“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
— Attributed to P.T. Barnum
While there can be little doubt that the Russians interfered in the last presidential election and are continuing to work on agitating the electorate, there is a need to question some of the alarmist cries being raised.
Chief among these is the idea that the wily Russians stoked the ire of swing voters by feeding them Facebook bots and assorted social media chimeras. This was done we are told by the Russians placing their chips as it were, on both red and black so they could generate anxiety and sow divisions resulting in a Trump victory. The notorious wedge voters were targeted via fake/real posts on Facebook that linked push/pull rhetorical gambits like – Syrian refugees/bad vs help for American military vets/good.
The goal was that regardless of what side one was on, what was important for the Russians was to generate mistrust, paranoia, anxiety, confusion, and impulse votes in favor of the unhinged atavistic dog-whistles of Trump.
As if mistrust, paranoia, anxiety, confusion and impulse purchasing weren’t already the default setting for tens of millions of Americans.
However, what’s crucial is to understand that the Russians really did do this. That people really did fall for it and…what’s even more crucial to understand is that if you’re stupid enough to fall for that you’re stupid enough to fall for Trump or any other low-rent con some goon throws at you.
And that’s the real problem. Yes, the Russians are masterful at psy-ops – have been for as long as anyone can remember. And social media is a kind of Rube Goldberg contraption that can spread chaos and lies halfway around the world “before the truth can get out of bed and pull its pants on.”
But long before Facebook gave Mark Zuckerberg a hard-on, noted lunatic and drug-addled genius, William Burroughs was right when he said: language is a virus.
And without an education, and the discipline that comes from learning things like logic and rhetoric, and civics, and being bombarded 24/7 by an endless panopticon of consumerist heroin including iphone narcissism cranked permanently to the level of your soul bleeding out, the truth is the Russians could have floated balloons over America with cartoons showing Boris and Natasha saying look out it’s Moose and Squirrel and they still would have been just as successful.
Because people are that stupid.
And even a cursory examination of the wedge issues reveals just that – you have to be a fucking moron or some sort of natural born fool to believe anything Trump says as, of course you know he’s lying because his mouth is moving. And as we’ve discussed elsewhere even if one stipulates for the sake of argument or just shits and giggles that Trump has something worthwhile to say, the fact remains that only an idiot would actually believe that a man as unhinged and incoherent as Trump would be able to successfully navigate the swamp of Washington D.C. Or that his low-rent Romanov-esque lizard children and their third rate Gordon Gekko appendages wouldn’t constantly fall down in puddles of their own piss and vomit while spraying felonies in the face of Special Prosecutors.
So again, the issue is the baseline stupidity of the demographic that is susceptible to both Trump’s charms (such as they are) and/or the sweet nothings whispered across the ocean of zeros and ones by an army of Putin Bots.
Anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring from a pizza joint in DC is so unhinged that Vladimir Putin could have shown up at their front door with his nuclear launch codes and they’d have sworn it was part of a publisher clearing house sweepstakes.
You can’t (though they will) waste your time trying to build cyber Maginot lines when the real enemies Blitzkrieg is not Russian cyber goons and Putin Bots (though those are an issue) but the rank stupidity of millions of people trapped in some atavistic echo chamber full of nitrous and swamp gas.
And let’s be clear about another significant factor in all of this – namely that if the Russians weren’t agitating the wedge voters, the well-lubed, greased-up media companies on Republican and Democratic speed dial, would be.
An army of “consultants” and media experts are just a phone call away and anyone who remembers Willie Horton knows that K Street poses just as much of an existential threat to our national security as the Russians.
The answer is not in asking the legions of autism-heavy computer geeks at Facebook to be your front line of defense but rounding up the usual suspects of education, logic, rhetoric, civics, literacy, and a full-throated defense of the benefits to be had in turning down the volume on the 24/7 echo-chamber of cable “news” and fake-news chat shows masquerading as sophisticated discussion round-tables. It means addressing the power of money in dominating election campaigns. It means calling out gerrymandering and how stacking the Supreme Court has been a catastrophe and then confronting a host of other related issues.
But, that would sound suspiciously like a criticism of the bacchanal and orgy that is contemporary American capitalism with its Disneyland-esque theme parks of I want it now culture and its tribal simplicity – (designed by David Lynch while nursing a hangover that could drop a herd of elephants).
So instead the government will enlist the “assistance” of the tech industry, and invest a pirate’s treasure in the 21st century version of fixed fortresses while the fifth column of ignorance continues to eat away at the nation from the inside out.
In the meantime, as Bullwinkle J. Moose said:
Hey Rock, want to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?
Here’s an article from The Guardian detailing the efforts to construct a new high-tech Maginot Line.