Friday, July 20, 2018

Spies Like Us

There's something about a sexy red head wielding semi-automatic weapons that just makes conservatives salivate.  That's certainly the case with Maria Butina, the latest Russian spy to have infiltrated the conservative establishment, notably the NRA.  She will no doubt get some kind of sweetheart deal to return to Russia, and if she is made to face charges in America, Trump will most likely pardon her.

You just have to wonder if these organizations and conservative figures do any background checks.  As it turns out you don't even have to be sexy, just full of gun-toting bullshit to get an audience with these guys, as Sacha Baron Cohen discovered.  He managed to get no less than five Congresspersons, active and retired, to take part in his "Kinderguardian" promotional video, where he arms four-year-olds to defend themselves in preschools.

So why are conservatives so gullible?  We see the occasional liberal getting punk'd but nothing like what happens with conservatives on a regular basis.  Even Donald Trump gets punk'd.  Maybe it is their open nature.  When you find what they like to talk about, which isn't difficult, they open up like flowers and become easy pickings for persons like Maria and Sacha.  That's why it isn't much of a stretch to believe Trump and other conservative leaders divulged classified information to Russian agents or comedians who gained access to them.

There appears to be no vetting, as we are finding out with Trump's administrative and judicial appointments.  Ryan Bounds couldn't even get past the Republican-led Senate judicial committee, or rather Tim Scott, who questioned his collegiate writings.  No president has had more turnover in the White House than Trump, largely because no one bothered to question the integrity of these appointments beforehand.  Most got in thanks to party-line voting, with Mike Pence breaking the occasional tie, if they needed confirmation at all.

Butina may very well be just the tip of the iceberg.  No telling how many other Russian agents have infiltrated the porous conservative establishment.  For all we know, Stephen Miller may be a double agent, given how closely his views align with the Russian political orthodoxy.  This guy even has top-level security access, as do many of Trump's advisors.

It wouldn't be the first time Russian agents have infiltrated the upper echelons of a foreign government.  During the Cold War,  Britain was racked by the Cambridge Five.  Kim Philby was even honored with a Soviet stamp.  For the most part, the United States has avoided such high level infiltration.  Today, however, one gets the uneasy feeling the Kremlin knows exactly what is going on inside the White House, either through his subordinates or Trump himself.

This is what led a Reuters reporter to directly ask Putin if Russia had compromising information on the President.  There was an unusually long pause before Putin dismissed the question, choosing to focus on Crimea instead.

Pardon the pun, but Maria Butina strikes me as a red herring.  Putin has a far more sophisticated network of spies at work in the US, who are influencing this administration and the conservative movement in general.  Ideologically, the two are very similar in terms of the social values they represent and their political motivations, making the American conservative movement an easy target.  Just ask Sarah Palin.

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