This is a pretty good place to start off a discussion:
In an extraordinary development Thursday, the Obama administration announced a series of sanctions against Russia.
Thirty-five Russian nationals will be expelled from the country. President Obama issued a terse statement seeming to blame Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee emails.
“These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” he wrote.
Russia at first pledged, darkly, to retaliate, then backed off. The Russian press today is even reporting that Vladimir Putin is inviting “the children of American diplomats” to “visit the Christmas tree in the Kremlin,” as characteristically loathsome/menacing/sarcastic a Putin response as you’ll find.
This dramatic story puts the news media in a jackpot. Absent independent verification, reporters will have to rely upon the secret assessments of intelligence agencies to cover the story at all.
Many reporters I know are quietly freaking out about having to go through that again. We all remember the WMD fiasco.
“It’s déjà vu all over again” is how one friend put it.
Apparently, our media is so desperate to learn a lesson from the way they were played in the Iraq WMD debacle (as always, the excellent Operation Desert Snipe from 2003 sets the standard) that what they have chosen to learn is nihilism and nothingness with a dash of learned helplessness.
There simply is no comparison between the WMD story and the Russian hacking. The Obama administration has no Office of Special Plans ginning up fake bullshit about the Russian hacking, feeding it directly to the media through backchannels, all in direct contradiction to what the intelligence services are actually saying. There is no Doug Feith, Ahmad Chalabi, Paul Wolfowitz or Judy Miller. John Kerry isn’t standing before the UN lying about what the Russians have done like Colin Powell and his fucking aluminum tubes.
But that is where many in the media are today, pretending it’s the same thing, and it’s all so shadowy, and we can’t know anything, and who knows what Obama’s motives are, and we can’t trust anything the intelligence services say (and these are the same people who will turn around and cite Bush as culpable for not paying ample attention to the infamous August 6th, 2001 briefing on Osama bin Laden’s intent and act appalled that Trump is not attending intelligence briefings). That’s the benefit of nihilism- you can believe in everything and nothing at the same time, and push both as capital T Truth simultaneously.
So that is where we find ourselves now- in an asymmetric warfare in which we believe nothing that the intelligence services say (and trust me, I think healthy skepticism is good and I don’t trust those fuckers as far as I can throw them and with my bad shoulder, blah blah Ferris Bueller), but everything leaked by the Russian hackers. We demand proof, but then dismiss anything that is offered- “It’s not enough! We need more,” knowing full well that publicly offering more would jeopardize data collection methods, reveal what we know and how we know it, reveal sources, and burn agents. It’s almost like in a rush to learn things, they forgot about Valerie Plame.
It’s fertile ground, this nihilism. You get to say that Obama’s actions are both too much and not enough. You can say it was too late, and that it was unnecessary anyway. When you believe in nothing, you are never wrong and always right. You can pretend someone making a mistake is the same as intentionally lying or hysterical (all the while giving fodder for those who want it to ignore everything). You’re always the smartest kid in the class when you shout out the answers after the test have been graded.
And to maintain this, you have to really work to believe nothing. You have to thoroughly dismiss Trump’s long record of fellating Putin. You have to ignore Paul Manafort’s Russian connections. You have to pretend Rex Tillerson doesn’t exist. Or Carter Page. And Roger Stone never said this. And that Julian Assange does not have an agenda.
You must also feign concern about pointing out Russian hacking might lead to nuclear escalation. Now it’s been decades since my foreign policy courses in poly sci. and seminars named things like Superpowers of the Nuclear Age, but I don’t recall the mutual masturbation society that is the current Trump/Putin relationship being discussed in the MAD sections. The only real danger we have right now is friction burns as Trump and Putin dryhump each other on twitter.
It’s also not surprising that many of the people who are outright dismissing the Russian hacking were some of Clinton’s biggest critics. A part of me thinks that dismissing the Russian hacking is part of their unwillingness to cede any of her loss to Trump to anything other than her being the absolute worst person in the world and an even worse candidate. Now let’s be clear, because I know I will be misquoted. I don’t think that the leaks were THE reason she lost. But they were a reason. To deny this is absurd. The leaks were taken out of context, pushed on every front page of every newspaper, and elevated everyday campaign talk into something sinister. Hell, I have listened to people around here conflate the Clinton email server with the DNC email hacks as proof that Clinton violated the law and was unsafe with her emails, all of which ignores the fact that Clinton was never sending action items or top secret stuff through her emails to begin with, because there is a whole separate system for that kind of communication. I still don’t think most journalists fucking understand THAT, which is in and of itself another reason for my current disgusted viewpoint on our failed media experiment.
Clinton lost for a number of reasons. She had high negatives (Clinton fatigue) due to a 30 year campaign by the GOP. She had a media relentlessly flog minutae over substance. She could have visited a few battleground states more. She had Bern or Busters and Jill Stein idiots sapping the vote. She had voter suppression killing the vote in several key states. She had the media flogging a ridiculous fucking email story. She had the unprecedented and unconscionable behavior of James Comey. And she had the Russian hacking and DNC emails.
Let me put it this way. In medical care, there is a phrase/condition called multiple morbities. What it basically means is that a number of conditions can co-occur and ultimately lead to a patient’s demise. When people die, more often than not, there were a number of things going on, each of which could be fatal in its own right. You can suffer from diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, liver failure, etc. When a patient dies, the doctors don’t sit around saying things like “ONE THING IS FOR SURE, THE OBESITY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS.” The hacking isn’t what killed the patient, but it sure contributed. But that’s what the deniers want you to believe.
The absolute worst thing about this nihilistic behavior is that they think they are masquerading as heroes speaking truth to power, lauding themselves for their skepticism. Except they aren’t. They’re getting in some parting shots at Obama (who was never good enough for them anyway- HE KILLED SINGLE PAYER- THE 60 VOTES WERE THERE! JUST ASK ANYONE AT THE NOW DEFUNCT FIREDOGLAKES COMMENT SECTION!) and enabling the real power, which is the unified Republican House, Senate, and White House, and soon to be Supreme Court, as well as the several dozen Republican statehouses, who, as we saw during the Bush years, are more than willing to destroy anything and everything, including intelligence agencies, if it means they can starve poor people, start wars at will, keep women and minorities in line, and cut taxes in the rich.
So thanks guys for your fucking service to the nation, you dickheads.
*** Update ***
The fact that people think the Russians hacked the election is not proof of Democratic or intelligence services or WH perfidy, it’s just more evidence that the American people are really fucking stupid and partially because you are so fucking bad at your job. Here’s example fucking A:
Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Interfering with the election is NOT fucking hacking the vote totals, and no one has claimed the latter, you fucking pinhead.