by William Skink
One of the unfortunate lessons that has been learned by Democrats in this last election cycle is that a Russia smear campaign can be effective. Just ask Trump, who had to jettison some alt-right baggage and lob a few missiles to get a pause from the non-stop anti-Russia hysteria emanating from partisans and pundits.
One might think the smears are not effective, considering Hillary Clinton lost the election. People who think that way don’t understand that the information war doesn’t stop when the election is over.
So what’s up with Rob Quist and his supporters suddenly whipping out the Russia card?
I don’t know, but the post that finally did it for me is from combat veteran and (spook?) propagandist Joshua Manning, subtly titled Gianoforte Need to Pick a Side….Russia or Montana?
First, to put his terrified audience at ease, Manning let’s us know there aren’t evil Russians lurking in every crevice of every wealthy man’s stock portfolio. After that little caveat comes the smear, which is the meat of the propaganda:
Not all Russian business has ill intentions and there is not evil behind every corner. However, most of the businesses Gianforte has chosen to stick with are involved with Russian President Vladimir’s Putin’s creeping annexation of nearby countries, brutal internal repression, and tied to many of the people named and highly suspected in the election interference of 2016. Keep in mind the date of this disclosure to the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives: March 17, 2017. Gianforte is signaling he continues to invest in these companies and said as much on debate stage this past weekend. It is important to remember Gianforte only answered that he invested in these stocks based on their performance when pressed by Quist and not anyone managing the debate.
What fabulous propaganda. Putin’s “creeping annexation” omits the western-backed coup in Ukraine. Putin’s “brutal internal repression” keeps the focus on Russia, ignoring brutal regimes, like Saudi Arabia, who help fuel the jihadi proxy wars across the ME. And what Russian smear-job would be complete without referencing how Russia is “highly suspected in the election interference of 2016”?
With those narratives established, Manning does touch on some important factors at play, specifically energy resources. But it’s cut from the same propaganda cloth:
Much has initially been made of the companies Gianforte funds for violating US sanctions. Russia faced sanctions for illegitimate military operations in Ukraine that led to it claiming Crimea as a Russian territory. The companies designated are oil and gas giants like Gazprom, Rosneft, Surgutneftegas, and Transneft along with major state-sponsored banks like Sberbank (Gianforte’s largest holding).
Beyond breaking international norms, Russia’s moves toward Ukraine bring a much larger concern. Ukraine, a former Soviet republic with a long memory of repression, serves as the conduit for natural gas into Europe. In the early 2000s this caused yearly problems because Ukraine refused to pay the hefty sums charged by companies like Gazprom, which the gas provider used to drain the Ukrainian budget. Russia in turn accused the Ukrainians of turning off pipelines and keeping gas for itself. Keep in mind this is during the height of harsh eastern European winters. Putin also eyed the problematic Ukraine because it also dared to make moves toward NATO for protection and to join the larger European-Atlantic community.
However, if Putin and his allies in the oil and gas industry can turn Ukraine toward Russian interests then they control the flows of natural gas into Europe. If upset with how Germany, France, or even NATO acts, then Russia can simply turn off the gas or charge a premium for its service. Gaining greater access into Ukraine also puts Russian intelligence and political forces on Europe’s doorstep. This would allow for gains into eastern and southeastern Europe. Russia also has interest in funding “alt-right” movements in the U.K., Germany, and France as they undercut the vote and promote neo-Nazi policies. Putin and his cronies finance all of this through their lucrative oil and gas interests and money laundering through state-owned or foreign banks. The very same companies and people in Gianforte’s portfolio mean to undercut U.S. interests in our main ally: Europe.
There is so much wrong and deceitful here. So much NOT being said. While Manning laments international norms, he willfully suppresses the clear consequences of the neoliberalism he not-so-covertly supports. Manning and his ilk believe markets are to be dominated by western interests, and any threat to that domination gets attacked.
Sometimes the attacks are financial, through sanctions and market manipulation. Sometimes the attacks are a-symetrical, like selling weapons to allies who then hand them to jihadists in places like Syria. Sometimes the attacks aren’t attacks at all, but blowback, like millions of displaced refugees fueling culture clashes in Europe, creating fertile ground for more boogeymen in the guise of the “alt-right” to sprout up.
Here is the conclusion of Manning propaganda piece:
Internally, the executives and families of these connected businesses form an important wing of the Russian government. Putin can trust them to stay in line, kickback their profits to those in the government, and help him expand the enterprise. These oligarchs count their money as Putin’s intelligence and police services kill opposition figures, viciously curb protests, and imprison anyone who dares question the system. Most of Russia’s top billionaires who support this head the companies in Gianforte’s portfolio. Gianforte, a billionaire himself, must have some sort of kindred connection to them.
Let us take Gianforte at his word during the Congressional debate—he is okay with these investments because they are making him money. Notice that he offered no apology or any explanation that maybe some of the companies are in the wrong. He, like his mentor Donald Trump, doubled down on his funding of oppression and authoritarianism. He wants to take those values to Congress and represent Montana. Think about that.
There is nothing in these two paragraphs that can’t be applied to this country, including intelligence services killing opposition. Or maybe you think journalists like Gary Webb really shot himself in the head, and Michael Hastings just accidentally sped his Mercedes into a tree, exploding into a ball of flames.
But Joshua Manning doesn’t want you thinking about any of that, no, no, no. Instead, contemplate the “kindred connection” Gianforte must have with Russian oligarchs. Then connect that to Donald Trump. And please, don’t for a second ask yourself how much oppression and authoritarianism America has been propping up since WWII, because those are the kind of dangerous thoughts that undermine the effectiveness of propaganda.
And who really wants that?
I think the Manning is an opportunistic ladder climber just like his step mom, just looking for any way into the MIC, so he can gain power and wealth. Simple as that. He is pure neocon/lib interventionist through and through. Vile and dangerous. And he represents mainstream democratic party thought. Those guys won’t clear out until they’ve had their real — nuclear — war, and annihilated Russia, Iran, Syria and North Korea. Total world dominance is the real goal that binds these people together.
Also interesting that this was published on MAY DAY, MAY DAY!
I doubt Quist had any idea what a index fund was a week ago. Broke people don’t invest. Manning article is so full of untruths besides being long and boring. This campaign is desperate.
Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede. It has been part of Russia since the 1700s. Nobody asked when it was forced to be part of Ukraine after USSR fell. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/world/europe/crimea-ukraine-secession-vote-referendum.html?_r=0
If Democrats are not careful it won’t be long before multiple state ballots will be asking voters the same question here. The missile strike in Syria, and cheers for Trump by the R2P crowd really messed with the minds of a lot of folks who fell for the Russia/Putin meme. Like the burned-by-Bernie bunch, those voters will not return anytime soon. If an honest vote were held today, how many Montanans would support breaking away from the U.S.?
Get used to Manning, he’s being groomed for a run next election season.
As far as the Russians are concerned I like this one.
I dislike Gianforte so much that I’ll vote for Quist despite what some strategists do. And my vote against Gianforte has nothing to do with his Russian interests, whatever they might be.
Someone from out of state asked me about Quist and I told them that he is a good guy, but its unfortunate that we might send him to D.C., as it will corrupt him. I see the Russian allegations sliding into his campaign that he already is getting co-opted. That didn’t take long.
The problem with electing citizen legislators (vs. professional politicians) is that they don’t necessarily have the skills to repel the vampire squids and lobbyists, and special interest groups, and above all the lure of money and power. Being a poor person (which Quist can qualify as compared to the rest of Congress), what is to prevent him from succumbing to the power and wealth that awaits any who are willing to bend over?
If Quist wants to win and do more than be another run-of-the-mill congressman, then he needs to state without equivocation his opposition to politics as usual. And then proceed to act accordingly and be held accountable. This I haven’t seen yet.
I went to a Quist event and heard him say all the right things about economic injustice – a key issue for me. He may or may not be corrupted while in office, but I’m ready to give him the benefit of doubt. Gianforte is not merely corrupt, but he’s dead wrong on the issues — everything from public schools, gays, science, and programs for poor people.
Be honest Turner – all a candidate needs is a (D) behind their name to earn your support !
Not true. I voted for Jill Stein.
To be in the top 1% in MT you must make roughly $300K/yr.
Quist’s new reported salary of $130K puts him between the top 2-3% of MT wage earners.
The myth is that people self-select and run for office, seeking voter approval. Reality is that candidates are selected from above and placed in the mix, made to seem “viable” by our mainstream media. By power of suggestion, voters imagine that they select a candidiate to fulfill their desires. What we are seeing with Quist is that he was not prepared to make a run when called upon, and is cleaning house now. It might be because he is chosen to win. I thought it more likely Democrats put up a token candidate, as they often do. Republicans did this for decades to make it appear that Baucus won elections naturally. But seeing Trump “elected” I understand that with modern voting technology, anything is possible. The votes have already been counted.
You’re right about one thing Mark. He wasn’t prepared.
Ha! Challenging the electorate to commit suicide! Indeed he needs new writers!
Independent candidate, Doug Campbell, paid the $1,740 fee and filled out the necessary paperwork to have his votes counted in the special election. His name will not be printed on the ballot. He is a “write-in” candidate. If you choose to vote for him, your vote will be counted, at least according to Montana election law.
What happened with your lawsuit? Anything come of it, or will it just be swept under the rug?
It continues, but the relief asking to be placed on the ballot was denied by the 9th Cir. and SCOTUS. No reason(s) given. Should have a pretty good chance of prevailing on the substantive issue of whether or not the law is unconstitutional. Only Campbell had the cash and paperwork in place to qualify as a write-in recognized and counted by County Elections staff and Montana SOS.
Well guys – my absentee ballot has been in the rack for a couple of days now, and I’ll be sending it off probably tomorrow.
Unless something dramatic happens between now and Monday this race is over.
After Monday it won’t matter, at least not in Yellowstone County.
I think that Gianforte started out with at least a 10 point advantage because of his name recognition, plus the Trump tsunami isn’t done yet.
The press has been in his favor, all you have to do is turn on the TV tonight for the evening news, or turn on your radio in your car, or pick up the Gazette and you learn that Quist is a bad, bad person.
This race is 49-40-7, and Quist becomes the next in a long line of Dem house candidates who lost. If the idiocy they are showing, claiming Russia is hacking this election were to be widely known it wouldn’t be that close even.
Tester isn’t waiting for the May 25 special election, he’s lining up his ducks and banks. https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/ben-terris/?utm_term=.f63711e231f5
Baucus II. Expect no real Republican opposition. Maybe we forget that Robert Kelleher won the 2008 Republican (Senate) primary. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/us/politics/12montana.html
Could 2018 play out in a similar fashion?
I realized in a FB conversation, eleven years too late, that Conrad Burns was saddled with Jack Abramoff, an actor, in 2006 to clear the path for Tester, just another Timber Lobby man. Burns must have been seen to be heading into dementia even at that time. His replacement was seen to be more effective as a Democrat and fake progressive. Tester makes my skin crawl.
Tester has been busy getting his face in front of a TV camera every chance he gets, hasn’t he?
I haven’t changed my opinion of him, that he’s a buffoon, and I think he made a big mistake voting against Gorsuch for the SCOTUS, but his race will depend on who the GOP runs against him. We just watched a Presidential Election, with two most flawed candidates ever, so I won’t be surprised by anything.
Tester’s actions against Gorsuch were stayed until it was sure that he would be confirmed. He then swung into action knowing he would be defeated, but also knowing that Democrats who follow him are, well, kind of dumb and fall for anything.
Bob Dole used to advise freshmen senators and representatives that “You’ll never go wrong voting against something that is going to pass or for something that is going to fail.” That’s all most votes cast amount to, symbolism.