Lazy Saturday Reads: New Year’s Eve EditionPosted: December 31, 2016 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Donald Trump, Russian cyberattacks, Vladimir Putin 48 Comments
Today is the final day of 2016, and naturally King tRump posted a nasty message to the country via his preferred form of communication:
What a pathetic asshole he is.
Meanwhile the tRump camp and many Republicans are seemingly embracing Vladimir Putin and his buddies. I have to believe their ultimate goal is to turn the U.S. into a kleptocracy on the the Putin model.
It looks like good ol’ Kellyanne is on board with the Putin love.
Politico: Team Trump: We’re the true target of Obama’s sanctions.
President Barack Obama said Thursday that the sanctions announced against Russia were a response to the Kremlin’s “aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election.” But Republican allies of the incoming administration say those sanctions have another target: Donald Trump.
“I will tell you that even those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did this today was to quote ‘box in’ President-elect Trump,” incoming counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Thursday night on CNN. “That would be very unfortunate if politics were the motivating factor here. We can’t help but think that’s often true.”
Conway was just one of multiple Trump allies to attack the president’s package of sanctions, announced Thursday afternoon. The president-elect and his team have thus far been unwilling to concede what all 17 U.S. federal intelligence agencies announced last fall, that Russia was behind the wave of cyberattacks that shook up the presidential election by releasing hacked email messages from the Democratic National Committee and other prominent Democratic figures. Instead, Trump has said the attacks could have been performed by Russia or China or “somebody sitting in a bed someplace.”
And the president-elect has taken particular objection to the assessment of the FBI and CIA, which were reported in the media but not released publicly, that the Russian government’s cyber efforts were intended not just to undermine the U.S. electoral process but specifically to help install Trump as the next president.
Instead, Trump’s team has said regularly that discussion of Russian cyberattacks by Democrats and the mainstream media are little more than efforts to delegitimize the incoming administration before it even arrives. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and prominent Trump supporter, said Friday that Obama’s decision to impose sanctions late in his second term was “extraordinary” and added that he has “never seen a president try to create more problems for a future president.”
Oh really? And what about the revelation that the same people involved in the DNC hacking also hacked into the U.S. electric grid? Is that a political lie by the intelligence community too?
The Washington Post: Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say.
A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.
While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.
Officials in government and the utility industry regularly monitor the grid because it is highly computerized and any disruptions can have disastrous implications for the country’s medical and emergency services.
Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.
Friday night, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) called on federal officials “to conduct a full and complete investigation of this incident and undertake remedies to ensure that this never happens again.”
“Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety,” Shumlin said in a statement. “This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling.”
This is getting really scary. If our electrical grid becomes compromised we could be in serious trouble. The Russians did this in Ukraine (and here in the U.S.) previously. The Wall Street Journal:
A team of Russian hackers that has been linked to this year’s cyberbreach of the Democratic National Committee was also behind a successful attack in 2015 on three different utilities in Ukraine that caused unprecedented blackouts, according to government and independent security experts.
The same group is thought by those experts to be behind successful cyberattacks on several U.S. energy companies in 2014 that gave the hackers access to company industrial control networks.
In mid-December, Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev suffered another partial power outage when a high-voltage electric substation turned off under suspicious circumstances.
“We’re 99% sure that it was a hacker,” said Vsevolod Kovalchuk, chief executive of Ukrenergo, the utility that operates the backbone of Ukraine’s power transmission network.
Shortly before midnight on December 17, someone started disconnecting circuit breakers through remote means until the electrical substation was completely disabled, Mr. Kovalchuk said.
Utility employees re-energized the substation by manually restoring equipment to their “on” positions. Substations are linchpins in all power grids because they control voltage levels and direct the flow of electricity down power lines.
Read more at the link.
Tommy Christopher posted an excellent analysis of the tRump team’s attitude toward Russian interference in our democratic institutions: Trump openly urges cover-up of Russian hacks that CIA says got him elected.
Asked if he would back sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Russian cyber crimes that the CIA and FBI agree were undertaken to help get Trump elected (and which were directed by Putin himself), Trump said we should all “get on with our lives:”
This was an utterly bizarre event, once again showcasing Trump’s terrifying inability to personally let anything go by taking shots at a guy who dropped out of the Republican primary before a single vote was cast — even as Trump is urging the rest of us to “get on with our lives” regarding Russian interference in our presidential election.
But Trump’s brazen attempt to whitewash Russia’s role in hacking the election, with direct encouragement from Trump himself, must not be gotten over but rather ought to be top of mind with every responsible journalist and attentive citizen.
While Democrats and a few principled Republicans seek true accountability for this unprecedented and dangerous intrusion, Republican leaders are ready to sweep it all under the rug — and Trump himself has even tacitly endorsed the interference.
The GOP leaders who stick with tRump on this may find this to be a problematic choice in the future. It looks like we’ll continue to get information given and leaked to the media, especially if tRump continues to disrespect the intelligence community. History shows that the CIA tends to win these battles with presidents.
It’s fairly obvious to everyone except tRump and his crew that Vlad P. is playing him and sees him as a useful idiot. At The Washington Post, Karen de Young and David Filipov speculate about where this bromance is headed: Trump and Putin: A relationship where mutual admiration is headed toward reality.
For much of this year, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have been engaged in a long-distance courtship. They have said kind things about each other in public and separately expressed visions of a mutually agreeable future.
Since Trump’s election, the anticipation has become more explicit. It culminated this week in the U.S. president-elect’s call for America to “move on” from allegations of Russian electoral hacking, and the Russian president’s blithe pronouncement Friday that he would rather plan for a new relationship with Trump than retaliate in kind to sanctions and expulsions ordered by outgoing President Obama.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” Trump tweeted. “I always knew he was very smart!”
But as with all such arms-length pairings, the looming question is whether Trump and Putin will find fulfillment or disappointment once face-to-face reality strikes.
U.S. and Russian officials and experts are deeply divided over the answer. Some see Moscow playing Trump like a fiddle. The Kremlin “sees Trump’s presidency as a net loss for the U.S. strategic position that Russia should take advantage of,” said Vladimir Frolov, a Moscow-based analyst.
Read the whole thing at the WaPo.
Along with many of us, Chuck Todd has noticed that tRump doesn’t have a sense of humor. He talked about it in an interview with Glenn Thrush of Politico:
Chuck Todd has interviewed Donald Trump many times, and he’s noticed something somewhat disquieting about the unquiet president-elect.
The man doesn’t laugh — not in a normal, spontaneous, regular-human kind of way.
“[It] drives me crazy. Do you know what? I’ve never seen him laugh,” the “Meet the Press” host told me during an interview for POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast earlier this month. “I challenge somebody to find him laughing, and that person has yet to find an example, in my opinion. He’ll smile, but he smiles appropriately. Watch him at the Al Smith dinner [the roast in New York City in October] … He doesn’t really laugh. He looks for others to laugh. It is just weird.”
And this is really weird:
And there’s one other thing that Todd thinks is odd: After several of his Sunday appearances as a candidate, Trump would lean back in his chair and request that the control room replay his appearance on a monitor — sans sound.
“Then there’s the amount of time he spends after the interview is over, with the sound off. He wants to see what it all looked like. He will watch the whole thing on mute,” Todd told me, sitting in his cluttered office in NBC’s nondescript, low-slung Washington headquarters on Nebraska Avenue.
So . . . that’s what I have for you this morning? What stories are you following?
I stopped laughing at political cartoons after the election, but the ones you selected for today made me crack a smile.
Best wishes to all of us for a calm 2017. (I know it won’t be a happy year.)
I’m glad you liked the cartoons. Best wishes to you for 2017.
Thanks for the good read today BB. I’m hoping that things are beginning to level out for you and that somehow we are all able to have a decent New Year’s Eve.
My wish for all of us is that we can find peace in the New Year even if that peace comes through resistance. Good Luck to all.
Hope you have a nice New Year’s Eve too. I’m still pretty overwhelmed trying to get my mom settled in and getting ready for my move. I’m going over to the apartment today with my sister-in-law to do some measuring, etc.
I have great sympathy for you. BB. I moved my mom to assisted living this summer and spent most of this break working on emptying her house. I still don’t have it ready for the market. I’ve had the luxury to wait, but it’s still hard when you have to work & you have so much more stress going on.
Having done that myself, I have sympathy for you!
We moved my Mom to assisted living in March and then spent weeks clearing out her house only to have to move her back home by August. She got homesick!
It was excruciating to clear her stuff (and my sister’s stuff – she used Mom’s house as a storage facility!) – but it was so worth it in the end. She moved back into a clean. clutter-free house.
I’m sort of hoping my mom decides to go back home. She hasn’t made a long term commitment yet. What’s hard is that I’m so far away. But I’ve been able to help her with things on the phone like I did when she was home.
Oh that would be hard! My mom fell and spent 10 days in the hospital. She was falling because she had gotten so anemic from not eating. We are so relieved to have her where we know she is getting food and her medicines are taken at the right time. But cleaning out a 4 br house is not easy. I feel like an interloper going through her things while she is still living.
BB, sounds like your relatives now want you to do some work long-distance to get your mother settled? Or expect you to come out there? But moving yourself is a tremendous disruption. Gentle hugs for you. I hope things go smoothly as possible. We’re here to listen!
No, my niece has done most of the work. My mom moved to the same town where my niece lives. But I can help her a lot over the phone. For years now, I’ve been ordering things on-line for her and helping her with stuff on the phone. We talk frequently. Right now I have to deal with my own move.
So Chuck Todd is concerned that Trump never laughs? How much ink/energy/airwaves were spent ridiculing Hillary’s laugh? Some went so far as to call it a “cackle”. It makes me sick that all of these people are just now noticing that there are serious problems with Trump. A madman is going to take the oath of office in a few weeks and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Boy did we fuck this country up and I feel terrible about it.
Happy New Year everyone. I’m going to spend it playing board games with my family and watching college football. I tried to watch AM Joy this morning and got so stressed that I had to turn the TV off. Just listening to some Bach and thankful that this year is over. Cheers.
Yeah, Todd is a pain, but it’s true that Trump has no sense of humor–and that is very troubling to me. I’ve hardly ever seen him smile. Have a nice New Year’s Eve!
Trump is malevolent and it shows in his expressions (except when he looks like he’s faking his best try at being serious).
I detest his pouty defiant face which he puts on a lot. He clinches his jaw and looks like a school-yard bully.
Humor is one of the most attractive traits a man can have – most women love it. I doubt tRump could ever attract a woman who liked him for himself and not his money.
Another huge red flag is Trump apparently detests animals. And there’s the sons with their big game hunting. Sociopaths IMO.
UpChuck Todd is despicable. He spent months insisting there was some moral equivalency between Hillary & tRump on MTP both daily and on Sunday. Andrea Mitchell is another who bitched out Hillary EVERY fucking day. Not a day passed that she didn’t lead with Hillary’s low “approval”, or “trustworthiness”. She makes me sick. And Chrissy Matthews needs to go. He’s the most uninformed host on talk TV. He had no clue about what “breitbart” was/is or what the “alt-right” was/is or the true nature of “wikileaks”. He’s become fat and lazy in his old age and should resign. I have no use for any of them and I hope their careers tank for not doing their jobs adequately. Joy Reid needs to take over MTP, she’s the best on NBC, far better than Rachel or Hayes. Even Lawrence O’Donnell is better that Matthews, Mitchell and UpChuck.
Good piece by Philip Bump:
Trump keeps saying he wants unity — and keeps showing that it’s up to everyone else
tRump doesn’t want “unity” he wants everyone to bow at his feet. I’d sooner be dead.
A “Pizzagate” Believer Disrupted a Christmas Mass
And because 2016 wasn’t yet through breaking our hearts over and over again, we have one more sad death. Jerry Brown’s Corgi, Sutter, passed away at the age of 13.
Oh no! I’m a corgi owner 😦 13 is a good age, but you are right another bummer end to a this year.
I have a corgi too. I adore her. She will be eleven in May and I’m doing what I can to treasure every moment with her. Smartest dog on the planet. My heart goes out to the Browns.
Agree on their intelligence Ours will be 8 this spring and she is a total princess.
Oh no. I haven’t kept up with Sutter’s Facebook page since I moved out of California a couple of years ago. So sorry to hear this. Thank you for letting us know.
I read some time ago that he’s a germophobe, so he naturally would not like animals. Wonder if Putin will make him pet his dog?! Or make Trump to tricks like Yume? 🙂
Why certainly, look
Hey! 2016!!! FU and Good Riddance.
Happy New Year everyone.
Wishing all of you a blessed, healthy and joyful New Year.
I love that song!
Even the exclamation point after “Love” bothers me. It’s so aggressive!!!!
It is becoming pretty obvious that there is something wrong with Trump.
He boasts that the never takes a drink and now we learn he never is seen to laugh. Troubling.
But watching himself over and over again is pretty scary. We have never had a president as seemingly crazy as this idiot.
How this tragedy ever happened is puzzling enough. Half this nation consists of stupid people who helped to elect a psychopath to the highest office in the land.
Get ready for 2017.
Pat – only 27% of eligible voters voted for him. He lost the popular vote by a landslide. As for the 40% of eligible voters who didn’t bother to show up – FU.
I suspect he started watching himself sans sound after being coached to stifle physical facial reactions during the debates. I’m not defending him – he’ll spend more time on that than focusing on what matters to the country.
I think he adores looking at himself.
Disagree, I think he likes to look at himself and dream about how pretty he is. That is what is important to him. No sound because he does not want to be distracted by trying to think about facts.
Haha – I just saw you posted this!
Seattle’s Franz Wassermann, 96, warns of chilling parallels with Nazi era
That is a scary article. And with the republicans fawning over Putin I am very worried
Happy New Year of Resistance, Sky Dancers!
2016 just had to get one more in:
To all my sky dancers, once again I wish you yet another year. I seriously don’t know how I would managed 2016 without you all. We’ll give him hell and break down the barriers in 2017.
A New Year of resistance, resilience, and joy and strength together to all SkyDancers!