Thursday, February 2, 2017

Russia infiltrates American blog

I find stories of Russian hackers believable, but it's even scarier that Russian have targeted my favorite political blog. (It's my favorite not because I highly agree with it, but because it is more frequently readable and interesting.)

The number of pro-Russian commenters on this post is terrifying. Furthermore, they are well armed with talking points: we have to avoid a confrontation that would lead to WWIII, NATO wastes so much money on unneeded defense, Russian isn't threatening or expansionist, it's the governments in ex-Warsaw Pact nations that pushed to join NATO, not the people, etc.

I'm not going to list and debunk all their arguments because that takes a hell of a lot of effort, as you'll see if you read the comments. Suffice to say, the Russian shills are persistent.

What does it mean that there are so many Russian shills on this one thread? How many are commenting here and elsewhere, often pretending not to be Russian, and trying to influence US opinion? To me, it's very worrying indeed. Back in 2012 I detected what I thought were anti-Obama commenters, particularly people pretending to have voted for him in 2008 but deciding against him in 2012.

These Russians are more numerous than those anti-Obama fakers, and the stakes are higher. I'm seriously worried that US policy against Russian could weaken, and leave Russia emboldened to retake lost territory. I wasn't horrified by them taking the Crimea because it was traditionally Russian, and ended up in Ukraine when maps were redrawn (if the capsule history I read was accurate).

But if Russia has its eye on territory in the Baltic regions, that will be very nasty. An invasion there would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but no longer with a Putin-worshipping idiot president (Trump) in the White House. Or Russia might do something else somewhere else. I don't know what to predict, but they must be held in check for the good of the rest of the world. A muscular Russia has rarely been a boon to the world, and I'm not betting it will be better now.

Also very scary is how many on the right are repeating Russian talking points. The right wing media has turned people into parrots. They are such dutiful parrots that they don't even recognize or remember that Russia and its totalitarianism is an enemy. I wonder whether the leaders of the right-wing media have forgotten that too. Maybe they've been bought off, blackmailed, and have gotten so stupid that they don't remember either. Twits... or worse.

Image: dailymail.co.uk

Extras. Here are the names of the Russian shills commenting or upvoting on the discussion thread connected to this article. I'll be watching for their activity elsewhere, and adding to the list as warranted.

Likely Russian shills without Russian names. Many don't write, but upvote and therefore may be shills-in-waiting.
  • R.W. Emerson II
  • EmilyEnso
  • aprecoup
  • Styx
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Southern Cross
  • michaelbarningham
  • Kapricorn4
  • John
  • Bob Belz
  • Juan Pablo
  • fafniro
  • JOSEPH
  • helena violet
  • Theodora Angelina
  • NATOcracy
  • Popcorn
  • Che Guevara
  • KissMyAss88?
  • Tokaro?
  • tweets 21 (maybe not--seems more logic-based)
  • Power Girl (probably not--pattern of comments is ad hoc, like a real person)
Russian shills with Russian names:
  • Putler Polak (weird name, but uses Russian)
  • Kalinin Yuri
  • Gazpikae (with a Romulan avatar)
  • Jozsef Volgyi
Weirdos spouting pro-Russian talking points:
  • anonaccount - comments on lots of topics, usually with an alt-right spin. Wrote that whites are superior.
  • Pseudo Turtle - sounds reasonable sometimes, but hates libs and wants his country back.
And, here I am, burying the bombshell, except that it isn't a bombshell for most of us thinking people on the center or left. I worry that Putin is hoping to split the Europe into two camps, and maybe he thinks he has found the partners who'll make that deal--Trump and the stupid American right-wingers. It's a scary reminder of the Hitler-Stalin deal, and I sure hope that it doesn't happen. But I worried and I'm going to be vigilant and outspoken.

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