Monday, January 09, 2017

Keeping Things Straight

The report is out. The Russians hacked the election. The Democrats are outraged. Some Trump supporters are apathetic. Trump denies it entirely. The problem is (as it seems so often to be the case) that very, very few are actually keeping this story straight. So, let's review.

The official intelligence report is out. It says that President Putin directed a cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary the presidency. Why? According to the report, Putin saw Trump as more "friendly" to Russia. That is, more willing to work with Russia. They were concerned with Clinton's "aggressive rhetoric." (I thought that was incredibly ironic, given the Hillary ads warning about Trump's overly aggressive rhetoric.) They thought Trump would be more likely to form an anti-ISIS coalition with them. (You know, they might have a point there.) They thought that as a businessman rather than a politician Trump might be better to work with. (Which is one of the reasons that Trump got elected at all -- Americans are tired of politicians.)

This cyberattack consisted of hacking into campaigns. Please note: The language of the media suggests that Russia "hacked the vote", sounding as if they got into our networks and software and voting machines and changed the outcome. This is not the allegation. The allegation is that Russia found information against Clinton to release to the public that would defame her.

Those are the facts. Beware of media outlets that say otherwise. So, what am I to think?

First, I'm opposed to this kind of thing. I was opposed to Snowden's release of secrets to the public while others hailed him as a hero. I'm opposed to Assange and WikiLeaks. I'm opposed to hacking into the Democratic campaign emails. All of it. It's wrong. It is illegal. And "heads should roll", so to speak. There should be justice.

That being said, I am really baffled by the response as we see it. The response has not been, "It's not true!" There has been no evidence offered that the information released was false. The outrage is that it was released. So while a large number of people exulted in Snowden releasing true-if-damaging material, an equally large number of people are equally dismayed at the release of this true-if-damaging material. In other words, we can draw some bizarre conclusions. 1) The ends justify the means. If the end (releasing secret info that we want) is accomplished by breaking the law, that's good. 2) Forget about #1 if it is information we don't want released. 3) We are radically in favor of privacy (think abortion rights, the Democrats' emails, etc.). 4) We are really not in favor of privacy (think Snowden, WikiLeaks, etc.). In short, we're a conflicted and irrational society.

So be careful going forward. Remember that people are perfectly happy holding contradictions. Remember that in almost every case right is right and wrong is wrong depending on what they say it is. You can never be sure what it is. It is not a matter of principle. Remember that while the media has been deeply concerned about "fake news", they like to disseminate it themselves. Oh, not really on purpose. It's just a matter of word selection and spin. Like "Russia hacked the election." Not exactly. Not even close. Why do I think that? Because I'm quite sure that if Russia had released the same kind of information on Trump and Hillary got elected, the Democrats would not have been railing against the Russians and the media would not be saying that Russia "hacked the election". When Obama went to the UK to tell them not to vote for the Brexit, they didn't complain that he was interfering in their elections. Some positions require objective morality and guiding principles. These are not the current positions being taken.

2 comments:

Craig said...

This story alone contains so much "fake news" that it's unbelievable.

The things that are clear.
1. The contents of the hacked emails are accurate
2. None of the hacked emails were from government email accounts
3. No one hacked any state or federal election systems
4. Nor did anyone hack the electrical grid

I agree that the actions of the hackers/leakers are not a positive thing, but it's really being used as a smoke screen to divert attention from the content of the emails, which should be the story.

I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been this much attention paid to the P-BO/Clinton attempts to influence elections elsewhere. (Haiti, Israel, DNC primaries)

Stan said...

I agree with you. The double standards are thick. "Exposing our problems is bad. We can do it to you." "No one should attempt to influence our elections ... like we do with others."