Diane, you are insisting that Dienne prove a negative, which you must know is a fallacy.
Meanwhile, you now say, “Let’s wait for the results of the Mueller investigation,” after well over a year of perpetual claims and insinuations about significant Russian involvement in the election, if not literal control of Trump.
However, the burden of proof is on the believers of Russiagate to prove that Trump colluded with the Russians (and that allegation is on life support, barely hanging on, as of now) and/or that Russia affected the election. It is not my, or Dienne’s, or anyone else's job to prove it didn’t happen; the people making the accusations must prove it did.
Let’s take a moment and look at the devolution of political responses to Trump, and then ask ourselves, “Cui Bono?"
First, Trump was Hitler. Then, when the Brownshirts didn’t materialize (yes, I know there were Nazis, neo and otherwise, in Charlottesville, but that was a far cry from Germany in 1933) he morphed into a "mere" authoritarian.
Then he was Putin’s stooge. That claim has not aged well, either, since all of the sanctions put in place against Russia are still there, the US military is acting very aggressively toward Russia in Syria (Russian soldiers and/or mercenaries, it’s not clear, were bombed by US aircraft there two weeks ago) and the US is providing sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainians (who, btw, have political parties with direct connections to Nazi atrocities in their government). Whatever the merits of these actions, they aren't those of someone in bed with Putin. But that just doesn’t seem to matter, since people are still flogging the “Trump Is Putin’s Stooge” story, with few demurring.
Then we got the "Russia Hacked the Election” trope. That, just like “Russia Hacked the Vermont Electrical Grid” (Comedy Gold for future historians, or standup comedians) story, had to be retracted.
Then, in the aftermath of the publication of Wolff’s book, we got the “He’s Got Dementia!!!” trope, which lasted a couple of weeks, and then deflated.
"Ah, but the emails, the DNC emails,” we are assured, “we know the Russians hacked those!” Well, perhaps. And perhaps not, since as of this moment the only “proof” of that is the claim made by Crowdstrike, the DNC contractor, and which has never been verified, since the DNC never allowed the FBI to examine their servers and computers. Given how many of the other accusations have turned to ashes, why should we uncritically accept this unverified claim by an interested party, especially since there are former intelligence officials who’ve provided reasonable arguments for why it might have been an inside leak? (I’m not saying I’m wedded to those explanations, only that they appear reasonable, and are a basis for withholding judgement until better information becomes public).
Now, with the collusion charges wobbly, at best, and no evidence of “hacking the election,” we’re being told that “He (Putin) is trying to sow dissension among us!!!!!!” My own congressman, Jerrold Nadler, usually a pretty decent guy, was raving on television last week that the Facebook posts were akin to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. That, from a troll farm sending out what Masha Gessen (whom you’ve referred to in positive terms on your blog) calls "semi-literate English” Facebook posts, more than half of which occurred after the election, and which a Facebook VP (admittedly in the company’s self-interest, though that doesn’t make it invalid) said had zero effect on the election. Yeah, that “Buff Bernie” coloring page was what made the difference for Trump…
I’m sorry, I don't want to be snarky, but it’s laughably absurd and preposterous. Or would be laughable if it wasn’t being used to to limit dissent (or even standard requests for evidence0 and confine debate to narrow questions and issues based upon false premises. And it would be laughable, too, if so many decent and intelligent and well-informed people didn't faithfully refuse to maintain consistent standards of proof, reasoning and argumentation.
You’ve spent years courageously fighting the false premises of the so-called reformers, Diane, using history, reason and knowledge to refute them. That’s why it’s been perplexing for some of us (I think I can speak for more than myself) why you’ve been so quick to go all in on this, with nary a hint of skepticism or scholarly remove, particularly since it’s been an endless succession of moved goal posts, wild exaggerations followed by frequent retractions, and straight-out yellow journalism.
And meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Black Lives Matter, and anyone who's had the effrontery to ask for evidence of this purported act of treason, or warfare, or both, or whatever, are smeared as Putin beneficiaries, or stooges, and/or useful idiots for Trump. it’s fallacious argumentation, and it’s authoritarianism in liberal drag.
Which leads us to, “Cui Bono?”
Well, Trump and the Republicans, for a start: every false accusation inoculates him a bit more against what’s coming down the line, and discredits the people making them (let’s face it, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow have turned themselves into Fox News for Liberals over this), while simultaneously smearing anyone to the left of Hillary.
And speaking of Hillary, she, her husband and the Clinton/Obama/Neoliberal/Cold War 2.0 wing of the Democratic Party get to keep everyone too distracted and pre-occupied to ask, “Wait, you spent over a billion dollars and still lost to the most unpopular presidential candidate in history? You lost control of all three branches of the federal government and two thirds of the state governments in less than a decade, AND YOU STILL WANT TO GOVERN AND SET POLICY FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?” (please excuse the caps, but it was required for emphasis, since I can’t do italics)
it’s also of great service to the military-industrial complex, which has an existential (or, at least, profit-driven) need to gin up threats, and to the Neoconservatives who never saw an imperial project (served by some mythical but heavily propagandized threat) they couldn’t also benefit from.
Oh, and finally, this all helps Putin, who is now politically impregnable (more than he already was) in Russia. This irrational belief in his almost occult powers has generated even more internal support for the Russian nationalism he embodies. By demonizing him here, to a degree and at a pitch that even his domestic political opponents think is ludicrous, you build him up there.
Here’s the analogy I use as a framework for this tragedy and farce:
First of all, let’s accept the premise that great states spy on each other and seek to influence each other politically, and that this is a constant of statecraft and geopolitics. Russia, for example has RT and Sputnik, and whatever covert shenanigans it pursues, while we have Voice of America, the National Endowment For Democracy and numerous other vehicles for influencing their internal politics (if you don’t believe that, please refer to the July 15th, 1996 edition of Time Magazine, which bragged - “Yanks To The Rescue!” - about direct US involvement in the Russian presidential election), and our own covert operators. It’s all part of the "Great Game," right?
Let’s now make an analogy between those propaganda/intelligence operations and the background radiation that exists all around us. It fluctuates from place to place, but nevertheless is everywhere, at relatively low levels that are not acutely dangerous.
With those assumptions in place, imagine someone who gorges on junk food (and information/media/culture) for decades, doesn’t exercise (their democratic/civic obligations, and has a ruling class that encourages that passivity), becomes obese and mean tempered, and develops diabetes, heart disease and cancer (the state of our polity). Then, when the symptoms become truly unavoidable (Trump’s election), this person starts raving about the background radiation in their basement as the cause of their troubles. How much credence should we give them?
That’s what we have here: collective denial. After all, isn’t it easier to think, consolingly but wrongly, that it wasn’t Americans who elected Trump, but that Evil Putin, and if we can just exorcise that Evil Man, our problems would be over? It takes the responsibility and burden off our shoulders, while simultaneously serving some powerful institutional interests that helped get us here.
Finally, and most importantly, it's bad, stupid politics, because it keeps keeps us from doing the truly hard (and far from guaranteed to be successful) work of redeeming and reclaiming the country (and boy does this country need redemption), and is almost certain to keep the Bad Guys in power. Because, while everyone in the DNC, the media centers and along the Acela Corridor are giving themselves wedgies over this, the rest of the country is hurting, angry, largely indifferent to it (as polls consistently demonstrate), and likely to ignore or punish those who keep pushing it in the next elections.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Fiorillo to Ravitch on Russiagate
Diane Ravitch, along with MSBNC, the liberal press and the Democratic Party are obsessed with the Russia interference story while never mentioning the enormous historical interference of our country in every other country that makes the Russia story pale. Michael Fiorillo has pointed out the contradictions, as has Matt Tiabbi of Rolling Stone. There was a debate of sorts on the Ravitch blog (I don't have the link now) and here is Michael's comment.