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Friday, April 21, 2017

How Dumb Are The Russians -- or Reuters For That Matter?

Reuters is pumping a new report that says that a think tank in Moscow developed plans for Russia to influence the American election last year.  According to the report, the Russians wanted to swing the election from Clinton to Trump in order to get someone who would be easier on Russia than Obama had been.  Then in the fall, once it became clear that Clinton would win, the Russians decided to switch to discussions of voter fraud in order to undermine Americans' confidence in the results.

Let's stop here.  This is an old story in a new wrapping.  It is wholly unbelievable that Moscow wanted someone who would be easier on Russia than Obama; no one could be easier.  Putin started Obama's eight years by having Obama dismiss all the sanctions that had just been put on Russia for its invasion of neighboring Georgia.  It was Clinton and Obama who came up with the "reset" with Russia.  That move forgave Russia for all its transgressions with no lasting consequences.  Nothing could be easier on the Russians.  Then you have the reaction to the Russian conquest of Crimea and parts of Ukraine.  America did nothing under Obama.  We did not arm the Ukrainians.  We did not threaten action by NATO.  Obama just stood there and smiled.  What more could Putin want?  Then there's the Russian move into Syria.  Russia went from no forces in that country to having both a naval and an air base and thousands of soldiers.  Any American president other than Obama would have seen that as a direct threat to American national interests, but not Obama.  He welcomed the Russians into Syria to help fight ISIS -- even though they weren't fighting ISIS.  So, put all together, no Russian think tank in the real world could be looking for someone "easier" on Russia than Obama. 

It's also crazy to think that Clinton would have been harder on Russia than Trump.  Putin had already seen Hillary in action as Secretary of State.  In her entire term, she never once took a harsh position against the Russians.  Trump spoke of trying to have good relations with Putin, but he never said he would forgive or forget prior transgressions.  With Trump, everything was a negotiation.

On top of this, we have the silly idea that the Russians would undermine out democracy by raising questions about election fraud.  The only ones who went crazy on that score during the last election were the Democrats once they lost.

One piece of supposed evidence that Reuters sites is the success of some videos put out by Russian news organizations during the campaign.  According to Reuters, "Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video - “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to ... themselves” - accumulated 9 millions views on social media."  There's a problem with that story line, however.  I haven't seen the video in question, but from the title, I can understand the contents.  This is not fake news; it's true.  In 2015, the entire charitable contribution of the Clintons went to --- you guessed it -- the Clinton foundation.  I've written about that many times right here at Connecticut Comments.  The Clintons used the foundation as a piggy bank for their own expenses.  They spent millions on their own travel costs.  Less than ten percent of the total expenditures of the foundation in 2015 went to actual grants to those in need.  Indeed, the administrative expenses run up by the foundation were so high that for a long time Charity Navigator (which rates charities) refused to give the Clinton foundation a rating because of its structure.  So a highly viewed video telling the truth about the Clinton foundation is supposedly proof that the Russians were trying to influence the election.  Would articles by British news organizations mean that the UK was trying to influence our elections? 

After all this time, there seems to nothing here.  Certainly, there is no proof of any sort yet that the Trump campaign colluded or cooperated with the Russians.  The reality is also that there is nothing that shows Russian meddling in our campaign.  Indeed, if you want an illustration of one nation meddling in the elections of another, just look at what president Obama and his people did to try to change the outcome in the Brexit vote (a total failure) or the elections in Israel (another total failure.) 

Still, the most amazing thing here is that Reuters expects people to be so dumb as to believe this.  The Russians wanted Trump cause he would be so easy on Russia.  That was idiotic since Trump has not been easy on Russia.  The Russians switched their plans because Clinton had wrapped up the election victory.  That too was idiotic given the outcome of the election.

The truth is that it is time to give this whole nonsensical story a decent burial.

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