@wikileaks wikiwatergate in alternate-Pittsburgh

WikiWaterGate?

I’m sitting in a cafe in Pittsburgh – not the actual Pittsburgh (I’ve never been there) but Pittsburgh in an alternative reality. It’s pretty dull as far as parallel worlds go – it doesn’t even have many airships. However, it is very like the reality to which you, dear reader, are used to. Technically, it diverged from your world twenty three years ago when a man called Alvin was arrested in Brisbane, Australia for owning a contraband ferret – but that is a whole other story. No really discernible differences occurred until October 2015 when Jeb Bush took a surprise lead in the Republican nomination polls, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio dropped out and Donald Trump had his infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ on national television.

You can get from your world to this world via a portal in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand that takes you straight to alt-reality Pittsburgh. The bad news is that unbeknownst to everyone, the chain of events sparked by that ferret-bust in Queensland has also led to a viral mutation that will wipe out every human in the alt-reality due to what will shortly become known as ‘The Weasel Flu Pandemic’. That isn’t entirely relevant to this story but I thought I should mention it before people started booking flights to Bangkok.

The big news here in alt-Pittsburgh is, of course, the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties. I shan’t mention the DNC because – well, you are better off not knowing who the candidate was and what the consequence of the so-called ‘Cruz eligibility amendment’ was. Let’s just say it is a great shame about the impending obliteration of all humanity here.

The GOP convention? It was OK I guess but it was overshadowed by events just before. Wikileaks released a trove of hacked emails from the Republican Party. Ouch! Really embarrassing stuff. Trump supporters are very angry, naturally. Internal emails show how much the GOP top brass have been collaborating with the media to stop Trump. Maybe, without those shenanigans, Trump might have won the nomination claim his supporters. That idea is laughed at of course. I try to join in so nobody suspects that I’m literally not-from-around-here.

It is all bad news for the GOP of course. The convention should have been Jeb’s triumph after a difficult campaign but it has become somewhat tainted by claims of media collusion, corruption and FEC violations. Jeb was always going to struggle against an image of being a Washington insider and part of a corrupt dynasty. In the wake of the Chilcott report from the UK a few weeks before, the leaks have all served to further muddy his reputation. The unresolved tensions from the Trump insurgency (as they call it here) may yet split the GOP in this alternate-reality.

I’m enjoying the schadenfreude, naturally. Confusion to the enemy! What’s not to like? The coffee is OK here too. I’d stay but, you know, everybody gets wiped out by a virus in a few months. Don’t think Station Eleven, think The Road. Shame really but that is parallel worlds for you – best not to get too attached to any one of them.

Still, while I’m enjoying seeing the GOP rushing around in full damage limitation mode as a consequence of this other world’s WikiLeaks email dump, another part of me is worried. This does not feel right (and I don’t mean the impending viral apocalypse). A political party is not the government and a political campaign necessarily has a degree of secrecy about it. Yes, we’ve all found out a lot about the shenanigans that go on but none of it is stuff that I really didn’t already know. The process is dysfunctional! Meanwhile, the Pope is catholic, dogs bite stuff and bears use the woods as toilets. I don’t want to sound complacent about the corruption that has been exposed but at the same time, it feels more like noise than signal.

Democrats are looking smug but I’m guessing their emails would look equally bad and I sort of don’t care. Compared with the inherent corruption of campaign funding, gerrymandered constituencies, a badly designed electoral process and active voter suppression; shonky emails look a tad tame even if they confirm my inherent prejudices about conservatives in general and the Bushes in particular.

And WikiLeaks? Sorry guys, I love a lot of what you have done and I admire the way you helped Chelsea Manning but this seems more than a bit off. Transparency is one thing but this looks a lot like you are directly helping the Democrats here in the alt-reality commonly known as that-tragic-one-where-everybody-dies-from-weasel-flu. Yes, yes, the Democrats are the good guys and Jeb Bush is some kind of dynastic threat to world peace – good grief we all know how appalling his brother was. Yet, this looks a lot like trying to influence a democratic process by unethical means.

I mean, how is this different from what Nixon attempted with the Watergate theft? Sure, it doesn’t involve a physical break-in but otherwise, it looks like pretty much the same dirty trick. Adding more dirty tricks to a corrupt process doesn’t make the process less corrupt.

Laughably Jeb is now playing the Russian card. I guess the Republicans have never fallen out of love with the Cold War. Still…yes, there is no direct evidence that Putin is behind this hack but it is a legitimate worry if he was. In which case is WikiLeaks complicit in helping a foreign power disrupt an election? Bush may be appalling but Putin is manifestly not a friend of freedom.

So my thoughts turn more to who and why? If the Democrats were behind this hack of emails then that would be a bigger scandal than the emails themselves. If the Russians or some other foreign power are behind it (and I can see why the Chinese might want [name] [redacted] to beat Jeb in November) then that is effectively an attack on US democracy. Worrying stuff. Yes, yes, I get that WikiLeaks never reveals its sources but it seems to me there is a greater issue in the who and why of this hack than there is in the content of the emails.

Anyway, that’s all moot here in alt-Pittsburgh. They never find out. I may pop back in a few years, once the mustelid population has died back enough for it to be safe again.
Anyway, time to head back before the flu-vector reaches North America. It’ll be interesting to see how this whole leak thing has played out back in base reality, although I can’t imagine anybody will care in that crazy version of Earth.

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41 comments

  1. thephantom182

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/twitter-accused-of-suppressing-dnc-wikileaks-story/article/2597460

    Twitter scrubbed it, then after a shitstorm erupted, they put #DNCleak back up on the trending chart. So I’d say your alternate universe thing is a lot less clever and ironic than you intended.

    Get used to the idea of President Donald Trump. I think it’ll be a disaster, possibly almost as bad as President Obama has been, but Hitlery is done like dinner. Stick a fork in her.

    Like

      • thephantom182

        I find the concentration on the questions of “who” and “why” to be a most convenient misdirection from the “ohmyghodlookitthat!” of it all. Hillary and company are revealed to be crooked as shit, in writing no less. Meanwhile Melania Trump’s speech got ten times the coverage.

        That’s some of those dots you don’t like to connect, right there.

        Since you ask, foreign interests with an investment in upsetting the American political system are no-doubt involved, probably the Russians and the ChiComs, as well as many other unsavory characters interested in making a mess.

        But it doesn’t really matter, does it? The DemocRat Party stands revealed in all its glory as a pack of rabid dogs, each focused on getting as much meat as they can bite off, and nothing else. And the thing they’re ripping apart and eating is the United States.

        Also they are exposed as a bunch of incompetents who can’t secure their own internal email.

        Did you know by the way that “somebody” hacked the White House and got the payroll records of every single US Federal employee? Including -every- department from ABC to XYZ? CIA, FBI, Dept. of Paperclips Enforcement Division, Dept. of Education SWAT team, all of it.

        Funny how nobody talks about that hack very much.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        //But it doesn’t really matter, does it?//

        Really? Foreign powers trying to manipulate an election doesn’t matter? I guess when all you are concerned about is partisan point scoring then maybe it doesn’t.

        Like

      • thephantom182

        “I guess when all you are concerned about is partisan point scoring then maybe it doesn’t.”

        Or it could be I remember how much Chinese and Saudi money is already flowing to the DemocRats to get Hitlery elected. Anything that reminds the Americans that their election process is completely crooked, and that they have actual -enemies- in the world, is not all bad.

        Besides, as a Canadian I’m used to having other countries decide who my leaders will be. How do you think we got Shiny Pony for Prime Minister? American money, duh.

        Hillary will continue the Obama disaster, Saunders would nationalize -everything- and I’d have Venezuela next door to me. With Trump, nothing much changes. I choose Trump, the least-bad choice of three bad choices.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. RDF

    ” I think it’ll be a disaster, possibly almost as bad as President Obama has been,”

    Right.

    http://politicsthatwork.com/economic-record-president/obama

    Overall, President Obama has managed to turn the terrible economic hand he was dealt into a mixed economic record. In some areas, the economy has performed remarkably, while in other areas, the performance has been disappointing. Many of the challenges President Obama faced are common to the entire developed world and the United States has certainly fared far better than the other developed nations. However, that has come at the expense of adding to the national debt, and the gains have generally been concentrated in the hands of those who need them the least.

    In addition to the challenges imposed by the global economic climate, President Obama has faced extraordinary opposition by the Republicans in the legislature. Many of the acts of congressional Republicans, such as forcing the sequester, bringing the country to the brink of default twice,shutting down the government and blocking a wide variety of legislation designed to minimize the risks posed by the financial sector or to create jobs, have caused harm to the economy and prevented the economy from healing as quickly as would be desireable. However, despite these hurdles, the economy has performed passably overall and thus far, has performed quite well during President Obama’s second term.

    As to why, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Putin would much prefer Trump as President. Not only would the US get lost in infighting and economic malaise, Trump has already provided a road plan by which Putin could invade the Baltic states while delaying any reaction from the US until it was far too late.

    Let me make that a prediction – if Trump is elected President, Russia will encroach and seize territory in at least one of the Baltic states in his first term, and NATO will not respond effectively largely because of US reluctance. The result will be NATO greatly weakened, maybe even dissolving into smaller bi and multilateral arrangements.

    Like

    • thephantom182

      “Overall, President Obama has managed to turn the terrible economic hand he was dealt into a mixed economic record.”

      “Mixed.” Interesting choice of word for ~100,000,000 people out of work. One hundred million. One third of the population is no longer in the labor force. Not working, and not looking. Let us not forget the destruction that is Obamacare, and the misuse of the armed forces. Also, highest tax take in US history and record money printing for 8 years.

      I expect Trump will do his best to play the crony capitalism game with lots of juicy deals for all his buddies. This will be an improvement, because he will be milking the cow instead of beating it to death.

      Like

      • ligne

        “One third of the population is no longer in the labor force.”

        uh-huh. now how many of those people are in education, retired, stay-at-home parents, disabled, or whatever?

        unless you’re endorse working people from their 16th birthday until the day they die, you’re always going to see a huge number of people “not in the labour force”.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        //“Mixed.” Interesting choice of word for ~100,000,000 people out of work//

        Says Phantom, blithely ignoring the massive world financial crisis that preceded Obama.

        //Also, highest tax take in US history and record money printing for 8 years//

        Oh yeah, that. I remember all the arguments as to why that would be terrible – primarily conservatives saying how it would lead to massive inflation and how people had better buy gold etc etc. Years later and the massive inflation still hasn’t happened.

        //I expect Trump will do his best to play the crony capitalism game with lots of juicy deals for all his buddies. This will be an improvement, because he will be milking the cow instead of beating it to death.//

        And another demonstration of how conservatism destroyed its reputation for sound economic management…

        Like

      • RDF

        ‘“Mixed.” Interesting choice of word for ~100,000,000 people out of work. One hundred million. One third of the population is no longer in the labor force. Not working, and not looking.”

        Right.

        https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=country:US&fdim_y=seasonality:S&hl=en&dl=en

        http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-4/people-who-are-not-in-the-labor-force-why-arent-they-working.htm

        ” Let us not forget the destruction that is Obamacare”

        Right

        “Also, highest tax take in US history and record money printing for 8 years.”

        Right.

        So what you’re saying is that people are retiring while the number of students are increasing, more people have health insurance, and that the nominal GDP is growing while the federal take is about static. And this is economic devastation which is Obama’s fault.

        If you wonder why people don’t take you seriously, Phantom, it’s because you’re always so consistently, fractally wrong. It’s like you treat Alex Jones as your sole encyclopedia.

        Like

      • thephantom182

        I notice we are all talking about “the economy” now and nobody is thinking about “oh holy shit the DNC torpedoed Bernie on purpose and DWS is a bad person!”

        Don’t like the evidence? Change the subject.

        As to the economy, if it’s so great, get in on it. Go start a small business, see how you make out.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        ‘DNC torpedoed Bernie on purpose and DWS is a bad person’ is soap opera level stuff. How some political party engages in machinations isn’t that interesting. Heck, the DNC looks like naive angels compared to the British Labour Party when it comes to internecine internal party skullduggery.

        Like

      • ligne

        “Don’t like the evidence? Change the subject.”

        …says thephantom, who having tried to argue about the economy and failed abysmally, is now trying to change the conversation back 😉

        Like

    • ligne

      “it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Putin would much prefer Trump as President.”

      he’s been stirring up and funding autocratic, far-right and generally anti-EU groups across Europe too. i think there are a few obvious reasons: political or economic unrest abroad makes democracy look less appealing to Russians; government crackdowns against minorities helps normalise the same behaviour at home. lack of international coordination makes it easier for him to throw his weight around with impunity, whether that’s at home, in neighbouring regions, or when supporting allies such as Assad further afield. all the more so when a clueless narcissist is setting most of his policies based on Twitter brainspurts and what will get him the most applause. and if he does manage to get pro-Putin idiots into power, it increases his sphere of influence directly: can you imagine a wannabe-kleptocrat like Trump not wanting to dance to his tune?

      Like

    • RDF

      “I notice we are all talking about “the economy” now and nobody is thinking about “oh holy shit the DNC torpedoed Bernie on purpose and DWS is a bad person!”

      Oh, Phantom – do you know how transparent you seem? Obama isn’t running in this election remember?

      Here’s the sequence
      i, You make some comment about Obama being “a disaster”.
      ii, People point at the simple fact that he hasn’t been a disaster at all – his Presidency has done fairly well despite the lousy position it started in. They use facts. This makes you look like an idiot.
      iii, You try to counter with a carefully selected series of half-lies which don’t mean what you think they mean.
      iv, People point this outy and school you hard on reality. You look like an idiot.
      v, You try to change the subject when it was you who claimed the Obama Presidency was a disaster in the first place

      I believe the key point from all of this is that you have been shown to not know of what you prattle on about, and that you look like an idiot.

      Like

      • thephantom182

        “I believe the key point from all of this is that you have been shown to not know of what you prattle on about, and that you look like an idiot.”

        1. The Wikileaks problem as stated by Richard Fernandez: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2016/07/25/not-knowing/

        “On the eve of Hillary’s coronation, her courtiers are suddenly waking up to the fact that she cannot protect them.” Or herself. Twice. This is the -second- major breach of email she’s been involved with. Guccifer! And now Guccifer 2.0!

        You guys are all busy with “nothing to see here, no smoking gun, blah blah blah… uh, what else is in the pipeline? Maybe a nice October Surprise? Maybe a a whole year of sleepless nights for a lot of people in Washington, all waiting for the other shoe to drop?

        She wants to be PRESIDENT and she can’t keep her fucking email secure. Really?

        2. The Obama Economy in words and pictures: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/07/25/penn-station-homeless-encampments/ Offered as an example of a newly common thing, not a complete and definitive proof on its own, before you get out the microscope and the tweezers.

        I’m content to remain an idiot, if this is what you’re calling 1: “Nothing Important” and 2: “Nothing Important.”

        In other news, a new record in gun sales was made last month. Barry, best gun salesman in history. Because people feel so safe and secure with him running the country, they have time to pursue their shooting hobby. Right? Sure, that must be it.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        1. Good point. There is absolutely no way that I’m going to employ Hillary Clinton as my email tech support. Yeah sure – techinically it was the DNC that was hacked this time not Hills but I don’t think Hills knows the difference between POP and SMTP. Wholly unqualified to work in my IT department. Also I doubt her capabilities as a bricklayer.

        Like

      • thephantom182

        “Wholly unqualified to work in my IT department. Also I doubt her capabilities as a bricklayer.”

        You know Camestros, there’s this law in the military that the officer of a unit is responsible for the actions of the men in the unit. So if Private Pyle fucks up the email, President Trump is responsible. A leader, particularly a military leader, is judged on the performance of those under his command.

        This law is of course suspended for Democrats, no one in charge is ever responsible for anything. And a good thing too, the performance of people under Hillary’s command is… Benghazi!

        This ‘argument’ is weak, even for you.

        Also, on the Obama Recovery front, hard core right wing news organ CNN reports: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/25/politics/violent-crime-report-us-cities-homicides-rapes/index.html

        Oh, and guys are shooting cops all over the place. So there’s that.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        Hey good point! Conservatives wrecked the US & world economy, dragged the world into a badly thought out war, precipitated an upsurge in terrorism in the middle east by actively destabilising the region, which in turn precipitated a global refugee crisis. As leaders conservatism hasn’t just failed it spent much of the first years of this decade creating chaos worldwide. The GOP should have declared itself unfit for office. But instead we get a litany of complaints that Obama didn’t fix all the shit they created quickly enough while actively obstructing any attempt to fix stuff. That incoherence and incompotence has resulted in the GOP now nominating a populist clown with support from actual white supremacists.
        So by all means lets turn the conversation to the question of ‘responsibility’.

        Like

      • ligne

        “Also, on the Obama Recovery front, hard core right wing news organ CNN reports”

        it’s really hard to tell how meaningful this increase is when they only give year-on-year figures for a subset of locations (presumably focussing on the most extreme increases). of course they don’t bother linking to the source data.

        they might be higher than last year, but crime figures tend to fluctuate wildly over short periods, especially when looked at over relatively small areas. without long-term figures for context, we don’t know how much of the reporting increase is due to a one-off bad year, regression towards the mean, or shifts in criminal activity from areas the MCCA are not reporting on, etc.

        “Oh, and guys are shooting cops all over the place. So there’s that.”

        it doesn’t appear to be higher now than it has been in recent years: 32 so far this year, compared to 40-70 in recent years.

        total deaths in the line of duty: https://www.odmp.org/search/year/2016 . gunfire only: https://www.odmp.org/search?cause=Gunfire&from=2016&to=2016&filter=nok9 . (twiddle the numbers in either of these links to get numbers for earlier years.) or a graph from the same data:

        are you sure you’re not confusing an increase in media coverage for an increase in numbers?

        Like

      • ligne

        oops, just noticed that the image didn’t embed goodly, because the AEI are a bunch of clowns. try again with an identical graph from a different source:

        Like

      • ligne

        yeah, remember that regression to the mean thing i mentioned? and i’m not sure why you think i’m ignoring the facts, given i linked to data to support my argument (unlike a certain yellow-avatared poster in the vicinity).

        Like

      • thephantom182

        Camestros said: “So by all means lets turn the conversation to the question of ‘responsibility’.”

        Because the current conversation that Hillary is unfit for office is too uncomfortable for you? She’s unfit on multiple axes, from legal to health to ethical to competence, and you want to talk about George Bush? So unsurprising.

        Incidentally what wrecked the world economy was two things. Confiscatory taxation in the West generally and the flight of capital (and industry) to the East, seeking more congenial tax and regulatory regimes. The other was the creation of unsecured fiat currencies which are constantly devalued by all countries.

        This has all been in motion since the 1960’s, no single party or ideology can claim responsibility. To my mind the American Republicans embraced the concept less wholeheartedly than did the Democrats, but that may be bias on my part. It doesn’t really matter, we just get more of the same no matter who is in power anyway.

        More proximately, the 2008 crash was precipitated by the US housing bubble, insane lending practices fueled by mortgage backed commercial paper, derivatives and other arcane banking black magic. Corruption in high places, in other words. Mortgages written to people’s dogs played a part, certainly, but the whole thing was spinning out of control for other reasons as well. Again, massive failure of common morality in favor of corruption, no Good Guys in sight.

        China is in the middle of something similar right now, we’ll see how all that plays out over the next couple of years. I predict Badly, capital “B”. Edrogan will look like a choirboy in comparison.

        But returning to the conversation regarding the DNC and Hillary, do we want a sick woman who’s probably had a stroke or TIA, who may be coughing up a lung any day now, who let US soldiers die and then lied about it, who broke the law whenever she found it convenient and then lied about it (and got LET OFF by her cronies in the FBI), who let all her email shit get hacked by enemy nations -twice-…

        … do we want her in charge of the US military when there’s going to be a throw-down with:

        Turkey
        Russia
        China
        Iran
        ISIS (at home, I remind you,)
        and maybe a general war in Europe?

        I’d sooner see Camestros Felpatron in charge of it. You at least would lack a built-in palace guard of media to lie for you and a fully corrupt DNC backing your plays.

        Like

      • ligne

        “… do we want her in charge of the US military when there’s going to be a throw-down with:”

        well, she was Secretary of State for more than 4 years. i think she just might have dealt with those entities before.

        Like

  3. lunarg

    There isn’t much substance to the leaked e-mails, at that. No collusion with the Clinton campaign. No evidence of actual action taken. Just some inappropriate suggestions from junior staffers that were shot down by senior staffers. That some of the staff of the DNC had a bias is not ideal. But pilitical parties are not part of the government, and I can’t say I am surprised or appalled that the longtime party member who has paid her dues is favored over the non-party member who was never willing to fundraise for downticket folks.

    I really don’t like DWS, and have long wanted her out, but I am not pleased at the way this has gone down. Not at all.

    Liked by 1 person

      • thephantom182

        Hacked RNC data would reveal the RNC Elite busy trying to sink Trump. But we already knew that, because the media actually reports when the RNC gets up to shenanigans.

        Funny how it takes a Russian hack to find out what the DNC is doing.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        Ha, I assumed at first this was a comment on my elephant picture…and then the whole elephant/GOP iconography hit me and then the chorus of Nellie the Elephant struck me with mounting horror as a prophetic warning…
        “off she went with a trumptey-trump, trump, trump, trump”

        Like

    • ligne

      do they contain anything even remotely significant? because so far it looks utterly irrelevant from a political perspective, while also being a disgusting and gratuitous invasion of privacy (including personal calls by staff; this is on the back of their leaking PII of small-scale private donors last week).

      there’s simply no justification for any of that.

      there was also their “AKP emails” release that turned out to be emails from private citizens, a load of spam and public newsgroup traffic. oh, and the names/addresses/phone numbers of millions of Turkish women. including political activity and party affiliations. right after the country has been through a violent coup, and is currently experiencing a widespread political crackdown. while similarly devoid of bad stuff about the politician they were targeting.

      Like

      • thephantom182

        “do they contain anything even remotely significant?”

        To repeat, Wikileaks [presumably trough some third party] managed to STEAL and MAKE PUBLIC the DNC’s supposedly private telephone message records. Such a massive breach of security is naturally of no significance whatsoever.

        But, one must wonder: are they saving some really juicy bits for later? I would, if I were them.

        In other news the DNC is packing their empty convention with paid seat fillers, now that all the BernieBots walked out.

        Repeat after me, hipsters: President Trump.

        Like

  4. thephantom182

    Oh, and by the way, re: the Obama Economic Recovery:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-07-27/restaurant-recession-could-signal-tough-times-for-us-economy

    “Analysts are forecasting a “restaurant recession” in the U.S., which is bad news for America’s food and drink establishments and potentially even worse news for the economy at large.

    Paul Westra, a senior research analyst at Stifel Financial Corp., said in a research note Tuesday that he’d turned “decidedly bearish” on the restaurant industry, downgrading Stifel’s stance on 11 different restaurant stocks, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and Cheesecake Factory.

    He and his colleagues now “confidently believe” that the weak restaurant consumer spending seen in the second quarter of the year “reflects the start of a U.S. restaurant recession.””

    Then there’s:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-28/homeownership-rate-in-the-u-s-tumbles-to-the-lowest-since-1965

    Clear signs of a healthy, vibrant economy I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Like

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