On Allegations of Russian Hacking

Putin is basically a dictator who is pushing Russia further toward fascism, an aggressive approach in promoting political and economic interests. It is unsurprising why he’d dislike Hillary Clinton and instead prefer Donald Trump. Clinton is a war hawk politician who has taken a strong stance against Russia and, as president, would have liked the opportunity to take on Putin. On the other hand, Trump is a businessman with longtime business interests in Russia and longtime connections to Russian oligarchy.

Putin probably felt a Trump presidency would mean he could be tougher on geopolitical issues and not worry about reprisal from the US. Plus, he has a history of good relations with Western business interests, an area where he can find common ground with someone like Trump (a neoliberal in practice, if not in rhetoric). Putin seems like a practical guy in his own way and he’d surely like to strengthen trade relations with the US, as long as it would increase Russian wealth and power. Putin is just pushing against boundaries, seeing how far he can go until he gets push back. But he is a saavy political player and there is a calculated cautiousness behind his bravado.

It’s definitely not that he is afraid to act tough. But I don’t see him pushing his agenda in a way that would jeopardize relations with Western countries, unless he sees conflict and maybe war as inevitable. There are those in power who want war, either WWIII or Cold War II. And that is what has me concerned. Some within the US government might like to force Putin’s hand, maybe based on the questionable assumption that Russia would back down (Reagan’s tactic with the USSR).

Anyway, we have yet to see any evidence of recent Russian hacking in the US to effect elections. I have no doubt that, like every other major global power, Russia is using propaganda operations. But I’d like to see the proof that something more is going on than normal. Continuous propaganda operations have been standard for several generations now. If something has changed, I wish US officials would be honest and upfront with us about what is going on.

My spidey sense is going off. I don’t know what is really going on. What I do know is the public isn’t getting the full story. We are getting very little info and what we are getting is heavy on the spin. Public perception and opinion is being managed and manipulated. We are being told a story, so it seems to me. If that is the case, what exactly is the story? And why does it feel like it’s being shoved down our throats? Whatever the exact narrative and frame, I’m concerned that the sound I hear on the horizon is the beating of war drums.

I hope I’m proven wrong. And I hope there are actual facts offered in the near future to prove I’m wrong. The government intentionally keeping us in the dark always makes me paranoid.

* * *

If you want other perspectives, here ya go:

Eight Facts on the “Russian Hacks” | Sharyl Attkisson

There’s no standing allegation by U.S. officials that the Russians (or anyone else) “hacked” into our elections system or altered vote counts.

So what are the allegations and facts as we know them?

The intel agencies’ full report on Russia’s hack of the 2016 election won’t silence the diehard deniers.

The unclassified report is underwhelming at best. There is essentially no new information for those who have been paying attention.

DNI Report: High Confidence Russia Interfered With U.S. Election

While it’s nice to see it all laid out like that in a government report, those claims are consistent with what the government and security experts have already been saying — and since the report doesn’t add any new, specific evidence to support those claims, it’s unfortunately not going to convince any skeptics. What is important is that the popular understanding of “hack” and its meaning in this specific case are divergent. Russia did not mess with the vote — it obtained access to damaging documents and waged a battle of publicity.

Byron York: Six questions about the Russia hacking report

Julia Ioffe, a writer for The Atlantic who watches Russia carefully, tweeted this about the intelligence community’s unclassified report on Russian hacking released Friday: “It’s hard to tell if the thinness of the #hacking report is because the proof is classified, or because the proof doesn’t exist.”*

“Thin” is right. The report is brief — the heart of it is just five broadly-spaced pages. It is all conclusions and no evidence. In the introduction, the IC — the collective voice of the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA — explains that it cannot supply evidence to the public, because doing so “would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future.”

The problem is, without evidence, it’s hard for the public to determine just what happened in the hacking affair.

Here Is The US Intel Report Accusing Putin Of Helping Trump Win The Election By “Discrediting” Hillary Clinton

One week after a joint FBI/DHS report was released, supposedly meant to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia intervened in the US presidential election, and thus served as a diplomatic basis for Obama’s expulsion of 35 diplomats, yet which merely confirmed that a Ukrainian piece of malware which could be purchased by anyone, was responsible for spoofing various email accounts including that of the DNC and John Podesta, moments ago US intelligence agencies released a more “authoritative”, 25-page report, titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”, and which not surprisingly only serves to validate the media narrative, by concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘ordered’ an effort to influence U.S. presidential election. […]

What proof is there? Sadly, again, none. However, as the intelligence agencies state, “We have high confidence in these judgments”… just like they had high confidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

And while the report is severely lacking in any evidence, it is rich in judgments […]

In other words, while not carrying the infamous DHS disclaimer according to which last week’s entire joint FBI/DHS report is likely garbage, the US intel agencies admit they may well be “wrong.” […]

Or, as some have stated, just a regurgitation of already existing opinions and absolutely zero facts.

U.S. Spy Report Blames Putin for Hacks, But Doesn’t Back It Up

The night-and-day report and reaction hint at either a difficult relationship to come between the president and America’s spies, or a cagey response by a future commander in chief who is only beginning to realize how the chess masters in the Kremlin play the game of geopolitics.

The unclassified report is unlikely to convince a single skeptic, as it offers none of the evidence intelligence officials say they have to back it up—none of those emails or transcripts of phone calls showing a clear connection between the Russian government and the political intrusions. The reason—revealing how U.S. spies know what they know could endanger U.S. spy operations.

And it contains some out-dated information that seems slapdash considering the attention focused on it. Errors in the report were almost inevitable, because of the haste in which it was prepared, said one U.S. official briefed on the report.

Russia “Hacking” and the Intel Credibility Gap | Sharyl Attkisson

At a hearing today, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) today said it was “astounding” that anyone would question the credibility of our intelligence agencies.

That comment defies the factual record.

It’s not that Americans don’t appreciate our many honest, hardworking intelligence professionals. But there are concrete examples of false information promulgated by some U.S.intelligence officials under Democrat and Republican administrations. That’s why it would be imprudent to blindly accept, without question, everything our intelligence officials say or, for that matter, everything any government claims. […]

It should be noted that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and at least one official familiar with publication of the DNC emails deny that the Russians were the source. There has been no allegation or evidence that the published emails weren’t true and accurate. In fact, the overall track record for accuracy when it comes to WikiLeaks documents appears to be better than that of U.S. intel officials. It’s easy to understand why figures like Snowden and Assange evoke such disdain among powers-that-be, whether liberal or conservative. Instead of addressing the revelations revealed, these powers direct public sentiment against the whistleblowers or conveyors of the apparently truthful information.

Instead of demonizing those who are skeptical of information and narratives emerging in a highly-politicized setting, it’s helpful to understand the genesis of the widespread distrust that’s fueling the skepticism.

DNI report: Overwhelming case proves Russian hacking, but there’s no smoking gun

Although the report proves that the Kremlin vastly preferred Trump to Clinton, it did not provide any evidence conclusively demonstrating that Russia was behind the hacks.

Intelligence Report Concludes That Putin Intervened In U.S. Election To Help Trump Win

The Russian president’s attraction to Trump may have stemmed from “positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,” according to the report.

What The Intelligence Report Says (And What It Doesn’t)

The reason Trump was favored by the Putin is that Trump would be more favorable to Russia’s efforts in fighting terrorism. (In other words, he’ll let war crimes go unchecked.)

New Intel Report Declares Russia Had ‘Preference’ for Trump Over Hillary–But It’s Got a Major Flaw

The media are drawing sweeping conclusions from the report that aren’t substantiated by the known facts. […]

We can only make one clear conclusion from this statement: The Russians had a “preference” for Donald Trump, because he was not Hillary Clinton.

There is nothing in the intelligence documents released thus far to ascertain the nature of that preference; indeed, any Republican might have been preferred. It is unclear.

While the U.S. media cast aspersions about the President-elect’s ties to the Putin regime, this is a charge that has been cleared by The FBI after lengthy investigation.

Secondly, there is still no hard evidence tying the Putin regime to the hacks released by WikiLeaks—we still have to take the intel community’s word for it. […]

What is surprising in these intelligence memos, which the press is jumping on to undermine the legitimacy of the future president, is how little new information they actually contain.

It is damning that the Russians’ goal of dividing the nation from within is being carried out flawlessly by a U.S. media quick to jump to conclusions without the demonstrable facts.

Russia, Trump & Flawed Intelligence

After months of anticipation, speculation, and hand-wringing by politicians and journalists, American intelligence agencies have finally released a declassified version of a report on the part they believe Russia played in the US presidential election. On Friday, when the report appeared, the major newspapers came out with virtually identical headlines highlighting the agencies’ finding that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to help Donald Trump win the presidency—a finding the agencies say they hold “with high confidence.”

A close reading of the report shows that it barely supports such a conclusion. Indeed, it barely supports any conclusion. There is not much to read: the declassified version is twenty-five pages, of which two are blank, four are decorative, one contains an explanation of terms, one a table of contents, and seven are a previously published unclassified report by the CIA’s Open Source division. There is even less to process: the report adds hardly anything to what we already knew. The strongest allegations—including about the nature of the DNC hacking—had already been spelled out in much greater detail in earlier media reports. […]

The logic of these arguments is as sound as saying, “You were so happy to see it rain yesterday that you must have caused the rain yourself.”

That is the entirety of the evidence the report offers to support its estimation of Putin’s motives for allegedly working to elect Trump: conjecture based on other politicians in other periods, on other continents—and also on misreported or mistranslated public statements. […]

Despite its brevity, the report makes many repetitive statements remarkable for their misplaced modifiers, mangled assertions, and missing words. This is not just bad English: this is muddled thinking and vague or entirely absent argument. […] The fog is not coincidental: if the report’s vague assertions were clarified and its circular logic straightened out, nothing would be left.

It is conceivable that the classified version of the report, which includes additional “supporting information” and sourcing, adds up to a stronger case. But considering the arc of the argument contained in the report, and the principal findings (which are apparently “identical” to those in the classified version), this would be a charitable reading. An appropriate headline for a news story on this report might be something like, “Intel Report on Russia Reveals Few New Facts,” or, say, “Intelligence Agencies Claim Russian Propaganda TV Influenced Election.” Instead, however, the major newspapers and commentators spoke in unison, broadcasting the report’s assertion of Putin’s intent without examining the arguments.

The Big Lie on Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections – NO QUARTER USA NET

But today’s report only reflects the consensus of the CIA, the FBI and the NSA (that according to the “Scope and Sourcing” portion of the report):

This report includes an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies.

What happened to the other 13 members of the so-called Intelligence Community? For example, what about the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research aka INR? They are a key part of the analytical portion of the Intelligence Community and have actual Russian experts. And why was the Defense Intelligence Agency (aka DIA) excluded? One of the supposed bad Russian actors in this hacking fiasco is the GRU, the Russian military version of the CIA. That is a prime target that DIA analysts follow. They are the experts. But they apparently were not given the chance to concur (or maybe they declined to do so out of embarrassment over the amateur quality of the work).

I would encourage you to go back and read the unclassified version of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. Then take a look at the recently declassified version of the NIE. To obtain a judgement representing the Intelligence Community one agency is designated to write the “Estimate” or “Assessment” and then circulate that document to the other agencies for their comments and concurrence. But there is no obligation to agree. In fact, the other agencies can disagree. […]

At least that paper, though subsequently proven wrong, had a lot of facts. Just goes to show that even with supposedly hard evidence that the Intel Community can (and did) get it wrong.

Most of the assessments are laughable. Consider the following claim regarding Russia’s intent:

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.

And how was Russia going to undermine “Public Faith” in our democratic process? By stealing emails that exposed the true behind the scenes political scheming and machinations by the DNC and Hillary’s campaign. Nothing destroys ones faith in our “democratic” process more quickly than learning that Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to rig the primaries against Bernie Sanders. In other words, those crafty Rooskies were going to flood America with truth. […]

It was not anything that Russia allegedly did or did not do that beat Hillary. It was Hillary that beat Hillary. The sudden obsession with Democrats and most pundits in blaming a Russian information operation for Trump’s victory and Hillary’s demise is not rooted in actual facts.

‘Clinton quite effective at discrediting herself, doesn’t need Putin’s help’ – ex CIA analyst

“It was only CIA and FBI that ‘strongly agree’ but the NSA, who’s the only one in that group that would actually have the physical evidence of the hacking, if that existed… took a middle of the road position,” Johnson told RT.

The whole situation around the “hacking” report gives an impression of a well-staged spectacle, Johnson believes.

“Yesterday, the Arms Services Committee in the Senate holds a hearing alleging Russian hacking, about when hacks took place domestically in the United States and that Arms Services has no jurisdiction over intel side. That was entirely a propaganda ploy, and not a single journalist in the major outlets over here raised questions about that, it was an observed performance,” Johnson said.

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45 thoughts on “On Allegations of Russian Hacking

  1. I don’t know that I’m going to be able to keep liking you, B.

    Is it something to do with your social or mental challenges that you seem to be normalizing things, that you really think Hillary is as dangerous and deceitful as Trump? Does he not make your skin crawl at a whole other level, you don’t see the sociopath who can’t hide it for ten seconds?

    Don’t get me wrong, everyone is doing it, not just you. It’s just you that it surprises me most from, I guess. Bannon or some swine got absolutely everyone with the “they’re both bad, they’re both sociopaths” idea. It’s true, technically, but it’s like saying both wood and orange juice contain water. Gimme a break.

    I think you know this – it’s not really “hacking the election” like voting machine hacking or anything, they really are talking about the wikileaks crap, and we all want wikileaks to do what it does – but wikileaks and greenwald apparently didn’t notice for about a year that all they leaked was DNC/Hillary stuff and they never said peep about the other side. I am super pissed at them for this, and that they apparently won’t acknowledge their complicity/fuckup in electing Trump and the extreme Right. I’ll say this to my dying day, no Russian is in my Followed list, just the obviously moral and truthful wikileaks and snowden/greenwald – it’s them as pushed this Hillary hating shit as far as I can see, at least from the supposedly ‘respectable’ side of the house and importantly, TO the respectable voters.

    And you, too, B? Still sticking to it, still hating on Hillary? WTF? Why?

    • Well, if you’re liking me depends on my agreeing with you, then you probably never really liked me. “Is it something to do with your social or mental challenges…” Just don’t even go there. You’re on thin ice. We can disagree without you needing to call me socially or mentally challenged.

      I’m not normalizing anything. I’ve been pointing out the abnormality of US politics for longer than have partisan Democrats. That is the point. It is partisan Democrats who for decades normalized what many of us considered extremely abnormal.

      This post is hardly normalizing anything. Quite the opposite. And it certainly offers no praise of Trump. Quite the opposite. I point to the specific issue that Putin, a truly not nice person, has good reasons to have wanted Trump as president. But Putin’s preferences are a separate issue from an analysis of unfounded allegations and political narratives.

      I don’t even claim to know anything for certain in this post. That is the main thing. I don’t know, you don’t know, and it isn’t even clear than anyone in the US government knows, at least about what they claim to know. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. As for the public, all we can do is listening to narratives being told to us, without any idea what may or may not be their basis.

      I criticize establishment and partisan Democrats because they made Trump not only possible but inevitable. We’ve been heading this direction for a long time. People like me have been warning about this for years and decades. But others didn’t want to listen. It is disingenuous to then scapegoat the messenger.

      I’ve never said that Clinton and Trump are equal. My argument has always been that they’re bad in different ways. It’s not even possible to compare them. There is no greater evil in a simplistic sense, since both are worse in certain ways than the other. To judge either as ultimately a greater evil would require predicting the hypothetical future of each as president, something no one could possibly know.

      Clinton would take us down the same dangerous path we’ve been on.. Trump will take us down a different path, wherever that will lead. Neither option inspires hope for humanity. Talk of lesser evil is like being offered the choice between two poisons, based on the assumption that one will kill you quickly and the other might kill you slowly. This is one of those times where I decline both options because I don’t want poison.

      There is still no evidence offered that shows Russia was behind the leaks. They may been. Their might be info the intelligence agencies have that prove this is the case. I await that evidence. But I can’t base conclusions on what I don’t know. Assange claims that he knows they were leaks from an insider, as he has met the person and knows the position they had. It’s a competing claim. And the fact of the matter is that so far Wikileaks has been more honest, accurate, transparent, and accountable than has the US intelligence agencies. That does influence how I weigh the competing claims.

      The intelligence agencies say that there were also attempts to access RNC databases. But the RNC claims that these attacks failed and no info was stolen. Also, it appears that no one working on the inside leaked info, as happened with the DNC. There is no evidence that Wikileaks wouldn’t have released any RNC info that they had been given. All evidence, instead, points to the fact that Wikileaks never received any RNC info. They can’t leak what they don’t have. It’s not Wikileaks fault that the RNC had better security or simply were luckier than the DNC.

      I don’t hate Clinton. I hate the system that puts people like her into power. And I hate the system that undermines democracy in the process, which paves the way for demagogues like Trump. This system is bipartisan and exists across administrations. It’s how the establishment maintains itself. And I have little doubt that the establishment will protect itself from Trump, whether or not they protect us from Trump as well. If the bureaucrats and generals don’t like Trump, they have immense power to shut him out and shut him down. Trump isn’t an insider and so he doesn’t have the kind of power within the system as would a professional politician.

      If Trump decides to fight the deep state and the entrenched bureaucracy, he will be in for a surprise. Those pulling the strings in our political system don’t care about us, but neither do they care about the likes of Trump. There could be a civil war within the government. More likely, Trump will quickly learn the game and play along, as he has done his entire life. Trump has been schmoozing with the political elite his entire life. He is no stranger to the world of political power.

      I’m more cynical than you. That isn’t a point of pride. It’s just a fact. My cynicism isn’t dependent on which side of the party duopoly temporarily gains power. But for this reason I’m oddly more optimistic than most people in the mainstream. I’m in it for the long game. One way or another, we will be forced to face our problems as a society. The Democrats refused to do it willingly. So, they’ve made the choice to do it the hard way. I’d preferred not to do it the hard way, but no one in power asked my opinion.

        • I’ve never once in this post or any other post stated that I was OK with this president. I’m just unsurprised by the result, knowing what kind of system we have. Sure, be outraged at Trump. But keep it in perspective. Anyone who wasn’t also outraged during Obama’s presidency, during the Democratic primary, and in recent history in general wasn’t paying attention and has no justification for moral righteousness now.

          • There different levels. But they are also inseparable. It’s the same system. We are dealing with systemic problems, not merely isolated individuals who are problematic.

            No matter how evil individuals are, that wouldn’t matter if the system wasn’t conducive to and complicit with such evil. The system doesn’t just make evil possible but inevitable.

            Without those like the Clintons, there would never be those like Trump. The Democrats demanding we vote for them is a protection racket. Trump is the goon that the Clintons send after us if we don’t do what we’re told.

      • I only wondered if you had some deal where everyone looks like an extreme sociopath or something, where you don’t read faces or something, something specific regarding you and perceiving Trump. I don’t call people names, it was a serious, if low percentage question, not an insult. But this paragraph disproves its first sentence and proves my point, you see equal levels of disorder (or evil):

        “I’ve never said that Clinton and Trump are equal. My argument has always been that they’re bad in different ways. It’s not even possible to compare them. There is no greater evil in a simplistic sense, since both are worse in certain ways than the other. To judge either as ultimately a greater evil would require predicting the hypothetical future of each as president, something no one could possibly know.”

        A standard issue neoliberal Democrat VS an authoritarian narcissist – “something no-one could possibly know?” Same as i said before, technically, maybe “know” is an ideal, but any adult can make a decent guess. Gimme a break. I ain’t some Democrat idealist either, but I’m calling this regime fascist, have been for months. You know what, though? No reason to speculate or argue, we will see, won’t we? I respectfully suggest your cynicism somehow won’t let you see the Nazis in the White House. The poison analogy? Trump is zyklon-B and Hillary is tequila.

        • actually, I love that analogy. We’ve all experienced the toxic effects of tequila, but Zyklon-B or whatever it was, that was a long time ago, almost theoretical, right? Couldn’t happen here. LOL

          • It could happen here. I’ve been saying that in my blog for years. The point is that the problem has become systemic. It’s part of an ideological paradigm, a way of thinking based on particular frames and narratives. The US political system has been getting worse in many ways for a long time, even before those in the mainstream were paying attention. For example, Generation X when younger experienced the only recession that impacted only a single generation, and so the older generations didn’t even know it was happening.

            During the wondrous 90s of New Democratic rule when the mainstream media reported that the world was getting better and better, young people and minorities were being hit hard by economic problems. But stagnating wages have been cotinuously ongoing my entire life, having begun the year of my birth (1975). The response to problems over the decades has been largely welfare cuts combined with law and order. The Clinton New Democrats played a central role in this.

            This goes back earlier. The austerity of Reaganomics actually began under the Carter administration, as David Stockman was an adviser. Before that, JFK was a fiscally conservative neoliberal, a war hawk neocon, and an anti-communist cold warrior (he argued tax cuts would pay for themselves and promoted globalization through eliminating tariffs). Further back, FDR was the first fully corporatist president with fascist tendencies, in not eliminating corporate power and not promoting a democratic economy but forcing private economic interests into alignment with a hyper-nationalistic government (and of course no concern about civil liberties in putting Japanese-Americans, German-Americans, and Italian-Americans into internment camps).

            That is the background to the ‘progressive’ tradition. Ironically, Trump was able to use old school progressive rhetoric (the Roosevelt variety, both FDR and TR) to win support, the kind of rhetoric that Democrats abandoned long ago. But Trump doesn’t appear to be a corporatist like FDR or the Clintons. If anything, Trump would likely go the other way with it by promoting inverted totalitarianism where private interests have greater power and leverage within politics. The standard corporatists in power right now simply want to maintain the collusion between corporate wealth and political power, both being controlled by a self-styled technocratic elite. But Trump isn’t interested in technocracy and the neoliberal pseudo-meritocracy that goes with it.

            It’s hard to know what Trump is about, other than his own ego. Part of me wonders how he might disrupt the system. But another part of me suspects he will get along just fine in Washington. Trump didn’t schmooze with political elite for his entire life by being clueless about how the political game is played and merely antagonistic toward those who play it. He has been directly involved in politics, including that of the Clinton New Democrats, for decades.

            It’s rather uncertain whose side he is on. I have severe doubts that Republicans, including the GOP establishment, are going to be happy with a Trump administration. It’s quite possible that he took over the Republican Party simply because he could, just for shits and giggles. The moment he is in office, he could do anything, including all of a sudden taking actions that contradict everything he has said he would do. The guy is a wealthy businessman who has nothing to gain and little to lose. He could take the entire GOP down and walk away without a care in the world. That is what makes him a loose cannon.

        • I see rather clearly. My emotional perception, if anything, is hypersensitive. I don’t always remember faces, not that such is an unusual problem, but I have no issue reading faces. I’m way above average on understanding what motivates people. My years of writing have primarily been focused on getting at a deeper level of human nature, in order to make sense of what otherwise doesn’t make sense.

          I know what kind of person Trump is, just as I know what kind of person Clinton is. That is why I despise the system that puts people like them in power. I actually want a democracy and I feel no shame in making that demand of my society, of my fellow citizens, and of public officials.

          You don’t seem to understand where I’m coming from. Clinton and Trump aren’t equals.

          Clinton’s evil is based on the kind of professional politician she is, one who will do anything for power. Trump isn’t a professional politician and I don’t think he is motivated in the same way. He is a narcissist and she isn’t. So, he would do anything for egoic pride and celebrity, with wealth and power as a means to that end. If running for president didn’t bring lots of media attention and public attention to Trump, he wouldn’t have even thought of becoming a candidate for I doubt he actually ever wanted to be president, at least not in the way Clinton wanted to be president.

          Trump is a demagogue. He says and does things to rile people up, to draw attention to himself. But he is unlikely to accomplish much in his political career. He will incite much opposition, even from those in his own party, as he has already done. That is what he wants. To him, it’s just a fun game to play, a pissing match for any and all challengers. He needs to have opponents to fight against and bolster his ego. Clinton makes me fear for the very reason that she is a professional politician who will get things done. I fear what she would have got done as president. Trump’s self-defeating behavior naturally limits the power he can wield, as he and everyone surrounding him will overreach and experience a backlash.

          There is nothing equal about the two. There is simply no way to compare them. Do you want a heart attack or a slow-growing cancer? How does one even contemplate such a decision.

          A heart attack could be a wake-up call that would lead to dietary and lifestyle changes, and you could be better off than you were before. Or a heart attack could kill you instantly. A slow-growing cancer at least won’t kill you right away, but it would feel like a death sentence hanging over your head. The cancer might kill you in a few years or maybe longer. You could even hope that treatment might rid you of the cancer, but the reality is that you can never know if the cancer is fully gone. Still, as with heart attacks, many people survive cancer and go on with their lives.

          That is a good metaphor. Neither a heart attack nor cancer is ‘evil’. They simply are diseases that have different symptoms, prognoses, and treatments. Both can kill you or, if you’re lucky, both can be remedied leading to a long happy life. The point, in either case, is to acknowledge you have a health condition, seek medical help, and do what needs to be done. At present, the US political system is like a sickly person who refuses to even go to the doctor because they don’t want to know what is wrong, just hoping it will go away and taking a few aspirins to make the pain go away.

          But the more fundamental issue is that both a heart attack and cancer show that your bodily system is out of whack, probably indicating problems that have been developing for a long time. The diseases themselves are the symptoms of deeper problems and underlying contributing factors. Curing the present disease doesn’t by itself bring the body back to a healthy condition. Until those issues are resolved, other diseases will appear.

          It’s like having a dysfunctional immune system, which can lead to health conditions and symptoms in many areas of the body: allergies, joint problems, pneumonia, constant low level fever, brain inflammation, neurological issues, psychiatric conditions such as depression, etc. Without knowing the cause, the health conditions and symptoms may seem unrelated. Even cancer is simply a symptom. Our body always has cancer cells in it, but our immune system normally eliminates them on a regular basis.

          So, the question is what is wrong at a deeper systemic level.

          If Trump helped bring fascism to the White House, it is because Democrats for decades helped bring corporatism to the White House. Corporatism is what many call soft fascism, as it is less overt and showy. Sadly, the populist outrage that led to Trump was in response to this corporatism that Democrats refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for because the Democratic establishment (and liberal class) benefits from it. The Clintons were simply carrying on the neoliberal tradition of Reagan, but that neoliberalism always was simply another name for soft fascism. And what is the likelihood that soft fascism wasn’t going to move ever closer to hard fascism? Slim to none. If not Trump, it would be someone or something else.

          If Trump has you outraged, that is good. You should have been outraged earlier, though. You should have been outraged at Obama’s continuing the corporatist policies of Bush and his pushing the (formerly Republican) corporatist ‘reform’ of healthcare insurance. You should have been outraged at Hillary Clinton’s support of Bush’s Iraq War and War on Terror, outraged at her endless war hawk aggression that has harmed millions, at her neoliberal policies such as using her power to suppress the minimum wage in Haiti because of US factories located there, etc.

          For those who have died or lost loved ones because of New Democrat politics (such as the couple million of non-combatant Iraqis killed or the vast Middle Eastern chaos created by the toppling of the Libyan government, to which her response was to laugh), explain to them that Clinton is the lesser evil. For all Trump’s devious psychopathy as a plutocratic businessman, he has no known history of taking actions that lead to such horrific results. That isn’t to say he won’t take such actions, but his campaign rhetoric was mostly claims about making America less geopolitically militaristic and instead more isolationist. Whether or not you believe him, Trump seems less interested in bombing the shit out of other countries, as war hawks like Clinton like to do.

          That said, I don’t doubt that Trump is capable of great evil. He has a long history of being selfish and cruel in seeking his own interests. But the fact of the matter is that we have little evidence of what that might mean politically, considering that he is unlikely to do most of what he claimed in campaign promises. No doubt he will play stupid games and there will be real world repurcussions for ordinary Americans. Still, any fucked up thing he will do will simply be the frosting on a fucked up cake that has been baking for a long time.

          It comes down to this. We know what evil Clinton would do. Meanwhile, we can only speculate about what evil Trump might do. How do we even compare hypothetical future results? Which is more evil, someone who has been willing to do anything to gain political power or someone who has been willing to do anything to gain wealth? There isn’t much basis to even talk about them being equal or unequal. They simply are incomparable.

          Anyway, none of this is directly related to my post. I was writing about what we do and don’t know, what narratives are being pushed and why. I was giving voice to my sense that something is going on that we aren’t being told about. That would remain true (or false) no matter how evil is Trump. I’ve had the theory that the intelligence community, the deep state bureaucrats, and the oligarchic puppet masters might be a bit concerned about Trump because he is a potential wild card and may not fit into their agenda. So, I’ve been wondering if a script is being put in place so as to force Trump to get in line, to nullify potential evil he might do or rather to align his evil with the evil of the dysfunctional, anti-democratic system.

          Speculations are dime a dozen. We simply don’t know what is going on or where it is heading. That is the most concerning part of all. Our argument here is meaningless. Those in power don’t care about your opinion or mine.

          • wow that’s long. I wanna answer, point for point, and I will, but I’ve got a trip to make today. Maybe tonight. For now, OK, you’ve schooled me on several things, notably the age of the modern “liberal” meme, and I’ll give you most of it, but a few points for now: Clinton is a politician and Trump is a gangster, he probably really is a Don. This celebrity/ego business, this is him doing anything he wants, but that’s not where his money and power come from. His money and power come from intimidation and strong-arm, criminal business tactics, and that is how he got into office, intimidation of the press and everyone else. I know I don’t have proof, if I did I’d be quieter about it, but is it not sort of obvious? He’s exactly that kind of “genius,” the kind that knows if you’re brutal and rob, ruin or kill everyone who you do business with, that you win. Sure, a huge team of lawyers on full time – like any “populist,” right? All I got is TV and Twitter, and it seems blindingly obvious to me. Unfortunately, the exact right 48% voters “admire strength” to put it as nicely as I can. This is fascism at home now as well as abroad, and that is not likely to be an improvement for those abroad either.

            OK. More later. I am sorry for bringing up personal issues.

            Jeff

          • Damn – one more. The Democrats were tossing us a few crumbs, weren’t they? At least things at home had a chance for the poor, the queer, all of that, that was something that may have continued to improve. And you know what I think, that if our lives improve at home,we’re less likely to keep voting for and supporting war. At least in that way, the Right is the party of war, war forever, while the Dems have an interest in growing less violent American citizens, which is the path to peace in the long term, with the potential to defeat even their own war agendas eventually. Whereas for the religious, and the Right, war is their Holy Mission, and so they support domestic (in all senses) violence. You give these folks the ascendancy, that’s fascism. And don’t bug me with technicalities about defining “fascism,” I mean the philosophy of Might is Right and the practices it justifies. Like it makes a difference where in the chain the “politicians” or the “corporations” are in the system that grinds people up.

          • I’m sure we generally agree on many things. I understand what you’re saying. And you are making a relevant point.

            But here is how I see it. I can’t help being reminded of the close association between Trump and the Clintons. They’ve known each other for decades. They socialize together and gone to each other’s social events. The Clintons attended at least one of his weddings and Trump has made political donations to the Clintons. They are part of the same social circle, the same economic class, same ruling elite, the same world of wealth and power.

            They are old cronies, two sides of the same coin. It’s not about them being equal or unequal, since the problem is the system and not any given individual. What would be the point of calling one side of the coin evil and the other side less evil? There is no way to choose between them. To choose either side is to choose the coin itself that includes both sides. Political evil is a product of the system itself. Clinton and Trump are simply acting according to the system, although to be fair the system exists as it does because people like them made it that way.

            It’s rigged. The house always wins. And of course it is those who own, manage, and operate the house who both do the rigging and benefit from the rigging.

            This relates to why I can be more optimistic than some. What I realize is that the system is separate from the people. Neither candidate won the popular vote. They couldn’t have because nearly half of eligible voters didn’t vote and many others voted third party. So, neither candidate represented the people. That gives me hope.

            The problem is the system, not the people. But because the system is controlled and corrupted, it can’t be reformed from within the system. That leaves only one option left, revolution. It’s a matter of time before enough people realize this. Once they come to this understanding, that revolution could be peaceful or violent. But at this point, we either will have revolution or the system will collapse. Sanders would have been a step in the direction of peaceful revolution. He was an opportunity lost. There will be other opportunities, although at some point no further opportunities will be left.

            I often wonder why those in power keep pushing our society closer to the edge. It’s like watching kids playing with firecrackers in an old barn filled with hay during a drought. This can’t end well.

          • Man, B., I keep trying, but I’m so bad off these days I can’t get through all your good stuff. You’re right, we basically agree and I know you get my point, and it’s as long as deep as I got at the moment. Cheers.

  2. It’s going to be weird having Russia as and ally. I wonder if Trump means it. And I agree with you, I don’t trust Putin.

    I’m kinda shaky. Trump is a loose canon. How do you feel about having Trump becoming president? He seems so unpredictable. I really don’t want him in charge.

    • This has some resonance to the early Cold War. Putin, like Stalin, is not a nice guy. But it seems many Westerners don’t understand Russian power. What do some people think we have to gain by starting Cold War II or WWIII?

      I wrote a blog post about how the Cold War started:

      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/cold-war-ideology-and-self-fulfilling-prophecies/

      It was about a book I came across. The author was a British conservative and he was highly critical of American conservatism. He was able to access Soviet records at a time when that was possible. What he found didn’t fit the Western propaganda being pushed during the early Cold War.

      What the records showed was that Stalin early on knew the Soviets didn’t have the resources and capacity to attack the West. More than that, Stalin had no interest and aspirations to do so. After WWII, Stalin had little concern about the West, other than hoping to build trade relations. Soviets and the US had been allies in WWII. But for some reason US politicians thought it was to their advantage to force Stalin into a Cold War, even though he didn’t want to be in one.

      This was a purely cynical geopolitical maneuver. The US imperialists weren’t happy with sharing global power with other governments. They wanted to control the entire world. Plus, creating another foreign enemy after the fall of the Nazis was helpful for social control and propaganda at home.

      So there is that. I think Putin, like Stalin, has good reasons to not want to be in a military confrontation with the US. It doesn’t serve the Russian agenda. But I don’t know how this relates to Trump. I see Trump as a guy that looks at the world through the eyes of a businessman, not a war hawk or imperialist or whatever. He sees Russia in terms of a country that has some vastly wealthy businessmen like him.

      On that level, Trump might be more predictable than he first appears. He is all about money, in that his ego is defined by the wealth he was born into. If you can figure out the economic angle, you’ll likely figure out what is motivating Trump. He isn’t an ideologue, a party hack, or a professional politician. But he got elected as the candidate of one of the major political parties. And so he is surrounded by ideologues, party hacks, and professional politicians. Good luck to the GOP establishment in trying to reign him in to do their bidding.

      Heck if I know what that all adds up to. I’m tired out by trying to figure it out. What will be will be. There is nothing I can do to stop it or alter it, other than to join the revolution if and when it happens. I don’t see reform coming from within the system, no matter who is in power. The status quo is locked into place and it likely won’t be a happy process that finally dislodges it, forcing the present bipartisan elite from power. If those complaining about Trump right now want to solve the problems we face, they better up their game. Whining about it ain’t going to do much.

      We should all do what we can. That is all we can ever do. That means focusing our energies where we have the most influence. If you’re a Democrat, there are plenty of problems in the Democratic Party to focus on. Get rid of the Clinton dynasty and the New Democrats. Once the Democratic Party is reformed, you could have a democratic force that could effectively fight Trump and the GOP. But as long as Democrats are part of the problem, they will inevitably make everything worse. Democrats need to take a long hard look in the mirror. When you’ve been sent to the political desert, it is time to do some soul searching.

      I’d love to see the Democratic Party become an actual democratic force for the public good. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

  3. I know some people want to make everything into a partisan game. But I’m not a partisan. And I don’t see the world through a partisan lens.

    As such, I don’t think this issue is fundamentally about partisanship. Certainly not about the competition between ruling elites. I don’t think one set of ruling elite is going to protect us from another set of ruling elite.

    This post is focused on a report that came from intelligence agencies. Those intelligence agencies are not partisan organizations. They are part of the entrenched bureaucracy and deep state. Most public officials are non-elected. And most of those working in these agencies are not appointed by elected politicians.

    Whatever is going on, whatever story is being told, whatever propaganda is being pushed, it isn’t standard partisan politics. This is about how the government operates behind the scenes, what those outside of the limelight do and don’t want us to know they’re doing. It doesn’t necessarily mean conspiracy and corruption, but it definitely doesn’t rule it out.

    Lack of transparency and accountability when combined with concentrated, entrenched power never brings out the best in people and never leads to democratic results. That much we can be certain of. Beyond that, we are in the dark. We can sense that we are being set up for something, but we won’t know what it might be until it happens.

    The Iraq War was started based on a lie. The Vietnam War was started based on a lie. And the Cold War was started based on a lie. All of these were pushed by politicians and/or the security state officials. But in some cases, there were those in power who knew it was a lie and chose not to speak out or else the reports of their assessments were classified to keep them from public knowledge. We now know that the CIA knew the Cold War was being promoted with deceit, based on their own intelligence. And we know that many in the intelligence community knew that Iraq didn’t have WMDs.

    There are other examples, including one directly related to the topic of this post:

    “In fact, one need look no farther than a lead witness at today’s hearing on Russian election hacking: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. In June 2013, Clapper provided false testimony to Congress denying existence of a National Security Agency (NSA) secret, massive data collection program.

    “Clapper’s testimony was proven false by subsequent revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden’s documents exposed shocking government programs that amounted to spying on massive numbers of U.S. citizens without warrants. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said it wasn’t the only instance of Obama intelligence officials providing false information. He referred to separate comments from NSA head Keith Alexander.

    “Sen. Wyden: “They chose to make these statements in public that weren’t accurate.””

    So, why should we all of a sudden trust those who have proven to be untrustworthy? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. But what about when the same powerful group of people repeatedly fool the American people and so many involved act like they have no ability to feel shame?

  4. http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/06/hillary-clinton-and-the-installation-of-authoritarian-right-wing-regimes-in-the-americas/

    “She might want to think of 2016 as a victory. She served her Wall Street and other corporate donors well by keeping the progressives at bay in the junior partner wing of the national capitalist party duopoly.

    “Make no mistake: she preferred beating Sanders and then losing to Trump over Sanders beating her and going on to defeat Trump. Hillary and other good neoliberal Democrats like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Charles Schumer (the Wall Street Senator who “P”BS now praises as the new “leader of the opposition to Trump”), Rahm Emanuel, and Nancy Pelosi know that their first and foremost enemy is “the left,” not the right.

    “For a second time in the new millennium and in the Americas Mrs. Clinton helped install an authoritarian and racist right-wing government after defeating “the left.” Zelaya had to be seized at gunpoint and flown to another country. Sanders could be defeated through rigged caucuses, primaries, and media coverage along with the explicitly authoritarian super-delegate and campaign finance systems. And then he had to campaign for his political assassin!

    “After helping put “Pepe” Trump in the next White House, Hillary quickly instructed Americans that they owed Herr Donald “an open mind and a chance to lead.” She urged Americans to “accept this result” and the “peaceful transfer of power.” Sound familiar?

    “Don’t be surprised if she hopes to exploit popular anger at the right-wing president she helped place in power to make yet another vapid and vicious, fake-/anti-progressive “peak neoliberal” run for the presidency in 2020. “The left” must be defeated at all costs – including the victory of the right. You’ve been warned.”

    • I understand and am sympathetic to those who suspect conspiracies.

      We do have plenty of proven examples from history where government officials and other people in positions of power have been involved in conspiracies. Wars started with lies, propaganda operations, COINTELPRO, secret medical testing, etc. The US government has repeatedly done some really fucked up things over the past century, too many to even attempt to list. So, when you know what has been proven, it does make you paranoid about what you don’t know.

      But I don’t think most of the bad things that happen require intentional conspiracy. It’s more that people in power associate with other people in power, seeing the world in the same way and sharing interests. Technically, the Clinton campaign using mainstream media to manipulate voters was a conspiracy, but those involved probably never thought of it that way. People simply attempt to achieve some end and they get caught up in a mindset of the ends justifying the means.

      Conspiracies happen all the time. All that a conspiracy means is that two or more people planning to do something in secret. That is practically the definition of much of the present system of power.

      Still, I sometimes can’t shake the feeling that there is much going on that we don’t know about. There are no doubt intentional conspiracies constantly happening. Most of them aren’t serious, just standard collusion and what have you, such as corporate lobbyists meeting politicians behind closed doors in order to work out agreements and write bills to be passed.

      There does seem to be something different right now. That is the main point I was trying to get at. A narrative is being pushed hard. It’s being pushed hard not just by the intelligence agencies but also by major politicians and the mainstream media. Such concerted effort catches my attention.

      I just don’t think we have to assume that the entire election was scripted. It was obviously not an inspiring and convincing demonstration of democracy in action. There were many in power who were rigging the game in various ways. But it doesn’t mean that they were all conspiring toward the same purpose and goal. The government is vast and includes diverse interests, often competing.

  5. To be honest, I think that most of the evidence is made up – so the Democrats can avoid responsibility for the blame of losing to Trump.

    This will be the liberal equal to the Iraq war. No amount of evidence has been provided on Saddam and WMDs, can persuade conservatives that Saddam was not developing WMDs. No amount of evidence has been provided that Russia is involved in hacking, but Clinton supporters won’t believe otherwise.

    • That is the purpose of narratives. Accusations of Iraqi WMDs was part of a narrative. It doesn’t matter when the evidence proves false. Narratives take on a life of their own. All that is needed is to push the narrative hard initially so that it gets implanted in the public mind. No amount of factual analysis will ever dislodge it once established. That is why propaganda operations (and other forms of public perception management) are so effective and so widely used by all governments (and other powers, such as corporations).

  6. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/14489-lifting-the-veil-of-mirage-democracy-in-the-united-states

    “We live in a mirage democracy. Elections have become expensive spectacles with $2 billion presidential campaigns and a corporate media that reports on the political drama every day for months on end. Elections are tightly controlled, rigged for the two parties by restrictive ballot access laws, a corporate-run debate commission that blocks third parties, gerrymandered voting districts, unverifiable computer vote counts and a mass media that does not cover alternatives to the corporate duopoly. US voting systems are among the least democratic in the world. They lack modern, more democratic approaches like universal voter registration, proportional representation and ranked choice or instant run-off voting. Only half the US public is registered, and only half of registered voters vote, so these mirage elections provide a less than legitimate government.”

    https://popularresistance.org/trumps-neo-fascism-built-on-neo-fascism-of-obama-and-democrat-party/

    “According to Senator Portman, the intent of the law is to “…improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies by establishing an interagency center housed at the State Department to coordinate and synchronize counter-propaganda efforts throughout the U.S. government. To support these efforts, the bill also creates a grant program for NGOs, think tanks, civil society and other experts outside government.”

    “For Senator Portman, the U.S. is the innocent victim of ruthless propaganda efforts on the part of foreign governments to slander and discredit the altruistic objectives of U.S. global activities.

    “In the face of the Neo-McCarthyism represented by this legislation and the many other repressive moves of the Obama administration to curtail speech and control information — from the increased surveillance of the public to the use of the espionage act to prosecute journalists and whistleblowers — one would reasonably assume that forces on the left would vigorously oppose the normalization of authoritarianism, especially in this period of heightened concerns about neo-fascism.

    “Unfortunately, the petit-bourgeois “latte left” along with their liberal allies have been in full collaboration with the state for the past eight years, with the predictable result that no such alarm was issued, nor has any critique or even debate been forthcoming. […]

    “With the left’s attention fixed on Trump and its fear of the “new” authoritarianism that he is supposed to introduce, it has failed to confront or even be aware of the fact that the foundation for any kind of “neo-fascism” that might emerge in the U.S. was constructed over the last 15 years of the combined Bush and Obama administrations.

    ““The neo-McCarthyism of today is geared toward ideological conformity.”

    “But even more dangerous for authentic oppositional forces in the U.S., collaboration from the left with the new McCarthyism is providing an opening for the isolation and repression of those of us who represent and are part of oppressed communities/peoples who were going to have to fight no matter who would have been elected.

    “This is not a new situation for us. When the repressive apparatus of the state focused on radical black organizations like the National Negro Congress and Civil Rights Congress, and on such individuals as Paul Robeson, W.E. B. Dubois, William Patterson and Claudia Jones, to the systematic assault on the radical Black Liberation Movement in the 1960s and ‘70s, we were largely required to fend for ourselves against the state after being abandoned by white liberals and significant numbers of white leftists. I fully expect that to happen again.

    “Neo-fascism is not a new existential phenomenon for us or for people around the world who have suffered from the racist, arrogant assaults of this criminal state to maintain the Pan-European colonial/capitalist project. So save your hysterical concerns about Trump for others and either commit yourself to building a revolutionary movement or get out of the way.”

    • This is about suppressing dissent, not promoting democracy or anything along those lines.

      Fox News provided “fake” news for years and nobody ever considered passing any laws against them in the US. The reason? Their falsified news served the plutocrats. Now the mainstream media has lost all credibility and has been shown to be the Wall Street Pravda machine, so they are desperately trying to clamp down.

      The rise of the Internet and alternative media sources have allowed people an alternative source of news because everyone knows that the media is full of Establishment self-serving lies.

    • There are always competing interests in government. And there is always a struggle over who will control the government.

      It’s not only or even primarily the competition between political parties. It’s more about the deep state and the larger corporatist power structure that extends beyond official government. This would, of course, involve the powerful alphabet soup agencies, Pentagon, and such. But it also would involve special interest groups, think tanks, defense contractors, prison industry, etc. There is a wide variety of people with immense power and influence, most of it wielded behind the scenes and never directly seen in the news and in elections.

      During times of stability and certainty, these elite players are better able to find ways to work together. Plus, the basic operations of social control and public perception management are easier to accomplish when there isn’t populist unrest and when geopolitical conditions aren’t shifting. Still, the overlapping nature of the political and economic structure relieves some of the stress on those pushing various agendas, helping them to keep those agendas aligned.

      Think about it in terms of the economy. People talk about the military-industrial complex. But what are they talking about?

      Well, the defense industry is the single largest sector of the US economy. This is in the context of the US economy being the largest in the world and US military spending being larger than all other major countries combined. Even those other countries end up buying or being given the products from the US defense industry.

      It goes beyond even that. All of the US mainstream media companies are owned by parent companies. Those parent companies also own companies in other areas, including the defense industry. The same goes for the close government and corporate media connections found with big ag (one of the main beneficiaries of government spending), natural resource extraction (natural resources on public lands sold to powerful companies at below market prices), etc.

      Most of the news reporting most Americans see comes from corporate media. And most of the media has become concentrated into a few megacorporations. Almost every community had multiple independent local news sources earlier last century, but now even the remaining local news sources have been mostly bought up by the national and international corporate media.

      Do you think that might effect reporting? Of course. Many authoritarian governments only could dream having such a massive media apparatus with such concentrated control. This leads to what some (e.g., Noam Chomsky) call the propaganda model of media, determining what narratives get promoted and what alternative views get shut out. Even with the internet, the vast majority of Americans still primarily get their news from the MSM and few Americans spend the time to look for other sources.

      Despite the greatest concentration of wealth and power ever before seen in world history, the elite aren’t a monolithic cabal of masterminds working through some shared conspiratorial agenda. I doubt it. More likely, there are diverse conspiratorial agendas.

      Even with a handful of megacorporations controlling almost the entire economy, there still would be significant divergences of interests, priorities, influences, etc. Competition has been greatly lessened as these megacorporations know that it is almost impossible to challenge their oligopoly, but there still is competition over limited resources and over power. Controlling the government determines trade agreements with which countries, the protection of particular trade routes, and where/how military will be deployed. Losing even a small amount of influence in government could lead to major drops in profits, such as losing access to oil in a foreign country.

      There has been a truce among powerful interests in this country. After WWII, the US had immense power. So, US megacorporations realized it was in their interest to agree to work together in maintaining US hegemony. But as US hegemony weakens, increasing globalization and rising new powers changes the game, changes the power structure and incentives. Those in power within the US are becoming less unified. Many corporations have already moved their headquarters to other countries or have simply invested further elsewhere.

      This leaves the US government in an unstable situation. I don’t think it is an accident that a businessman just now became president. And I even feel suspicious that this new president was someone who had worked in the corporate media that promoted him into the presidency. The MSM gave Trump more media time than all other candidates combined. If they really wanted to eliminate him as a candidate, they would have simply used the proven method of ignoring him (as they did in the past with political challengers: Ralph Nader, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, etc). Leaked emails show that the Clinton campaign worked to promote him and I can’t help thinking about the close relationship Trump has had with the Clintons.

      Why did the corporate media push a false narrative of Trump as an outsider? He was a media insider, but he was also a political insider. Trump had been schmoozing with the political elite his entire adult life, he donated large amounts of money to campaigns, and for decades involved himself in politics. He is a penultimate insider with close ties to the corporate media that portrayed him as an outsider. When his voicemail was leaked, it showed what close personal relationships he had with those in the corporate media who left him friendly messages.

      I’m thinking that the political establishment were perfectly fine with either Clinton or Trump as president. They both would serve corporate interests. That was the primary rigging, to ensure to corporate-friendly candidates were nominated in both parties. And it was all done in a rather heavy-handed way. Getting this result was extremely important to them. I’m wondering if maintaining control right now has become such a priority because those in power sense they are losing control and it is creating conflict within the power structure. I get this sense that there is a struggle going on right now in government. Maybe a new set of elites are trying to gain control while the old guard keeps them at bay.

      I get suspicious anytime I see a narrative consistently being pushed by corporate media and government officials. There were a number of narratives being pushed during the campaign season. And now a new narrative is being pushed about Russia and all that. All of it seems heavy-handed. Those in power are usually more subtle about such things. The last time we saw such strong push of a narrative was the war on terror which was used as a power grab to force into existence a new power structure. Before that, you saw the same thing happen with the propaganda of the war on drugs and the Cold War. It always involves a concerted effort by both government and media to implant the new narrative into the public mind.

      This time feels different, though. The US hasn’t seen this kind of scenario since the early 1900s when populist unrest made government fear a populist uprising. The elite response back then was assisted by two world wars that helped them to use propaganda in a way that is harder to do during peacetime. That is why I worry about the beating of the war drum by many in power. It isn’t just about getting the public in line with the elite agenda but also keeping the elite in line with national interests (it is what FDR was effective at doing).

      If all of this fails and breaks down, then what? The struggle for control within the power structure might become a more overt conflict. If a civil war develops within the government, how would we know? What would be the signs to be noticed from the outside? I could make some guesses. We’d likely see more investigations and trials of officials, further leaks and hacking, a sweeping removal of officials to be replaced by others, assassinations and other convenient deaths, and of course an increasing heavy-handedness in propaganda. Or it could play out in other ways less visible to the public.

      It’s speculation. But I feel certain something is going on that we don’t know about. And whatever it is, it might determine the future of our country and its role in the larger world.

      • “There has been a truce among powerful interests in this country. After WWII, the US had immense power. So, US megacorporations realized it was in their interest to agree to work together in maintaining US hegemony. But as US hegemony weakens, increasing globalization and rising new powers changes the game, changes the power structure and incentives. Those in power within the US are becoming less unified. Many corporations have already moved their headquarters to other countries or have simply invested further elsewhere.”

        Why are they moving them to other countries?

        Also, I notice that Trump seems to disagree with the post world war 2 order. And he seems to disagree with things like TPP and corporations that move overseas. I don’t see how anyone except him could want this. Or then again maybe he’s just faking this. He did say he would “drain the swamp” yet he didn’t.

        • You ask, “Why are they moving them to other countries?” Well, it’s not exactly a new phenomenon. But it maybe has increased over time.

          FDR kept corporate interests on a short leash. Like others at the time, he supported high effective corporate taxation while also heavily subsidizing industry and big ag, the carrot and the stick approach. That alignment of corporate interests and national interests was maintained to varying degrees throughout the Cold War.

          With the end of the Cold War, the Bush and Clinton families were able to more fully push neoliberal globalization into full dominance. The ruling elite forgot the power and importance of maintaining that FDR-style of corporatism. The new kind of corporatism that took its place slowly developed into what appears to be inverted totalitarianism.

          That created the opening for someone like Trump to step in. I’m sure he wasn’t the first choice of the establishment. They probably would have preferred a professional politician like Clinton. But the more important point is that they gladly accepted Trump, simply for the sake of preventing a Sanders presidency and the reform that would have followed.

          Trump does disagree with the post-WWII order. Then again, so did Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, in their own ways. The post-WWII order has been unraveling for a while now, unraveling or else systematically dismantled. Trump seems many things. He seemed to be against neoliberal free trade, but he and his cronies have made much of their wealth through neoliberal free trade. What are the chances he will actually challenge neoliberalism and end corporatist free trade agreements? Slim to none.

          He said he’d drain the swamp. Anyone paying attention would have guessed that he wouldn’t do that or much of anything else he stated in his campaign. It is more likely that he’ll do the exact opposite. There is already evidence that is the case. He is putting into power people who are even more swampy. From what he has done so far, it looks like he is seeking to complete the agenda that had been earlier promoted by the Bush and Clinton families. He is seeking to fill his administration with neocons and neoliberals, of a more extreme variety than maybe has been seen before, but it ultimately is simply a continuation of what has been developing for a while.

          Still, the old guard likely are worried. Trump might not play nice. The establishment surely would rather have a Trump presidency over a Sanders presidency, but they might get more than they were bargaining for. I think some in power have been desperate and promoting Trump was a strategy of desperation, a fall back plan when all else failed.

          I suspect Trump is an internationalist posing as a nationalist. He has deep economic ties to many countries, including Russia. He is a man of the world. If the US entirely collapsed, he’d simply move elsewhere and would live the remainder of his life in comfort and luxury. He is playing a game, no doubt. But it might be a bigger game. I’m thinking he could end up being the most globalist of any president so far. US national interests might not concern him much, beyond what investments he has in the US.

          It would be like having a new CEO of a company who was a stockholder in competing companies. If you were a part of that company, you might be a bit worried about what this new CEO might do and whether he has the company’s best interests in mind.

          • I noticed Alex Jones at infowars.com is really promoting Donald Trump. Do you have any idea who someone like Alex Jones might be working for.

          • Also, certainly someone like Trump possibly see’s the importance of bringing some jobs back? If he doesn’t, I could see him losing in 2020. He has half the country the really dislikes him. Then again,. maybe it’s about the quick buck. Maybe int he long run he doesn’t care.

          • “I noticed Alex Jones at infowars.com is really promoting Donald Trump.”

            I hadn’t paid much attention to him in a long while. I have much curiosity about conspiracy theorists. It is an interest that goes back to the 1990s when I’d read Robert Anton Wilson and listen to Art Bell. But Alex Jones always irritated me. He is an egotist who is playing at some kind of game.

            “Do you have any idea who someone like Alex Jones might be working for.”

            Many have speculated about that for years. There is something going on with him. I trust Jones less than I trust Trump. If I was the devious head of an intelligence agency, I’d want someone like him on the payroll. The CIA used to keep artists, professors, and journalists on the payroll. I’m sure they still do. Why not a highly influential propagator of paranoia?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_in_the_United_States
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_influence_on_public_opinion
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_Operations_(United_States)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird
            http://thefreethoughtproject.com/fbi-impersonate-media-mockingbird/

          • “Also, certainly someone like Trump possibly see’s the importance of bringing some jobs back? If he doesn’t, I could see him losing in 2020.”

            I’m sure he realizes that his supporters will quickly realize that he lied to them. He might see this as a one-time gig. I doubt he is banking on winning the 2020 election. In a single term, he could accomplish much and then be on his merry way.

            “He has half the country the really dislikes him. Then again,. maybe it’s about the quick buck. Maybe int he long run he doesn’t care.”

            It might be about the quick buck. But it might be many things. It might be just for shits and giggles. Maybe he sought power simply because he could. I’m sure he will do his best to take advantage of the situation to promote his interests, along with that of his family, friends, and cronies. He won’t come out of this poorer than he began, but then again no president ever does.

            What makes him somewhat different is that he is already so wealthy. But maybe that is irrelevant. Bush I & II were both born wealthy. The Clintons were well on their way to great wealth even before Bill was elected president and Hillary of course is filthy rich at the moment. Obama also entered the presidency as already a millionaire. None of these people need more money. It’s all about the power.

            The issue is this. Why does a particular individual want power? What do they hope to use it for and gain from it? That is where Trump seems different and why the old guard might have trouble handling him. Besides, how much real power does a president have, as compared to the deep state? If he ruffled too many feathers and trampled on too many establishment agendas, could he be shut out and disallowed from getting anything done? Or will he learn to play the game well and not rock the boat?

            It will be interesting to see what follows.

        • On the other hand, I could be entirely wrong. The only certain thing is that we don’t know what is going. That is the most important and most concerning point to keep in mind.

          I don’t like being kept in the dark. And it is obvious that the elite do everything they can to keep us in the dark. We do know that much, as has been revealed by leaks and hacks. We know events, narratives, are constantly being manipulated. But the specifics are anyone’s guess. We have some of the pieces, just not enough to form into a clear picture, even if we knew how the pieces went together.

          That is a problem with having a government, political parties, and corporate interests so obsessed with secrecy and power. It breeds paranoia. And paranoia is rarely helpful, whether or not justified.

          Keeping people afraid is one way of maintaining power. It divides people and makes them feel helpless. As Nixon explained to Kissinger, “We’ve got to destroy the confidence of the people in the American establishment.” That quote has been on my mind. The establishment doesn’t want the people to trust the establishment. Instead, they want the people to be demoralized and afraid. That way, people are easier to control and manipulate.

          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/the-moral-imagination-of-fear/

  7. “It’s speculation. But I feel certain something is going on that we don’t know about. And whatever it is, it might determine the future of our country and its role in the larger world.”

    I can feel that too. I wonder what it will lead to.

    I remember just recently reading this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-09/u-s-intelligence-sees-gloomy-global-trends-for-next-five-years

    “U.S. intelligence officials paint a dreary next half-decade for incoming President Donald Trump that will see waning American power amid slow growth while China and Russia are emboldened to counter U.S. influence, according to a new global trends report.”

    “The National Intelligence Council, under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, produces the report every four years following the presidential election. This year’s 240-page report, released Monday, provides predictions on a range of themes from the economy and energy to war and climate change. ”

    “The next five years will test U.S. resilience,” the report said. “For better and worse, the emerging global landscape is drawing to a close an era of American dominance following the Cold War.”

    I wonder what this will mean in the near future? Could this change or consumer culture and will the US be a different place soon?

    • I’ve assumed we’ve been in a new cold war for a while now. It’s just very cold at the moment and so not obvious.

      The hot war aspect would be proxy wars. The War on Terror might be a proxy war such as our military involvement in Korea and Vietnam. The Middle East was always a major focus of the first cold war. And it would be a major focus of the second cold war.

      But the thing about proxy wars is that they are ways of fighting an enemy without directly fighting them. Proxy wars are about control of regions. And they rarely necessitate victory. Destabilization and chaos often are more effective. So, winning in Afghanistan and Iraq probably never was the agenda.

      Proxy wars are rarely seen as proxy wars. That might be even more true now. The real conflict is hidden.

      This would be different from the previous cold war because the global superpowers involved apparently don’t want it out in the open. It’s probably mostly happening through building alliances, spy networks, government infiltrators, corporate espionage, technology theft, hacking, testing for security weaknesses, developing new weapons, buildup of military in key places, covert operations, etc.

      Most of it probably never makes it into the news or is never put into context. But we do hear about some of it from time to time. It’s just few people are paying attention.

      It makes me wonder about the endgame. What is the point of it all? If the ruling elite fully accomplished their agenda, what kind of society and world are they hoping to create? It seems like they are aiming for the US to become an authoritarian police state and military empire, even moreso than it already is. But why do they want this? Is it just power for the sake of power?

    • I got around to reading it. The author makes one decent point about the role the US government has often played in the world. Much of the rest is simplistic. Sure, all empires loot to maintain their imperialism. The American Empire is no different. Some of the specific points don’t entirely hold up, though. Others have made similar arguments and supported them better.

      First of all, Saudi Arabians aren’t imbeciles. They are a highly advanced country. To take out Saudi Arabia would turn the Middle East into total chaos. The US and the West like the Middle East to be destabilized in order to better control the region, but they don’t want chaos that could destabilize the entire global order. Saudi Arabia isn’t a mere pawn or rather, to the degree that is the case, it is one of the most important pawns that can’t be so easily sacrificed.

      Also, there is more to the US to looting. Many countries have sought to loot other countries without developing into a something like the US. The US had the advantage, for one, in having more of its own natural resources than probably any other country in the world. Even large countries like Russia and China aren’t as fortunate. China has to buy farmland in other countries just to feed its own people.

      The author uses the Civil War South as a comparable example to Saudi Arabia. A horrible comparison, besides Saudi Arabia being a separate country in a separate part of the world and one of the most economically and militarily powerful countries in the world.

      The US federal government with the backing of Northern and Western states didn’t attack the South. Anyone not entirely ignorant of American history knows that South Carolina seceded and then attacked a US military fort which is an act of war. If the South had seceded peacefully without attacking the US government, it would have turned out far differently. Lincoln had his hand forced. There was only a Civil War because some in the South wanted a Civil War, since they wrongly assumed they would win. So, the comparison is inept on that level, unless one is predicting Saudi Arabia will attack a US military base.

      As for looting, the North didn’t need to loot the South. Most of the natural resources, farmland, and water was in the North. Before the Civil War, the northern states had been developing to a greater degree than the southern states. You can make the fair argument that US looted the Native Americans and that disproportionately benefited those who settled in the North for the reasons I stated, but the Native Americans were’t a modern developed nation-state. That was standard colonial exploitation, which isn’t possible these days because there are no native tribal populations left maintaining vast territories of natural resources.

      The question is this. Why does the US need to loot anyone at all? The US has more natural resources than Saudi Arabia or any other country in the world. We have enough farmland to feed all US citizens along with feeding much of the rest of the world at a nice profit to big ag. The US government simply gives its natural wealth away to profit corporations. It doesn’t have to do that. If the US government used all of public wealth and resources for the public good, we could afford to fund the availability to every US citizen the following: public education (including college), job training program (and retraining for the older unemployed), universal healthcare, strong social safety net, shelter for the homeless, basic income, social security for generations, public works, public infrastructure, etc.

      The US is not a poor country. The US government loots other countries because it can, not because it has to. The corporatists loot foreigners for the same reason they loot Americans. We are all an occupied people. The only difference for Americans is that we are at the center of the empire or, if you prefer, at the center of the storm. There is very little difference between being a subject of an empire and being a subjugated people of an empire. The empire is not a democracy serving the public good.

  8. Thank you for your considered overview. I do very much respect and enjoy your posts. As a ‘foreigner’, without any affiliations within The States, I have very serious concerns regarding this ‘leak’ re Trump’s alleged escapade in Russia. In my humble opinion, I think that it is indeed ‘pulp fiction’. Various elements of the narrative suggest some personages trying to come up with ‘something shocking’, and in their minds, what better to upset Middle America than the idea of Golden Showers? I think they have underestimated the public, and simultaneously ensured all news becomes False News. I hope I am wrong.

    • I figured an overview would be useful. It’s strangely hard to find overviews on issues like this, even in the alternative media.

      Most people focus on the issue itself while ignoring the larger context. But it is the larger context that always interests me. The problem, though, is often we don’t have enough info to even make intelligent guesses about that larger context. So, we are forced back onto speculation and a growing sense of paranoia.

      We are in the dark, but few seem to notice. The media is like the man standing under the lamplight looking for his keys, and most of the public gets their news from that media all focused in the same spot, while the surrounding darkness goes unnoticed.

      Before reading your comment, I hadn’t heard about the most recent ‘leak’. I was working all day yesterday and then went to bed. I was wondering what you were talking about with golden showers. That is just tabloid news. It’s not like Buzzfeed is respectable media. It’s like getting excited about the Weekly World News reporting on Bat Boy.

      I’m not sure there is anything more to it than that. Trump is already president. I don’t know how gossip about golden showers changes anything. It just seems like something Buzzfeed put out simply because it would get attention and boost their profits.

  9. You mentioned that you felt that Trump may very well become the most globalist president. Do you think he’s not a nationalist in any way (like he pretends to be) is the bottom dollar is what he’s all about? It’s interstinga man of his wealth just want more. In fact that’s what I think of in regards to most of the US elite. They’re already so rich very rich. What’s the point of getting billions more?

    • I’d be surprised if he is a nationalist. But it’s not that I think he is globalist either, per se. He isn’t motivated by ideology. His interests are everything that revolves around his narcissism: public attention, money, power, etc.

      So, why would he limit himself to nationalism when he could project his ego onto the entire world? What greater homage to his ego could there be than to force his will onto foreign people? He will make sure no one anywhere in the world can ignore his existence!

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