Monday, January 9, 2017

Tainted Election, the “Other” Stuff, and the Myrna Minkoff Effect?

I’ve spent some enlightening time reading (PDF) the “Background to Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution” that made a lot of noise over the weekend, adding fuel to the fire that the 2016 election is “tainted” and ought to go into “do over” status.

Which I kind of, in a perverse contrarian way, hope would happen. Because I’m fairly certain we’d see “President-Elect Trump” change to “President-Elect . . . Trump”.

On what do I base that prediction? Absolutely nothing. Nothing other than a firm belief that those who favor Trump would double down on their votes while those who favor Clinton would double down on their votes, leaving the rest of us who either did not vote or chose to vote for independent candidates the same catch-22 we had before the do-over: Do we choose the iocane-laced cup in front of us, or the iocane-laced cup in front of the Man in Black? Oh, we might see a little swing here and there. But the general outcome I don’t think would change a bit.

And here’s the kicker: I’d support a do-over, if it were done on a short schedule, say no more than a week. (This to avoid the chances of any more Russian influence-peddling. And influence-peddling by the parties, candidates, journalists, et al. Because we already know enough about Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump we don’t need any more electioneering.) And I would pity the folks in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, no matter what time schedule the do-over would take.

The do-over would also have to include ANY candidate who earned votes in the November election. A do-over including only Clinton and Trump would, in my mind, be as “tainted” an election as the one the taint is all about in the first place.

I’d even go as far as to support a week-long Internet blackout before the do-over, in order to ensure the scourge of “fake news” would be checked. Zot me now with your lightning bolts of righteous indignation. But if you want an untained election, you have to remove every possible avenue of taint, and given the proclivity of fake news on the Internet, an internet blackout would indeed remove about 90% of the taint.

But here’s the rub, getting back to the report: There’s little new here as far as the election goes. There’s Wikileaks and the DNC and propaganda on Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik. But other than the boogeyman of a foreign power trying to influence voters by discrediting one candidate over another, there’s little by way of relevatory matter in the report.

How can I be so blasé about “a foreign power trying to influence voters”? It happens All. The. Time. Covertly or not. And I still firmly believe the Democrats looked at Donald J. Trump, the most flawed political figure the Republicans could offer, and effectively said, “They’re nominating a dumpster fire for the presidency! We can do that too!” And did.
Here’s what’s more interesting about the intelligence report: Do you support, say, anti-fracking efforts or Occupy Wall Street? So do those self-same meddling Russians.
Not for the same reasons, of course. And here we get the Myrna Minkoff Effect once again: It’s the right message, from the wrong people.

Why would the Russians oppose fracking in the United States? Because their petroleum industry suffered greatly as oil prices plummeted due in part to fracking in the United States and Canada.

Why would the Russians promote Occupy Wall Street? Because railing against corporatism and influence-peddling by corporations in politics fits right in with their world view of the United States as an anti-democratic la-la land where money influences everything above all else – and if they can show that to their own people, their own people become less inured to the fact that Russia is also an anti-democratic la-la land where money influences everything above all else.

So get upset about their election-meddling, even if their election-meddling was on par with that of western journalists (again, the right message from the wrong people) who found plenty to fault Clinton for before Wikileaks even happened (and I don’t mean BENGHAZI!!!1!!!!11!).

Here's a challenge:  Can anyone out there point me to American media reporting on the “other” in the hacking report – I mean anything other than the election? Because it seems just as important that Russia is trying to undermine democracy by talking about fracking, Occupy Wall Street, racial tensions, etc., but I haven’t found any major media outlet discussing that. All everyone wants to talk about is the election -- as if having someone else in the White House will make all these other problems go away. I think it's clear, given the last two occupants of the White House, that problems will keep on coming no matter whose desk they land on.

Will the president-elect exacerbate these problems? Maybe. Maybe not. I'd be willing to give Clinton as much of the benefit of the doubt I'll offer to Trump. Interpret that as you may.

I now have to go into a long list of qualifiers: I am not a Trump supporter. I did not vote for him in November, nor in the preceding primary. Given the chance for a do-over election, I again would not vote for him. (Conversely, I would not vote for Clinton either. I’d be one of those third-party voters who would again vote for a third-party candidate (again, one of the targets of Russian meddling was indeed the third-party voter, so in that way I am also a victim of meddling, albeit a victim whose eyes are open). Neither the Trump nor the Clinton camps have behaved in a way that would convince me to change my vote, especially with the Democrats grabbing at any tiny straw held out to them to delegitimize the vote (and who is to say those straws aren’t being offered by those same damn meddling Russians?

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