Recent Missouri editorials
The Kansas City Star, July 27
Whether you love or loathe Claire McCaskill, Russia’s attempted hack is an outrage
Let’s not pretend to be at all surprised that Russia is still at it. Now we know they launched another cyberattack, this time on Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and through her on our democracy.
Thankfully, this particular attempt was unsuccessful. But whatever your party affiliation, and whether or not you think McCaskill should be re-elected in November, let’s at least agree that Missourians should have the chance to make that call without the direction and misdirection provided by the kind of leaked emails that Russian hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee and used against Hillary Clinton .
In retrospect, we in the news business were wrong to run with material stolen by a hostile foreign power for the express purpose of subverting our democracy. This wasn’t the Pentagon Papers.
Yes, this information would have gotten out anyway, but without the imprimatur of legitimacy that we should never have given it.
That’s not because those efforts happen to have been carried out to benefit Donald Trump, the candidate that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin said openly in Helsinki that he preferred.
It’s because giving an unwitting boost to any such manipulations was a mistake we should not repeat.
At both the state and federal level, we need to be moving as aggressively as possible to head off the ongoing efforts that make future cyberattacks a certainty.
The Daily Beast was first to report that the attempt on McCaskill’s office was made last year, around the time Trump made his first trip to Missouri as president. In Springfield, he told his audience to vote McCaskill out if she did not support his tax plan.
Two years ago this month, Trump said at a news conference that Russia should hack and leak Hillary Clinton’s emails: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Unfortunately, both parts came true.
It was that very day that the Russians first tried to break into the servers at Clinton’s personal office, according to the recent indictment by the special counsel’s office that charged 12 Russians with election hacking. You know the rest of the story.
Trump is working hard to elect McCaskill’s likely Republican opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, whose spokesperson Kelli Ford said in a statement after news of the hacking attempt broke that “Russia is a bad actor and we should not tolerate or ignore their attempts to disrupt either American commerce or democracy. Senator McCaskill is fortunate that her staffer did not click on the link and give away her personal information and passcodes. This is an important reminder that scam emails and malicious phishing can target anyone.”
She’s right about that, of course. The hackers reportedly emailed her aides that their emails had expired. That’s the same phishing scheme that worked on Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, two years ago.
McCaskill’s fellow Missouri Democrat, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, lamented that we’re not doing much more to safeguard our democracy.
“It’s almost like this is part of our political process now,” he said of the cyberattacks. None of us can afford to accept that. And regardless of party, we have a common duty to press our officials to protect us from attacks that are no less devastating because they’re bloodless and invisible.
The St. Joseph News-Press, July 28
Farm bailout not the answer
Trump supporters can be found throughout the Midland Empire, and for good reason: Much of what loyalists sought in a new president has come to pass.
Still, this is proving to be a complicated relationship.
Set aside all the Twitter chatter, all of the ego-driven clashes with the press and public figures around the world, this is a president who has asserted his will and followed through on many of his campaign promises.
His dealings with North Korea and Russia are muddled, and still subject to interpretation, but his eagerness to reassert America’s interests on the world stage has many fans. The same is true for his spat with NATO allies, who agreed after Trump’s prodding to put billions more into financing our collective security.
Seeking to redraw international agreements he considers one-sided, Trump also has disrupted NAFTA and trade relations with both China and the European Economic Union.
NAFTA partners in Mexico and Canada are still talking with us, and the EU and Trump have brokered a stand-down from escalating tensions. But China — well, we’re on the leading edge of a trade war marked by tariffs and counter-tariffs.
The $12 billion in farm aid announced last week, as an offset to harm caused to farmers by the tariffs, is hardly the best use of government dollars. Farmers appreciate the help, but they would rather have free access to trade their goods on the world markets.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to borrow money from the Treasury to pay producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. USDA also plans to buy the surplus of commodities that would have been exported and distribute it to food banks and other nutrition programs.
A third initiative will focus on helping farm groups develop new export markets.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue describes the aid program as a “short-term” remedy to deal with market disruptions while the government pursues fairer long-term trade deals.
But listen to the informed response of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas:
“Recently-imposed tariffs are having immediate effects on farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, but the long-term implications of disrupting supply chains and losing market shares that took decades to build up is perhaps even more concerning.
“It is time to inject more certainty into our trade policies. We ought to start by reaching an agreement on a modernized NAFTA and ending the threat of escalating a trade war.”
With due respect to what President Trump seeks to accomplish, this — not more tariffs or a bailout of farmers — is what is needed now.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28
Editorial: Russia meddles in Missouri elections. Where does Josh Hawley stand?
Russia hasn’t formally declared that Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is President Vladimir Putin’s favored candidate in the November U.S. Senate election, but the Russian hacking of Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is a clear indication of where Putin wants this election to go. More and more in America, it seems, what Putin wants, Putin gets.
Missourians should think long and hard about the implications of reports last week that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate McCaskill’s Senate computer network — meaning that Russian meddling is an ongoing, serious national security threat. McCaskill left no doubt that she holds Putin responsible, calling him “a thug and a bully” and insisting she will not be intimidated.
News reports about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections were probably easy for Missourians to disregard because, really, what does that have to do with us? But all of a sudden, decisions being made in Moscow threaten us right here, right now.
Russia recognizes that the Senate’s power balance hangs on the November election, with McCaskill’s seat among the most hotly contested in the country. Hawley is her likely GOP challenger, and if he defeats McCaskill, Republicans would retain control of the Senate and be emboldened to advance Trump’s pro-Russia agenda.
It’s safe to say that Putin does not want McCaskill to win. We also know that Hawley is Trump’s guy because the president made a point of promoting Hawley’s candidacy during a trip to Kansas City last week, during which Hawley went overboard in his unbridled praise of the president.
It’s time for Hawley to grow a spine and challenge Trump on some very important issues, topmost of which is the president’s appalling display of submission to Putin during their recent summit meeting in Helsinki. Republican congressional leaders wasted no time condemning Trump’s fawning display, in which he took Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies regarding Russian meddling in 2016.
Hawley stood firm with Trump after Helsinki. Spokeswoman Kelli Ford labeled Russia a “bad actor” but tried to portray the commotion over Helsinki as just more Democratic whining over the 2016 result, saying, “President Trump won. Hillary (Clinton) lost. It’s time for Democrats and the media to move on, and the president should keep on being forceful with Russia.”
Let’s be clear: Trump was not even remotely “forceful.” He spent days afterward trying to recover from the political fallout from Helsinki, which was a tacit admission that he had screwed up. Trump has made excuses for Russian meddling, outright denied that it occurred, and done his best to minimize the importance of Putin’s blatant violation of U.S. sovereignty.
Any candidate who tolerates Russian meddling in Missouri’s elections — and who fails to wholeheartedly condemn it — deserves to be resoundingly rejected by voters here. So Josh Hawley, where exactly do you stand?