The Russiagate farce, or how the Russians corrupted our pristine democracy

US Politics
on 57 Comments

I have been largely agnostic about Russiagate, in part because so much of the American coverage seems to be based on melodramatic claims that Russia undermined “our democracy,” a bizarrely self-congratulatory phrase that is everywhere. You would think this meant something really big. After all, the US is no slouch when it comes to “meddling” and even admits it now and then (like when Hillary Clinton said we should have rigged the Palestinian elections). So, what did the Russians do?

It seems the Russians  spread unkind remarks about Hillary Clinton. Here you see the sick twisted minds of former KGB agents at work. This is America; what are the odds that anyone born in this country would have ever launched anything resembling a personal attack on any presidential candidate, let alone a universally respected and beloved figure like Clinton?  Oh, but the genie is out of the bottle— we will never get our democracy back.  No more will our political campaigns be a sort of  public meeting space where people have high-minded debates about the great issues of the day. Our innocence is lost forever, because of the dirty minds of Boris and Natasha.

It would not surprise me at this point if politicians actually started lying about themselves, or about their opponents and even the issues. And who knows? Private organizations funded by rich people might get into the act.  They might try to influence policy with their donations. Other countries might even get into the act. We might have countries and organizations and even idiot billionaires paying experts to work in some Washington setting— let’s call it a think tank—to spew propaganda and these experts might be cited in newspapers as though they were giving sound objective views based on facts.

I am afraid that thanks to Putin this is where we are heading. The America we knew, the one where sober consideration of reality as reported by our liberal papers led us to invade Iraq and plunge the Middle East into bloody chaos, may never be the same.

Putting the snark aside– for a mixture of reasons good and bad, both Clintons have been loathed by millions of Americans going back decades. Arguably only Trump himself is a more divisive figure.  Whether this is fair is a separate and to me largely uninteresting question, but the Russian contribution here is minor, unless they stole the emails sent to Wikileaks, and even then the emails only added details to what people already knew.  I read this post by Chris Floyd, in which he links to an article in Esquire where the terrible shocking Russian ads are finally revealed to us.  Take a look.  I’ll wait. OK, here’s one–

Russian ad aimed at swaying 2016 election.

I guess it is possible this crap swayed a few votes,  but if so we are talking about the butterfly effect. There must be countless things that swayed enough votes to change the results, including, as Floyd says, successful attempts to keep people from voting at all.  The propaganda above seems incredibly crude.  It might have worked, along with a million other things that didn’t involve Russia at all.  Add all those million things together and Trump wins.  Take some random assortment out or add yet more crap and maybe Clinton wins.  If the butterfly effect were literally true, Russian butterflies madly flapping their wings at Putin’s behest six months in advance might have caused it to rain in Clinton supporting precincts, depressing turnout. (Or maybe Ray Bradbury’s Cretaceous time travelers are responsible.)

I honestly don’t understand how someone could look at that Esquire story and not see the absurdity. Is this what people mean when they say the Russians meddled?  In fact, note the shift in the story to the claim that the Russians were just sowing chaos, because obviously some of the ads couldn’t possibly be part of such a conspiracy. So much for the intelligence agency assessment that it was all about helping Trump.

Like all forms of pseudoscience, Russiagate is an endlessly flexible theory.  Whatever truth there might be in any of the claims, the reporting resembles the material I read as a child in some of the less rational UFO literature, or, to use another analogy, the opportunistic and  incoherent arguments put out by creationists.

As others have observed, if people really care about foreign influence why not look at the influence of countries and sympathetic billionaires who exert the sort of influence that is truly effective?  The Podesta emails show that Haim Saban, a stupid Hollywood billionaire obsessed with Israel, had immense influence with the Clinton campaign. The Israel lobby rarely has to play it partisan, because both parties kowtow to its desires on Israel. That was what was so shocking about Netanyahu’s favoritism towards Romney in 2012.  Israel defenders were upset not because of the influence, but because favoring one side might weaken their overall influence. Putin, if he is doing half the things attributed to him, could only dream of having this kind of power in our politics.

Russiagate is also about the propaganda the Russians spew out, in alleged contrast to the material churned out by the people who can’t shut up about Russiagate.  So let’s look at a few examples. Let’s look at how Russia Today (a grave threat according to the New York Times) and Russia Insider covered our bombing in Yemen vs how Rachel Maddow, great heroine of the Resistance, covered the same issue last fall.

By now it has become fairly mainstream to admit that the US has been directly assisting the Saudis in their brutal war on civilians in Yemen.  It has been reported on occasion that Obama State Department lawyers were worried that we could be accused of war crimes. Well, if we were talking about Russian bombing in Aleppo last year there wouldn’t be the slightest doubt that war crimes were taking place. But where do we see the contrasting American stance pointed out?  When are American officials called out to explain it?

Here is a clip from Russia Insider (which I know little about but is presumably more Russian propaganda) where State dept spokesman John Kirby was asked last October by the Associated Press reporter Matt Lee to explain the difference between Russian bombing in Syria that kills civilians and Saudi bombing which does the same. Kirby explains that the Saudis investigate their own killing of civilians, implying that they have good intentions.

No one seriously believes the Saudis investigate themselves in good faith. Nor does this get the US off the hook for our assistance.

Here is a clip from Russia Today. Kirby’s attempt to draw a distinction between Russian bombing in Aleppo and Saudi bombing in Yemen begins around minute 7:30.

And here is a clip from Rachel Maddow last October where she gives us one of her “explanations” of a foreign policy issue. She purports to explain in a nutshell the war in Yemen. This was just a few days after the Saudi bombing of a funeral in Sanaa which attracted worldwide condemnation because more than 100 civilians were killed. Maddow says nothing about this, she says nothing about any civilian bombing or about the children who are starving because of the war, leaves out the fact that we are complicit in mass slaughter.

What she does talk about is presumed Houthi missile attacks on ships, including an American one, immediately after the bombing of civilians. Her only interest is in explaining that Trump would be a dangerous person to have in the White House, a valid point, but she misleads her audience (as Adam Johnson first pointed out at FAIR) by utterly ignoring American complicity in war crimes.  One would get the impression that America’s only role was to patrol the seas off the coast of Yemen and respond to unprovoked attacks by crazy foreigners.

So on this issue, who is giving  viewers a more accurate view of Yemen and our policy there? No doubt both Russia Insider and Russia Today are trying to make the US look bad and presumably, Kirby might be right in saying RT reporters don’t go after the Russian government when it bombs civilians.  But the notion that the Russian propaganda machine poses some uniquely dangerous threat to our civic culture is absurd on multiple levels even if you accept all the claims made so far about their actions last year.  We are soaked and marinated in distortions, misleading summaries of issues and outright lies coming from our own press, politicians, and experts paid by think tanks often funded in part by various foreign governments, corporations and idiot billionaires.

If foreign influence matters, why doesn’t our press have daily obsessive coverage of Israel and Saudi Arabia? Right now Congressional leaders have decided not to vote on the war in Yemen because it doesn’t rise to the level of seriousness needed to invoke the war powers act.  This is monstrous, but it is getting zero attention. I am not sure who is responsible. Mostly Republicans, yes, but Steny Hoyer was involved fighting against House Resolution 81.

Also, the Saudis are evidently trying to destabilize Lebanon and pick a fight with Iran. Daniel Larison at the American Conservative is almost alone in writing about this stuff while everyone obsesses about Russiagate.

The truth is that we don’t talk about the Saudis and Israel precisely because their influence in DC is enormous.

On Yemen a serious press corps would have started questioning the US government on our role there from the very beginning and officials who made absurd excuses like Kirby in the clip above would be grilled over their double standards. Matt Lee asked a good question, but most Americans would not even be aware of what he was talking about. If our press genuinely performed its watchdog role Kirby would have quickly become a national joke and more importantly, citizens of “our democracy”would know our government was and still is  helping to murder children in Yemen.  (And btw, call your congressperson and tell him or her to support House Resolution 81 to put an end to American participation in these war crimes.)

One recent  example of propaganda in the New York Times has been pointed out by FAIR.  The Times recently carried a story about the mass slaughter in Indonesia in the 60’s, saying the US supported it. The New York Times story is misleading on multiple levels.  The headline downplays the US role.  It leaves out the fact that U.S. papers including the Times were supportive in the 60’s because of widespread anti-Communism. And it leaves out that in 1990 the New York Times published a story basically denying the U.S. role. In 1990 it was still too soon to be honest about what the U.S. government had done. The New York Times comes close to honesty in the 2017 story, though not in the headline, but still suppresses its own propaganda spreading role.

No doubt Russia Today is a slanted news source, but whether the mainstream press in the US wants to admit it or not, it too is slanted and not in some minor little ways but in ways that are often drastically misleading. Only a propagandist would deny it.

P.S. I purposely left aside the Russians’ cynical exploitation of “adorable puppies” on Facebook, which according to the NYT, “spread across the site with the help of paid ads” as a way of winning the loyalties of American puppy lovers. I never want to hear the mainstream ridiculing anyone’s fringe conspiracy theory again.  If you think the Bermuda Triangle is some sort of repo collection scheme run by Lemurians residing inside a hollow earth, as far as I am concerned the New York Times is in no position to judge.

About Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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57 Responses

  1. JWalters
    November 9, 2017, 2:25 pm

    Thank you for this article. The ludicrousness of this Russia-gate conspiracy theory would be funny if it didn’t involve life and death on such a mass scale.

    Of course, this is not the only example of America’s press foisting fiction on the voters. For decades every major “fact” about Israel fed to the voters has been false.

    1. Israel was NOT victimized by powerful Arab armies. Zionists overpowered and victimized a defenseless, civilian Arab population. Military analysts knew the Arab armies were in poor shape and would be unable to resist the zionist army.

    2. Muslim “citizens” of Israel do NOT have all the same rights as Jews.

    3. Israelis are NOT under threat from the indigineous Palestinians, but Palestinians are under constant threats of theft and death from the Israelis.

    4. Israel does NOT share America’s most fundamental values, which rest on the principle of equal human rights for all, which Israel blatantly opposes.

    Some have suggested that this Russia-gate conspiracy theory is intended to distract attention from Israel-gate, maintaining Americans’ ignorance about Israel. Considering Israel’s obviously huge influence on the American press, this is a highly rational theory.

    Like a many people, I have been deeply disappointed by Rachel Maddow. For people who do their own research, she has clearly sold her intelligence to criminals.

    Other detailed coverage of the Russia-gate conspiracy theory is happening at Consortium News, e.g.
    “Sorting Out the Russia Mess”
    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/10/31/sorting-out-the-russia-mess

    • Donald Johnson
      November 9, 2017, 3:46 pm

      Thanks. I don’t know how much of russiagate is true or false. My point is that even if you accept the most of the various claims at face value it all seems wildly overblown. People who shriek about foreign meddling and the threat to “our democracy” need to keep some sense of perspective. I think a lot of this is deliberate, to distract us from things which are more important where people are actually being killed.

      I agree that consortiumnews is a good source for counterarguments regarding the various claims, but I for one don’t have the background to be able to judge things like, for instance, William Binney’s argument about whether the emails were leaked or hacked.

      • JWalters
        November 10, 2017, 1:14 am

        A very reasonable perspective. Even omitting the Binney analysis, the very relevant and obvious context you describe, which is being completely ignored by Maddow, etc., shows they are not even trying to present a full and balanced picture of the situation. And if they honestly tried to examine the actual evidence impartially, they would have to at least give due consideration to the Binney analysis, given the high technical and CIA credentials of those involved.

        And that evidence and analysis would conclusively rule out Russian-hacking of the stolen DNC emails, and conclusively point to a DNC insider. And we know there was an inside IT guy who was a Bernie supporter, and plausibly angry at how the DNC was sabotaging Bernie’s campaign. For readers interested in the Binney analysis and more, see
        “Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence”
        https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/24/intel-vets-challenge-russia-hack-evidence
        Russia-gate’s Shaky Foundation
        https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/29/russia-gates-shaky-foundation

        Rachel often goes into this level of detail. That is why her dishonesty here is so glaring. As to motive, other articles here at Mondoweiss have pointed out that MSNBC is owned by committed Zionists. That would explain their ignoring of Israeli influence, and their simultaneous intense focus on such a flimsy distraction.

      • Bumblebye
        November 10, 2017, 11:42 am

        RT has been ordered to register under FARA. Obviously doesn’t want to.

      • Maghlawatan
        November 12, 2017, 10:04 am

        The article was largely whataboutery imo. There is a system. Including Jewish money  corruption. It is called neoliberalism.  One of the plutocrats owns most of Facebook.
        https://www.ft.com/content/917bc018-c34a-11e7-b2bb-322b2cb39656#comments

        “The Russian scandal is only the latest screwup after cyber bullying, sexual abuse, pornography, hidden identities, fake news, racism, blackmail, teen sucicide and of course bad grammar and even worse spelling. All perfect for a dumbed down populace. And tax cheats, gender inequality, crowding out residents of the communities where they operate, hyperuse of the infrastructure. Despite all these problems , they are still the darlings of Wall Street, vacuuming up capital they don’t need thereby depriving cities and states of money for roads, housing, water, electricity developments. All the while having an almost boorish lack of taste in food, fashion and personal comportment. No class. Questionable societal contribution. Outrageous profits per employee. Ridiculously low investment per revenue dollar. No wonder foreigners love to invest. The business model is unbeatable, and unattainable by any business that makes and services the physical needs of a modern civilization. The market value seems to be inversely proportional to the societal value. A conundrum that will only get worse.”

        Dumbed down:.

        https://www.ft.com/content/ab93d8ea-46fa-11e7-8519-9f94ee97d996#comments
        “FOX still sells the American dream, limitless freedom, to obese, oil & sugar addicted humans. Low taxes and lobby-bought state senators mean that education standards are low and expectations are low in Trump-voting land. Decades of lies by the Republican machine have brought climate denial to the part of the brain that believes in God and is not easily changed. It is a North Korean level of brainwashing. Reason and evidence matter.  It’s faith-based science. Sadly I don’t think we have the data to show with high confidence how many deaths this decision will cause through “slow violence” over the next decades. An innumerate electorate has no concept of deaths caused in anything but spectacular events like 9/11. 30 million Americans could die through slow violence (methane  / obesity / nicotine etc.) 10 years before than they would otherwise and it wouldn’t make the front page. 10,000 times fewer dead in a day makes the front page for a decade. There are great many documentaries made about individual tragedies but we have not managed to simplify the ecological devastation caused by this genocidal policy in a way voters understand. Cell depletion, heart failure, blood poisoning. The republican administration will kill tens of millions worldwide through this policy. It won’t be a summary execution (something Fox News viewers can understand), but those people won’t be here when they otherwise would have been here”

        The Russians know all this. They know how hopelessly corrupt the US is after 37 years of plutocracy. 37 years during which Israel bet the house on apartheid and fuck the consequences. It won’t just be neoliberalism that collapses.

      • Donald Johnson
        November 12, 2017, 2:48 pm

        “The article was largely whataboutery imo. “

        Not sure if you meant my post, but if so, yes, that is exactly what I intended it to be, because sometimes whataboutery is the right response. People who toss it out as a refutation need to explain why Facebook posts matter more than crimes against humanity. Taken at face value Russiagate is absolutely trivial compared to what we do, including to Russia in the recent past, and it is obscene to see the attention given this compared to the attention given our crimes.

        But you might have meant something else.

      • Maghlawatan
        November 12, 2017, 4:01 pm

        I think the Russia thing deserves more than whataboutery. The US needs a new system. That will also involve breaking Zionist power.

        As David Brooks said in the NYT recently

        “The US needs “some sort of synthesis on the larger postindustrial/populism war. Over a century ago industrialisation brought on culture clash between agrarian populist and the genteel Victoria aristocrats.  Théodore Roosevelt transcended the fight by inventing a new kind of American nationalism. Meanwhile the progressives cleaned up elite corruption and nurtured a square deal for those left behind by technological change. Cultural leaders introduced new institutions and community forms like the Boy Scouts and the settlement house that drew from both cuktures replaced them.  Today we need another grand synthesis that can move us beyond the current divide, a synthesis that is neither redneck nor hipster but draws from both worlds to create a new social vision progress on guns will be possible when the culture war subsides, not before. “

      • Mooser
        November 12, 2017, 4:37 pm

        “The US needs a new system….As David Brooks said in the NYT recently”

        Yup, when I think of “New systems” (and “breaking Zionist power”, too) David Brooks is the first place I go for suggestions.

        BTW- What Brooks is saying is that if America was segregated again, we wouldn’t have to shoot each other.

      • Mooser
        November 12, 2017, 4:43 pm

        “Thanks. I don’t know how much of russiagate is true or false. “

        And knowing Donald Trump, his history, the people surrounding him, the campaign, isn’t it much more than likely that the accusations have no basis whatsoever?
        Well, thank God, Trump’s statements, and the statements of all of his people, have been consistent and factual. That will help clear up the confusion.

      • Keith
        November 12, 2017, 5:23 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Taken at face value Russiagate is absolutely trivial compared to what we do….”

        Absolutely correct. However, it goes beyond our actions in foreign countries such as the Ukraine where we spent $5 billion to inspire a coup which brought neo-Nazis to power. In the US, the power of the media, including the entertainment media and internet/social media to influence public opinion is overwhelming. Taking all types of media in consideration, I suspect that at least $1 trillion per annum is spent to shape public opinion. Consequently, the US is to a large degree immune to any sort of color revolution because no potential adversary has anywhere near the types of resources to compete with that. Talking about a crap-ass $100K worth of dubious social media advertisements over two years doesn’t rise to the level of a bad joke, those taking it seriously faithful followers lying to themselves. Here is a link to an interesting discussion on the PR industry with Chris Hedges and Stewart Ewing on the targeted RT: https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/chris-hedges-the-power-of-propaganda/#more-189580

      • Donald Johnson
        November 12, 2017, 6:36 pm

        You are doing the same thing I did— you are listing things wrong with the current system, which is what you call whataboutery.

        As for designing a new system, that’s beyond me. Go for it— seriously— if you have something interesting to say about that.

      • Donald Johnson
        November 13, 2017, 4:33 pm

        “And knowing Donald Trump, his history, the people surrounding him, the campaign, isn’t it much more than likely that the accusations have no basis whatsoever?”

        The sarcasm is misplaced. I think Trump is corrupt and probably guilty of all kinds of things. And he would be fine colluding with Russia. He might have done it. I just think that of all the bad things Trump has done or is doing, getting some dirt about Clinton from Russian sources would have to be way down the list. Participating in a crime against humanity in Yemen seems a bit more important to me. Apparently not to you. See that. I just snarked at you exactly how you did to me. It proves nothing. But my point is that Yemen is so much more important than Russiagate there shouldn’t be any comparison and yet the media focuses on Russiagate. What a shock.

      • Keith
        November 13, 2017, 8:05 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- ” But my point is that Yemen is so much more important than Russiagate there shouldn’t be any comparison….”

        Without a doubt. It gets worse. Remember the seven countries that Wesley Clark indicated were slated for intervention? Well, one of those was/is Somalia. What is happening there?

        “According to just released information sourced from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the FSNAU between October 2015 and April 2016, a period of only six months, upwards of 400,000 Somali’s, two thirds of whom were children, died of starvation.

        And the famine, if anything, has gotten worse since then. Here the world is now, 18 months later and possibly a million more deaths, bringing the number of children who have died from starvation in the past two years in Somalia up to a million.” (Thomas Mountain) https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/10/the-un-and-genocide-by-starvation-in-somalia/

  2. Bandolero
    November 9, 2017, 9:59 pm

    Donald

    You write that the Saudis are “evidently trying to destabilize Lebanon and pick a fight with Iran.” So true. But the Saudis are not alone. They have two powerful and popular allies in doing so: Trump and – drumbeat – Israel:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-07/leaked-secret-israeli-cable-confirms-israeli-saudi-coordination-lebanon

    I think that’s kind of a winning coalition all over the world, and especially in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia, Trump and Israel are teaming up to destabilize the arab world to punish Iran for destabilizing activities in the region like “propping up” the Syrian government and helping Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda. I’m sure liberals in the western world, from New York to Berlin, and surely in the arab world, will soon cheer the team.

    Could anyone imagine a more popular dream team than Saudi Arabia, Trump and Israel working together on destabilizing the world and sparking more middle east wars?

    Too bad, when the “grown ups” in Trumps cabinet, like Mattis, McMaster and Tillerson, will tell Trump that this is nuts and he should leave the Saudi-Israeli axis alone in the fight, just like the US left the Israeli-Kurdish axis alone. And then the world will eagerly await the mighty and globally popular Netanyahu-Salman team to take on the alliance of Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Russia and China, supported with valuable US lip service by Kushner given to Bibi and MbS.

    • Donald Johnson
      November 10, 2017, 11:16 am

      “They have two powerful and popular allies in doing so: Trump and – drumbeat – Israel”

      Agreed. This post was getting pretty long and unwieldy as it is, or I would have said more about various things.

      I am going to be offline for a couple of days, so if there are future comments I won’t be responding until Sunday.

    • Keith
      November 10, 2017, 3:00 pm

      BANDOLERO- ” They have two powerful and popular allies in doing so: Trump and – drumbeat – Israel:”

      Ah yes, the evil Trump! Look how little time it took him to change a benevolent, kindly empire into an evil, ruthless one! Why, if Hillary had won, there would be peace and justice all around!

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2017, 4:57 pm

        Well, perhaps Trump’s changeability and volatility will prove an asset. Everybody knows exactly what Ms. Clinton will do in her Presidency, and that can be a disadvantage for a Chief Executive. Gotta be able to throw ’em a curve every once in a while, can’t ‘tip your pitches.

  3. mijj
    November 9, 2017, 11:23 pm

    > “Russiagate is an endlessly flexible theory. Whatever truth there might be in any of the claims …”

    Greatest utility comes from there not being a lick of truth. Any identified truth would be a point of inflexibility. If there is no truth, then the scenario of outrage has greatest freedom to flex in any direction according to requirements.

    • Mooser
      November 10, 2017, 5:03 pm

      “Greatest utility comes from there not being a lick of truth. Any identified truth would be a point of inflexibility.”

      I knew all that stuff about Trump going bankrupt multiple times, bilking creditors, being refused credit by reputable American banks and then ending up pretty much owned by Russian financing was all fake news.
      Clever of them to go back that far in planting it.

      • Keith
        November 11, 2017, 11:28 am

        MOOSER- “I knew all that stuff about Trump going bankrupt multiple times, bilking creditors, being refused credit by reputable American banks and then ending up pretty much owned by Russian financing was all fake news.”

        “Owned by Russian financing?” Funny, I don’t recall reading about massive Russian financing before the election. Did Hillary miss this? Or was she too nice a person to bring it up? CNN too? I don’t suppose you have a link or anything to back this up? I take it that “liberal” Democrats are the group you identify with?

      • Mooser
        November 12, 2017, 11:15 am

        “Keith” turns out you are right, and it’s worse than I thought! “This artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way and that’s a shame. Because people will die because of it. And it’s a pure hit job”

        And what about the spelling in her e-mails?

      • Keith
        November 13, 2017, 12:28 am

        MOOSER- “And what about the spelling in her e-mails?”

        Whose e-mails? Stop blubbering! We both know your undying loyalty to the Iron Princess! Hard to let go, isn’t it? It has become rather obvious that Heinrich Himmler in a pantsuit has stolen your heart! So, are you a Democrat precinct worker or what?

      • Mooser
        November 13, 2017, 11:39 am

        “It has become rather obvious that Heinrich Himmler in a pantsuit has stolen your heart! “

        You never did try switching to de-caf, did you?

      • echinococcus
        November 13, 2017, 2:35 pm

        Mooser,

        Are you saying that a decaf version of the Harpy Empress would avoid being Nuremberg gallows bait?
        Unlikely.

      • Mooser
        November 14, 2017, 11:04 am

        “Are you saying that a decaf version of the Harpy Empress would avoid being Nuremberg gallows bait?”

        If you have any evidence which may help convict Ms. Clinton, make sure Jeff Sessions gets it for his new investigation.

  4. RoHa
    November 10, 2017, 12:24 am

    I think your State Department spokespeople are wonderful.

  5. Ronald Johnson
    November 10, 2017, 9:53 am

    Along with the anti-BDS legislation sweeping the country, a bizarre Constitutional exception to benefit only Israel, we now have also the idea that Russia alone does not have free-speech rights in the United States. The Bill of Rights does not, to my knowledge, apply only to US citizens, although public discourse and practice seems to be migrating in that direction. As evidenced by these pages, free speech includes comments made anonymously, or with a pseudonym. If the Russians would identify themselves: “Paid for by the Kremlin”, they might discover that they have more credibility than the Main Stream Media, the Congress, or the President.

    I have asked the local cable provider to please give me Russia Today, and remove MSNBC. The program roster of RT includes many American commentators that can’t get even one minute with Charlie Rose.

    • Donald Johnson
      November 10, 2017, 11:22 am

      Yeah, I have seriously considered making the RT website a daily stop. I did watch one online discussion there.

      That was something I thought of adding, but I would have needed to do more research and the post is long as it is. The whole point of free speech is that if you have a wide variety of sources an intelligent person should be able to take the various biases into account. And I have heard that RT allows people like Chris Hedges (I think) to broadcast, but I’d have to look that up. Even if the Russian government is trying to “meddle”, this is one form of meddling I don’t have a problem with if they allow dissident Americans to have their own TV shows.

  6. Sibiriak
    November 10, 2017, 9:56 am

    Cf. “Meet Clint Watts, a Dubious Russia Meddling ‘Expert’ Lobbying the U.S. Government to ‘Quell Information Rebellions’

    With a sketchy past in the counterterror swamp, Watts has suggested media censorship as a remedy to Russian interference.

    By Max Blumenthal

    https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/clint-watts-fake-russia-expert

    • Mooser
      November 10, 2017, 11:59 am

      I think this clearly shows that since money is speech, all money-laundering laws and financial regulations must be repudiated.

    • Keith
      November 10, 2017, 2:50 pm

      SIBIRIAK- (Blumenthal quote)- “With a sketchy past in the counterterror swamp, Watts has suggested media censorship as a remedy to Russian interference.”

      It is crunch time and the (primarily) Democrats are latching onto any flimsy pretext for hostility towards Russia and, perhaps more significantly, attacking the alternate media. More than ever, the Democrats have come to reflect the world view of their funders.

  7. Kay24
    November 11, 2017, 6:45 am

    I would not dismiss this lightly. No foreign nation, should interfere, send paid trolls to comment sections to spew false propaganda, and pay for ads on US social media (all confirmed) which millions have viewed. The man who shot into a pizza parlor was one who believed the BS against Clinton. Netanyahu made an ad for Romney in Florida, and most of us considered it interference.
    Maybe it was not enough to help a dotard win, but it is a dangerous precedent, and should be harshly dealt with. If an enemy nation can manipulate our elections, it will be the end of democracy as we know it.

    • Keith
      November 11, 2017, 11:11 am

      KAY24- ” No foreign nation, should interfere, send paid trolls to comment sections to spew false propaganda, and pay for ads on US social media (all confirmed) which millions have viewed.”

      The US uses the internet and social media to massively interfere in the political economy of other nations. No other nation comes close. All of the so called color revolutions were US destabilizations. The truly amazing thing is the way “liberal” Democrats go along with obvious pretext for hostilities towards Russia and future restrictions on the alternate media, the only reliable source of information in our propagandistic society. The reality is so rather obvious that those “deceived” clearly want to be deceived. A quote for you:

      “The French sociologist, Jacques Ellul, has argued convincingly that modern propaganda in a technological mass society is more complicated than the state and media lying and deceiving the population. He argues that propaganda meets certain needs of modern people and therefore the process of deceit is reciprocal. The modern person feels lost, powerless, and empty. Ellul says, “He realizes that he depends on decisions over which he has no control, and that realization drives him to despair.” But he can’t live in despair; desires that life be meaningful; and wants to feel he lives in a world that makes sense. He wants to participate and have opinions that suggest he grasps the flow of events. He doesn’t so much want information, but value judgments and preconceived positions that provide him with a framework for living.
      ….
      Another way of saying this is that people want to be provided with myths to direct them to the “truth.” But such so-called truth has been preconceived within the overarching myth provided by propaganda, and while it satisfies people’s emotional need for coherence, it also allows them to think of themselves as free individuals arriving at their own conclusions, which is a basic function of good propaganda. In today’s mass technological society, it is essential that people be convinced that they are free-thinking individuals acting in good faith. Then they can feel good about themselves as they lie and act in bad faith.”
      (Edward Curtin) https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/09/reviving-the-spirit-of-existential-rebellion-in-a-world-of-propaganda-lies-and-self-deception/

      • Sibiriak
        November 11, 2017, 6:44 pm

        “New revelations from a massive trove of documents known as the Paradise Papers reveal Republican super-donors who stored much of their wealth in offshore tax havens pumped more than $350 million into the 2016 election. Some are well-known backers of conservative causes, like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Charles and David Koch. Others have sought to keep their activities out of public view, like Warren Stephens, the hidden co-owner of a payday lending company now under investigation for deceiving customers. And billionaire Robert Mercer and his family built a $60 million war chest for conservative causes inside their family foundation by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid U.S. taxes. “

        https://www.democracynow.org/2017/11/8/headlines/paradise_papers_reveal_wealthy_donors_funneled_350m_into_2016_election

        Of course, the neoliberal/militarist Democratic Party establishment spent some $750,000,000 on the election.

        But what really concerns me, like Kay24, is the $44,000 spent over several years by Russian individuals on Facebook ads focused on a diverse set of issues, not specific candidates. That might seem like a paltry sum–and it is– but let’s not forget the fact that those ads were seen by millions of people (if only for milliseconds).

        Propaganda experts believe the infamous ” Russian puppy ads” were particularly insidious:

        [New York Times:] There was even a Facebook group for animal lovers with memes of adorable puppies that spread across the site with the help of paid ads. […]some analysts suggested a possible motive: to build a large following before gradually introducing political content.

        https://consortiumnews.com/2017/10/04/the-mystery-of-the-russia-gate-puppies/

        As Kay24 says, that kind of foreign interference in “our democracy” should not be taken lightly.

      • Kay24
        November 12, 2017, 6:53 am

        Thank you Sibiriak, you said it very well. This is a very serious situation, and we still do not know how far the interference. and manipulation, has affected us. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg, and I feel the seriousness of this situation will be felt as the information keeps surfacing. Yes, the US definitely does interfere in other nations, which I do not agree with, but as citizens we should have a sense of security, making sure our elections have not been corrupted by foreign nations, especially adversaries, who only mean to hurt us.

      • echinococcus
        November 12, 2017, 8:20 am

        Kay,

        “the interference. and manipulation” is coming exclusively from your Demopublicanorepucrat party and its allied generals, murderers and spies. In that sense, you may well be right that “We have only seen the tip of the iceberg”: not a consoling thought. Are you really such a true believer that irony is so totally lost on you?

      • Keith
        November 12, 2017, 12:09 pm

        KAY24- “Thank you Sibiriak, you said it very well.”

        You appreciate being ridiculed? Unbelievable!

      • Mooser
        November 12, 2017, 12:38 pm

        “Kay24”, just ask yourself: “Whom shall I trust? Putin (as Trump just declared he does) or those “political hacks” in US intelligence?”

        I had a feeling Trump’s meeting with Putin would go well, with Putin telling Trump: “It’s all taken care of, go on the attack!” Looks like he did.

        And we get a ballroom blitz here, too.

      • Keith
        November 12, 2017, 3:21 pm

        MOOSER- “Kay24”, just ask yourself: “Whom shall I trust? Putin (as Trump just declared he does) or those “political hacks” in US intelligence?”

        I’m with you, Moosey! If you can’t trust the CIA, who can you trust? What next, fake news trying to undermine our confidence in the integrity of Wall Street? Where will it end? Time to pull together and support the Democrats and militarism!

      • Kay24
        November 12, 2017, 4:06 pm

        “You appreciate being ridiculed? Unbelievable!”

        Keith, you have no clue who I am, therefore you cannot judge how I operate or think.
        That said, you should stop squawking , try to come down from that lofty imaginary perch, and realize that your comments only come across as condescending, and your conclusions way off, which does not add value to the debate. Enough with the dramatic questions.

      • Keith
        November 13, 2017, 12:16 am

        KAY24- “Keith, you have no clue who I am, therefore you cannot judge how I operate or think.”

        I respond to your comments, not who you are or who you think you are. Your comments speak for themselves. You appear to be a Democrat loyalist seriously out of touch with reality. Irrational though your comments are, they contain the logic of the faithful follower. You parrot the party line. As such, YOU are deeply complicit in imperial aggression.

        As for my comment about your inability to perceive Sibiriak’s comment as justifiable ridicule, one doesn’t have to agree with Sibiriak or me to recognize ridicule. You missed it? Just how out of touch with reality are you?

      • Mooser
        November 13, 2017, 11:36 am

        ” Your comments speak for themselves.”

        You tell ’em “Keith”! “Haters and fools” the bunch of them.

    • Donald Johnson
      November 12, 2017, 3:03 pm

      “and should be harshly dealt with. If an enemy nation can manipulate our elections, it will be the end of democracy as we know it.”

      That’s exactly the view I was criticizing. We already live in a democracy where people foreign and domestic interfere by spreading falsehoods. Happens constantly, all the time and we go to war sometimes because of what the real pros at lying manage to talk us into doing. And now some of the very same people who lied us into Iraq are outraged by Russiagate.

      As for harshly dealt with, sorry, but that is good old American exceptionalism. If what Russia allegedly did deserves a harsh response, I don’t want to imagine what we deserve for the things we have done. Do you think the US should be bombed to rubble or invaded or occupied have death squads supported by foreign powers? Someone could call this whataboutery. Fine, it is. What makes us so damn special that others aiming mere propaganda at our citizens deserves a harsh response. But fine, be harsh. Maybe we could lie about the Russians or hack their systems. I bet we do that already. Did you have something harsher in mind? And what is the appropriate harsh response for our actions, the ones that cause innocent deaths by the thousands or more? Do you want to go down that route or do you think only people who hurt us deserve harsh responses?

      • Mooser
        November 12, 2017, 4:05 pm

        Donald, please don’t worry about a “harsh response” damaging Russia.
        It’s much more likely we will take it all out on Trump, his ‘administration’ and the Republicans.

      • Donald Johnson
        November 13, 2017, 4:39 pm

        Mooser, I would like to see Trump removed, though mainly because I think he is unstable, if Russiagate does the trick, fine, but I don’t have to take all this melodrama about meddling very seriously.

        As for Russia, the Beltway crowd that hates Trump doesn’t hate him because they are a bunch of lefty peaceniks. They hate him because they don’t trust him to fight the new Cold War against Russia that they favor so much. They wanted outright war against Russia in Syria. The heroes of the Intelligence Community ( love that phrase) are the same lovable characters that supported torture and lied us into Iraq.

        It is possible to despise both Trump and many of Trumps opponents. Give it a shot.

      • Kaisa of Finland
        November 13, 2017, 5:51 pm

        ” I would like to see Trump removed..”

        Why aren’t you simply having a #metoo campaign in the White House and all the levels of administrations in U.S.?? Would be the easiest way to get some new elections and shake(undermine) all the established “leaderships”, ’cause where ever you have a bunch of older* men with lots of power, you will find enough of #metoo..

        (We cleaned that table in 2008 when our Forgein minister had to go after he got caught sending dirty textmessages to a young erotic dancer. Cleans the air and balances the power relations. I deeply recommend.)

        *And now I do not mean all the older men, but some, right!!

      • Mooser
        November 14, 2017, 11:53 am

        ” our Foreign minister had to go after he got caught sending dirty textmessages to a young erotic dancer. “

        There was a suspicion of international espionage, too. Many sources claimed she was a Pole dancer.

      • RoHa
        November 14, 2017, 7:08 pm

        ” Forgein minister had to go after he got caught sending dirty textmessages to a young erotic dancer. ”

        Doesn’t seem to be a sufficient reason for him to go. Whom was he supposed to send dirty text messages to?

      • Kaisa of Finland
        November 15, 2017, 4:23 am

        RoHa:

        “Whom was he supposed to send dirty text messages to?”

        Maybe to his wife?? (Specially when there were more that 200 text messages..)

      • RoHa
        November 15, 2017, 8:31 am

        What would be the point of that?

      • Kaisa of Finland
        November 15, 2017, 9:39 am

        RoHa:

        “What would be the point of that?

        Sending messages to your wife?? Depends on what kind of relationship you wish to have with her.. And as a Forgein Minister, representing the whole country, I wish the text messages would mostly be about our forgein relations and f.ex. giving support to the occupied Palestinians.

      • Mooser
        November 15, 2017, 11:46 am

        ” Whom was he supposed to send dirty text messages to?”

        My, you have led a sheltered life, haven’t you?

      • RoHa
        November 15, 2017, 5:22 pm

        Was the young erotic dancer a Finn? If not, the messages were about foreign relations.

  8. Citizen
    November 12, 2017, 3:13 pm

    RussiaGate, IsraelGate–Gentile Russia does not have dual citizens in its diaspora embedded in local governments–it can’t win influence like Israel Lobby across the Western nations’ spectrum.

  9. mcohen..
    November 13, 2017, 2:10 pm

    russia has a long and sometimes painful history in its dealings with jews that goes back centuries.putin understands this better than most americans.

    http://motherearthtravel.com/history/israel/history-6.htm

    any political maneuvers by the russians in america are mostly aimed at jewish power,not american interests.
    trump and putin in this time and space,in this moment, could bring about a just solution for the i/p conflict.
    joe fell into a pit.he got pulled out.jacob on the other hand built a ladder.he climbed out

    • Mooser
      November 13, 2017, 2:55 pm

      Such a balmocha, that “mcohen”!

      Thank you for explaining all about Putin, Trump and “jewish power” and “american interests”

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