JackRiddler » 08 May 2019 16:03 wrote:.
In a foreseeable future we get to learn how many kittens and calves Maddow and Blitzer and Tribe and Clapper can have on-air, should Moscow dictate that CNN and Co. have to register as American agents.
Also, if this were not on RI, you could now watch liberals shouldering each other aside to tackle me first for allegedly blurring the distinction between privately owned for-profit covert state propaganda agencies who are supposedly just motivated by the ratings (as if this would be the basis of moral superiority), and the kind that are more honestly owned directly by the state. Wait, never mind, that was last year's sophistry. By now they would just be tackling me for defending the Russian beast and impugning the bona fides of our noble American system.
I'm always for investigating financial crimes because they are always present. Under neoliberalism, finance is synonymous with crime. Of course I'm pleased with the release of the tax returns. A xenophobic slant that looks only at "Russians," however, is a propaganda campaign designed of, for, and by the imperialists and DNC-Clinton. It leads not to Trump in prison but the political class supporting the bombing of Venezuela and Iraq.
Trump is a career criminal who announced he wished to escalate the destruction of rule of law, which no one has ever done more dramatically than the Bush regime, but which has been continuous in the postwar era and which the Clintons and Obama both helped massively to consolidate. This has driven large counter-movements to Trumpian fascism, but the #Russiagate "collusion stuff" has not been part of that. It has been the sabotage of the peoples' movements, the fake opposition. #Russiagate was not chosen as the official scandal of the Trump regime because it had anything to do with Trump, but because it served purposes for Clintons-DNC, imperialism, and xenophobic corporate media who aren't going to talk about systemic factors.
That Trump obstructs justice means he is doing the same thing he has been doing every morning when he brushes his teeth the last 50 years. Of course he does that, he has been the head of a criminal organization for decades. Of course he should go to prison and probably should have somewhere back in 1979, but here he is. How did that happen? It's the American capitalist system at work. Ignoring that means losing again.
Selective prosecutions for officially acceptable crimes against officially acceptable enemies, as determined by another war criminal and destroyer of rule-of-law (Mueller), are precisely what discredited #Russiagate and assisted this monster. Assisted. Start understanding that. Assisted. Your favored scandal cooked up by the corporate media and CIA-MI6 assisted Trump. Assisted.
Very nice that you think impeachment will have anything to do with the far more real crimes involving actual collusion with Saudi Arabia, UAE or Israel (or with the naked emoluments plunder that are the continuity running through Trump org, Trump campaign and Trump regime) but this ain't in the cards.
Want to fight Trump? Work for the real movements. The teachers, the immigrant movements, and antiwar are real resistance. GND and M4A are real politics that can build a real electoral defeat for Trump. As of now #Russiagate is the 2020 Trump reelection campaign and an attempt by demented imperialists (many of them IN Trump's government) to start World War III. #Russiagate ends not in Trump's conviction but in the imperialists of both parties standing shoulder to shoulder as the US commits new wars of aggression against Venezuela and Iran.
The capitalist ruling class is historically criminal and also necessarily criminal by the nature of what it takes to keep the system functioning. Most of them know damn well what they do. At the moment they are presiding over and pushing for the collapse of the biosphere's ability to support the human population, while many of them are also ramping up for the Last World War. We can quibble on how to define rich but there is no defense whatsoever for tolerating billionaires. I don't want to spit on them or assault them or guillotine them. Expropriation (leaving a generous few million in trust for each) followed by investigations on fraud and other crimes (especially complicity in the wars and undermining of democracy) would be a fine start. They can enjoy free public defenders, as that should be a human right for all.
Clearly he did not [fail]. Clearly he runs a criminal business, and if he is doing that for so many years, it is by definition a successful criminal enterprise. Thus the real story is the impunity granted to him by the supposed legal guardians of the capitalist system. Also by the corporate media such as NBC and CNN who crowned him for all those years as a business genius, although it was self-evident that he was a criminal. These are American capitalist values at work. This is your entire ruling class. Of course he gets away with it, because of class membership. They all get away with it. (Especially after the final round of corporate prosecutions back in 2002 - ever since then it's been impunity for all of the big business gangsters.) Trump is but the most flamboyant demonstration of the fact that criminals necessarily run the capitalist political economy. Adherence to capitalist law would result in decimation of the capitalist ruling class.
Could be because impeachment constitutionally speaking is a bogus device that has never, ever, ever resulted in the removal from office of anyone (except maybe Nixon in anticipation of it, but maybe he should have waited to see). But in recent memory it has succeeded in backfiring and making the target even more popular. Could be because #Russiagate is already a proven dud that has done nothing but favors for the regime. The Bush regime ran an unforgivable war of aggression on false pretenses and the same D-crew who are stopping impeachment now also refused to do it then, when they had a better case than obstruction of justice. Objectively, Trump has yet to match the crimes of the Bush regime. (Of course, an impeachment would also have a better case now on emoluments, but who cares? No one if it's not about pumping up the xenophobic Russia panic, apparently.)
It's kind of extreme that the regime just attempted to launch a war of aggression to replace the democratically elected government of Venezuela with a death-squad government of the country's right-wing white oligarchs, and is now trying to launch a war of aggression on Iran, and liberals are still choosing instead to focus on this #Russiagate fantasy stuff that has blocked effective resistance to the Trumpian fascism for more than two years now. Never learn the lessons and never oppose the war crimes, I guess.
I don't know why anyone ever promoted the idea that incompetence and criminality don't go together. It sounds like propaganda to protect the rich and powerful. Systemic crime is not a matter of being a "mastermind" but of being in the right position. It may be true that bank robbers cannot afford to be incompetent, but it has usually worked well for bank owners. Incompetence is a great cover for criminality. The appearance of it is often a necessity. "Oh, you know, our government can't even run the DMV, why do you think they are overthrowing other governments?" There are honest-to-god genocides (like the wars of aggression in Vietnam and Iraq) that are still covered by the conventional wisdom as though they were cases of incompetence, rather than crimes.
The answer has been evident in his entire career. This is the long-reigning head of a relatively petty crime organization that spans the entire postwar era. He inherited the crime organization from his father. He has been laundering money in plain sight while promoting himself relentlessly in press and on television for literally 50 years. Nothing he has done was ever not a scam. He has made a career of showing his contempt for you and everyone else. And all that has ever happened to him is that he has received total impunity from the authorities at every turn, and that he was celebrated (until 2015 and beyond) by all the major corporate media as the preeminent symbol of success and the good life in America. Why should he change now? His primetime show, which ran for 14 seasons, is premised on the idea that his moods are diktats from God, that he is a kind of business god, that whatever he pronounceth is total wisdom (because he is rich), that anyone who questions him is a fool and should be fired, that all the people of the world who are not rich like him are losers and not worth shit. Why is it such a mystery that he will always act as though he has that total impunity? When did he learn anything different? Why is it a mystery that he remains the same compulsive, dictatorial personality who goes into unhinged rages whenever anyone questions him? Why is reflexive obstruction of justice a mystery, when it has been part of his business plan for his entire adult life and he has never been punished, only rewarded for it?
Meanwhile, thousands of well-informed, well-educated liberals who do participate in the power system but apparently do not understand how power actually works would have easily signed some naive pledge about how Saint Mueller of the WMD is the most wonderful, trustworthy, beautiful honest man in all history, who would deliver Trump's head to them on a pike. Contrary to all evidence from St. Mueller's life as a careerist and liar. Why did they believe that shit? That is what you should be asking. How did they manage to let their beloved republic's fate hinge on the only fucking accusation against Trump (that he is a Russian or even old Soviet agent!) that is not self-evident?
If he can keep doing it, he is not a failure. He is executing a business plan. It runs in the family. They have been doing this since the 1940s and before. They have always variably portrayed their income and wealth so as to minimize taxation and maximize prestige. They have always gotten away with it. That means they are successful at it. Other rich people admire them for this, even if some of these other rich people also hate them at the same time for being too obvious about it. The other rich like to think they look like nobility, not like these assholes. But this is what the top 0.001% of this country are, systemically, necessarily: criminals. Even if they are good people, success at that level is necessarily the product of crime. Trump Org is a crime organization. It was always associated with the classical crime organizations of the NY/NJ area, such as the five families with whom they shared lawyers, including Roy Cohn. This organization was given impunity and rewarded continuously by the responsible authorities. Under Donald it became more of a money laundry than simply a crooked real estate empire. Entities such as these play a systemic role. That is why you see all these pictures from the old days of Trump with the Clintons, Trump with all the other major politicians, Trump with various other (ostensibly more reputable) rich monsters. This system is American. It is capitalist. It is functioning as it always has. Trump is not the first. There were Trumps among your "founding fathers," such as Robert Morris (the original military-industrial complex and the original Wall Street plunderer, rolled into one). Others in various eras stole on a far grander scale than Fred and Donald, and they are celebrated as heroic figures. Trump, too, has been celebrated, for decades. He has been given television platforms from which to portray himself as the preeminent symbol of the good life. This is the life all red-blooded American males are supposed to aspire to: gold-plated toilets, cheating the tax man, screwing the workers, having disposable trophy wives, abusing their lackeys and yes-men, etc. That's what NBC was telling us. How many of these American oligarchs have ever been punished for such behavior? Even the few who ever served time get to come back and play "philanthropist," like Michael Milken. Trump would still be seen in the popular mind and among most of the middlebrow punditry as a great man, if he had not run for president. He is an exemplary success in the capitalist, the American ideology. That is what those account books show: not his "failure" but rather, the true nature of your American political economy. If they were born in the right place at the right time, the worst, most ruthless, most venal, least cultured, dumbest, most transactional, and most worthless, thieving, macho monsters become your ruling class. This is your country. That is the global system, at present. That is the planetary beast burning the basis of life itself. This is what you must fight, if you are serious: not only the one exemplary product who sticks his name on other people's money, not only the one billionaire who embodies the "bad billionaire," but the system of private ownership of capital for profit, the economy for and by the rich. The system necessarily produces such people. It puts them in charge of your lives. Often it allows them to murder the weakest in plain sight for your edification and entertainment.
...what's interesting is that in the aftermath of the Mueller ‘thunderbolt’ of “no proof of collusion”, there were articles about how people were disappointed about this finding; disappointing in that they were expecting something, they wanted something to happen and it didn't happen, so that means that some people wanted Mueller to find evidence of collusion which means that emotionally they were invested in it.
It wasn't just that they wanted to know the truth [about Russiagate], they actually wanted the truth to look a certain way, and whenever we want the truth to look a certain way there's some reason; it has to do with their own emotional needs, and not just with a concern for reality and politics in general.
We think that people make decisions on intellectual grounds based on facts and beliefs; very often, actually, people's dynamics are driven by emotional forces that they're not even aware of in themselves, and I believe, as I observe this whole Russiagate phenomena from the beginning, it really seemed to me that there was a lot of emotionality in it that had little to do with the actual facts of the case.
There's no question that for a lot of people in this country the election of Trump was a traumatic event; when a trauma reaction happens, you're hurt and you're pained and you're confused and you're scared and you're bewildered. There's basically two things you can do about it: one is you can own [the pain, the hurt, the bewilderment and fear], and then try and look at what happened to bring you to that situation, or you can -- instead of dealing with those emotions -- come up with some kind of explanation that makes you feel better about them, so that, rather than looking at it as: what does it say about American society that a man like this could even run for office let alone get elected; what does it say about American society that so many people are actually enrolled in believing that this man could be any kind of a savior;what does that say about the divisions and the conflicts and the contradictions and the genuine problems in this culture, and how do we address those issues?
[Rather than] look at all that, you can instead choose to say “there must be a devil somewhere behind all this and that devil is a foreign power and his name is Putin and his country is Russia”. Now you've got a simple explanation that doesn't invite you or necessitate that you explore your own pain and your own fear and your own trauma.
So I really believe that really this Russiagate narrative was, on the part of a lot of people, a sign of genuine upset, as something genuinely upsetting, but rather than dealing with the upset it was an easier way to, in a sense, draw off the energy into some kind of a believable and comforting narrative. It's much more comforting to believe that some “enemy” is doing this to us than to look at what it may say about us as a society.
I mean it was a massive denial of the actual dynamics in American society that led to the election of this traumatized and traumatizing individual as president.
I was once speaking in Berkeley California to a few hundred people and it was a mixed race audience and asked, “how many people here have been disillusioned so far by Barack Obama?”, and a third to half of people put their hands up, and I said, “would you rather be illusioned or disillusioned? Would you rather believe in something that's false, which is to have an illusion, or would you rather be disillusioned, in other words to see the truth?
I'm saying that we should be glad to be disillusioned. This ‘ignoble’ end to the Russiagate narrative, it's a disillusionment for a lot of people but that's a good thing if they say, okay I have disillusion, this illusion I no longer have, which means I can actually look at the truth!
So it's good to be disillusioned, this could be a positive beginning for a lot of people if they take the right attitude. Rather than seeing it as a bad thing, they could see it as a good thing; not as a “good thing” because it exonerates Trump; history will never exonerate Trump, and there's plenty of reasons why Trump cannot be exonerated, both for his personal corruption and his political misleadership, so it's not a question of exonerating anybody, but it's a question of
looking at everything objectively: let's really look at what's really going on let's be glad that we've been disillusioned, now it's an opportunity to become objective and really effective.
streeb » Thu May 09, 2019 11:12 pm wrote:It’s really heartening to find that Gabor Mate’s own “historical memory” is so acute. There's an irony here: among friends and colleagues in Vancouver, Mate is (rightly) viewed as an untouchable prophet in the areas of trauma and addiction. But the above video would throw many if not most of those same people into paroxysms of anger and denial.
Absolutely agree about his enlightening words on “disillusionment.” He’s very good at that. Flipping the script. Finding the simple truth in a thing.
Important points from a friend:
"Up until last week, I had agreed with Nancy Pelosi that impeaching 45 was chancy, and that the best course of action was to suffer through the next 19 months before defeating him decisively at the polls. But I have since changed my mind.
Tomorrow I will be phoning my Democratic representative and two senators to support articles of impeachment for the following reasons:
1) Worries that a House impeachment will rally the incumbent's base, ala the 1998 Lewinsky mess, are grossly overblown. The Clinton popularity bounce of twenty years ago will not happen this time because 45's underlying crimes are far, far worse than being cagey about an office affair. And Trump's cult is at saturation levels as it is.
2) Democrats must stand for the rule of law, or they stand for nothing. It is long past the time for a bold and courageous statement. We have been reluctant enablers for too long.
3) Impeachment proceedings make the lame WH "privilege" argument much legally weaker, if not wholly irrelevant.
4) The discovery process will certainly yield more evidence than is now available.
5) The erosion of democracy, the appalling rollover to Russia and the abuses of constitutional power stand to become further normalized if strong action is not taken.
6) Even if the Senate votes to acquit, the televised hearings and the general fatigue will do substantial damage to the Republican brand. Yes, Clinton survived his gauntlet, but remember what happened to Al Gore in 2000?"
There is no "appalling rollover to Russia." There never has been. This is the familiar Red Scare propaganda, now evolved into some kind of comic, postmodern form. Many who might have been victims of past Red Scares now make up an ardent fandom for this one. There is no empirical evidence for it, of course. Its absence is taken as evidence for its existence. It is worse than imaginary, since the US government has remained in a continuous, irrational, dangerous escalation of antagonism with Russia. The now-defunct #Russiagate ran its course of Waiting for Mueller. It was a set of fabrications to enchant some liberals and empower new imperialists. This was done without regard for the fact that it was also somehow the only one of the accusations against Trump that could not be substantiated, that was thus a reelection gift to this petty development gangster, money launderer, and aspiring dictator. (No worries, should they manage a second miracle loss against Trump, the Democratic nomenklatura will still find a way to blame Bernie and Jill.)
The notion of "appalling rollover" is a poison pill that kills any merit in your friend's argument. In the real world, elements of US empire currently headed by Trump (but rooted in all recent prior administrations) are preparing and daily trying to light up new, unprovoked wars of aggression against the peoples of Venezuela and Iran. Since the Big Dog is calling, these pathological campaigns have corralled support from weak international coalitions of the cowed poodles, bribed satrapies and our bellicose attack-dogs in Saudi and Israel. But they are opposed by the majority of the world's states, incidentally including the Russia being used as a kind of all-American master enemy image. If the mass-murdering madness should proceed, it risks unraveling into full-scale world war. This is the real Trump, the one you cannot acknowledge and do not fight; the one that #Russiagate has empowered. This is more than "impeachable offense," that mythical animal bestowed upon us by the Dead Men of 1787 that has sometimes barked but is designed never, ever to bite. This is war crime. It is crimes against humanity. It is also alignment with a fascist international. Somehow I doubt your friend will decry the appalling rollover to the Hungarian fascist regime under Orban, or the rollovers that preceded it to Bonesaw Salman, Netanyahu, or Bolsonaro. Not that I think your friend supports any of that; it's just more blindspots for the #Russiagate obsessed. The only thing visible to these people is their imaginary Putin.
Among the results of the continuity of US imperialism under Trump will be an increased devastation of the American people. Our historic task is not for us to sit and watch an MSNBC-produced Marvel movie about imaginary Democratic heroes, but to organize and rise up. Waiting for the Godot of impeachment never changed anything. General strikes did. Organized people-power acting against capitalism and breaking the limits of what the patrician slaveholding "founders" desired are why we have rights. The organizers and martyrs of the past struggles are our true mothers and fathers. They are why we have elements of so-called democracy.
Your friend reveals the perspective of one who can afford to imagine the future gets worked out in a deal among the gerontocratic "centrist" lackeys of the billionaires, someone who either has no napalm victims in their family lineage or is suppressing it, certainly someone who does not have to get by on debt or a sub-$15 wage. Where is the acknowledgment of the criminal system that burns the planet, lives from war, and incidentally produced Trump as a logical outcome, as its fitting, representative face? Tough shit, Trump is an accurate image of America until America changes, radically: Fourteen seasons of NBC The Apprentice tell you so. The only legitimate role of the United States today is finally to stop trying to dominate the world with pontification about its indispensibility and claims to dictate the outcomes everywhere else, and start trying to make amends for its centuries of war crimes.
Whoever took all the Marxists out of the mothballs should please put them back.
That would have been the capitalists. It is the 2007-9 crash, and the enduring cannibal planet economy. It is the ongoing burning of the basis of human life on earth, thanks to capitalism. It is the push of your beloved patriotic death machine for global war, driven by profit. It is the open reign of the billionaires, from Bezos to Trump, of people who imagine they can establish dynastic principalities on other planets: that has brought "Marxists," who never left, back to your attention. Sorry to bother you!
Even the idea that #1 would play into his hands is silly.
You're trying to tell me that taking weeks and weeks to review in exhaustive detail all of Trump's crimes and other infractions, forcing Republicans to do nothing but defend him, even in purple states where they are running for re-election, drowning out anything else he might try to do, won't sway at least a few percent of voters that this guy is a turd?? That it'll look GOOD for him instead??
Puh-leeze. Just imagine what would happen if the parties' roles were reversed. 'Nuff said.
Is it going to be about Trump's crimes? There are plenty of those, both before and after the 2016 election: emoluments plunder, planning wars of aggression, money laundering, frauds large and small. Or is it going to be more propaganda about "Russia" that turns into another dud and assists the Trump reelection?
What propaganda about Russia that turns into another dud?? You mean all of the many, many, many contacts that Mueller uncovered between the Trump campaign and Russia, that we will get to exhaustively pull out and dissect and make them defend every day for weeks?? Those?? Because I’d be just fine with that.
Trump has escalated most of the wars and is preparing massive new wars of aggression against the people of Iran and Venezuela, and you don't care. His whole "administration" is an emoluments plunder operation, and apparently none of that matters to you because it's not "Russian" enough. Mueller "uncovered" nothing. He warmed up the same old list of inconsequential "contacts" already trampled to death by corporate media coverage using the principle that knowing a Russian, any Russian (including FBI informants, like Sater) is automatically criminal. He didn't even investigate the central matter of the DNC e-mails allegedly having been hacked by "Russians," didn't even ask to question Assange or Binney, didn't physically examine the DNC servers. You don't want to spend "weeks and weeks to review in exhaustive detail all of Trump's crimes and other infractions," you want to do that with Rachel Maddow's xenophobic obsessions. Your strategy ignores the real crimes of the Trump-Pence-GOP regime, ignores the real policy outrages, offers nothing of consequence for the American people to support as an alternative. You want to Benghazi the "Russian" angle all the way until Trump's reelection. Then, perhaps, you'll blame the left. Or Ralph Nader. Apparently #Russiagate really is an incurable syndrome.
Barr Assigns U.S. Attorney in Connecticut to Review Origins of Russia Inquiry
By Adam Goldman, Charlie Savage and Michael S. Schmidt May 13, 2019
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.
John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees.
His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates.
The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is separately examining investigators’ use of wiretap applications and informants and whether any political bias against Mr. Trump influenced investigative decisions. And John W. Huber, the United States attorney in Utah, has been reviewing aspects of the Russia investigation. His findings have not been announced.
Additionally on Capitol Hill, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he, too, intends to review aspects of law enforcement’s work in the coming months. And Republicans conducted their own inquiries when they controlled the House, including publicizing details of the F.B.I.’s wiretap use.
Facebook busts Israeli campaign to disrupt elections in African, Asian and Latin American nations
The Associated Press
Facebook said Thursday it banned an Israeli company that ran an influence campaign aimed at disrupting elections in various countries and has canceled dozens of accounts engaged in spreading disinformation.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, told reporters that the tech giant had purged 65 Israeli accounts, 161 pages, dozens of groups and four Instagram accounts. Many were linked to the Archimedes Group, a Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm that boasts of its social media skills and ability to "change reality."
Gleicher said Facebook could not speculate about Archimedes' motives, which "may be commercial or political." [Considering the possibility that IRA had any aim other than to Pearl-Harbor America out of hatred by fixing the election on direct orders from Vlad the Impaler would be thoughtcrime, so you never saw this even implied about IRA in the US corporate media.]
But he said Facebook discovered "coordinated inauthentic behavior," with accounts posing as certain political candidates, smearing opponents and presenting as local news organizations peddling supposedly leaked information.
The activity appeared focused on Sub-Saharan African countries but was also scattered in parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America. The pages have racked up 2.8 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views.
Gleicher said Archimedes had spent some $800,000 on fake ads and that its deceptive activity dated back to 2012. He said Facebook has banned Archimedes.
Facebook has come under pressure to more aggressively and transparently tackle misinformation aimed at sowing division and confusion around elections, since the revelation that Russia used Facebook to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
On its website, Archimedes presents itself as a consulting firm involved in campaigns for presidential elections.
Little information is available beyond its slogan, which is "winning campaigns worldwide," and a vague blurb about the group's "mass social media management" software, which it said enabled the operation of an "unlimited" number of online accounts.
The site, featuring a montage of stock photos from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, boasts of its "own unique field within the social media realm" and its efforts to "take every advantage available in order to change reality according to our client's wishes."
A message seeking comment from the company was not immediately returned.
Archimedes' chief executive is Elinadav Heymann, according to Swiss negotiations consultancy Negotiations.CH, where he is listed as one of the group's consultants.
A biography posted to the company's website describes him as the former director of the Brussels-based European Friends of Israel lobbying group, a former political adviser in Israel's parliament and an ex-intelligence agent for the Israeli Air Force.
Messages left with Heymann through Negotions.CH were not immediately returned.
Russia-gate's Monstrous Offspring
Russia-gate has shed any premise of being about Russian interference, writes Daniel Lazare, but the idea that America may in anyway be responsible for its own fate is of course unthinkable.
By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News
Americans used to think that Russia-gate was about a plot to hack the 2016 election. They were wrong. Russia-gate is really about an immense conspiracy to do four things:
No. 1: Ratchet up tensions with Russia to ever more dangerous levels;
No. 2: Show that Democrats are even more useless than people imagined;
No. 3: Persecute Julian Assange;
No. 4: Re-elect Donald Trump as president.
This was the takeaway from Mitch McConnell’s devastating “case closed” speech last week in which the Senate majority leader jeered at President Barack Obama for mocking Mitt Romney’s claim (seven years ago now) that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” As Obama famously replied during that presidential debate: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
But that was so 2012. Now, says McConnell, it looks like Romney was right:
“We’d have been better off if the administration hadn’t swept [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion and occupation of Georgia under the rug or looked away as Russia forced out western NGO’s and cracked down on civil society. If President Obama hadn’t let Assad trample his red line in Syria or embraced Putin’s fake deal on chemical weapons, if the Obama administration had responded firmly to Putin’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine in 2014, to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, and to Russia intervention in Syria — maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened, maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn’t have seemed so very tempting.
“Instead,” McConnell went on, “the previous administration sent the Kremlin a signal they could get away with almost anything, almost anything. So is it surprising that we got the brazen interference detailed in special counsel Mueller’s report?”
Lies and Distortions
Like so much out of Congress these days, this was a farrago of lies and distortions. It wasn’t Moscow that started the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, but Tbilisi. While Russia has indeed cracked down on U.S.-backed NGO’s, Washington has done the same by forcing Russia’s highly successful news agency RT to register as a foreign agent and by sentencing Maria Butina, a Russian national studying at American University, to 18 months in prison for the crime of hobnobbing with members of the National Rifle Association. The charge that Syrian President Bashar al Assad “trampled” Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons is hardly as clear-cut as imperial propagandists like to believe – to say the least – while the agreement between Putin and former Secretary of State John Kerry to rid Syria of chemical weapons was not fake at all, but an example, increasingly rare unfortunately, of diplomacy being used to prevent an international crisis from getting out of hand.
Looking into Moscow’s Red Square at night. (U.S. Air Force/ Karen Abeyasekere)
And so on ad nauseum. But what could Democrats say in response given that they’ve spent the last three years trying to out-hawk the GOP? Answer: nothing. All they could do was try to turn tables on McConnell by charging him with not being anti-Russian enough. Thus, New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer accused him of “aiding and abetting” Moscow while Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin accused him of running interference for Putin because he “feels the Russians were on the side of the Republicans in 2016 and just might be again in 2020.”
Democrats Feed the Super Hawks
The result: a Democratic consensus that Russia can’t be trusted and that America must put itself on a war footing to prevent Putin from “toppl[ing] the mighty oak that has been our republic for two hundred years,” as Schumer put it. It’s an across-the-board agreement that the long-awaited Mueller report has only strengthened by regurgitating the intelligence-community line that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and then cherry-picking the facts to fit its preconceived thesis. (See “Top Ten Questions About the Mueller Report,” May 6.)
Democrats claim to oppose National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, but the anti-Russian hysteria they promote strengthens the hand of such super-hawks. It makes military conflict more likely, if not with Russia then with perceived Russian surrogates such as Venezuela or Iran.
Schiff increasingly unhinged. (Caricature/DonkeyHotey via Flickr)
Simultaneously, it backfires on Democrats by making them look weak and foolish as they argue that even though the Mueller report says “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” somehow “significant evidence of collusion” still exists, as an increasingly unhinged Rep. Adam Schiff maintains. In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of congressional Democrats, no evidence does not mean no evidence. In fact, it means the opposite.
Voters are unmoved. Ten times more Americans – 80 versus 8 percent – care about healthcare than about Russia according to a recent survey. When CNN pollsters asked a thousand people in mid-March to name the issues that matter most, not one mentioned Russia or the Mueller probe. If they didn’t care when collusion was still an open question, they care even less now that the only issue is obstruction plus a phony constitutional crisis that desperate Democrats have conjured up out of thin air.
Trump the Chief Beneficiary
Besides Fox News – whose ratings have soared while Russia-obsessed CNN’s have plummeted – the chief beneficiary is Trump. Post-Mueller, the man has the wind in his sails. Come 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders could cut through his phony populism with ease. But if Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post succeeds in tarring him with Russia the same way it tried to tar Trump, then the Democratic nominee will be a bland centrist whom the incumbent will happily bludgeon. Former Vice President Joe Biden – the John McCain-loving, speech-slurring, child-fondler who was for a wall along the Mexican border before he was against it – will end up as a bug splat on the Orange One’s windshield.
Trump ready to take on challengers. (Caricature/DonkeyHotey via Flickr)
Beto O’Rourke, the rich-kid airhead who declared shortly before the Mueller report was released that Trump, “beyond the shadow of a doubt, sought to … collude with the Russian government,” will not fare much better. Sen. Elizabeth Warren meanwhile seems to be tripping over her own two feet as she predicts one moment that Trump is heading to jail, declares the next that voters don’t care about the Mueller report because they’re too concerned with bread-and-butter issues, and then calls for dragging Congress into the impeachment morass regardless.
Such “logic” is lost on voters, so it seems to be a safe bet that enough will stay home next Election Day to allow the rough beast to slouch towards Bethlehem yet again.
Assange Convicted in Eyes of Press
Then there’s Julian Assange, currently serving a 50-week sentence in a supermax prison outside of London after being ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy. By claiming that the WikiLeaks founder was “dissembling” by denying that Russia was the source of the mammoth Democratic National Committee leak in July 2016, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has effectively convicted him in the eyes of Congress and the press.
The New York Times thus reports that Mueller has “revealed” that Russian intelligence was the source while, in a venomous piece by Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger, The Washington Post declared that Assange “is neither whistleblower nor journalist,” but someone who helped Russian intelligence interfere in “the American electoral process.”
Schumer thus greeted Assange’s April 11 arrest by tweeting his “hope [that] he will soon be held to account for his meddling in our elections on behalf of Putin and the Russian government,” while, in a truly chilling statement, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared that “[i]t will be really good to get him back on United States soil [so] we can get the facts and the truth from him.”
Assange is guiltier than ever. If Washington gets its hands on him, he’ll no doubt be hauled before some sort of Star Chamber and then clapped in a dungeon somewhere until he confesses that Russian intelligence made him do it, even though a careful reading of the Mueller report strongly suggests the opposite. (See “The ‘Guccifer 2.0’ Gaps in Mueller’s Full Report,” April 18.)
Assange languishing behind bars, war breaking out in Latin America or the Persian Gulf, Trump in the Oval Office for four years more – it’s the worst of all possible worlds, and the Democratic Party’s bizarre fixation with Vladimir Putin is what’s pushing it.
Ultimately, Russia-gate is yet a variation on the tired old theme of American innocence. If something goes wrong, it can’t be the fault of decent Americans who, as we all know, are too good for our deeply flawed world. Rather, it must be the fault of dastardly foreigners trying to hack our democracy. It’s a deep-rooted form of xenophobia that has fueled everything from the criminalization of marijuana (smuggled in by evil Mexicans) to the 1950s Red Scare (a reaction to Communism smuggled in by evil Russians), and the war on terrorism (the work of evil Muslims). The idea that America may in anyway be responsible for its own fate is of course unthinkable.
But Russia-gate may be the greatest delusion of all. After decades of celebrating Donald Trump as the essence of American flash and hustle, the corporate media have decided that the only way he could have gotten into the White House is if Putin put him there. The upshot is a giant conspiracy to force Americans to turn their back on reality, an effort that can only end in disaster for all concerned, Democrats first and foremost.
Daniel Lazare is the author of “The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy” (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nationto Le Monde Diplomatiqueand blogs about the Constitution and related matters at Daniellazare.com.
Daniel Lazare typed:
But Russia-gate may be the greatest delusion of all. After decades of celebrating Donald Trump as the essence of American flash and hustle, the corporate media have decided that the only way he could have gotten into the White House is if Putin put him there. The upshot is a giant conspiracy to force Americans to turn their back on reality.
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