Saturday, December 17, 2016

No Strings?

Here's the final version of my column as it appears in the newspaper, somewhat modified from when I posted it here a few days ago.
Here’s an incomplete list of concerns regarding Russian interference with our electoral process: 
Also: the CIA has evidence their intent was to help elect Donald Trump and that Vladimir Putin was directly involved; in Russia, they’re cheering the result; we don’t know why they wanted Trump; Donald Trump and everyone around him wants you to believe the CIA is lying; Mitch McConnell and others in Congress knew about it before the election; Mitch threatened to call making it public an act of partisan politics (unlike their response to James Comey’s “leak”); after Mitch shut down release of the CIA’s findings until after the election, his wife was appointed to Trump’s cabinet; when the hacking was known, the RNC declined a request from the DNC jointly to condemn it; Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, does mega-deals with Putin; our president-elect has made comments suggesting his foreign policy ideas (if that’s what they are) are more aligned with Mr. Putin’s than with our own… 
I could go on. 
Humbly, I suggest Trump-supporting readers ask their inner selves to assess their reaction had the principals been Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. (Go into your bathroom, close the door, cover the mirror, wrap your brainal zone with tinfoil. No one will know.) Yes, we have glasses of differing colors through which we view the news of the world around us, but this is unprecedented: an unfriendly foreign power, for reasons unknown, has messed with our democracy, arguably to an extent that affected the outcome of a presidential election. Can you tell yourself, and would yourself believe you if you did, that you’d simply “move on”? Does the pleasure of gloating over the election cloud your mind that much? 
Other than his financial ties to Russia, and those of his family, his advisors past and present, and his pick for Secretary of State, we know little of Trump’s connections to or intentions regarding Putin. What we do know is that we can’t expect truth about it from the incoming administration. Bolton called the hacking a false flag. “It’s fake news,” says Sean Hannity, who makes a living creating it. Congressional Republicans have made it clear there’ll be no Benghazi- or email-level investigations. 
Dismissing the CIA report, Donald Trump snorted these are the same people who said Saddam had WMD. Wrong! In fact, the CIA warned the evidence was suspect. It was de-facto president Cheney who ignored their signals and sandbagged Colin Powell. More disturbing, our president-elect just stated he doesn’t need intelligence briefings because he’s “like, a smart person.” Before you leave the bathroom, Trumpists, ask yourself how you’d have received such a statement from that tyrannical, arrogant, cocky guy still in the White House. Flush the toilet if you don’t want to hear your answer. 
It is as simple as oil? Russia, a petro-state, has been hurting since the price of oil tanked (thanks, Obama!) Trump denies climate change and so do all his (highly inexperienced but super-rich) cabinet appointees. He’ll have us drilling everywhere. His choice for State is the foreign policy abecedarian CEO of Exxon-Mobil. When Russia invaded Crimea (which Trump said would never happen. After it happened.) Obama’s sanctions killed a $500 billion Arctic drilling deal between that oil company and Russia’s. Think it’ll be back on? Might Trump’s cabinet of generals agree to pressure OPEC to raise oil prices? Has PEOTUS been promised a cut? 
Or maybe it’s just about Putin’s dream of weakening NATO. 
Clearly, Vladimir Putin understands that Donald Trump is narcissistic, superficial, and greedy, uninterested in thinking past his own simplistic notions and incapable of internalizing new information (security briefings take concentration and effort); and that he craves adulation above all. He’s said of Putin, “If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him.” For a former KGB intelligence officer, in other words, Trump’s a manipulator’s dream: stroke his boundlessly needy ego, grease his palm, get whatever you want. Is Donald Trump the Manchurian Candidate who required no brainwashing, a pre-strung marionette? 
In a non-Foxolimjonesified world, all Americans would be demanding answers. As it is, half the country, primed to look away, does. 
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