Saturday, July 29, 2017

Recommended Viewing: Putin's Gingerbread Cottage

The sweet Russian grandmother says “Come into my gingerbread house. It’s nice inside.” Since this isn’t the age of fairy tales we are less suspicious of gingerbread houses than we should be. If the business looks smart and the brochure is impressive and they do what they say they’ll do in the brochure people eat the gingerbread and don’t worry about it. But aftereffects sometimes take a while to kick in. It now appears possible, even likely, that the Russian hack of our system extends to a ubiquitous security software that millions of Americans and key departments of our government use on their computers.

I recommend watching this hourlong special report from Richard Engel of NBCNews.

Most Americans assume what is available is automatically safe, but lax regulation does let a lot of bad actors loose in our economy. Is Kaspersky Labs a bad actor doing bad things, or are they simply another case of someone within the Putin’s reach who’s been pulled into Putin's global operation. Either way, the results are bad. Suppose Kaspersky is simply a good computer security company with a Russian name. That isn’t reassuring. If you are a Russian who lives in Russia, who has a company in Russia, you are within Putin’s reach. If you are a big success in Russia and are not cooperative when Putin asks you may find yourself thrown from a high window or poisoned or gunned down. Nobody in Russia becomes a big player without Putin having his hand in it. Nobody in Russia crosses Putin or refuses him without suffering for it.

It appears that Trump walked into Russia’s gingerbread cottage a couple of decades ago. They reinflated his deflated and bankrupt companies (and ego.) It was in last year’s election that Trump became weaponized. Consider how many of Trump’s top people were also employed by or financially sustained by Putin or his gang of Russian oligarchs. Consider how many Russians who were in a position to know what happened in the 2016 election hack who are now dead, and how they died. Consider how desperate Trump is to hide his financial information. Consider how obedient Trump and his team were to Russian demands and interests…until Americans were informed about this by the Times and the Post and the Wall Street Journal and CNN and NBC and MSNBC and Reuters and McClatchy News Service and Bloomberg and others.

Putin may have wished for an American puppet president, but he never dreamed he would get one. If Trump has been a puppet he has already done his job for his master. The American government is paralyzed. (With the White House and Congress both in Republican hands you may wonder how many Republicans in Congress are also on the hook to Putin.) Worse, the whole western alliance is paralyzed and thrown into chaos. Putin, via Trump, has decapitated the western world that opposed his intrusions into neighboring states and his many violent repressions at home. The western alliance opposed Russia so Russia hacked elections to change the changeable minds of his opponents. He hacked the Republican Party by making them his stooges. The Democrats were not going to be his stooges so he neutralized their candidates via cyberwarfare, The Republicans were either willing accomplices or (perhaps worse) they were stooges and played along because they saw mutual benefits. The Republican voter should be as angry or angrier than the Democrats because they were used. Their leaders pulled them into a criminal conspiracy that amounts to treason. It’s treason because it violated our democracy by conspiring with a foreign enemy. The Republicans surrendered our autonomy. Their clever operatives surrendered American sovereignty as surely as the Petain Vichy government did in France and the Quisling government did in Norway. The Republican Party gave its official face to the Russian operation and now must cover it up.

A recent Bloomberg article about Kaspersky Labs and the Russian spy agencies.

A Reuters article on the same topic.

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