Sunday, February 23, 2020

For the Record: Is Sanders a Russian tool?

Do Popes shit in the woods? More relevantly still, is the Bear Catholic?


Whether Sanders ends up being the nominee or not, if you don't like him it would be better not to dislike him on the basis of fake news: I was really annoyed by this:

Update 3/1/2020: Wrong on that last item: Sanders and Whitehouse both voted against the second bill implementing Magnitsky sanctions as well.

What brought it on, obviously, is the Washington Post story on Russian efforts to "help" Sanders, of which he was apparently informed by national security officials a month or so ago. I don't see why anybody should be surprised to hear about these Russian efforts, by the way—they did the same thing in 2016, for the same reason, to foment quarrels and disaffection in the Democratic party and eventually as part of their strategy to boost Trump, not out of any desire for a Sanders presidency, as old Boot noted in the original tweet up there, and it's not a secret:

The IRA's ideologically left-leaning and right-leaning social media accounts posted content that was political in nature and made reference to specific candidates for President. Hillary Clinton, however, was the only candidate for President whose IRA-posted content references were uniformly negative. Clinton's candidacy was targeted by both the IRA's left and right personas, and both ideological representations were focused on denigrating her. As Renee DiResta notes, the political content of the IRA, "was unified on both sides in negativity towards Secretary Clinton." The IRA's left-leaning accounts focused their efforts on denigrating Clinton and supporting the candidacy of either fellow Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, at the expense of Hillary Clinton. (Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian Active Measures)
But Sanders didn't say anything about it until the story came out (I'm among those guessing he wasn't or thought he wasn't supposed to because the information he was given was classified), and this has served the party's "centrist" or "moderate" faction as a pretext for reviving the whole stupid story of how Bernie is a "communist", as proven by the fact that he visited the Soviet Union in 1988 and had a good time (in addition to video of him tossing down vodka and singing "This Land Is Your Land" in a sauna, run by WaPo, I've seen tape of him praising the quality of Soviet theater and the cheap seats), and that this is the reason for his support from Putin.

I'm exhausted by the persistent belief that Putin is himself some kind of "leftist" or "socialist" when we know he rode to power on the shoulders of the couple of hundred pirate tycoons into whose hands the entire Soviet economy was privatized in the 1990s, hates organized labor, loves the Orthodox church and St. Nicholas II, despises non-Russian minorities from Crimea and the north Caucasus all the way out to Vladivostok, and provides support of the same kind he gives Trump to all of Europe's white nationalist and "Christian identity" politicians from Viktor Orbán to Nigel Farage.

I can't understand how there are Democratic politicians who still entertain this ridiculous idea, but apparently there are. This might help to account for the way the same politicians refused to consider impeaching Trump over the crimes outlined in the Mueller Report, that and the newspaper journalists who love to explain how Trump's feelings are hurt by talk of Russian help, because it "delegitimizes" his 2016 victory.

It strikes me that many of the "centrist" politicians and "neutral" journalists don't believe Trump really committed crimes. They think the coverup was just Trump covering up his embarrassment. They don't understand that Trump and Putin are real ideological allies alongside all the fascists of Western and Central Europe, acting out Putin's plan. We see this working itself out again this week with the coverage of the firing of Joseph Maguire as acting director of national intelligence after he told members of Congress that Russia was working on Trump's behalf again (as if we didn't know), made to be all about Trump's emotions—
WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.
The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump was particularly irritated that Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the leader of the impeachment proceedings, was at the briefing.
— and not at all about the fact that Russian active measures are meant to benefit him and that, to use Mueller's word, Trump welcomes them—he just hates them getting publicized. Schiff is the more or less best informed person in Congress about the actual coordination between Russians and the Trump campaign in 2016, still gathering evidence. That's not a mere publicity problem, but a legal one.

Anyway these stupid lies about Sanders and Russia sanctions are meant to reinforce the theory that Sanders is the "real" Putin ally, and obscure the real collaboration between Putin and Trump by accusing somebody else. I'll add that I'm sure they're not authorized by Biden or Klobuchar, who are pretty well informed themselves, but could be by Bloomberg, who isn't, and who showed his ignorance by directly calling Sanders a communist in the debate last weekend.

And they could come from Trump people, or Russia, which chose Sanders, as it chose Jill Stein, on the assumption that Sanders didn't have a chance of winning. They may be changing their minds about that around now and starting to consider him a threat, and trying to thwart him in this way, in the same way as they've been trying to accuse Ukraine of being the "real" election meddlers.

We too need to be taking Sanders more seriously, as his chances become clearer. One of the facts arising from yesterday's Nevada caucus is I have to acknowledge that his ground game is much, much better than it was in 2016, and that he really seems to be developing big support in the Latin community. He could well end up with the nomination, though he certainly hasn't won it yet, and if he does, he will deserve it, as I said in my peroration on Friday, and it is imperative that he win the election. I'll continue to back Warren, but I'm going to start thinking of more positive things to say about him (there are plenty—not being as good as Elizabeth Warren isn't a crime, but something we all have in common with him), and making more of an effort to expose calumnies like these.

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