Russia Monitor: As The Facts Pile Up, A Question For All – Which Side Are You On?


By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (9/25/17)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Which Side Are You On?

I don’t want to just pick a side, I want us to address real political issues that can make a difference in our lives. I want civility and respect in politics. I want us to make wise decisions that benefit the health and well-being of all of us. I don’t want elections to be all about the money. I want a democratic process based on fair voting.

But instead this has been the weekend of Trump’s focus on professional athletes. Stephen Curry and LeBron James going back and forth with Trump about the ‘honor’ of White House visits. Trump wanting to bring back the good old days of head-to-head crunching tackles in the NFL which, according to coach Donald, is currently run by cowards that won’t fire their players for taking a knee during the national anthem. I read and listen as people repeat their favorite lines from tweets. Or worse, regale each other with commentary about Kim ‘Rocket Man’ Jong-Un validating Trump’s ‘cleverness’ in the face of the risk of nuclear war.

I try for reflection. I guess Rep. Paul Ryan really believes that saving a dollar by cutting the Meals on Wheels program so we can cut corporate tax rates will ‘restore’ the US economy by spurring investment. Maybe Sen. Mitch McConnell believes something that by cutting government support for health care our economy and the US will flourish beyond belief. Both seem to believe their holy grail of political attainment is tax cuts. I imagine they operate with a vision that has them slaying the beast of big government, freeing all the people from tyranny and then being able to shed the shackle of smiling along with Trump as a means to their imagined glory.

Then there are representatives like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who seems to navigate his responsibilities as a congressman representing California as if all things Russia and Putin somehow make America great again. Rohrabacher is commonly referred to as “Putin’s favorite congressman”; you might remember Kevin McCarthy’s (R-House Majority Leader) joking, “There’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

Good luck trying to make sense of this as Roll Call reports McCarthy spent his weekend in a rather peculiar way: McCarthy to Fundraise for Rohrabacher.

So yes, the GOP will slog on supporting Trump as long as they can – as long as they need to. Forget the risk of nuclear war; don’t bother lamenting the demise of political civility – it’s all about the tax cuts to benefit the rich and powerful. And that’s how you build a GOP one-party state.

Nixon was feared politically but his resignation was ultimately realized because both parties cooperated and put country ahead of politics; principle before party.

I guess nowadays it’s as simple as any vote for tax cuts for the wealthy is a ‘good’ vote.


But isn’t this column supposed to be about Trump-Russia collaboration? Is that even important?

Yes, it is important. Our concept of democracy hinges on fair voting. We already face gerrymandering, voter roll purges and restrictive ID requirements, and now we have Russian election intrusion on top of it all?

The Miami Herald reports Russian Hackers Targeted Florida, 20 Other States In 2016 Election.

“Florida, one of the most hotly contested political battlegrounds of 2016, was among 21 states targeted by Russia-based hackers during the presidential election, the Homeland Security Department told Tallahassee on Friday.

“The attempt was unsuccessful, according to the Florida Department of State.

“Other states targeted by hackers include California, Texas and Washington, according to McClatchy. The Associated Press also identified Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin as other targeted states.”

Do you have any questions? Do you feel confident you now have the whole story? Just routine scanning, no damage done, no ongoing risk. Just like Harvey and Irene are done – no more worries about hurricanes – ever. Back to what’s really ‘important’. Is it true the Steelers will skip the playing of the national anthem?

The Washington Post provides details on the Russian election interference: What We Know About The 21 States Targeted By Russian Hackers

Take a look; here’s the statement regarding Wisconsin:

“What this boils down to is that someone tried the door knob, and it was locked,” Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told The Post.”

Thank you Reid, good to know, we can rest assured. Remember the voting problems in central North Carolina? North Carolina isn’t even one of the states listed.

For another less reassuring view check out what The Hill reports…

Clapper: Intelligence Community ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ Of Trump’s Victory

In a CNN interview former director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election.”

The former director of National Intelligence just said he has doubts about the legitimacy of Trump’s victory. He said the thing no one is supposed to say. We’re supposed to feel assured by Reid Magney. No one should question out loud the emperor’s clothing!


No worries, Trump et al will Kaepernick Clapper. If the tweet and nickname are clever enough and stick we will all laugh along with the joke.

Feeling better? Maybe as Matt Taibbi offers in The Rolling Stone, the tacky Trump shtick is a tiring act; even the enlightened can’t sit through an entire performance. As he notes in The Madness of Donald Trump:

“There was one more thing. Candidate Trump may have been crazy, but it was craziness that on some level was working. Even at his lowest and most irrational moments – like his lunatic assault on the family of fallen soldier Humayun Khan, in which he raved to the grieving Gold Star parents about how it was he, Trump, who had “made a lot of sacrifices” – you could argue, if you squinted really hard, that it was strategy, a kick to the base.

“Or even if he wasn’t doing these things on purpose, he must have been able to feel their impact, as the revolutionary force of his campaign demolished the 160-year-old Republican Party and barreled toward the gates of Barack Obama’s White House. 

“Now, it’s different. Now, he just seems crazy. And it’s his own administration that is crumbling, not any system.”

Feel better? Read to the very end of the article:

“This is the paradox of Trump. He is damaged, unwell and delusional, but at critical moments he’s able to approximate a functioning human being just long enough to survive. He is the worst-case scenario: embarrassing, mentally disorganized and completely inappropriate, but perhaps not all the way insane. Maybe crimes will soon be discovered and he’ll be impeached, or maybe he’ll run naked down Pennsylvania Avenue this fall, or nuke someone, and be declared unfit. Until then, he’s just the president we deserve, dragging our name down where it belongs. He is miserable, so are we, and we’re stuck with each other. Karma really is a bitch.”

Remember, Michael Moore predicts Trump will be reelected. We may have a long miserable relationship together.


Before we end, let’s take a quick look at the latest on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Facebook, given the focus of my last two columns.

Manafort first. As far as we know, he has not yet been indicted, but there is speculation that he is plotting to flee the country. In the meantime, I’ll lean on the excellence of Rachel Maddow to chart the Manafort arc of our political history: Following The Path From Manafort To Mueller’s Investigation.

The subhead for the show captures the spirit of her reporting; as I’ve posed, “Who the heck is Paul Manafort to be appointed Trump campaign manager?”.

Rachel Maddow shows how a small story about an obscure change in the Republican Party platform was the first indication of a bigger story that will lead to a full blown federal investigation and Robert Mueller asking the White House for 13 kinds of documents.


I’ll leave you with this piece from the New York Times on Facebook’s Frankenstein Moment.

“On Wednesday, in response to a ProPublica report that Facebook enabled advertisers to target users with offensive terms like “Jew hater,” Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, apologized and vowed that the company would adjust its ad-buying tools to prevent similar problems in the future.

“As I read her statement, my eyes lingered over one line in particular:

“We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way — and that is on us,” Ms. Sandberg wrote.”

So, you ignored what people were trying to point out to you? You chose not to ‘own’ the responsibility of having grown in importance beyond your own imagination – and I don’t mean the money, I mean the influence?

But maybe now it will be different:

“Even if Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. (Sheryl) Sandberg don’t have personal political aspirations, as has been rumored, they are already leaders of an organization that influences politics all over the world. And there are signs that Facebook is starting to understand its responsibilities. It has hired a slew of counterterrorism experts and is expanding teams of moderators around the world to look for and remove harmful content.”


With the assurances of Reid Magney and Sheryl Sandberg I’m feeling better, how about you?

There’s a simpler path forward. Robert Redford said when interviewed by Esquire and asked, “If you found yourself one-on-one with Trump, what would you say to him most urgently?”:

“Quit. For our benefit.”