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Smirking Chimp - April 13, 2022

My doctorate in Political Science ought to have included a section on gaslighting.

Currently Russian leader Vladimir Putin is demonstrating one version of this; he is calling his invasion of Ukraine, massacre of civilians, and wanton disregard for human rights (that some are calling genocide) a “special operation.”

His ability to control Russian propagandizing media and punish truth-telling are weapons every bit as dangerous as the munitions exploding in civilian apartments, children’s schools, and community hospitals.

In the US many in the GOP wishes twice-impeached Donald Trump would keep his mouth shut. Every time he renews his praise of Putin’s “genius” he runs the risk of reminding midterms voters that Republican incumbents have (with extremely rare exception) condoned and embraced Trump’s own gaslighting attacks against democracy abroad and at home.

The “GQP” refers to the Republican faction and extreme right that are celebrating Russian aggression and pushing Russian misinformation. The “Q” in reference to QAnon, which is now drifting into mainstream conservative circles. Rightwing pundits present all manner of Russian propaganda, for example: Candace Owens has pushed the Putin talking point that Russia created Ukraine and tweeted “Russian lives matter.”

News cycles are short and it is easy to forget that the majority of Americans wanted Trump convicted and barred from holding public office. Trump set Ukraine up when he tried to extort them in an attempted “arms for oppo info” deal, seeking Ukraine’s collusion in accusing Biden of graft. Despite clear evidence that Trump broke many laws and betrayed his country, Mitt Romney was the only Republican who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial.

Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice certainly have not helped matters. Trump and his cronies appear above federal law every bit as much as Putin and his oligarchs do in Russia.

However, there is one major difference. While large numbers of citizens and politicians in the US routinely choose dishonest narratives and political propaganda, the truth is still regularly available.

Politicians lie—Donald Trump made 30,573 lies and misleading statements while in office—which can be successful when a powerful minority prefers them and their political base pushes them.

Ignorance has been weaponized to attack the US. Putin controls the narrative in Russia, but his disinformation does not stop at the border. The Mueller Report gave a truly disturbing account of the Russian influence campaign. ...
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