Unless you've been in a coma, you're painfully aware that Russia is dominating the news these days.
It started, of course, during the election campaign. There were allegations that the Russians were behind the Wikileaks disclosures of DNC emails. Mr. Putin, it seems, did not like Hillary Clinton... something about the "reset" button that she showed up with early in her tenure as Secretary of State. There was an entirely unsubstantiated rumor, which I probably just made up, that the reset button was, in reality, a thinly disguised "that was easy" button from the Staples commercials of some years back. Putin pressed the button and was so offended by the message, which he thought was directed at him personally, that he immediately started planning the invasion of Ukraine.
I wasn't sure what the big deal was about the Wikileaks 'revelations' anyway. Many of these merely confirmed that the DNC rigged the primary process for Ms. Clinton and did everything possible to undermine Senator Sanders. But this was hardly news... all the talking heads on cable pretty much agreed that this was the official policy of the Democratic Party. Some were happier about it than others. And, though 'fake news' is much in what passes for 'real news' these days, the Wikileaks emails weren't fake.
The Russian hackers were supermen -- but with strangely limited powers. They could pounce on the DNC servers like muggers rolling a drunk tourist. There were whispers that they invaded Trump Tower, too, and were blackmailing the Donald. But they absolutely couldn't (and wouldn't dare!) access the private server in Hillary Clinton's home. (Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.)
After Trump's unforeseen election, the Russian-mania amped up still more: The Russians stole the election!
It's not clear what the predominant theory is on this. Either the Russians promoted all sorts of fake news that benefited Trump or their amazing hackers somehow actually put Trump votes into the voting machines themselves, undermining the Great Blue Wall in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Well, the machines are electronic, aren't they? So what if many states went to electronic voting after the Hanging Chad fiasco of 2000? So what if these machines aren't actually connected to the Internet? Americans wouldn't vote for Trump, right? So it had to be Russian hackers. (This latter theory seems to be animating Dr. Stein's recount efforts.)
Trump has pooh-poohed the notion that the Russians helped him. It's a tempest in a teapot, perhaps, or a bubble in a bowl of borscht. It's pure coincidence that he proposes to appoint several officials in his forthcoming administration who have taken Russian gold from this oligarch, or that one.
But persons from across the political spectrum, from the aforementioned Dr. Stein on the left to former Congressman Joe Walsh on the right, and many actually responsible people in between, from both parties, have called for an investigation of Russia's actions.
Meanwhile, Russian hackers are turning up pretty much everywhere. Yesterday, for example, Rich Miller's Capitol Fax reported that the FBI told the Illinois Republican Party that the Russians had likely hacked some of its emails.
But the topper, for me at least, came just this morning.
Even when I have nothing to post, I try and check the blog every day. I never know when EP or Black Lady Who Reads or Lobo or THE PERSON WHO COMMENTS ONLY IN CAPS will have a new comment to share. I check my stats, too -- 2,902 page views yesterday -- the kind of number I used to see only in the few days before and after an election. So I was feeling pretty good about that.
But only for a couple of seconds.
The stats page also provides a map that shows a blogger where his or her page views are coming from. I generally don't pay much attention to mine: My map has always shown the United States in the darkest shade of green, meaning my readers are clicking in from somewhere in the United States. Although the map doesn't localize hits beyond that, I am highly confident that my readers are nearly all from Cook County. I met a Will County reader the other night... and I had to ask her... why?
But, anyway, here is my genuine, un-retouched stats map from this morning:
The Russians really are everywhere.
How the "first-come, first serve rule" applies in Illinois auto liability cases - It happens all too frequently in the real world: The at-fault driver causes damage to multiple vehicles, careening off this one, into that one, his vehicle...
4 weeks ago