July 15, 2018

Sunday School 7/15/18

I spent some time with #FakeNews, as the president calls CNN, today. On the network's State of the Union show, Jake Tapper entertained Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, one of about a dozen or so senators that regularly make the Sunday morning rounds.

First, Tapper asked Paul how much he wanted Trump to hold Putin accountable for Putin's intelligence officers running the hacks on Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
I think we really mistake out response if we think it's about accountability from the Russians. They are another country. They're going to spy on us - they do spy on us. There are going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same. Doug Levin at Carnegie Mellon studied this over about a 50-year period in the last century and found 81 times that the US interfered in other countries' elections. So we all do it.
What we need to do is make sure our electoral process is protected. And I think because this has gotten partisan and it's all about partisan politics, we've forgotten that really the most important thing is the integrity of our elections...
He went on to name some: decentralization, some kind of back-up process that can be used to verify the reported results with the precinct reporting, and then went back to Russia.
Can we restrict the Russians? We might be able to in some ways but I think the bottom line, we wanted the Russians to admit it. They are not going to admit it, the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections,  or in the Russian elections...
He denied that what we do is morally equivalent to what they do, but we need to understand the Russians would perceive it to be.
I do think they react to our interference in both their elections. They were very -- one of the reasons they really didn't like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the US in their elections under the Obama administration. So I'm not saying it's morally equivalent, I'm not saying it's justified... I'm not saying they're equivalent or morally equivalent but I am saying that this is the way the Russians respond. So if you want to know how we have better diplomacy or better reactions, we have to know their response.
There's more to the 'nationalism' that we're seeing in Russia, according to Paul. We and NATO have crept beyond our promised 'no further' line; we want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO, and all of that means they have to have an action as a reaction to our action. Got it?

Moving on to the Mueller investigation, Paul was a good soldier and used the president's chosen terminology.
We have to assume and if we have proof that they did it, which it sounds like we did, we should now spend our time protecting ourselves instead of sort of having this witch hunt on the president. If the president was involved by all means put the information forward. There's no evidence so far of the president's involvement in all of this. So I think we need to be done with this so we can start actually protecting our elections from foreign countries.
So, the Mueller investigation is preventing not only Congress but also the 50 states and the 3,007 counties and even more thousands of smaller election jurisdictions from doing anything to protect the integrity of our electoral process?  What a load of hooey! Heck, we know the Rs are working furiously across the country to restrict voting by minorities and Democrats (one and the same, if you ask the ringleaders), and we had the ill-fated voter fraud commission and everything - so apparently it IS possible to accomplish something even while Mueller does his thing...

But,while Paul does favor indicting the intelligence officers, even if he can't stand special counsels in general, he doesn't look so kindly on NATO.

Tapper asked him about his 'no' vote on a non-binding motion expressing support for the organization and for reaffirming our commitment to it. Tapper asked him directly if he supports NATO.
I think it's sort of chicken and the egg. Which happens first -- either NATO's expansion or Russia pushing back, or vice-versa.I will say that when you look at NATO, what I vote against was an ironclad commitment to defend any nation in NATO and they also said that they want an open door policy to NATO to admit any aspirant. So I think that is very foolhardy to say we're going to defend any country in the world that wants to be in NATO and we're inviting any country that meets the requirements to come into NATO.
That's a recipe for disaster and no thinking foreign policy expert would have voted for this if they realized that we're having an open-ended commitment to whoever wants to join NATO and it's an ironclad commitment.  I think it dilutes the value of NATO...
And while the president is calling for increased in defense spending by all NATO countries in advance of their agreed-upon time table, Paul give us a different take.
But the interesting thing now is that European forces are 13 times bigger than Russian forces. European plus US forces are probably 30 times bigger than Russian forces. So right now there's a disproportionate advantage to the West with NATO... So people need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers, about, you know, wanting to have a confrontation with Russia. We spent 70 years trying not to have a confrontation.
Tapper had to respond to all of this.
I just think there are a lot of people out there who would be surprised to hear a sitting United States senator describe Russia vs. NATO in terms of confrontation and expansion as a chicken or egg proposition given that NATO protects sovereign countries while allowing them to remain sovereign, while Russia invades other countries and takes over those countries...
And that is not #fakenews.

See you around campus.

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