How.  Does.  He.  DO this?  If you have a theory, please let me know.  (Thanks, Mel!)

And now . . .

The reason I got the DNC gig in the first place is that in 1996, a relatively small amount of money found it’s way into DNC coffers that, in a perfect world, the DNC would have detected had originated in China (not with the American donors through which it was funneled) — and rejected.

When this eventually came to light, a new set of DNC officers was installed.

It was not acceptable for even a small amount of foreign money to slip into our system — lest it theoretically help one candidate beat the other (though Clinton beat Dole by 379 to 159 in the Electoral College, and with 8 million more popular votes, so this tainted cash was clearly not decisive) . . . or lest it influence the recipient’s foreign policy (which assumes the candidate would be told of the crime, which I highly doubt; and that, if told, he would sell out America’s interests after winning reelection, out of gratitude, which I totally doubt).

Still, mistakes were made and heads rolled.

Here we are 20 years later, in an election that turned not on 8 million votes but on a hair (Clinton needed 77,744 more votes, on top of her 3 million-vote lead, to win the Electoral College) — that was the first difference.

And — the second — the extent of foreign meddling this time was way to deep for “meddle” even to be the right word.  The right word was attack.

It’s wonderfully disciplined and perhaps gentlemanly of almost all the talking heads to say, “not that Russian meddling affected the outcome of the election.”  But of course it almost surely did.  The Russians had thousands of agents working to tear down public opinion of Hillary Clinton.

Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America

. . . In 2016, Russia had used thousands of covert human agents and robot computer programs to spread disinformation referencing the stolen campaign emails of Hillary Clinton, amplifying their effect. . . .

And before you dismiss this as “re-litigating the election,” if you’re one of the 35% or so still pleased with its outcome, consider reading it anyway.

Most of this story is about potential future attacks:

. . . What chaos could Moscow unleash with thousands of Twitter handles that spoke in real time with the authority of the armed forces of the United States? At any given moment, perhaps during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, Pentagon Twitter accounts might send out false information. As each tweet corroborated another, and covert Russian agents amplified the messages even further afield, the result could be panic and confusion.

For many Americans, Russian hacking remains a story about the 2016 election. But there is another story taking shape. Marrying a hundred years of expertise in influence operations to the new world of social media, Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion. The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. “Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it’s becoming easier every day,” says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology.

Current and former officials at the FBI, at the CIA and in Congress now believe the 2016 Russian operation was just the most visible battle in an ongoing information war against global democracy. . . .

In one case last year, senior intelligence officials tell TIME, a Russian soldier based in Ukraine successfully infiltrated a U.S. social media group by pretending to be a 42-year-old American housewife and weighing in on political debates with specially tailored messages. In another case, officials say, Russia created a fake Facebook account to spread stories on political issues like refugee resettlement to targeted reporters they believed were susceptible to influence. . . .

Read the whole piece.

It’s fascinating and frightening, and anyone who loves America, whether on the left or the right — which is to say pretty much all of us — should be aware that right now, Putin’s winning.  Bigly.



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