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Russia and the American Dream

Update: 2016-12-14


Ezra and Matt discuss Russian hacking, Rex Tillerson, and inequality's role in reducing social mobility.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the following podcast contains explicit language and and thus save hello welcome to another race of the weeds boxes policy podcast apparently network I met Iglesia sat back with us fresh from vacation is as a client and rested ready Sarah cliff we actually don't know where she is a good discussion about this semester I think she is not in Kentucky but now you know now although speaking of Kentucky if you have not read Sarah's piece where she went to talk to Obamacare enrollees in Obamacare enrollment offices in Kentucky who voted for Donald Trump you have to read it it is I think one of the best things we've published at box ever it is reveling Tori and in the truest sense of the word and I hope when she's back week and we can discuss that reporting and also her trip to the KFC museum that I have a lot of questions about frankly half and half episode the Obama camp is half the case I once wrote an article about the history of Kentucky Fried Chicken so I have the children there I've always wanted to come but for now something patriotic wanted to talk about Russian hacking and its influence on the twenty sixteen campaign this is something that obviously has been in the news some light ever since that the hacking kind of started it but they recently been formal assessment from the CI saying that they are now prepared to conclude that the purpose of the Russian hacking was to help Donald Trump when the election the FBI rather says that they are not comfortable assessing that they know what Russia's motives would be if this is tended to get sort of play in the press as like He Said She Said kind of thing but he sort of isn't really He Said She Said I mean the CA is kind of saying in the way that an intelligence agency does our best guess it was going on here is that the reason they did election interventions that help Donald Trump when is that they wanted Donald Trump to win the FBI in a little bit more of a lag when I hand this to a prosecutor kind of sends is I think saying correctly right I mean you could not credibly tell a jury that you have proven beyond a reasonable doubt but you know why Russia did the two poles of this debate because I think is actually worth stating this very clearly C I A says Rush was trying to help Donald Trump when FBI says Russia was intervening in the American election for some reason could be to sow chaos to sow doubts about American democracy it might've been just make Hillary Clinton feel bad they thought Hillary Clinton would still win but they would have scored some points but everybody is agreeing that Russia intervened in a consequential way an American ally by everybody except Donald Trump everybody except write and write a so so don't Trump as everybody at the CIF yesterday Donald Trump has not done a press conference again like clear statement on this since the latest round of revelations but he tweeted that you know we couldn't believe it he put out a press release a very terse three sentence press release with a sort of going nuclear on the CAA calling them the same people who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and has been out there his surrogates saying this is an effort to de legitimize him as president coming from you know the lying media and also I think is actually imported you've seen people who want jobs in the Trump administration so John Bolton is under consideration or maybe has been officially named for Under Secretary of State yeah he's been he's been I think he went out and said that who knows it could been a false flag operation so there's all kinds of pushback coming from all kinds of corners of the Trump administration and it is it is official and it is a signal being sent to anyone else who would like to be in the position so what you're hoping there was that President elect Trump would become more sensible on these matters are the people working for him would be professional enough that they would refuse to untold this kind of thing you're disappointed and I would say also that when you have not seen is that James Matt s who was picked to be sent to a defense who I think when he was picked that was widely greeted by Trump's skeptical people as OK this is like a good guy you can see why Donald Trump might like him because he has this like his nickname is mad dog everyone in the Marines loves em I like um be kind of guy I sort of like also is genuinely a very well respected military commander Defense professional has sort of normal military officer opinions about geopolitics and Russia things like that you haven't heard from him right on this subject by the sort of a dressing of the question of Russian hacking in the American election has been left to Donald Trump on Twitter Kelly Ann Conway John Bolton to the transfer rate here's what I think it is genuinely unnerving about this and I believe Sandra pro cop who wrote this piece and convince me of it but from getting the author wrong I apologize you're seeing a couple of things here simultaneously I think that the top level way people might interpret what Trump is doing here is narrowly political which is to say that it would be on some level bad for him have people believe that his election was scared or helped by Russia and so his beating that back but what they were unnerving explanation but probably venture one is that Donald Trump as we've seen off than before really does convince himself of what he wants to believe that Bella really has convinced himself that as he keeps saying he won one of the largest electoral landslides in history which is very much not true but also that this whole Russia thing it's probably just bullshit coming from his enemies and this is coming the contacts were trying to stop receiving the daily intelligence briefing because hey this is literally his argument he is very smart and also he found the repetitive because the state of the world doesn't change all that much every day on he said someone would call him something change something change and also that he he is doing good for my generals right getting the thing which was hard to say who that was referring to a problematic also in a different way away but Trump is someone who has a tendency to believe bad information to believe things he wants to believe really not force himself to align views with the best available evidence and that one of the scary things about this is if you think about the signal being sent say to intelligence agencies and members of the Trump administration is don't tell the president thinks he's not going to like because if you do not only will he not believe you but you'll probably attack you you'll get fired at your agency will be de legitimize what kind of funding is knowledge can want to give the C I A after this it's probably going to be lower then the funding of that the otherwise what and at the same time if you're thinking about the decisions the truck needs to make he is not a guy who is going to make those decisions based on the evidence may be that he should believe he's going to be a guy who makes him based on the evidence he wants to believe and making matters worse is he surrounding himself with people who share that trait the scariest of his opponents to me has been Michael Flynn is national security adviser Flynn is a guy who became very eccentric after clashing with the Obama administration and being pushed out of his position A D at Defense Intelligence Agency and he among other things has been a very constant re tweet or a fake news he has just put out a lot of things into the world that are just not true that he appears to believe this is when he was just some guy doing his own thing but also you know novelists writing books giving speeches and advising Donald Trump and national security advisor is an information structure and position it is a position that its role is to give the president the information about national security help him or her make good decisions so you have is a president who believes bad information songs is congenial to how he wants the world to be who is being informed by the National Security advisor who believes bad information congenial how he wants Walter to be going into this administration with that as our protection against terrible foreign policy decision to manually scan I think this is particularly alarming he specifically in the Russian contacts because I will say I'm not a big fan of Donald Trump but I sympathize with the viewpoint that I think that the United States policy toward Russia has been excessively aggressive I mean I think I really would have said two years ago that something that happened in the United States was that we built up a lot of institutions to curb but Moscow's geopolitical influence during the Cold War and then when the Cold War ended we just kind of kept them running in that somewhat thoughtless manner and I think if you go all the way back to two thousand and four States is very sort of aggressively in favor of protest movements to bring down a pro Russian president of Ukraine and bring in a sort of more pro American pro Western president you can reasonably ask yourself like why were we doing right what was the purpose of that if we had seen heavy influence of Russian intervention in a Mexican election I think Americans would regard that as very very alarming and particularly in the context of two thousand for right we were invading Iraq we're fighting a war on terror in Afghanistan what was this like about right and and I think EADS was reasonable of the Obama administration under Hillary Clinton to try for reset to aim for like a rapprochement with Russia I think it did not really work out well for them and there's a reason that they move back in a more hawkish direction but I still think it's crazy to look at Syria and say look the Russians have basically won this and there's no percentage in continuing to fight with them at this totally appalling massacre has been playing out in Aleppo over over the past couple days but the United States was not it is not like intervening in a forceful way to stop the Russians from doing this so Samantha Powell was at the UN and she did a little talk that has like gone viral of like her yelling at the Russians and like do you guys have no shame like your appalling monsters anyone can ask me why what is that upside to her doing that when we don't actually have a policy to stop that maybe we should we should try to cooperate on something we would be risky right it would be very risky to turn around America's view on the war in Syria the civil conflict in Ukraine and the American relationship with Russia in general you would want to worry that OK we're trying this but Putin is playing us for suckers right and we think we've reached a new accommodation but then he turns around the next day and he's invading a Stony at destabilizing the government of Poland and Baba bought like that so few good try like a bold risky new game changing geo political initiative you really need your intelligence agencies to be letting like what's happened is this working are we getting what we bargained for out of this are we getting screwed over it's really embarrassing sewing like ever wants to say is like OK we did this thing and it was big and it was controversial it was consequential but we thought it was important and then it didn't work so we need to change course that's hard it's not like Donald Trump will be the first president who is reluctant to like here that bad news but he's giving every indication of being WAY worse about an Obama George W Bush even and it's it's really one of the most consequential things you can do is present right nobody this year like flawless administration right even if you have great ideas some of them don't work out and you need to turn them around and if you take the view that like okay well I didn't want this year that the Russians were rooting for me to win so I'm making it like really clear if you give me unpleasant news we're going to like try to destroy the credibility of the whole agency had hard time actually executing any of these these ideas that Ramses then there is this piece which I don't even know how to correctly think about because it is so unnerving when you look back now we are faced with the possibility and I think at this point the probability that the election which turned out to be a close election turned on a combination of Russian hacking the FBI going out in the final weeks of the election with an investigation that turned out to turn up nothing but got huge play and made created a ton of negative media around Hillary Clinton and led to a lot of lead insiders abandoning her and also I think is a little bit more arguable but by the same token while the FBI dominated media was something that wasn't true the C I A I held back the Obama administration held back for making a major issue of something that was true now I want to be careful cuz I was alive during the selection I'm old enough to remember and there was talk of Russian hacking I mean it wasn't something that was unknown but it was talk for political junkies it was in front page news of every paper C I A says Russia trying to influence American elections it's a very the media dynamics of something like that are very very very different I want to be careful in how I phrase is because again it was a close election and so many things matter if Hillary Clinton had not set up a second if she has used the state government emails like everything might be different but in a close election because a lot of things mattered the fact that the crucial difference for Donald Trump was probably made by a mixture of Russian intelligence services and American intelligence services is a very scary feeling place to be particularly because what happened is we nominated we elected one of the most erratic and least prepared individuals ever to hold this office a fact that it came about as a fluke in a matter of foreign influences it's very I don't I almost don't know how to summon a sufficient level of alarm about it like I don't feel constitutionally capable of facing upto what appears to have happened here it's very it's very scary thing that I don't even know what the right response to that is yeah I would also say I mean we serve like secondary disturbing I would say a trend that I've definitely seen over the past couple all they share this with Jamie's that there's a marked tendency among people who wish to that Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee people who work for Hillary Clinton's campaign who supported her passionately they like election narrative is that paint her as a tragic hero and as a victim so they are very into Russian hacking and James Koh me whereas people who supported Bernie Sanders like narratives that paint Hillary as villainous figure who though she was better than Donald Trump in a sense is responsible for Donald Trump her own wondering so they're there's a Politico story about how the Clinton campaign's field operation in Michigan like ignored all the desires of local activists in favor of a top down data driven approach from Brooklyn so I'm seeing that shared a lot from left wing people obviously the handing out of lawn signs in Michigan and or the hacking of private communications by Russians are not like what the Clinton Sanders primary was about in terms of like issues but you see how it goes that way but I think it's dangerous for the country for some foreign government hackers should not intervene in elections to be like a partisan issue and its Tripoli dangerous for it to be construed as like a narrow leaf actual issue right that like to say I think it is bad that Russian hackers stole done to test his emails and leak them to try to sow dissension in the United States and possibly make Donald Trump president should not be read is like equivalent to I think the trans Pacific Partnership was great or Hillary Clinton ever made tactical errors in her campaign it's like a bad thing to have happen like independently on its own merits in part because it worked and you would assume that the implication of this is that other foreign entities are going to try and try to get in on this game it is a little bit crazy and I think a normal prudent foreign leader if given this proposal would even like you know what guys like that's fine but like maybe don't do that like maybe like Save the hacking for some kind of industrial espionage eyes so we can walk away from if you get caught because like this seems a little explosive and we are like the Russians did it sorta got caught nothing bad is going to happen to them as a result so now you know whether Angela Merkel like a like a US ally but who has concerns about what happens in American politics or your China India or Pakistan I mean I think you gotta be like phoning up your people and being like okay was our like cyber electioneering campaign and so to make this like all about the specifics of like what was in the WikiLeaks documents and Mike do we like Julian assigns I think is really shortsighted but it's it's I think it's been clear since electing a dem really difficult for people to like process any information about America do anything other than a like re running the election but like the election is over we're going to move forward into a paradigm in which this kind of this kind of thing is like a tactic of politics and of foreign affairs to make a bit of an off topic point and they'll bring it bring it back to this conversation but to your discussion there of the way things are getting absorbed into the Sanders including counter factual sae something that annoys me about the cutoff actual conversation that is the lack of imagination it tends to have gone on all different size it's one thing that I try to ask myself and when running a counter factual scenario like what if Joe Biden had run for president or what if you know Bernie Sanders have been the nominee or whatever might be is can I imagine writing the story where turned out even worse for the first break I imagine writing a story where Bernie Sanders lost the popular vote by one percent and also lost the electoral College I can also imagine writing a story where he won by two percent Bernie Sanders had a very large suite of tax increases that when you hold them getting incredibly incredibly badly they were not damaging to the party when a Democratic primary but with a lot of working class white voters who probably would be or maybe would have on you know like I have my own set of counter factual I think Joe Biden should run for president but I also think that lie like that kind of actually he would have lost the primary thing would happen and I think Elizabeth Warren should have run for president and I wrote that piece early on and actually she won the primary but then I don't know I don't really know what happened but I do think that it's important there can be a tendency to create an argumentative structure that is something like extra to work out we should have done not acts this is not acts thus this would've worked out and that's just not true as it did take a little bit out of the electioneering contacts I remember talking with members of the Obama administration at some point about the debt ceiling and the strategies around that and twenty Love and I was very critical of of a lot of what they did there but M says something similar saying to me and I thought was persuasive was that I can remember what scenario I had posed to him but he said look I was in a row with fifteen like really really people either really good at politics and policy people who have passed major piece of legislation one big campaigns that idea got caught up in that room and it was rejected because we thought it would turn out worse than the way in that direction we ultimately want now it didn't turn out that well either so maybe right maybe this other thing would have been better but maybe they were right and actually would have been of course we rarely live in the darkest of all time line so I think it's good to be it is important to think you kind of factual right obviously the way things work now is also not the lightest all timelines but I think is also born to be a little too to recognize it's all probabilities of things can also turn out to know about you but two points and an exiting and interesting one is that we're really good article on the site by Jeff Stein that's about Bernie's at Chris Hayes town hall in Wisconsin from I think was Monday night at like some voters it was designed to like showcase the idea that like Bernie Sanders could win over these white working class supporters and to an extent is like ATV vehicle like it does show that reading was of course advantage by the fact that there was no letter from Donald Trump's campaign there to get to push back but Jeff says which is I think very shrewd is that like Bernie does not have all the like crazy trunk bag and then when Bernie would say to Trump supporters policy things where he and Trump agree like we need to tear up these bad trade deals and weeded outsider to shake up the political system that they really like that like they like that Trump Sanders ven diagram overlap message and they like the fact that Bernie Sanders is not like sociopath but then when they pull them on like should we have like WAY higher taxes and make college free they were like not as into that stuff right so I mean in terms of the election in the light was really close like that may well have been good enough to win it but when we're just thinking about going for it just like it's important always think about like only one person can win an election but what about them carried it forward right people who I know who like Bernie Sanders the thing that's most exciting about him is Medicare for All Free College Baba Baba Baba but I think there is some good reason to believe he might have done better in at least specific states than Hillary Clinton did but typically not for those reasons the other thing in terms of kind of actions just like this is why I personally boys hung up on the like let's do but breaking speeches for three years after stepping outside to take this with most of these things you can second guess the campaign message but I am shore that when they settled on the message that they settled on they consider doing other messages and they felt that there were pros and cons to all the different ones involve ah it was obviously no pro to like Let's go do a speech for six hundred thousand dollars to a Brazilian bank like three speeches for six hundred and seventy five thousand dollars to Goldman Sachs literally least popular institution in the country to be the proud moment approach to all of that stuff I mean those of us who have done paid speaking cells can tell you is that you get money for it but that was a different kind of tradeoff for Hillary Clinton was balancing her personal desire to have more money against like what would be a wise political strategy so that I feel like is just like the free shot that everyone gets to take owe a lot of good tasting but actually go back to the one of the original kind of actual things made me think of this that Michigan story I can just really imagine writing that story both ways I can really imagine Hillary Clinton winning again and then you write the story about her battle is yet happened in twenty twelve I can also imagine writing the story that in myth like the Hillary Clinton campaign unlike the Brock Obama campaign which it perfected this data Analytics run you know do everything by the number strategy had this campaign full of old school political hacks with really good relationships with local activists and local politicians and that when Debbie Stabenow now and whoever whoever came to them and said Here's what's going on in Michigan they Marshal their forces and everything was a total disaster because it ran a campaign like I was nineteen eighty two now obviously these are different poles of the of the thing and you can certainly have found better better balances but again the stuff where as you say like she should not give the Goldman Sachs sheesh not have used a private email So yeah right like you can really look at some of the She fucked that up like real big but a lot of these other things I can imagine it turning up better and I can imagine it turning out worse and I think it's telling what nobody appears to have learned from this election is that more Democrats should be like Evan Bye who ran way ahead of Hillary Clinton even though we lost again Jason can die and Jason Heather and I also don't think the cut should be like heaven by but I can understand what the argument being made made there is but all anybody ever learns is like that they were right all along I think that's a place to be skeptical of how rigorously the kind of factual are being treated anyway off of that digression I do want to say that imagine twenty thirty I had said to you that Russia will engage in a large scale digital espionage operation to influence the American election they will succeed the way they will succeed is that they will help elect his popular president elect ever who also loses in the popular vote but he does become president what do you think will happen to rush and I think that if I posed the hypothetical someone a year after Mitt was the Republican nominee saying Russia is our greatest geopolitical threat and Wald the Obama administration at a very tense relationship with the Putin had been regime I think you'd say this is going to be in on believable crisis between US and Russia to the point that like we are talking about certainly digital retaliation may be physical retaliation may be sanctions I mean we would be talking in that world about a genuine emergency and instead as you say Donald Trump is attacking the C I A and Republicans of all they are open to their now under pressure open to seeing it investigated up pressure by the way they resisted during the election they are not forming any kind of Select Committee for it to really focus on that it'll just be one of the things that a bunch of other committees are doing one thing is it shows I think it's pretty nice and likes line that partisanship is a hell of a truck so that's one piece of it but the other is that we are entering like this is like uncharted territory into I don't even know I think about and I think this is the context in which makes sense to talk about sex to listen let's move to the unbelievably well named Rex Tillis and red sole source turn as the CEO of Exxon when this was like first floated I like laughed and CEO cadres and our eyes are like World Affairs Editor he said to me you know I I bet Rex toes and I have talked a man of few times of years like this is a smart guy he knows alot about the world to understand that like what a giant multi national oil company does is in fact a lot of dealings with foreign countries this is like not totally as crazy as it as it sounds like and certainly by the Rudy Giuliani New Gingrich bar like other people who Trump was floating seems maybe oh most sensible on the other hand we've been having secretaries of state since seventeen eighty nine
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Russia and the American Dream