The Questions Are Not What Did The President Know And When Did He Know it? The Question Is What, If Anything, Would The President Be Doing Differently If We Knew For Certain That He Was A Russian Asset Or Agent?

Cheryl did us all a service with her post, and especially her tables, that compare and contrast the timelines in the two New York Times stories she wanted to juxtapose. I think there is, however, a bigger and more important issue, really a question, that has been lingering over the investigation into the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign and what connections, if any, the President; his campaign; his business; his associates that existed around, but not in, his business and his campaign; and his surrogates had with the Russian government; Russian intelligence; and/or Russian organized crime in regard to the active measures and cyberwarfare campaign against the US. And this question is not groundbreaking or earth shattering. I’ve asked it here before. Others have asked it on twitter, other blogs, etc. The real question is what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if we knew for certain that he was a Russian asset or agent?

Vladimir Putin, despite being not the greatest strategic thinker in history, has a very specific set of goals. Some are US specific. Some are EU and NATO specific. Some are regional. And some are global. As we’ve covered here over and over since the late spring of 2016 is that Putin wants to roll back US power by weakening the US and by demonstrating that the liberal democracy and attendant values that the US promotes globally is no better, and may in fact be worse, than the managed democracy he’s created in Russia around his authoritarian rule. In regards to the US, Putin specifically wants to enflame political, social, religious, and ethnic grievances, which is why his cyber enabled information warfare targeted very specific groups over very specific issues. Often playing groups on both sides of an issue off against each other. He also wants to rollback US power projection. Specifically he wants the US military and defense posture to stop being expeditionary. Regionally in Europe he wants NATO weakened so he can reestablish the historic near abroad and sphere of influence that he believes are Russia’s due, including his claims on Crimea and Ukraine. And regionally in the Middle East and Central Asia (the Central Command Area of Responsibility) he wants the US out of Syria and, if possible, out of Iraq and Afghanistan – areas that he now perceives as part of Russia’s sphere of influence. Finally, he wants sanctions lifted so that he can leverage Russia’s petroleum wealth, as well as the wealth generated by the various oligarchs that he protects, to further stabilize his managed democracy and coup proof himself so he can remain in power.

And here’s where the key question – what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if we knew for certain that he was a Russian asset or agent? – comes in.

  • At the GOP convention in the summer of 2016, the President’s campaign changed the Republican platform regarding support to Ukraine by watering it down. This change supports Putin’s regional objectives in Crimea and in regard to Ukraine.
  • Prior to the vote on Brexit the President promoted Brexit from one of his golf properties in Scotland.
  • Two months before the convention the President gave his first major foreign policy address at a Washington think tank that is alleged to have curiously strange ties to Russia. In that address the President, as he’s done reliably since shortly after he returned from a Roger Stone organized, KGB coordinated visit to Soviet Russia, discounted the importance of all of America’s alliances, and placing special emphasis on his mistaken belief that our NATO allies, as well as Japan and South Korea, are ripping us off and taking advantage of the US.
  • Since being elected the President has routinely slammed NATO, Japan, and South Korea as ripping off and taking advantage of the US and has repeatedly demanded they pay up the arrears that he believes they owe the US.
  • The President kicked off his campaign in 2015 with a racist, xenophobic, and nativist screed against immigrants. Throughout his campaign and now his presidency, he has built on this to the delight of his base and is, essentially, promoting a white supremacist, if not an outright white Christian herrenvolk vision for America. This vileness has now bloomed into the separation of children from parents attempting to enter the US to seek asylum, the internment of children, the loss of interred children, and the deaths, in US custody, of children who came here with at least one parent to seek asylum.
  • The President has been trying for over a year to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Despite Secretary Pompeo’s address in Cairo this week, as well as Ambassador Bolton’s statements, the US has already begun withdrawing military personnel from Syria and the planning has begun for the drawn down in Afghanistan. In fact the Pentagon, when asked about Ambassador Bolton’s statements regarding US actions in Syria, responded with: “we don’t take orders from Bolton”.
  • Secretary Pompeo’s speech in Cairo was also notable for what he did not note: anything pertaining to the promotion of liberal democracy or human rights or civil liberties in Egypt, in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world. This follows on the US abandoning the UN Human Rights Council (probably because it abbreviates as HRC).
  • The President, supported by a trio of the kookiest economic advisors in Hassett, Kudlow, and Navarro, and in conjunction with congressional Republicans whose only consistent strategy is to always cut taxes regardless of what is actually happening in the economy, has managed to overheat the economy. He has started trade wars with both allies and competitors, which includes both imposing sanctions and having sanctions imposed on the US. As a result of this bizarre combination of mercantilism, protectionism, and supply side economics (itself a retread of a long discounted 19th century economic theory) , has spooked the markets causing a functioning economy to sputter.
  • The US government is now in shutdown. There is no indication that it will end any time soon as the Senate Major Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has abdicated his authority and ceded his power to the President in an attempt to avoid any blame or fallout for the ongoing shutdown. While this too will have significant economic effects because no one in the administration actually planned for a shutdown and what it meant even as they were threatening one, it further enflames the political, social, economic, and religious divisions within the US causing more political, social, and economic discord.

I could keep adding bullets to this list all night, but I think the point is made: the President’s positions during the campaign and the actions he’s taken, in regards to domestic, foreign, national security, and economic affairs, have given Putin almost everything he wanted. The only thing he hasn’t gotten yet is the lifting of sanctions, but there have been efforts within the administration to chip away at and/or redefine them in the favor of Putin and the oligarchs he protects.

And this brings us back to the question: what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if we knew for certain that he was a Russian asset or agent?

And the answer I keep coming back to, every time I ask it of myself or discuss it with those who I’ve been collaborating with on tracking the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign through open sources, is nothing. There is nothing the President would be doing differently. And that conclusion is one of the most disturbing I’ve ever come to in my professional career.

Open thread!

125 replies
  1. 1
    Mike in DC says:

    This, this, this is why the “Why are you wasting time on this” faction on the left was horribly, horribly wrong and those pursuing it were right. If your democracy isn’t secure, nothing else really matters.

  2. 2

    Mueller’s report can’t come soon enough. Every month that ticks by is another month we’ve missed to begin getting the country back up on its feet.

  3. 3
    randal m sexton says:

    Straining my aged noodle to understand this stuff — my feeling all along is that the fbi has known for fact certain that the whole Trump machine is crooked, BUT the evidence they have cannot be used in a court of law because it would give away means and methods, or betray what was given to them by the five eyes, or other agencies, this report confirms that ?

  4. 4
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in DC: A lot of that faction has been penetrated, even if they don’t know it.

  5. 5
    sukabi says:

    We are closer to impeachment tonight. Drumpf is also much closer to being fitted for an orange jumpsuit.

    Those are my ‘bright spots’ in this mess.

    Drumpf is getting itchy to go back to maraloco, he may just surprise everyone and quit the whole show.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @randal m sexton: A good deal of what Mueller’s team has to do, and has been doing, in preparing indictments and cases for trial is trying to maneuver around the problem of having to protect sources and methods. That’s why a lot of what has been charged so far looks far more like charges for organized crime and white collar crime.

  7. 7
    piratedan says:

    in regards to the questions in bold….. the same question could be applied to Mitch McConnell….

    just saying… I don’t know how anal retentive the Russians are in regards to keeping track of all of the players and I assume that there are various and sundry scorecards somewhere, but I sure want to also know who in the media is also on their payroll.

    I also have to say, in many ways I want Ms. Harris to win the nomination (and Presidency) in the hopes that as a former prosecutor that she would have the wherewithal to follow this thru to the end and put these people away for a very long time and in addition, seize the assets of all those that willfully played along with the subversion of our nation.

    I want this shit rooted out and this festering boil on our nation lanced.

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @piratedan: One of Putin’s oligarch is into McConnell to the tune of about $2.5 million dollars.
    https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2018/05/08/putins-proxies-helped-funnel-millions-gop-campaigns

    McConnell surely knew as a participant in high level intelligence briefings in 2016 that our electoral process was under attack by the Russians. Two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement in October 2016 that the Russian government had directed the effort to interfere in our electoral process, McConnell’s PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Blavatnik’s AI-Altep Holdings. The PAC took another $1 million from Blavatnik’s AI-Altep Holdings on March 30, 2017, just 10 days after former FBI Director James Comey publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s interference in the election.

    Also, from the same article:

    In total, Blavatnik, Intrater, Shustorovich and Kukes made $10.4 million in political contributions from the start of the 2015-16 election cycle through September 2017, and 99 percent of their contributions went to Republicans. With the exception of Shustorovich, the common denominator that connects the men is their association with Vekselberg. Experts who follow the activities of Russian oligarchs told ABC News that they believe the contributions from Blavatnik, Intrater and Kukes warrant intense scrutiny because they have worked closely with Vekselberg.

    Blavatnik is Mnuchin’s former business partner in the film production company Mnuchin owned.

  9. 9
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yep. We were talking about McConnell in one of the morning threads and there was lots of pushback to the idea of him being compromised. It’s pretty obvious if you look at it.

  10. 10
    piratedan says:

    @Adam L Silverman: and so… if Turtle and Priebus and Ryan were all compromised (or at least in knowledge of all of this) and were not only aware of the money but also receiving the money and helping to distribute it and help provide guidance for the attacks that were being done on social media. Does that signify treason in your mind as well Adam?

  11. 11
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    Adam, this may be a silly, unrealistic question (and I’m not sure if you’ve answered already), but would a man such as Vladimir Putin change his behavior when personally confronted by an invulnerable superhuman threatening him with death unless he stops his bullshit? Or would he attempt to double down and kill the superhuman, rallying the rest of the world against them? I know that’s a scenario that you can’t answer for certain, but I was wondering for shits and giggles. I’m leaning towards the latter, given leaders don’t like having their authority or their lives threatened.

  12. 12
    cynthia ackerman says:

    Yep

  13. 13
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @piratedan: The problem with calling it treason is, as with several other things, the Constitution defines it in ways that are not how the term would be commonly used. While I think the two clauses in the definitions can be read separately, I’m just a nat-sec specialists with a PhD in polisci and crim, not a constitutional scholar. And the consensus seems to be that the whole thing has to be read within the framework of the US being formally at war. And while Putin certainly thinks he’s at war with the US, as he’s said a number of times since at least 2014, the US has not declared war nor authorized the use of military force against Russia.

    The larger issue is because Blavatnik is a naturalized citizen, and some of the other donations were run through US subsidiaries of companies owned by these oligarchs or through US citizen relatives of some of these oligarchs, that they’re probably all legal because of the Citizens United ruling.

  14. 14
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: I honestly have no idea. And I wouldn’t even no where to start.

  15. 15
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    Megyn Kelly walks away from NBC with $30 million.

    Somehow conservatives always seem to fail in the most profitable manner.

  16. 16
    piratedan says:

    @Adam L Silverman: and we’re not the type of country where Mr. McConnell would just suddenly slip in his bathtub or fall from a balcony as a way to redress his moral choices…. understand… so while he’s not Constitutionally guilty per se (depending upon your jurist I presume), there is plenty of implication that depending upon who is bringing charges and under what court this suit would be presented that someone like McConnell could very well walk or be exonerated…. Citizens United, the legal grift.. er gift that keeps on giving.

    Well, here’s to hoping that Pooty-Toot decides to clean up loose ends Goodfellas style, these gentlemen deserve nothing less…

  17. 17
    oldgold says:

    Protecting sources and methods be damned when confronting an imminent existential threat to our Constitutional Republic.

    Time is of the essence.

  18. 18
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Oh. That’s too bad. I was only asking because I like reading stories that involve stuff like that. That and I hate Putin.

    I think he’s acting incredibly irresponsibly. All he’s doing is making the world a less secure, prosperous, and free place just so he can turn the clock back to the “good old days” and increase his power at the expense of the future collective welfare of all humanity, possibly even human existence itself.

  19. 19
    Yarrow says:

    @piratedan: With McConnell, it’s also worth looking at China and also Iran for other questionable actions.

  20. 20
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @piratedan: I’m a big promoter, and I’ll probably do a post on this in the next week, that we’re going to need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to sort all this out. That it needs to be funded and then set up to run independently. Given his familiarity with the context, provided he’d be willing, I’d recommend Mueller be put in charge of it. He’d have to be given power to subpoena, to bring/refer charges for prosecution, to grant immunity, and to develop recommended reforms that Congress would be required to actually bring to the floor, debate, and vote on regardless of whether the leaders of either chamber would want to. This would then free up Congress to actually focus on the larger issue of rebalancing the powers between the branches of government.

  21. 21
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Is there any legal basis for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee under American law? I’d like to see one too.

  22. 22
    Sebastian says:

    @Yarrow:

    Yes, start with his wife.

    Although, we could save a lot of time by simply demanding that everyone who was hired or willing to work for Trump be investigated. For obvious reasons.

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: Putin, like everyone else, will continue to behave in the way they’re behaving as long as they are receiving positive reinforcement or, at least, not being punished/receiving negative reinforcement. This is basic social learning theory. What Putin has learned is that he can basically pursue his objectives with minimal pushback; especially with Trump as the president of the US and the EU focused on Brexit. Unfortunately, we’ve moved well beyond the point when it would’ve been easy to bloody his nose to get his attention and focus it on a message of knocking this crap off. It would now be much more difficult and much, much more dangerous to do so.

  24. 24
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: His wife’s family’s shipping business.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: I don’t think there’s anything prohibiting it provided it is created by law, passed by Congress and signed by whoever is president or through a congressional over ride of a presidential veto.

  26. 26
    randal m sexton says:

    @Adam L Silverman: So mueller et all has conflict ? Burn sources to save country, or be loyal to confidence of sources, or maybe also that the evidence is just no admissible in legal sense ? Mueller does seem to want to communicate thru ‘Speaking Indictments’, yet that still confines his story telling to the confines of what is admissible, and revealable. Maybe the upcoming congressional investigation-palooza will have fewer constraints ?

  27. 27
    Sebastian says:

    @piratedan:

    Having spent majority of my life observing Americans and America from the outside, I’d bet a lot of money that a lot of people will end up dead by execution when this is over. Americans don’t do nuance when they get going.

  28. 28
    SectionH says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We can has FINALLY something that can be proven? Oh pleasepleasepleaseplease…

  29. 29
    Repatriated says:

    @oldgold:

    Protecting sources and methods be damned when confronting an imminent existential threat to our Constitutional Republic.

    Unless we’re planning to let bygones be bygones, we’ll need those sources and methods for our counterattack.

  30. 30
    piratedan says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Its a place to start to catalog all of the questions that are going to come from this, for me some of the questions are this…

    If the President and multiple members of his administration are found to be foreign agents
    If the 2016 was proven to have been stolen and certain election results proven to have been compromised….

    do we have legal redress to

    remove those laws passed by this administration from the books?
    recall those appointments made to the judiciary?
    recall those people appointed to ambassador positions?

    I understand its a huge undertaking to unfuck the country but it has to be done and it has to be done in public and those found guilty from everything from simply lining their own pockets to treason need to get buried, legally, financially, socially… imho

  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @randal m sexton: You always want to protect your sources and methods whenever possible. Because you want to preserve them and because you want to communicate to the human ones that they’ll be protected. Also, what is considered actionable intelligence may not translate well to being admissible, let alone persuasive, evidence in a court of law. I expect between the indictments still to be brought, the actual prosecutions and evidence presented in court, and the report or reports that the Special Counsel will issue, that a lot of material will be brought into the light.

  32. 32
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Unfortunately, we’ve moved well beyond the point when it would’ve been easy to bloody his nose to get his attention and focus it on a message of knocking this crap off. It would now be much more difficult and much, much more dangerous to do so.

    Well, the way I see it, the world’s ultimately doomed if we don’t stop him now. He doesn’t care who he hurts or has killed and that includes the billions of people here and abroad, as well as in his own nation. All he cares about is his own power. He’s a global and existential threat to humanity and should be classified as such. Either we stop him now, or we allow him to destroy the planet for his own short-term gain.

  33. 33
    Repatriated says:

    @piratedan: Legally? No. Politically? The process exists, and if the political damage to the Republicans is sufficient it can be used.

  34. 34

    @oldgold: Ever thought that Putin might want us to burn our sources and methods? That could also be one of his goals.

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SectionH: Everything in that article is provable and documentable. The author is a professor and she got all that information through the public and searchable tax filings and other disclosures that the PACs and campaigns are required to make.

  36. 36
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @piratedan: This is why I keep finishing posts with: we are through the map and off the looking glass. We are truly in uncharted territory.

  37. 37
    Sebastian says:

    @piratedan:

    And physically.

  38. 38
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    some of the other donations were run through US subsidiaries of companies owned by these oligarchs or through US citizen relatives of some of these oligarchs

    Uh, isn’t that commonly called “money laundering”? Did Citizens United really say that it was okay to accept illegal foreign donations as long as you laundered them first?

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @randal m sexton:

    IMO, Mueller is trying to make sure that the evidence he uses in court can’t be thrown out as having been improperly gathered. He’s looking for prison sentences, not truth and reconciliation.

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: A functioning US government that had a different president, even a prior to 2016 conventional one, would be able to contain him and a lot of the mischief he’s trying to promote to achieve his goals.

  41. 41
    oldgold says:

    @Repatriated:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    The key to my position is that I believe our Constitutional Republic is facing an imminent existential threat.

    If your analysis is that the threat is something less than that, then your position has merit.

  42. 42
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: Correct, it is money laundering. That, facilitated by the Citizens United ruling, was the ultimate evolution of the long con that Perlstein described in his Baffler piece conveniently titled The Long Con. McConnell’s primary political goal has been to roll back any and all campaign finance reforms and restrictions. This isn’t so he can do unlimited amounts of fundraising. It is so he and those who finance him can use the system to both launder money and skim off of the money flows. His other primary political goal has been to pack the judiciary with Federalist Society types who will roll back campaign finance reforms and restrictions. This is one of the primary reasons why Kavanaugh had to be on the court, he had a long paper trail opposing any campaign finance limits.

  43. 43
    The Dangerman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m a big promoter, and I’ll probably do a post on this in the next week, that we’re going to need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to sort all this out.

    Before the 2020 election? I don’t see how that is possible, especially since 2020 is starting to ramp up (hell, this shutdown in Act 1 in the production).

    Of course, this assumes there IS an election in 2020. I don’t know how it would be cancelled but, hell, who knows about anything at this point if Mueller brings the hammer down on Trump (assuming Trump himself can’t be indicted).

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Dangerman: It would have to be after the 2020 election. You think the President would sign a truth and reconciliation authorization bill into law? You think McConnell would even let the bill onto the floor of the Senate for debate, let alone a vote?

  45. 45
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    How the fuck do we fix this?

  46. 46
  47. 47
    randal m sexton says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think I agree – cuz of his mandate – he is confined to stuff that can appear in court. Sadly, this seem to me to be a category error. Democracy, Rule of Law, Legitimate Government is at stake here. The great conflicts of life are like this when honor, moral, ethical, family, tribe, community loyalties come in conflict. There ain’t no easy way out. I hope he don’t back down. If it was me I like to think I would make indictments that would burn sources/methods, would fail in court, trash my career, but tell the story, and save democracy. That is probably naive .

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I admit, IANAL, but my viewings of “Law & Order” have led me to believe that accepting stolen or laundered money is illegal. I mean, if a drug dealer in New York received a large sum of money from his supplier in Colombia and donated it to a Republican SuperPAC, I don’t think there’s any judge in the country that would agree that Citizens United says it’s A-OK to accept the donation of criminal proceeds.

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: Stay informed, pace yourself, call your Democratic representatives and/or senators and state equivalents to register your support for their efforts to contain the mess. Contact your Republican representatives and/or senators and state equivalents to let them know you expect them to put country over party and if they don’t you’ll work to vote them out of office. Support politicians and organizations that are fighting to contain this mess in the courts. Vote in 2020. Get everyone you know registered to vote in 2020, get everyone you know to get everyone they know to register to vote in 2020. Get everyone you know to then vote in 2020. Get everyone you know to get everyone they to then vote in 2020. That’s about all that can be done right now.

    You don’t want me to delineate what the other, much more proactive option is.

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: Without laundered money there’d be no real estate development in the US.

  51. 51
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I wonder what’s up with former Justice Kennedy. He resigned rather suddenly. One son worked for Deutsche Bank and the other seems to be connected to Peter Thiel. Both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy. It’s all a little too cozy.

  52. 52
    The Dangerman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    You think the President would sign …?

    You think McConnell would even…

    I guess I was thinking a commission wouldn’t come through Legislative channels (I don’t know how it would come about otherwise, but I’m at +? so we’ll have to not try to guess).

    If it has to come through Legislative channels, then we are screwed because you’ll never get to 60 in the Senate. Hell, Single Payer would have a better chance than a Commsion.

    Not saying you are wrong; we need to identify the guilty, convict them, and build new prisons as needed (although, at this point, if we could build gallows on the White House lawn and have people swing, that works for me, too).

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @randal m sexton:

    Not sending Nixon to jail helped allow this day to happen. That’s why Mueller needs to dot every I and cross every T to make sure these assholes are convicted in a court of law. Otherwise, they will skate, be excused by their followers, and do it all over again.

    Once they’re safely behind bars, then the story can be told. But without actual criminal penalties and court proceedings, it will just happen again. They will not stop trying to subvert our democracy until they are in prison.

  54. 54
    Sebastian says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And in the UK.

  55. 55
    Repatriated says:

    It just occurred to me that Trump’s televised statement on Tuesday was originally intended to be a declaration of a State of Emergency to both “Get Wall” without requiring Congressional authorization and to set a precedent of bypassing the now Democratic House on other issues. Instead, it was an overmedicated teleprompter reading that can’t have been what Republicans wanted to put out there.

    Could it be that the intel community showed a few of the cards in their hand and forced the Administration to back down? If so, the NYT story could be one of those cards.

  56. 56
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Good advice. I just hope it will be enough.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Sebastian: Or pretty much anywhere else for that matter.

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Hey, you don’t have to tell a Californian that. I drive past dozens of condominiums that were built so Chinese and Russian oligarchs could park their money in our pleasant climate.

    However, I’m still pretty sure that it would be almost impossible to find a US judge who would say it was A-OK under Citizens United for foreigners to launder money so they could make political donations.

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Dangerman: If the next Democratic nominee runs on it, if the Democrats put it in their platform, and if the Democrats hold the House and retake the Senate, it is possible. I’m not saying it is probable. But it would be possible.

  60. 60
    Bess says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷:

    We fix this by putting high quality Democrats in control of Congress and the administration.

    At least that’s how we start to fix it. We go into repair mode which is the real need. The course of the country is more important than bringing people to justice.

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Apparently the FBI is investigating Tucker Carlson for beating his wife and dealing fentanyl.

  62. 62
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Sebastian:

    Quick question: did you actually pie me?

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Repatriated:

    to set a precedent of bypassing the now Democratic House on other issues

    That aspect of it was baked in — it came from the same desperation as wingnut legislatures passing lame-duck legislation to strip powers from newly elected Democratic governors.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Repatriated: The Times story was being worked on at least as far back as December and simply fleshes out reporting by WaPo and other outlets from September and October.

  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: Again, you don’t want me to delineate what the other, much more proactive option is.

  66. 66
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I admit, IANAL, but my viewings of “Law & Order” have led me to believe that accepting stolen or laundered money is illegal.

    IANAL either, but my understanding is, this isn’t strictly true, in the sense that if the stolen goods go thru enough hands, then it’s pretty much impossible to claw it back (or something like that?) That money laundering doesn’t really apply when there are enough intermediaries. No real idea, though. Just what I’d read here-and-there.

  67. 67
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I wouldn’t want you to. I really hope it doesn’t have to come to that.

  68. 68
    Repatriated says:

    @Mnemosyne: I agree that it was overdetermined. That’s why it seemed odd that they didn’t go through with it.

  69. 69
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Adam L Silverman: How do we protect the 2020 election against Russian interference? And the elections for Senate?

    I guess the underlying question is how do we manage to protect US citizens against social media disinformation campaigns?

    And how can we protect ourselves against those of us permanently lost in the murk of disinformation–the Evangelicals, the left purity cult, etc? They don’t see they’ve been sucked in, so feel secure in their moral and/or divine superiority.

  70. 70
    Repatriated says:

    @Ladyraxterinok:

    I guess the underlying question is how do we manage to protect US citizens against social media disinformation campaigns?

    Education in critical thinking and civics, funded as though it were an existential requirement — because it is. Think about how we funded STEM education (not that we called it that back then) after Sputnik.

  71. 71
    randal m sexton says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, Nixon skated cuz of Pardon power, not so much lack of proper judicial dotting of j’s and crossing of Xs. and I do agree that should not have happened, and it got worse with the pardons surrounding Reagan/Bush Iran Contra …..
    and Bush/Cheney Lying us into wars never even got examined! Im thinking we are in a more serious spot- at the edge of extinction of democracy – and that its more important to figure out how to adapt more rapidly to sudden crazy power grab by halfAssDipShitIncompetentDictatorDickHeads. We are skating very close to losing a legitimate claim that our government has consent of the governed. And when THAT happens, there is nothing in the Constitution that can deal with that. The Declaration of Independence DOES say what is required to deal with this, which is not a happy thought.

  72. 72
    Bess says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    as long as they are receiving positive reinforcement or, at least, not being punished/receiving negative reinforcement

    You’re misusing ‘negative reinforcement’, at least in the operational way Skinner defined it. Reinforcement, positive or negative, if given closely following a behavior increases the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.

    Positive reinforcement means that something was given. Negative reinforcement means that something was taken away.

    Turning a static distorted radio would be an incidence of negative reinforcement because the static would be taken away. Closing an open window letting in cold air or unpleasant noise/smell could be another example of negative reinforcement.

    Punishment and response cost are the flip sides of positive and negative reinforcement. Both decrease the probability of the behavior. Punishment is like positive reinforcement. A consequence is applied.

    With response cost and negative reinforcement something is taken away. In the case of response cost what is taken away is obviously something desired. Fail to keep your ice cream cone upright and gravity takes away your tasty fudge mocha. You’re likely to engage in cone-tipping in the future.

  73. 73
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: This requires a very detailed answer, which at this hour, is beyond me. I’ve got to rack out. But please ask me this again at a more reasonable hour and I’ll try to answer it.

  74. 74
    The Dangerman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    …you don’t want me to delineate what the other, much more proactive option is.

    Oh, we do, we do (no, we really don’t, as dreams are already weird enough).

    I was watching some channel this evening and they had the Governor of WA on and he was saying that ferry service might start being impacted because the Coast Guard can’t certify vessels. Well, if I heard correctly and they can’t quickly build a MUCH bigger Tacoma Narrows bridge, well, things would be well and truly fucked in WA.

    Point being, too much longer in the shutdown and all sorts of unintended or unwanted or unpredictable stuff starts happening and proactive measures sound pretty good.

  75. 75
    Mary G says:

    That change in the Republican platform was the first and still very smoking gun to me, not just because it went directly against Republican foreign policy, but just how sketchy it was in that no one would admit responsibility in the campaign and the little clerical nerds insisted at first that it was done at the Trump campaign’s behest, then clammed up after a day or two and went with the old Sgt. Schultz routine of “I know nothing.”

    Every little drip, drip, drip we hear convinces me that not only is the president working for Russia, but quite a few other Republicans are too.

  76. 76
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Bess: Social learning starts with Sutherland at the University of Chicago and goes from Sutherland to Cressey. And from there to Bandura and Sykes and Mazah. And from there to Burgess and Akers. And from Akers to Cochrane and to Sellers and several others. And, ultimately, from Akers to me!

    ETA: And yes, I’m familiar with Skinner’s concepts of learning. As well as others like Chomsky. I’m not a Skinnerian and after what Chomsky did to my aunt, he should pray he never actually meets me face to face. I’m a student of Akers, in fact for a while until he came out of retirement as a favor to UF’s crim program, I was his last student. I’m an old style sociological/criminological social behaviorist in the long line of tradition that stretches back to Sutherland’s, the Father of Modern Criminology, Differential Association Theory. And in that line of empirical theory, I’m using reinforcement correctly and I have the publications to prove it.

  77. 77
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Formerly super naive person finds that a super scary and depressing statement.

    All the publication of the world of Trump’s property development has really opened my eyes.

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    And with that, I’m going to bed.

  79. 79
  80. 80
    Mnemosyne says:

    @randal m sexton:

    Nixon skated long before the actual pardon, because they agreed to allow him to resign rather than impeaching him. They subverted the legal process so the Republican Party would not be destroyed. And they did it again with Iran/Contra. By the time Bush II came along, Republicans knew they could do anything — including steal an election by a vote of 5-4 — and the Washington establishment would excuse it in the name of not rocking the boat. And once the Fox News propaganda machine started rolling at full speed, they had a voting bloc thar would believe anything they were told.

    That’s why we need a full legal process on this, not another rush to sweep everything under the rug and a spate of resignations so the Washington eatablishment can pretend that everything is fine. Yes, it will be like Al Capone being sent to prison for tax evasion … but Capone still died in prison regardless of what evidence they used to put him there.

  81. 81
    ruemara says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: Sit by me. That man would plunge the world into a fascist, ecological nightmare to make a buck. These types usually earn their end. The question is how do we protect others from getting caught up in the comeuppance.

  82. 82
    Bess says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    If in criminology punishment and negative reinforcement have the same result how are they different? Are they operationally or subjectively defined in the sense that some learning theorists use ‘reward’?

    And I have never seen Skinner and Chomsky put in the same box. People around Skinner generally hate Chomsky for the hack job review he did of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. Chomsky either failed to read the book or at least did not at all comprehend what he read.

    Here’s a bit out of Chomsky’s Wiki page –

    In adopting this position, Chomsky rejects the radical behaviorist psychology of B. F. Skinner, which views the mind as a tabula rasa (“blank slate”) and thus treats language as learned behavior.[186] Accordingly, he argues that language is a unique evolutionary development of the human species and unlike modes of communication used by any other animal species.

  83. 83
    psycholinguist says:

    @Bess: Hey, Chomsky just pointed out the obvious limits to Skinner’s attempt at constructing an operant conditioning theory of language acquisition. You every try to construct a mand for colorless green ideas?

    But your larger point is entirely correct – reinforcement and punishment, whether positive or negative, are defined by their effects on behavior: behavior goes up it is reinforcement, behavior goes down, you got yourself some punishment, and you can follow that little diddy all the way back to Thorndike and his law of effect. But let’s give Adam a break, it’s 3:00 AM hereabouts.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bess:

    “Tabula rasa” is bullshit. Infants are born with a specific temperament. That means that it’s impossible to say that one action is “negative reinforcement” and another is “punishment” because what matters is how the action is perceived by the subject. A researcher may consider a blast of cold air to be “negative reinforcement,” but one child who receives it may perceive it as a punishment, while a different child with a different temperament may not be affected by it at all.

    Though IIRC Chomsky is also wrong that language is exclusive to humans. That, too, is a romantic notion that has since been disproven by actual science.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bess:
    @psycholinguist:

    Actually, looking back, I think Bess misread or misunderstood what Adam wrote:

    ar least, not being punished/receiving negative reinforcement

    That “/” is an “or.” It’s not saying that punishment = negative reinforcement. It’s saying that they’re receiving neither punishment nor negative reinforcement.

  86. 86
    scav says:

    @Bess: If I’m understanding the distinction Adam (and team) are making, both negative and positive reinforcement reinforce the targeted behavior — roughly I’d say positive by adding something (that’s the obvious reward) and negative by taking something away (harder to imagine, because it’s so easy to interpret the lack of whatever as a positive reward) but somehow that makes logical sense.

    He says

    Punishment and response cost are the flip sides of positive and negative reinforcement. Both decrease the probability of the behavior. Punishment is like positive reinforcement. A consequence is applied.

    So, these are the actions designed to un-inforce / dis-inforce? the targeted behavior, again in the twp flavors. Punishment is the active form something is added, Cost implies something is taken away (but again, it sems to gets muddled because we can think of things in both ways. going to prison can be thought of as active punishment, but ot also seems to be the loss of freedom). But abstractly, theoretically, everything seems to balence out.

  87. 87

    @Adam L Silverman: No, there would still be real estate development, but less bubbly.

  88. 88
    Bess says:

    @psycholinguist:

    And I request a little break as well. It’s been 50 years since I read either Verbal Behavior or Chomsky’s review of it.

  89. 89
    Bess says:

    @Bess: Oops, hit Post a bit early.

    If Adam is coming from a discipline that uses different definitions for a term then that’s what it is. But I’m still pondering what a negative reinforcement might be, if it differs from punishment.

  90. 90
    Bess says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    That means that it’s impossible to say that one action is “negative reinforcement” and another is “punishment” because what matters is how the action is perceived by the subject

    That is explicitly what Skinner solved by using operational definitions. Consequences that increased the probability of a behavior for that individual were reinforcers for that individual.

    Other learning theorists (such as the Hull/Spence school) talked about ‘rewards’ which were consequences which, in the opinion of the researcher were expected to be desired by the subject.

  91. 91

    @Mnemosyne:

    because they agreed to allow him to resign rather than impeaching him.

    That’s not what actually happened, Nixon resigned before impeachment reached the House floor. You can’t impeach an officeholder who no longer is an officeholder.

  92. 92
    Bess says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    That “/” is an “or.” It’s not saying that punishment = negative reinforcement. It’s saying that they’re receiving neither punishment nor negative reinforcement.

    Adam stated…

    Putin, like everyone else, will continue to behave in the way they’re behaving as long as they are receiving positive reinforcement or, at least, not being punished/receiving negative reinforcement.

    Putin will continue to behave in the same way unless he receives punishment or negative reinforcement. Adam equates punishment and negative reinforcement. That may be a correct statement in criminology but it is incorrect in psychology.

    And I can’t figure out why criminology would would have two terms for the same consequence.

  93. 93
    Bess says:

    @scav:

    If I’m understanding the distinction Adam (and team) are making, both negative and positive reinforcement reinforce the targeted behavior

    Adam appears to be saying the opposite. Putin will continue unless he is “punished/receiving negative reinforcement”. In Skinner’s use and operational definitions both positive and negative reinforcement make a behavior more probable.

    In regular conversation we talk about imprisonment as punishment. In Skinner’s terminology imprisonment would be response cost consequence. A person’s behavior results in things being taken away. An example of punishment in the criminal justice system would be caning.

  94. 94
    Bess says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    IIRC Nixon received visitors from the Senate who told him that if he did not resign the House would impeach and the Senate would convict.

    Tricky Dick jumped in his whirlybird and left before the House could start impeachment procedures.

  95. 95
    Barb 2 says:

    Trump is acting like a Putin asset. Trump is chaos and hate. I’m listening to “Proof of Collusion” by Seth Abramson. The part about just after Trump is sworn in and invites top level Russians in and immediately brags about the secrets he knows and then spills about an Israeli operation — putting their spooks at risk.

    Abramson is using public records to put Trump on trial.

    It will take a long time for us to dig ourselves out of this Russian created mess — most of the GOP is guilty. The Donald cult will get violent and a whole lot of culling needs to be done to get rid of the Putin taint. A whole lot of people can never be allow to hold elected office ever again.

    We have already seen violence and hate from the Donald cult. Toxic male and the females who support the worst of the worst.

    My dad was one of the cold warriors — we knew that the Russians were the enemies. James Clapper’s book “Fact and Fears” has a minor section on the spy flights by the Air Force and Navy over Russia. The crews that flew over Russia knew that they were fighting a hot war. I learned from Clapper’s book what my dad was doing on those long flights over Russia, North Korea and Red China.

    Clapper also reviews the events leading up to the Russians shooting down the US passenger jet. Putin is from that sneaky lying Russian spy agency. The Russians seem to be killing off their own in order to protect their asset — Trump.

    Thanks Adam for yet another thoughtful essay on current events.

    Abramson’s book is well worth the time.

    Trump doesn’t give a damn about the USA — unless it involves his property or assets.

  96. 96
    Barb 2 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Individual differences in behavior — knocks the heck out of the Skinner BS.

  97. 97
    rikyrah says:

    Chris Evans (@notcapnamerica) Tweeted:
    I live for Kamala Harris knocking Jake Tapper’s lopsided wig askew.

    https://t.co/9FLXF2e6dx https://twitter.com/notcapnamerica/status/1083813390999609346?s=17

  98. 98
    Bess says:

    @Barb 2:

    Everyone has a unique physique and a unique learning history. A large range in individual differences is what would be expected.

    Skinner explained the basics of learning just as chemistry explains what happens when you make a cake. Cakes differ based on ingredients and the details of prep and baking.

  99. 99
    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s not really important to the discussion but Al Capone actually died a few years after being released from prison. He never returned to the active running of his organisation and spent his declining years playing pinocle with friends around the swimming pool of his villa in Florida.

  100. 100

    @Bess: Nixon was visited by Republican Senators(Goldwater and Scott) and the House Minority Leader Rhodes who did say exactly what you stated, however impeachment proceedings had begun in the House and Articles of Impeachment had been voted out of the Judiciary Committee.

  101. 101

    @Barb 2:

    Clapper also reviews the events leading up to the Russians shooting down the US passenger jet.

    Huh? The only jet I remember them shooting down was KAL 007.

  102. 102
    Bess says:

    @Sloane Ranger: When I was in high school our band lived in Capone’s beach villa for a week and played in an open air pavilion in the area.

    What I recall is the large entry with fountain, double circular stairway and hand painted wall paper. And the front door leading right out onto the beach.

  103. 103
    Bess says:

    @Bess: But we didn’t have the internet back then. After checking I think someone was bullshitting us. Capone’s villa was in Miami, not Daytona Beach.

    Another brush with fame is lost….

  104. 104
    JPL says:

    Any ideas why the information was leaked now?

  105. 105
    Chris Johnson says:

    @Sebastian:

    Having spent majority of my life

    THE majority, mister ‘Putin is sooooo wealthy guys’.

  106. 106
    JanieM says:

    Adam, is there a difference between this question:

    what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if we knew for Certain that he was a Russian asset or agent?

    and this one:

    what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if he was a Russian asset or agent?

    ? Or am I overthinking it?

    As usual, great post, however scary. It made me realize how differently I might model Clickbait if I was sure he was a Russian agent (in terms of what I would guess about his “skills” etc.).

  107. 107
    JanieM says:

    @JanieM: What I mean is: if I were a foreign agent (and I can’t imagine anything I’m less suited to), I feel like I’d behave very differently if I thought my cover was blown, i.e. if other people knew for certain that I was an agent. That’s what I thought you meant at first, but I think my reading was mistaken and my question is a different/additional one.

  108. 108
    SFAW says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    that we’re going to need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to sort all this out.

    Truth and Retribution, please. Fuck that “Reconciliation” shit. The Republican party has been actively trying to destroy the country/Government for 30-odd years. That they haven’t (entirely) succeeded yet is not for lack of their trying.

    As bad as South Africa was, I don’t think the whites were actively trying to destroy the country, but rather just trying to maintain their hold on power (as is Turtle et al.) and maintaining the status quo of blacks as second-class or third-class citizens.

    I’m not looking for ritual or mass executions of the traitors, but deportation — without weapons, and after their assets have been confiscated — to Somalia or maybe the DRC would work just fine. One exception: I wouldn’t mind seeing Turtle publicly flayed. He, as much as anyone, has fucked over America

  109. 109
    cope says:

    @Bess: I to look it up because I don’t trust my old memory but for once, I was right.

    Negative reinforcement is the withholding of an aversive stimulus. Internet example: my daughter cleans her room (desired outcome) because I stopped nagging her (aversive stimulus). In my experience, “negative reinforcement” is often misunderstood.

  110. 110
    Another Scott says:

    A good list. But something is garbled in the economic one. Yes he has kooks advising him, but the economy is not “overheated” – at least not in the way the term is usually used in economics (GDP running above trend).

    There’s still a lot of slack in the labor market (quits are still low, wage increases are still historically low, long-term unemployment is still elevated, etc.). GDP growth is still meh (3-4% is not “booming” no matter what the economic talking heads say – especially after the slow recovery from the Great Recession).

    It takes a long time to move the US economy. We’re still in Obama’s recovery – for a while.

    Putin wants the US weakened economically, as you say, and Donnie loves buying stuff in a downturn, so that’s the main reason why he’s throwing up the tarrifs, shutting down the government, etc., that are going to damage the economy in coming weeks and months. That’s the evidence that Donnie is doing Vlad’s bidding.

    And I think that’s the most dangerous part of the shut down. He’s fine with destroying the US government so there’s no “compromise” out of it. Congress has to pass a budget and be prepared to over-ride his veto. I don’t see him giving up on this as he sees how much damage it is doing and how – so far – McConnell is letting him get away with it without political consequences. Shutting down the FBI and the Courts is good for him too – or so he thinks – as it takes the heat off him (lawsuits, Russia investigation, Muslim ban, etc.) especially when the press Both Sides everything…

    Grrr…

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  111. 111
    debbie says:

    @SFAW:

    Though I hate them thoroughly, the GOP is not trying to destroy the country. Their goal is and has been absolute power, but what good would a destroyed country be to them? Machiavelli had to have foreseen the modern GOP when he wrote The Prince.

  112. 112
    Sasha says:

    To borrow from the late Senator Thomas Jordon:

    “There are people who think of Trump as a clown and a buffoon, but I do not. I despise Donald Trump and everything that Trumpublicanism has come to stand for. I think, if Donald Trump were a paid Russian agent, he could not do more to harm this country than he’s doing now.”

  113. 113
    debbie says:

    @Sasha:

    If only politicians had that kind of resolve in the real world!

  114. 114
    Another Scott says:

    @debbie: Dunno. The current GOP doesn’t want to do anything that helps the bottom 3/4 of the population, and only pretends that they are going to (Donnie’s talk of a tax cut before the election) to maintain power.

    The Great Recession would have been much less severe, and the recovery much more robust, if they were not so willing to damage the US and her people to try to damage Democrats to maintain power. They know this; they don’t care.

    Tomato/Tomato. Yes their goal is power, but not power to make the country better. In that sense – a minimum – they are damaging us.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  115. 115
    BretH says:

    I know it’s so last year, but this exchange should have had him impeached the minute he set foot back on American soil:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/status/1084078415760773120

  116. 116
    Sebastian says:

    @Chris Johnson:
    Yeah dude, I am typing in bed on my iPhone, you try editing your writing on this little screen better than I do and come back to me, dipshit. Anything else you wish to nitpick while you are at it?

    You have a problem that I wish all the traitors and the GOP, but I repeat myself, for destroying my home and throwing me into existential fear? Or are you accusing me of being a Russian troll? Hahahaha I’ve been on this blog for 12 years. But come and tell it to my face, pendejo. I have zero patience left and will gore you. So fuck off while you can.

  117. 117
    Bobby Thomson says:

    “If” we knew with certainty he was a Russian asset? Jesus Fucking Christ on a stick, how much proof do you need?

  118. 118
    SFAW says:

    @debbie:

    Though I hate them thoroughly, the GOP is not trying to destroy the country. Their goal is and has been absolute power, but what good would a destroyed country be to them?

    Well, I actually wrote “country/Government,” but maybe I’m picking nits. Perhaps I should modify it to “the Constitutional democracy/republic”? Either way, their goal is to create an oligarchy in which they will receive “most favored” status, and fuck the remaining 99 percent. They are more than content to have the country split into the Upper Class, of which they expect to be a part, and the Under Class, which will serve them. It’s not a very forward-thinking “plan,” because it would lead to the eventual collapse.

    OK, I’m being a little hyperbolic, but their overarching goal, since at least Reagan, and probably Nixon (to a lesser degree, I think) has been to accrete power to themselves, and screw everyone else. Almost everything they have done furthers that goal. Does that qualify as “trying to destroy the country”? We could probably have a reasonable debate on that, but the first part would have to be how “country” is defined. Is “America” that set of ideals that most liberals believe (equal rights, for example), or is it something else (strong military, the right/ability to impose “our” will on whomever we choose)? And, yes, I know that the “American ideal” has (for the most part) been great in theory, but its implementation has often been pretty fucking bad for any number of persons or groups.

    But what the Rethugs are trying to do bears little, if any, resemblance to the “American ideal.” All I’m seeking is that they be allowed to try that somewhere else, like Somalia or the DRC, but without weapons or money. Then the rest of us can get back to fixing what they’ve broken.

  119. 119
    SFAW says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    “If” we knew with certainty he was a Russian asset? Jesus Fucking Christ on a stick, how much proof do you need?

    On the plus side, if Lying Littledick were ever caught on tape or microphone at a presser saying “Yeah, of course I’m doing whatever Putin tells me to do, no matter the cost to America,” he’d later deny it, call it “fake news,” and say the Luegenpresse was lying. And his supporters would believe him, or not care that he’s a Russki asset. And the FTFTFNYT would do yet another story on those supporters.

  120. 120
    J R in WV says:

    @Bess:

    A negative reinforcement is turning out the bright floodlights (taking away the lights) at night after a prisoner cleans his cell. IIRC. Adam isn’t using a different definition of the terms at all. He is using the PHD level definition rather than the 101 intro conversation about the definition.

  121. 121
    TommoRolassi says:

    @Adam L Silverman: @Adam L Silverman: What I think is strange, reading discussions about Russia undermining US democracy, is that I personally haven’t seen anyone draw parallels between this and the Cold War proxy wars that took place in e.g. Central America. Russia is just doing to us no more (and generally much less) than what we did installing right-wing governments in other countries in order to suit what we perceived to be our national interest.

    Some people seem surprised that the GOP and its backers are okay with this Russian influence. But all the right-wing dictators we propped up were, naturally, a-ok with the US installing them since it meant they could avoid taking any risk that they wouldn’t win via actual democracy. It was only much later, when we decided to have them assassinated, that the bill came due. I’m sure these dictators all rationalized that they were patriots doing the right thing in order to save their countries from the lefties (whether or not that represents the majority of the country), or were happy to just enrich themselves personally, and if a little US (or Russian) help is necessary, well, the ends justify the means. It isn’t surprising at all that the GOP would welcome the assist from Russia.

  122. 122
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @oldmold: The “key to your position” is that the only thing you can see is the lining of your colon, because that’s where your head is.

    Either you’re a tool of Putin’s – hoping against hope to nag Mueller into going off half-cocked & burning all our sources & methods while letting the guilty go free on technicalities – or you’re simply a fucking imbecile. Then again, as the Jackaltariat is fond of noting, Proč ne oba dva? Warum nicht die Beide? Pourquoi pas tous les deux? etc/usw./atd….

  123. 123
    PJ says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: The desire to improve the world through some supernatural, or, in your hypothetical, superhuman, means ignores the reality that it was human institutions and actions which created our problems, including Putin. Until you correct those, you are just as likely to wind up with another Putin. Assassinate him, by whatever means, and, after all the chaos and likely carnage that will ensue, someone else will take his place who will have similar powers and will likely be just as willing to support managed democracy. Plus, in doing that, in your fictional hypothetical, you are saying that the ends justify the means, whatever they are, which is not a comforting philosophy. We want the world to be a better place, and we do that by improving laws, institutions, and, ultimately, behavior, and murder is a bad means to that end. (War is, of course, an exception, and that merits a more thoughtful discussion than a blog comment.)

  124. 124
    Barry says:

    @Sebastian: “Having spent majority of my life observing Americans and America from the outside, I’d bet a lot of money that a lot of people will end up dead by execution when this is over. Americans don’t do nuance when they get going.”

    Why doth treason never prosper? Because if it does, none dare call it treason.

  125. 125
    SFAW says:

    @Uncle Cosmo:

    Proč ne oba dva? Warum nicht die Beide? Pourquoi pas tous les deux?

    Showoff

Comments are closed.