John McCain Says Hacks That Embarrass Politicians Could 'Destroy Democracy'

One man's interference with the electoral process is another man's voter education.



Yesterday on CNN's State of the Union, John McCain warned that Russian hacking aimed at influencing the outcome of U.S. elections has the potential to "destroy democracy," which seems like a pretty hysterical take on the dissemination of embarrassing emails in which Democratic insiders dissed Bernie Sanders and noted Hillary Clinton's limitations as a candidate. Like Clinton, who last week described the email thefts as an attack on "our electoral system," McCain conflates information that guides voters' choices with the nullification of those choices.

The Arizona senator conceded that there is no evidence of direct Russian interference in the voting process and that it's not clear whether electronic communications illegally obtained from computers used by the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, affected the results of the presidential contest. "I have seen no evidence that the voting machines were tampered with," he said. "I have seen no evidence that the election would have been different." Still, McCain said, "that doesn't change the fact that the Russians…have been able to interfere with our electoral process." And "if they are able to harm the electoral process, then they destroy democracy, which is based on free and fair elections."

The problem is that one man's interference with the electoral process is another man's voter education. Leading news organizations concluded that much of the information revealed by the DNC and Podesta hacks, such as excerpts from Clinton's highly paid but heretofore secret Wall Street speeches, concerned matters of legitimate public interest. As The New York Times put it, "Every major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence."

Valuable journalism, including journalism that helps voters decide which candidates to support, is often based on information that was obtained or divulged illegally by people with axes to grind. It is hard to see how this case is different in principle. Is it the nationality of the informants that matters? If the emails that made Clinton look bad had been swiped by Americans, would she and McCain still be talking about democracy-threatening interference with our electoral process?

During the campaign, The New York Times "obtained" parts of Donald Trump's 1995 tax return and shared them with the public, building a series of stories on the information they contained. If that information had come from a foreign source, would publishing it have undermined democracy? Suppose German hackers had managed to obtain complete copies of Trump's recent tax returns—a subject of intense journalistic interest—and shared them with news outlets, either directly or through an intermediary like Wikileaks. Would Clinton have perceived the resulting exposés as undermining the electoral process or assisting it?

Cybersecurity is obviously a real concern, and hacking in the service of voting fraud would be a genuine threat to the integrity of our elections. But computer trespassing that merely brings to light facts that politicians would rather conceal does not constitute a threat to democracy. To the contrary, it helps voters make better-informed choices.

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  1. “if they are able to harm the electoral process, then they destroy democracy, which is based on free and fair elections.”

    Free and fair, ignorant and hoodwinked, same diff.

    1. It also implies democracy is stupid by definition if this is all it takes to bring it down.

      Maybe we should consider having a republic instead.

      1. Had a Republic once. Couldn’t keep it, thanks to Lincoln, then Wilson, then FDR. Sorry Mr Franklin.

  2. If the emails that made Clinton look bad had been swiped by Americans, would she and McCain still be talking about democracy-threatening interference with our electoral process?

    To answer that question, just look at the way Obama and the Democrats have treated Snowden.

    Exposing the evil stupidity of our leaders is unacceptable regardless of whom is telling the truth.

    1. That has always seemed to be what offended McCain, since his political career was almost cut short by being caught up in the ABSCAM sting.

      1. I think you are referring to the “Keating Five” scandal, where McCain was the lone Republican(?) among four other demoncraps that improperly intervened, in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, where some 23,000 Lincoln bondholders were defrauded and many investors lost their life savings.

  3. If he’s worrying about foreigners influencing elections, will he be looking into how Carlos Slim is “hacking” US elections with the New York Times?

    1. But he is a good foreigner who supports McCain immigration policy, or more accurately McCain supports Slim’s policies

  4. I’m sure the foreign governments that bought and paid for Hillary feel the same way.

  5. If the emails that made Clinton look bad had been swiped by Americans, would she and McCain still be talking about democracy-threatening interference with our electoral process?

    Given that’s how Democrats have been responding to Citizens’ United, I’m gonna go with yes. The difference this time is that Republicans are joining in because Russia.

  6. Putin has plenty of motive to put his butt-boy Trump into the White House (in case you’re just stupid those motives range from dismantling NATO to protecting Russian loans to Trump). So yes, if the source is in on the Big Con then it matters who that source is.

    1. What Big Con, nobody has disputed the content of the leaks,

      1. The Big Con = “Make America Great Again”.

        1. Good point. Empty slogans are completely unprecedented in national political campaigns. Now where did I put my hope and change t-shirt….

          1. BA-ZINGA!!!
            We have a winner!!!

          2. Its in the same drawer as the ‘Kinder, gentler nation’, ‘Morning in America’, and the ‘Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow’ and ‘Putting people first’ ones.

            1. What’s a Compassionate Conservative ?

        2. Based on your name, I would say that your head is in the right place, but if not great, what would you have America be?

        3. So, your position is that any information, true of false, that helped Donald Trump is unacceptable.

      2. Consider the source, DJF. Shreek is such a dumb, dishonest party hack that he may actually be John Podesta.

        1. That….that would explain much, X.

        2. So anyone critical of the Con Man is a “party hack”? Go back to Bratfart where you belong.

          1. BUY YER GOLD, BETTY!!! BUY YER GOLD!!!

          2. Where did i say anything about Trump, idiot? Your open partisan retardation was a matter of public record long before Donald Trump ran for president, idiot. Go back to Demobratic Underfart where you belong, idiot.

          3. Don’t know where you are?????

          4. Your own position is that the substantive issue is that they helped Donald Trump relative to Hillary Clinton. That pretty much defines you as a party hack.

    2. I completely agree. Certainly Putin would prefer an unstable novice with a strong ego to the well known doormat he has continually walked all over, who has never taken a strong principled stand.

      1. One of the Butt-boy’s first orders from Putin will be to remove Obama’s sanctions.


        1. If you are rudely referring to Trump, that’s what he was elected to do. The sooner the better!

        2. So, sanctions on Iran bad, but sanctions on Russia good?

          Get the fuck out of here with that bullshit. This is a libertarian website and most of us agree with removing all sanctions everywhere.

    3. Another motive is that Trump wants good relations with Russia instead of going to war with them. Why exactly is Russia our enemy?

      1. We have NATO obligations that directly oppose Putin’s territorial expansion into Eastern Europe.

        1. PB = We have NATO obligations that directly oppose Putin’s territorial expansion into Eastern Europe.

          You do? Are you guarding them as we type?


          BWAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA, oh, Betty, never change!

        3. A very slow expansion,

          In regards to Georgia, Russia is no more expanded then when the Soviet Union collapsed

          In regards to Crimea, Russian troops have been there for more then 200 years

        4. We do? Ukraine is part of NATO? Do we have NATO obligations that directly oppose Assad also?

          1. Exactly.

            Hillary was taking the NeoCon approach. So it’s not surprising that liberals now think the CIA is a trustworthy organization.

        5. Is.. that a war boner? how awkward for you…

          1. Is.. that a war boner? how awkward for you…

            It’s 1968 all over again. The Democrats have become the war party, while simultaneously accusing the Republicans of wanting to destroy the world. Fortunately, they lost this time.

  7. I don’t like the term and it’s overused in various corners of the interweb but “cuck” seems appropriate here. How does this desiccated insane person manage to keep getting reelected?

    1. He is good at telling the voters what they want to hear during elections and then ignoring them the rest of the time

  8. It’s time to rehabilitate the term “the establishment”.

    People used to complain that there was a bigger difference between the conservative and liberal wings of the two major parties–more so than between the two parties themselves. Yeah, there were conservative Democrats, and they didn’t disagree with conservative Republicans on much–certainly less so than they disagreed with liberals.

    And when politicians in both parties disagreed on something, it was within normal parameters.

    That’s “the establishment”. It isn’t Republican or Democrat, and they agree on a lot–certainly they agree that undermining the establishment is evil and anyone who does so should be punished.

    The establishment is having a really hard time coming to terms with Trump winning over their objections. When the establishment loses its legitimacy with the American people, things get ugly. No, the establishment isn’t about being Democrat or Republican–it isn’t even about being a politician. Universities are part of the establishment, so are churches and the media, . . .

    Trump represents voters having rejected the establishment, and Trump himself can never become acceptable to the establishment because of that. He’ll try to sell out, but Trump is the establishment’s whipping boy now. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    It isn’t about Trump. It’s about voters not doing what they’re told. They’re gonna whip Trump until they feel confident that the voters will do as they’re told.

  9. Man does he ever look like Cotton Hill.

    I killed fifty men!

    1. -2 knees

    2. “Sorry I’m late. I had to stop by the wax museum again and give the finger to FDR.”

  10. I think should we consider that Trump encouraged the hacking then denied its existence as part of this discussion. There’s the possibility of a state actor coming to the “defense” of the Democrats. Certainly more to consider here.

    1. What encouraging?

      Trump made a joke at Hillary expense when he openly asked the Russians to return the missing 30,000 e-mails if they had them,

      The e-mails weren’t missing due to Russian actions, but because Hillary had them deleted when questions were raised about her private e-mail server

      1. Trump’s denials and delusions certainly offer encouragement if we’re giving him a pass on the “joke”.

        1. Why aren’t you on the Trump Train like our commentariat (Peanut Gallery) is?

          1. “Our” commentariat? You don’t work here any more idiot, no matter how many of your fellow JournoList friends might still flack for you from time to time. Welch fired your dumb ass for being stupid and unhinged, don’t you remember?

          2. Mmmm, taste the tears of unfathomable sorrow.

            Cry some more for us demfag.

      2. DJF-
        Not just questions, a subpoena.

    2. Yeah, if we continue to find out the truth about candidates in the future, God only knows what might happen!

      There is a fundamentally anti-libertarian undertone to this whole thing.

      Libertarianism is the idea that people should be free to make choices for themselves.

      Progressives believe that people are incapable of making the correct choices themselves, so their choices should be made for them by elites.

      Believing that Russian hackers spoiled the election by exposing the truth requires us to reject the idea that voters are capable of making choices for themselves.

      I won’t do that, certainly, not because of this.

    3. Sure, he colluded with the Russians to hack Hillary’s emails in front of millions of American TV viewers. It’s a conspiracy!

    4. I remember him jokingly encouraging Russia on Twitter to leak things that conservatives presumed they had hacked (thus, making Hillary’s keeping of a private server a national security issue). It was a joke many other people made; I’m pretty sure someone or multiple someones said something similar here.

      But leaking isn’t the same as hacking.

      I’m pretty sure you should look at the Sanders campaign as the source of your leaks. Remember this?. Who knows what else they grabbed from those incompetently secured servers?

    5. Rollo|12.19.16 @ 8:41AM

      ^^^Look everyone!^^^ Tulpa came back. (again, and again,and again)

  11. “John McCain Says Hacks That Embarrass Politicians Could ‘Destroy Democracy”

    It’s like being a birther.

    It’s just meant to undermine the legitimacy of the incoming President.

  12. You know who else tried to destroy democracy…

    1. Emperor Xerxes?

      1. You are partial to despots with an “X” in their names, aren’t you?!

        1. Malcom X likes this.

    2. FDR. The correct answer is FDR.

    3. Varg Vikernes?

  13. There is no evidence Russia actually did this. Moreover, even if they did, it is clear from the circumstances surrounding the hacks, that anyone could have. What we have is a bunch of political people engaging in embarrassing and nasty behavior who are too stupid to cover their tracks or engage in even basic cyber security. And these assholes want me to be angry at Russia over it?

    1. Podesta fell for a ruse akin to the Nigerian prince trying to get money out of the country scheme. The mystery here is how he can go on national television and talk about it without getting laughed off the set.

      1. Or how he couldn’t be too embarrassed to admit to it. He is getting on TV and telling the nation “I am a complete dumb ass who fell for a scheme so stupid and transparent even your computer phobic grandparents would not have fell for it.” And yet he does it and seems proud of the fact.

        1. It is par for the course for Clinton and her cronies. Her initial excuses whay she had her own server was that she found having more than one email confusing. Their standard response seems to be admitting to being an idiot is OK as it forwards whatever narrative they are pushing.

    2. “There is no evidence Russia actually did this.”

      They have a, intelligence agency staffed by thousands of people whose job is to hack things like DNC servers.

      It is not unreasonable to assume that those people did their job.

      Incidentally, if out intelligence services aren’t hacking Russian servers, then the taxpayers deserve their money back.

      The important point is that it doesn’t matter where the information came from or why it was presented–not in relation to the question of whether Donald Trump is the legitimate winner.

      1. It is not unreasonable to think they did. It is also not unreasonable to think someone else did or an insider leaked them. It is also possible that both the Russians hacked them and they were leaked. I am not accusing a nuclear armed power of doing something without evidence they did it.

        1. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that Saddam Hussein had vast stockpiles of WMD and an ongoing WMD program.

          The important question was still whether the benefits of invading and occupying Iraq were worth the costs.

          One of the reasons we know that is because it was obvious that Assad had stockpiles of WMD–but invading and occupying Syria was likely to produce about as much cost as Iraq and without much of a benefit to American security.

          Again, the real question was never about whether Saddam had WMD. The question was whether the benefits of invading and occupying Iraq were worth the costs.

          Likewise, the question now is not whether Russian hackers provided information to voters. The question is whether Donald Trump won the election. Obama and the progressives are trying to change the question to something irrelevant–because 1) They don’t want people to believe that Americans have rejected the progressive agenda and 2) It is almost certain that the Russians at some point tried to hack the DNC.

          1. 1) They don’t want people to believe that Americans have rejected the progressive agenda

            This right here is the big motivator, I think. Lost among all of the caterwauling about Hillary “winning” the popular vote is the plain fact that the broad left side of the spectrum received fewer votes than the broad right side of the spectrum in American politics. Republicans + Libertarians + Independent (McMullin) + Constitution = 49.93% while Democrats + Greens + Socialism & Liberation + Socialist Workers = 49.18%. This doesn’t mean that factions on these broad sides agree with (or even like) each other, but I think it is telling that the zeitgeist is broadly against progressivism at the moment (albeit by the slimmest of margins).

            2) It is almost certain that the Russians at some point tried to hack the DNC.

            From all the stories that have come out, it does seem that the Russians hacked the DNC but that Wikileaks got their information from a separate source. Given how lax the Democrat security apparently was, it’s surprising more people didn’t hack them.

            1. See my response to ant1sthenes below in regards to the question of whether Wikileaks got their information from the Russians.

              They’re framing the question in such a way that they can’t lose. The purpose of the question is to imply the question itself.

              They want you to think it matters whether the Russians supplied that information to Wikileaks. In regards to the real question–“Who won the election and why?”–whether the Russians supplied that information to Wikileaks is irrelevant.

      2. Every state intelligence agency on earth, including the CIA, could have and probably did hack the Dems. The question is who leaked the information to Wikileaks? There’s no evidence for it being Russia other than their antipathy for Hillary.

        My personal guess is a Sanders staffer. Best guess at chain of events: tech-savvy staffer gets cheeky and starts sneaking a peek at Hillary voter data. Dems somehow find out and threaten Sanders campaign with lawsuit if they don’t stop using servers. Tech-savvy staffer gets mad at treatment of commie messiah, realizes security at the DNC is shit and probably has the same holes everywhere, grabs a bunch of emails for himself. When it becomes clear toward the end that Sanders has no hope, staffer decides to show everyone the game is rigged.

        1. “The question is who leaked the information to Wikileaks?”

          That’s the question according to Obama, Hillary Clinton, the progressives, and the social justice warriors, all of whom hate Trump and don’t want to admit it was their fault that he won.

          The question is who won the election, and the answer is Donald Trump.

          The question is why Trump won, and the answer is because a significant number of Americans are sick and tired of the progressives, the social justice warriors, elitism, and because Hillary Clinton is a crook.

      3. It is not unreasonable to assume that those people did their job.

        I wouldn’t assume anything in the absence of evidence. I think its a possibility. I think its more probable that this was a leak.

        Of course, its also possible that the Russians hacked the DNC servers, AND there was a leak.

        1. It’s always been my opinion that the documents came from a DNC insider.

          Where Wikileaks got the docs

    3. And we’re also supposed to believe at the same time that these super-hackers from Moscow couldn’t possibly have penetrated Hillary’s Bathroom Server.

      1. Some euphemisms aren’t so good, you know.

  14. “If…”

    The leaks were just the DNC’s, leading to the unfair conclusion that there was only one dishonest politician in the race. Had the leaks concerned all of the candidates equally, it would have fairly portrayed all of them as equally virulent shit-eating lying scumbags – and where would our democracy be if the voters lost their child-like faith that our wise and noble leaders are paragons of virtue?

    But then again, aren’t the Dems using Putin’s cyber-snooping as proof that Hillary is the leader the Russians fear while Trump is the candidate of lying cheating thieving commie bastards – i.e,. using the leak as a pro-Hillary talking point? It’s funny the NYT would be ruefully complaining about their own coverage of the leaks serving as inadvertent pro-Russian propaganda, they did their damnedest to make sure the Russian connection served as anti-Trump propaganda.

    1. Very good points. The Democrats had the opportunity to attack Trump as a traitor for licking Putin’s balls.

      1. Lol, stop. Hillary was blaming everything up to and including her tangled Christmas lights on Trump collaborating with the Russians. At least act like you were paying attention during the election.

  15. “It’s a good thing John Oliver and Trevor Noah aren’t Russian.”

  16. Hey, look: John McCain found a way to get in the news again.

  17. Glad to see the Travelocity Gnome jumping on the anti-free speech bandwagon so as to make the antipathy to the 1A a BIPARTISAN affair. Goddamn, that is imbecility worthy of shreek!

  18. I’m sorry he was held captive and suffered. But I really wish he would just go away.

    1. Well said.

  19. Idiot…and what if not airing dirty laundry is more damaging to our republic?

  20. Right, because democracy depends on assholes like McCain and his buddies being able to maintain their facades.


  21. Rollo is back ? Geez I’ve been on this blog a long time, ’cause that’s a Tulpa sock. I specifically recall when he fucked up and forgot to change handles.

    1. It’s pretty fucking hilarious how mindfucked some of you are when it comes to Tulpa.

      1. Oh sorry. See there used to be a poster named Tulpa who would run multiple socks. But he would fuck up and forget to change handles when replying, which would expose the sock. You, just by chance, chose a handle that this Tulpa fellow used for one of his socks. Just a bizarre fluke.

  22. Thank God John McCain isn’t some kind of Manchurian candidate brainwashed and sent to undermine our freedoms because that would be awful.

    1. Go Cowboys

  23. John McCain needs to retire. He has become a laughingstock. Any service to the country has long been overshadowed by what looks to be blatant crony corruption. Almost everything out of his mouth seems to be tailored to support one or more of his buddies in Congress or the Senate.

    1. The Viet Cong had their revenge by letting the piece of shit return to America.

  24. The point of the hacks was never about the content, which largely has gone overlooked by the voters.

    But…the hack/leaks more importantly to the election results showed….

    The DNC and Clinton are incompetent.
    Clinton’s claims about the private server being a non-issue is laughable if Wikileaks had her emails, but not the State Dept’s emails.
    Clinton will lie about everything.

    This is what killed Clinton. If she had come out immediately and fully disclosed everything to the electorate, the issues would have gone away. But instead, she lied up to the end.
    She copied Bill’s stupid strategy with Lewinski….lie, lie, lie….that got him impeached. It was never about the sex, it was about the utter lack of Presidential integrity for most of the electorate. A “yeh, I had some regrettable encounters for which I apologize for. Time to focus on the business of the Country.” and it would have gone away.

    1. And after the election was that staged “chance meeting with a supporter while walking in the woods”. Seemed implausible on its face, then it came out the supporter is a Dem operative. How does a person get to the point where they lie about, well, everything. Even when they don’t have to.

      1. Had an old friend like that. He would lie to his parents when he did not have to!?

  25. I wonder how much the voters at large even knew about the leaked emails when they cast their ballots. I realize that there was endless talk about them inside the Beltway and at all the important cocktail parties, but out of work coal miners typically don’t get invited to those cocktail parties. I wonder how many of them know who John Podesta is or give a shit who he is. I think they would more likely have reacted viscerally to Hillary and her flying monkeys pissing all over them.

    1. What most people don’t know about politics is a lot. My wife is slightly more aware than average, and she has no idea who Podesta is.

  26. McCain said, “that doesn’t change the fact that the Russians…have been able to interfere with our electoral process.” And “if they are able to harm the electoral process, then they destroy democracy, which is based on free and fair elections.”

    How many elections has the US interfered in? How many government has the US outright destroyed simply because they wouldn’t do what we wanted them to do?

    Sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik.

  27. Anyone want to start a pool on whether McCain has folders full of POWs-tortured-by-sexxxxyyy-Azn-dominatrices pr0n on his Senate laptop?

  28. Hillary never takes responsibility for her actions. She finally called her home brewed server a mistake. But when asked about the mistake, she will defend her mistaken ways.

  29. He seems to old to understand the difference between leaking emails, and true account hacking! I am 65 and have a problem with some of it! Hacking voting machines would have been a thing of substance. Revealing emails that came out, during the campaign, just exposed the truth about the Clintons! The truth should never bother any of us!

  30. Or, in McCain’s case, a politician who is an embarrassing hack…

  31. If the Russian “hack” is really only about the DNC emails, then I agree with the premise of the article. Still, it does not not make Trump look good that the Russians supported him. Not that that matters to his supporters. Had it been the other way around, of course, the Right would’ve gone nuts.

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