It Isn’t Just “Moscow Mitch”

Dan Coats–the last remaining adult in the Trump Administration–has been on thin ice with Trump for a long time. After all, he refused to tailor Intelligence reports to Trump’s fantasies. Perhaps the timing of his departure would have been the same in any event, but I found it intriguing that his “resignation” was announced almost immediately after the announcement that he was creating a new position dedicated to election security.

As a patriotic Republican, Coats was vastly outnumbered.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, blocked a bill authored by Sen. Mark Warner that would have required campaigns to report foreign offers of assistance to the FBI. As the Tennesseean reported,

The bill from Warner, D-Va., known as the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act, required unanimous consent in order to move forward, meaning that Blackburn’s decision to object stopped the legislation in its tracks.

The GOP as a whole has refused all efforts to implement security measures to protect the 2020 election against Russian hacking. Mitch McConnell (aka the most evil man in America) has quashed all legislative efforts to protect the franchise–leading frustrated observers to dub him “Moscow Mitch.”

As the Washington Post reported,

As President Trump’s own FBI director warns that Russians are planning to try to undermine American democracy in the next presidential election, Republican lawmakers led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are blocking bills aimed at blocking foreign hackers from states’ voting systems.

The obvious question is: why? Why would American lawmakers refuse to protect America’s election system?

McConnell justifies his refusal to move the legislation forward with claims that the federal government is already working with states to address election interference, and that additional legislation would be “too heavy-handed,” since elections are run by the states.

Right. It’s all about states’ rights…..

The New Republic has a different theory.  It says this is another case of “follow the money”– that the GOP’s real reason for blocking security measures is financial.

The entire suite of Democratic proposals to improve election security are of course a nonstarter in a Republican-run government, and not just because Republicans have chosen to strategically believe or disbelieve in Russian election interference depending on the president’s moods and ever-shifting statements. Many of the Democratic proposals involve barring candidates and people associated with campaigns and political committees from receiving contributions, monetary and otherwise, from foreign nationals, and Republicans principally oppose most attempts to interfere in any form of influence-peddling.

Monetary influence-peddling comes in many forms. Newsweek recently reported that a Russian oligarch is funding a major factory in Kentucky, where Mitch’s re-election campaign is contending with his 36% approval rating.

Rusal, the aluminum company partially owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, announced plans to invest around $200 million to build a new aluminum plant in Kentucky just months after the Trump administration removed it from the U.S. sanctions list.

The new aluminum plant, slated to be built in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will be the biggest new aluminum plant constructed in the U.S. in decades. Rusal will have a 40 percent stake in the facility.

McConnell reacted angrily to Dana Milbank’s column characterizing him as a “Russian asset.” (Andy Borowitz–who, like other satirists, has found the Trump administration a bonanza–countered with a column headlined “Putin denies McConnell is a Russian asset–says he’s never been an asset to any country.”) Milbank was blunt–and accurate:

This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.

We can speculate about McConnell’s motives, but one thing is clear: Mueller, Coats, the head of the FBI and numerous other officials have warned emphatically about Russian interference. They have characterized it as ongoing, sophisticated, and effective.

And far from working to avert that interference, the Republicans–led by Moscow Mitch– are facilitating it.

17 thoughts on “It Isn’t Just “Moscow Mitch”

  1. “The obvious question is: why? Why would American lawmakers refuse to protect America’s election system?”

    For myself the answer is quite simple; Republicans supporting Trump, Pence, Graham and Nunes, with McConnell blocking all Constitutional protections, have the 2020 presidential election locked in. This is thanks to the Electoral College, Citizens United and the SCOTUS support of the current gerrymandered districts, blocking voter registration in areas they could easily lose with more registered voters and the prevention and purging of votes in known Democratic areas of all states.

    Another issue foremost in our minds this Sunday morning in August is the TWO mass shootings in less than THIRTEEN HOURS. So far there are 29 reported dead and 30-40 reported wounded. The shooter in El Paso, Texas, is alive and in custody; his Manifesto was written earlier but only published about an hour before he began his attack on innocent shoppers at a Walmart. His words supporting Trump have been reported with the usual denials from White House staff and Trump and Melania have sent their expected “thoughts and prayers” to all. This mornings shooting in Dayton, Ohio, is lacking “whys” so far and that shooter is dead, no direct answers will be forthcoming. A post on Facebook this morning from an intelligent woman named Clara Wilson put a name to Trump’s questionable “leadership” and his direct connection to all of these mass shootings since his inauguration. STOCHASTIC TERRORISM” Stochastic is defined in my Webster’s New College Dictionary as; to guess at, conjecture, involving or containing a random variable, involving probability or chance”. His finger-pointing never contains facts but his words are taken as proof of who and what is the cause of all problems in this nation. He supports, condones and encourages violence; belying the White House staff’s denial of Trump being to blame for the home-grown, white terrorists in this country today.

    God; PLEASE bless America!!!

  2. When social, political, and scientific changes are heaped upon those whose ideology is rooted in the past century one can expect that a ruthless battle for control over the levers of government will ensue. The challenge is, as it has always been, how to keep faith with the Constitution as we struggle to cope with those changes and move forward.

  3. McConnell has been quoted saying the three most important in political success are money, money and money. He makes it clear that he has no interest in legislating unless the legislation keeps campaign money flowing. The rest of the spineless republicans in Washington agree with Mitch. It’s time for a wholesale change in the Senate.

  4. I spend way too much time on Facebook dealing with anthropogenic global warming and US politics but it has given me some insight into the rank and file who helped Russians get Trump into the Whitehouse. They are everyday folks who chose to expose themselves over a couple of decades to heavy doses of fake news/advertising/propaganda/brainwashing on entertainment media because it purported itself to make them smarter. They now think that they are smarter but haven’t the resources to distinguish knowledge from obedience training.

    To give the Republican Party it’s due they have been remarkably successful emulating Putin in power brokerage. They buy and sell power to corporations and individuals who earn their favor by sponsoring people like Rush Limbaugh (he was the first of the soldiers of aristocracy) as media evangelists telling the downtrodden that the solution to their failures in life were plentiful and available and started with extremism – think and speak in black and white in ways that anger all of those keeping you down and here’s the list of them: Democrats, liberals, foreigners, black Presidents, do-gooders, non-Christian religions, queers, dark skinned non-Americans, environmentalists, those too afraid not to arm themselves to the teeth, those who favor democracy, in short the majorities of the future. What Republicans have learned is that time tested brainwashing strategies still work great and have been empowered by ubiquitous screens and speakers that we have been sold on.

    So. What now? Is it the end of liberal democracy? Is it stoppable now that we know? Has the Republican power grab gone from temporary to self sustaining?

    Those are all very pertinent questions.

  5. Well said, Pete!

    Whatever happened to the story where the NRA was receiving money from Russia and sending to the Republican Party?

    Moscow Mitch, like most politicians today, do what is best for Mitch. Narcissistic rats who’ve infested Washington thanks to the money funneling in from our Donor Class. Any discussion about politicians without talking about money is a fluff piece.

    Bloomberg had an entire article talking about how the Democrats are inching away from Universal Healthcare because of “voters.” Not a single mention of the millions in donations flowing in from Big Health lobbyists. It was pure propaganda.

    Unless a political discussion involves checking the flow of money, it’s pure propaganda – worthless.

  6. Jeffrey St. Clair, writing in Counterpunch had this to say:

    “If you haven’t been paying attention to the Democratic Party for the last 40 years and just now tuned into the presidential debates, you might be shocked at how hostile it is to even debating the modest and sensible ideas proposed by Sanders & Warren. With each mention of “single payer,” “free college,” or “green new deal,” the Party writhes wildly like Linda Blair’s possessed body being sprinkled with Holy Water.”

    “Pundits are writing that by embracing Trump’s transparent racism the Republican Party has retreated from the “inclusive” vision of Reagan, who was recently caught on tape engaged in racist banter with Nixon. But Lee Atwater’s Big Tent was always made from a white sheet.”

    Other information:
    The Brennan Center for Justice released a study Thursday showing that 17 million Americans were dropped from voter rolls between 2016 and 2018—almost four million more than the number purged between 2006 and 2008.
    =============================
    I am not worried that much about Russian Hackers. I am more worried about the Corporate Democratic Donor Class pouring their money into de-railing the Progressive Forces in the Democratic Party. I am more worried about Republican actions to “purge” voters, than Russians.

  7. It’s immensely short-sighted to say, “Follow the money.”

    It’s wiser to say, “Look for the pot of gold at the end of the takeover.”

    In third world countries, dictators nationalize the country’s assets– mines, minerals, utilities, transportation, etc. –then siphon off billions of dollars into their private offshore accounts. Dictators are willing to kill millions of people to maintain their ongoing theft of the people’s wealth.

    In America, Republicans covet the dictator’s scam, but are checkmated by their own phobia against nationalization. But not to worry; Republicans have found a work-around
    –Reverse Nationalization.

    Reverse Nationalization? Yep. It’s called Privatization but achieves the same criminal outcome as Nationalization. Privatization puts national assets into private hands, slicked with crooked accountants and crooked lawyers, and bloodied with the use of private goon-squads. And like magic — KAZZAAAAMAROOTIETOOTIE; the pot of gold is suddenly sitting in a Deutsche Bank vault in Nassau.

    And like third world dictators, Republicans are willing to kill off millions of people to maintain their ongoing theft of the people’s wealth.

    It’s the pot of gold at the end of the takeover. All the other money is merely the tool that gets them there.

  8. I think that much of what gets reported about the Democrat Primary campaigning going on as ideological differences has a better explanation. The candidates all realize how existentially critical for the country it is for one of them to displace Trump next year and they all became somewhat spooked by the 2016 race in which their candidate won handily but is not President now due to unforeseeable circumstances. They are trying to guess where the majority of us stand.

    That is compounded by the fact that we have never had the current combination of a sociopathic President supported by a sociopathic base created by propaganda.

    It’s not too melodramatic to say that the future of the country hangs on every word they utter.

  9. John Neal, in the hearts and minds of rational compassionate people, yes. But I am afraid that the sheer velocity of awfulness (shootings, Trump, corruption, environmental change) is overwhelming many of us.

  10. Pete and Todd – good analyses today, and as to why we don’t hear anything anymore about how the Russians funneled money to Trump’s campaign coffers via the NRA, can you spell Bill Barr? It helps to have an AG who plays defense counsel, thanks to a Republican Senate vote.

    The French have used general strikes very effectively since 1789 to reverse unpopular political decisions. No one shows up for work. I have in the past suggested that we should resort to a general strike to reverse some of Trump’s edicts, but with El Paso and Dayton such may be unnecessary since if the mass of people won’t leave home for fear of being shot we get the same result, and if sustained and the Dow goes south and the economy is on the verge of collapse, perhaps even the domestic terrorists currently running our country will relent for fear our system will implode before they can ruin it on their own terms.

    Our task, now an existential one since shooting gallery politics and democracy are oil and water and we can envision the cliffs of coming failed state and/or third world status for our once great democracy, is to resist domestic terrorism ever more strongly and without letup.

  11. The gun lobby is only part of the problem. Buying politicians is easy and relatively cheap. Those guys will jump for every quarter thrown at them.

    The Armolite-15 is an assault weapon designed to kill enemies in war. There is only one reason it is allowed in the hands of private citizens: money. The stockholders don’t care where it comes from, or how much blood is on their hands. They just wash it off, write another check to a Republican and look at the quarterly profits report. That’s it.

    Expecting anything resembling governing from McConnell or any other Republican is a pipe dream. In Trump’s case, feelings of consequences from his speech and “actions” ends with his skin. Trump supporters are enabled by his speech to commit crimes, because they think he said that “the other” are the enemy. Trump also allows these cretins who still support him to justify their hate because he has told them they are the oppressed. Hitler did the same thing, of course, but the only difference between Hitler and Trump is that Hitler was a true ideologue. Trump is merely a pathological narcissist. Big difference. Trump is for Trump only. His followers share the sociopathy that paints them as victims when, if fact, they are their own worst enemy.

    If guns aren’t the problem but people are, (So sayeth the greedy goobers of the NRA and gun lobbies.), why allow deadly weapons to be put into the hands of those problem people?

  12. Moscow Mitch, or Putin’s Bitch as some prefer, has fantasies of a Republican takeover of our democracy that will make his power permanent and his wealth immeasurable. Democratic timidity and in-fighting make the party feckless and, by virtue of its passivity, complicit in turning MItch’s dream into reality.

    To this end, Republicans have ceased worrying about how to win the next election and are focused on how to steal it. Although Gerrymandering and vote suppression give them a decided edge, they have further thoughts on how to perpetuate the White Nationalist in Chief’s time in office. First they will attempt to extort or purchase the support of electoral college members to come over to their side. That’s not been done on a massive scale before, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Second, working with the the Big Five on the Supreme Court, Trump is laying out a strategy to grant himself an extended presidency regardless of the election outcome. Third Trump is planning a war with Iran – timing not yet determined – that will allow him to make pseudo national-security arguments for why he must remain in power. Fourth, if he loses, he is considering a plan to declare the 2020 election fraudulent – repeatedly – until he is declared the winner. In short, he and Mitch and the Republican’s will do whatever is necessary to turn America into a Russian vassal with himself as Putin’s enforcer. Is there evidence to the contrary?

    Democrats are far too gentle and trusting to take any of these scenarios seriously, and so they will be shocked (but not enough to do anything about it) and, in the process, will surrender any chance of prevailing in 2020.

  13. I can’t even get myself removed from Blackburn’s e-mail list. Unsubscribe doesn’t work. I never subscribed in the first place. She’s not much. . .certainly not for Tennessee!

  14. What really bothers me is that Trump is Putin’s puppet. The main reason why Trump pulled out of the Iran deal was because Putin wanted to weaken Iran’s position in Caspian sea oil negotiations. See https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-says-deal-to-settle-status-of-caspian-sea-reached-a8486311.html

    When is the American media going to quit being so kind to Trump and show what is really going on – but when I mention this sort of thing to my friends, they think it is too complicated to understand. Grabbing oil does not seem so complicated to me.

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