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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Blame Obama

Mort Sahl once said: "Jimmy Carter has been a great ex-president. He should have gone straight to the ex-presidency." No-one can say that about Barack Obama. Lately, both the right and left have been throwing crap at him -- and some of that crap is well-deserved.

The crap coming from the right is very crappy indeed. The Trumpists are crying foul about "unmasking." That's their way of saying: "When the previous administration caught us doing something wrong, they should have kept our identities masked." Seriously, that's what the argument comes to: "How DARE the cops keep us under surveillance while we case the bank?"

The crap-attack coming from the left is far more serious. It has long been clear that, well before the election, Barack Obama possessed enough evidence to expose Trump's perfidy, yet the former president refused to do so.

Why?

The focal point for the current controversy is this WP story, which appeared yesterday. The article discusses a highly-classified report on Putin's personal involvement in the Great Election Hack -- a report which reached Obama in August. Obama took measures which now seem far, far too cautious.
But other administration officials look back on the Russia period with remorse.

“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” said a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia. “I feel like we sort of choked.”
Damn right they did. Remember, in June -- well before that August report -- Paul Ryan and other Republicans were already trading "jokes"-that-weren't-jokes about Putin's stranglehold on the Republican party in general and on Trump in particular. Trump's interactions with Russian mobsters like Sater were either known or easily knowable. Even then, some people were asking questions about the Putin-linked banks that were willing to deal with Trump after most other financiers had decided to steer clear of him.

Here's Charles Pierce's reaction to the WP piece:
This, right here. This is where they choked. The American people had damned close to an absolute right to the information their government already had. The most fundamental act of citizenship is the right to cast an informed vote. The idea that the Obama administration withheld the fact that the Russians were ratfcking the election in order to help elect a vulgar talking yam is a terrible condemnation of the whole No Drama Obama philosophy. Would Donald Trump have raised hell if the White House released what it knew? Of course, he would have. But, as it was, the American people went to vote with only about half of the information they needed to assess his candidacy. This was a terrible decision.
From The Hill, this morning:
Then-President Obama was too cautious in the months leading up to the election, frustrated Democratic lawmakers and strategists say.

“It was inadequate. I think they could have done a better job informing the American people of the extent of the attack,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who co-chairs the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

And even after the election was over, they say, the penalties Obama levied were too mild to appropriately punish what by all accounts was an unprecedented attack on a U.S. election.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), another House Intelligence member, called the penalties “barely a slap on the wrist.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who supports tougher sanctions Russia, said in a statement Friday that the administration “abjectly failed to deter Russian aggression” and “failed to impose any meaningful costs on Russia.”

Some Republicans argue the Obama administration only started to take the Russia threat seriously after President Trump had won the election.
Of course he did. The question is why.
Former Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday told lawmakers that the White House held back on responding to Russia because it didn’t want to play into fears, propagated by then-candidate Trump, that the election would be “rigged.”

“One of the candidates, as you'll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way,” Johnson said. “And so we were concerned that, by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the election process itself.”
What a surreal situation! Trump was allowed to make baseless accusations, and those baseless accusations became an excuse for Obama to refrain from making accurate statements. As always, an infuriating double standard allows the R people to do that which the D people may not.

My take on this differs (as you might expect) from the standard responses you'll encounter on most progressive sites.

First: I believe that the voting tabulation machines were hacked directly. The people who keep offering us assurances that such things are impossible never discuss the details; we are simply asked to take these pronouncements on faith. The FBI's "experts" have displayed little expertise, as revealed in this edition of Brad Friedman's podcast. Much of that episode focuses on the predictable GOP "win" in Georgia, but you will also hear some very important observations about the 2016 general election, and about American elections in general.

Months ago, I expressed my opinion that Trump kept hammering the "rigged election" theme because the machines really were rigged, though not by Hillary. A forensic examination of the machines would have exposed the malware. Thanks to the demonization of Hillary (from both the right and the left), the public would have instantly presumed that her team planted the malware.

During the recounts, Trump's lawyers did everything in their power to prevent any forensic examination of voting equipment from taking place, a course of action which stands outside of all innocent explanation. Why wouldn't Trump want such an examination? That's like telling your spouse: "No, I did not place a keylogger on your computer. Nevertheless, I forbid you from running a scan for trojans."

Second: I view Obama's actions (or inactions) through the prism of 2008. In that year, as in 2016, Hillary Clinton was subjected to the worst smears in the history of American politics. But in 2008, the sinister figure behind the smear campaign was Barack Obama himself. The only difference between Obama and Trump is that Trump was willing to get his hands dirty personally, whereas Obama let bots and surrogates do all of the truly filthy work. In that sense, Trump comes across as the more honest -- and therefore more honorable -- of the two political fighters.

Nearly all of the tactics ascribed to Putin and Cambridge Analytica in 2016 were pioneered by David Axelrod and Team Obama in 2008. True, social media was not quite as important then as it later became. Nevertheless, bots were employed, smears were launched, "fake news" hit hard, websites were overwhelmed, opinion was artificially manipulated, caucus primaries were rigged, delegates were apportioned unfairly -- and anyone who dared to counter the many anti-Hillary lies would be shouted down by a million seemingly-real voices.

Remember when shit like this appeared every minute of every hour of every day on Democratic Underground, TPM, HuffPo and Daily Kos?



I sure as hell remember. I'll never forget. And I'll never stop waving the bloody shirt. Some wounds cannot be forgotten or forgiven.

The public still does not understand that Axelrod ran a perception management firm called ASK which performed the same manipulative tricks in 2008 that Cambridge Analytica performed in 2016. As I noted in my first piece on ASK, they first made their mark by mounting a campaign to deregulate electricity.

Remember the disaster that hit California? Remember Enron? Remember how the internet was filled with voices pooh-poohing the "conspiracy theory" that Enron deliberately engineered California's woes? Remember how anyone who dared to say "There's something funny going on here" was inundated with ever-so-clever remarks about tin foil hats? Remember how those ever-so-clever remarks disappeared the day the Enron tapes came out and we all learned that some conspiracies are real?

From my second piece on Axelrod's operation:
That year saw not just a fevered political campaign but the creation of a genuine cult of personality. Big blogs like Daily Kos and TPM were inundated with comments from individuals never seen before or since, and they all spread horrific lies and rumors about Hillary and Bill Clinton while lauding Obama in reverential, almost messianic terms.

Were these personas? Were the Obots actually...bots?

Don't be silly. The question isn't even a question.

My own blog, humble as it was, got battered by a "vitriol monsoon." The hate-spew came every few minutes, day and night. Software was obviously involved. A large amount of that hate commentary -- including several death threats -- came from the same ISP in Chicago, Illinois. The home of the Obama campaign.
Obama screwed over Clinton in 2008 and he did it again in 2016. How could he pin the blame on either Russia or Cambridge Analytica? What did they do that he didn't?
Comments:
Doesn't quite make sense. Why would he destroy his own legacy. HRC would have continued his policies. I put it down to excessive caution.
 
this breaks my heart all over again. I will never forget 2008, and I wrote in Hills name just so I could cast my vote for the one I thought was the better candidate. I got used to Obama and voted for him in 2012 I don't want to believe he did this thing just to screw her again, I just can't. did he play it safe for his own legacy? what could be the gain for him? Did he realize he was selling the whole country down the river?
I just don't want to believe that, I can't
 
Isn't every important thing rigged? Someone explain why or how, since Obama's mother was "white", he's deemed "black". All major "news" outlets condescend and fashion their coverage for the lesser of two stupids.
 
He didn't only stay passive, he actually defended the election process as is after trump said it was rigged. Notice trump never said who was doing the rigging. Remember days from the election when he said from Michigan(?) That he already won and wondered why dem are bothering with it, remember that smug smile?
I have to admit they outsmart the dem. They knew their flaws and weaknesses, so when playing that game of crying the rigged election, it will have them running to defend it, even if they have evidence it's true. Well done traitors(I am not saying which).
 
"He didn't only stay passive, he actually defended the election process as is after trump said it was rigged."

I think this is one reason why so many people refuse to consider the obvious (to me) possibility that the vote was hacked. Obama said it was not. Obama, and much of the MSM, said that vote rigging was impossible. Nobody now wants to say "Obama was wrong."

That said, I think we are in general agreement. That "smug smile" is something I recall well. If he really thought Hillary was rigging the election, we would not have seen that smile. He would have worn a very different expression.
 
Excessive caution operating on two levels seems more plausible.

First, Obama always, always erred on not wanting to stir up the right wingers, and if that's caution, then I'm pretty sure that was his motive.

Also, Obama was probably aware of some of the many investigations looking into Trump, or was advised by those who were, not to tip the hand(s) of the feds. This would have played into his innate caution.

Funny how this would be LBJ redux. LBJ knew about Nixon's illegal contacts with the N. Vietnamese but feared revealing what are now known as wire "tapps."

I must add that it's clear that substantial, and active, portions of those Three Letter Agencies worked hard to bring about a GOP victory, no matter who it was.

Good to have you back.
 
I think him making the hacking public would have made the situation worst in the long run.

The "Left", the Right, and the Mainslime Media would have screamed and howled that he was making it up to help Hillary. Remember when Harry Reid told the New York Times back in October what was going on and NYT proceeded with its Full Metal Email coverage and failed to investigate or report on the had been revealed?

It would have been worst had Hillary won the electoral vote, which I think Obama assumed what was going to happen. If she had won this cloud of "rigged elections" would have hung over her along with the emails, Benghazi, etc etc etc. She would have not been able to accomplish anything and the seriousness of the vote tampering would never be taken seriously again and the same thing would have happened the next election. And the consequences of that would be? No one would dare touch investigation of hacking again because it would be political poison, both for officials and the media.

This is the type of situation, which, by the way has not happened before (referring to the involvement of a foreign power. US has had many compromised elections before). It's a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. And while I'm a self confessed Obama Bot, I'm not just saying this because it was Obama. Given how horrible the media, Rethuglicans and "The Left" are, we cannot have a conversation in which the participants are not operating in good faith and trust me, media, Rethugs and "Left" are not.

I still believe this was a coup, part of a psyops that is ongoing. The country seems to be going crazy, but there is a huge effort to orchestrate all of the hate and blame scripts, all of which seem to be targeted at Obama, Democrats and women (particularly women of color). I think the Russians are the front guys, but the power behind it is from the good old USofA who is outsourcing the actor and the deeds to distract us from the fact we did have a coup and its aim is to destroy the poor and middle class and people of color. In my opinion any discussion that does not occur in the context of understanding this coup is counter productive. This doesn't mean we don't have power to change this. We do. But I believe we have to really comprehend the situation we're in, which is dire. We can't afford the luxury of denial and cynicism

Also, too, I think it began on 11-22-63. And I don't mind a bit if I'm accused of being tin foil head.
 
Tom: "Funny how this would be LBJ redux. LBJ knew about Nixon's illegal contacts with the N. Vietnamese but feared revealing what are now known as wire "tapps.""

That is an excellent historic parallel. But I have to say that we all would have been better off if LBJ had spoken up. Think of the dead in Vietnam (on both sides) would have survived. Humphrey could not have pursued the war for very much longer -- his party's base had turned (or was turning) against it decisively.

"I must add that it's clear that substantial, and active, portions of those Three Letter Agencies worked hard to bring about a GOP victory, no matter who it was."

We're very much on the same wavelength there. A few people are finally coming around to this idea. For a long time, I thought I was the only one who thought this way.


Big Guy: "I still believe this was a coup, part of a psyops that is ongoing. The country seems to be going crazy, but there is a huge effort to orchestrate all of the hate and blame scripts, all of which seem to be targeted at Obama, Democrats and women (particularly women of color). I think the Russians are the front guys, but the power behind it is from the good old USofA who is outsourcing the actor and the deeds to distract us from the fact we did have a coup and its aim is to destroy the poor and middle class and people of color."

I think there is a LOT of truth in this. But the Russians are not merely front guys. Rather, I think both Putin and the Alt Right are beholden to the same ideology.

 
Joseph:

"Rather, I think both Putin and the Alt Right are beholden to the same ideology."

I agree. This is ideological for the Russians, also a way to establishing dominance and realizing economic benefit.

But I still think that's a piece, not the totality of the push we're seeing.

BTW, your piece on Watergate and the taps was excellent. I need to reread Hougan. I read Secret Agenda years ago and thought it was groundbreaking. Didn't he also write Spooks?
 
Tom's 4:38 comment makes the best sense all around. As for the "LBJ redux" and Joseph's opinion about it: The knowledge of Nixon's secret dealings to disrupt the peace process wasn't out there in any way, shape, or form; besides, the war wasn't LBJ's war, it was run and perpetuated by the Three Letter Agency, and no doubt LBJ was instructed in the art of avoiding his being terminated with extreme prejudice.
 
You know about this don't you (I've only been able to skim your article so don't know if discussed.)

The key is in this court document:
https://cases.justia.com/federal/district-courts/new-york/nyedce/1:2017mc01679/402909/2/0.pdf?ts=1497095196

I sat staring at it for the longest time until all became clear.

Trump's conversations were legally taped using SS7 security glitch in Comey's phone. This turned Comey's phone into an open mike not just for cell phone conversations but for ALL conversations. Comey was being just a wee bit disingenuous during testimony but he only gave permission for conversations to be taped. He couldn't be sure they were. (I suspect they were not only taped but the tapes are everywhere. I suspect they have even been played for Trump. Why not? Let the bastard sweat.)

This court document is indirect evidence of same--and more. It shows that after Comey was fired and they no longer had the "cooperating" party, and likely Comey no longer had a phone with the SS7 bug, Sessions went to court and tried to put a tap back on Comey's cell phone using normal interdiction procedures--this time without Comey's assent. The judge said, "Fuggetaboutit."

Rumor has it that Kislyak's phone had same security flaws. Oh and if son-in-law did manage to get that communication system set up in the Russian embassy? Well, an embassy is automatically--foreign soil.
 
There were many violations of separation of Church and State, Sports and State, Tabloid Magazines Covers almost seemingly written by Donald Trump (makes one wonder if Trump won't release his income tax filings because we will find out he is either is a co-owner or gets paid by the Tabloid magazines as a contributor / consultant), all favored Trump.
However, Hillary Clinton's health, or lack of cardio fitness, apparently caused her to not openly ridicule or challenge Trump. She never seemed to take the battle to Trump mano a mano. I think that was because she might have still been recovering from some type of health issue.

 
Mr. Cannon, my comments about taps--should have been posted with your previous article--I apologize.
LL
 
AM
I don't get this obsession of yours with her health. Do you know something the rest of us don't. How her health prevented her from confronting dump considering she was running to be the president. Which of the two more taxing. She looks fine to me. That's not to say I am still puzzled by her playing nice as if she never met American people.
 

I agree with Big Guy on how horrifying it would've been had Hillary won the electoral and this had all come out. She'd have faced the usual bs and then all this from the wrong angle, and the abusive barrage would've accomplished the same thing as keeping her out of office.

As bad as everything is, this is far better for citizen activism, if we can get and keep our act together. I recommend Indivisible for gathering and acting in local groups.

I agree with Tom, also, on "...it's clear that substantial, and active, portions of those Three Letter Agencies worked hard to bring about a GOP victory, no matter who it was" and would love to hear more on this, Joseph. btw, thanks, and I don't know how you do all you do!



 
I was infuriated, too, about the 2008 primaries. I was never able to think of Obama as a legitimate President. A part of my mind still thinks the USA has not had a legitimately nominated and elected President since Bill C. left office.

But, knowing what we know now...I wonder if I got duped? How many of the Obots were actually, even then, Russkibots? Maybe Mommie Dearest Russia was interfering in our elections even then?
 
"However, Hillary Clinton's health, or lack of cardio fitness, apparently caused her to not openly ridicule or challenge Trump. She never seemed to take the battle to Trump mano a mano. I think that was because she might have still been recovering from some type of health issue."

What a load of sexist b.s. There was NOTHING wrong with HRC's health that prevented her from being president. You might as well use the sexist filth that her "hormones" made her ineligible. Disgusting. Trump is in far worse physical shape than HRC, but he is a MAN, so he can look like hell and feel like hell.

 
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