The white nationalist in the White House

Ahhh, Stephen Miller, putting the “white” in the White House.  I was just going to let this go and add Michele Goldberg’s column on Miller to quick hits, but, damn it, then I’m just like everybody else letting this go because there’s just sooooo much.  The president grossly abused his power to serve his own re-election interests while undermining US National Security (we don’t give military aid to Ukraine just to be nice) and his own party doesn’t even care.  So, yeah, that sucks up a lot of attention.

But now we know there’s a white nationalist in the White House.  And he’s still there.  And we’re just all going on like that’s not even an issue.

Putin is winning

It’s been clear since even before Trump was elected that he was in Putin’s pocket.  “No puppet.  No puppet.  You’re the puppet.”  But, damn, if Russia has not now sucked the entire Republican Party into their strategy.  Seriously.  No, the Republicans are not purposely saying, “sure, we’ll do what Putin wants.”  But, by embracing Trump’s absurd defenses and supporting him no matter what, they are absolutely doing Putin’s bidding.  The whole damn party is the puppet now.  It’s really pretty amazing, and depressing as hell, to behold.  There’s seemingly no level they won’t sink to.  As I saw in a tweet the other day, forget shooting someone in 5th avenue, he could go on a rampage with an AK-47 (yes, that weapon chosen purposefully).

Paul Waldman: “Fiona Hill shows how Trump and Republicans function as Putin’s useful idiots”

When former White House national security aide Fiona Hill and diplomat David Holmes testified Thursday morning, they might not have made Donald Trump’s impeachment and conviction more likely, in the sense of providing new evidence of crimes and misdemeanors the president committed.

What they did do, however, was demonstrate that Trump and portions of the Republican Party have become what in the Cold War we used to call “useful idiots,” people who had become tools of the Kremlin not because they were devoted to the Soviet cause but because they were too stupid to realize how they were being manipulated.

In her opening statement, Hill put her finger on the problem:

Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves

As this conspiracy theory has it, Ukraine, not Russia, hacked Democratic emails and set up Russia to take the fall for sabotaging the election, and a cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike helped cover it up. Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help him make this true by finding an allegedly missing server in Ukraine.

This theory is not just bonkers, it is designed to serve the interests of the Kremlin. Holmes explained what Russia gains from the spread of the theory:

First of all, to deflect from the allegations of Russian interference. Second of all, to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine, which Russia wants to essentially get back into its sphere of influence. Thirdly, to besmirch Ukraine and its political leadership, to degrade and erode support for Ukraine from other key partners in Europe and elsewhere.

Indeed, just this week, at an economic forum in Moscow, Vladimir Putin celebrated the continued repetition of the Ukraine interference theory. “Thank God,” he said, “no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”…

Furthermore, the effort to deflect attention away from Russia and on to Ukraine has the effect of making Russia’s almost inevitable effort to meddle in the 2020 election more likely to succeed. When it happens — and it will happen — how are Republicans going to react? It’s all a hoax, they’ll say. Just a Democratic attempt to delegitimize Trump, the way they did before. Nothing to see here, move along.

And Putin will marvel yet again at how easy it is to manipulate the useful idiots in the GOP into doing exactly what he wants.

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