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Parker writes: "It's a given that political candidates will target each other with as much oppositional propaganda as they can get away with. But with the Kremlin now playing a third-party shadow role in U.S. elections, the usual game seems to be shifting from blood sport to cold war."

Russian president Vladimir Putin. (photo: Reuters)
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (photo: Reuters)

From Blood Sport to Cold War

By Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post

06 August 18


t’s a given that political candidates will target each other with as much oppositional propaganda as they can get away with. But with the Kremlin now playing a third-party shadow role in U.S. elections, the usual game seems to be shifting from blood sport to cold war.

Given Russia’s well-established preference for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, it’s possible, if not likely, that the next round of election meddling will be geared toward keeping the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

For Democrats, this added pressure from Russia could easily begin to feel like a threat. Imagine believing that you’re not only running against a Republican but also against a former KGB agent who seems to be in cahoots with your very own president.

What else should one think?

During a rally Thursday evening in Pennsylvania, Trump once again referred to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation as the “Russian hoax.” This, amid the intelligence community’s stepped-up warnings about new Russian interference. And, let’s not forget the 12 Russians whom Mueller indicted last month for hacking Democratic Party computer networks.

Mueller is not generally known as a hoaxer.

But Trump remains the slick salesman, entertainer and pot stirrer he’s always been. Just hours before his stick-it-to-’em jamboree, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and several national intelligence officials convened a media briefing to address Russian attempts to impact the midterm elections.

That is, with a slight modification. In her statement, Sanders assured gathered media that the administration “will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation-state or other dangerous actor,” clearly indicating that the focus would not be only on Russia.

As it should be, given that others would also like to meddle in our affairs. But as the gathered officials made clear — including Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — Russia is of central concern here and now. Wray said that Russia “continues to engage in malign influence operations” that target “the integrity of our democratic institutions.” Coats said: “We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.”

Then why is the president undermining his own advisers?

Although Trump is referring primarily to Mueller’s core mission — to determine whether the Trump campaign was involved in the Russian interference — he seems more than willing to minimize the importance of what we already know. Thus, the question has to be: Why, if there’s no concern about collusion, would Trump keep pounding Mueller while defending Putin?

One can only conclude that either there’s a smidge of guilt, a problematic family connection, a dossier embarrassment — or the president of the United States doesn’t care that Russia tried to ruin Clinton so that he could become president. He seems to care so little, in fact, that he’s essentially calling the U.S. intelligence community a pack of liars and Mueller a hoaxer. Meanwhile, last month in Helsinki, Trump said Putin was an “extremely strong and powerful” denier.

If Putin says he didn’t do it, then does Trump take him at his word? Yet, when teams of skilled, honorable investigators tackle the problem and present indictments based on facts, Trump insinuates that they’re making it up?

This reversal of loyalty to his own people, not to mention the country he is tasked with leading, is so preposterous that normal people are at serious risk of joining lemming colonies. It is impossible to use logic with the illogical; it’s futile to explain the obvious to the willfully thick; and when it comes to Trump’s base, witness only the rally this week in Florida where CNN reporter Jim Acosta was the target of dozens of Trumpers extending their middle digits and shouting, among other salutations, “You suck!”

Perhaps, some in Trump’s camp see things like steady job growth and low unemployment and say to themselves, Who cares how he got elected? And if Russia likes Trump, why is that necessarily bad? The president, they would note, has been checking off his list of campaign promises without so much as changing his expression.

One could make such an argument, but this would be a narrow view and an unserious response to other facts. These include what almost any Russian would surely tell you — that Putin is playing Trump like a fiddle — and that something was stinky in Helsinki. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-13 # BetaTheta 2018-08-06 13:47
It's ironic that anyone who admires the Putin regime owes a debt to US interference, which nurtured the kleptocracy that arose under Yeltsin. Our neocons bombed the former USSR, not with nukes, but with MBA's and “shock therapy” advice that devastated the economy and opened it up to takeover by ruthless oligarchs and Yeltsin's family. The apparatchiks turned “entrepreneurs” looted the country. Putin and his circle are heirs to that looting.
Only when the US reneged on agreements, expanded NATO, and further interfered in Russian politics and internal affairs did it become an implacable enemy to Putin himself. Putin resents US meddling, but it had a large hand in making his present position possible. And the US is to Putin what immigrants are to Trump: a political tool to shore up domestic support through nationalism.
+8 # No Go 2018-08-06 13:59
Plain and simple, Trump cares only about Trump, and Putin cares only about sowing havoc in the USA, as part of his PR campaign to trump up Russia's image on the global stage, in an effort to further puff up his own already grossly over-sized ego.
The USA, Russia, and the world pay the price for these two clowns' antics.
Currently, Putin clearly has the upper hand, as Trump's years of experience as a two-bit casino conman and reality TV star are no match for Putin's years as head of the KGB and his black belt in karate.
Trump's ridiculous and transparent subservience to Putin in Helsinki is the cherry on top of his mega-caloric pile of incompetence that he consistently brings to the table.
The sooner we are rid of Trump and his Republican majority in Congress, the sooner we can try to reverse the insanity that has befallen our once great nation; although, some of the damage being done by Trump may be regrettably permanent.
+6 # elizabethblock 2018-08-07 20:58
Masha Gessen said of Trump and Putin that both are very interested in power, and neither is interested in government.
-11 # DudeistPriest 2018-08-06 14:07
I'm starting to wish it would turn in to a hot war just so I don't have to hear this Russia BS any longer. I remember Russia started the anti-war movement back in the 60's, it funded the SDS, Black Panthers, Weather Underground, it was behind the 68 Chicago riots, helped the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnap Patty Hearst and was behind George McGovern's Presidential bid. Damned Russians! Always attacking our sainted USA against God's wishes. Let's kill them already!

Oy, between vicious, greedy Republicans and demented, lying Democrats there's nobody to vote for in November. So let's attack Russia and commit nuclear suicide.
-10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-07 13:28
DP - THanks for the link. Jimmy Dore is good. He ends the segment with a reference to the recent poll which showed that less than 1% of Americans think Russia is a problem. The job of mass media like the WashPo is to move that 1% up to about 50%. They had this same problem in 2002 when about 1% of people thought Iraq was a threat. By February 2003, about 60% of Americans were scared as shit of Iraq's WMD. They thought there was going to be anthrax at MacDonalds and a mushroom cloud in New York City.

The WashPo and other propaganda organs know what they are doing. They are the pros.
-7 # DudeistPriest 2018-08-07 20:59
RR, sometimes you just need to laugh at all the insanity going around. The world is literally burning, and these morons are worried about Russia. Climate change could kill us all within 20 years, yet Russia is the big threat. I'm 69 years old and I've been listening to this "Russians are going to destroy us" and heard them being blamed for everything for the last 60 years. It hasn't happened yet. It ain't gonna happen now. But, it's going to be hotter next year than it was this year, that you can bank on. AND NOBODY IS DOING SHIT! The enemy is not Russia, it's the energy companies and their politician lackeys on both sides.
-7 # librarian1984 2018-08-08 08:57
I keep thinking these 'leaders' will wake up and realize the error of their ways, but even if KY was on fire McConnell would go up in smoke blaming it on Democraps, and even as the last orphan starves to death Third Wayers will sniff that it 's deeply regrettable -- that if only we'd privatized Social Security this unfortunate situation could have been avoided.
-9 # librarian1984 2018-08-08 17:38
So, McConnell fans or Third Way trolls?
-8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-08 14:52
DP -- yes, indeed. We never get to work on the really important things. We always have one distraction after another. I just wonder why people are so gullible and news writers so dishonest. I can't figure that out.
-7 # DudeistPriest 2018-08-07 21:11
BTW: All that stuff about the SDS, weather underground, etc. were all things I read in the press back in the day, and there was plenty more, including MLK and the Civil Rights Movement funded by Russians.

The press has plenty of experience in propaganda.
-7 # DudeistPriest 2018-08-07 21:36
And the CIA controls the media, it has for years. Google Operation Mockingbird. William Colby (1920 - 1996), former Central Intelligence Agency director, once remarked that the CIA controlled nearly every news establishment of importance in America. Here's some more:
-8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-08 14:56
Carl Bernstein burned his career when he wrote that piece on the CIA control of the media. He almost says that the CIA was behind Deep Throat and all the information he and Woodward published on Watergate. He's never been able to hold a job in journalism since then.

It is a fact that the CIA was behind Watergate just as it is behind Russiagate now. The CIA wanted Nixon out and now it wants Trump out. The Wapo -- as Operation Mockingbird shows -- is leading the charge on behalf of the CIA.
-9 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-08-06 14:12
“We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.” As though Trump and the Republicans haven't created "divide and conquer". What bullshit.
NO ONE has claimed "Russian interference" had any effect on the 2016 election. The Russians spent $40,000 in a $7 BILLION election. I would spend $40,000 myself if I thought it would get my choice elected. The WAPO and NYTIMES gain readers with this bullshit, but it just has not been proven true.
Gotta keep THE WAR MACHINE well fed. BE AFRAID, BE REAL AFRAID, the RUSSIANS are coming.
+8 # HarryP 2018-08-07 19:45
Pablo: “NO ONE...claimed ‘Russian interference’” had an impact on the 2016 election? Really? I thought a lot of people made that claim. Rosie O’Donnell did so yesterday. If you don’t like Rosie, how about Putin in Helsinki? When Jeff Mason (Reuters) asked whether he had wanted Trump to win and whether he had ordered “any of your officials to help him do that,” he responded in the affirmative both times: “Yes, I did. Yes, I did.”
As for the amount the Ruskies spent, Mueller, in his indictment of the
IRA in St. Pet., has a budget of $1.25 mill per month. (And that doesn’t include the GRU budget in Moscow.)
As for the expenditures during the 2016 campaign, Clinton spent $565 million: Trump $322 million. (NYT, Dec. 9, 2016) A ton of money, just shy of $900 million, but a far cry from $7 billion.
I know you’re trying to absolve the Don & Vlad show from any transgressions they may have committed, but please give it a bit more thought.
-3 # Billsy 2018-08-06 14:21
Given how the Russian Collusion narrative has little to no effect on the Trump base or the GOP elite, the Democrat party needs to focus more on what it can OFFER voters as opposed to wasting its energy trying to scare or anger them. Given past U.S. election interference, propaganda efforts & downright overthrow of foreign governments (e.g. forming alliances with neo-nazis in the Ukraine to tilt it towards EU alliance) it smacks of hypocrisy and distraction. How's about we focus on our own lack of election integrity and GOP voters suppression?
-8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-06 15:15
"the usual game seems to be shifting from blood sport to cold war."

The question is who is doing the shifting. Clearly it is not Russia or Putin. Russia has sought good and peaceful relations with the US.

The culprit is the US ruling elites and their mouthpieces in the major media like the WashPo.

I think Jimmy Dore bagged the press conference of the loonie intel chiefs just right. His segment is titled -- "The Lamest Russia Scaremongering So Far."

The WashPo is just too gullible.
+7 # MikeAF48 2018-08-06 15:19
Give it up your game is over.
+7 # Jaax88 2018-08-06 15:28
A good, thoughtful statement on where things stand regarding me (and you) and our poorly developed psychopathic president and our foes, Putin and the Americans who bend over to make Putin seem to be a friend indeed.
-1 # tedrey 2018-08-06 16:28
It's not the investigation into Trump/Putin ties that bothers many of us, but that 20 years of interference into elections by presidents and Supreme Court, by state legislators and attorneys general, by DNC and Pentagon, by hacked voting machines and CrossCheck, by Israel and Saudi Arabia, by money magnates left and right, by the very existence of the Electoral College and the lobbying industry, have never received even the hint of any serious investigations. Effectively everyone of any stature is in on the action and the loot. Collusion and immunity are the life blood of American electoral process, and American elections are a mockery in the eyes of the world.

Without a corrupt Republican party a Trump presidency would be impossible. Without a mercenary Democratic party Russia could be a friend rather than an enemy.

My cynicism is not perfect. The grassroots keep trying to grow again. There are still honest progressives, but I fear for their lives.

I rave. I apologize. Happy Hiroshima day.
+8 # Robbee 2018-08-06 18:59
love is in the air! - how can media and politicians fail to be charmed by the budding bromance between 2 multi-billionai res? both of whom happen to be presidents of major nations? - how unfair life is!
-10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-06 19:52
I was cruising around the web looking to see if there was anyone who saw through the Russia Hoax that Mueller is laying on the nation. I ran across this by Glenn Beck --

"11 Reasons Why America and Russia Can't Be Friends "

So I guess Kathleen Parker and the WashPo are right there with Glenn Beck. Good luck with that. Beck is the nut-job from hell. Now Parker seems to be his best friend.

In contrast, peace activist David Swanson is running a sign up list on RootsAction for people who want to send messages of friendship to Russia and Russians ---

"To the people of Russia:

We residents of the United States wish you, our brothers and sisters in Russia, nothing but well. We oppose the hostility and militarism of our government. . . ."

I don't think Parker will be signing on to this message.

Hate for Trump is interchangeable with hate for Russia. These twin towers are the way democrats are being turned into progressive reactionaries and mongers for the new cold war. They don't stop to think that all the social programs they might like to have, such as universal healthcare, won't be possible with a cold war budget. And they don't stop to consider that the WashPo is a front for the CIA.
-7 # tedrey 2018-08-07 16:39
David Swanson makes questions of war and peace very clear in the following presentation. Highly recommended.
-4 # HarryP 2018-08-08 09:19
Now who can resist wishing “our Russian brothers and sisters nothing, but well?” Everyone, except Kathleen Parker who writes for the WaPo, a well known front of the CIA. That raises the question: Does Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest individual, control/own the CIA, or does the CIA control/own Bezos? (I hope Bezos is at least a majority owner.) We also know, as our correspondent habitually reminds us, that al-Qaeda was created by the CIA. Jeff, we hardly knew ya. You & Osama? At least, al-Qaeda shops at Whole Foods. Right?
+7 # janie1893 2018-08-07 00:51
Sounds to me like a case of treason.
-7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-07 06:41
Here is a good article from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity,

"Neocons Demand Crushing Sanctions Against Russia"

Lindsey Graham and John McCain are again pushing legislation through the senate that will be open war against Russia. The bill will require the state department to classify Russia as "a state sponsor of terrorism." That will mean additional military measures.

Ron Paul does a good job of explaining why this legislation is just hysterical. The sponsors of the bill believe that total sanctions will "bring Russia to heel." Paul shows it won't do that at all.

The article above is part of a coordinated and pervasive attempt to create a massive cold war. The losers of this war will be the American people. Russia will simply develop its relations with the rest of the "enemies of the US neocons" and that is about 4/5 of the whole world -- China, India, Africa, Brazil, etc.
+8 # DongiC 2018-08-07 07:58
Putin plays Trump like a fiddle; what a terrible and unmelodius sound it is, like cats fighting in a barrel.
-9 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-07 11:25
Yes, Putin is just a terrible fiddle player. He's getting nothing but the unmelodious sound from Trump that you name.
-10 # librarian1984 2018-08-07 12:17
"Mueller is not generally known as a hoaxer"

Really? So we forget Mueller told us there were WMDs in Iraq?

What I find troubling about the Trump era is not just Trump, but the way others respond to Trump, especially the media.

They handed the nomination to Trump on a silver platter, undercut Sanders and advocated for Hillary. Now they devote themselves to scaring the crap out of everyone, trying to start WW3 and totally abdicating journalistic sensibility and responsibilities.

In this day and age Walter Cronkite would have been drummed out long ago.

Reagan took away the Fairness Doctrine, paving the way for Fox, and Bill Clinton gave us the Telecommunicati ons Act, which quickly allowed six corporations, run and managed by CEOs, to control over 90% of all media. What could possibly go wrong?

90% of what we see is punditry, not journalism, and there's a big difference between second amendment heroes and these relentless propagandists. They shove Russia down our throats 24/7, sabotaged Bernie, push for war, misinform us -- people like Phil Griffin don't give a rat's arse about journalism or the second amendment, truth or responsibility, America or democracy. All they care about is $$.

They've helped run this country into the ground. THEY call alternative outlets 'fake', just like Trump does, and they haven't shown the slightest interest in CrossCheck, voter purges or the fact Sanders was robbed.
-7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-07 20:45
Finally, Putin has lost his patience with the Mueller Hoax and all the Fake News. He has appointed Steven Segal -- now a Russian citizen -- as special envoy to the US. Segal will use his classic moves to make Mueller give up his hoax and to make the Wapo publish true news instead of its usual fakes. I can't wait for the movie. Segal will do to Mueller what he always does to every two-bit hoodlum.

Putin Appoints Steven Seagal Special Envoy to United States

"The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that Hollywood action star Steven Seagal would be the country's new representative for Russian-US humanitarian ties, according to Reuters.

The role was designed to "deepen cultural, art and youth ties" between the two nuclear superpowers. "

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