Monday, December 12, 2016

The Russian Connection

First, suitable music (not safe for work viewing, contains depictions of sexual violence)

Second, the news about possible Russian influence in the 2016 US elections.  The Washington Post article which broke the news said this:

In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals.
And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”
The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.
McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.

Emphasis is mine.   Compare the bolded sentences with what Comey, the FBI director, did only a few days before the elections.  Partisan politics is acceptable if it benefits Republicans, but unacceptable if it benefits Democrats.  That quote makes it utterly plain and clear to everyone, should some still be in doubt after decades of the same arguments.

But there is another difference between Comey's "revelation" about the Clinton emails which turned out a nothing-burger and the revelations about a foreign power meddling in the US election process.*   I leave that difference for you to ponder.

Third, the commercial interests of the Trump dynasty may influence Trump's foreign policies.  He is considering Rex Tillerson,  the head of Exxon Mobil for the Secretary of State.  Tillerson has close ties to Vladimir Putin, and, of course, extremely close ties to crony capitalism on the global level:

Tillerson, 64, was a driving force behind ExxonMobil's partnership with Russian oil giant Rosneft and drilling projects in the Arctic, Black Sea and Siberia. In 2014, Putin awarded the ExxonMobil CEO the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia grants to foreign citizens.

Finally, and as an aside, note this bit in the Washington Post article:

The Trump transition team dismissed the findings in a short statement issued Friday evening. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again,’ ” the statement read.

Bolds are mine.  The bolded sentence didn't elicit any kind of clarification in that article, so it's worth noting that it is not true.


* The US has meddled in the elections of other countries, of course, but two wrongs do not make a right.  Besides, that meddling is an explicit Putin policy, aimed at destabilizing Western democracies and at weakening NATO,  part of larger campaign, much of it aimed at Western European countries.

It is also of some concern that the RNC emails might have been also hacked, though only the DNC emails were brought to sunlight.  This wouldn't mean that the RNC emails had nothing of public interest in them, or to those who might still hold them.  On the other hand, if only the DNC emails were hacked, the question is why only those.