Russian Hacking: Should We Be Worried?

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Bad Hair, Russia

First, let me be clear that it’s sensible to be skeptical about anything ANYBODY is saying about the Russian hacking scandal. ANYBODY includes government agencies, news media and Julian Assange. ANYBODY includes the many nobodies crawling out of the internet woodwork who claim to be cybersecurity experts, or espionage experts, or both. Lots of people are pulling lots of “facts” out of lots of butts to serve their own ends. There are no disinterested parties here.

Let me also be clear that even if the assessment — that Vladimir Putin himself ordered the meddling of the election to favor Donald Trump — is true, it’s unrealistic to expect the intelligence agencies to explain what they know and how they know it. Assuming it’s true, this is an ongoing intelligence operation. “What they know and how they know it” must remain secret so that the Russians don’t know how the CIA is finding them out. So, the lack of “proof” is not in itself “proof” that the intelligence agencies are making it up. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t. I’m astonished at the number of people I run into who don’t “get” that.

It’s also important to understand that we don’t know for a fact that the hacking changed the outcome of the election. Harry Enton of Fivethirtyeight analyzed polling data and said that one simply can’t see a clear pattern of Wikileaks releases moving the poll numbers. See also Matt Yglesias.

Opinions on who’s right or wrong on this matter seem to fall pretty much along predictable ideological lines. If you were a big Hillary Clinton fan before the election, you probably believe the intelligence agencies assessment, and more. Note that a Yougov.com poll found that 52 percent of Democrats believe Russian hackers somehow hacked into voting machines and changed election tallies. I’ve run into these people on social media. When you tell them no government agency or major media source has made any such claim, they don’t believe it.

On the other  hand, both the whackjob Right and the #DemExit Left tend to believe anything Julian Assange says, uncritically. I personally don’t trust Assange as far as I can throw him.

I see lots of opinions on the Web that boil down to, “So what? The U.S. has interfered with lots of elections.” True, and usually that’s come back to bite us. However, that’s no excuse to dismiss the Russian hacking scandal as something of no importance. That’s a bit like saying that it’s no big deal if someone drops a nuclear bomb on San Francisco, since we dropped one on Hiroshima all those years ago. It’s rather a big deal if you live in San Francisco, or downwind of it, at least.

So let’s hypothetically assume there is some truth to the claim that Russia at least intended to manipulate the U.S. into electing Donald Trump. And he got elected. Why should be we concerned?

There is lots of speculation about how much money Trump owes and who his debt holders might be. There seems to be widespread agreement that his debt is over $1 billion, much of which has been repackaged as bonds. But without his tax returns, everybody is guessing.

Ben Kentish of the Independent (UK) reports:

Donald Trump’s companies are almost $1.8 billion in debt to more than 150 institutions, a new report has suggested – raising fresh questions about potential conflicts of interests when the Republican takes office in January.

The new evidence exposes the extent to which the businessman will soon be responsible for regulating many of the institutions he owes sizeable amounts of money to.

Mr Trump has previously declared $315 million (£254 million) of debt owed to ten different lenders. However, a new study by the Wall Street Journal claims an additional $1.5 billion is owed by companies that are partly owned by the billionaire.

(Wall Street Journal articles are behind a subscription firewall, and I refuse to buy a subscription.)

Is any of that debt held in Russia? Last August Jeff Nesbit reported in Time:

Most of the coverage of the links between Trump and Putin’s Russia takes the GOP presidential nominee at his word—that he has lusted after a Trump tower in Moscow, and come up spectacularly short. But Trump’s dodge—that he has no businesses in Russia, so there is no connection to Putin—is a classic magician’s trick. Show one idle hand, while the other is actually doing the work.

The truth, as several columnists and reporters have painstakingly shown since the first hack of a Clinton-affiliated group took place in late May or early June, is that several of Trump’s businesses outside of Russia are entangled with Russian financiers inside Putin’s circle.

So, yes, it’s true that Trump has failed to land a business venture inside Russia. But the real truth is that, as major banks in America stopped lending him money following his many bankruptcies, the Trump organization was forced to seek financing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests in ways that have raised eyebrows. What’s more, several of Trump’s senior advisors have business ties to Russia or its satellite politicians.

(There’s an internet rumor that Trump owes the Blackstone/ Bayrock Group $560 million dollars. I can’t find any confirmation of that. A quick google didn’t turn up confirmation that Blackstone and Bayrock have ever had anything to do with each other. Blackstone’s CEO is cozy with Trump, but Blackstone is supposed to have stopped doing business in Russia a couple of years ago. Bayrock Group is a sleazy company with definite connections to both Trump and American crime families. The managing director, Felix Sater, is rumored to be the son of a Russian crime boss, but I can’t find a not-hinky source for that. )

On the other hand, Putin has a keen interest in jacking up the price of oil, and Trump’s election may be a critical part of making that happen. The selection of an Exxon CEO as Secretary of State does seem suspicious; see Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! on that point.

My larger concern has to do with the Middle East. If Trump is doing favors for Putin, how will this influence Middle East policy? There is an alliance between Russia and Iran. I don’t want the U.S. to be pulled into making that a threesome. Another concern regards the Iran Deal, about which Putin is said to be ambivalent.

So yes, I’d say there’s reason to be concerned.

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51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Tom_b  •  Jan 8, 2017 @6:17 pm

    Regardless of whether the Russian hacking changed the outcome of the election, if Obama believed it did, he should have voided the electoral results. To leave it at expelling a few diplomats leaves us with Tangerine Menace and makes Obama look like a wuss. W lost the 2000 election and got the White House by whining loudly until the Supreme Court changed his nappy. Constitutional scholars might have judged Obama/Clinton harshly for “stealing the election”, but the rest of America would be absolutely overjoyed not to have to endure 4 years of the p_ssy-grabber elect. Sometimes the end DOES justify the means; Trump is a walking, dinosaur-brained extinction event.

    Oh, but Tom Perez will pull in 2018 for us…. right!

  2. maha  •  Jan 8, 2017 @7:06 pm

    Tom_b — I don’t think presidents have the constitutional power to void elections. And as I wrote, it’s not at all clear that Russian activities were what cost Clinton the election.

  3. aj  •  Jan 8, 2017 @6:38 pm

    too late to worry now. An education needs to be given to anyone 50 or younger who are unaware of what the word propaganda means and why the cold war was fought. Russian foreign policy objectives need to be spelled out to make it dawn on the stupid as why Putin is not our friend. The right wing turn in Europe , destabilization of EU and Nato are not accidents but the result of payments made to neonazi’s and Syrian civil war extended. It is a propaganda talking point to assume Putin is going to help us fight Isis when he has done nothing in 3 years against Isis. Flynn’s focus on Isis as the most important issue is ridiculous. Why should we neglect Europe and Nato when Putin has done everything he could to send millions of refugees into Europe and create a reason for white nationalism to rise. Trump and Tillerson play into his making a mint and improving the Russian economy. He wins when the EU is less economically successful he is militarily emboldened.

  4. James F. Epperson  •  Jan 8, 2017 @7:20 pm

    (Barbara, do you mind if I post essentially the same comment here and on FB? I have the impression that is two different audiences.)

    The most significant leak may well be the WikiLeaks allegation that the Clinton Foundation paid for Chealsea’s wedding. It is the kind of thing that fed into the “she’s corrupt!” chorus, even though the email in question was rather short on details. (Either WaPo or NYT) did a story about this recently.) I can see significant numbers of folks deciding this was too much for them to vote for HRC, and given that the decisive margin amounts to 70,000 votes in three states, this could well have been the crucial Big Deal.

  5. maha  •  Jan 8, 2017 @7:39 pm

    James, the more critical point is that it’s not clear Wikileaks cost Clinton the election, period. The data don’t conclusively show that it did.

  6. Bonnie  •  Jan 8, 2017 @7:42 pm

    I apologize for going off-topic; but, I saw the movie, “Hidden Figures” over the weekend. And, it is a great movie about unsung black women who worked on the space program and all the difficulties of the time period of being black and women in the early sixties. I just read that it tied the new Star Wars movie for the top box office earner! I highly recommend it to any movie goers at this website. It is a great movie. And, if you don’t normally go to movies, give this one a try. This is a rare Hollywood gem.

  7. James F. Epperson  •  Jan 8, 2017 @9:04 pm

    I don’t recall saying there was conclusive data.

  8. maha  •  Jan 9, 2017 @1:15 pm

    “I don’t recall saying there was conclusive data.”

    Then why argue about it? The point of the Fivethirtyeight article was that it’s impossible to know whether the hacking by itself changed the outcome of the election. Maybe it did; maybe it didn’t. We can’t know because there’s no way to separate the effects of the hacking from the effects of 27 other things. So we cannot say, “Were it not for the Russian hacking, Hillary Clinton would have won.” There’s no way to know that. And since there’s no way to know that, let’s all stop saying it.

  9. James F. Epperson  •  Jan 8, 2017 @9:08 pm

    (I saw a presentation on “Hidden Figures” at a recent math conference, and my wife gave me the book for Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing the movie.)

  10. RadioClash  •  Jan 8, 2017 @9:38 pm

    The amount of times the Trump campaign hammered Clinton with the WikiLeaks emails, I would have to think it had some effect on the outcome. No way there will ever be any conclusive data on this, of course.

  11. csm  •  Jan 8, 2017 @10:22 pm

    Whether the hack had any effect on the outcome of the election is beside the point. And whether or not the DNC did not have adequate security in place and deserved to be hacked per the GOP, is also beside the point.

    Let me put it another way: if the hack had occurred as described, e.g. both the DNC and RNC were hacked, and only GOP emails were released, and Clinton had won the election, there should STILL be outrage that our political institutions were hacked and manipulated, period.

    And the argument from some that it should be of no concern since “we do the same thing to others,” and no doubt we do, makes no sense either. Rest assured if Russia or any foreign power caught the US hacking, spying or engaging in any hostile activity, there would be repercussions. And we would expect it.

    To not be concerned about it is to have no concern about preventing future hacks, the result of which potentially far more devastating consequences.

    Some issues, such as a hostile foreign power taking action to undermine our institutions should be considered without partisan influence and questions of gain.

  12. maha  •  Jan 9, 2017 @1:11 pm

    Whether the hack had any effect on the outcome of the election is beside the point. And whether or not the DNC did not have adequate security in place and deserved to be hacked per the GOP, is also beside the point.

    Thank you. It is making me crazy that we can’t discuss the implications of the Russian hacking without getting into arguments about the election. Forget the election. IF Putin indeed hoped to swing the election to Trump, and Trump becomes POTUS, this is significant whether Putin’s schemes really had any effect on the election, or not. Why is that so hard to get across?

  13. Doug  •  Jan 8, 2017 @10:35 pm

    A former US Ambassador to Russia tweeted the point here:

    When Watergate was being investigated, did people argue “well, break in didn’t effect the outcome, so no big deal?”

    Michael McFaul @McFaul

    The question is whether Russia actively used the Internet to create an advantage for Trump – and if so – WHY???!! With this one its TOUGH not to take sides for the outcome you WANT. But I think it’s crucial to know if it’s true – and if there’s significant reason to think the President is compromised even partially – to take action.

    Objectively, the outgoing president has LESS power with federal agencies than the new president. If there’s any political compromises in the decisions by 17 agencies, it seems like they would cater to the new boss who will be around for 4 years – not the old boss who will be gone in 4 weeks. (When the decision that there was Russian hacking was announced). In terms of partisanship, the democrats in Congress will have almost NO power to protect agencies – why would 17 Intelligence agencies stick their necks out if the story was false? I’m not sure they did not, but I don’t see why they would.

    The pressure needs to be on for a bipartisan Congressional investigation that follows the evidence where it leads. I’d be perfectly happy to put McCain in charge. But no truth will come out of any agency that reports to the President after Jan 20. So if not Congress, then we have only the press. *sigh*

  14. csm  •  Jan 8, 2017 @10:43 pm
  15. paradoctor  •  Jan 9, 2017 @2:08 am

    The Russian hacking is clear enough; the leaking to Assange plausible but not proven, and probably done through third parties; and the effect on the election was one of many factors, including Comey, racism, sexism, panic by the economically abandoned, Hillary’s fake baggage, Hillary’s real baggage, Hillary’s weakness as a candidate, and the difficulty of getting third White House terms for a party.

    For impeachment purposes, I say the emoluments clause is sounder. An open and shut case; his corruption is explicit. But the Russian stuff is pretty hot politically, and impeachment is a political process. Maybe it’ll serve as distraction attack.

  16. bernie  •  Jan 9, 2017 @9:07 am

    It is hard to find symmetry in asymmetrical warfare.  If you did then it probably was not asymmetrical warfare in the first place.  An economics professors imposed a strange idea on me one day in class.  He contended that no nation goes to war for other than economic interests.  One should always keep this notion in mind when seeing aggressive behavior.  Russia is in the oil business, and so are a number of other countries including the US.  Many of the countries in the oil business are associated with one or another branch of Islam, some theocracies.

    David Brooks, managed to squeak in almost unnoticed yesterday, the idea that our foreign policy had the potential for radical change.  His contention was that the US and Russia could align and change long term foreign policy.  One can see movement from certain parties in that direction, with certain proposed appointments and rhetoric aimed at Muslims, NATO, and the Chinese.  This could just be finding symmetry where their is none.  Perhaps not. 

    One thing is for sure.  Russia has infiltrated the party of Eugene McCarthy and Richard Nixon in a way that is unprecedented.  Some, like Lindsey Graham and John McCain see red, and perhaps images of hammers and sickles.  They might think they have lost their party to a hack attack by the Russians.  That is also hard to prove.  Ah the curse of living in interesting times.

  17. maha  •  Jan 9, 2017 @1:16 pm

    His contention was that the US and Russia could align and change long term foreign policy. One can see movement from certain parties in that direction, with certain proposed appointments and rhetoric aimed at Muslims, NATO, and the Chinese.

    That sounds like a genuinely awful idea.

  18. Luc Nerwinski  •  Jan 9, 2017 @12:07 pm

    Has everyone forgotten that Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 and a half million votes? Trump won the Electoral College because rural whites in three rust belt states voted for him. I fail to see how those cunning fiends of Russians managed to target this particular group to swing the Electoral College Trump’s way.

    The problem is not Russian hacking or Comey; the problem is the Electoral College, which should have been abolished that day in 1901 (or whenever it was) that the urban population of the US surpassed the rural population for the first time.

  19. maha  •  Jan 9, 2017 @1:04 pm

    Luc Nerwinski — In the future, please read posts before you comment on them. You obviously didn’t.

  20. Diane  •  Jan 9, 2017 @1:51 pm

    I think that the main question is ‘, what does Putin think he is owed by Trump for the gift of the hacks?
    And whom in Russia does Trump owe money to?
    And will the Republicans continue to put party over country? If Trump needs to be be impeached, will the Republicans have the moral, ethical guts to impeach Trump?

  21. maha  •  Jan 9, 2017 @2:45 pm

    Diane — that sums it up pretty well, yes.

  22. Swami  •  Jan 9, 2017 @3:09 pm

    I’m more worried about having a president who is mentally ill. I don’t know what childhood trauma Trump was subjected to or whether Trump’s severe personality disorder is the result of something Fred Trump did in rearing him, but I do know that Trump is one fucked up individual.
    And I also know that, America, we’re in for a helluva ride!

  23. Doug  •  Jan 9, 2017 @4:32 pm

    Swami – I’m inclined to expect Trump will be impeached over the Emoluments Clause when the series of corruption scandals threatens the GOP in 2018. BUT

    If Russia becomes dissatisfied with Trump, they might leak evidence which would make Trump liable for criminal treason charges – that may be the sword they hold over his head now.

    Of course it’s all impossible, but everything has been impossible so far.

  24. KC  •  Jan 9, 2017 @4:55 pm

    This post is great, Maha, for so many reasons. I find the hyper-skepticism toward Russian hacking on the left that I’m seeing along with the borderline Putin sympathy–well, the CIA helped overthrow Iran in the 1950s!–very disconcerting. This is especially the case when it comes to the Clinton Conspiracy nonsense that seems to have taken over the nether regions of the left. It’s like the only forces at work in the is Hillary and her nefarious schemes.

  25. Swami  •  Jan 9, 2017 @5:17 pm

    Doug .. I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Collectively there aren’t enough Repuglicans in Congress to compose a vertebra let alone the spine necessary to stand up against Trump’s dominance of the whole lot of Congressional sycophants. There might be a slim chance that one of them will muster enough courage to raise their heads, but I’m not seeing or hearing any signs of opposition to full compliance to the dictates of Trump. Even his Tweetdicts have got them jumping.
    I agree with your idea that Trump will eventually overstep with his understanding of the limits of his power, causing a showdown with Congress that could very well cut him off at the knees or give him the boot. But the principal actors necessary to make that scenario happen seem pretty content to let Trump plow through established boundaries unabated. I guess at this point they think he’s going to be pliable.

  26. Doug  •  Jan 9, 2017 @8:23 pm

    I don’t think Congress has a spine or any moral compass – though there are individual exceptions. I also think the spineless rats of the GOP variety know that Trump has to be discredited with the masses before he can be impeached. So these bastards are going to smile at Trump during the inauguration while they sharpen their knives behind their robes in a style befitting the Roman Senate. He’s not one of them – he doesn’t play by their rules – and he will be eliminated.

    Rehearsals in Congress are going on now for the best delivery, “I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that there’s corruption in Washington, DC.”

  27. Swami  •  Jan 9, 2017 @8:56 pm

    Et tu, Mitch?

  28. Swami  •  Jan 9, 2017 @11:59 pm

    I see that Jared Kushner landed a position in the White House as senior advisor to Trump. He seems a little young for a senior advisor, but if they provide a Graco Pac & Play to keep him from getting underfoot I’m sure it will all work out.
    I can’t stress enough the fact that we’re in for a show.
    ” Let the pillaging begin”

  29. csm  •  Jan 10, 2017 @12:07 am

    “If Trump needs to be be impeached, will the Republicans have the moral, ethical guts to impeach Trump?”

    The answer to that is likely no.

    The situations Trump has either created or indulged in so far are tenfold in number, reality and seriousness the GOP would have abided before they would have dusted off the articles of impeachment template they keep handy, filling in the fields for “crimes” had the president-elect been a democrat. And the thought that they would be so quick to side with a foreign government over a “patriotic American” would be unthinkable, unless of course the beneficiary of the betrayal is a republican or the party.

    The ONLY reason they would even consider impeaching Trump is if his ego gets in the way of being a team player, which is highly likely, at which point he can’t be counted on to sign off on what Ryan, McConnell et al have in store. In which case they already have a cornucopia of issues from which to pick from to populate that Articles of Impeachment template.

    More questions: do the Russians have anything on Trump and the GOP that might explain fawning behavior so obvious that even a both-siderist media called out as curious? And given the hand the republicans and their Narcissist in Chief have so helpfully dealt them, will the nation be left to totally twist in the wind when their Trump card is played?

    The takeaway at this point is this: the republican party is completely devoid of any ethics or morals, period.

  30. aj  •  Jan 10, 2017 @1:43 am

    I would like to find out who paid for all the fake news. The other day Maddow showed all the national enquirer garbage against Hillary. It is owned by Meredith Corp. I see Howard Dean is boycotting all advertisers on breitbart. WE should all.
    Check out the fake news , the right wing talk radio and make sure you let advertisers know you will never buy their products.

  31. Swami  •  Jan 10, 2017 @3:06 am

    So let’s hypothetically assume there is some truth to the claim that Russia at least intended to manipulate the U.S. into electing Donald Trump. And he got elected. Why should be we concerned?

    We should be concerned because the Russians pegged Trump as a soft target. They know he can be easily manipulated because he wears his insecurities on his sleeve. They also know that his self image is of such importance to him that he can’t make a clear objective decision without clouding it with emotional insecurities. He’s lived in a world where every challenge presented to him has been favorably dealt with to his advantage through wealth, privilege, parental protections, and bestowments. His training wheels never came off to show that he has the wherewithal to stand on his own. He was well propped up before daddy let go of his hand.
    So the Russians know exactly what they’ll have to contend with in moving Trump around on the global chessboard. For somebody who hides behind a mask of unpredictability that they tout as a strength is a pretty clear indication of a major insecurity.
    I’m certain the Russians did a psychological profile analysis, and determined Trump was the most malleable of the two candidates due to his emotional needs. He going to be putty in Puttie’s hands.
    We should all be greatly concerned because Trump is an emotionally unstable and insecure individual who is screaming for validation and acceptance in spite of his egotistical facade to the contrary. Looks like Putin gonna have a new dancing bear.

  32. bernie  •  Jan 10, 2017 @9:38 am

    I am with you AJ.  Vote every day with how our money is spent.  Avoid funding those who support lying, hate, greed, and the abuse of power.  A large combined effort will be noticed.  I need to do more research on who to avoid and or support.
     

  33. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 10, 2017 @10:35 am

    Swami.
    “I can’t stress enough the fact that we’re in for a show.”

    Without a circus environment around them, clowns appear to be deranged socio/psycho-paths.
    And, come to think of it, they’d have to be, to wear those costumes in a non-circus environment!

    And as far as impeachment is concerned, the GOP will be a-ok with t-RUMP as long as his delusional state does not get worse and demonstrate itself into being unable to sign his name.
    And then, “We the people” get Mike “The Dense” Pence stepping-up to the batter’s box.

    As for the hacking, uhm… YEAH, THAT’S THE REAL NEWS!
    No matter who was hacked – when, where, why, and how – the hacking is the real news. THe RNC was also hacked, but, because they won the Governmental Trifecta, they want to keep a lid on it.

  34. Doug  •  Jan 10, 2017 @2:35 pm

    “The takeaway at this point is this: the republican party is completely devoid of any ethics or morals, period.

    And in what way does the republican party differ from the democratic party on ethics or morals? I happen to agree with the democratic party platform on issues more than I agree with the GOP – but the stand of most democrats is one of expediency to manipulate the segment of the electorate they have targeted. But just like the GOP management, the democratic party management is on a leash – and big money holds the other end of that leash.

  35. bernie  •  Jan 10, 2017 @3:19 pm

    The hacking from either political perspective or from an apolitical perspective is a serious problem.  The first quote does so on a political way, and the second a more apolitical way.  I would think that if David Brooks is correct and a major shift in foreign policy ensues, that we all have a serious problem and the Republican Party has the most serious one.  I am not sure how many Republicans know it yet but several do for sure.

    “While Russian hacks “were not involved in vote tallying,” the publishing of pilfered emails and promulgation of fake news altered the zeitgeist, poisoned the political environment and shifted public opinion, all of which redounded to Trump’s benefit.
    Donald Trump is as much Russia’s appointment as our elected executive. The legacy of his political ascendance will be written in Cyrillic and affixed with an asterisk.” (Charles Blow NYT 1/9/17.)    

    “…but my alarm was dismissed by the news media and our opponents as merely campaign spin, feigned distress meant to dodge real questions about how the embarrassing messages might hurt Hillary Clinton’s prospects.
    This perception has to change. I’m not referring to the D.N.C. incident in particular, but about cybercrimes in general. Unless we realize how vulnerable we are, we are playing into the hands of foreign aggressors like Mr. Putin.” (Robby Mook 1/10/17 NYT op-ed)

  36. grannyeagle  •  Jan 10, 2017 @5:01 pm

    I agree with Swami and Doug. Also, it appears to me that Trump is setting Jared up for making decisions he should be making. Pence is probably going to be very influential also. I just wonder if somewhere down the road, there will be disagreement between Pence and Jared and what will happen then. I feel sure Pence has attempted to set himself up for being President. Also, I see that Pence could become very jealous of Jared. Add in the possibility of impeachment if Trump does not go along with Repugs wishes and the conspiracy theory of being assassinated by the CIA. This is better than a soap opera. Oh yes, I forgot how much fun Putin is going to have manipulating Trump.

  37. Swami  •  Jan 10, 2017 @6:31 pm

    I just wonder if somewhere down the road, there will be disagreement between Pence and Jared and what will happen then.

    Well, if Pense doesn’t become insubordinate to Jared, and understands the pecking order I don’t think there will be a problem. I would assume that Jared is a protected species under the cover of Ivanka’s colors. And if Pense doesn’t know his place he could end up on a perpetual goodwill tour of worldwide military bases.

  38. Swami  •  Jan 10, 2017 @11:40 pm

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/us/politics/donald-trump-russia-intelligence.html

    Here’s something to think about..We might get to judge for ourselves the truth about small hands = small hammer. Donnie does the dacha dames… in HD? What a potential time bomb if it pans out to be true.. He’s been caught off guard once on audio…but did Putin or Russian interests manage to snag him on video?
    One thing you can’t do is dismiss a video as locker room talk.

  39. bernie  •  Jan 11, 2017 @8:49 am

    Did not I just comment yesterday that this hacking/information gathering/fake news/destabilization effort is probably a bigger problem for Republicans than anyone, but they just do not know it yet.  Today they might have more of a clue.

  40. grannyeagle  •  Jan 11, 2017 @1:53 pm

    Swami: I can guarantee Pence knows his place but I’m not sure Trump does. Trump needs Pence because of his popularity with Congress and with the fundamental evangelicals who want to make this country a theocracy. I feel Trump is in way over his head but does not realize it. I am not psychic enough to predict what will happen but can certainly envision a few scenarios. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction and I believe it was Shakespeare who said “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” As far as Putin, Trump cannot out-manipulate him. And Trump is so gullible, he won’t even realize he is being used. Putin is a judo expert, plays chess and worked for the KGB. He already has experience running a government and loves Russia and naturally is going to do everything he can to preserve Russia’s heritage.
    I would love it if America and Russia could be allies instead of enemies. But in spite of what Reagan said or did, the cold war never ended. Besides Trump is not savvy enough to pull it off. I can accept that Trump will be president but I do not like it. I miss Obama already.

  41. Swami  •  Jan 11, 2017 @5:42 pm

    Trump is already in Putin’s stable..With this latest revelation about compromising information against Trump( the perv, the golden shower kid), and Trump’s attempt to deflect it as fake news that has no validity, Trump has to rely on Putin’s assurances that there is no issue to be concerned about.. That kinda tells me that Putin is telling Trump that as long has he behaves according to Putin’s desires whatever proof to the allegations will remain secure. I think they call that blackmail.
    If there is any truth to the allegations that can be proved Trump will effectively be done as president.. He’s been successful thus far in knocking down or minimising every allegation leveled against him, but if a video surfaces where he is shown to be engaging or encouraging in a behaviour that involves the humiliation of prostitutes it will be the ultimate in a moral collapse of our country.

    I sure guy’s like Newt Gingrich who advocate swinging, open marriage, and a liberated sexual appetite will claim it’s no big deal, but there are those of us who are a little more prudish and find that kind of behaviour totally unacceptable for someone who we are supposed to look up to as our leader..
    I guess the bottom line of what I’m try to convey is that when you have a president who has to look to the head of a foreign country for affirmation that he’s telling you the truth…you’ve kinda lost something valuable in the security of your nation.

  42. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jan 11, 2017 @7:21 pm

    I have to say, the notion that a foreign nation fighting to harm one of the two major political parties in the United States might be “okay” if it didn’t actually change the outcome of the election is the most boggling thought I can imagine.

    This is a massive threat to our democracy from a foreign, unfriendly power. Why do we need to know if they directly achieved their primary goal? What, so they didn’t quite manage to sway the election as they hoped THIS TIME, so let’s just blow it all off?

    As for Trump’s ties… while it is always irresponsible to speculate, it would be irresponsible to fail to question, investigate, and probe Trump’s financial state. No one making kissy-face with Putin and seemingly willing to blow off such an attack on our nation deserves a presumption of pure innocence.

  43. Swami  •  Jan 11, 2017 @7:31 pm

    Donnie is casting out doubt like a manure spreader. Who knows!
    You’ll know when you start questioning your own reality that Trump’s tack is successful. We’re approaching the twilight zone…Like Major Major who was in when he was out, but was out when he was in.

  44. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jan 11, 2017 @7:32 pm

    grannyeagle: that wasn’t Shakespeare, it was another guy who lots of quotes get attributed to: Jesus.

    (But he said “I come not to bring peace, but a sword” so, you know, warfare and all is cool. Because “context” is just a word in the dictionary that appears between Clinton and crazy-as-a-bedbug.)

    The cold war did end… Russia is not in economic shape to make great threats to world peace. That doesn’t make them any less dangerous! But the notion that we must make huge decisions based upon the notion that Russia might be planning a conventional or nuclear attack is no longer truly operative.

  45. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jan 11, 2017 @7:41 pm

    Doug, I’m never going to pretend that the Democrats are saints. But they don’t have a Terri Schiavo, or a “we’re going to hold your Supreme Court nominee hostage” or constant streams about how unamerican, unpatriotic, and frankly, dangerous, these people are.

    (I’m not saying that doesn’t exist. I said “constant streams” – key phrase.)

    I’d like to think – and I will recognize that I could be wrong! – that if the situation was reversed, Clinton would be appointing a bipartisan commission to dig into cybersecurity, and comforting the Republicans with stuff like “and we have no idea if these e-mails or images were altered.)

    I truly feel that the Republicans have put party first, country second. And it’s not hard because they’ve been preaching for 25+ years that liberals are evil and vile. People who hadn’t even been born when (Bill) Clinton took office have lived their entire lives hearing this. It’s not at all surprising if some of them will take it to heart, and seriously think that it’s better to lie, cheat, and steal, to win, rather than let THE DEMONCRATS (or do you prefer DemocRATS) win.

  46. grannyeagle  •  Jan 11, 2017 @10:21 pm

    LongHairedWeirdo: According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of cold war is a state of extreme unfriendliness existing between countries that expresses itself not through fighting but through political pressure and threats. That definitely describes the condition between America and Russia.

  47. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 12, 2017 @10:45 am

    grannyeagle,
    It also describes the state withing our own (No longer) United States of America.

  48. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 12, 2017 @10:45 am

    grannyeagle,
    It also describes the state withing our own (No longer) United States of America.

  49. bernie  •  Jan 12, 2017 @1:56 pm

    So which side is moose and squirrel on? Are they still OK?

    Want to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?

    (exposes golden shower)

    Oops, wrong hat.

  50. Swami  •  Jan 12, 2017 @10:39 pm

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexey-kovalev/a-message-to-my-doomed-colleagues-in_b_14138842.html?1484264929

    Here’s a confirmation/ explanation of what I’ve been sensing. Trump is bulldozing right over them. Now is the time for social media to pick up the ball and run with it. As a patriotic duty and a labor of love.

  51. VAL  •  Jan 13, 2017 @12:18 am

    Trump in debt to Blackstone for $560 Million. Blackstone reportedly pitching schemes to net a portion of our Social Security $$$ to invest in their cozy little corner of The Market. What could possibly go wrong?



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