As I write this lede, Bernie Sanders is announcing the nomination by acclamation of Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential nominee from a major party, and finally putting to rest this ridiculously pervasive notion that math and process are irrelevant and therefore Bernie Sanders could somehow overtake Hillary. It was an extraordinarily classy move by Bernie, but it shouldn't overshadow the history that's been made this week by the Democratic Party. (The GOP could've easily been the first to nominate a woman or an African-American man, and it's telling that Republican voters haven't, to date, allowed either.)
The good news for Bernie supporters is that, yes, the Vermont senator lost the nomination but, as the MSNBC panel agreed Monday night, he won the issues. Due specifically to both Bernie's campaign and his influence, the Democratic Party is significantly more progressive than it was just several months ago. The new platform contains an entire menu of planks that Bernie himself fought for, including the expansion of Social Security and Medicare, as well as the addition of a public option to Obamacare, and reform of the superdelegate system, to name a few. In other words, did Bernie really lose?
Nevertheless, we can expect that cranky Bernie-or-Bust progressives will continue to shout at the rain on social media, crying foul every time the acronym "DNC" is brought up, regardless of context. It's their right to do it, of course, but when it comes to the DNC emails dumped by Wikileaks last Friday, the Berners are doing themselves a disservice by missing the forest for the trees.
Throughout the past 24 hours or so, since I first began writing about the connection between the email leak and the Russian government, I've heard from quite a lengthy array of Bernie loyalists who think the content of several of the emails is more important than the alleged means by which the emails were acquired.
Just in case I, along with my friend and colleague Chez Pazienza, haven't been clear enough: this is easily the story of the year. Evidence is stacking up which, collectively, points to the allegation that Vladimir Putin and his intelligence services conspired with Wikileaks to skew the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Everything else having to do with the DNC email leak is secondary -- deeply secondary. By zeroing in on just the content of several emails, observers of all political stripes are blinding themselves to perhaps the first verifiable attempt of a foreign government to disrupt an American presidential election, thus trampling our sovereignty.
So, let's review where we are. Numerous security firms, tasked by journalists, along with the FBI and the Democratic National Committee are frantically diving into the digital trail of bread-crumbs left by the hacker(s). What we know is that the links to the Russian FSB (formerly KGB) and the GRU (the Russian military intelligence service) are becoming more solid, not less. The biggest clues are coming from an examination of metadata compiled from the apparent hacker known as "Guccifer 2.0," which might be either an intermediary hired to be courier between Putin and Wikileaks, or it could be a front used by the Russian government. Or, it could be something else entirely.
The Hill, which has access to Guccifer's dispatches and methods, reported on Tuesday:
Emails sent by Guccifer 2.0 to The Hill show evidence that the hacker used Russian-language anonymity software — a language he has claimed he could not read or even recognize. [...]
Guccifer 2.0 has long claimed to be Romanian. In an online chat interview with Motherboard, Guccifer 2.0 claimed not to know how to speak Russian. In it, Motherboard asked a question in Russian, and Guccifer replied "What's this? Is it russian?"
The site then asked if he understood Russian.
"R u kidding?" wrote Guccifer 2.0.
In the same interview, when forced to answer questions in Romanian, he used such clunky grammar and terminology that experts believed he was using an online translator.
Simply put, it appears as if both Guccifer's identity and his nationality aren't what he claims, and Russian encryption was employed to hide his tracks, even though he clearly speaks neither Russian or Romanian.
Elsewhere, The Hill reported: "Russia has a history of trying to influence elections across Europe in a variety of ways — they just hadn’t turned those capabilities on the United States."
Now, there's no hard evidence linking Trump to the hacking of the DNC, but there's significant connections between Putin, Trump and Russian wealth, which has purportedly invested notable sums of cash into Trump's endeavors, both business and political. Josh Marshall at TPM is busily connecting the dots on that one. But the most obvious connection is a self-serving one for Putin. The U.S. government is the only real bulwark against Putin reclaiming Russia's former satellite republics. See also its incursion into Ukraine. If Russia were to make a move against any NATO country, the U.S. would be obligated by treaty to intervene. Unless Trump is president, then those nations would be forced to pay back its debts to us before Trump honors our NATO commitments.
He won't. And world war looms with, potentially, Trump's tiny finger on the nuclear button.
That's what this comes down to, really. Yes, a few DNC officials wrote a few emails they shouldn't have. But focusing on this one bit of minutia is like being poisoned by a McDonald's clerk and, while gasping for breath, complaining that you were short-changed on napkins. This is about the integrity of our system of democracy and, potentially, the threat of a military confrontation in eastern Europe.
More to come...