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Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Russia Factor

Russia has been on my mind lately. I think we're in trouble. I think that Russia is covertly working on behalf of Donald Trump.

Arguably, if Putin force-fits Donald Trump in the oval office, the Russian leader will be giving the United States some much-deserved payback. We inflicted Yeltsin on the Russian people, and we inflicted a Nazified nightmare on Ukraine. Turnabout is fair play.

I can see little reason why Putin would not love to see a corrupt, incompetent, dimwitted egomaniac take control in DC. The decline of US power can only aid the rise the BRICS alliance. How better to insure our national decline than to engineer the triumph of Donald Trump?

Please understand that this theory is still in its germinal phase, and that it will go into revision as new facts arrive. Understand as well that I normally don't gravitate toward this kind of idea. I'm not anti-Putin -- in fact, I've written many posts in opposition to the New Cold War. Hell, I was no great fan of the old Cold War.

Nevertheless, an unnerving and unbidden scenario has crept into my consciousness, and the idea refuses to vacate. On a day when most pundits are sneering at Trump, I am predicting a Trump victory -- perhaps even a landslide -- thanks to the Russia Factor.

Background. With Trump, the key name is always Roger Stone, who, years ago, formed an indirect alliance (of sorts) with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Stone engineered the Ukrainian parliamentary election of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an ally of the pro-Putin former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko. There are many who believe that Lytvyn arranged the murder of a journalist named Georgiy Gongadze.

(Roger Stone wrote a popular -- though not particularly credible -- book about the JFK assassination. It's quite ironic that, around the same time, he aided someone widely believed to have masterminded a political killing.)

We don't know, and probably will never know, the full story of the Stone Gang's involvement with the Ukraine elections of 2007. We do know that Stone engineered events while remaining in America. We know that Stone's associate Michael Caputo -- now a key Trump campaign adviser -- was on the scene, and even married a Ukrainian woman. And we know that another key member of this effort was Tad Devine, now the chief strategist for none other than everyone's favorite "progressive," Bernie Sanders.

Then there's Trump's campaign consultant Paul Manafort (another Stone partner), whose ties to the pro-Russia faction in Ukraine have been widely reported -- see here and here. This under-discussed piece appeared a couple of days ago:
Paul Manafort is a “real-world” advisor, with a real-world résumé of working for Ukrainian oligarchs: all-powerful men carrying past criminal charges on their record. One of those is Putin’s puppet Yanukovitch, who was jailed twice in his youth, first for robbery and assault and then for a drunken brawl, but yet made his way up to Ukraine’s Presidency. Another is oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who made his fortune on deals with Russian Gazprom. Back in 2013 he was charged by the U.S for a bribe scheme, arrested in Austria, but then released on a bail of 125 mill euros, the largest in Austria’s history. While Firtash denies the allegations, he is still wanted in the USA. Manafort has worked for both of them.
Known in Ukraine and Russia as a strong pro from the West, Paul Manafort has catered to another Ukrainian oligarch as well – Rinat Akhmetov. Akhmetov is one of the richest men in Ukraine, who the then US Ambassador John Herbst called the “Donetsk clan godfather” and his political Party of Regions “long a haven for Donetsk-based mobsters and oligarchs.”

And it’s not only Manafort on Trump’s team that raises eyebrows among those who know the Kremlin.

Yet another Soviet connection to Donald Trump is Carter Page, as a foreign policy adviser. Page had pitched major deals for Russian Gazprom between 2004-2007 and was an investor in the Kremlin’s state-run gas company. Again, Trump takes his “faith in business” approach over policy-making experience to another level. A Wall Street investment banker as an international affairs expert? Anything is possible, we surmise, if you really aim to make America great again.

Putin has already praised Trump for being “a really brilliant and talented person without any doubt” and “an absolute leader in the presidential race”. Trump has reciprocated this sentiment, as well, his plan to move on to a new, more substantial relationship with Russia should he be elected president. Many wonder if these mutual endorsements are related to Manafort’s and Page’s alarming connections with Ukraine and Russia.
Yes, this passage contains a lot of "new Cold War" argot. Sorry. It's not the sort of verbiage one usually encounters in this blog.

Nevertheless, those paragraphs do much to explain Team Trump's long-standing links to certain powerful associates of Vladimir Putin -- and, ultimately, to Putin himself. It seems counterintuitive, but even as much of the media (both on the right and on the left) has waged a frenzied campaign to demonize the Russian leader, one faction of the GOP has worked for the other team. Trump's closest associates belong to that faction.

Putin knows that if Trump gets in, there will be no further American meddling in Ukraine.

Hackers against Hillary.
All of which brings us to the recent Russian hack of the DNC's servers.
Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.

The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.
I must emphasize that this is unprecedented. Never before has Russian intelligence played this kind of role in an American election.
The DNC said that no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken, suggesting that the breach was traditional espionage, not the work of criminal hackers.

The intrusions are an example of Russia’s interest in the U.S. political system and its desire to understand the policies, strengths and weaknesses of a potential future president — much as American spies gather similar information on foreign candidates and leaders.
Oh really?

Given the demonstrated ties of Team Trump to Vladimir Putin, I think that the Russians have a motive that goes beyond personality assessment. I think that they want to influence the outcome of the election.

In fact, I know it.

(Added note: In what may be his most ridiculous conspiracy theory yet, Donald Trump has accused Hillary herself of staging the DNC hack. Did Nixon ever claim that Liddy worked for McGovern? No; he lacked Trump's audacity. The fact that Trump feels obligated to provide rhetorical cover for the Russians fits into the theory I'm proposing here.)

Guccifer 2. A new document dump appeared on The Smoking Gun...
An online vandal using the name “Guccifer 2.0” has claimed credit for the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers and has provided The Smoking Gun with documents stolen during the illegal operation, including a 237-page opposition research report on Donald Trump.

In an e-mail today, the hacker wrote, “Hi. This is Guccifer 2.0 and this is me who hacked Democratic National Committee.” Claiming that the incursion was “easy, very easy,” the hacker added that, “Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton's and other Democrats' mail servers. But he certainly wasn't the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC's servers.”
"Guccifer 2.0" pretends to be your friendly neighborhood anarchist -- but that persona is, I am sure, a masquerade. We're dealing with Russian intelligence.

The first document to receive public release is the oppo file on Donald Trump. You may now be asking: If "Guccifer 2" is Russian intel, and if Russia wants Trump to win, why release this material first? Obviously, the intent is to forestall any accusation that "the new Guccifer" favors one candidate over the other.

Think about it: Nothing in this data dump can harm Trump, since the Democrats already had the information. They were going to make use of it anyways. If anything, releasing the document at this time works in Trump's favor.

Here is Guccifer 2's website.
The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to Wikileaks. They will publish them soon.

I guess CrowdStrike customers should think twice about company’s competence.

Fuck the Illuminati and their conspiracies!!!!!!!!! Fuck CrowdStrike!!!!!!!!!
We are supposed to believe that Guccifer 2 is just another conspiracy nut -- but, like Hamlet, this person is "mad north by northwest." He knows a hack from a handsaw.

The Irvine cybersecurity team Crowdstrike has the DNC account. Here is their response to the Guccifer 2 release:
CrowdStrike stands fully by its analysis and findings identifying two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016. On June 15, 2016 a blog post to a WordPress site authored by an individual using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 claiming credit for breaching the Democratic National Committee. This blog post presents documents alleged to have originated from the DNC.

Whether or not this posting is part of a Russian Intelligence disinformation campaign, we are exploring the documents’ authenticity and origin. Regardless, these claims do nothing to lessen our findings relating to the Russian government’s involvement, portions of which we have documented for the public and the greater security community.
Crowdstrike does not come right out and say that Guccifer 2 is a persona adopted by Russian intelligence, but the implication is clearly there.

The intrusion was perpetrated by two separate Russian intelligence teams, which Crowdstrike has nicknamed COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR.
We have identified no collaboration between the two actors, or even an awareness of one by the other. Instead, we observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials. While you would virtually never see Western intelligence agencies going after the same target without de-confliction for fear of compromising each other’s operations, in Russia this is not an uncommon scenario.
Side note: Is it possible that the first Guccifer -- a Romanian cab driver named Marcel Lazar Lehel (a toon with a penchant for truly insane conspiracy theories) -- was himself a front for a Russian intrusion? The thought never occurred to me previously. However, it has always seemed odd that a hacker noted for his unimpressive skills and disorderly thinking could do what he did.

Given Team Trump's longstanding alliance with Putin, I cannot believe that the DNC intrusion was conducted for the small-potatoes purpose of profiling the players in the 2016 election. Something more is afoot. Julian Assange -- who despises Hillary -- will be used as a puppet in this; it's clear now that Putin's services handed him the emails he has been threatening to release.

(I don't know why so many speak of Assange as though he were a hacker himself; he is nothing of that kind. He simply transmits goods provided to him by other parties -- parties who may be state actors, and who certainly have agendas of their own.)

This DNC intrusion was worse than Watergate. And we all know that Trump's long-time friend Roger Stone was part of the team that gave us Watergate.

Astroturf wars. I now proceed to the most conjectural part of this theory: Has Vladimir Putin been waging an astroturf war against Hillary Clinton?

In order to pursue this idea, I must briefly turn from Team Trump to Team Bernie. As you know, I posit that these two efforts are conjoined twins.

Astroturf is the creation of a false "grassroots" online campaign against a political opponent in order to whip up hysteria, commandeer perceptions, and dominate the national discussion. Astroturf is the most significant weapon in the modern political armory. Astroturf made Barack Obama president.

One of the key figures involved in Obama's 2008 online campaign was Scott Goodstein. He later formed a company called Revolution Messaging, which was hired by the Bernie Sanders campaign to smear Hillary throughout the length and breadth of social media.

In this election cycle, the enormously influential website Reddit has played a key role: Reddit provides the ground on which the astroturf is laid. For months, Reddit's headlines and comments -- particularly on the main political subreddit, r/Politics -- have demonized Hillary and Bill Clinton with a vehemence which we may fairly describe as maniacal.

Suddenly, as of yesterday, some unseen hand flipped a switch. The r/politics subreddit ceased to be a toxic dumping ground for anti-Hillary, pro-Trump propaganda, and returned to something close to normality. The breathtaking rapidity of the shift is discussed here.
Articles that were pro-Sanders and anti-Hillary were consistently and almost automatically upvoted 4k. But the comment sections didn't really reflect that level of engagement - upvotes would max out at like 50, or top comments would be focused on an opposing POV . So it did seem like the front page was manufactured.

Which has a certain irony after all the 'Shill' and CTR accusations.
I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of it was simply due to berniebots creating shitloads of accounts to mass-upvote/downvote & then regular users doing the same...but yea, looking at /r/politics today made me wanna cry tears of joy before realizing how ridiculously suspicious it is for the day after the last primary
"Berniebots creating shitloads of accounts..."? I don't think so.

Creating and using that many accounts takes more effort than you may realize. In order to comment more than once, one must log out of one account and log in with another, a dull and time-consuming process. (Does Reddit check IP numbers? If you know the answer, please share!)

As fanatical as the Sandernistas were and are, most of them do not have the skills, the time or the energy to turn multiple-persona astroturfing into a full-time job. I doubt that young, unpaid political newbies would coordinate their efforts in a highly-disciplined fashion. Young progressives have always been notorious for their inability to work together effectively. They are too disorganized, too emotional, too prone to internal bickering, too easily distracted by pot and pettiness (and a third "P" word which I ought not use here.)

I'm quite sure that paid workers did the job of spamming Reddit, Facebook, and other sites. But who hired those workers?

Most would suggest that Revolution Messaging ran the operation. That's very possible, but from my perspective, this idea has one problem: If RM runs a "boiler room" of astrotrufers on Rhode Island Avenue Northwest in DC, someone will inevitably talk. Workers get fired, beliefs mutate, conscience takes hold -- and mouths start moving.

I would like to propose another possibility.

You may recall this story from 2013. I didn't mention it at the time because I had a phobic reaction to anything that smelled like "new Cold War" agit-prop. But now that we have evidence of Russian interest in manipulating the US election, we need to take a look.
Russian news site the St. Petersburg Times describes the story of one woman, Natalya Lvova, who said she attended a job interview in August at a “posh cottage with glass walls” in a village near St. Petersburg:
“To my question about a technical task—what exactly should be written in the comments—a young guy, a coordinator, told me, briefly and clearly, that they were having busy days at the moment and that yesterday they all wrote in support of [Moscow acting mayor Sergei] Sobyanin, while ‘today we shit on Navalny,’” she wrote on her VKontakte [ed: a Russian social network] page.

According to Lvova, each commenter was to write no less than 100 comments a day, while people in the other room were to write four postings a day, which then went to the other employees whose job was to post them on social networks as widely as possible.
Employees at the company, located at 131 Lakhtinsky Prospekt, were paid 1,180 rubles ($36.50) for a full 8-hour day and received a free lunch, Lvova wrote.
A Russian journalist who visited one such comment-mill, the St. Petersburg Internet Research Agency, met with a coordinator who said the job was not unlike writing copy for a hair dryer: "The only difference is that this hair dryer is a political one."

The coordinator then provided an example of such postings, including several about Alexei Navalny, Russia's main opposition leader. “Navalny is the Hitler of Our Time," one said.

Others targeted the U.S.:

“Friends, wake up! America is not our friend, but really the worst enemy!” one blogger wrote. “Behind America’s smile and handshake, there is only its task of genocide and the complete destruction of our country.”

Paid, pro-government commenters aren't a new phenomenon in Russia, and similar practices are widespread in countless countries. In their Freedom on the Net report released last week, the NGO Freedom House said the strategy has been on the rise over the past two years, and is now rampant in 22 of the 60 countries the group examined. China, Bahrain, and Russia are at the forefront of this practice, Freedom House wrote.

But some Russian opposition journalists point out that this trolling creates a chilling effect on the few independent media outlets that remain in the country. Finding themselves drowned out by paid propagandists, as opposition activist Vladimir Volokhonsky told the St. Petersburg Times, everyday readers stop responding to news articles entirely:
“The effect created by such Internet trolls is not very big, but they manage to make certain forums meaningless because people stop commenting on the articles when these trolls sit there and constantly create an aggressive, hostile atmosphere toward those whom they don’t like. These include commentary systems on the web sites of every major media outlet in the city that the trolls began to occupy a long time ago and react to certain news with torrents of mud and abuse. This makes it meaningless for a reasonable person to comment on anything there.”
"Mud and abuse..." "Everyday readers stop responding to news articles entirely..."

Do those words strike a familiar chord?

(For more, go here and here.)

No, I am not arguing that Bernie Sanders was cognizant of this operation. The 2016 astroturf campaign was designed not to make Sanders president but to create fractures within the Democratic party. You may have noticed that the pro-Bernie astroturfers rarely discussed the candidate's ideas in any detail, and rarely quoted him. This is the key distinction between Obama's online operation in 2008 and the Sanders online operation in 2016. In 2008, astroturfed demonization of Clinton was matched by wild overpraise of every thought and observation made by Barack Obama; the online effort was both negative and positive. This year, it was all about Hillary-Hate; Bernie was just the excuse.

Before you say it: Yes, I am quite certain that many other countries, including the US, engage in similar cyberwars. This post is not about the larger phenomenon of internet comment manipulation: Today, we're talking about Russia. We are focusing on the capabilities of that nation.

Bottom line: I think Putin wants Trump to win.

If Hillary faces Trump in a fair fight, she stands a good chance, because Donald Trump is an unlovable fool and a national disgrace. But what if Hillary's true opponent is the intelligence apparat of a formidable foreign power?

If that is the case, she cannot win.
Comments:
"Russia has been on my mind lately. I think we're in trouble. I think that Russia is covertly manipulating the 2016 election to insure a victory for Donald Trump."

No such plot is feasible because the CIA would know about it. In the unlikely event the CIA didn't know, some other Western intelligence agency would have got wind of it and passed the info along. So I think your theory is kinda lame, to put it kindly.
 
Funny, I was thinking about the same theme but came to a different conclusion. So Moon of Alabama had a post about this which is worth considering. Botton line was how would the Russians have known Trump was worth hacking into the DNC a year ago. And not for oppo research of which they can consult the public sources just as well. Also how can you ever know who did a hack unless it was stupidly done or intended to cast suspicion on a third party?

However, there is a wikileaks release which is coming reputedly of the deleted hrc emails. I wonder where wikileaks might have got that from? They might not even know, but I would not be shocked if it's from the Russians. So imagine the Russians think HRC is not their preferred president and they want to get her out. Sensible people might have doubts about Lynch prosecuting even if there was a case. Obama had endorsed etc. So how do you get evidence of any naughtiness into the public domain?

So imagine you are the HRC campaign and you fear the Russians have given wikileaks the deleted emails (by the way it's pretty clear that that email server was not just for the two names you suggested - Slaughter, Jake, and a bunch of State Dept names come up. But clearly these emails are the ones fit for public scrutiny cos they were released. Check it out at wiki leaks.) I suggest that you make it look like the Russians are targeting you, which of course they are, lb so they can't pull that anonymous wikileaks crap. Help diffuse the story which is coming.

And if gives you an excuse to release your oppo research to the press in one big lump.

What do you think?

Harry


 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Harry, of COURSE Wikileaks got that stuff from the Russians. It may not cripple Hillary. If it were catastrophic, she would not be running. Remember, both Hillary and Obama know everything that the Russians could possibly have obtained -- as does much of Congress, by this point.

Assange hates Hillary due to Libya, so he is trying to elect Trump -- who will, of course, make war on Iran. The situations is nuts. But not even Assange is claiming "This will destroy Hillary!" If he had the goods, he'd crow about it.

I must admit that it is very amusing to see Assange of all people attempt to criticize Hillary Clinton on the grounds of her alleged inattention to classification procedures. That's a bit like Charles Manson saying "You know what Sharon Tate's problem was? She used drugs."

I will say that if Assange foists Trump on the world, he's going to be a LOT less popular. I've defended the guy in the past, but no longer.

Obviously, if you are Donald Trump, you want to find out what kind of oppo research the Dems have done in order to learn they have the REAL goods. The Watergate precedent should be obvious.

Anon: You say "No such plot is feasible because the CIA would know about it. In the unlikely event the CIA didn't know, some other Western intelligence agency would have got wind of it and passed the info along."

Let's stipulate your point. What could they DO? Knowing and doing are two different things.

First, there's the Coventry problem: You can't use the intel without blowing your sources. For example, I'm sure that the NSA has scooped up phone calls in which Donald Trump can be heard saying incriminating things. But how can you use that material without confirming everyone's worst fears about the NSA?

Second, there have been plenty of occasions when the CIA manipulated events in a foreign country -- Chile, for example. Allende knew what the CIA was doing. They did it anyways. If Russia wants to help Trump, what can stop them?

Third, I have suggested that the Russians are offering aid in terms of online propaganda, creating an astroturf army. There is also the obvious possibility of money being transferred. Both can be done in ways that difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove.

Fourth, if the Russians aid Trump by releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton (via Assange or some other party), it doesn't matter if Putin signs his name to the deed. As we've seen, they've tried to hide their involvement by erecting the facade of "Guccifer 2" (and possibly Guccifer the first). Even if that mask is ripped away -- what of it?
 
Very complicated. I'll just wait and see before I jump into the intelligence debate, but I would like to bring up another point about astroturfing and other nefarious on-line activities. Do we have any laws on the books concerning manipulating on-line behavior in political campaigns? To me, it seems it should be illegal to hire people or even to direct coordinated efforts to affect on-line comments and polls.
 
"Putin knows that if Trump gets in, there will be no further American meddling in Ukraine."

Your attempt at humor? Amerikas neo-conns will care on with their path of madness with or without trump. DNC hacked by the Russians and the proof is what an empty vodka bottle?

Putin only has to set back and watch Amerika melt down. The only problem with that is how many other countries will Amerika take with?

 
Those whom the Russians wish to destroy, first they have elect Donald Trump.

Go is a game where you try to take as much of the board as possible. In chess, all you have to do is take the king.

Mentioning Ukraine reminds me of the chapter in Welcome to Terrorland where Hopsicker talks about a suspicious plane crash in that country involving one of the Florida pilots, which makes me think of that dubious property deal in Florida between Trump and Rybolovlev. Trump and the Russian mafia. Trussia.

Bernie fans would have to log out, of course, to mass upvote things, but professionals like a PR firm would use persona management software to astroturf things, so it needn't be Russia, although that's not to say that it isn't. Americans use Persona Management Software, Russians use cheap labour. Both work.

Assange has said his evidence could get Hillary indicted, although he doesn't think that will happen.

If I was the CIA I would want Hillary as President (and if I was Putin I would not). So why are they the proverbial dog that didn't bark? I don't know. Maybe they are up to something as well. Maybe the neocons neutered the CIA to the point they can't or won't do anything. Time will tell. Perhaps.

 
Even assuming the correctness of this scenario, Putin, however clever and resourceful he is, does not belong to the 1%.

If you belonged to the 1%, would you rather put control of your Great Global Profit Machine in the hands of:

(1) a calm, seasoned professional

Or:

(2) a tribble-haired orange-hued hothead who might start WW3 because he thinks some foreign leader dissed him, who says he wants to stop your source of that sweet, sweet cheap labor (building the wall), who seems to want to start a war on Islam (many Muslims are your customers), etc.

Now, if a sufficient percentage of the 1% are actually stupid enough to want Tribble Hair, then you may have a point.

But if they're smart, they want Clinton.

Putin does not own the U. S. Media (some of which are already turning against Trump, if I understand correctly). The 1% do.

Putin does not control the unaccountable, vote-counting computers. The 1% do.

If a preponderance of the 1% do not want Tribble Hair, then Tribble Hair will not be "elected", and Putin will not be able to do Jack Shinola about it.

Putin is formidable on his own level, but his power within the borders of the USA compares to the power of the 1% as a firecracker compares to a fusion bomb.

Really, this superstitious belief of yours that you MUST publicly predict the worst, in order to prevent it from happening, is starting to look rather silly.
 
"Creating and using that many accounts takes more effort than you may realize. In order to comment more than once, one must log out of one account and log in with another, a dull and time-consuming process."

But some, if not a major part, of it can be done by software.
 
Well, I wonder if the "1%" are rational actors. If they were, we'd see a rapid, worldwide conversion to sustainable fuels, if the 1% cared anything about the survival of their grandchildren. But it's not happening. The Chinese one-percenters take climate change seriously, while the US/UK one-percenters don't seem to believe in any future at all. Are the US/UK one-percenters so dominated by short-term thinking they can't see any further than the next quarterly earnings report? Are they really that stupid?

It's possible the 1% (in the West) are disunited, and having an almighty power struggle amongst themselves. Some are comfortable with Murdoch, the rise of fascism, and the outbreak of civil war or even WWIII, while others are more rational and want to damp down the insanity. The 1% don't seem to be pushing back against Murdoch at all, as far as I can tell, and he's the one selling Trump and the more extreme racist faction of Tories in the UK.

Where's the CIA and NSA in all this? Beats me. I'm sure they know all about the machinations of the KGB, but the CIA has always been Republican-friendly, and rather cool to the Democrats.

I am puzzled by the "Burn It All Down" faction of the one-percenters. Do they really think they can ride the tiger of fascism while the world climate gets worse and worse? That's a hell of bet to be making. Maybe more of the 1% are crazy than we imagine, although you'd think a billionaire would want to take all the variables into account when making decisions.
 
If Putin actually would prefer that our country's "nuclear football" go to a thin-skinned bullyboy than to a calm, stable professional, then I will be compelled to lower my estimate of Putin's intellect.
 
Clinton is a failed non-professional orgiasmistic (at Khaddafi's murder) ex S of S.

Let us say for the purposes of argument, Putin proves to be a world class world stage political chess player and moves the US out of Europe, creates an alliance of peace with Berlin and Paris, and creates openings for Hezbollah and Syria to do quite some damage to the
Zionist entity, if not actually free Palestine.

Oh, the horrors! What would the average American have left to live for, it having been established that his/her nation is not Indispensable to the world? Well, perhaps he/she would have that much more opportunity to address the burgeoning class and ethnic divide at home, the government having lost the opportunity to haplessly meddle and create chaos through the Mideast and Ukraine, lying about Saddam's WMDs and Russian perfidy along the way.
 
I think Donald is going to quit. I don't know when exactly, but I bet he quits.

Better to be a quitter with a thousand excuses that the worst loser ever in the history of the U.S.
 
"Dmytro Firtash" sounds like the name of a member of the fictional future society shown in the stories of the Legion of Super-Heroes, maybe a Legionnaire himself, or one of their criminal sparring partners. ^_^
 
I don't know how or if this relates, but in a synchronistic moment today, I heard from a friend who lives in MT that Russia is buying up ranchers' Black Angus cattle & land there, then restricting the cattle's diet and movement (from more expensive, free range and grass fed to corn fed and penned). At the same time, bull sperm is being sold to the Chinese.

This made me wonder about the global food supply as we go forward into the future, and if maybe ensuring food supply is growing more and more important to countries around the world. True, Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Russia (of course, neither has Sanders!). Maybe it's more $$ for food support/access rather than military aspirations.
 
Scenario: The rightwing splits three ways. GOP runs Romney, Jeb or Rubio. Trump runs independent, Gary Johnson runs Libertarian. The leftwing splits three ways. Jill Stein Green Party, Bernie or Bust write-in, Hillary runs Democratic Party. No one gets 270 electoral votes. Republican Congress picks the president... Clusterfuck, just as Cannonfire predicted.
 
Hi Joe,
I'm late to this thread, but I wanted to comment on something you mentioned above. You said, "In order to comment more than once, one must log out of one account and log in with another, a dull and time-consuming process."

Actually, there is a browser add-in you can get to use with Reddit which literally allows you to switch between accounts in less than one second. There is a persistent dropdown menu at the top of every page on Reddit. The dropdown contains a list of all of your accounts. To switch accounts, you simply need to select one of your accounts from the dropdown menu. This takes less than a second, assuming you don't have to move your mouse over to where the dropdown menu is located.

The add-in is called Reddit Enhancement Suite. Just google for something like "reddit enhancement suite account switcher" for all the details.

Reddit does log IP addresses with every post, but it does virtually nothing to limit people to post with a single account. For one thing, doing so is impractical. Tons of college students, for example, share an IP because they live together in an apartment or other dorm-like setting. Same with people on military bases or other communal living arrangements. Reddit cannot presume all posts from the same IP were made by the same person - and even if they did make such a presumption, they do nothing (or virtually nothing) to enforce a one-IP-per-person rule. The only exceptions are with rampant abuse that is reported to Reddit admins by other users.
 
Damn Joseph....in light of events over the past few days...reading this from that past feels like I've been doused with cold water. Turns out you were spot-on.

God help us all.
 
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