FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How to Spite Putin

I don’t think the Russian government fooled around with the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. government won’t release its evidence so that it can be judged by independent experts — and that makes me suspicious. I am not impressed that a bunch of “handpicked” (James Clapper’s words) analysts from three intelligence bureaucracies (not 17) have moderate-to-high confidence the Russians did it. An expression of confidence is not evidence. Besides, we’ve been through this before. The evidence for Iraqi WMD was a “slam dunk,” remember? The admonition to trust the intelligence “community” makes me laugh.

Those who insist the Russians did it make two conflicting claims: the Russians are said to be incredibly skilled at cyber espionage and were incredibly sloppy in hacking the DNC and John Podesta emails. Come on, what do you take us for? What skilled criminal leaves his fingerprints all over the crime scene? Would Vladimir Putin have left his calling card like a comic-book villain? What would Sherlock Holmes, Frank Columbo (that’s the lieutenant’s first name), or Adrian Monk say about that?

 

Something else feeds my doubt. Reports that Putin didn’t expect to keep Clinton from winning the presidency, but only wanted to damage her, are hard to believe. A damaged Clinton would still be more powerful than Putin, and the public would have backed her when she retaliated for election tampering. The competing theory that Putin expected Trump to win make the Russian quite the prognosticator because no one else — including Trump, apparently — expected him to win. And why would Putin want such a thin-skinned unpredictable narcissist in the White House? Because he had dirt on him? Perhaps. But in response to a blackmail threat, a President Trump would be as likely to tweet a jpeg of an ICBM with the words “Blackmail this, loser.” I suspect Putin preferred the devil he knew.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Russians are skilled at hacking (we would never intervene in a county’s elections) but bungled this one job big time. Those who now see Russians (if not Putin himself) under every bed warn that they’ll be back, in 2018, 2020, and beyond. Our electoral system is no longer safe. America is on the brink of disaster. What to do? What to do?

I have an idea. It’s so clever and foolproof that I’m surprised no one in the ruling elite and its mass media has thought of it. We can yank the rug out from under that dastardly Putin, and he’ll never bother us again.

How? Let’s make national elections so inconsequential that he would regard meddling as a colossal waste of his precious time.

Why would he care who got elected if the government couldn’t do much? Imagine a president and Congress that could not seize what rightfully belongs to others, could not put people in cages, could not hand out booty to well-connected interest groups and individuals, could not impede trade, could not prohibit peaceful activities, could not grant privileges, could not intervene in other countries’ affairs, could not oversee a vast bureaucracy dedicated to espionage, could not start aggressive wars, could not nurture a sprawling economy-distorting military-industrial complex, and could not do all the other things governments do today.

In other words, imagine if politicians and bureaucrats were judged by the same moral standards that the rest of us are judged by. The identity of the president of the United States would matter to the outside world less than the identity of the president of Switzerland. (This year it’s Doris Leuthard.)

If all that this idea accomplished was to keep Putin out of our business, lots of people should like it. But the benefits would be so much greater. For example, the campaign-finance problem would disappear overnight. Years of campaign-finance reform has accomplished nothing but make the problem worse, if the campaign watchdogs are to be believed. So here finally is something that would work. No one will bribe politicians if they have nothing to deliver in return — just as no one shops where there’s nothing to buy. Campaign-finance problem gone! My proposal should be heartily welcomed by the anti-Citizens United crowd.

And here’s one last benefit from my proposal, which I almost overlooked. We’d be free.

More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail