March 3, 2017 Last Updated 12:27 pm

When it comes to Russian contacts ‘who’ is becoming clear, but ‘why’ remains a mystery

Morning Brief: Despite the growth of online shopping, most shoppers still choose brick-and-mortar stores, consumer survey finds – a result that likely applies to print, as well

The Internet and politics make strange bedfellows. Who would have thought a year ago that Republicans would have been so cozy with the Russians and would e accusing Democrats of being McCarthy-like for pointing this out.

What appears to be lacking is some perspective, as well as more details about exactly what all these meetings were about, and why any US politician would have put such a high priority on relations with Russia when it was never a major issue in the campaign?

What was a major issue was Russia’s hacking of the DNC, and the support give by Internet trolls and bots to the Trump campaign. This website, and more especially its sister website PoliMedia, fought off DDoS attacks during the late summer, often going offline due to them, attacks that originated in the Moscow time zone.

While most news organizations continue to work at catching Trump administration officials at their lies concerning meetings with the Russian ambassador, the big question remains why? Why was it so important for Trump to employ Paul Manafort and Carter Page, two shady characters if there ever were ones. Why would a sitting Senator, one who claims to be a staunch conservative, risk their career by meeting with the Russian ambassador?

“In war, truth is the first casualty,” said the Greek dramatist Aeschylus. So, too, it appears, in US politics.

The Washington Post, Alexandra Petri:

Sergey Kislyak, the least memorable man in the world

He has spoken to senators.

He has spoken to generals, both regular and soon-to-be-attorney.

But as soon as he speaks his words vanish, as if they had never been.

No one can definitively state that they were in the room with him at any time. (This must create certain difficulties in his job as Russia’s ambassador to the United States.)

His name is Sergey Kislyak, and he is the Most Forgettable Man in the World…

…He once slept on a memory-foam mattress and left no impression whatsoever.

Pigeons often fly directly into him, mistaking him for empty space.

The New York Times, Paul Krugman:

Goodbye Spin, Hello Raw Dishonesty

At this point it’s easier to list the Trump officials who haven’t been caught lying under oath than those who have. This is not an accident…

…The moral vacuity of Republicans in Congress, and the unlikelihood that they’ll act as any check on the president, becomes clearer with each passing day. Even the real possibility that we’re facing subversion by agents of a foreign power, and that top officials are part of the story, doesn’t seem to faze them as long as they can get tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor.

Meanwhile, Republican primary election voters, who are the real arbiters when polarized and/or gerrymandered districts make the general election irrelevant for many politicians, live in a Fox News bubble into which awkward truths never penetrate.

And what about the Fourth Estate? Will it let us down, too?

One day someone smart, maybe Jordan Peele, will direct a really funny, biting film about the whole HRC email episode. It will be a never-ending nightmare of Congressional hearings and blaring headlines, that ends when it the media and the Republicans successfully convince much of the public that the most important thing in the whole world is someone’s email habits.

Of course, it will turn out, everyone pointing fingers will have been engaged in the same email habits, but it worked, didn’t it, we got Trump.

Indianapolis Star, Tony Cook:

Pence used personal email for state business — and was hacked

Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.

Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges…

…Pence fiercely criticized Clinton throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, accusing her of trying to keep her emails out of public reach and exposing classified information to potential hackers.

Pence spokesman Marc Lotter called any comparisons between Pence and Clinton “absurd,” noting that Pence didn’t deal with federally classified information as governor. While Pence used a well-known consumer email provider, Clinton had a private server installed in her home, he said.

This story was passed on to me this morning. It is a few days old now, but is definitely of interest.

Despite my advocacy of digital media, I think there are definite limits. The rise of digital does not need to mean the end of print, nor of brick and mortar stores. I still love to do the food shopping, and while I recognize how convenient it would be to let Amazon or another retailer do the shopping and delivery for me, I would miss the experience of shopping for my own groceries in preparation for doing the cooking.

RetailDive, Sandy Skrovan:

Why most shoppers still choose brick-and-mortar stores over e-commerce

The ability to see, touch and feel products as well as take items home immediately rank highest among the reasons consumers choose to shop in stores versus online, according to Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey. For the first question in a six-part series looking at consumer shopping habits, we surveyed 1,425 U.S. consumers via Google Surveys about the reasons why they choose to shop in stores over online.

By a fairly wide margin, the primary motivation for shopping in stores is to see and try out products before purchasing. However, some notable differences exist among shoppers, depending on their gender, age and location.

In particular, female shoppers overwhelmingly want to see, touch and feel products before buying them. Males, on the other hand, skew more toward the immediate satisfaction of taking items home with them.

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