We Lost. Putin Won. For Now.

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The day after the 2016 presidential election, I began writing about the cyber war that Putin won. There was no solid evidence of such a war. The president of the time, Barack Obama, did not admit defeat. Yet look at the anguish in his eyes. No one in electoral politics talked of war. Hillary Clinton, the woman who should be president, did not announce a cyber conflagration.

There was no 72-point headline in the NY Times. No outcry from the Senate floor. No. There was silence and retreat. Obama rushed off to Germany and conferred with Chancellor Merkel. Hillary and Bill wore their enigmatic purple and she left us with this plaintive entreaty:

This loss hurts. But please, please

never stop believing that fighting

for what’s right is worth it.

It’s always worth it.

And we need you to keep up these fights

now

and for the rest of your lives.

Obama and Clinton went dark for months after the election. Occasionally, there was a tweet or public appearance. But in what is a noticeable departure from historic politics, neither the former POTUS or the former candidate were seen on news shows. There was no review, no references, no polite invites, no regard for their political capital. In effect, their names were black-listed and their accomplishments erased.

Instead, the media bombarded us with the image and sound of the ignorant, degenerate chump who squats in the Oval Office. Mentions of Clinton or Obama emanate from the mouth of this buffoon – and they are always, always negative. We know this.

None of this proves a cyber war in which Putin won. None of this proves a fixed election. But we must notice silence. And circumstances.

The smart people know this. But the smart people are yelling from the fringes. They have been kicked out of government or silenced or fear for their job in government.

The news organizations are trying. Mostly it is print journalism keeping us informed. But cable news hosts are discombobulated and cute, partisan and just plain stupid. The smart people were kicked out long ago when broadcast news became some ratings-based mix called infotainment. If you want smart, you wait up late for Rachel Maddow and then Lawrence O’Donnell or even later for Christiane Amanpour. If you want TV journalism, watch the BBC or check out France24.

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And just as it has taken American media over a year to openly call Trump a liar and a racist, it may take another year for it to declare his treachery. And I doubt they will pronounce Hillary Clinton’s name with respect until she is dead. Hillary Clinton – the woman who is the legitimate President – is treated as anathema. How Putinesque.

Out of this mix of silly rhetorical questions and hysterical Breaking News comes a fresh agent – citizen journalists – people like Sarah Kendzior and Julia Davis. They know Putin. These citizen journalists keep a sharp eye on events that matter; they draw holistic circles and point to logical outcomes. They ring warnings. They will be our life lines.

Putin won. I know because our government, those men and women whose job is to protect us, are instead placing us in peril. I know because Donald Trump still occupies the White House.

Putin won by cyber derring-do – the planting of malware in our critical infrastructure and defense systems. We are at his mercy. We are prisoners of his cyber war. There may be kompromat but really – that sounds more like a placating possibility than a genuine threat. The person in the White House throws tantrums and Congress is silent. Their obeisance to this frothing child is not about the base. It is not about blackmail. It is a bargain. The terms of surrender. Let him do as he wishes or else…

It seems really simple to me: remove those who place us in danger. And yet, doing so may put America in far greater danger.

Still, I wake every morning with hope.

  • I hope that a shadow team is working feverishly to thwart that malware and divert power grids to a new and impenetrable system.
  • I hope that our intelligence community is feeding Putin misleading and diversionary intel while safekeeping the necessary secrets.
  • I hope that General Mattis stands ready to do what he must, whatever that may be.
  • I hope our allies are still our friends, and they are in this fight with us, exerting their influence in unseen ways.
  • I hope we make it through this tunnel. I hope we wise up. I hope there is no violence (Trump would love bloodshed).
  • I hope we read the words of Hillary Clinton and understand. She knew the real identity of Trump, and she knew what America would face. We are there, now.

This loss hurts. But please, please

never stop believing that fighting

for what’s right is worth it.

It’s always worth it.

And we need you to keep up these fights

now

and for the rest of your lives.


I wrote most of this post in the days following 11-8-2016. I didn’t publish it for two years because it seemed off the charts, wildly improbable and likely to be dismissed as fringe hysteria. And mostly because I did not want to admit it is true.

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