Saturday, December 17, 2016

Smoking, Climate and the Putin Atom

By Bob Ferris

The ideas that smoking causes cancer, carbon-dioxide is implicated in climate change, and that Putin influenced the American election are similar in that they are complicated and multi-factored.  As a result conceptualizing the totality of Putin’s election influence as much like an atom with its constituent parts is an approach that works on many levels.

So if we think about the “Putin election atom” what are its building blocks?  Regular atoms have at their core a nucleus which is made up of composite particles known as protons and neutrons.  The protons and neutrons are made up of smaller parts known as quarks that come in six “flavors.” (See here)
Web traffic from the Ukraine increased on my blog site increased every time I posted at story on either Putin or Trump.
If we think of those elements of this that are pro-Putin or derived from Putin as the protons in the equation, we have lots of quark equivalents.  The state-owned network now known as RT (nee Russia Today) is a quark in this pro-Putin particle.  The Russian trolls and others causing mischief working overtime in Moscow (1,2,3) the Ukraine or near the Mongolian border (1) spreading specious stories across the internet or hacking are also quarks of this type.  And WikiLeaks, as much as they might deny it, are protons (1,2).

The pro-Putin Brit who published Patriot News and other similar publications is this type of pro-Putin quark too as are the Putin-leaning journalists (1,2) who are urging many to ignore evidence of Putin’s tampering because we do not have an authorizing document or an e-mail signed by Putin.  Some of the above would fall into the class of "useful idiots."

Judgement Day
I would also add evangelicals in this group who held their noses on Putin (and Trump too) because he was a “Christian” (1,2) therefore an easier ally in their fight to make the US a Christian country which it never was.  The ethical gymnastics of this argument given Putin’s performance throughout his career and his recent moves to regulate religion are seemingly inconceivable (1,2).  For a group that talks so frequently about the idea of a “Judgment Day,” we must conclude they consider this some sort of take-home test where they get extra-credit for hypocrisy and forgiven sins.

The neutron equivalents are neutral actors and they have quarks. The well-known Macedonia teenagers (1,2) and the strongly left players who posted non-stop anti-Hillary rhetorical while coating themselves liberally with the false sheen of objectivity butter fit here along with some of the Dr. Jill Stein contingent. None are pro-Putin (or Pro-Trump) per se but they gleefully carried his water by the bucketful.

Then we have the electrons which are seemingly independent but are part of the whole regardless of how they see themselves.  FBI-Director Comey is clearly an electron (1).  Paula Jones and the other Bill Clinton women were a little like these charged particles.  The failed congressional candidate from Haiti was sort of a slightly limping electron (1).

So what about Trump?  The Donald is probably all three.  He and his surrogates pushing Putin propaganda or WikiLeaks derived materials certainly seemed like full-blown protons.   The promotion of health myths and Clinton Foundation scandals likewise got him and his allies box seats in the neutron section.  And his failure to provide tax-returns, anti-Islamic rhetoric, climate denial, and overt racism made him at times somewhat like an electron.  (Perhaps Trump is a little like a proton that acts like a particle and wave simultaneously?)

So am I ignoring the functional equivalents of the rest of sub-atomic particles like the other leptons and the bosons?  No, but this is a crowded field that includes the Electoral College system, sloppy media, voter suppression, corporate meddling and failed education systems.  With some of these knowing they are part of the Putin atom and others not knowing.

The three ideas presented at the beginning of this piece also share the characteristic that they are the result of mountains of compelling evidence but are doubted by those who need to see the pistol fired.  Cancer causes and climate change are intellectual triangulation which we accept because they have been tested and no other explanation stands.  Atoms too are not seen but scientists know that they or something very similar to what they have described exists.  This—mountains of evidence—is what has been presented also in terms of the Russian interference in our election.  It bears consideration.

Danish scientist Neils Bohr who changed our thinking about atoms.
Some can look at this and shrug.  They can light a cigarette, soak their feet in waters not there a century ago, fail to give a wit about Neils Bohr, and think simply about the wonderful thing America just did in electing Donald Trump president.  But the rest of us—including the Electoral College taking action on Monday—must as thinking people and those standing up for America consider the Putin atom fully and its implications for our democracy.  To be clear the Electors will not be liked by millions of Americans for whatever decision they make, but that really should not be their main concern.  They are supposed to act as America's backstop and I hope that they remember that as this wild pitch of a president comes in their direction.

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