How critical should we be of Vladimir Putin?

putin

Both Republicans and Democrats are mired in contradictions.  Let’s say you argue Putin really did “hack the election” in a meaningful way.  You probably then ought to conclude that Obama was truly a deeply negligent president, in a manner unprecedented in recent times.  (And since HRC was his Secretary of State, and more or less ran on a continuation of his regime, this oddly gives you the best case for voting for Trump!  Can you see Trump letting Putin deny Ivanka the presidency in this way?)  In this view, not only has Obama had only a lukewarm response to the hack, but he emboldened Putin over the last eight years, given his relative non-responses in Ukraine, Syria, the “red line,” and so on.  Romney and Kasparov then have to be seen as right in their view of both Putin and Obama.  Democrats of course are mostly unwilling to accept these conclusions, but the more seriously they talk of a decisive hack the closer they come to them.

Now those aren’t my views, but they should be the views of many of the Democrats I am reading.  To avoid those conclusions, the Democrats would have to play down the import of the hack.

Republicans try to minimize the hack, noting correctly that a) it released only true information, and b) bad email practices by John Podesta did not in fact swing the election.  The Republicans don’t quite put it this way, but the main problem was with the American media and its ongoing insinuations of more sinister goings-on than turned up in the evidence.  If you run a media without an obsession on the substance of policy, that can happen and in essence we manipulated ourselves.  What’s the ratio of MR posts on economic and foreign policy and Star Wars to MR posts on Hillary’s email?  The NYT and WaPo media could do the same but of course they don’t, neither does Breitbart, and that choice of emphasis is a much bigger problem than “fake news.”  In that regard you can exonerate Putin.

Yet in other contexts, the Republicans insist, rightly, as seeing Putin’s behavior as establishing a broader pattern of norm violations and moving from one transgression to the next.  If we insist on sticking with that bigger picture framing, the Russian hack then becomes more serious again, even though we can talk down its impact as a one-off event.  What indeed will be next?

The “intelligent hawk” position takes a whacking too.  How can we get tough with Russia when we will have had at least twelve years of American presidents (Obama plus Trump) who seem totally unwilling to do so?  And ultimately that unwillingness is backed up by voter apathy.  I see some anti-Trump marches, but there aren’t many “get tough with Vlad” demonstrations.

If American voters see their presidents won’t get tough with Putin, shouldn’t they indeed start liking Putin more?  To be sure, some of this boost in Putin’s popularity comes from the partisan perception that he is pro-Trump and anti-Hillary.  But consider the more intellectually honest slice of voter opinion.  Shouldn’t they also think that, if we are unwilling to be tough with Putin, we might as well try to get along with him and tolerate him?  That means trying to like him more too, just as you might try to like your unruly next door neighbors, once you decided it is not worth the trouble to move away from them.

The hawkish position, precisely by requiring sufficiently high levels of hawkish credibility, can collapse into a kind of cowardice quite readily.

So who then isn’t embarrassed?  How about “the hack was semi-serious, Obama is semi-deeply negligent, the apathetic, complacent public is the biggest problem, hawkish credibility cannot be earned back easily, and the election was nonetheless legitimate” as a reasonable default stance?

Oddly enough, I don’t think Trump and Putin will get along very well.  Putin still needs an external enemy, young Russians do not love the United States, and in foreign policy Trump is likely to want the impossible.  How will a Sylvester Stallone fan be global policeman with few trusting allies and little credibility?  It seems we are going to find out.

Comments

Putin's a neo-czar, and czarism is a political form adapted to the harsh realities of the plains of Eastern Europe. Americans enjoy a much more favorable geography far from land war threats, so we should enjoy a much better form of politics.

As for how Russians view him, well, he's a big improvement over Yeltsin's government. Could Russia do better than Putin? I hope so.

But one thing that would help global relations is for the American economics profession to undertake a detailed study of why they screwed up so badly in advising the Yeltsin government. And then offer an apology to the Russian people.

What went wrong with Yeltsin?

We now have lots of data to show that rapid transition from non-market to market economies is very destructive. Even if the impact is positive in the long-run. So, the transition should be slower than happened in Eastern Europe.

But, think politics for a minute. Would a marginalist approach to transition have been better?

I do not think foreign recommendations provided to a somewhat neutralized rival global power should be treated as the point of accountability in the instance that a regime change in that other country is associated with sharp economic contraction due to the large amount of uncompetitive and even useless production that closed when the Soviet empire collapsed?

Or, maybe you're thinking of something rather more specific than the general situation of massive massive recession after dissolution and independence of the former Soviet Republics?

There are no good answers to "how fast or slow should a transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy be".

In India, we have been trying to go at it very slow since 1990, and there have been periods (like the recent decade long rule of the Congress government) when reforms pretty much stalled. Has that done any good? Our high growth rate is often bandied about, but that masks the facts that our base is still very low and our population growth still pretty high. And we still seem to be suffering from very many problems. We have an extremely large number of poor people. Corruption and poor infrastructure are endemic.

The common features of socialist India and socialist Russia were (and are) concentrations of power and the lack of ability to make any progress in life unless one is connected to power networks. Unless societies discover some way to diffuse power across the citizenry, I don't think tweaking with the economic system, or even wholesale replacement of one economic system with another, is going to have any effect.

I hope you're right about diffuse power being the means of such progress.

But, for practical purposes for some time too, that would also require having a free press of sufficient credibility + sufficient education in diverse manners to be able to inform the public of some need to, say, at least not disagree with additional allocations which might be required for national security purposes.

It would be difficult for "good people who are willing to do bad things" to fully support such a widespread democratization unless it were possible to ensure necessary mobilization of resources in situations where credible threat or crisis could be transmitted without fear of excessively hysterical responses across the population.

Regular questioning along the lines of "where's it going?" and "what kind of world do you want to live in?" might be relevant to prevent people from being excessively influenced by short-termist thinking in times of imagined or real crisis.

"We now have lots of data to show that rapid transition from non-market to market economies is very destructive. Even if the impact is positive in the long-run. So, the transition should be slower than happened in Eastern Europe."

This is incorrect for Eastern Europe.

Poland, Hungary, Czech, and Slovkia each experienced the same growth rate pattern after 1989: the GDP fell somewhat but had recovered to the 1989 mark by 1995 and then solid growth kept going until the 2008 Great Recession and have stalled until recently. Even Romania followed this trend somewhat, but it took until 2000 to return to the 1989 GDP/capita level before continued growth to 2008 followed by stagnation.

Russia experienced the worst setback as the GDP per capita fell a lot, $21,000 to $12,000 in 2015 dollars, and didn't return to a 1989 level of GDP/capita until 2005 or so when it hit the great recession where growth increased after the 2008/2009 dip.

Transition from non-market to market happened very quickly in Poland and overall went quite well. It has had uninterrupted growth ever since becoming a market economy, even skipping the 2008/2009 recession. We'll see what happens with the latest government thought.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2015/02/11/how-poland-became-europes-growth-champion-insights-from-the-successful-post-socialist-transition/

I liked Trump's statement on the death of Castro (basically, thank you Lord for the death of a tyrant). Obama and the idiot Trudeau and Putin and Bergoglio and scores of others said laudatory and heartless things when Castro died, for which ***they*** owe an apology to the victims of Castro - including not only the Cubans but lots of American citizens - probably more, in number, at least in the Southeastern United States, than the victims of what you call the "American economics profession" in Russia. Well, Putin is not going to apologize, and the "American economics profession" is not going to apologize. Let's hope they all try to be as good as they can be in the future. You are a smart guy but perspective is an objective thing.

I am wondering if other totalitarian leaders will get this treatment. I still recall all the kisses and romantic hand-in-hand walks of Bush and the Saudi dictator (Saudi Arabia is that country which actually happens to persecute the Christians foolish enough to do, you know, Christian things openly around -- cue crocodile tears about gay cakes and other important matters).

Opening up relations with Cuba will do and has done more for people suffering under Castro's regime than Tweets.

No, renegotiating the opening of Cuba will do more for the suffering Cuban people. Bigly.

I forgot, Trumpism in action.

Basically do nothing but pick a few minor points and make a big show of 'negotiating' them to make a 'great deal'. Take credit move on to the next thing. Perhaps he will force Cuba to hire some Americans to open up Cuban cigar stores in America.

That's probably the best case we can hope for with this incoming President.

No, opening the US to Cuba will help more Cubans and by a larger margin. Pouting and and watching Cuba suffer for decades hasn't done shit. Of course, your alternative may be forcefully instigating regime change there, which could go a few different directions.

You're the guy who thought evolution was wrong based on fakakta probabilities!!

The "embargo" has been largely due to US politics.

Precisely how does the unconditional (US gave everything Cuba gave up nothing) "opening" of Cuba help Cubans?

The Cuban state will continue to own everything. There is no assurance that the gangsters will cease jailing and executing dissidents.

The asinine adulation for Obama's faux "achievements" is symptomatic of the rank-and-file Obama-worshipping imbecile and intellectual idiot. .

"Precisely how does the unconditional (US gave everything Cuba gave up nothing) “opening” of Cuba help Cubans?"

You mean as it has done while the CIA failed in not making Castro outlive Methuselah?

Opening Cuba will enrich the dictatorship which may result in tertiary kickbacks to heartless would-be tyrants like the above totalitatian fanboys.

It is funny. When we want fo hurt a people, like the Iraqis under Saddam and the Iranians (and let's make it clear we were waging economic war on them, trying to diminish their ability to affect American interests), we embargo them. When we want to help them, we embargo them too.

"Americans enjoy a much more favorable geography far from land war threats, so we should enjoy a much better form of politics."
"At bottom of Kremlin’s neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity. Originally, this was insecurity of a peaceful agricultural people trying to live on vast exposed plain in neighborhood of fierce nomadic peoples. To this was added, as Russia came into contact with economically advanced West, fear of more competent, more powerful, more highly organized societies in that area. But this latter type of insecurity was one which afflicted Russian rulers rather than Russian people; for Russian rulers have invariably sensed that their rule was relatively archaic in form, fragile and artificial in its psychological foundations, unable to stand comparison or contact with political systems of Western countries. For this reason they have always feared foreign penetration, feared direct contact between Western world and their own, feared what would happen if Russians learned truth about world without or if foreigners learned truth about world within. And they have learned to seek security only in patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power, never in compacts and compromises with it." -- George Kennan
Also they are crazy.

"Originally, this was insecurity of a peaceful agricultural people trying to live on vast exposed plain in neighborhood of fierce nomadic peoples"

Well its not like they were the Amish or anything. Pretty typical Indo European rooted feuding warrior aristocracy princedoms are what was.

Yeah, but the Mongol-Tatar yoke and all that. I think the world's civilized peoples must patient with the Russians.

The reason why the economists screwed up is entirely clear. They mostly suffered from white nationalism, believing that all white ethnicities have similar stellar abilities to delay gratification. They assumed that Russians would patiently endure any economic crisis (which are common in mature as well as nascent capitalist economies). Wrong!

Had they taken a proper HBD approach, they would have realized that emotionally Russians behave similar to Hatians. It's not politically correct to say so and it really offends white nationalists, but the facts are clear. Despite Russia's enormous accomplishments in science and the arts, they lack the self-control necessary to be civilized.

Let's look at the murder rate (homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants) in various countries (countries ranked 48th to 58th highest murder rates):

Haiti 10.2 1,033 Americas Caribbean 2012
Costa Rica 10.0 477 Americas Central America 2014
Philippines 9.9 9,797 Asia South-Eastern Asia 2014
Gambia 9.6 169 Africa Western Africa 2012
Russia 9.5 13,681 Europe Eastern Europe 2013
Chad 9.4 1,168 Africa Middle Africa 2012
Gabon 9.4 152 Africa Middle Africa 2012
Togo 9.4 618 Africa Western Africa 2012
Guinea 9.0 1,008 Africa Western Africa 2012
Barbados 8.8 25 Americas Caribbean 2014
Paraguay 8.8 578 Americas South America 2014

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

Can you notice a pattern, Steve? I can! I remember a brilliant writer wondering why anyone would expect people from New Orleans to behave differently than, say, Hatians in a crisis. If you assume you're dealing with Hatians, you might try a different approach than if you're dealing with, say, Swedes.

Likwise, an approch you might take with Poles (murder rate 0.7) is very different than one you should try with Russians (9.5) or Hatians (10.2).

"which are common in mature as well as nascent capitalist economies"

Most mature economies don't have to deal with a collapse like late-Soviet/early independent Russian economy had to, much less facing the Russian winter. The 2008 collapse or Obama's stagnation didn't even start to approach this level before Republicans and Democrats were overthrown by an angered populace. Voting Trump or electing a Black guy (there would have been no Obama without Lehman Brothers)is what a people with 230+ years of democratic rule experience plus all the niceties of English legal tradition and experience of Capitalism does. It is the American equivalent of killing the czar and his families and bombing the Duma.

So what is the deal with Brazilians? We are blacker than Haitians and Santomean (showing off their their lower-than-American homicide rate)? By the way, what is the deal with Americans?

I'm giving this troll a standing ovation at my desk. 10/10

Steve

Why do you keep saying that the economists advising Yeltsin screwed up so badly? It seems that the basic proposal of the economists are still there in Russia - generally a market economy (apart from the oil industry, but even in that industry there are numerous private investors) and flat low tax rates (13% max). If these policies were such a disaster why are they still so popular in Russia today. Do you believe that the economists advice was wrong because the 1990's were such a tough decade for Russia - but that is surely the fault of the poor management of the economy in the last 70 years. The USSR was a brankrupt mess, and the economic reforms in the 1990's transformed it into a modern, middle income, normal country. So I don't why you are so critical.

Russia and China offer a natural comparison.

Was it as simple as China doing market reforms in farms first, export industries second, and state enterprises last?

I think Russia tried to convert state industries too soon, and some US think tanks probably had a hand in that.

China had very low wages compared to Russia, and China had Hong Kong and Taiwan waiting to open factories in China to create export-oriented growth.

Russia didn't have these advantages, and also has a ton of oil etc.

Putin’s a neo-czar, and czarism is a political form adapted to the harsh realities of the plains of Eastern Europe.

Oh? Than why didn't we have czardom in Nebraska or South Australia? Hungary was a steppeland throughout much of the modern period. It was also a constitutional state for 90 years, with a couple of interruptions. Uruguay's another steppe biome. It's also has a long history as one of the most affluent and liberal-democratic of Latin American states.

There was about a 50 year lag separating Russia from the rest of Eastern Europe in the development of agrarian systems and political forms during the post-Napoleonic period. There was a lag, not a different developmental pathway. What was up with that?

A pretty good example of why it's better to put pet theories on paper from time to time somewhere that someone else can see them. Ideally, somewhere where you will find people inclined to disagree when warranted ...

Actually, it's a trick reply. The steppe biomes in 'Eastern Europe' are in the southern Ukraine an the adjacent part of Russia around Rostov, Volgograd, and Krasnodar, not really anywhere else. Left to its own devices, eastern Europe is mixed forest, not plains. The climate classification of eastern Europe is the same as that of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I don't remember any czars growing up there.

> Oh? Than why didn’t we have czardom in Nebraska or South Australia?

I don't know if I agree or disagree with Tyler on this point, but Nebraska and South Australia aren't in Eastern Europe?

He didn't say "harsh realities of plains", he said "harsh realities of the plains of Eastern Europe".

We have some harsh plains too, from eastern Colorado to Indiana and from there north and south to Canada and Mexico, and they seem well suited to democracy. Maybe it's the people and not the land? Or maybe autocracy is bad for everyone but eastern Europe just seems to be stuck with it for now.

I started thinking about this question as a zero-sum game which others might disagree with.

As a Democrat, I thought it most damning that Russia thought about what would be best for itself, which in a zero-sum game would mean worse for America, and chose Trump.

I thought that if you shared a zero-sum game theory, then Russia wanting Trump would be a sign of their belief that Trump was the best option for them 'winning' or America 'losing'.

I personally want America to 'win'.

Obviously many others disagree with my analysis of how to interpret this.

Maybe he wants oil business deals, which isn't zero sum.

Or maybe he's scared Hillary would try to topple him, which isn't necessarily good for America.

It strengthens Russia/Putin in a number of ways if Russia can move a broad anti-democratic agenda around the world.

Russia becomes less bad, everyone else becomes less good, and probably less successful.

I wonder if their analysis was 'Trump is best for us' which inditesTrump, or 'Trump is most destabilizing' which indites the Democrats and everybody working to delegetimize Trump and sway the electoral college into some fantastical third choice.

I'm personally more persuaded by the latter. Putin wants more power, and destabilizing the US by throwing its politics into crisis is the most powerful way to get there.

A bad, or easily influenced president is one thing.

Ongoing chaos and zero legitimacy for the president that renders the government unable to act, or dealing with internal revolution and strife, or an actual coup or civil war... All represents a far more durable and effective damage to US power and constraints on Russia than Trump.

I'm of the personal opinion the best way to thwart Russia is to unify behind Trump (regardless of my opinion of him) to preserve the system we will rely on to govern during Trump and after him. The best way to help Russia and Putin is to de exactly as we are right now, layering more damage to the system on top of what we already have.

interesting analysis with some hairpin turns there. So you think the best way to thwart Russia is not to argue with them-- to roll over and give them what they want-- including the candidate they hand picked specifically for his ability to be destabilizing for America?

We might disagree with your opinion (I do), but a least you make your main hypothesis explicit, which is rare and commendable. The hypothesis "zero-sum game" with Russia is absurd, however. We may not like Putin, and be hostile to Russian Imperialism, and still recognize we have a lot of interest with Russia.

Tony, there are other ways to interpret this. But your way is correct, IMHO.

Too much focus on "winning" or "winning most" is very conducive to zero sum thinking.

Pretty likely that Putin is pretty likable once one has acquired a taste for Trump.

I blame MR as well: the proportion of posts on economic analysis of media structure and incentives should clearly have been much higher in preceding years.

I am not sure MR prepared us for this Big Man Theory either, that Presidents set rather than reflect national democratic consensus.

Obama should have commanded us all to take cyber more seriously, just like he commanded us to believe we should take health insurance more seriously?

Obviously if we all fell in line for him on Obamacare..

I guess the dangerous reading here is that Tyler expects a lot more Big Man Government, and either accepts or play-accepts, a monarchist view of events.

Under Clinton, we would have continued the policy of supporting the Free Syrian Army against the government, and maybe tried to implement a no-fly zone over Syria. We'd be in danger of getting sucked into ground combat in Syria and maybe shooting down a Russian plane -- something the Russians aren't likely to take lightly.

Under Trump, all that goes away. We aren't going to get in a war in Syria. Russia is going to handle it, and we'll be happy to let them. We don't have to be their ally, just stop being their adversary.

"Under Trump, all that goes away...."

Indeed, if you surrender your country first you avoid even a slight danger of war! Thanks Trump voters!

Everyone have your books and tapes on Learning to Speak Russian in 30 Days?

War! Death! Destruction!

Trump has promised to "knock the hell out of" ISIS and set up safe zones in Syria. Most informed observers seem to agree that both would require ground troops and the latter policy could create tensions with Syria and Russia.

At what point is it going to become silly to keep trying to figure out how Trump will keep promises he made?

I imagine this young, ernest guy working for Trump saying to him years ago "Golly gee Mr. Trump, it sure is going to be hard to teach all these students at Trump University to make millions in real estate, do you think we can do that?"

True, which is why nobody should be proclaiming confidently that Trump's election means there will be no war in Syria. Anything is possible. I find the promise on ISIS to be the hardest one to roll back because it is so easily measurable and ISIS stories are always given prominence in right-wing media. If people are still reading about ISIS in January 2018 without having observed any U.S. escalation against them, Trump supporters will feel more betrayed than they would be by other broken promises. Assad and Russia don't consider fighting ISIS to be a priority so relying on them is a strategy that is likely to end in humiliation.

Unlike most presidents, Trump doesn't seem to be motivated by consistency or even a desire to get re-elected. He went into this not even thinking he could win, and then he realized he could and he closed the deal. Now he has 4 years to lower his own (and his family's) taxes as much as he can. No need to keep promises, especially if you have no interest in running again at age 74 and risking losing. Spend 4 years looting, then drop the mic and declare victory.

In other words, he has less incentive to care about keeping campaign promises than any president ever, yet another way in which he's sui generis.

Russia is helping their Syrian client state win its civil war. When that happens, Assad's government presumably won't be any nicer to ISIS than to any other insurgency in his country. If we help our Iraqi client state get rid of ISIS on their soil, and Russia/Syria gets rid of it in Syrian soil, then ISIS goes away. That does actually seem like a plausible way for ISIS to be defeated.

@albatross, sadly this is how it needs to go. Realpolitik on steroids. Assad is a monster but so was Saddam, and it wasn't a good idea to get rid of him either.

The right-wing media will quickly lose interest in ISIS now that it is not a club to beat the incumbent Democratic administration with. The US is at war with China. We have always been at war with China.

"We’d be in danger of getting sucked into ground combat in Syria and maybe shooting down a Russian plane — something the Russians aren’t likely to take lightly."

Turkey got away with it, free and clear.

'Both Republicans and Democrats are mired in contradictions.'

Thankfully, they have Trump to lead them, a man who knows that contradictions are only relevant to those unable to adapt to our dawning post truth age.

'Now those aren’t my views, but they should be the views of many of the Democrats I am reading.'

Always so kind to tell others what views to have, especially when you don't agree with them anyways.

'noting correctly that a) it released only true information'

Really? Wikipeaks goes into fairly deep depth about how DKIM proves an e-mail has to be authentic, before being honest enough to include this information at the bottom of an article which first details why such authentication proves that such authenticated e-mails are guaranteed, 100%, absolutely, cross our hearts, really, really accurate - 'Due to the complexities of modern email systems, and the fragility of cryptographic signatures, any formatting or character change to a message or many of its headers, no matter how small, will prevent a message from being validated. As a result, while the proof conveyed by a valid signature is strong (the message is authentic), the failure of the validation process has little meaning. It definitely does not mean the email is invalid, it just has not been positively validated in this way. The reasons vary by message. Many email systems routinely modify mail after it has been sent and before it is delivered, doing such things as adding footers, legal notices and updating certain mail headers or the message’s content encoding. These include thousands of messages from Google Groups and other mailing lists, as well as Google Calendar reminders, and many mails that have been forwarded through one or more systems, including mini mail servers on portable devices, before arriving in Mr Podesta’s Gmail inbox. Some of these types of message do validate, but large numbers of them do not.' https://www.wikileaks.org/DKIM-Verification.html

See how easy it is to live in a post truth world? Just claim something to be true, then dare anyone to point out, using your own words, that your claims are fragile, at best.

Using DKIM to prove authenticity of a message in this way is generally impossible, as DKIM only signs a set of lines from the message _header_.
This works for its original purpose (A message just arrived in my mailbox, is it from who it says it is from?), but not for detecting changed content of a message.
That's for false positives. For false negatives, keys change over time, validating an old header will often be impossible.

Tell wikileaks, as they are very proud that any time someone disputes a leaked DNC e-mail, they can claim that DKIM proves that wikileaks is right. As noted prominently in the cited link, before the disclaimer at the end - 'In the Podesta email archive, many of the politically significant emails use DKIM authentication, including several contentious emails which some politicians have attempted to repudiate. These mails are, in fact, signed by HillaryClinton.com’s email provider, Google. This authentication is on top of the journalistic validations of the email archive already carried out by WikiLeaks.

For example, an email that DNC Chair Donna Brazile falsely claimed to be "doctored by Russian sources" is in fact validated. Similarly validated is the email referencing a future appointment of Tim Kaine as Vice-President of the United States, which Mr Kaine publicly attempted to allege was fake. Both these emails have been secondarily validated by Google as being sent, with the content exactly as published by WikiLeaks.'

So, we can either go with the idea that it is actually easy to make overblown claims in pursuit of a goal without worrying much about contradiction, e.g. wikileaks 'released only true information,' or actually contradict such speciously unproven claims. Well, at least before the dawning of our new glorious age.

Tell wikileaks

Or don't even both engaging. The only people trying to say "those emails aren't real" are the crazies.

This blatant falsehood is surprisingly persistent, given that the specification is online and available for free:

http://dkim.org/specs/rfc4871-dkimbase.html#canonicalization

"3.4.5: A body length count MAY be specified to limit the signature calculation to an initial prefix of the body text, measured in octets. If the body length count is not specified, the entire message body is signed."

Not only is DKIM perfectly capable of signing the body, that's the default behavior.

Good points, Prior.

Right Wingers do love telling Dems what they think, and Tyler is no exception. Maybe I should tell Tyler what he thinks too.

"Let’s say you argue Putin really did “hack the election” in a meaningful way. You probably then ought to conclude that Obama was truly a deeply negligent president, in a manner unprecedented in recent times. (And since HRC was his Secretary of State, and more or less ran on a continuation of his regime, this oddly gives you the best case for voting for Trump! Can you see Trump letting Putin deny Ivanka the presidency in this way?)"

The polls apparently convinced Obama that Hillary would win, despite Russian interference. He might have figured that mentioning the Russian hacking would be unnecessary, and would also cost Hillary the election because it would anger Trump supporters, possibly swell their numbers, and possibly tear the country apart more than it was already torn. If that were the case, it certainly would be a no win situation. Using 20/20 hindsight, we can all see that Obama might have made the wrong decision-- IF talking seriously about the hacking would have resulted in Hillary winning, rather than Trump, but that is hard to know. At any rate, if Trump would still have won, there would still be no possibility of taking the Russian hacking seriously now, since the bromance between Trump would rule our relationship with Russia, as it will now.

In all likelihood, Obama taking the Russian hack seriously would not have made a difference in who got elected. And so criticizing him for being "deeply negligent" is absurd.

When he wrote the above, Tyler was thinking: "Oooh. My Right Winger dream come true. Another opportunity to bash Obama. We Right Wingers are constantly thinking of ways that anything Obama said or did proves he is weak or stupid or evil. This one will do for weak and stupid. And "deeply negligent." Good Right Winger insulting behavior. My Right Wing friends will all be quoting me and slapping me on the back in Congratulations."

Tyler also wrote:

"In this view, not only has Obama had only a lukewarm response to the hack, but he emboldened Putin over the last eight years, given his relative non-responses in Ukraine, Syria, the “red line,” and so on. Romney and Kasparov then have to be seen as right in their view of both Putin and Obama. Democrats of course are mostly unwilling to accept these conclusions, but the more seriously they talk of a decisive hack the closer they come to them."

Republicans in Congress made it clear that they would obstruct Obama if he responded hawkishly in Urkraine, or in Syria. And that would likely have kept Obama's responses from being effective. They have obstructed just about everything they could, that Obama has done these last 8 years-- a move that Right Wingers would condemn harshly if Left Wingers did it. But when their tribe does it, it's fine. No matter how good an action he ever took, Republicans kept obstructing it.

That being said, hawkishness has not worked out well in recent years, as the article below makes clear.

Stop swooning over Putin By Fareed Zakaria

But it's very predictable that Right Wingers like Tyler will just not notice that Congress was denying Obama support if he were to be hawkish in Ukraine or in Syria-- not noticing that, just so that these Right Wingers can later criticize Obama for being weak and not hawkish enough.

That's the Right Wing propaganda and opinion plan.
--Obama does or says something
--Find a way that this proves he is weak, stupid, incompetent, corrupt, evil etc.

So if he would have been hawkish in Ukraine or Syria he would have been irresponsible in getting us into needless wars. But since Obama wasn't hawkish, due to GOP obstruction, he can now be criticized for being weak and negligent.

The main thing Tyler think, as a loyal Right Winger, is:
"Everything Obama says and does is a reason to criticize him for being weak, stupid, incompetent, corrupt, evil etc. And the same would be true if he did the opposite. And double criticisms are great-- Criticize what he is about to do, see him reverse course and give in to you, and then criticize him for reversing course to do the opposite of what you originally criticized him for wanting to do."

I could write the GOP play book. That's basically it, above. Basically, criticize everything Dems do, all the time.

"seeing Putin’s behavior as establishing a broader pattern of norm violations"

How about the public's behaviour? Voters seem pretty keen on violating your norms too. And when the new leader of a supposed ally is calling your president the son of a whore, maybe there isn't much respect for your norms anymore. Maybe you're just outliving your welcome. Sometimes the best thing to do when you're up against cynicism and rejection is to give people what they want, good and hard, and let them see if they really can do better. We're supposed to be globalists right? So why not be more friendly with Russia?

You must be the only person in the world who believes that the Trump/Putin bromance comes from the idea that "We’re supposed to be globalists right?" But I am sure other Trumpsters will join in with you now-- because so many of them believe that any justification for anything Trump does is a good justification.

The Trump/Putin "bromance" is an invention by neocons and Democrats. To neocons anything but outright hostility and aggression towards Russia or it's interests is beyond the pale. To the Democrats anything they can use to smear Trump is good enough. Frankly I don't care what either thinks. I'm sure Putin is no angel, but between Putin and ISIS, I'll take Putin. So many leftists and establishmentarians believe that there is no good justification for anything Trump does or thinks.

Trump will be easy on Russia ( economically/militarily) and tough on China. The rest of the world he will pretty much ignore or work with Russia ( Syria/ISIS ), will leave Assad alone, will leave Israel alone, not shove a two state solution down their throat. He won't care much about Ukraine and doesn't need them to join NATO.

China is his bogeyman. He genuinely dislikes the communist party. He will paint China as an unfair economic trade partner, a bully to Taiwan ,expansionist in the south China Sea and a supporter of the North Korean regime. The cornerstone of his campaign was that China was ripping us off. He never said anything bad about Russia as far as I know.

In his interviews in the 80s I seem to remember he was more concerned about Japan than the Soviets.

At that time he was a Real Estate mogul. Now the president -elect. Guess he may change his priorities.

I don't think Trump has the faintest memory of what he said in the 80s-- even if he has ever believed what he said at any point in time, LOL.

It's unfortunate that Trump wants to antagonize China. Perhaps this is part of our apparently Russian-inspired new foreign policy.

This grph just proves wht I say. Americans will betray their own country if they can profit from it. Soon or later, America will fall in our hands like overripe jackfruit.

"I see some anti-Trump marches, but there aren’t many 'get tough with Vlad' demonstrations." Does someone want to join my "nuke Moscow" demonstration?

It seems politically tough for a US administration to "get tough" on Putin without a genuine national interest to which it's proportionate.

Syria? Ukraine? Gay guys? Really? Why would the American public go for any of these cause celebres? The sanctions were the degree of getting tough that was politically doable without getting outright into "why is this our problem again?".

There is no reason to get tough on Russia-- at least not at the present time. Just as there is no reason to let them determine our foreign policies, as Trump may be doing.

It's pretty speculative at best that any of the current course of US fp under Trump will.be anything Putin would want.

My guess: Trump will not be global policeman.

He does not want to.
Nobody else wants him to either.

In a way everyone else might end up somehow going around using the USA, But without openly saying so.

The USA will keep being the large military power. But mainly as a theoretical threat. No actual involvement.

I am surprised how this scenario fits everyone needs.......

The losers will be:
1) USA. less leverage.
2) Global. less committed policeman.

And winners of course....

Losers will be US allies like Singapore, Australia and NZ, baltics, and de facto allies like Vietnam.

Except that Trump is clearly something of a China hawk, certainly more so than Obama, so for three out of four of the listed countries this isnt true.

Singapore, Australia and NZ have no interest in the US antagonizing China. They will be losers. Indonesia may be a winner.

That presupposes that the US is a better partner than China.

There is some risk that Trump will make the U.S. into Russia's idea of a global policeman-- following their dictates in our foreign policies. It's interesting how Trump's followers follow along with antagonism toward China and bromance with Russia. Russia always good and our friend; China bad. In reality, both situations are mixed for us.

No doubt Putin would have loved to hack the election. I've yet to see any evidence that he did. Given the Dem traditions in this area, you could say they hacked the election with their army of bogus voters. It's just that they failed.

Their army of bogus voters....how long is this meme going to be flogged without any actual evidence ever being produced despite the fact that voter registration rolls are public data and many states have Republican leaders who would be happy to uncover an army of fake Democratic voters?

As long as the "Russia is why Hillary is not our Queen" is a thing. So, forever.

Except those making the case for Russia actually do bother to produce evidence, which you could argue is either not sufficient or not enough to merit a massive response but is nonetheless evidence. Those arguing 'bogus voters' don't even try to produce evidence and in fact seem to turn away from the effort, probably because they know if they actually looked it would demonstrate the opposite.

Except those making the case for Russia actually do bother to produce evidence

What evidence in the case at hand? I have seen literally zero evidence produced that isn't just someone, named or not, who claims they have seen the evidence.

Right Wing fake news lasts forever. We are immersed in Right Wing propaganda and fake news. The finding of 5 intelligence agencies of the U.S. government mean nothing in our post-truth society.

"Evidence" is whatever fake news says it is, to a huge number of people.

Actually those making the case for voter fraud relied on evidence to, a study that was published in the Washington Post some time back. I believe the consensus is that it's been refuted. But there was in fact evidence.

It's not "fake news"

Someone else proves themselves an idiot regularly, therefore out of spite you feel obliged to do the same?

Whether or not Russian interference tipped the outcome, the legitimacy of the outcome cannot be questioned. Americans must learn to be more resilient against brainwashing, foreign propaganda, fake news, and other things. The solution cannot involve addition incentives for foreign interference, such as questioning the legitimacy of the outcome in the face of that foreign propaganda (etc.).

"Whether or not Russian interference tipped the outcome, the legitimacy of the outcome cannot be questioned."

In other words, if a party can win by fraud, they are golden, because no one is allowed to question it?

"Americans must learn to be more resilient against brainwashing, foreign propaganda, fake news, and other things. "

Let's not hold our breaths waiting for that to happen.

"In other words, if a party can win by fraud, they are golden, because no one is allowed to question it"

Not even close. I'm pinpoint focused on the matter of not providing additional incentives for foreign influence in the election.

If the foreign influence itself can be seen as influencing the legitimacy of the outcome, this will encourage others to do the same. Think "false flag" and various permutations and combations thereof to see how things could get far more out of hand if the fact of foreign propaganda was deemed to undermine the practice of elections as a matter of principle.

What I suggest is that the American public as a whole should be more resilient to not be taken by misleading propaganda (problem being that much of US media is involves a lot of misleading propaganda, so it's hard to see who would follow through on the education and communications, etc., to such ends), while ensuring the procedural integrity of the voting process.

Less partisan blindness would make it easier to achieve progress on this front.

Which means that more partisan blindness is precisely what you'd want if you were a foreign power wanting to meddle in US elections.

Which, unfortunately, is precisely what partisan organizations want: partisan "loyalty".

So then what? Fire all the teachers and put in a new education system with zero ability to direct it from above?

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/12/records-many-votes-detroits-precincts/95363314/

In fairness, I don't know that's exactly damning evidence of voter fraud either. I have a hard time believing someone would try to manipulate an election by giving a precinct 1 more votes (in the same sense of who would counterfeit a 1$ bill?). The 5 Or Mores are worth looking at, and that's a problem if the 5 or Mores are in Blue territory and the 5 Or Lesses are in Red territory - or vice versa, of course.

Because I'm a lazy keyboard warrior, I'll leave the investigation to someone else.

I can totally believe that small scale shenanigans happen in districts that are in single-party control to inflate the vote. (Which is one reason I like the Electoral College in place of a raw vote.) Those 388 extra ballots in Detroit are concerning but definitely not enough evidence for the wingnuts on either side to hang a real stolen election on.

Michigan recount has found evidence in some places where there were more votes than voters. It wasn't widespread enough to tip the results. They were the impetus for voter identification legislation that was passed.

You guys are getting sloppy. Not only did it not work, but it was found out, and you keep spouting the nonsense that it didn't exist.

No wonder you lost.

Ugh I know we really need to step our game up. Derek and his cohort almost found out about Hillary's pedophilia ring!

Better check if there is a Russian under your bed tonight.

I have fond memories of the Obama trolls. At least they were entertaining. You guys are all as tiresome and boring as Hillary.

Voter ID would not have fixed this problem. The problem is that a few districts were coming up with a bunch of extra ballots compared to the number who actually showed up to vote. Voter ID may or may not be a good idea, but you need a different countermeasure here.

The Russians, led by the evil Putin, have hacked the Olympics and all kinds of other internationally significant sporting events. Hacking a US election is child's play compared to cheating in the Olympic biathlon.

True. But Right Wing fake news says the election fraud was all from the Dems. How did they manage to lose then?

Obama a deeply negligent President? I thought that was obvious to sentient beings.

Scott Adams speaks sense as usual:

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/154512067111/time-to-fire-the-director-of-the-cia

Yes, he speaks to all Trump lovers. But to no one else.

Saudis attacked America on 9/11 and George W. Bush provided those Saudis who were in America at the time with a military escort back to Saudi Arabia. Of course, the attack on 9/11 came after George W. Bush ignored the hair-on-fire warnings from his national security staff that such an attack was imminent. Americans punished George W. Bush for his dereliction of duty by re-electing him president three year later. Is that a ridiculous assessment of what happened in 2001 and 2004? Not as ridiculous as Cowen's assessment of Russian espionage in this year's election. For what it's worth, my view of James Comey's intervention in this year's election is that he made the reasonable assumption that Clinton would win and made every effort to appear that he and the FBI were not assisting her, so Trump couldn't claim that the election was "rigged" when he lost. In his press conference yesterday, that essentially was Obama' explanation for why he didn't take direct action against Mr. Putin in the weeks leading up to the election. As for the feckless Mr. Bush and his calamitous decision to invade Iraq, I believe he faced the dilemma of two bad options, invading our ally Saudi Arabia or invading Iraq and removing the Sunni dictator who was collaborating with wealthy Saudis who were funneling their support of Sunni extremists through Iraq as the cooperative Sunni dictator in Iraq looked the other way. Should Mr. Obama have followed the precedent of his predecessor and assassinated Mr. Putin?

Isn't saying the Saudis attacked America on 9/11 a bit like saying the US Army attacked the Ok. Federal building because Tim McVeigh was once in the army or the Marines killed JFK because Oswald was a marine sniper?

Did the Marines tell Oswald JFK was a bad bad bad evil man and cheer when he killed JFK? It's a poor analogy.

Certainly Saudi Arabia has a lot more to do with 9/11 than Iraq.

How about Egypt? Some of the hijackers were Egyptians and the one who actually ordered the attack was hiding in Afghanistan because if he had come back to Saudi Arabia he would have been arrested and beheaded.

I think your argument isn't really that we should have invaded Saudi Arabia, but that IF we had to invade ONE country because of 9/11 Saudi Arabia would make more sense than Iraq.

But if you're not an advocate of actually invading Saudi Arabia then the most logical second policy would be to try to marginalize it. The fastest way to do that in the Middle East is to enhance Iran's power....which ironically is what happened unintentionally under Bush by taking out Saddam and more intentionally by Obama with the nuclear deal.

Hmm, yes, I can see that. I am of course not in favor of military intervention in cases where we have no clear interests nor treaty obligations.

I don't LIKE the Iran deal, but as has been explained to me it's the best of a bunch of losing deals.

So what exactly do you propose? Invade Saudi Arabia and try to nation build them into something more liberal like Turkey? That would be an interesting argument to make and possibly easier to do than what we did in Iraq (I suspect most Saudi's are very comfortable and aren't going to put up a huge fight).

Or are you just pretending to be wise by fretting about how all options seem bad?

I think 9/11 gave us casus belli for one good war, which we spent going after Afghanistan for harboring (?) bin Laden. There were a lot of causes and actors there... Assuming our intel on that was good, I think we spent our casus belli ok.

My parents voted for GWB in part because he campaigned on being NOT a nation-builder, and I can't really say what people would have thought in 2003, but it seems to me at the moment that liberalizing Iraq or Syria would be a walk in the park compared to Saudi Arabia, particularly since you'd have ostensibly Christian overlords of Mecca and Medina. The Iran deal I'm not looking at as a contra-Saudi move, but rather a fulfilling a long-due debt plus getting a promise from withdrawing already-crumbling sanctions. How to deal with the Saudis... I really don't know. Back then, because of the petrodollar, we didn't have much leverage on them. Shale oil changes that nowadays. A decadent society is its own worst enemy, so time and low oil prices may be sufficient.

It's a good analogy, but your counterpoint is also important.

Now, if I were an economist (I'm not) and wanted to write something about this year's election from the perspective of economics, I would address the economists' favorite subject: incentives. In this case, Mr. Trump provided the incentive for Mr. Comey to take unprecedented actions against Mrs. Clinton by violating democratic norms with baseless accusations that Mrs. Clinton was rigging the election, Mr. Comey responding to the baseless accusations in a way that he believed would provide proof that the election was not rigged and that Mrs. Clinton won fairly.

Mr. Comey's job is to prove elections are not rigged by tossing out fake charges against candidates at the last moments of the campaign and then retracting them right before the final bell?

Yes, as the Republican FBI director, in loyalty to his party, saw it as his job to help Trump win. He did. Loyalty to party is something he saw as his primary job-- something more important by far than loyalty to his nation.

That was certainly one thing that I can agree Obama made a mistake on-- appointing Comey.

Lots of people believe George W. Bush invaded Iraq because he is stupid. Lots of people believe Mr. Comey is a partisan Republican and was doing everything in his power as director of the FBI to give the election to Mr. Trump. I don't believe Bush is stupid and I don't believe Comey is a traitor. Instead, I've provided what I consider reasonable explanations for their behavior. Of course, I don't know if my explanation is correct but I believe it. The economic issue with regard to Mr. Comey, how democratic norms affect incentives, is meant to emphasize why we have democratic norms: it's the economics, stupid!

You may be right that Comey thought Hillary would win and his non-release release was intended to just show that he wasn't covering anything up on her behalf. But I'm not sure that really works. Imagine if Hillary had won. I don't really see Trumpkins running around saying Comey's a good guy for keeping us informed about the facts as they developed. I'd imagine they would be more like "Comey had the goods then Hillary agents made it clear to him he better shut up so then he declared there wasn't anything there".

Yes, that is certainly what would have happened. With Trump, you are either with him or against him. And Comey wanted to be with him-- especially since he could make sure that Trump would get elected president. And don't forget the FBI warning of a possible terror attack that could happen on the very day before the election. That got more Trump voters out to the polls, for sure, as it had been predicted it would.

Following through on partisan preference in his position does not make him a traitor.

But it DOES make him unfit for the job.

Not in the post-truth partisan politics society we have Loyalty to party is everything. Truth, fairness, and integrity are outmoded concepts.

"Should Mr. Obama have followed the precedent of his predecessor and assassinated Mr. Putin?"

No, only Republicans are allowed to get away with murder like that. Trump has already said he could get away with shooting someone on 5th Ave.

I mostly agree with Tyler's view of the contradictions here as well as Sam Kriss's Slate piece. The ultimately failure was the calculation that Dems could gain two moderate, centrist Republicans for every blue-collar Trump took. 8 years of Obama derangement and before that another 8 years of lying to justify the Bush administration made a generation of Republicans who don't really care about the country and can't really understand what truth means let alone determine what it is.

There is a new reality here, though. While Trump supporters obsess over mythical illegal voters, the fact is the Internet has created a reality where international influence on our elections will now be a norm. In years past if someone was recycling Pravda talking points almost word for word, he would be quickly attacked as a fellow traveller or stooge. Today there really is no way to know who is behind a tweet that goes viral or a retweet. It seems to me the new norm will be more foreign influence on US elections and this election demonstrates the best way to do that is not illegal campaign donations but to simply join the conversation.

What foreign influence? I read a couple of Guardian paper that said Trump was a bad man and a homophone to boot. That means Britain was meddling as much as wikileaks? Ok, sure.

How about this perspective.

1) It's not worth going nuclear over, but an absence of a response will be like an invitation to do more.

2) How about placing things in non-hysterical context rather than outright denying realities plainly in front of us.

You don't get the heads of all security agencies broadly on agreement that something happened, AT THE SAME TIME AS NOT USING IT TO JUSTIFY SOMETHING STUPID, if it never happened.

It is a big deal? Yes. How big of a deal? Maybe not that big, unless the end result is people having more faith in fake news from Russia than the NYT.

Boonton, exactly.

Here is a WA Post article that they got sued over, about a group trying to research what media sites are towing the Russian propaganda line.

Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say

The web site is called propornot below, that tries to trace Russian influence on U.S. media. They have gotten pretty much universally negative and critical coverage of their efforts, except for that one WA Post article that someone threatened to sue WA Post over. No one except WA Post seems to think there is a problem, or even that taking efforts to research whether there is a problem, is warranted. People are just pissed that the media site they write for or read or own is on the list.

Is the negative press the group receives due to media sites being unfairly categorized as carrying Russian propaganda? Or is the negative press the group receives due to media sites being FAIRLY categorized as carrying Russian propaganda, and they don't like being exposed? That is the question.

The top of the propornot web sites says:

Russia is Manipulating US Public Opinion through Online Propaganda
We're trying to stop it.

Your comment is the comment of a pathetic loser, and you will be a pathetic loser at work tomorrow too, Boonton.

Greater international influence on the US process may be possible...but pales into comparison with the influence the net has given US citizens and US politicians and the US state department on other nations' process.

And surely the cheerleaders of greater international engagement and dialogue will cheer for an America that listens to foreigners? What's up with this xenophobia of the "Other"?

How is the DNC hack, at least the part about stomping on the Sanders campaign and leaking debate questions, not valuable in the way that Snowden and the Pentagon Papers were valuable?

You mean, like Snowden being unable to come back to the USA because there is a fatwa against him? Well, Russian hackers can come back for their wives if, unlike American ones, they have those.

They are valuable. I don't blame the DNC and their client institutions from trying to distract us from the contents, and so here we are caring more about the messenger than the message.

Please do not forget about the concept of "client institutions" in the coming years.

Please elaborate!

Trump might take cleintelism to an extreme. Or not.

It would be good if such concerns were present among those who more broadly support his policy directions.

'Stomping on the Sanders campaign'? Why is that important? Why is even leaking a few debate questions important?

How about RNC emails? What about the Trump campaign server that was dark except to speak with a Russian server? If we had access to that data would we see nothing but wholesome, innocent emails by earnest workers for the republican party and the Trump organization?

We used to have this thing in America called Journalism*. You see, whenever someone thought there was an interesting story, someone would investigate to find out what was up. They'd do things like go undercover, pretend to be a democratic operative and catch people talking on camera about inciting violence at rallies with the express permission of their masters. Ain't nothing stopping MSNBC from attempting journalism.

* not really

You mean like get some of Trump's tax returns and making them public? I kind of remember that happening in the campaign. But it's cute that you think hidden cameras somehow make you the equal to the KGB in gathering intelligence. I guess you thought the Ewoks defeating the Empire in Return of the Jedi was pretty realistic.

Was there anything wrong with leaking Trump's tax returns? By all means, let the information flow! An informed electorate will pick better leaders.

As far as the KGB, I still would like to see some evidence (not proof - proof is an absurdly high bar). If the CIA would be so kindly as to trot out some yellowcake in front of our congresscritters and say they found it in an email, and that only the Russians put yellowcake in emails, that would at least be a step in the right direction.

Suggestion for adventure seekers: try to set up the KGB.

Not having the RNC emails doesn't make the DNC emails less valuable. I don't think this shoudl be a partisan issue. [However, the apparent ease of doing this also futher highlights the idiocy of Hilary Clinton's private server.] Further, in a hackable age, nefarious governmental doings are at much greater risk to being disclosed. That's mostly good.

What about the RNC emails?

Maybe, just maybe the RNC didn't expose their stuff stupidly like the DNC did.

There is a history of extraordinary carelessness by Clinton regarding data. This stuff came out because of poor policy and careless handling. The Republicans also have been pounded mercilessly for stupid things they have said in the past, and one of the first things you learn in those circles is to be extremely careful, so maybe they didn't say nefarious things in writing.

You are assuming that everyone is as venal and careless as Podesta and Clinton. Maybe that is why she lost.

Well, maybe another link - a smoking gun, so to speak - doesn't pass muster here either, or a certain at symbol is not allowed - trying again.

'Maybe, just maybe the RNC didn’t expose their stuff stupidly like the DNC did.'

Of course not - the Republicans outsource. 'And, as TSG first reported on August 12, the site’s “Portfolio” also includes a collection titled “The United States Republican Party.”

While the nearly 300 Republican-related e-mails posted on DC Leaks are uniformly innocuous, the collection is noteworthy for the scope of victims it reveals. The material includes correspondence lifted from the campaign committees of various elected officials, including Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Representative Robert Hurt. Several state GOP organizations, Republican PACs, and campaign consultants also had their e-mail accounts compromised.

The GOP hacking sampler on DC Leaks includes correspondence scattered across a four-month period ending in late-October 2015. One of those stolen e-mails indicates that the Russian hackers had access to the RNC’s e-mail server.

An October 13 e-mail sent to info at gop.com is among the correspondence posted to DC Leaks. The e-mail, sent by a Republican voter, was addressed to Priebus and addressed “gun control rhetoric” from Democratic candidates and their operatives.

So how did an e-mail sent to the RNC’s public-facing address end up in the hands of hackers? For that answer, all roads lead to Tennessee.

As TSG previously reported, the Republican elected officials and organizations whose e-mails appear on DC Leaks have all used Smartech, a Chattanooga-based firm, to host their web sites and e-mail operations. The company and its parent, Airnet Group, have done work for a Who’s Who of Republican figures, including George W. Bush, Karl Rove, John Bolton, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and the Koch brothers.

While Smartech officials did not return TSG phone calls and e-mails seeking comment on whether their systems had been compromised, a Republican client of the company told TSG that the firm privately acknowledged such a breach.

Tom Del Beccaro, ex-chairman of the California Republican Party, told TSG that Smartech admitted being hacked. The firm’s disclosure came several months ago, not long after DC Leaks published its portfolio of stolen GOP e-mails. Del Beccaro, who unsuccessfully ran this year for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, contracted with the firm to host his campaign’s web site and e-mail server.'

Thing is though, if the RNC had been hacked, you'd see... a club of careerist politicals networking, trading favours, cliquishly advancing one another's careers, courting donors and generally pushing process as far as it would go to get their preferred candidate to win without actually breaking the law.

Exactly what happened with the DNC, in other words. And that would still have helped Trump and not helped Clinton, epitome of careerist politicians.

So I imagine you dismiss Watergate with the spittle flecked caterwaul of "what about the Democrats dirty tricks."

It's fascinating to the see the left which is so used to getting away with things the right gets jammed up for experiencing a mental breakdown because for once in their life the disclosure ball didn't bounce their way.

This is not like Watergate. And nothing illegal on HRC's part was revealed by the hacks-- only interpreted as if illegal by Right Wing (mostly fake) news and totally fake news. And the people doing the hacking are being lauded instead of punished, in contrast to Watergate.

Can you mention some examples of things the left gets away with that the right gets jammed up for?

I think we've all heard quite enough about email or embassy bombings, which are extremely strong evidence very much to the contrary of what you suggest. But I dunno, maybe I'm poorly informed or something.

A president elected in a 49 state landslide was driven from office because of activities that his Democratic predessors had routinely done. This despite the fact that most of the most "egregious" activities were necessitated by his attempts to successfully end a war his war-mongering predecessors had started.

In the Johnson Administration Watergate might as well have been called every Thursday.

Hmm. Never crossed my mind that coming down on Watergate, not the fact of it, might have been more the departure from the norm. (But it was somewhat of an extreme situation, right? Specifically in that it involved explicit direction and rather than plausible deniability, accompanied by a patently partisan dimension?)

It also seems a little like ancient history for informing present perspectives on the left-right distribution of hypocrisy and/or abuses of power.

Interesting though ...

Does anyone think RNC had journos emailing them stories to edit?

I'll go with a slight modification of your reasonable default stance.

“the hack was semi-serious, Obama has worked decently but not perfectly given real constraints, the apathetic, complacent public is the biggest problem, and the election was nonetheless legitimate”

There isn't much more Obama could do except maybe start a new cold-war, which probably even with this hack isn't justified, and certainly wasn't before the hack was known.

Also I think you overestimate the importance of credibility. The mood-affiliaters are running the show.

One idea i believe floated on the Erza Klein Show would be a public and in your face drop of intelligence about Putin. Anything and everything the CIA has collected that would embarrass and humiliate him. Would it cost him his position in Russia? No. Would it start a war? Probably not. But depending upon what we might have it could feel good for us and bad for him which might be rough justice.

Of course that could still happen in the last moments of the last mature President America has. Of course that also depends on the assumption that our intelligence agencies have actually collected useful and embarrassing information about Putin and not just economic reports on Russian oil and gas production and nuclear stockpiles.

BHO knows that Putin would retaliate by releasing the secret golf scores of the POTUS, which can't be good or we'd already know about them.

Petty personal attacks on foreign leaders don't seem very mature. That's the kind of thing I'did expect Trump to do.

"When they go low we go high"

I think honestly we should be thankful for the hacks as they revealed all the dishonest crap going on at the DNC (Sanders stomping, Debate questions). If those revelations affected the election a bit by surpressing Sanders voters maybe, so be it.

Whistlblowing need not be symmetric or fair to be valuable.

"When they go low we go high"

I think honestly we should be thankful for the hacks as they revealed all the dishonest crap going on at the DNC (Sanders stomping, Debate questions). If those revelations affected the election a bit by surpressing Sanders voters maybe, so be it.

Whistelblowing need not be symmetric or fair to be valuable.

Especially if it isn't your own political party suffering the damage.

So, you're just going to gloss right over the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence that the Russians did anything at all?

That seems very relevant to the discussion, frankly, and shame on you for leaving it out.

It's tendencies like this that are one of the reasons your side lost the historic 2016 election to Donald Freaking Trump.

'So, you’re just going to gloss right over the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence that the Russians did anything at all?'

Well, that is always the point in things like this. Apparently, there is evidence, which you will just have to take on faith, since it will not be shared.

But then, considering that Trump has publicly and repeatedly stated that there is no proof of Obama being born in Hawaii, really, who needs evidence in our dawning post-truth age?

Facts are meaningless, it is all about status, Straussian readings, and/or mood affiliation. Or imagining whatever you want - why settle for a can opener when a truly clever economist can now conjure a Michelin starred restuarant in a strip mall.

CrowdStrike (a private security company that investigated DNC hack and DCLeaks) has a blog.

They publish a lot of technical data from the investigation that won't be much different from DNI report Obama just ordered (they won't be naming covert sources anyway). Go and see for yourself. Also go read last year's British government report about Litvinenko killing. Among other things, they go into considerable detail about a lot of misshaps Russian committed during the operation. The same Russian incompetency and sloppiness are all over election hacks too.

zero evidence

When the FBI says someone probably committed a crime, do you demand access to their case files?

If a Putin candidate/puppet were running for office, how would he behave?

What kinds of things would he say about Putin?

What changes in the party platform would you see?

How forthcoming would he be in disclosing his financial ties to Russia?

What prior lobbying experience would you expect of his campaign team?

Maybe ask the families of those killed in the MH-17 shoot down about how critical we should be of Putin?

That graph is disturbing. Tyler responds with a wild ride of commentary.

I see three issues:

1) Americans should have taken the cyber more seriously, including putting broad national data security at a higher priority over our own ability spy/back "bad guys."

But that is almost incidental compared to:

2) Americans prove move more fickle about core beliefs than was believed.

Which leads to:

3) Is Russia now a foil or a mirror? Are our values and our confidence now so low that we see Putin, for all his dubious success, as a model for the future?

#3 Yes.

Putin did us a favor (if he did this, which I imagine is masively hard to prove).

There you go. Poof!

No more core American values.

Let's try it this way. Where were the whistleblowers within the DNC to reveal that Sanders was not being treated fairly? Why did the Clinton campaign accept debate quesitons ahead of time? Are those core American values? I think we need to address those issues. Hacking is bad, sure. Those actions are worse - they potentially affected the election for real.

Name the law that is broken when a Party favors a Candidate.

Core American Values my friend.

Clearly it was claimed over and over by the DNC that it was not a Hilary coronation. They lied.

Also you are pursui an odd line of argument: the hacking is bad and affected the election, however the actions revealed in the hacking were not immoral or illegal. So how could their revelation affect the election?

You don't understand the purpose of Parties.

They are not there to provide a two stage open election process, they are there to embody a deeper and longer lasting platform and philosophy than any one election.

If you think the President should be elected as a run-off of "top two" you don't need parties at all. Just hold open primaries.

It doesn't matter if I understand the purpose of the parties. It is the voters that need to be convinced to show up to vote for someone foisted upon them.

That was the failure. The leaks had legs because they touched a nerve. There was real enthusiasm for Sanders, but he was up against the party machinery and Clinton won the nomination.

There was a hard fight in 2008 among the Democrats with hard feelings. But everyone showed up for Obama. They didn't all show up for Clinton this time.

It is far easier to blame the Russians than to face the real divisions within the Democrat coalition. Trump built a new one on the right, and it didn't go the way the party stalwarts wanted it to go. Someone has to do the same on the left.

I am not sure I should expect from you a deep knowledge of US politics, but the transition from "smoke filled rooms" to "open primaries" was and still is complex.

But both were legal and American. No one would have complained in 1960 (back when America was great?) that a Party had a favorite.

OK - let's stipulate that. Then why was Debbie Wasserman Schultz fired?

Cowardice. And if she had gone on CNN in full fury, that too might have won the Democrats the election.

OK so from your point of view things were revealed that maybe were inconvenient but not immoral or illegal. Then you can't possibly think thos revelations affected the election?

I see two consistent positions:

The leaks revealed immoral behavior and those revelations may have affected the election. If they did that's too bad, but it's the fault of those who committed the immoral behavior.

OR

The leaks revealed normal day to day political operations. As such there is no real possibility they affected the election.

You can't mix these up any way that suits your "team"

Details don't matter. Ultimately this was a tipping point from Tyler's projected Complacency world to Tear It All Down.

Voters knew Trump's randomness, and enough of them chose it that now we have it.

A President-Elect that complains on Twitter:

"China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act."

We are so screwed.

Adovade, I know that you and others on this board, and maybe even most Americans, love black/white thinking, in which there are only 2 possible actions. But the world is rarely like that.

"OK so from your point of view things were revealed that maybe were inconvenient but not immoral or illegal. Then you can’t possibly think those revelations affected the election?"

Nope. The way that the revelations affected the election was that Right Wing fake news took every Hillary email that was ever released and combed through it for something that could be made to sound evil. It they couldn't find anything, they jumped to wild conclusions in order to find evil. A lot of mentions of eating pizza, develops into a child sex trafficking ring in the basement of a pizza house that doesn't actually even have a basement. Mentions of nations that contributed to the Clinton foundation, that also had relationships with the U.S. government, developed into totally unfounded accusations of "pay to play" deals between the Clinton foundation and the U.S. government. Etc. etc.

The leaks were used as raw material for fake news to constantly misinterpret and lie about.

Oh please. That is what parties always do in elections. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn't. The Democrats managed to paint Romney as an out of touch rich plutocrat who didn't care. It stuck because he in fact was an out of touch plutocrat and his protestations of how much he cared didn't wash.

This stuff stuck to Clinton because it fit. She wasn't nimble or smart enough or human enough to connect to people so they would overlook that stuff.

By the way, everyone heard her crowing about shutting down the coal industry. And also heard the reaction from the media. They were very open to a different message as a result. Trump took advantage of that.

Did you see that NPR report on black lung?

Explain how a mid-forties disability, and death sentence, is a terrible thing for progressives to oppose.

Further, do want the gang running the country who had private email servers and got the crap hacked out of them? I don't.

But the emails show a commitment to good government, and a compassion for the world's poor. What's not to like?

Literally the room the emails were in.

Who needs to hack trump?? His vulnerabilities are right on his sleeve....or twitter.

Being hacked in this day and age means a confluence of two factors:
1) you're over 55 and choose a password that is the name of your dog and some permutation of common punctuation and the numbers 1,2,3
And 2) there is an army of fat Russians in a room being paid minimum wage to try random shit from your Wikipedia page

Clinton had a private email server. To my knowledge, none of her allies had additional private email servers.

There's no evidence her private email server got hacked. The DNC servers were hacked. Podesta got phished.

Finally, proper email server management is not the skill I look for in my political leaders. We have IT departments to handle that. Clinton's failure to let the State department IT team seems to be the product of idiosyncratic circumstances that would have been unlikely to apply when she was president.

This is really secondary to Republican flirtation with ologarchy, but notice that Sanders and Trump were both late joiners. Of course the parties began with no loyalty to them. Sanders and Trump had no loyalty to, history within, the parties they hoped to represent.

OK. But I think most people think fair and open primaries are a reasnable expectation. And that's what was pitched. I think the Republicans actualy did it.

Why is it the Democrats' responsibility to Primary a Socialist?

Where was the Socialist party?

As you might guess, I am not a fan of the Republican "success."

They screwed up and allowed a totally unprepared candidate to win.

Did you see that he had 3 kids and one son in law at the table with America's technology executives? Why exactly? And are they still running the blind trust.

I'm not a fan of the results either. But I don't think it's right or useful to claim that the process was corrupt or election was unfair. Look deeper.

I have not seen the classified material, but given that every agency now agrees that there was hacking, I believe them.

I hope that it didn't tip the balance.

But also I hope Parties recognize that they need to be stronger, to choose good candidates from the standpoint of quality and electability.

Why? The same reason a dog licks his private parts. Because the can. Trump himself said he could shoot someone on 5th Ave.

Because they can, I meant to type.

Maybe try this thought experiment: How is it possible that given her opponent, Hilary Clinton did not win in a gigantic landslide? The answer to that question is not Russian hacking.

Clinton was high quality but low electability. Democrats should choose wiser.

But that doesn't really help us now, in the Trump plus Kids administration.

Clinton was high quality b

Well, she had a certain quality as she went about laundering the bribes.

Yeah, the bribes made up by fake news. Fake news did a ton of harm in the election.

Bribes to do what? To "do established policy of the US government" is not a smoking gun,

There's a lot of ink being spilled on the why, but it probably comes down to the oldest reason of all, charisma. The more charismatic candidate always wins. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton (Bill), Bush II, Obama, Trump....all significantly more charismatic than their opponents.

In some cases there's not much difference in the candidates' charisma (LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Bush I), so other factors determine the outcome

That could be the answer. Many factors affected the election.

BTW, 2 of the reasons, besides fake news, that HRC didn't win in landslide may be electronic voting machine fraud, and the fact that Right Wing news had been bashing her 24/7/365 for decades. People thought there was a reason for that. But they were wrong about what the reason was. It was that the Right Wing was determined to disempower all powerful Democrats. And they successfully did so. Americans will believe anything their trusted TV station or fave Internet site tells them repeatedly, over years.

I just love how it is accepted fact that the Russian government is the source of the Wikileaks. Taken together, the evidence actually leans against them being that source.

My operative assumption is that most developed world foreign governments try to penetrate any and every electronic database they think important to their interests, either through malware, or direct human intelligence operations. Probably no government does it better than the US government itself. From the Russian point of view, I just assume they have deeply penetrated a lot of government data networks and networks loosely government connected, and I assume they penetrated the databases of the DNC, the RNC, the Clinton Campaign, and the Trump Campaign. My operative assumption is also that they don't leak any of the information they gather because it is more beneficial to them to use it in other ways.

So, what exactly was in the Wikileaks that only a highly skilled hacking operation could find and/or fake? Well, there is nothing in the leaks that fits this description- the Podesta leak was a low tech phishing operation, and Assange has told everyone the DNC leak was an inside operation. You don't have to believe Assange in this case, but his statement has exactly the same factual support as the claim that it was the Russian government.

The most damaging stuff in the leaks related to the sandbagging of the Sanders campaign by the DNC, and that this was done with the cooperation of quite a number of journalists in the media. Does anyone really believe that is the most damaging and embarrassing material that could be found on the whole for the entire DNC staff and clients? Just ask yourself how embarrassed you would be if your internet browsing history were released for public view. The stuff that was in the Wikileaks strongly suggests that the motive for the leak was unhappiness with how the Sanders campaign was treated by the DNC.

It is very telling that the US intelligence agencies refused to brief the Congressional committees this week on this exact topic that has been leaking to the press this past week. This strongly suggests the actual evidence supporting the press stories is nothing more than pure assertion from sources within the agencies who were very unhappy about the election results, or that the leakers themselves aren't who they claim and/or that the journalists writing these stories are making up the stories whole-cloth.

"agencies who were very unhappy about the election results"

The official announcement from DHS and DNI was on October 7.

Claim that FBI was not (it is) on the same page as the rest of intelligence agencies was simply a reporting error.

Announcements are worthless as evidence- this only supports that the leaks from this past week might be actual employees of the agencies. At this point, I want to see the evidence laid out so 3rd parties can verify that it is more than just a fucking wild-assed guess.

Of course, anything that might reflect badly on Trump requires volumes of evidence. 5 intelligence agencies agreeing means nothing. But for people to believe HRC ran a child trafficking site in the basement of a pizza parlor, well nothing whatsoever is required to substantiate that accusation.

(...) shouldn’t they indeed start liking Putin more?

According to Russian commentator Stanislav Belkovsky, that was Putin's goal since March 2014 - prinudit' k lyubvy - to forcibly make them (US and EU) love him.

Unfortunately that involves going back to good old spheres of influence. If you want Germany start fending for itself (always ends great) and also lose all manner of credibility in Poland's and Baltic region's (that includes Sweden) eyes - go ahead and like Putin (it will not last long, as you yourself said - thieves in charge of Russia cannot live without a external enemy for long).

Don't you understand, Hordes, that loving Putin and bending to his will is what our king wants? How can anyone find an issue with letting Putin dictate U.S. foreign policy? (sarcasm here, of course.)

> Let’s say you argue Putin really did “hack the election” in a meaningful way. You probably then ought to conclude that Obama was truly a deeply negligent president, in a manner unprecedented in recent times. (And since HRC was his Secretary of State, and more or less ran on a continuation of his regime, this oddly gives you the best case for voting for Trump!)

Jesus Christ, Cowen, even for you...

Lately, Cowen's been acting like he's pitching himself for a job in the Trump administration. Even formerly sane people are acting this way now. This doesn't seem like it will end well. We just have to hope for the best. Or the least bad outcome, I suppose. There isn't anything "best" that is possible here, with a pres who seems totally ignorant about government in every way.

I don't have much of anything positive to say about Trump. I also have lots of negative things to say about Trump. I'm also very concerned about risk factors linked to Trump.

But the months preceding the election were perhaps more hysterical than necessary. A degree of openness to what will come is suitable for an open minded person.

However, one of the fears of having a man like Trump at the helm is that it will lead to a culture of sycophants due to having a leader with a tendency to screw people who don't tow his line. Which would be really bad for a lot of things in basically all time frames.

I don't imagine many open minded people would at all mind being the target of reminders in such situations while in the process of looking for various potential upsides associated with risks and downsides.

Article at cnn about how hawkishness-- whether on the part of the U.S. or Russia has not worked out so well in recent years. My ability to link to urls has been disabled on this web site, for some reason. So you 'll have to google the article title to get to it.

Stop swooning over Putin By Fareed Zakaria

How critical should we be of Vladimir Putin?

Russian revanchism, while disagreeable, is much milder than Arab revanchism (much less German revanchism ca. 1935 or Serb revanchism ca. 1992. You might just try letting it run its course.

Russia lost the peripheries of its empire, not loss of sovereign authority in the homeland itself.

Observation 1:

To believe evidence that a formal Cold War rival led by former KGB director, public release of evidence is required. Unanimous statements from all security agencies of highest credibility on such questions is not sufficient.

To believe that Clinton's email situation warrants prison, any statement from any old blowhard is rock solid evidence in and of itself. No one needs to see the evidence, and, in fact, when Clinton suggested to release the data so the public could decide for themselves just how big of a deal it was, this was deemed by some as further evidence of her guilt, under the claim that she only said so knowing that it would not happen.

Observation 2:

Some people are so brainwashed that they will see observation 1 as evidence of my inability to engage in proper reasoning, perhaps due to the weight of what propaganda I may have been exposed to in recent years.

Question 1: What to do with the "some people" referred to in observation 2?

(I suggest formally introducing anti-brainwashing curriculum into high school level education.)

A few thoughts.

What was Stalin/Russia's approval ratings at before WW II?

What were they at during WW II when we were allied?

Many on the right now view ISIS as the Nazis, thus making Russians the "better" side.

But I really think the biggest change related to the Democrats and the MSM. These two intertwined groups managed to mock Romney on Russia, and Palin before that, but now they want us to suddenly fear Russia.

The public has finally figured out the media is not neutral and not even very American.

Blaming the GOP or Trump is stupid. Blame the media.

Look at Ben Rhodes gloating that he could abuse left-wing media types to tweet.

But suddenly after years of telling everyone that Russia was not a threat, and only dumb cowboys thought they were, one bad election, and WOW RUSSIA SO EVIL.! This coming after Chinese hacks of OPM barely led to any consequences.

The mockery about Russia was precisely because of concerns. And, more specifically, that someone who knows little or nothing about the main one or two rivals might do something stupid.

Probably Jeb Bush and Clinton were the only candidates with much of any credibility whatsoever on foreign policy ...

... Spoken as a foreigner who mostly doesn't care who wins US elections as long as they don't up the ante "too much" on the nuclear clock in the process of their electioneering.

Let's be clear on what was being mocked so that troll me can't obsfuscate the issue away. During a debate Mitt Romney raised the specter of Russian adventurism as a menace the President was not taking seriously enough. Obama responded in the parlance of a 15 year old girl form a decade ago "The Cold War called it wants its foreign policy back." In other words what was being mocked is precisely the danger troll me and the people who pay him to post disinformation all claim that we now need to worry about.

Fair enough, I'm not aware of reasons to doubt Romney (in that former time) in that regard.

But Palin? I heard her in interview once for about 15 minutes, and hear nearly every utterance professed profound ignorance about foreign affairs. (It was an outlet in Montreal giving the interview, so understandably they would have been more interested in the foreign stuff than whatever was getting the attention of Tea Partiers at that time.) She seems like quite a decent person even if some of her policy preferences would negatively affect a lot of people in what I think are unfair ways.

But in the kinds of positions she's been in, or gone for, she is not deserving of any quarter on foreign policy issues if she decides to take it upon herself to wade in. (I don't think she's done that for quite some time, which I suggest should be seen as more respectable than otherwise ...)

"But I really think the biggest change related to the Democrats and the MSM. These two intertwined groups managed to mock Romney on Russia, and Palin before that, but now they want us to suddenly fear Russia."

I think the graph Cowen posted begs to disagree.

You do know that those lines are drawn in right? It's not actually continuous data.

The largest jump for Putin comes after the election related flip flop of democrats and the media

I'm a registered Democrat and Clinton voter, and my personal view is that Clinton, Obama, and the DNC are exaggerating the seriousness of the hack for political gain. I think it's embarrassing that they blame Russian hacking and fake news for costing them the election, instead of taking an honest look at their own mistakes. It's amazing to me how quickly both the GOP and the Democrats have recalibrated their views on Russia, without even seeming to realize that they've done so, and without expecting any of us to notice. It has undertones of "we have always been at war with Eurasia" and "we have never been at war with Eurasia" to me.

There's definitely politics at work, as always. Also, increased media interest in man-bites-dog stories, as always.

That said, I think its fair to recalibrate your view of a foreign state once credible allegations are made that they've hacked you and sought to aid your rivals.

With regard to relative blame apportioned to the Russians versus Democratic mistakes- it was a close election! I think most people would agree that Democratic mistakes cost them far more votes than Russian hacking, but it is still reasonable to ask whether the outcome would have been different absent foreign intervention.

So

The hack was serious in which case Obama and the Democrats were incompetent/negligent with Hillary getting the gold for stupidity.

The hack wasn't serious in which case it didn't change the election result.

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