The Russian Angle

Charles Pierce: This, Right Here. This Is Where Obama Choked. – Esquire

They were concerned that any pre-election response could provoke an escalation from Putin. Moscow’s meddling to that point was seen as deeply concerning but unlikely to materially affect the outcome of the election. Far more worrisome to the Obama team

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Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, had plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government’ – Telegraph/AP

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics. The allegations,

Posted in Noted & Quoted, The Russian Angle

Manafort’s Ukrainian ‘blood money’ caused qualms, hack suggests – POLITICO

The texts, posted on a darknet website run by a hacktivist collective, appear to show Manafort’s family fretting about the ethics, safety and consequences of his work for Yanukovych. And they reveal that Manafort’s two daughters regarded their father’s emergence

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Benjamin Wittes: How to Read What Comey Said Today – Lawfare

If there’s anything mitigating the bad news for the White House here, it is that Comey may have also sent subtle signals that the matters under investigation are not principally about the personal conduct of Trump himself. While this is

Posted in Noted & Quoted, The Russian Angle Tagged with:

Robert Kagan: Republicans are becoming Russia’s accomplices – The Washington Post

The party’s current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community’s findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by

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John Cassidy: Donald Trump Versus the World – The New Yorker

“By oath, intelligence officials’ first duty is to ‘defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’ “ Evan McMullin, the former C.I.A. operative and Republican congressional aide, who ran for President last year as an

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National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say – The Washington Post

The emerging details contradict public statements by incoming senior administration officials including Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect. They acknowledged only a handful of text messages and calls exchanged between Flynn and Kislyak late last year and denied that either

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@Khanoisseur: “Exhaustive, ever-growing Trump-Russia dossier created by @funder turned into easy-to-read format by @Martin_Niemolle” – Twitter

Russia? What Russia? Never Heard of It. From: “Exhaustive, ever-growing Trump-Russia dossier created by @funder turned into easy-to-read format by @Martin_Niemolle https://t.co/Hwn4xzDAYW”

Posted in Noted & Quoted, The Russian Angle

David Sanger: U.S. Reacting at Analog Pace to a Rising Digital Risk, Hacking Report Shows – The New York Times

It was telling that within an hour of the release of the report on Friday, the secretary of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, declared for the first time that America’s election system — the underpinning of its democracy — would be

Posted in Noted & Quoted, The Russian Angle, War

Nick Cohen: Russian treachery is extreme and it is everywhere – The Guardian

In the past, Britain would have looked to the US for support and leadership. Now, and with the worst timing imaginable, at the very moment when Brexit is tearing up our relationship with Europe, Britain has to wonder if America

Posted in Noted & Quoted, The Russian Angle

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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