So I’m kicking back on this post-hurricane Labor Day, doing what every red-blooded American does on this most sanctified of holidays. Nothing. Well, maybe I’ll work up the energy to watch a couple of football games, but first I have to convince my cranky little wife Rose that we have to stand at attention with hands over our hearts for the playing of the National Anthem. Who says it’s easy being a patriot.
But then my state of blissful tranquility is disturbed by the blaring headline from today’s Washington Post:
“Those dirty bastards!” I cry in startled dismay. But yes, it’s true:
“U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are probing what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions, intelligence and congressional officials said.
“The aim is to understand the scope and intent of the Russian campaign, which incorporates cyber-tools to hack systems used in the political process, enhancing Russia’s ability to spread disinformation.”
Choking back my outraged tears, I read on:
“A Russian influence operation in the United States “is something we’re looking very closely at,” said one senior intelligence official who, as others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. Officials are also examining potential disruptions to the election process, and the FBI has alerted state and local officials to potential cyberthreats.
“The official cautioned that the intelligence community is not saying it has ‘definitive proof’ of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so. ‘But even the hint of something impacting the security of our election system would be of significant concern,’ the official said. ‘It’s the key to our democracy, that people have confidence in the election system.’”
Is there no hope? Will our childlike faith in the American Way of Life be diminished? Fortunately, a very official person is on the case:
“Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he favors designating the various voting systems used in the country’s 9,000 polling places as ‘critical infrastructure’ — in other words as vital to the nation’s safe functioning as nuclear power plants and electrical power grids.
“Such a designation could mean increased DHS funding to localities to help ensure that voter registration, ballots and ballot tabulation remains free from interference.
The solution is suddenly obvious, the federal government lmust take control of the entire national elections process. They will keep us safe. But alas, it may already be too late. The official warns:
“[I]t won’t happen before the November elections, federal and local officials said.”
An impeccably reliable source, the friend of a parking lot attendant who has watched “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” 17 times and is a really swell guy, warns that indeed that insidious Russian plot is under way even as we speak.
“Have you ever wondered how it is that the American people are faced with such a despicable pair of major party presidential candidates this year? Yes, it is as we have suspected all along. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both Soviet, er, I mean, Russian agents whose sole intent is to shred whatever remains of our Way of Life.”
Still, we must soldier on. “Stand up to evil!” I cry, as the opening strains of the Star Spangled Banner waft over the airwaves. I look over at my even crankier little wife for words of comfort and support, but she remains firmly ensconced in her chair. I start to rise, but somehow my patriotic fervor has been sapped. A fleeting thought flits through my benumbed mind that maybe that Vladimir Putin isn’t so bad, my trembling knees lose all strength, and as I plop back down waiting for the opening kickoff, I mutter, “Oh, fuck it!”
Rose smiles. The Russians have won.
— Jeff Roby
September 5, 2016