The Biggest National Security Threats

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Trump, surrounded by the military, vows to give it more (and more!) money

W.J. Astore

Today at 2PM, the Trump administration releases its National Security Strategy.  It’s already making news because Trump is dropping climate change (added by the Obama administration) as a threat.  Instead, Trump is placing new emphasis on economic competitiveness and border security (“Build the wall!”), which are two corporate-friendly policies (read: boondoggles).

I’d like to cite two threats that Trump won’t mention in his national security strategy.  These two threats are perhaps the biggest ones America faces, and they are related.  The first is threat inflation, and the second is the U.S. military itself, as in Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military-industrial-Congressional complex.

Threat inflation is a huge problem in America.  The threat of terrorism is vastly inflated, as is the threat from North Korea.  If we wanted to focus on what threatens Americans, we’d be redoubling efforts to help those with opioid addictions even as we work to cut deaths by guns and in road accidents.  Roughly 120,000 Americans are dying each year from opioid overdoses, road accidents, and shootings.  How many are dying from terrorism or from attacks by North Korea?

North Korea is a weak regional power led by an immature dictator who is desperate to keep his grip on power.  Kim Jong-un knows that any use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would end in his death and the annihilation of his country.  He also knows that nuclear weapons serve as a deterrent and a symbol of prestige domestically and internationally.  Does he need to be deterred?  Yes.  Should Americans cower in fear?  Of course not.

Cyberwar is certainly a threat–just look at Russian meddling in our last presidential election.  China and Russia are nuclear powers and rivals that bear close watching, but they are not enemies.  Indeed, since the end of the Cold War the United States hasn’t faced serious peer enemies.  We should have been cashing in our “peace dividends” for the last 25 years.  Why haven’t we?

Enter the military-industrial-Congressional complex.  Ike warned us about it in 1961.  He warned about its misplaced power, its persistence, and its anti-democratic nature.  Ike, a retired five-star general who led the allied armies on the Western Front in World War II against the Nazis, knew of what he spoke.  He knew the Complex exaggerated threats, such as missile or bomber “gaps” (which didn’t exist) vis-a-vis the Soviet Union.  Ike knew the military, its corporate feeders and enablers, and Congress always wanted one thing: more.  He did his best to control the military, but once he left office, it was the Complex that took control, leading America into a disastrous war in Vietnam, the first of many “wars of choice” that ended in American defeats, but which proved highly profitable to the Complex itself.

Those endless wars that feed the Complex persist today.  Elements of the U.S. military are deployed to 149 countries and 800 foreign bases at a budgetary cost of $700 billion (that’s just for the “defense” budget).  Spending so much money on the military represents a tremendous opportunity cost–for that money, Americans could have free health care and college tuition, but who wants good health and a sound education, right?

Ike recognized the opportunity cost of “defense” spending in 1953 in this famous speech:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

What Ike said.  The point is not that Ike was a perfect man (look at the Iran coup, also in 1953), but he sure as hell was a sound and at times a penetrating thinker, a mature man who knew the awful burdens of war.

And now we have Trump, the opposite of Ike, an unsound and shallow thinker, an immature man who knows nothing of the awfulness of war.  Add Trump himself–his immaturity, his bellicosity, his ignorance, and his denial of reality–as a threat to our national security.

So, a quick summary of three big threats that won’t make Trump’s “strategy” today:

  1. Threat inflation: terrorism, North Korea, Iran, etc.
  2. The Complex itself and its profligate, prodigal, and anti-democratic nature.
  3. Trump.

And add back one more: climate change/global warming.  Because flooding, fires, droughts, famines, etc., exacerbated by global warming, are already creating security challenges, which will only grow worse over the next half-century.  Denying that reality, or calling it “fake news,” won’t change Mother Nature; she has her own implacable ways,

16 thoughts on “The Biggest National Security Threats

  1. I didn’t know about this superb speech! I would have guessed FDR, yet then again he had a “real war” on his hands. I do know of his fury with Patton in Sicily.
    According to British historian Antony Beevor, many of our boys in Sicily came down with “shell shock” and had to hospitalized. Run by Catholic Nuns, Patton stormed in claiming such afflictions were “Jewish inventions”. “Get out of bed!” he roared. Anyone with a brain can understand these poor draftees confusion in 1944: Their “enemies” last year are now our “allies”?
    Eisenhower got wind of this travesty, and FORCED Patton to go to the hospital & apologize, not only to the troops, but the Nuns caring for them. Today it’s called PSD, or something like that.
    So are the tragedies of war, throughout the centuries. But Eisenhower was VERY concerned about a REAL economy; like cars & coffee pots. A previous essay is correct about US’s outrageous arms sales: 345Bil?
    I look at it as a businessman – it really stinks for American economy. We spend TWICE that defending what we sold! Plus, let’s face it, a fortune is spent in bribes to foreign government officials’, that goes into swanky apartments & yachts in Dubai, etc.
    American taxpayers pay for our MIC. Yet “arms sales” overseas go into private hands.
    Th

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  2. “Cyberwar is certainly a threat–just look at Russian meddling in our last presidential election.”

    Normally, I stop reading or listening the moment I see or hear anything like the above sentence. Out of respect for the author of this article, however, I’ll stick around long enough to make a few observations about stating conclusions before investigating the premises upon which an argument rests.

    First, before one can look at something, it must exist. Failing to detect this invisible something, one must then — if one has the interest and/or energy — go looking for evidence of the rumored-but-undemonstrated something. The political equivalent of unicorn hunting — or, desperately searching for some shred of real evidence that “the Russians” actually did “something” to affect the outcome of last years U. S. presidential elections (all fifty one of them) — does seem to have become an obsessive pastime among America’s “influential” media and political “elites.” Still, I have yet to see a unicorn (“Russian,” political, or otherwise) despite hearing of unverified “sightings” of the mythological creature for over a year-and-a-half now. No facts. No documentary evidence. No proof of any kind. Just rumor, innuendo, anonymous leaks from America’s so-called “intelligence community,” hysterical conspiracy theorizing by a defeated and dismayed Democratic party with nothing whatsoever to offer the working class, and a corporate media with something now approaching zero credibility.

    Second, if (1) this “Russian meddling” never happened and (2) the author of this article offers this nothing as his prime example of “cyberwar,” then (3) how can this nothing called “cyberwar” constitute a threat? Quod Non-Est Demonstrandum.

    But even worse than just simple illogic and wishful thinking: on the basis of nothing but “deep state” fabrications meant to head-off any possible detente with Russia by the elected-and-incoming Trump administration, President Obama (with only a few weeks left in office) illegally seized Russian diplomatic properties and expelled thirty-five Russian diplomats, openly threatening to “do stuff” (meaning launch cyber attacks) against Russia. Vice President Joe Biden went even further, saying of the Russian government and people: “They’ll never know what hit them.” And since the U.S. government and its pet parasite, the Zionist Occupation of Palestine, had already launched the Stuxnet virus at Iran’s peaceful nuclear power facilities, causing real physical damage and potentially releasing lethal radioactive elements onto the Iranian population, the U.S. government has a lot of damn gall accusing anyone else of imaginary electoral “cyberwar” when it so obviously practices the real thing itself.

    But don’t take my word for any of this. After all, I remember the Bay of Pigs, the Gulf of Tonkin, the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, and, of course, WMD in Iraq. I could go on to list other monumental fuck-ups by America’s so-called “intelligence community,” but the singular whoppers mentioned above ought to make my point. These maniacal morons lie for a living (which usually means someone else’s dying) and if they had no real reason to lie, they would lie anyway, just to keep in practice, just so they wouldn’t forget how. And they expect us to take them at face value when they openly and brazenly lie? Who in their right mind would do that? As John Bachelor notes in a recent inteview with Professor Stephen F. Cohen, a real expert on Russia, its government, and people:

    § The foundational accusation of Russiagate was, and remains, charges that Russian President Putin ordered the hacking of DNC e-mails and their public dissemination through WikiLeaks in order to benefit Donald Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and that Trump and/or his associates colluded with the Kremlin in this “attack on American democracy.” As no actual evidence for these allegations has been produced after nearly a year and a half of media and government investigations, we are left with Russiagate without Russia. (An apt formulation perhaps first coined in an e-mail exchange by Nation writer James Carden.)

    This is one reason Cohen, in a previous Batchelor broadcast and commentary, argued that Russiagate and its promoters have become the gravest threat to American national security
    [emphasis added].

    So, please. Let us hear no more unsubstantiated rumors of “Russian meddling” from anonymous bureaucratic leakers scared shitless that detente with Russia would rob them of their corrupt gravy-train looting of the American taxpayer for not just this generation but the next several yet to come.

    For further amplification of the point I have tried to make above, please see:


    Questioning the Russia-gate ‘Motive’
    , by Gilbert Doctorow, Consortium News (December 18, 2017)

    and

    Stephen F. Cohen: Media Malpractice Is Criminalizing Better Russia Relations (Podcast)”, by John Batchelor, Russia Insider (12/19/2017)

    One last thing. As this so-called “Russiagate” witch hunt seems close to imploding from lack of any progress investigating that which never happened (while ignoring much CIA/FBI/NSA malfeasance that has), Professor Cohen suggests that a new tactic — something which he calls “Sexgate” — will most likely emerge to hamstring President Trump and prevent him from doing practically the only sane and defensible thing he may have once had in mind: namely, pursuing a common-sense detente with Russia.

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    1. Mike: Let me re-frame this. Why wouldn’t Russia meddle? Facing the prospect of an anti-Russian hawk (Hillary) versus a political neophyte and billionaire who talked of cooperation with Russia (Trump), why wouldn’t Russia seek to influence public opinion in the U.S.? And why not via social media, e.g. Facebook? It would amaze me if Russia just sat there and did nothing — We’ll respect American democracy and autonomy; we are unbiased and have no wish to use our considerable cyber skills and resources to exert any influence. Right …

      I don’t know about DNC hacks and Wikileaks and who exactly is responsible; I will say that those hacks revealed a corrupt DNC that was tilting the scales for Hillary, so I’m thankful for that information.

      Again, I’m not one of those people calling for a new Cold War against Putin. I’m not looking to punish Russia. Assuming Russia did work to tilt the election (and, again, why not?), the fault is not theirs. It’s ours in allowing them to do it.

      These are murky waters, as you can tell from these articles:

      https://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/26/facebook-russia-trump-sanders-stein-243172

      https://thinkprogress.org/russia-facebook-clinton-campaign-d6d76b2a2e82/

      Personally, I don’t think Russian “meddling” (let’s assume it exists on some level) tipped the election to Trump. Hillary lost for other, much bigger, reasons, reasons having to do with her inept campaign, her political baggage, her high personal negatives, her lack of a compelling narrative, etc.

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      1. William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
        Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
        William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
        Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
        — “A Man for All Seasons,” by Robert Bolt.

        Substitute for “the Devil” the name of Donald Trump — or any other personage that one (for any reason) finds obnoxious — and you have the basis of my second critique of your “Russia” comments, Bill; especially the sentence fragment where your say: “… Russian ‘meddling’ (let’s assume it exists on some level) ….” I say, “No. Let us not assume guilt absent any proof of it.” To do otherwise would undercut the fundamental premise of Constitutional law: namely, that we presume innocence and require that those who allege wrondoing bear the entire burden of proving it. This means that no one has to prove their innocence because we simply presume it as a fundamental principle. Violate that principle by assuming guilt of any proportion whatsoever on the basis of allegation alone, and few among us could stand upright in the the howling winds that would blow then. Indeed, I can hear them beginning to howl now in this whole absurd “Russia-gate” witch hunt.

        Attacking those who attack President Trump for all the wrong reasons (plenty of good reasons for attacking him do exist) does not mean defending Donald Trump, the person; but it does mean defending an American citizen from illegal, if not tyrannical, persecution by the Government of the United States or its unelected bureaucratic agents, which government and employees ought to form the bulwark of defense against such persecution instead of its most unprincipled perpetrators. Trashing the Constitution just to get at the ludicrous likes of Donald Trump might rid the White House of Donald Trump, but it would render the White House, as well as the country at large, unfit for any decent American to inhabit. As former Reagan administration Budget Director, David Stockman wrote recently:

        There was a sinister plot to meddle in the 2016 election, after all. But it was not orchestrated from the Kremlin; it was an entirely homegrown affair conducted from the inner sanctums – the White House, DOJ, the Hoover Building and Langley – of the Imperial City. Likewise, the perpetrators didn’t speak Russian or write in the Cyrillic script. In fact, they were lifetime beltway insiders occupying the highest positions of power in the US government.

        Here are the names and rank of the principal conspirators: John Brennan, CIA director; Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; Samantha Power, UN Ambassador; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; James Comey, FBI director; Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI director; Sally Yates, deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr, associate deputy AG; Peter Strzok, deputy assistant director of FBI counterintelligence; Lisa Page, FBI lawyer; and countless other lessor and greater poobahs of Washington power, including President Obama himself.

        For more grisly and foul-smelling details of real “meddling” — all of it emanating from domestic political sources — in last year’s presidential elections (note the plural “s”), see: The RussiaGate Witch-Hunt – The Deep State’s ‘Insurance Policy’, by David Stockman, antiwar.com (12/19/2017)

        Finally, two useful expressions that I learned from my widowed, working-class, Depression-era Mom:

        (1) “Spell the word “assume” and it makes an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME.”

        (2) “Put up or shut up.”

        Please do yourself and all of us a favor, Bill. Drop the whole “Russia meddling” thing because it has no evidentiary or logical or legal justification whatsoever and only makes Americans who keep peddling the dreary tale look like lame and pathetic losers. Yes, the Russians would certainly prefer an American president who wanted to cooperate with them rather than one who insultingly called their elected president “Adolph Hitler.” But so what? Any head of any government would prefer a potential friend to an avowed enemy. And you want to call that kind of common sense attitude “meddling”? You can do better, Bill.

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  3. Mike: I don’t think the MIC needs Russia as an enemy. There are plenty of others available: China, Iran, North Korea, various terrorist groups, etc. So I don’t see the need for deliberate sabotage of Trump’s so-called efforts at detente or peace vis-a-vis Russia.

    Russia meddling: Consider all those Russian posts on Facebook, intended as they were to favor Trump. Other countries have also complained of Russian meddling (France and Germany, for example). Are you saying there was no Russian meddling? That Russia hasn’t engaged in cyber efforts to tilt elections in their favor? Or are you saying there is, as yet, no proof?

    I’m not attacking Russia here. Putin is actually playing a weak hand very well. I don’t blame him in the least for trying to tilt the scales away from Hillary Clinton, an avowed anti-Russia hawk. Smart policy on his part.

    In sum, I think Russia did meddle, for which they earn my grudging respect. It’s not like the USA hasn’t meddled in foreign elections!

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    1. It’s not like the USA hasn’t meddled in foreign elections! This a correct accurate statement. I tend to see this interference more as Oligarchs in USA and Russia trying to tilt things for their own monetary benefit rather than some political ideology.

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      1. Could be. Russian oligarchs have more to gain with Trump as president, or so it seems. Hillary promised more sanctions, for example, and more efforts to isolate Russia.

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    2. You just won’t give it up, will you, Bill? Take the following:

      “Russia meddling: Consider all those Russian posts on Facebook, intended as they were to favor Trump. Other countries have also complained of Russian meddling (France and Germany, for example). Are you saying there was no Russian meddling? That Russia hasn’t engaged in cyber efforts to tilt elections in their favor? Or are you saying there is, as yet, no proof?”

      OK. I’ll play. And remember: you asked for this.

      (1) If by “as yet,” we agree to mean “a year and a half,” then, “yes,” I mean that in all that time no proof of any wrongdoing by the Russian government has come to light. We differ, of course, in that I presume innocence until an accuser proves otherwise, whereas you presume guilt on the basis of accusation alone and only await some future date when proof of some kind will surely come to light. Sort of like waiting for the inevitable “victory” of the U.S. military sooner or later, somewhere or other, just because you wish for it. The psychiatrists have a name for this syndrome: “Confirmation Bias.” For my part, I prefer evidence and will withold judgment until such time as I see any.

      (2) William Binney, who designed the NSA computer systems, has analyzed the data transfer rates of the downloaded DNC emails in question and has concluded that they confirm a physical copy of the data onto a USB memory device, or “thumb drive,” by someone within the DNC who had access to the data in question. Internet download speeds, especially from outside the United States, come nowhere close to what Bill Binney and other computer profesionals found by studying the meta-data associated with the emails in question. In other words: a Leak, not a Hack. And as U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said: “The Ship of State leaks from the top.” So, no. A “hack” by the “Russians” (meaning, one must suppose, the Russian government) never happened. If you choose to believe otherwise on the basis of conjecture alone, I can’t help that. If you confuse “repeating” wit h “reporting,” I can’t help that. Either prove your accusations or kindly refrain from passing along unverified rumors, guesses, or suppositions as if they constitute proof of something you can’t even define. What the hell does “medding” mean, anyway? How about “diddling”? How about “inappropriate glancing at, commenting about, or touching”? Perhaps some “Russians” did that sort of stuff to Americans, also. Perhaps. Maybe. Possibly. Conceivably. …

      To summarize: Someone at the DNC downloaded the DNC e-mail data and provided it to Wikileaks (run by an Australian journalist operating out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London) who published this information in the public interest. Good for Wikileaks. Focus on the information and not the source. Journalists used to do that sort of thing in the United States as part of their job description. Not so much anymore. Anyway, I suggest that you try and keep up with the facts of the case here.

      (3) As for John Podesta’s e-mails, his personal computer had the password, “Password,” which a simple phishing probe from someone — meaning, anyone — could discover in order to access the unsecured machine. Any first-year computer science student with a cell phone and Wi-Fi connection could have read the Podesta documents, which — let us not forget — advised You-Know-Her’s billion-dollar campaign to elevate a “Pied Piper” candidate like Donald Trumpto to run against as the “easiest” to defeat. Talk about getting what you wish for! This computer data analysis goes, as well, for the “security” of You-Know-Her’s personal State Department web server located in her bathroom at home. Who couldn’t have accessed these pathetically “secured” systems? Again, the “Russians” don’t have to hack American government computer systems during our notoriously corrupt, if not criminal, elections. Did the Russians design the Electoral College? Did the Russians force five justices of the U.S. Supine Court to hijack the 2000 Presidential Selection in favor George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? The “Russians” — and everyone else for that matter — don’t have to do anything during our increasingly unattended elections. They can just wait for Wikileaks documents and other hard evidence of high-level back-stabbing and bureaucratic infighting to publicly appear.

      (4) As for the whole “Facebook” thing: the desperate U.S deep-state persecutors, both in the Mueller camp and in various Congressional committees — especially Democratic Senator John Warner of Virginia — demanded that mega-corporations like Google and Facebook produce hard evidence of Russian “meddling.” After doing some exhaustive searches and finding nothing, the craven management of these corporations went back and looked even harder for what they were told to find. At best, they came up with a few tens of thousands of dollars of commercial “ads” by “Russians,” most of them produced after the U.S. elections and practically none of them mentioning political candidates from any of our several political parties. The quadrennial U.S. presidential elections — all fifty-one of them — consume something like seven billion dollars each and still we hear it “reported” (by which we mean “repeated”) that some persons — vaguely and collectively called “Russians” — purchased less than a hundred thousand dollars of such ads which somehow overcame the effect of billions of dollars of the usual campaign propaganda. Talk about money well spent! A few tens of thousands of dollars and the Russians could effectively time travel from post-election to pre-election so as to “influence” the outcome in favor of Donald Trump whom the Democratic campaign of You-Know-Her had themselves chosen as the easiest opponent to beat. As well, several other political parties contested the election and any Russian “meddling” could have favored them as well as any other candidate. In fact, I just read yesterday that the usual-suspect persecutors have now gone after Jill Stien of the Green Party for appearing on RT television and having her picture taken sitting at a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Talk about desperation! This pathetic shit has made an internation al laughing stock out of our country.

      (5) Finally, I consider it a personal insult for anyone to accuse me of not voting for You-Know-Her last year because the “Russians” performed a Vulcan mind-meld on me and forced Wikileaks to commit journalism so as to make me loathe a Wall Street Bimbo and War Whore whom I wrote off ever voting for the minute she let Deputy Dubya the Dimwit bully her into joining his criminal assault on two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, that had nothing to do with the Saudi Arabian jihadist attacks of 9/11/2001. I would never vote for a Republican billionaire posing as a friend of the working class, nor would I ever vote for a “Democratic” party member of the Republican Junior Varsity like You-Know-Her and Barack Obama. I made up my own mind about certain things long before last year’s elections and I disdain any and all insinuations that the “Russians” had anything to do with how I think and vote.

      And by the way, I missed the part about the Russian Federation bombing Pearl Harbor and our Congress declaring war on that country. As far as I know, the epithet “enemy” does not apply to Russia or Russians and I see no problem with Russians and Amerians doing all sorts of interesting and useful things together.

      I could go on at length debunking one absurd allegation after another, but I need to go to the store now and buy some groceries. I consider this conversation concluded.

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      1. For what it’s worth, Mike, The Atlantic has a long article on Putin and Russia that supports the view of Russian hacking/interference:

        An excerpt: The original aim was to embarrass and damage Hillary Clinton, to sow dissension, and to show that American democracy is just as corrupt as Russia’s, if not worse. “No one believed in Trump, not even a little bit,” Soldatov says. “It was a series of tactical operations. At each moment, the people who were doing this were filled with excitement over how well it was going, and that success pushed them to go even further.”

        “A lot of what they’ve done was very opportunistic,” says Dmitri Alperovitch, the Russian-born co-founder of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which first discovered the Russian interference after the company was hired to investigate the hack of the Democratic National Committee servers in May 2016. “They cast a wide net without knowing in advance what the benefit might be.” The Russian hackers were very skilled, Alperovitch says, but “we shouldn’t try to make them out to be eight feet tall” and able to “elect whomever they want. They tried in Ukraine, and it didn’t work.” Nor did it work in the French elections of 2017.

        Alperovitch and his team saw that there had been two groups of hackers, which they believed came from two different Russian security agencies. They gave them two different monikers: Fancy Bear, from military intelligence, and Cozy Bear, from either foreign intelligence or the FSB. [End of excerpt]

        Of course, this whole debate has nothing to do with the main points of my article. It is fascinating, however, to see the wide range of viewpoints on Russian hacking. And since so much of this is classified and/or politicized, I can state that I really have no idea who’s telling the truth, or the whole story, and who is dissembling and lying. I know how you feel … and what you believe — and maybe you’re right.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/putins-game/546548

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      2. I hate to say it, but I’d forgotten about Reality Winner. Here’s an interesting article on her alleged leak of material associated with Russiagate:

        “She had access, for example, to a five-page classified report detailing a Russian attempt to access American election infrastructure through a private software company. This would be, ultimately, the document she leaked. According to the analysis in the report, Russian intelligence sent phishing emails to the employees of a company that provides election support to eight states. After obtaining log-in credentials, the Russians sent emails infected with malware to over 100 election officials, days before the election, from what looked like the software company’s address.”

        View story at Medium.com

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  4. Lost my 1st comment: probably better; too long.
    In short, I’m retired in France and have experienced ‘Russia Gate’ here also. I don’t have much belief in it either in US or EU. Here’s why:
    1. Europe has made colossal mistakes following US’s lead in blaming Russia for their own political impendency, that has cost them billions€. When Putin sanctioned ALL European agriculture, meat, dairy products, in retaliation to EU’s, the roof fell in Brussel’s. Dunces never thought about THAT! Farmers pull up with trucks full of cow dung, and dump it on their Parliament.
    2. Blackmailed by US, they’re desperate for another gas line, bypassing Ukraine, who also blackmails them. Their long sleep lately seems disrupted – whose screwing who?
    3. Now they’re involved in Nato war games on Russia’s border, costing EU plenty, as Putin giggles. (Anybody see Stalin’s newsreels whipping 750,000+ Nazi’s to death? How about a map of Europe, fallen & occupied by Hitler?)
    4. I’ll agree with Astore (partially) about a bit of meddling on Russia’s part in European & US elections, but perhaps more out of curiosity than ‘election fixing’. The mediocrity must astound them!
    Hillary Clinton started this nonsense. In retrospect, today I believe her terrible campaign was in trouble longer than we public know, so she picked on a “known, unknown” in Rumsfeld’s words.
    Lastly, all her “smart power” is now crumbling before the world’s eyes. Her coop in Honduras is a nightmare. And Seit! Yeah him! Gaddafi’s son! May be running for election next year – in Libya! Her other “smart” project, Ukraine, overthrown by her appointee Victoria Nuland, gets world’s top award for corruption. EU is petrified, thus the 2nd pipeline around Ukraine.
    The above is farce, but her other beastly mistakes in ME are flooding EU with desperate refugees. A costly tragedy.
    Trump is awful I agree, but we all in the West as citizens must make peace with Russia. The youth I’ve met are clean cut, polite, and proud. They should be, they’ve been through hell and back, a lot of it the West’s fault…..

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  5. I have been reading about all the hype and hoopla about the stock market going up – up. The Republicans including the Trumpet are howling with glee. As a rising Dow Jones is proof of their brilliance. The Establishment Corporate Democrats retort a rising market is part of Obama’s Legacy.

    Anyway, I decided to look into all this hype.
    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “household median income” is defined as
    “the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount.”

    Back in 1967 the Household Median Income was $6,155 in 2014 it was $53,013.00.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average on the first day of trading in 1968 was 906.84.
    Standard and Poors 500 was 95.04.

    At the end of 2014 the Dow was 17,832.99, and the S&P 500 was 2,028.18.

    Household Median Income went up from 1967 to 2014 ( $53, 013/$6,155.) 8.613 times.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up from 1967 to 2014 (17,832.99/906.84) 19.66 times. The S&P 500 went up 1967 to 2014 (2,028.18/95.04) 21.34 times.

    If you multiply the 1967 household median income of $6,155 by the increase in the Dow (19.66 times) Household median income should be $121,037. If you use the increase in the S&P 500 (21.34 times) Household median income should be $131,349. So if you remember the actual Household Median Income in 2014 it was $53,013. Where has the difference gone????

    Now I would admit the components of these indexes have changed over the years. My first job was at a McDonalds in 1965. By 1967 I was working in a steel mill that was owned by International Harvester in South Chicago. The steel mill was closed, demolished and bull dozed off the face of the earth in the mid 1980’s. The McDonalds is still there.

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    1. ML: In place of trickle down, America’s true economy is “gusher up.” To the victors go the spoils. To include the latest Republican tax “cut”: gusher up, indeed, up to the richest.

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      1. Source > http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
        There is a perception that a large number of Americans own stock — through mutual funds, trusts, pensions, or direct purchase of shares. This is true to some extent: 46% of American households have direct or indirect investments in the stock market. But the top 10% of households own 81% of the total value of those investments (Wolff, 2014); the vast majority have relatively meager holdings.

        An interesting study (Norton & Ariely, 2010) reveals that Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution (defined for them in terms of “net worth”) is as concentrated as it is. When shown three pie charts representing possible wealth distributions, 90% or more of the 5,522 respondents — whatever their gender, age, income level, or party affiliation — thought that the American wealth distribution most resembled one in which the top 20% has about 60% of the wealth. In fact, of course, the top 20% control 85% of the wealth.
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        So you are right it is a gusher going to the top and most Americans have no clue.

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