January 8, 2017

Sunday School 1/8/17

I'm reviving another post theme from a few years ago, called Sunday School. 

In these posts, we'll stroll through the Sunday morning talk shows, our classrooms, looking to see how the principals, teachers, and students are handling current events. 

This week, there was a lot of talk about the Russian interference into our elections.  For clarification, this interference did not include efforts to tamper with voting machines, which apparently means to the Trump team that nothing happened. Our collective intelligence community, a pretty good hunk of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, multiple news agencies and others believe there was interference, even if they disagree on whether it contributed to Hillary Clinton's loss in November. 

On Fox News Sunday, Reince Priebus talked about President-elect Donald Trump's reaction to his "intelligence" briefing.  Here's an excerpt from that conversation. 
Wallace: Simple question: does the president-elect accept the findings and the evidence of the intelligence community?
Priebus: Well, I think he accepts the findings, Chris. But here's the thing that I think everyone needs to understand -- when this whole thing started It started from the Russians 50 years ago. In other words, this is something that's been going on in our elections for many, many years, both the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians. It happens every election period.
Without asking for any evidence of the bad acts that have occurred over the years, Wallace noted
But on Friday, hours before he had the briefing, Donald Trump said that this was, "a political witch hunt." So I just want to be very clear on two political points Does he now accept...Does he accept that the Russians were behind this hacking campaign? Yes or no?
Priebus: Well, sure. I mean, he's not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular campaign. But let me just -- can you -- let me respond to your point though. You say we have never had such a massive -- yes, but here's what we have - we have the DNC as a sitting duck.  
So, the Dems have less cyber acuity than, say, Barron Trump, but is that the issue, or is the bad actor the issue?
Wallace: Who do you blame more for this, Reince? Do you blame Putin and the Kremlin? Or do you blame the DNC? Who is the primary actor here?
Priebus: Well, listen, the primary actor is the foreign entity that's perpetrating the crime to begin with, no doubt about it.
Wallace: Which was? Which was?
Priebus:  I'm not denying that.
Wallace: Which was?
Priebus: I'm not denying that. I'm not denying that.
Wallace:  And what was that foreign entity.
Priebus: The thing is -- Russia. 
Lord, that was painful. Kellyanne Conway didn't really make it any less so when she talked with Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union. 
Tapper: Now that president-elect Trump has been formally briefed, has he been persuaded that Russia did carry out a comprehensive cyber-campaign against Hillary Clinton? And what is he prepared to do about it?
Conway: Jake, if you read his entire statement that followed the briefing on Friday, he makes very clear that Russia, China and others have attempted to attack different government institutions and businesses and individual and organizations over a series of time... I don't want any of your viewers to be misled into thinking that somehow the Kremlin and the Republican Party or...somehow that anybody who allegedly attempted to influence our elections actually did.
Beyond that, Conway noted,
With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, we didn't need WikiLeaks to convince the American people that they didn't like her, didn't trust her, didn't find her to be honest.
She did that all on her own. She got this party started by setting up an illegal server and opening it to hacks, for -- for -- for intelligence and security information that's much more serious than what a political party would have on its server. So, she started it. 
So, let's be clear, Kellyanne - all na-na-na-boo-boos aside -- there is NO evidence that Clinton's ill-advised decision to have a private server led to any hacks of intelligence and security information. But who cares about the truth, when you can be a schoolyard bully?
Why -- you know, if this is so important to our intelligence and our security, then why wasn't a bigger deal made about it, why wasn't a big portion of the $1.2 billion Hillary Clinton wasted on her campaign invested in this messaging? 
On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd talked with Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain.  Here's Graham's take on things:
So Mr. President-elect, it is very important that you show leadership here. Let me say this: if after having been briefed by our intelligence leaders, Donald Trump is still unsure as to what the Russians did, that would be incredibly unnerving to me because the evidence is overwhelming.
McCain wants an in-depth investigation, about which, of course, PPOD Mitch McConnell cares little.
I would like to see a select committee.  Apparently that is not in agreement by our leadership. So we will move forward with the Armed Services Committee and I'm sure Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committee will as well. But it is possible if enough information comes out, that decision could be reversed. I still think it's the best way to attack the issue.
In contrast to the Trump team, which seems much more concerned with the content of the emails that were released, or with rubbing people's nose in their "historic" victory, or trying to figure out how news organizations got word of what was in the intelligence report before Trump did, it would be nice if Graham and McCain could get some traction in Congress.

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