Smug liberals got played too

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Hey, you liberals who flocked to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, then stayed home from the polls or threw your vote to Jill Stein because you’d become convinced that Hillary Clinton wasn’t progressively pure enough for you … The Russians played you too.

Thanks to the 37-page indictment released yesterday from special counsel Robert Mueller, we know conclusively that the Russian operation to undermine Clinton and boost the chances of then-candidate Donald Trump also included pushing pro-Sanders messages in the primaries and seeking to suppress the Democratic vote or steer voters toward third parties, especially Stein, during the general election.

Read the excerpts for yourself.

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If you think these efforts didn’t affect the outcome of the race, think about this: The number of votes Stein won in Michigan was four times greater than Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton in the state. And without winning Michigan, Trump doesn’t win the White House.

As painted in the indictment, these efforts were less about Russian love for Trump (other than as a classic Chekist “useful idiot“) and more about their intense dislike for Hillary Clinton:

The Russian operations on social media were meant to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton and other candidates, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. And they were supposed to support Sanders and Trump.

“Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them),” they were directed, according to the indictment.

This was because the Russians involved really didn’t like Hillary Clinton.

Around September 14 in 2016, for example, one “account specialist” of a Russian-controlled Facebook group called “Secured Borders” was reprimanded for having a “low number of posts dedicated to criticizing Hillary Clinton.”

The specialist was also told, “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton.”

I could see this unfolding in real time on social media as I watched many of my very liberal friends, family, students, and former students become increasingly hostile toward Clinton and alienated from the mainstream of the Democratic Party as they first embraced Sanders and then Stein.

They had convinced themselves that there was no substantive difference between Trump and Clinton, and therefore it mattered not whether they “voted their conscience” and cast a ballot for Stein or simply stayed home in protest.

And they often justified their decisions by repeating the Russian attacks and talking points flooding social media.

In the year and half since the election, many of those same liberals have smugly pointed at the ease with which Republicans, especially the so-called white working class, were manipulated into backing a carnival barker for president.

So, liberals, how does it feel knowing that the Russians got you too?

The company Trump keeps

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Donald Trump, speaking to reporters at the reopening of his golf course in Scotland, had something to say about yesterday’s British vote to quit the European Union, the so-called Brexit:

I think it’s a great thing that’s happened. It’s an amazing vote, very historic.

Before going further, let’s take stock of the first day’s Brexit economic damage:

  • Dow down 610 points, or 3.39 percent
  • NASDAQ down 202 points, or 4.12 percent
  • US banking stocks took a pounding (Morgan Stanley -10.15%, Citigroup -9.36%, Bank of America -7.41%)
  • Japan’s Nikkei down 7.92 percent
  • Germany’s DAX down 6.82 percent
  • Moody’s downgraded the UK’s credit outlook from “stable” to “negative”
  • Value of the British pound fell 11 percent to a 30-year low against the US dollar
  • £40 billion was wiped off the bottom line of British banks, equivalent to about $55 billion

So in case you’re wondering, this financial catastrophe, the biggest since the global economic meltdown of 2008, is what Donald Trump was applauding when he congratulated UK voters for walking out of the European Union.

But Trump sees the collapse of Britain’s currency is nothing less than a personal windfall:

When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly. For traveling and for other things, I think it very well could turn out to be a positive.

Of course Trump is not the only one lauding the United Kingdom’s voters for ditching the EU, and that’s the real point of this post. Let’s take a look at the company the presumptive GOP nominee for president is keeping.

European far right parties are fully on Trump’s side

  • In France, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen hailed Brexit as a “Victory for Freedom.”
  • In the Netherlands, far right anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders said, “I think it could also have huge consequences for the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Now it’s our turn.”
  • In Germany, Beatrix von Storch, of the right wing populist Alternative für Deutschland party said, “The 23 June is a historic day. It is Great Britain’s independence day.”
  • In Greece, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, Europe’s most violent right wing party, released this statement: “Golden Dawn welcomes the victory of the nationalist and patriotic forces in Great Britain against the European Union, which has been transformed into the doleful instrument of loan sharks.”

But that’s not all. On our side of the Atlantic, the racist right is also on the same page as Trump, responding to the UK vote with, as the Southern Poverty Law Center puts it, “euphoric delight”:

“This is VICTORY DAY, brothers,” Andrew Anglin, editor of the anti-Semitic website Daily Stormer wrote on Friday. “Nothing can stop us now. But the fact is, brothers: nothing ever could stop us. God and nature are on our side. The stars themselves declare our ULTIMATE VICTORY over the (((forces of darkness and evil))).” (The parentheses are a new online trope used by racist trolls to single out names and things they believe are Jewish.)

So that’s the company Donald Trump keeps. European fascists and neo-Nazis. American racists and anti-Semites.

And that’s the man Republicans are poised to nominate for president a month from now in Cleveland.

Jeb is the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Really

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Jeb Bush, apparently more serious about his grilling than about foreign policy. (US News photo.)

 

Today at the Iowa State Fair, Jeb Bush was forced to once again address his brother’s disastrous Iraq legacy, and delivered this gem:

First of all, the Iraqis want our help. They want to know we have skin in the game, that we’re committed to this.

When someone in the crowd reminded him that it was his brother who in 2008 negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement requiring all US forces be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, he went on to contend something that no one else who pays attention to American foreign policy honestly believes:

We didn’t have to get out in 2011 … It [the agreement] could have been modified, and that was the expectation. Everybody in Iraq and everybody in Washington knew that this deal could have been expanded.

Jeb here is being either willfully misleading or simply delusional.  As Fred Kaplan points out in Slate,

Article 30 of that same agreement stated that its terms could be amended “only with the official agreement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in effect in both countries.” These “constitutional procedures” included a vote by the Iraqi Parliament—and at no time between 2008 and 2011 was the Iraqi Parliament going to take such a vote.

Granted, President Obama did want to get out of Iraq; he won the White House in large part on that promise, and there was no more support in the United States than in Iraq for a continued presence of American troops. And yet Obama did send emissaries—among them former aides to George W. Bush—to seek an amendment to allow a few thousand residual forces. The Iraqi government refused. Unless Obama wanted to re-invade the country, there was nothing to be done.

Frankly, my money is edging toward delusional, in part because of statements like this next one. As CNN reported:

Thursday, reporters asked Bush if he intentionally invoked the phrase “mission was accomplished” as a nod to his brother, who famously spoke in 2003 in front of a banner with almost the same wording splashed across it, yet the war continued on for years.

Jeb Bush, somewhat annoyed, argued reporters were overanalyzing his remarks.

I know you’re obsessed with all this and that’s your job, but it was a mission that was accomplished,” he said, referring to the 2007 surge. “(The phrase) is used. It was actually a movie. It’s been a sequel. Tom Cruise has made a really good living out of it,” he went on to say, appearing to conflate the term with the movie series “Mission Impossible.”

Had enough yet? No? OK, here’s one more.

Asked about waterboarding and other forms of torture, Jeb refused to say whether he would keep in place President Obama’s executive order banning abusive methods of interrogation. Again from the CNN report:

“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” he said, saying he prefers to be “cautious” in making such predictions. “When you are president your words matter.”

Later at a separate event in Ankeny, Iowa, he was asked by reporters to clarify whether he was leaving open the idea of allowing methods like waterboarding again in the future.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said, but stressed “we don’t do torture.”

And Jeb is considered the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Imagine how the unserious ones sound.