Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Doug Morris

How much danger are we in? What can we do?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I am copying the following link to a Frontline  presentation about Putin's interference in USA elections.  The person who presented this link finds the presentation very alarming.  (She is not an Objectivist.)  I have not, as yet, had time to watch this myself. 

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/?utm_source=promourl&utm_medium=direct&utm_campaign=frontline_2017

For anyone who has watched this or researched the matter another way, how much danger do you think we are in?  Is there anything ordinary citizens can do about it?

 
Edited by Doug Morris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't watched it either but since that didn't stop you from posting about it I'll post about it too.

There is no danger whatsoever.   The whole Russia thing is a collective exercise on the part of the Democratic party to attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the last election while simultaneously helping them continue their psychological denial of responsibility for their loss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Soviets, and now the Russians, have been trying to influence U.S. politics for decades, primarily by influencing public opinion. And, not just U.S., they did the same all over the world. The most blatant way was to helping professors and intellectuals who were favorable to socialism. They would invite them to see how well their revolution was going, they would provide them with "data" about how well their economy was doing. It seems unbelievable now that Samuelson's widely used Economic text book kept projecting that the U.SS.S.r would surpass the U.S. in a decade a two... and continued to predict this through years of revisions. 

Another thrust was the aiding of anti-war and anti-nuke movements all over the world. Along with that, they always had an eye out for disaffected groups in the west, and would help fringe groups if they were railing against the political system of the west. It did not matter if the ideology of such groups was counter to their own. In the eyes of a Russian KGB/FSB officer, a fringe group with a religious agenda or even with a radically free-market agenda is a potential asset. There's potential for such groups to spread dissent while never actually succeeding too much; but there are all sorts of related advantages in using local groups for cover and to lend an domestic legitimacy to other activities that may otherwise appear suspiciously Russian. 

In the post Soviet era, semi-private organizations like RT work with this as their dual agenda. Social media opens another avenue. From their premises, the Russian FSB would be stupid not to use this new media, when it is available, and becoming the primary source of news for so many U.S. voters. It's also a place they have a slight advantage, because they are quicker to censor things they do not like. SO, they set up organizations to publish on social media, for a U.S. audience. Of course, "publish" means something different from traditional media. On FB, you have to create sock-puppet accounts, build networks of friends, build cred, and then start to send out the propaganda. 

In the last election, the Russians seemed to have preferred Trump over Hillary, but that is in keeping with their usual playbook of disrupting the establishment. I doubt the potential policies of the two candidates was a big deal. And, apart from social media, they also influenced people in Trump's campaign, promising them dirt on Hillary, and possibly delivering. 

U.S. Politics:  None of this implies that Trump won because of Russian influence. Is it possible that he did? Yes, of course. Given the razor thin margin by which Trump won the election (only certain states matter in this calculus), and given how big a role Hillary's negatives played, it is possible that a small percentage in swing states might have voted differently. Even those voters themselves would not be able to tell you; so, it is an impossible question to answer either way. The only thing that makes it "possible" and plausible is the thin margins and the nature of the positives/negatives.

It is really bad strategy -- from the Democratic perspective -- to think that Trump won because of the Russians. If they truly think this, they won't address their actual weaknesses: the things that explain the bulk of the difference in votes. In my judgement, influential mainstream Democrats do not believe this. They understand that  people wanted to chuck them out, and that they had a candidate whose core message was "more of the same". However, most Democrats are willing to spread this narrative because it is the only explanation that many party faithful will buy. This is short-sighted, because their best long-term solution is to re-position themselves a bit, for which they need to explain the real reason they failed. Instead, they seem to be hoping that the country will tire of the buffoon in the White house in 4 years. it's a gamble; but they've been in this game for a long time, and understand how difficult it is to change their members' ideology.

Back to the Russian menace: At heart, the problem with the country is the ignorant and confused American voter, who has mostly bought in to statism as a theory of politics. With such voters being the vast majority, they'll keep voting for statist politicians and cheering statist laws. Whether it's Trump or Hillary, ... that's not going to make any fundamental changes to the country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

U.S. Politics:  None of this implies that Trump won because of Russian influence. Is it possible that he did? Yes, of course. Given the razor thin margin by which Trump won the election (only certain states matter in this calculus), and given how big a role Hillary's negatives played, it is possible that a small percentage in swing states might have voted differently. Even those voters themselves would not be able to tell you; so, it is an impossible question to answer either way. The only thing that makes it "possible" and plausible is the thin margins and the nature of the positives/negatives.

Trump won by 1% in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. To lose the election, he had to fail in at least two or three of those states, depending on the states. I'm not sure if that qualifies as a razor thin margin, though Democrats obviously want it to be that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

In the post Soviet era, semi-private organizations like RT work with this as their dual agenda. Social media opens another avenue. From their premises, the Russian FSB would be stupid not to use this new media, when it is available, and becoming the primary source of news for so many U.S. voters. It's also a place they have a slight advantage, because they are quicker to censor things they do not like. SO, they set up organizations to publish on social media, for a U.S. audience. Of course, "publish" means something different from traditional media. On FB, you have to create sock-puppet accounts, build networks of friends, build cred, and then start to send out the propaganda.

Grames response comes off as a more plausible dismissal of a conspiracy.

Harder to dismiss is the notion of groups actively distributing propaganda to effect change. The obvious way not to fall for propaganda is to understand in what ways it is propaganda. It is not difficult to imagine how frustrating it might be if the participants understood the magnitude of their task at hand. Spies and counterspies are usually extensions of governmental activity. Even to say "semi-private organizations" rings of governmental orchestration and/or support.

After reviewing The Establishing of an Establishment, a couple of things leap out. Nine paragraphs before the end of the article, in parenthesis:

And the issue of grants is only one of the countless ways in which the same arbitrary power intrudes into men's lives.

Talk of behind the scenes influences does not come across as an arbitrary power. Couched as such, it comes across as intentional.

The other thing, ten paragraphs into this essay contained a question that has lurked in the background of my mind, but never clearly articulated: what makes men indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood.

Governmental encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true: it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood.

One way to think of it is the propaganda machines churn it out relentlessly. Sure it is just one errant line in this article, or a couple of cliche's in that article. It adds up, like a "torrent from the broken dam of the sewer of centuries". But, when the cool-aide doesn't have you drop dead right away, the fact that the witch-doctor poisoned the pitcher is much harder to detect.

The shelves in the marketplace of ideas are filled with paste jewelry copied from paste jewelry by artisans who have never seen the original gems. The exclusivity of the original gems ensure that only the artisans that demand them actually seek out the boutiques that carry them.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

For anyone who has watched this or researched the matter another way, how much danger do you think we are in?

I made it through Part One. It appears Putin is in more danger from us than us from him. Are you worried he's going to run more Facebook ads?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Russia is our enemy, just as it is to any semi-rational people. But, unless Russia starts throwing around nukes, they are not a danger anywhere near that of our own government, enabled by a populace that values what it imagines as security over actual freedom.

If anything, Russia might have done us a favor in their efforts to get Trump elected -- there is always the chance that Trump's awfulness will serve as a dash of cold water in the face of the American electorate.

(OK, you can call me Pollyanna now. :))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/20/2017 at 9:51 PM, Nicky said:

3. His intelligence services hacked the DNC, and released compromising information to Wikileaks in order to prevent a Clinton victory. This was an unprecedentedly hostile act. While espionage, including hacking, is par for the course between competing world powers, none of them have dumped the information they obtained through espionage onto the web, to influence elections, before. As such, this is a new level of hostility, which warrants an equally hostile response.

Julian Assange denies his source was Russia.  It was an inside job by a defector, probably a Bernie bro.  

At any rate the effect of this "hack" was to reveal the truth about the inside workings of the DNC.  I welcome such hacks and wish for more of them.  It helps voters make better decisions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Grames said:

Julian Assange denies his source was Russia.  It was an inside job by a defector, probably a Bernie bro.  

At any rate the effect of this "hack" was to reveal the truth about the inside workings of the DNC.  I welcome such hacks and wish for more of them.  It helps voters make better decisions.

So, just to clarify: your position is that the DNC hack never happened? This wikipedia article is about something that never happened https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Democratic_National_Committee_email_leak ?

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/22/2017 at 5:29 AM, Doug Morris said:

One reason for concern is the indications that there may have been collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

What is the number one best piece of evidence you have for collusion? I honestly want to know, because I don't like Trump and would love to be able to make a case against him.

If Putin acted against Hillary, I doubt it was on Trump's behalf. It was because he couldn't stand the thought of having to deal with the Clintons back in power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Eiuol said:

What evidence is there?

The data turned over to Wikileaks was a single large compressed file which preserved a hierarchical directory and file structure with individual files having their last modified times stored as file metadata.  An analysis of those files and the times they have leads to some  Sherlock-style deductions of how the files were transferred.   Of all the reporting done on this angle to the story there is really only one original source which is The Forensicator website, a wordpress blog.  Read up on what is there and you will know all that I know.  

The short version is that it appears there was a transfer of the data to a USB storage device , which means someone on site did it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Grames said:

Read up on what is there and you will know all that I know. 

That's a series of deliberately unintelligible blog posts disguised as technical jargon. There is absolutely no meaning in that blog. I'm a computer programmer, with an interest in cyber security. I'm telling you: none of those sentences mean anything. It's more nonsensical than the "physics" in Loose Change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Nicky said:

That's a series of deliberately unintelligible blog posts disguised as technical jargon. There is absolutely no meaning in that blog. I'm a computer programmer, with an interest in cyber security. I'm telling you: none of those sentences mean anything. It's more nonsensical than the "physics" in Loose Change.

Lots of discussion and critique has centered around Forensicator's conclusions but that it is "deliberately unintelligible" or has "absolutely no meaning" is not a serious response.  All that is required to understand what is discussed is familiarity with the file systems used and archiving software that makes .7z formatted archives.  Even I have that.

Elizabeth Vos understood it well enough to write up a story about what it implies.

Adam Carter understood it perfectly fine and has written about it.

Steve McIntyre of ClimateAudit.org understood it fine.  McIntyre has relevant experience to this case from going over the leaked ClimateGate data archive.

An extended back-and-forth about this issue was hosted at The Nation. A Nathaniel Freitas was drawn into the discussion and he offers this:

Quote

Relevant Experience: I have developed security and privacy-focused software for enterprise and mobile communications platforms and services for nearly 20 years. I have also acted as a technical resource for a variety of targeted nonprofit activist organizations and communities for 15 years. These groups have faced some of the most sophisticated adversaries in the world, who have, on many occasions, successfully executed attacks against them. Through malicious software, remote-access trojans, and e-mail-link phishing attacks, the private data and communications of these communities have been compromised. The most well-known of these incidents are GhostNet, the targeted attacks on Google originating from China, and the use of Android malware against Tibetan activists.

Summary Findings: The work of the Forensicator is detailed and accurate. There are no significant errors in the specific findings, relating to the analysis of time stamps and calculations related to digital-transfer speeds (also known as “throughput”) between storage drives or over a network connection. The Forensicator has worked carefully with the limited set of data available, providing the means necessary for anyone to reproduce the work and analysis.

There is enough evidence in the file archives to rule some things out (Russians, Guccifer 2.0) but not enough to positively prove much.  Your complete dismissal is not credible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Grames said:

There is enough evidence in the file archives to rule some things out (Russians, Guccifer 2.0)

It's telling that you cut off that Nathaniel Freitas quote right before he said the exact opposite: that metadata doesn't exclude the Russians, far from it. From Wikipedia:

The Guardian Project founder Nathaniel Freitas independently reviewed Lawrence's article on behalf of The Nation, concluding that while "the work of the Forensicator is detailed and accurate," it did not prove the conclusions VIPS and Lawrence derived from it. Freitas stated that the high throughput suggested by the relevant metadata could have been achieved by a hacker under several different scenarios, including through the use of a remote access trojan, and that the leak hypothesis also requires "the target server ... to be physically on site in the building": "If the files were stored remotely 'in the cloud,' then the same criticism of 'it is not possible to get those speeds' would come into play." In sum: "At this point, given the limited available data, certainty about only a very small number of things can be achieved."

So the only guy with credentials and a history of cyber security, in this whole thing, is telling you that your conclusions are wrong. Why are you still going with this? Why would you post an obscure blog even the one professional who bothered to acknowledge it said was wrong?

 

 

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/23/2017 at 7:09 AM, Grames said:

At any rate the effect of this "hack" was to reveal the truth about the inside workings of the DNC.  I welcome such hacks and wish for more of them.  It helps voters make better decisions.

The ends justify the means?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/23/2017 at 5:09 PM, Grames said:

At any rate the effect of this "hack" was to reveal the truth about the inside workings of the DNC.  I welcome such hacks and wish for more of them.  It helps voters make better decisions.

No, what would've helped voters make better decisions was if both parties private mail was released at the same time. Including Trump Jr.'s correspondence with WikiLeaks. (all the stuff described in this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/the-secret-correspondence-between-donald-trump-jr-and-wikileaks/545738/) Tax records too, while we're on the subject. 

Then voters would've had the information needed to decide which of the two bad choices is worse: the Hillary camp colluding with each other to handicap Sanders, or the Trump camp, colluding with Wikileaks and Russia, to handicap Clinton.

Having the Russian government decide which dirty secrets to release and which not to doesn't help American voters make good decisions. It's an absurd suggestion.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Nicky said:

It's telling that you cut off that Nathaniel Freitas quote right before he said the exact opposite: that metadata doesn't exclude the Russians, far from it. From Wikipedia:

The Guardian Project founder Nathaniel Freitas independently reviewed Lawrence's article on behalf of The Nation, concluding that while "the work of the Forensicator is detailed and accurate," it did not prove the conclusions VIPS and Lawrence derived from it. Freitas stated that the high throughput suggested by the relevant metadata could have been achieved by a hacker under several different scenarios, including through the use of a remote access trojan, and that the leak hypothesis also requires "the target server ... to be physically on site in the building": "If the files were stored remotely 'in the cloud,' then the same criticism of 'it is not possible to get those speeds' would come into play." In sum: "At this point, given the limited available data, certainty about only a very small number of things can be achieved."

So the only guy with credentials and a history of cyber security, in this whole thing, is telling you that your conclusions are wrong. Why are you still going with this? Why would you post an obscure blog even the one professional who bothered to acknowledge it said was wrong?

What's telling is that there was no point arguing what the facts mean until you could understand and accept what the facts were.

Freitas is certainly not the only guy with credentials weighing in here, and the topic at hand is simple enough (dividing sum of file sizes by time elapsed) that credentials hardly even matter.  I included Freitas to show that objectively even a subject matter expert that won't make the same conclusions and inductions as Forensicator could understand and agree that the methods used by Forensicator were sound, accurate and not unintelligible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Grames said:

  Freitas is certainly not the only guy with credentials weighing in here, and the topic at hand is simple enough (dividing sum of file sizes by time elapsed) that credentials hardly even matter.

It's not simple. It's fairly complex. You made it simple by ignoring everything that disproves your simplistic, ignorant theory.

Freitas dismantled the whole thing in a sentence. You should read that sentence, instead of going on about "dividing sum of file sizes by time elapsed".

 

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×