Russian skepticism

The brief clip with Greenwald from Fox was indeed nod very informative, my bad.

This is a better and more thorough rendition of his arguments:


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. The statement that opens this thread was born out of frustration that a comment referring to US interference in other countries’ elections was flagged and hidden. I did not, at the time, find such a comment off-topic or irrelevant.

Indeed, I find the faux outrage that anyone would dream of meddling in other people’s elections quite frustrating. There’s this old TIME cover, essentially bragging that the US government put Yeltsin in place as Russian president.

After that, as most people know, Yeltsin went on to implement neoliberal reforms that threw tens of millions of Russians into abject poverty, only benefitting the nascent class of robber barons and the Western, mainly American, companies that got in on the loot.

But, then there’s the question of proportions - the troll armies creating false instagram accounts with 25 followers are not likely to accomplish a whole deal. So, I was frustrated by the faux outrage and the hyperbole. But I do think, following your comment, that I was overreacting and that the majority of this community is actually wiser than that.


That’s quite the toss-up, IMO… but.

Sure, US politics was tainted and toxic as fuck before Putin started pissing in the punch bowl, but dude - kompromat puppetry is a whole new realm of dastardly bastardry.

And yeah, this Manchurian candidate business is hardly unprecedented in relation to all the strategic meddling the US been up to for 70 years, but it can certainly be regarded as a whole new situation when you consider that the effects of scale mean that enough of a quantitative change creates a qualitative change.

In the past, if you squinted a bit and let a bunch of stuff slide under the radar, America’s claim to being ‘leader of the free world’ sort of held water, in the same way that a filthy sieve does. But now, it’s impossible to maintain even a shadow of that pretence, and furthermore, old alliances are being sorely tested and what passed for global stability is fast becoming a fond memory.


Perhaps you might consider the fact that it’s not the only uninformative and irrelevant link you’ve had to post in this thread to support your argument.

He’s basically making the same strawman argument that you are, agreeing with the interviewer’s contention that:

this story provides a shortcut both retrospectively and prospectively, in the sense that it offers an explanation that doesn’t involve Hillary Clinton’s failings for why Drumpf won, and prospectively, it offers a shortcut to getting Drumpf out of office short of defeating him at the ballot box.

I challenge you to find one liberal or progressive regular on this site that hasn’t to one degree or another criticised Clinton’s and the DNC’s failings or who is resting all their hopes on impeachment and shrugging off the election of 2020 (or 2018). Just one. We’ll wait.

As explained, it was “whataboutism”. Now you seem to have moved on to strawmen.

The very real outrage in this case is about current and illegal meddling in American elections by Russia on behalf of an administration that seemingly approves of it. Despite your implication, that does not mean people here were somehow supportive of how the American government (and, more specifically, neoCons) enabled the looting under Yeltsin that set the stage for Putin’s kleptocracy.

In addition to my earlier challenge, find one liberal or progressive regular on this site who is unaware of or approves American meddling in elections throughout history.

Then you don’t understand much about PR, black propaganda, disinformation, or the concept of force multipliers. Social media has provided Russia with a very cost-effective wedge to widen an existing rift in the American electorate.

Given the fact that Dolt-45 won the election not on the basis of the national popular vote but on the electoral college votes of two swing states (both sites of failure on Clinton’s part) which had very tight popular races you’d be surprised how much a highly targeted propaganda effort like this can accomplish. It was a lucky roll of the cost-effective dice for Putin.

On whose part? Be specific this time.

Based on your last two comments in this thread I am forced to continue to doubt the sincerity of that comment.

As I responded to an actual pro-Putin troll in an earlier thread:

In addition to “reputable” I’d add “relevant” and “not prone to fallacies” to the criteria regarding sources.


Keep in mind that Russian social media meddling didn’t start with the 2016 election.

In the period after the Ukraine invasion, I noticed a huge surge in Russian activity towards driving Islamophobia and the demonization of Syrian refugees. (They probably started sooner, but that’s when I noticed it.) From troll accounts, fake news aggregators, Islamopobic sites, propaganda pieces from Russia Today. They didn’t hide their tracks very well, perhaps this was an experiment?

They were in the same echo chamber as Jihad Watch‎, the Gatestone Institute and David Horowitz Freedom Center, driving the hate of the far-right, and worry of the general population in many countries.

Russia helped set the stage for Trump to walk onto with his Muslim ban and fear/hate of refugees.


That’s not the outrage. We’re not outraged at the Russians who tried to interfere in our elections. The outrage is at our own politicians who let themselves become Russia’s pawns, and then at the Americans who tried to cover this up.


The more I read and learn about this new McCarthyism (including this threads and many others at bbs), the less convincing I find the narrative. What I think matters more is the conditions that produced Trump – conditions hugely contributed to by corporate Democrats – not whatever influence Russia might have on our elections. That influence has so far not been conclusively proven as nearly enough to sway the election for Trump. And the new McCarthyism is a huge distraction from the failings of corporate Dems, who want to maintain their grip on the party’s power while under threat from upcoming and more left-leaning forces.


That’s debatable considering the slim margins, but attempted robbery is still a crime however incompetent the people running the bank were.

Also, I haven’t seen anyone in these threads engaging in a “conspiratorial mindset seeing Russia behind everything” or giving Clinton and the DNC a pass.


Well, if there is indeed no evidence of decisive intervention from Russia, then it’s hardly a straw man - rather, the argument stands, whether put forward by me or by Greenwald.

Noam Chomsky seems to think along similar lines:

I haven’t, as it happens, seen that opinion (of completely absolving Clinton and the DNC) on this site. I guess we all agree that the “pied piper” strategy was about as stupid and irresponsible as it gets.

Cory Doctorow has often, on this site, pointed out that operations like Cambridge Analytica are not, in fact, smooth operators or data wizards selling election victories to prospective buyers - rather, they are hacks and snake oil salesmen masquerading as such operators in the hopes of making a buck. In which they have apparently succeeded. But this does not mean that the snake oil they’ve been peddling actually works very well.

This is not, however, to completely discard the power of “influence” campaigns. I believe that the xenophobic right in this country (Denmark) largely rose to their current prominence due to a small group of people (20-25) incessantly writing “letters to the editor” and creating the illusion of a much greater movement. So things can certainly be achieved. I don’t really, though, believe these mechanisms are well enough understood for reliable manipulation by either Russia, Cambridge Analytica or other operators.

AND such accusations may all too easily be abused to smear opponents. Exhibit A:

(and a response to it)


Right, debatable. Which differs from what I wrote, “conclusively proven.” And i didn’t say it’s not a crime. Of course it is. The issue I’m pointing to in those terms is scale. Seems to me that the crimes of the corporate Dems are much larger, even vast, yet the attention they get compared to Russiagate is miniscule.

Again, it’s not about giving them a pass or not. As the FAIR piece I linked to points out, it’s a matter of scale in terms of attention given to the two problems.


I’m curious what you think the mission of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg is.

Then perhaps stop attributing it to people who are discussing Russian disinfo and hacking activities here.

In a system as broken and polarised as the U.S. one it doesn’t have to work very well, just well enough.

I don’t know about Denmark, but far-right parties and movements in other European countries have received funding from Putin’s proxies – yet another way his regime is trying to undermine liberal democracy in the West.


i’m kind of with @gracchus on this one. while i do think the election of 45 is mostly on us, the tiny fraction of the population that made the electoral college difference between his election and the election of hilary instead is small enough that russian meddling in the election might have helped push it over. and whether you like the “corporate” democrats or not i think we’d both agree that 45 is a much more disastrous choice for president. and, as mr. g. pointed out, regardless of the competence of the tellers, robbery is still a crime.

besides which, even though i don’t buy into the thinking that russia is a focus of evil, they are not our friends. putin is a believer in power politics and is clearly looking for the best strategic position for russia he can muster. he is also very much of the same zero-sum mindset as 45 and sees any possible weakening of the u.s. global position as a positive for russia.


Well yes. After 25 years of their shifting rightward, what the neoliberal-lite Dem establishment does is accepted by the MSM as “business as usual” (i.e. dodgy and destructive but not illegal). Russian interference in its many forms, on the other hand, is a new twist that actually is illegal.

Focusing on BB, I’ve seen more articles over the years about the failings of the Dem establishment than I have about Russian interference. Both are worthy of discussion in the context of the disaster of 2016. Calling the discussion of the Russian efforts “new McCarthyism” is inaccurate both in terms of the historical and functional definitions of the term: there is clear evidence of Russian interference, the “president” and his cronies have been openly encouraging it, and there isn’t mass hysteria about thousands of Americans working in the media and academia and the permanent bureaucracy being covert Russian agents.


Again, I never said it’s not a crime. It’s just not as big a one as we’re being told it is, and it’s much smaller than the crimes of establishment Dems, which we’re being told to ignore.


Hmm, that reminds me of the concept of “rule lawyering.”

Plus: “As long as it’s legal, it’s okay”? Come now, we’re better than that.


“Rules lawyering” usually involves twisting a written rule toward unfair ends, not violating the rule directly. No-one here is claiming that either is ok, but they’re different situations.

No, but if it’s illegal (e.g. an unregistered foreign agent contributing materially to a campaign’s efforts) it’s not ok. It’s also a lot easier to address and get out of the way so we can (simultaneously) focus on the larger problems of the DNC.

Who’s telling us to ignore them? Certainly not Sanders and Our Revolution and the DSA. Not any of this site’s publishers or authors or commenters.

As for the MSM, I doubt many people here take CNN or MSNBC at their word. The NYT and WaPo, compromised though they are by the neoliberal consensus, have still done extensive analysis of how the Dems dropped the ball by losing sight of their true constituencies.


Looked at from the point of view of geopolitics and Putin’s need to keep delivering to his ultra-nationalist supporters it makes no sense that he wouldn’t make use all of the tools he learned about at the KGB/FSB when he now has them at his command. That doesn’t make him or the Russians evil, that makes him the autocratic leader of an authoritarian kleptocracy with territorial ambitions and a lot of legacy resources from Soviet days.


Can we not do that, please?

‘Gate’ /= ‘scandal’. It’s the part of a wall or fence or something that opens.


In the U.S. at least – given how well known Watergate still is – it’s common terminology.


All the spins on “Watergate” to describe scandals involving government officials are definitely lazy MSM concoctions, but there are bigger issues here.

I have to say that article is problematic, especially if the author is white. There are probably better articles to cite to make some of the valid points this one contains.

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