There are not many words to say about a video in which Morgan Freeman informs you in a rather matter-of-fact fashion that “we are at war” with Russia. Frankly I only can recall what Ken Silverstein told me over the phone about a month ago:
“This country has gone fucking insane!”
I have to admit my opinions on Vladimir Putin have been adjusting in the past year or so. Russia’s behavior at the UN in 2011 regarding the illegal bombing/pogrom in Libya was quite admirable, especially in hindsight, and its geopolitical positioning alongside China seemed to indicate a desire to move in a positive direction based around the founding principles of the United Nations.
But over the past 18 months, its state financed media outlets, like RT and Sputnik Radio, have been not so great. In order to curry favor with any Western politician opposed to NATO expansion/encirclement of the Motherland, they have given glowing coverage to Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and every other right-winger they can get their cameras on.
Simultaneously their European affiliate has produced sensational filth about ‘rape-ugees’ and other calumnies about Muslims fleeing North Africa and the Middle East. For reasons that are beyond the scope of this piece, it seems that these venues are embracing the seamier side of Christian Identity politics.
But pay a visit, if you must, to the website of the Committee to Investigate Russia and one encounters the typical load of propaganda about how Putin’s devious mind works, such as this sentence: “He believed [the Soviet Union’s] demise was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” and was unhappy with President Boris Yeltsin’s more cooperative approach to President Bill Clinton and U.S. foreign policy in the mid-1990s.” There’s even a brief clip of oligarch Bill Browder offering testimony that is accepted with nodding approval by Rhode Island’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who strikes a brilliant pose as a chicken-hawk while grimacing as if to say more economic sanctions on Russia would be a good idea.
Of course if you ask Mark Ames about it, as Abby Martin did back in January, there’s a little bit more to this.
First, the collapse of the USSR was a complete catastrophe. Overnight millions of Russians went from being residents of a solitary union of states to being foreign nationals in multiple countries without a valid passport. Soon enough Boris Yeltsin, a slob and drunkard par excellence, oversaw the complete pillage of the Russian public sector by American financial interests and their puppets.
And finally a “more cooperative approach to President Bill Clinton and U.S. foreign policy in the mid-1990s” is a nice way of talking about the gruesome carnage in ex-Yugoslavia implemented by NATO’s laptop bombardiers, an episode that deeply disturbed the Russian national psyche. Seeing their Orthodox Church cousins in the Balkans turned into cannon fodder in the name of Wall Street was a huge shock. (Obviously Slobodan Milosevic was no saint, particularly given the fact he had been one of the bag men for the Western financial interests imposing austerity on the country up until then, but that does not justify the cruelty of bombing civilians.)
Trump is a moron, a crook, and a slimy hustler who makes Ronald Reagan come off like Eleanor Roosevelt. But the idea of Russians “hacking” our elections is simply a stupid claim from the perspective of anyone (like myself) who has ever done serious software-based computer work.
The entire proposition collapses on its face instantaneously when one remembers that, duh, each state administers the presidential elections in a non-streamlined fashion that is prone to massive differences in implementation. And even if the Russians did impact the voting system in some way, their real challenge would be choosing the state to target which would actually swing the election because, whoops, the states with the vulnerable electronic ballots and no paper trails are usually Republican states, meaning the Russians wouldn’t want to change those outcomes.
Just for further clarity, I’ll explain it thus:
- Yes there are computerized voting machines in many states that could perhaps be hacked. The integrity of these voting machines is very dubious because they do not create a paper trail.
- However, these computerized machines have been rolled out in Republican-controlled states, meaning the Russians would actually not want to screw with the results from these machines if they mostly contained Trump votes.
- These vulnerable machines were already being called out literally more than a decade ago over the fact that Republicans were tampering with votes all by themselves without any help from the Kremlin.
- By contrast, most reliably Blue states do produce paper trails, meaning vote tallying is next to impossible to hack.
- At most, what might be possible for any hacker to do would be tampering with voter registration. But in such instances one can always take an absentee ballot at their polling place and have registration verified rather quickly before the Electoral College votes months later.
- Russian involvement in the hacking of John Podesta’s phone and the Democratic National Committee is a slightly different conversation because both of those computer systems had the absolute worst security protocols in place. Any idiot could have hacked the DNC by either extracting data from Podesta’s phone or just breaking through their terrible firewall. And that doesn’t even include in the discussion the likelier possibility, that someone within the DNC leaked this stuff on the Internet (and no, I do not care about your conspiracy theory about Seth Rich, which itself is an obvious plagiarism of the daffiness about Vince Foster from 20 years ago).
Furthermore, this is a great way to distract from the real controversy, namely that our presidential elections are run by hacks and that genuine electoral tampering (voter ID laws, interstate cross check, disenfranchisement based on prior criminal conviction) is actually a bipartisan affair.
Democrats have a good deal to answer for here. When Clinton-aligned Democrats utter the words “hacked elections,” the phrase takes on near-Freudian dimensions as signifier whose underlying meaning is astonishment that reliable Democratic base constituencies, namely the Black vote, did not come out in droves to aid in the coronation.
But this is explained very easily. Jeffrey St. Clair has well described Black absenteeism from the polls, writing, “Most eligible black voters simply stayed home and in a kind of elegant negation exacted a stealthy retribution for two decades of political brutality, scapegoating and betrayal.” Clinton doomed her electoral chances decades ago with the cruel 1994 Crime Omnibus and Welfare Reform laws that she and her husband championed and that increased Black poverty while simultaneously criminalizing destitution.
Why isn’t Morgan Freeman talking about that?