Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Keeping the Russia hacks in perspective

Yes, Russia hacked the DNC in order to influence the election.  Yes, Putin wanted Trump to win.  Trump won.

Time for some Latin.  Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.  After this, therefore because of this.  It is a famous logical fallacy in which one attributes causation to a prior event simply because of its time order.  Don't do that.

To be fair, there is more than time order going on.  Putin really did want Trump to win, but let's keep this more grounded.  The Russia hacks did basically two things.  They created some bad press at the start of the Democratic Convention, leading to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's resignation (yay!), and riling up the Bernie twits.  Let's take them separately.

DWS was a vile sack of shit who needed to go.  The DNC was supposed to remain neutral, and she clearly sided with Clinton.  Also, she was just a piece of work, and always has been.  What did she do to intervene, though?  Basically, nothing.  Take away DWS, install and DNC head who was more Sanders-friendly, and Clinton still would have won, but DWS was still a scumbag who needed to go.  The Russia hacks made that happen.

The bigger problem for Clinton, though, was that this helped create the impression that the scales were tilted for Clinton, playing into that whiny, little twit, Sanders' nonsense about how everything was rigged.  Oh, you thought that was just Trump?  Nope.  Sanders got there first.  When Clinton won the Southern states, Sanders whined about how they shouldn't count because those where Republican states, and only Democratic voters should decide the Democratic nomination.  The system is rigged!  When he started doing better in open primaries, everyone should participate, not just Democrats!  The system is rigged!

Oh, did you forget what a whiny little fuck Sanders is, and how much he pulled that shit about rigged elections?  Not me...

And that's what the Russia hacks might have emphasized-- the bullshit complaints of Sanders supporters who thought everything was rigged against them because the DNC bigwigs clearly did favor Clinton.

But they were disgruntled anyway!  So, the question-- and this is a big question-- is whether or not the Russia hacks played a big enough role disgruntling easily manipulated Sanders voters to turn them off, swinging a close election.  Could it have had that big an effect?  Maaaaaaybe, but I doubt it.

But if it did, Sanders made it possible.


  1. Yeah, doubtful.

    Better causation: Clinton was a weak candidate, both because she's been a GOP punching bag for 25 years and because she's not good at elections (she's a policy person, not an election person). Clinton's weakness offset Trump's weakness, so the default model prediction came true.

  2. On what I just said:
    I initially thought that Clinton's history would be old news and that Trump would end up pushing voters away from him. I underestimated how hated Clinton was and overestimated Republican voters as having the barest of outlines of a conscience and/or brain.

    1. I'm still not convinced Clinton was all that weak. The claim that she was weak was based on her high negatives, but, um, she was beaten by a guy with significantly higher negatives, which sort of undercuts the notion that those negative polling numbers mean all that much.

      Why did she lose? Abramowitz + Comey = disaster for humanity.

    2. The problem is Trump. How do you account for people simply ignoring how awful he is?
      I can't do it, not without thinking "don't blame me, I voted for Kodos." I'm not laying all that blame on choices Clinton made specifically; in fact, I'm actually inclined to deny HER any agency in this. Rather, when you are the living personification of conservative misogyny, yeah, there might be an electoral penalty for that.

    3. But those conservatives who treat her as the personification of the cucking of America (do I have my terminology right, so to speak?) would vote for any Republican anyway. Remember that the "tea party" used to be called the "angry white males" back in 1994. What's different? Not much, as far as I can see. Just Comey.

    4. But it's not just conservatives. They've been beating her up for a quarter of a century. That approach yielded fruit.

      But, the bigger point I have is that there is apparently no effect of nominating Trump. If you think that Trump is way outside the mainstream, and accept that the models are off for Goldwater and Humphrey for that same reason, then you have to ask: "why no Trump effect?" And coming back to the first female candidate ever who would have had the worst personal ratings of any candidate ever if not for Trump has to play a role.

      My theory here is just a little more kind to the voters. I'm allowing them some agency. Because, after that, there is no defense of this democracy shit. If voters weren't weighing the candidates at all, then Dahl's defense of this shit doesn't work, and we get back to "democracy is a terrible idea because people are too fucking stupid for it to work."

    5. The Trump/Goldwater question is, for me, "yuge." Trump is obviously worse, but he didn't underperform as much. Why not? My best explanation is that partisanship is more locked in, and that the parties close ranks to protect their own. Mostly elite-driven. Still, it's a good question.
      As for democracy, here's the question. We've never seen a failure this bad. So, does democracy work because failures this bad are so rare, or do we require 100% non-total-fuckery to call it workable?