Summary: The moment of truth approaches for RussiaGate as Mueller prepares to close his investigation. Will the hysteria crash and burn, like that about the Salem Witches or Satanic Child Abusers? Or will Mueller produce decisive evidence that he has successfully concealed? Here is the answer.
“Mueller report PSA: Prepare for disappointment.”
By Darren Samuelsohn at Politico.
The bottom line: “Be forewarned that the special counsel’s findings may never be made public. …That’s the word POLITICO got from defense lawyers working on the Russia probe and more than 15 former government officials with investigation experience spanning Watergate to the 2016 election case.”
For a brutally clear summary of the RussiaGate drama, see Caitlin Johnstone.
“So that’s it then. An obscene amount of noise and focus, a few indictments and process crime convictions which have nothing to do with Russian collusion, and this three-ring circus of propaganda and delusion is ready to call it a day.
“This is by far the clearest indication yet that the Mueller investigation will end with Trump still in office and zero proof of collusion with the Russian government, which has been obvious since the beginning to everyone who isn’t a complete fucking moron. For two years the idiotic, fact-free, xenophobic Russiagate conspiracy theory has been ripping through mainstream American consciousness with shrieking manic hysteria, sucking all oxygen out of the room for legitimate criticisms of the actual awful things that the US president is doing in real life. Those of us who have been courageous and clear-headed enough to stand against the groupthink have been shouted down, censored, slandered and smeared as assets of the Kremlin on a daily basis by unthinking consumers of mass media propaganda, despite our holding the philosophically unassailable position of demanding the normal amount of proof that would be required in a post-Iraq invasion world.
“As I predicted long ago, “Mueller isn’t going to find anything in 2017 that these vast, sprawling networks wouldn’t have found in 2016. He’s not going to find anything by ‘following the money’ that couldn’t be found infinitely more efficaciously via Orwellian espionage. The factions within the intelligence community that were working to sabotage the incoming administration last year would have leaked proof of collusion if they’d had it. They did not have it then, and they do not have it now. Mueller will continue finding evidence of corruption throughout his investigation, since corruption is to DC insiders as water is to fish, but he will not find evidence of collusion to win the 2016 election that will lead to Trump’s impeachment. It will not happen.” This has remained as true in 2018 as it did in 2017, and it will remain true forever.
“None of the investigations arising from the Russiagate conspiracy theory have turned up a single shred of evidence that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 election, or to do anything else for that matter. All that the shrill, demented screeching about Russia has accomplished is manufacturing support for steadily escalating internet censorship, a massively bloated military budget, a hysterical McCarthyite atmosphere wherein anyone who expresses political dissent is painted as an agent of the Kremlin and any dissenting opinions labeled “Russian talking points”, a complete lack of accountability for the Democratic Party’s brazen election rigging, a total marginalization of real problems and progressive agendas, and an overall diminishment in the intelligence of political discourse.”
The #RussiaGate hysteria will go into American history along with similarly mad episodes, such as the Salem Witch Trials and the Satanic Abuse trials. A large fraction of Americans belief these stories, despite they near-total lack of supporting evidence. Even better, the stories have grown – as legends do – to bizarre extremes. My favorite is by bien pensant liberal Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart – Or His Handler?” – “A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion.”
Best of all, the RussiaGate theories go back to the Steele dossier. That in turn consists of stories given to Christopher Steele by Russians. The most important were Source A (described by Steele as “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure”) and Source B (“a former top-level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin”). They tell about one of the greatest Russian intel coups ever – an FSB (successor to the KGB) operation suborning a US president. Would Putin be pleased at this betrayal of State secrets? Why would these Russians risk their freedom, even their lives? Nobody has given a plausible explanation of why these Russians would ruin this project.
Our horde of journalists do not even ask the question. As Eric Hoffer said in The True Believer (1951), disinterest in inconvenient questions is a hallmark of the true believer. But experts raised this issue, although they ignored it. For example, see the remarks by Michael Morell. He was a former Acting CIA Director who endorsed Hillary Clinton, and was considered a likely CIA director if Clinton won, NBC reports his remarks about this oddity.
“I had two questions when I first read it. One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries. And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris.
“And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more. I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.”
A few people have mentioned what Morell, a good Democrat, did not. Such as this by political scientists and investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein.
“As Steele is no doubt aware, there is no such thing as an ex-FSB officer. All Russian intelligence officers, whether currently or formerly employed, if in Russia, operate under the same tough security regime. The selling of secret information by them is espionage, pure and simple. Selling it to someone connected to an adversary intelligence service greatly compounds the crime.
“Sources A and B (through their intermediaries) knew that they were dealing with an ex-MI-6 man who could use their betrayal of secrets against them. The only safe way for A and B to provide the requested dirt would be to clear it with the security regime at the FSB. This precaution, a required step in such exchanges, would mean that the dirt in the dossier, whether true or false, was curated by the FSB and spoon-fed to Steele. If so, the FSB was the surreptitious provider of this part of the Steele dossier.”
So RussiaGate might a major scandal about a Russian intelligence operation attempting to change the course of American history. First, by supporting Clinton in 2016. Then later, by crippling the Trump Administration. It required the cooperation of the Democratic Party and American journalists (all operating in their own narrow self-interest). That would have been a prescient op by the Russian government, since Trump has done what Clinton would not: drastically boosted US military spending and begun to withdraw from arms control treaties (the latest: Trump’s ending the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force treaty) – initiating an arms race Russia cannot afford.
Republicans went mad during the Obama years, obsessed about baseless rumors regarding Obama’s birth certificate and the exciting but bogus stories of Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI! Now it is the Democrat’s turn.
Lost in all this are the major policy issues of our time. Perhaps most importantly (i.e., important to conceal) is the bipartisan consensus on so many key issues: global military interventions (the forever war), massive domestic surveillance, open borders, support for Wall Street, and many more.
Can a people govern themselves who are so disinterested in truth and so easily manipulated? I doubt it. But we can change.
Here is the problem, and a solution: A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.
For More Information
If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the about Russiagate, about ways to reform America’s politics, about propaganda, about journalism, and especially these…
- A nation lit only by propaganda.
- The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
- We cannot agree on simple facts and so cannot reform America.
- American politics is a fun parade of lies, for which we pay dearly.
- Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
- Important advice: Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
- We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today.
- Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
- The missing but essential key to building a better America – Clear sight about our condition.
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
- The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
- We can’t reform America without a new news media.
Two dclassic books about propaganda
The first and in many ways still the best: Propaganda by Edward Bernays (1928).
Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda by Noam Chomsky (1997). One of his best.
19 thoughts on “The end of RussiaGate approaches, and its stunning truth”
It will end, I predict, with charges of lying and obstruction of justice. Not sure they can nail the lying down to perjury, like they did with Clinton (remember his famous testimony, depends on what you mean by this or that term (putting on his best slippery lawyer lizard suit).
‘The actual awful things the President has done’? Get a grip peeps.
“‘The actual awful things the President has done’? Get a grip peeps.”
Massive tax cuts sending the Federal government’s deficit skyrocketing. Dismantling important environmental protections. Breaking valuable arms control treaties (as the far-right has sought to do for going back 55 years to their insane support for open-air nuclear testing – details here).
That’s just the top three in a long list.
I fear there’s a lot of Chersterton’s Fence in what Trump has been doing regarding regulations. The Environmental Laws but one illustration.
Editor’s Note: From G. K. Chesterton’s 1929 book The Thing, the chapter “The Drift from Domesticity”:
I added to your comment an explanation of Chesterton’s Fence. However, I doubt that has much, or any, relevance to Tean Trump’s dismantling of environmental regulations that have so greatly improved the quality of America’s water and air. Note that each one of those regs was fiercely opposed by industries, with claims that time have proven bogus.
Mr. President … Senator Orrin G. Hatch and Robert Mueller are NOT your friends! https://goo.gl/pfF1gq
“Senator Orrin G. Hatch and Robert Mueller are NOT your friends!”
(1) Political leaders, like nations, don’t have friends – just interests. This has been said by great leaders, in different contexts, from de Gaulle back to Lord Palmerston and George Washington. Politics makes strange “bedfellows” (allies).
(2) I doubt anyone believes he is Trump’s “friend.” Mueller is prosecuting Trump, and hence structurally a foe of Trump even if he was Trump’s childhood friend.
I agree with 90+% of what you’ve written. The only thing I’ll really take issue with is that we don’t know for sure if any of Steele’s “sources” actually exist. Ismael Jones, a former CIA deep cover officer and author of The Human factor has expressed some skepticism about at least one of them. I didn’t save the link or I’d provide it. . I seem to recall reading something by him here on that subject, but I may have read it elsewhere.
If you told me that Steele’s sources were entirely fictitious and that every single person who ever approached anyone connected to trump offering Russian dirt on Hillary was either FBI, CIA, or British Intelligence, I would not call you a liar. If Steele ever had any sources, if these alleged FSB guys really do exist, then the conclusions given here about their likely veracity are logical.
“Republicans went mad during the Obama years, obsessed about baseless rumors regarding Obama’s birth certificate and the exciting but bogus stories of Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI! Now it is the Democrat’s turn.”
Well, at least you prove that the attack in Benghazi happened, although I was never clear why that attack was so much more scandalous than a dozen other attacks on US embassies stretching back into the 80s.
“Trump has done what Clinton would not: drastically boosted US military spending and begun to withdraw from arms control treaties (the latest: Trump’s ending the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force treaty) – initiating an arms race Russia cannot afford.”
I’d ask if we can afford it, but I think I already know the answer to that one. There’s actually a lot I could say about this, but that’s a topic for another day, I’ve just come off a 12 hour shift, and dinner is waiting.
“The only thing I’ll really take issue with is that we don’t know for sure if any of Steele’s “sources” actually exist.”
I hadn’t even considered that! It’s a valid question. Public info gives no basis to guess how deep this rabbit hole goes. After all, the second Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened, but it was the justification for the congressional resolution that authorized the Vietnam War.
“Well, at least you prove that the attack in Benghazi happened”
True, but the stories about it were often fictitious. My favorite was an “analysis” by a supposed spec ops guy explaining how Obama was certainly watching it in the White House as it happened (perhaps using Tom Swift’s Megascope Space Prober>Megascope Space Prober) and giving orders as to how to respond. These stories by Left and Right make sense once one sees the volume of drugs (from booze and grass to meth and opiates) consumed each year by Americans. Future generations will wonder how we got anything done, since a large fraction of the population was high much of the time.
We don’t know what Clinton would have done actually. She was always keen on keeping high ‘national security budgets’, which were historically high under Obama, with whom she served. And in her rhetoric she was more of a hawk than Trump actually.
“We don’t know what Clinton would have done actually.”
That’s an important point, but I would state it differently. Many key US policies are bipartisan: aggressive foreign wars, open borders, love for Wall Street, strong domestic surveillance, etc. The variation between parties on these is smaller than that between officials. Clinton supported all of them (strongly, as you note) – so we do know what she would have done.
“And in her rhetoric she was more of a hawk than Trump actually.”
True. But oddly, Democrats often don’t listen to what their candidate says. Obama was quite clear about his love for foreign wars. Yet the peace-loving Left loved him and was surprised when he did what he said he would (this also surprised the Nobel Peace Prize committee). Ditto with Clinton’s fans, paying more attention to her flower-strewn commercials about love than her hawkist record. Stupidity is its own reward, in politics as in all areas of life.
Whereas Trump was an outright fraud (which should have obvious from his past). He ran as a populist, but governs as a bog-standard Republican. He appointed standard or far-right officials, and his policies are standard GOP (his tweets are distractions for the proles).
“I hadn’t even considered that! It’s a valid question. Public info gives no basis to guess how deep this rabbit hole goes.”
Indeed. I said long ago in another comment that you could make a better case for British interference in the 2016 election than Russian. There’s a lo of questions about this that I can’t answer, and Mueller isn’t going to answer them either. British Intelligence was in on this up their exploding cuff links.. But how did that begin? Did Brennan go to them and say “Hey guys, i need a favor. Something I can’t do on my own?” Did the Brits pick up a piece of possibly bogus intelligence, maybe an intercept by GCHQ, and go to Brennan and say “Hey John, we think this Trump guy may be hinky.” ? We know a lot, but we don’t know how it started. The origins matter, and we won’t know that for a long time if ever.
My opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that IF Russian disinformation was a factor here, it got in through something the Brits picked up. But if MI6 has highly placed agents in Moscow it had little incentive to put them att he disposal of the Clinton campaign. If they had something else, maybe a piece of SIGINT, then they might do up something to disguise the origin of the intelligence. All of this is speculative, with no supporting facts. My sense of it is that the Steele Dossier was either an outright fabrication (They were doing someone a favor) or a way of disguising an intelligence source they wanted to protect. (That may or may not have been under Russian control, and our people followed it down that rabbit hole you mentioned) I’ll stop here before I go full Angleton, Or before I succumb to the temptation to insert a link to the song Angleton by Biting Elbows into this comment.
Point is that to understand this, you need to know the origins, and Mueller won’t give us a clue. But remember that successful deception is rooted in self deception. Clearly there were people in our intelligence community who wanted to believe that trump was an agent of Putin. So when you raise the possibility of the Russians being behind Russiagate, you aren’t obviously wrong.
“True, but the stories about it were often fictitious. My favorite was an “analysis” by a supposed spec ops guy explaining how Obama was certainly watching it in the White House as it happened (perhaps using Tom Swift’s Megascope Space Prober>Megascope Space Prober) and giving orders as to how to respond.”
I missed that one. But no argument about high coefficient of fiction.
Conspiracy theories come about when peoples’ minds can’t reconcile their expectations with reality.
When Trump won the election, many Democrats couldn’t cope, so their minds manufactured the simplest explanation that didn’t require any introspection or altered worldview.
The investigation results won’t matter because people believe what they want to believe, regardless of what they actually see. If they see any information to the contrary, their minds will just interpret it as evidence of a conspiracy.
“Lost in all this are the major policy issues of our time. ”
Indeed. The biggest issue that seems to be studiously ignored by the media and politicians on both sides of the isle is the astronomical and rapidly growing national debt: http://www.usdebtclock.org/
The Federal Reserve can buy up some of the debt by monetizing it (and eroding the value of our currency), but that can only work for awhile. How long “awhile” is remains to be seen. Our young people are the ones being stuck with the tab, and their income prospects aren’t looking very robust from here.
(1) “astronomical and rapidly growing national debt”
(a) Rather than weird (almost unintelligible) website, I suggest you use reliable sources. For the dollar debt, see the Treasury website (updated daily). The net public debt is $16 trillion (the gross debt includes cross-government holdings, the equivalent of you counting IOYs to yourself as debt). That number is meaningless.
For an operationally useful picture, see the Fed’s FRED system graph of net debt to GDP: now 76%.
(b) The US debt is not at astronomical” levels. Debt/gdp of 100% is the usual level at which this become a concern, although many nations have had debt at that level for generations (eg, Italy) – or much much higher levels (eg, Japan). The US has had much higher debt/gdp levels after wars: the Revolution, the Revolution (probably), the Civil War, and WWII. We worked off all three with little difficult.
(c) Look at that graph. We paid down the debt after WWII to a comfortable 24% (having some government debt is useful).
Then President Reagan pushed thru massive tax cuts for the rich – financed with debt – sending the debt skyrocketing. A series of tax increases stablized it at 48% in 1994.
Clinton’s tax increases and budget control sent it to 31% in Q2 of 2001. At that time people forecast that current policies would pay off the debt in a decade or two.
Another Republican president, Bush Jr., pushed thru massive tax
increasesdecreases financed by debt, sending it to 37% in 2007.
The crash, a proto-depression came. We avoided a collapse by massive fiscal & monetary stimulus. Since the deficit was already high due to Bush Jr’s tax cuts (the opposite of the counter-cyclical policy of Keynes), the debt skyrocketed to and stabilized at 76% in Q1 of 2016.
Now another Republican president has pushed through massive tax cuts for the rich financed by debt, sending the deficit skyrocketing.
Note the pattern? The Party always screaming about the debt is the one whose policies have created the debt. Debt stabilization and reduction occurs only under Democratic administrations.
Your pro-Democratic Party advertisement is not the usual fare here, but its factual basis is useful to see!
“Another Republican president, Bush Jr., pushed thru massive tax increases financed by debt, sending it to 37% in 2007.”
I think you meant decreases.
Thanks for catching that! Dyslexia strikes again!
““So that’s it then. An obscene amount of noise and focus, … .”
A provisional understanding, of the future world, that has Mueller producing only more of the levels of corruption and crimes that have been revealed to date, appears highly adaptive in that it guides us towards voting in federal elections ourselves and additionally motivating others to vote, as the only effective action available.
The clear alternative is to be waiting on Mueller to fix things.
Mueller does not have the power to do this.
It is unknown, almost unimaginable, what crimes a Republican controlled Senate like the current one, would need to have presented to it before it would convict an impeached Trump.
And arguably there is no other way that Trump can be held to account, no matter what Mueller finds.
On the wider environment that imagined, birthed and succoured the Trump presidency, Mueller can have no influence.
In short, Mueller, at best, offers minor solutions to major problems.
Having hypothesized about the future, and analyzed it in ways that guide us towards considered action, it may also be worth looking back at the “obscene amount of noise and focus”, and consider it’s source.
Which was overwhelmingly, in terms of sheer bulk and temporal consistency, the WH and Republican politicians.
How quiet would things have been without these sources continually providing material?
This is a rhetorical question, with an answer of , “Very quiet about Russian interference most of the time”.
I have two explanations readily at hand for this material being provided to the media.
Trump and the Republican politicians saw, “An obscene amount of noise and focus” as being in their best interest because:
1. It suits their voter motivation model.
2. They wanted to have, at least, a strong voice in the court of public opinion.
These two explanations are not mutually exclusive.
Though the second one would, it is reasonable to conclude, be more likely to be accurate if they knew there was actually something significant that Mueller would find and act on.
But, as argued above, this means little and demands nothing of us.
Seldom have I seen a more perfect example of the blind partisanship that is poisoning US politics. You appear to have found Trump guilty in your own mind of many things, which you don’t bother to list, despite little actual proof.
“that has Mueller producing only more of the levels of corruption and crimes that have been revealed to date”
The “corruption” that has been shown so far is business as usual in Washington, and is less than that in the late 19th Century, and does not involve Trump. It’s not unusual compared to corruption cases in Europe and Japan.
“On the wider environment that imagined, birthed and succoured the Trump presidency, Mueller can have no influence.”
That’s a good thing, isn’t it? He is a prosecutor, not a tyrant overturning elections.
“And arguably there is no other way that Trump can be held to account”
Held to account for what?