near disasters during the Cold War. To be so dismissive is a fools errand.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              It’s kind of hard to “accidentally” launch a nuclear missile. It’s not like reaching for another slice of pizza and knocking a glass over on the dinner table.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                People keep talking about nukes. That’s not my first concern. Far more likely, in fact pretty much inevitable, is the diminishment of this nation under the weight of the world’s contempt.

                As I keep saying, it’s not that there’s some likelihood that something awful will happen. The awful thing HAS happened — Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. That has so degraded the office, and the country, that it’s difficult to see how we EVER recover…

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  “Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. That has so degraded the office, and the country, that it’s difficult to see how we EVER recover…”

                  Assuming arguendo, that the mere election of Trump has degraded the office does not necessarily imply that the office/country does not recover. One of the nice things about the Presidency is that it changes with the man in office. One term you have some knuckle-head, the next term you get someone better.

                  The office depends on the man. Yes it can be weakened or degraded, but it’s not a one-way ratchet up or down. It can be strengthened and improved. I could name names, but that would damage my point, as everyone’s bias would creep in.

                  Search your feelings, you know it to be true…

              2. bud

                Actually Bryan many close calls occurred throughout the Cold War. Reagans open mike incident is one example. The odds of a misunderstanding go up sharply as tensions rise. I just don’t understand people that go ballistic (pun intended) over the non threat of ISIS that easily dismiss the Russian election meddling.

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        Bryan, as to this: “Personally, I think the whole point of releasing the Podesta e-mails was not to swing the election, but to simply embarrass America and to show the world how corrupt and scheming our political leaders are…”

        What was the corrupt part? I missed that…

          1. bud

            George W had lots of feck. Where did that get us? Now we have a PTSD veteran shooting up an airport. Give me feckless over reckless 100 times over.

  6. Jeff Mobley

    I don’t think it the spearphishing of Podesta was the only point of attack. According to reports like this one, the DNC was attacked directly as well.

    I don’t really have much analysis to add.

    1. Jeff Mobley

      I hate it when I start to edit myself in mid-post, and then, for some reason or other, don’t finish editing myself.

  7. Burl Burlingame

    Doug has one answer, no matter what the question is. Not a surprise, because the shoe is not on the other foot.

    But the only thing that really matters is that Trump is Putin’s bitch.

    1. Doug Ross

      My answer is based on logic and facts, not partisan hysteria. You hate Trump. You are a confirmed liberal. Your views are biased because of that. It’s that simple. I don’t like Trump or Hillary. I can stay above the hypocrisy exhibited by both sides and see things as they are. This whole issue is all smoke and mirrors, hyperbole, and partisanship. It feeds the masses what they want.

      If you step back and look at the timeline and the actual facts, it becomes trivial. If it was such a big deal, Obama should have done something about it a month before the election. Nothing new has been revealed since then. It’s all packaging of a narrative driven by sore losers who were out of touch with key demographics in the U.S. voting public. And no matter what Russia did, Hillary shot herself in the foot more times and with a bigger gun. SHE BLEW IT, clear and simple.,

  8. Doug Ross

    And whether Trump is Putin’s bitch will require an honest assessment of evidence after he has been President for awhile and deals with Russia. All you are ding is making a biased prediction.

      1. Doug Ross

        The assumption is that we wouldn’t be if Hillary had won. I am not willing to make that assumption. Maybe she would have handled Russia differently/better but none of us know for sure what the “correct” way to deal with Russia is. We all lack the experience, knowledge, and analytical capabilities to do so. All we should do is judge the results. I don’t pretend to know what the best approach is to deal with Russia (or Israel, or ISIS, or the economy).

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “We all lack the experience, knowledge, and analytical capabilities to do so.” Similarly, we all lack the “experience, knowledge, and analytical capabilities” to know exactly what happened with the hacking.

          Fortunately, we have 17 agencies full of people who DO have the “experience, knowledge, and analytical capabilities” to make such an assessment.

          And they’re all saying the same thing…

          1. Doug Ross

            “And they’re all saying the same thing…”

            The same thing they were saying about WMD’s, right?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Thank you for that Donald Trump-level dismissal of all the intelligence professionals who serve our country.

              You, and he, say that as though our intelligence community were stupid or something. Because, you know, people like Trump like to say they knew all along there were no WMD, and anyone who couldn’t see that was an idiot.

              When precisely the opposite is true. I haven’t spent a whole lot of words on that intelligence failure because, as I’ve said many time, for me the WMD weren’t the reason to invade Iraq. But when I do address it, I say this: No one in the intel community had any reason to believe that Saddam had gotten rid of his WMD. Where are the sources that could have told our people that, and what could they have presented to be convincing, since it defied all reason — why would a guy like Saddam have given up such an advantage?

              If I recall correctly, his senior military leaders thought they had chemical weapons to fall back on, and were pretty disappointed when they found that we didn’t. So who would have been the assets who could have told us differently?

              And here’s something else for people who subscribe to the “our spies are idiots because WMD” worldview to chew on: What happened to the WMD? Where did they go? What did Saddam do with them? Here it’s been almost 14 years, and I haven’t seen any kind of authoritative account of what happened. Have you? If so, share…

              Bottom line is this: The issue is whether all those agencies — who are seriously sticking their necks out here — are smarter than Donald J. Trump, or at least whether they know more about the subject at hand. I have no doubt whatsoever than they are and they do, and his petty reasons — based in his weird inferiority complex, which causes him to need more affirmation of his awesomeness than a two-year-old — for rejecting this assessment exponentially increases my reasons to believe them and not him.

                1. Doug Ross

                  It’s not whimsical. I’m dead serious. It’s the price you pay when you have an objective to be a world superpower. Other countries may not want that to happen (funny how that is). We mess with Russia, China, etc. We spy on our own allies for God’s sake. They do the same to us. The ultimate questions is “Why?” Why do they do it and why do we do it? Power. Money. It’s not about altruism.

                  Explain to me how Russia benefits by destroying the United States? What’s in if for them? Putin gets a condo in Miami? Do you believe that Putin would like to annihilate American lives? Why?

                  As for denigrating the intelligence community, I just treat them as I would any entity. They have a motivation, they have a purpose, they have an agenda. It’s not in their interest to NOT see Russia as a threat — the same as when they invented a reason to invade Iraq. The objectives flow downhill and nobody (especially in government) at the bottom likes to tell their boss he’s wrong. That usually requires an outside entity to expose the bad decision making.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                “What happened to the WMD? Where did they go? What did Saddam do with them? Here it’s been almost 14 years, and I haven’t seen any kind of authoritative account of what happened. Have you? If so, share…”

                /raises hand

                Here you go.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yeah, I remember reading that. And for those who have not (starting, I guess, with Donald Trump), here’s the critical part of the story:

                  From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
                  In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
                  The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West….

                  But that story doesn’t answer the big question I’m raising: What happened? Why were the weapons programs “long-abandoned?” How come no one knew that?

        2. Bart


          Meryl Streep delivered a message to Donald Trump last night and the WaPo and NYT along with every other media outlet has reported on it. Everyone keeps asking why Trump won and every excuse under the sun has been used as a reason for Clinton’s defeat.

          In my simple and unencumbered thought process since I didn’t support either one, the message delivered was not about hacked emails or Russia trying to influence the outcome, it was about Main Street America being ignored by the major news outlets, the entertainment industry, and an over-reaching progressive agenda to structurally change the culture of America.

          I could care less about who marries who or what bathroom one uses or if a baker refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple or any of the other social issues that we have to confront in our daily lives. But, the simple fact is that a few large population centers, a liberal press/media, the entertainment industry, and influences outside the reach of Main Street have made decisions that have ignored the people who actually live on Main Street.

          I live on Main Street and have no racial prejudices nor am I homophobic but when good, decent people are constantly portrayed as racists and homophobes by the press/media, the entertainment industry, and governors of liberal states and mayors of large cities, it does create an undercurrent of unrest and anger outside of these enclaves of progressives and liberals. Clinton ignored the things that bothered Main Street and concentrated on campaigning in the entertainment industry, large liberal cities and states, and catered to extremely wealthy donors while ignoring the Rust Belt and every other swing state’s problems.

          Ultimately, the Rust Belt states that normally voted Democrat didn’t this time and they are the reason Trump won and Clinton lost. The massive vote disparity in California is not a reason for Clinton to claim the popular vote, it is an indicator of why she lost in the critical states she never bothered to visit or campaign in. At the very least, she could have made an appearance. Clinton did not bring spontaneous enthusiasm to her campaign stops, instead they seemed to be well planned and staged events with the audience responding to the applause sign.

          The final nail in her election coffin was the undeniable fact that President Barack Obama did not use his powers of persuasion to get his supporters out to support Clinton. If anything, he seemed to distance himself from Clinton with the exception of a couple of appearances with her. As a result, voters that could have voted for Clinton stayed home in droves and Trump supporters turned out in unexpected numbers.

          As a candidate expecting to win, that is how she campaigned. Why bother to visit Main Street when one is confident they will vote for her whether she acknowledges them or not? Voters do not like to be ignored and when they are, since it is the only opportunity to make their voices heard, sometimes we get the result of a Donald Trump winning instead of the pre-destined winner.

          Trump will eventually shoot himself in the foot once too often and face impeachment. That is who he is. Like the line in a Lou Rawls song, “you knew I was a snake when you took me in.” Once he thaws out and his true fangs bite all of us in the butt, eyes will finally open – hopefully.

          1. Doug Ross

            Bingo, Bart.

            I’ll assess President Trump starting in 10 days. Not by what he said or did decades ago.

  9. Doug Ross

    Russia-Hacker-gate is Democrat’s version of Benghazi. Something happened. One side blows it out of proportion, the other side denies anything happened. The hysterical side tries to piece together a narrative that fits the agenda.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      What are you talking about, Doug?

      Anyone who understands the issue and cares even slightly for national security cares about this.

      We know that Russia has committed a startlingly hostile act against this country, doing its best to undermine confidence in our democracy itself.

      Similarly, Benghazi was something that anyone who cares about national security cares about. What was absurd was the lengths to which some Republicans went to blame it on Hillary Clinton. And you know what — that played itself out in several investigations. Investigating that incident was appropriate — although maybe we didn’t need to do it seven times, or whatever the eventual count was…

      1. Doug Ross

        “We know that Russia has committed a startlingly hostile act against this country, doing its best to undermine confidence in our democracy itself.”

        Nothing we haven’t done to Russia many times in the past (see the 1993 Clinton references I posted earlier).

        When you use hyped up language like “startingly hostile act”, you demonstrate exactly what I’m saying. This wasn’t anything more than exposing the corrupt DNC — whoever did it — and using media/social media to mock Hillary Clinton. We’ve used the same techniques forever. And I don’t imagine you deemed those efforts to be hostile — you probably thought they were all well and good in the spirit of American exceptionalism.

        If what Russia did was “startingly hostile”, then why was Obama’s response so lame? So lame that Putin mocked him over the holidays. Obama is either a weak kneed leader or recognizes that whatever hacking went on didn’t have that much impact. It’s one or the other.

        Is our democracy is harmed, don’t blame Putin. Blame people like McConnell, Boehner, Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, Wasserman-Schulz, etc. They are far more responsible for tainting the democratic process than some pimply faced borscht-eating teenage Russian hacker.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Is that the same one who weighs 400 pounds? And does borsht give one acne?

          You say, “Obama is either a weak kneed leader or recognizes that whatever hacking went on didn’t have that much impact. It’s one or the other.”

          Actually, it isn’t. One or the other, I mean. As you said yourself earlier, the solutions to this problem are not easy or obvious. This is a new problem.

          It was a seriously hostile act, yet what is the appropriate response? War would be a tough sell, to me at least. We place sanctions on Putin and it has little effect. The goal here is to keep Russia from doing this again. And personally, I’m not sure how to ensure that. Merely exposing what happened doesn’t make a guy like Putin stop.

          I don’t know what Hillary Clinton, had she won, could have done about it, but I do hope it would have been somewhat more effective than what the current POTUS has done.

          But had she won, one thing would be better about our situation: We’d have an incoming president who took the situation seriously, and didn’t mock our intelligence community for trying to bring it to our attention…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “It was a seriously hostile act, yet what is the appropriate response? War would be a tough sell, to me at least. We place sanctions on Putin and it has little effect. The goal here is to keep Russia from doing this again. And personally, I’m not sure how to ensure that. Merely exposing what happened doesn’t make a guy like Putin stop.”

            Step one: Let’s have a serious assessment of our electronic information security so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. Whether or not the DNC want to up their security is up to them, but let’s have the government be secure. I’m pretty sure it’s good, but I’d like to see if it needs to be better. I’m aware that this is, as Jack would say, “locking the horse after the stable door is gone, a very foolish thing to do.” But as Stephen replied, “Still and all there are some horses that are obliged to be controlled, I am afraid.”

            Step two: Realize what our options are. The idea that the only options are “war or nothing” is exactly what Putin and Russia want because they know we don’t want to send M-1 Abrams tanks across the Russian plains. However, there are lots and lots of things we can do.

            Step three: Act against Putin personally. Don’t hit the country of Russia. Just like we say that “Islam is not the enemy” we should say that “Russia is not the enemy. The enemy is Putin.” Make the sanctions hurt him and the people supporting him. Personally, I’d look into dramatically ramping up how much LNG we send to Europe, which would hurt Gazprom, which is Putin’s main economic weapon against Europe. Make Gazprom hurt financially. Make the price of LNG so cheap that they are begging us to come to the table. Just like we beat the Soviets with out economic might, let’s take another page out of that chapter and make the Soviets compete with us to supply energy.

            Also, we should strengthen NATO, get the other NATO countries to buy-in to committing militarily, and push back against Russian expansion in Eastern Europe. Letting our allies and moderate regimes (both left and right) know that we are there to support them will reduce their willingness to run and seek cover under Russian protection.

            Importantly, we should work with moderate nationalists in other countries who are rising politically. Back in the 1940s and 1950s America allied with moderate leftists to fight Moscow. Once again, we need to reach out to other countries and give them an option that is better than allying with Putin’s Russia. Here at home, Trump is going to have to get over his soft spot for Russia and stop undermining our own intelligence agencies.

            We probably won’t do any of this because our political leadership will be too busy fighting over petty things.

            1. Bob Amundson

              U.S. troops and equipment (including tanks and helicopters) are headed to Poland. NATO members Germany, Canada and Britain are sending battalions of up to 1,000 troops each to the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (the Baltics). Needless to say, Putin is not happy.

                1. Bob Amundson

                  I agree. I’m withholding judgement on PEOTUS Trump, but if these troops and equipment are removed soon after inauguration, that (withholding judgement) will likely change quickly. Actions speak louder than words.

              1. Doug Ross

                Playing war games. That’ll work. What exactly do you think Russia is willing to do in response and what are we willing to do to escalate it so they respond? This wasn’t Pearl Harbor or 9/11 (which we didn’t even respond to against the right country).

                My guess is Putin just keeps on laughing at us. Because nobody wants a war. Nobody REALLY thinks the Russians hacked the election.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Who will fire the first shot in the War Against John Podesta’s Emails? How many American lives are we willing to give up to make Russia know we are really, really, really sad that they “interfered” in our election?

      2. Claus

        Well it’s a good thing we don’t spy on or hack other countries servers. Even if we did, I doubt we’d ever use the information to our advantage or to cause disruption in that country. I’m still not convinced that if Russia did do anything that it played a part in the election. Nobody has come out and stated that the alleged hacking changed the election results.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “Nobody has come out and stated that the alleged hacking changed the election results.”

          No, and how could they? We can trace what happened, in terms of what the Russians did.

          But how on Earth would you prove what effect it had? Did all that constant heaping of negativity on Hillary and the Democrats cause X number of people to vote against her? You can’t say for sure, or to what extent. Most people don’t even know themselves why they voted for someone in that sort of detail. How can others know that about them?

          That’s what makes this such a masterful case of rat-____ing, an operation that makes Donald Segretti look like the amateur he was. How do you quantify the effect? You can’t.

          Maybe Hillary would have won without the Russian operation. Maybe she wouldn’t have…

            1. Doug Ross

              Trump was attacked by Democrats AND Republicans. And he still won. You miss the bigger picture. Trump won because Hillary lost.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Of course — because dealing with the reality of the situation weakens your hysterical view. If Trump was treated worse than Hillary (even if the Russians were involved) and Trump still won, that means the Russians didn’t interfere with the election.

          1. Claus

            Do you remember when we hacked into Iran’s nuclear program and did things that could have killed many people by doing so (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/01/obama-sped-up-cyberattack-iran)? Were you upset when we did that, or upset at the US’s actions after reading the article? What if another country did this to us, would there be hell to pay?

            BTW – Was any of the negative information released about Hillary false?

            MAGA, I hear that Ford is going to produce Rangers and Broncos in its Detroit facility that was scheduled to be moved to Mexico thanks to Trump.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Sorry, but if you’re trying to equate covert operations to prevent Iran, the world’s chief state sponsor of terrorism, from obtaining nuclear weapons with an operation designed to weaken the United States by a) undermining confidence in our democracy and b) if possible, elect the least-qualified person ever nominated to become president… well, you’re not going to find a buyer in me.

              Those two things exist in widely separate moral universes. They don’t come within light years of each other.

              You’ll not get anywhere with me with the “America is just as bad as Putin” argument.

              As for “Was any of the negative information released about Hillary false?”

              I don’t know. I’ve seen reports about part of the Russian operation being to help spread faux news, but I don’t don’t recall reading any of the specifics.

              What I’ve concentrated on is this: The Russians hacked both the Democrats and the Republicans. They released anything they could find that might embarrass the Democrats — most of which was stupid, insignificant stuff (the first example I always think of is the suggestion that Podesta was sending anti-Catholic emails, which near as I could tell he was NOT). But a drop of water is insignificant, except when joined with thousands of others in Chinese water torture.

              1. Claus

                “Covert operation” and “terrorism” are exactly the same thing… it just depends on which side you’re standing on. Do you think Iran considered the attack on their nuclear power plants a “covert operation” against them? Was ISIS’s hijacking of the airliners a “covert operation” from our standpoint? Because I can guarantee it was from theirs.

                So if anyone here had seen the negative information about Hillary it would likely have been you. Taking that into consideration, the average voter likely had less information than you did on November 8th. If anything it evened the playing field for what the mainstream media in this country was saying about Trump.


                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Wow. Just wow.

                  I misjudged Claus. Now I learn he’d have been at home writing for Mother Jones or The Nation in the latter years of the Vietnam war…

              2. Claus

                ” if possible, elect the least-qualified person ever nominated to become president…”

                Funny how, considering how many millions of people there are in this country, that it came down to two people… and one you consider the least-qualified ever. How did Trump make it to the finals? The Russians???

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Nope. It was voters like you, making him win primaries.

                  And Putin looked at the gift you had handed him, and reached for it with both hands…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Really? So in 2008 and 2012, you voted for Obama? I’d like to hear about that.

                    Personally, I vote for losers probably about a third of the time, at least. You know why? Because the majority is sometimes wrong….

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I had to say “about a third of the time” because, while I know in exact detail how often people endorsed by The State won and loss (in general elections; I never tried to track primaries), I’ve never run the numbers on my own voting.

                      It’s probably very close to The State’s record on general elections (about 70-75 percent winning), but if you throw in primaries, the batting average is bound to decline. That’s partly because there are more choices in many primaries (giving your person just a one in three, four, five or more chance of winning), but also because primary voters in BOTH parties tend to like more extreme candidates than I do.

                      It would be mildly interesting to find out. But impossible at this point. I can’t even begin to remember, say, who was on that massive ballot we had in Kansas in 1986 (I seem to recall that it set a record that year for numbers of contests and questions, and it was my job to lead the coverage of it), much less how I voted…

              3. Claus

                I bet you loved Merryl Streep’s little sermon last night. Cher said she feels like sticking a gun to her head everytime she hears Trump speak. With any luck she and the rest of the Hollywood liberals will follow her lead. It makes me wonder about how Hollywood was considered Communist back in the 50’s…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Wow again. It’s fascinating to hear someone who wrote this classic left-wing bit of anti-American moral equivalence:

                  “Covert operation” and “terrorism” are exactly the same thing… it just depends on which side you’re standing on. Do you think Iran considered the attack on their nuclear power plants a “covert operation” against them? Was ISIS’s hijacking of the airliners a “covert operation” from our standpoint? Because I can guarantee it was from theirs…

                  … is, just moments later, grumbling about “liberals” and Communists.

                  Oh, and regarding Meryl Streep — you’d lose your bet. I don’t watch awards shows — a bunch of narcissists engaging in self-congratulation orgies. And I have little interest in the political views of entertainers. I’d be about as impressed, I suppose, as I was when the “Hamilton” actor went out of his way to embarrass Pence.

                  I frequently love their movies, but I’d prefer that they stick to make-believe — it’s what they’re good at…

                2. Bill

                  This kind of deep cynicism is bi-partisan – though it does seem to have clustered around Trump and his minions for now. It’s one of the things he played to most during the campaign – and it’s what he’ll continue to draw on going forward.

              4. Doug Ross

                ” But a drop of water is insignificant, except when joined with thousands of others in Chinese water torture.”

                As compared to the flood of water that was dumped on Trump from January to November. When he kept winning state after state…

                I’d like to know why YOU personally tried to interfere with the U.S. election by constantly disseminating negative information about Trump? You had an agenda, you had a candidate (well, at least three: Lindsey, Kasich, and Clinton)… and you did everything in your power to disrupt the election of Donald Trump. How dare you!

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “As compared to the flood of water that was dumped on Trump from January to November. When he kept winning state after state…”

                  But as you probably noticed, Trump voters were pretty much immune to evidence. The more that was learned about how awful he was, the more they loved him.

                  It was like an election on the Bizarro planet…

            2. Bill

              “Was any of the negative information released about Hillary false?”

              Yes, of course. The rumors about her alleged poor health, for one – which some of the folks posting to this website helped spread (and probably still believe). The primary source for that was Russia Today, one of the Russian regime’s main propaganda instruments.

              But it’s not just about whether the raw information itself is false – or even, lest we forget, that it was obtained illegally. Disinformation campaigns seldom involve pure invention. It’s about how real information gets manipulated. (Check out, for example, Anne Applebaum’s op-ed detailing how she became a target of Russian disinformation campaign – which mixed real information, distortion and lies.) Just anecdotally, I remember a cousin of mine telling – practically yelling at — me one day about how corrupt Hillary Clinton was – because he’d “seen the documents” online that “proved” it (on Breitbart or some other alt-right site). The documents didn’t actually prove any such thing. They had been manipulated by people with an agenda in such a way to give the appearance of corruption. That’s how a disinformation campaign works.

              1. Doug Ross

                “The primary source for that was Russia Today, one of the Russian regime’s main propaganda instruments.”

                This is wholly untrue. The PRIMARY SOURCE? Seriously?

                She PASSED OUT at the 9/11 memorial. She had coughing fits for months. She had some type of documented brain episode.

                She’s a 70 year old woman who gives no indication of being in excellent health. She ran a low energy campaign with frequent breaks for “preparing for debates”. She didn’t have the stamina to campaign hard in the final weeks.

                And you’re going to blame the Russians for that? Unbelievable!

                1. Doug Ross

                  I won my Trump being elected President bet on this blog. (Thanks, Bryan!)

                  I’m willing to make another bet that Hillary has some major health episode within the next four years. Any takers? I’m guessing a hip replacement (if she doesn’t fall and fracture it first) based on the way she walks, needs assistance up stairs, has to hold onto tables, etc. for balance.

  10. Phillip

    Streep’s speech had nothing to do with “political views.” She mentioned nothing about policy, about preferring this approach to the economy or world affairs to that approach. She spoke out only against humiliation, disrespect, bullying, and in favor of the need to support the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    1. Doug Ross

      ” humiliation, disrespect, bullying,”

      She wasn’t talking about releasing “Mamma Mia 2”, I hope. That would hurt me more than anything Trump could ever do.

    2. Claus

      All I heard was teary eyed whining. But I better not say more, Brad will interpret it as anti-government.

      1. Claus

        BTW – I didn’t watch the award show, I was flipping through and saw this woman on stage teary eyed and stopped to try and figure out what she was upset about. 15 seconds later I realized it was just another Hollywood liberal fearing for this country because Obama couldn’t get elected to a 3rd term.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        But while I didn’t see it and can’t judge, I find it hard to believe she was more ridiculous than Marlon Brando when he stayed home and sent the young Indian woman to the ceremony to essentially flip the bird to the Academy over issues that had NOTHING to do with his performance in The Godfather.

        I’ll bet Jack Woltz was livid. The incident made the whole movie industry look ridiculous, and a man in his position can’t afford to be made to look ridiculous…

  11. Guy

    Can anyone tell my why their opinion is more valid than Ms. Streep’s? The hysteria manufactured on this topic by middle management internet commenters is astonishing.

    Don’t like it, change the channel…

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