Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far?

Yves here. with John Feffer and host Aaron Maté received a huge number of comments, so I encourage readers to visit the TRNN site as well as pipe up here if you are so inclined. Even though Maté pushed back consistently, some of the readers at TRNN thought he didn’t make as strong a counterargument as he could have.

It’s worth noting that the troll farm that was the subject of the Mueller indictment had already been reported at length

9/11-Pearl Harbor talk aside, it's v. funny seeing troll farm indictment greeted as "bombshell," etc. Much of it was revealed last year: Co-reporter on that story now calls US wing "a very successful social media marketing campaign"

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate)

AARON MATÉ: It’s The Real News, I’m Aaron Maté. At a hearing this week, the nation’s top intelligence officials warned about Russian meddling in the upcoming midterm elections.

DAN COATS: Frankly, the United States is under attack. Under attack by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States. We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States. There should be no doubt that Russia perceived that its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.

AARON MATÉ: The testimony prompted bipartisan complaints that president Trump is still not taking the purported Russian threats seriously. But that is a critique that is also being made against some parts of the left. In a new piece for LobeLog, John Feffer writes that some progressive critics are going too far in dismissing the Russiagate narrative. The piece is called “Russiagate or Deep State?” John Feffer is the editor of LobeLog and the Director of Foreign Policy and Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, and he joined me earlier today to discuss his piece.

Now we recorded this just before news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for allegedly using social media to sow discord in the U.S. and support the candidacy of Donald Trump. So in this interview we do not address that indictment, but we do address the wider issue of Russiagate, Russia’s alleged use of social media and Russian email hacking.

Welcome, John. Lay out your argument for us.

JOHN FEFFER: Well, first, it’s not just the United States. I mean, Russia has been involved in these kinds of operations, cyber operations against a variety of targets and the general purpose has been to improve the geopolitical position of Russia. So these operations of course have taken place in Europe against what are perceived as pro-UE positions. Here in the United States, they’ve been for a variety of different purposes, but I think the kind of overall goal is, as has been stated several times, has been to kind of create greater political confusion and polarization in United States, thus in some sense, handicapping the United States.

Russiagate, as it’s been laid out, is one part of that, but it’s not just election meddling, it of course extends to in particular economic relations between Trump and members of Trump’s team and Russia. So my fear is that to progressives, largely because they are suspicious of the national security state, and for good reason, have dismissed Russiagate because it’s been put forward by the FBI, members of the intelligence community and therefore they don’t take it as seriously as they should.

AARON MATÉ: Okay, but John, my pushback to that is can you see why someone could argue that you’re making a lot of assumptions there? I mean, we’ve been told, for example, that the Russians conducted this massive influence operation through email hacking and social media, but the evidence for it has been pretty thin. I mean, we were told the Russian government carried out the email hacking, but there’s been no actual evidence of that yet.

What we know about the social media looks like it came from a Russian troll farm acting in a very crude and juvenile way, spending about a hundred thousand dollars, most of it after the election. And the same thing about Europe too, there’s been claims about Russian meddling, but looking at the actual evidence, it’s come up pretty thing.

JOHN FEFFER: Well, I would argue that the evidence is actually pretty thick. I mean, as for the social media, I wouldn’t really consider that to be the more important aspect there, much more important of course is the hacking of the DNC and some personal emails and in terms of the evidence, well, okay you might want to dismiss what the U.S. intelligence community has put forward, but the Dutch intelligence community was basically surveilling the whole entire operation, was able to identify the people involved in the Russian hacking of that. We also have evidence from an actual Russian trial-

AARON MATÉ: Well, John-

JOHN FEFFER: Yeah?

AARON MATÉ: John, let’s break this down one by one. So you mentioned this Dutch report, this recently came out, I believe what you’re referring to is anonymous Dutch officials told a Dutch, and also U.S. officials too, told a Dutch news agency, two actually, outlets, that they had actually surveilled Russian hackers and had even hacked into a surveillance camera at the Russian hacking site. But again, that’s an example of where we have more than a year after this Russiagate thing has been going on, now this claim comes out. And if they have evidence, why not show it? So for example, why not give us a screenshot from this surveillance camera that they allegedly hacked into?

JOHN FEFFER: Well, I’d like to see that as well. A number of people have come forward with evidence, or had come forward with claims, of state national security requirements, confidentiality, etc., for not releasing the information. I’d like to see it as well, no question about it. But if you add in, for instance, the testimony of a Russian hacker in a Russian trial who gave evidence of being approached by the Russian intelligence community to engage in the hacking itself, and gave what seemed to be a pretty convincing evidence of his own involvement and Russian government involvement, if you add up all these data points, well, I have to say that the evidence is far more compelling than the counter argument which is we don’t know, or it could be a fat guy sitting on a couch somewhere.

AARON MATÉ: If you’re referring to the Russian hacker, Kaspersky, I think his name is, who has claimed that he was ordered to carry out this hacking of the DNC, can I just say that every Russian I speak to, no one takes him seriously. He’s also claimed that he possessed the capability to develop a red button that could destroy western infrastructure, but he did not do it because of his conscience. So I don’t see him as a reliable source.

JOHN FEFFER: Well, you keep bringing up all these sources that you don’t really have much faith in, but frankly, what is the counter narrative? Who exactly hacked into the DNC? Who provided these emails to Wikileaks, why were they released at such a critical moment? You know, we have these data points, you may not trust them, but I find them convincing. We have the report from the intelligence community here in the United States that provides at least a trail. It’s been challenged, but I find the narrative that’s been put forward to be honestly more convincing than the counter narrative.

AARON MATÉ: I don’t know who hacked into the DNC. I mean, some people like Ray McGovern and Bill Binney, formerly of the NSA, claimed that it was a leak, I didn’t find personally the argument persuasive, but I don’t know enough about computers to decide either way. I think the key point to stress is that certainly the Russians could have done it, but in the absence of proof that they did, why presume just because a handful of U.S. intelligence officials, a year ago without evidence, told us that they did?

JOHN FEFFER: Well, we have a pattern of other Russian involvement, and you may dismiss the social media as not being a lot of money, or not being a lot of tweets or what have you, but that’s not the point. The point is they did engage in it. So we have a pattern of behavior. If we were in a courtroom and we were kind of constructing an argument, we would put that into the documents as more evidence of motive, of action, and the reason why we take it seriously is twofold.

One, because we’re worried about our U.S. democracy and whether it can function in a fair way. And the threats to U.S. democracy, by the way, are not, you know, specific to Russia. But I consider Russia a threat in large part because of what the current government of Vladimir Putin represents. Putin has not only authoritarian tendencies within Russia itself, that’s not my major concern here, my major concern is its support for far right-wing nationalist—and frankly, racist—movements around the world, including here in the United States.

It’s not a surprise that neo-Nazi groups and white supremacy groups have identified Russia as one of their key allies, in part because Russia is home to so many white people, and that the Putin government has identified these movements of key allies as well. So this is why I personally consider Russia to be a threat. If I learned, for instance, that Botswana had hacked into the U.S. election system I would not consider it as great a threat, my concern is not just the nature of Russia’s actions but also what Russia represents, or I should say, what the Putin government represents, because of course Russia is a very big place with lots of different political tendencies.

AARON MATÉ: All right, two points. So if the U.S. intelligence officials told you that Botswana had hacked into a U.S. email system and released emails in an effort to further a political goal, would you believe them without evidence? And on the point about Russia and authoritarian tendencies, and no one really denies that, but are they a major factor in support for white supremacy in the U.S.? I mean, anywhere close to the degree of which president Trump has emboldened white supremacists?

JOHN FEFFER: Well, let’s answer the second question first. To the extent that the Russian government supports or supported Donald trump, yes, it’s a very significant and perhaps the most significant support of white supremacists in the United States ever. If you take Donald Trump out of the picture, well, of course not. But Donald Trump is the key actor here and Russiagate is, of course, focused on his complicity with Russian actors.

As for the first, if the intelligence came to me with no evidence, of course I would dismiss it. But the point here is that the intelligence community seems to have evidence, has published some of that evidence. For instance, there’s been a lot of ridicule of the Homeland Security for saying that Russia hacked into, I think it was 21 state electoral systems, and it’s important to emphasize that Homeland Security said that that did not have any effect on the election.

And it’s also important to point out that a number of states responded that they saw no evidence of that. It’s also important to say that Homeland Security has released its evidence because of national security concerns, but there was one example of Illinois where the evidence seemed pretty strong of Russian involvement.

So, yes, there is evidence; if you think that the evidence is robust or not is up to you. I personally think it’s far more robust than any of the counter-narratives that have been put forward, which have absolutely no bearing in reality.

AARON MATÉ: I think the evidence for the Russian government hacking of the Democratic emails amounts to a blog post from CrowdStrike, which is the firm contracted by the DNC, which by the way hasn’t even given its servers over to the FBI. Aside from that, the intelligence report- [crosstalk 00:12:46]

JOHN FEFFER: How can you say it’s a blog post? You’re reducing it to insignificance. You may not agree with the conclusions of the report that they issued, and I’ve seen plenty of analysis of that report, but I would not-

AARON MATÉ: I’m talking about, if I could finish, I’m talking about the CrowdStrike blog post that said it had concluded that it was Russian government hackers like Fancy Bear that had hacked the democrats and then there was the intelligence report which had a bunch of claims about Russian government hacking, but at least from the public version that we’ve been allowed to see, no evidence. And on white supremacy, I mean, have we seen evidence that Putin has actively supporting white supremacists inside of the United States?

JOHN FEFFER: We have seen Putin give several speeches on the importance of his right-wing vision of a Christian centered, kind of Russian centered, in some ways white center, if you read between the lines, ideology. We have seen connections between white supremacists and far right leaders going to Russia, going to Moscow, meeting with Russian officials, some of them very close to Putin. If you’re looking for monetary transfers, such as for instance the kind of financial support Russian banks gave to Marine Le Pen and the National Front, you won’t find that, not yet, but the connections are there.

In terms of the evidence of Russian hacking, through Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, you know, I’m not sure what would constitute Russian fingerprints more than what has been offered. Yeah, sure, perhaps we could see more of the trail of evidence, but what I’ve seen, so far, convinces me that it was a Russian operation. Again, if you have evidence that there is somebody else out there, better proof that has been offered, I’m willing to hear it. And I’m willing to change my mind as well, but what I’ve seen so far points in one direction and one direction only.

AARON MATÉ: And I’m certainly willing to change my mind as well, of course, everyone is. My point is that the absence of evidence of another party doesn’t, for me, lead to the conclusion that it was Russia, and the absence of what we’ve been discussing here is I think a lack of evidence. Let me also say, my concern here is not defending Putin or his policies, it’s just not holding Putin to a higher standard than we hold anyone else, and doing so in a way that deflects from our own internal problems here at home.

So for example, if we’re linking Putin to white supremacy in the U.S., then I think we’re risking overlooking the very real ties between many people in our government and leading pundits and white supremacists, including our president Donald Trump. Especially in the absence of actual, I mean, you talk about white supremacists visiting Moscow, well sure. White supremacists also visit Washington D.C. because they live in the U.S. So that to me does not seem proof of a tangible connection in which the Russian government is actively supporting white supremacists.

And in terms of holding Putin to a different standard, the concern about that, on top of ignoring the issues here in the U.S., is what if that is used in the service of a Cold War agenda? Which I know you oppose, but there are elements of the national security state for which this Russia hysteria is very advantageous. It justifies military expenditures and it fuels far-right militaristic policies like Trump is doing right now in Syria, against Russia’s wishes, and also even on Russia’s borders with NATO, expanding the NATO military presence there. But all of which is being overlooked because we’re so focused on trying to prove a Trump-Russia connection.

JOHN FEFFER: Well, I mean, I can only talk about me, I can’t talk about what other analysts do or don’t do, and I spend more of my time looking at precisely the things you’re talking about. Expansion of NATO to Russian borders, I talk about the connections between Donald Trump and white supremacists, I talk about all things wrong with American elections that have nothing to do with Russia. So, I spend far more of my time talking about those things than I do about Russiagate. I happened to publish two articles recently because I’m concerned about the fact that progressives are overlooking this threat, not because I think progressives should focus on Russiagate to the exclusion of all other things, but I do think that progressives should take a hard and realistic look at what is taking place in Moscow and what Putin’s larger geopolitical ambitions are.

In terms of a growing cold war, I’m absolutely opposed to any effort to recreate a cold war, I’ve consistently supported all sorts of agreements between the United States and Russia from arms control, to resolving the Syria conflict, to bolstering the cooperation that we did see around the Iran nuclear agreement. That goes without saying. But, I am also concerned about Russian actions and not just Russian actions with respect to election meddling in Europe and the United States, I’m concerned with what Russia does in the Ukraine, I’m concerned about Russian actions in Syria, I’m concerned about Russian involvement in its near or abroad beyond Ukraine.

All of those are very, very troubling things, because let’s face it, Russia has in the past had an imperial perspective and I believe that imperial perspective is deeply ingrained in Vladimir Putin’s world view. How does it compare to U.S. imperial strategies? Well, of course it’s a much smaller kind of component to world geopolitics, because Russian power is much smaller than U.S. power. But it doesn’t mean we should overlook it or ignore it.

AARON MATÉ: Okay. So John, finally as we wrap, can we agree on this, which is that the evidence so far, in terms of Trump’s actual policies when it comes to Russia, some of which we’ve talked about, expanding NATO on Russia’s border, he just released his nuclear strategy which is primarily focused on Russia and calls for increasing the nuclear arsenal to develop these so-called low yield weapons aimed at Russia, maintaining the U.S. troop presence in Syria indefinitely in a bid to target Iran, can we agree that, and also, of course, most significantly, doing what Obama rejected because he didn’t want to fuel the new cold war even more, which is Trump is now supplying weapons to Ukraine to fight the Russian backed separatists in the east, all these policies do not lend themselves to a narrative of trump and Russia being in cahoots. Because here, these are all cases where certainly is not pleased with what Trump is doing.

JOHN FEFFER: I can absolutely agree that Putin is not pleased with what Trump is doing. I would argue that it was largely a marriage of convenience, both Putin and Trump had their own reasons for playing nice with one another and that those reasons, if they did not completely disappear with the election, certainly became considerably attenuated. So Donald trump has pursued his own foreign policy that’s very different from the foreign policy he pretended to have when we was a candidate and a subset of that foreign policy was a kind of non-interventionist, more cooperative position with Russia.

That has disappeared. Why it’s disappeared, well, there are lots of reasons for that, but we shouldn’t project that backwards and say that because of Trump’s reversals on foreign policy that means ipso facto that there was no complicity between Russia and Trump. The relationship went sour, as many relationships do go sour, but I would agree with you currently U.S. and Russian relations are not at a very good point.

AARON MATÉ: It just seems curious to me that Putin would work so hard to elect a candidate who then goes and takes office and then pursues a more radical, or at least more militaristic posture towards Russia then even his predecessor, Obama did.

JOHN FEFFER: So first of all, I don’t think Putin could predict what Donald Trump was going to do as president, unpredictability was basically the best word to describe Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as we’ve determined a president as well. So I don’t think anybody, much less Vladimir Putin, could have predicted the turn U.S.-Russian relations would take. But also I would call into question that the idea that the Kremlin was specifically interested in getting Donald Trump elected.

I mean, Donald trump was a long shot, very few people thought he was going to get elected. I think what the Kremlin was hoping was more of a polarization strategy, somewhat similar to the dezinformatsiya strategy of the soviet years, and that is simply to sow confusion and to kind of accentuate the disagreements within American society and within the political sphere more specifically. And with that, I think the Kremlin was successful. You could argue that the election of Donald Trump was not a success, in fact, because of Trump’s unpredictability and the ultimate trajectory of U.S.-Russian relations.

AARON MATÉ: Okay, well, as much as I’d like to respond we are out of time, so we’ll leave it there for now, but hope to continue this in the future. John Feffer is our guest, editor of LobeLog and Director of Foreign Policy and Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. His new piece for LobeLog is called “Russiagate or Deep State?” John, thank you.

JOHN FEFFER: Thank you.

AARON MATÉ: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

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228 comments

  1. JohnMinMN

    Every time I click on a Real News Network link, including the one at the top, I get a message from Eset security saying that they’ve blocked a trojan attack. I can view the embedded video just fine. Anyone?

    1. Michael C.

      Overall, many of the sites that I visited a year ago with ease now have those kind of pop ups or difficulty getting to the page. Not all the time, but often enough to make me think there is some funny business going on as they work out their algorithms to keep us tented in the main stream media.

    2. TD

      My father was having the same problem with Eset. Went to Chrome settings and cleared any cookies from The Real News and the warning message no longer pops up. Hope that helps.

  2. todde

    Lock the people up who have committed crimes and be done with it.

    It’s a criminal matter, not an attack between two states.

    I turned on my tv this morning and Joe Scarborough was describing it as ‘the worst attack on America since 9-11″

    Somebody seems to have gone to far, and it isn’t the skeptics.

    1. Ignacio

      Exactly. All this Russia meddling stupidity has gone too far. Not strikingly, this propaganda has been created in the country that meddles the most abroad: the US.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        And it’s the same demons that have been stirring up war fever for close to 60 years: the Atlantic Council. Check out gjohnsit’s rundown on the Atlantic Council’s role in Russiagate and the history of the outfit that was neocon before there were neocons. (Some interesting info in the comment thread too).

    2. RenoDino

      What we have here is a crisis of auctoritas. Hannah Arendt says how such a crisis is handled determines the ultimate success or failure of the state to emerge as a democracy or authoritain police state. Hardly small potatoes.

      Right along with auctoritas comes dignitas. All parties on all sides have demonstrated none to date.

      As a betting man, I’d say the odds are against us getting out of this the way we came in.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Radio Liberty budget: $110 million
    NATO budget [direct only]: €1.29 billion
    US black budget [uses undisclosed]: ~$60 billion

    Any questions?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Coats: The US is under attack.

      Shouldn’t people get guns, or more guns, now to defend the country?

      All these are connected. If the government can’t protect the internet, the people have to fend for
      themselves. If the government can’t provide care (of any kind, health care, etc), the people then would have to survive on their own. If the government can’t protect the borders, from invaders of any kind, it will not be surprising the people fill the void.

    2. Marco

      “…create greater political confusion and polarization in United States, thus in some sense, handicapping the United States.” -Feffer

      Could I be charged with sedition for thinking this is a GOOD thing?

      1. marcyincny

        I thought for a minute he was referring to the MSM and their effort to “handicap” the citizenry which, of course, is not a such good thing…

      2. McKillop

        The frequent use of qualifiers such as “, , , in some sense…: and “, . . in some way . . . in some sense some how and some way creates vague examples. I’m still trying to figure out a way to explain clearly what I mean.

    3. sgt_doom

      I find this question, in light of Real News (quite missing from the American landscape) and Real History (likewise), rather tedious and specious.

      Did America (via John Negroponte and Frank Wisner, Jr., and their Franco-American Foundation’s creation of false political scandals against his competitor) do conceivably worse in France to get Sarkozy elected the first time?

      Did America do worse to support the overthrow of democratically elected Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya?

      Did America do worse to support the overthrow of democratically elected president of the Ukraine (cost to American taxpayers: $5 billion)?

      Did America do worse to support the overthrow of democratically elected and farsighted Chilean president, Salvador Allende, with the subsequent torture/murders of over 30,000 Chileans as well as American citizens?

      Time doesn’t allow me to go on for more pages, this site has a word limit.

  4. Anarcissie

    As to the troll farm thing, here’s what I wrote on Language Log when it came up there, if I may plagiarize myself: ‘It seems odd to pay people to do what so many are willing to do for free. The trolling method described goes back to early Usenet days: a small team would pretend to be having a flame war about some provocative issue, and once a brawl started, would leave the discussion. But even this was over-organized; once Usenet and other discursive venues spread beyond academia, the public joined in without needing any provocation. If the Russian government actually funded this sort of thing, they must be pretty simple-minded. Or maybe WaPo is being trolled….’

    One thing that mystifies me about this fandango is that people are being indicted for trolling. What happened to freedom of speech? I tried to read the text of the indictment, which I take it would have to indicate some actual crime or other, but it was behind a paywall.

    1. Kevin

      If Russian individuals chose to troll in DT’s support on their own that’s one thing. This is not the case. A foreign government employed copy editors to sow dissent in American politics by way of Twitter, Facebook, online advertising and a network of blogs. Russia has a long history of using these tactics successfully among its own people, they have now successfully spread these practices to the world. You seem to think that this is no big deal, people would have trolled about anyway, but we already know this to be factually untrue. In one example, for a mere $1000 or so, Russians were able to get American citizens to build a fake jail cell on a trailer complete with actors to play Hillary, Bill and Trump. While the physical manifestation of this attack only received a few dozen in-person views, the videos and pictures online gained millions of impressions. It’s impossible to say what impact this had exactly, but it’s also completely idiotic to assume this event would have happened without Russian intervention or that it had absolutely no impact at all.

      1. todde

        The whole of American politics is nothing but ‘sowing discord’. The only thing that holds the two parties together is the hatred shared for the ‘other party’.

        Again, if election laws were broken, arrest, try, convict and imprison the perpetrators.

        Lots of money gets spent sowing discord during the elections. I’m not concerned one bit about the drop in the bucket spent by the Russians

        1. sgt_doom

          Well stated, and I agree.

          Many of us have religiously followed Bev Harris (and last time around, the programmer from Tennessee, Benny) who has found time and again the major shortcomings, and easily hacked and backdoored voting machines — yet what politician has given a rat’s behind about them????

          And that fellow who just published that excellent book on gerrymandering to rig elections articulated the reality quite well in his book when he mentioned that he attempted to explain to congress people (D-side) how serious this was, but none of them could give a rat’s behind about this matter?!?!?

      2. Anon

        So this is more about Americans and their political intelligence than Russia and its intelligence. Trolls bringing down the Merican political system is theatre of the absurd. How many people died,again?

        1. Buck Eschaton

          What I find truly amazing is that Hillary Clinton had over a billion dollars to provide me with reasons to vote for her. I was searching for anything.
          She had over a billion dollars to tell me that she was for universal health care.
          She had over a billion dollars to tell me that she would expand social security.
          She had over a billion dollars to tell me that she would make college free or at least dramatically less expensive.
          She had a billion dollars to tell me that she and her crazed neo-con advisors wouldn’t start WWIII. Threatening to shoot down Russian planes doesn’t inspire confidence.
          Over a billion dollars to explain to us in detail on numerous platforms how she was going to make our lives better.
          It was obvious to every one that she was a hard-core neo-liberal and hard-core neo-conservative. All she offered was “America is already great!!!” A billion dollars and all she could provide was insults and paranoia.

          1. sgt_doom

            And people still don’t know that as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, she attended those rightwing prayer breakfasts at the Bush White House; belonged to rightwing, imperialistic/military organizations, and had an uncle, Wade Rodham, who was a member of the US Secret Service’s presidential protection unit during the Kennedy Administration.

            Not to mention those fundraisers thrown by Lady Rothschild at Martha’s Vineyard for HRC.

            And so it goes . . .

            1. OldBear

              She had over a billion dollars to tell me that she was for universal health care.

              She not only didn’t tell you (or me) that she was for it, she angrily yelled that it

          2. Expat

            This is not about Clinton. It’s about Russia and the Trump campaign. Hillary lost and thank God. We should ban any spouses, children or grandchildren from holding elected office of any kind.
            But turning this into a Democrat or Hillary thing is wrong. If there is something there, then the investigation might find it. If not, we have already grabbed up some arch-criminals in the persons of Gates and Manafort. So that is a already justification enough. Frankly, all the talk of costs is also a lie. Manafort’s milllions will be seized. Russiagate will turn out to be profitable!

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              So, if I have a heart attack, based on my obesity, poor diet and alcoholism, I should immediately blame the background radiation in my basement?

              Most of the “attacks” Lobel referred to were traditional white propaganda by the likes of RT, which are invariably conflated with, first, Trump/Putin collusion, and since that puppy died, Russian “attacks” on our exceptional democracy.

              Assume every hyper-ventilating charge by Mueller to be true, and magnify it fifty-fold; it’s still bupkis in the toxic and corrupt stew that is US politics.

              A classic case of misdirection, served up and serving the converging interests of a variety of players: neo-cons and defense contractors wet for a new Cold War with Russia, the Clinton/Obama wing of the Democratic Party desperate to use this to distract from their catastrophic political negligence, and factions in the National Security State looking to be rehabilitated in the eyes of media and liberal elites.

              1. Expat

                I am not sure what your point is, but let’s look back to Watergate. A security guard noticed something amiss and called the police. The burglars were charged with, well, burgling. But the police followed the trail upstream and ended up forcing out Nixon. Not for the burglary but for the web of crime, corruption, and destruction of democracy his CREEP and admin had weaved. Would you rehabilitate Nixon and his thugs on the basis that the police had no right to go after them based on a mere burglary?

                Nixon jeopardized American democracy. Whether or not this is business as usual in DC does not excuse it or pardon it. Trump and the Russians seem fishy to me, but i defer to Mueller. Hillary seems no better and sometime worse, but simply because she got away with it does not mean Trump should.

                I am not one to hang nine innocent men to get the tenth guilty one. I prefer to let nine guilty men go free rather than punish one innocent one. But I certainly don’t advocate letting one guilty one go free because we think there are other guilty ones out there!

                1. Michael Fiorillo

                  My point is that we in the US ar responsible for Trump, and to blame this piddling troll farm for “attacking our democracy” and putting him in the White House misplaces that responsibility, and projects it onto actors who, however sleazy, are far from a primary cause.

                  1. Expat

                    I agree. America elected Trump whether or not it was a majority. That half of America wanted Hillary says as much bad about democrats as Trump says about Republicans. But there are arguments being put forward that the Russian campaign was more important and influential than a handful of illiterate trolls. There are those that contend it shaped the dialogue and created effective slogans.

                    I think the Trumpeteers are rabid in their attacks on this investigation because they are fundamentally uncomfortable with Trump and his coterie of strange billionaires and millionaires. The right hated Trump until he won. They vilify and mock everything he stands for or has done…until he won. The right is terrified that the slightest crack in their blind faith will bring the entire edifice crumbling down.

                    I would love to drain the swamp but not just the left wing swamp. This investigation, witch hunt or not, is a start.

                    1. Michael Fiorillo

                      I assume Trump is freaked out because of potential exposure of his business dealings, which we can safely assume to be questionable, but that’s a very different thing from revving up Cold War/McCarthyite hysteria via this ménage a trois of Clintonites, Neo-Cons and spooks.

                      Mueller’s investigation is a vehicle for that, and I don’t expect much good to come of it, except for contrasting its mundane, less-than-meets-the-eye allegations with the hysteria being pumped everywhere.

            2. Big River Bandido

              This entire tempest (in a teapot) only gained legs because Hillary Clinton is congenitally unable to accept responsibility for her own mistakes.

              What started out as merely a convenient way to distract the public from the embarrassing and politically crippling *leak* of her own internal emails (the actual content of which no one in Clintonland or the media ever protested) has, over the last 18 months, devolved into a swampland of denial and fantasy which has engulfed the Democrats.

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                this: ^^^”a convenient way to distract the public from the embarrassing and politically crippling *leak* of her own internal emails (the actual content of which no one in Clintonland or the media ever protested)…”^^^

                the Imperial Wing of the demparty never wants to hear about the actual contents of the emails, whether leaked or hacked.
                even mentioning the content gets one tarred as a Ruski Troll…and it all devolves from there.
                This phenomenon, alone, is enough to arouse my suspicion of the entire russiagate narrative.
                There’s a quote that stuck in my mind from Mein Kampf(!! I like being thorough):

                “what luck for the rulers that men do not think.”

                the further division of the American polity, by any means necessary, is what is important, here.
                Point with one finger at the other guy, and three fingers point back at you.
                we’re frelled.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        So you must be the one who has the actual evidence that any of this was financed by the Russian government.

        Please do post it and enlighten us all.

        Then please forward it to the DNC – if they know the type of bang for their buck they can get for just $1000 maybe they’ll stop sending the rest of us so many emails begging for money.

      4. Clif

        Kevin-it seems to me you presume your conclusion when you say ‘This is not the case. A foreign..’
        What’s your source? What long history, the internet came around in early 90’s, I’m old but that’s not that long ago. And seriously, millions of impressions when Trump rallies were chanting “lock her up”… you don’t think word had gotten around or you don’t think any Americans would think of that without foreign assistance.

        Your tone of confidence betrays credibility.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The World Wide Web went live in 1991. The “internet” has become a catchall term for the WWW, but there were previous proto-internets including the Internet.

          “Kevin” isn’t on the ball clearly. “Sow dissent” is pretty much code for how upset he was that “Dear Mother” didn’t have a coronation.

          1. Anarcissie

            Before the Internet as we know it, there was Usenet, a sort of world-wide bulletin board (text only). I got on it in 1986, when you had to Know Somebody. I saw my first trolls in, I believe, 1987, when some joker created a huge firestorm by claiming to be a flat-earther. Many, many people became extremely angry, believe it or not. The idea that the Russian government could accomplish any serious political purpose by engaging in this sort of thing seems entirely ludicrous. And yet there it is.

      5. Harry

        “A foreign government employed copy editors to sow dissent in American politics by way of Twitter, Facebook, online advertising and a network of blogs.”

        Er, citation?

        I read the indictment. It doesn’t say that.

      6. NotTimothyGeithner

        “to sow dissent in American politics ”

        Can you possibly explain this? If the political system can suffer from a few internet memes, the problem is the state of American politics.

        Is the country really this childish? The whole country is founded on dissent. Have you ever seen those bumper stickers about “Well behaved women not making history”? Do you not see the problem with your issue.

        We aren’t discussing arming paramilitary groups or rousing violence. We are discussing a social media click bait farm in an indictment presented by Bob Mueller, who’s greatest hits include torture, lying about WMDs in Iraq, rounding up Muslims, entrapment, and the Anthrax farce. I would probably start with a prosecutor with a shred of credibility outside of the circles where Joe Scarborough is respected.

        The worst part is the “OMG Russia” frauds are going to shout so much that nothing will be done about gun control or any other calamity, but I bet the Pentagon will get more money for another failed weapon system.

      7. Oregoncharles

        What Russian government? It was a commercial operation posting click bait, of all sorts, to sell ads.

        And yes, that’s the explanation that fits the facts best. If Putin was really bankrolling it, no evidence so far, he was wasting his money. From our point of view, a good thing.

      8. will_f

        A foreign government employed copy editors to sow dissent in American politics by way of Twitter, Facebook, online advertising and a network of blogs.

        There is no proof that this troll farm was acting on behalf of any government.

        In one example, for a mere $1000 or so, Russians were able to get American citizens to build a fake jail cell on a trailer complete with actors to play Hillary, Bill and Trump.

        Right, no republican ever made an offensive parade float before the Russians came along.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Actually, it points to a further danger: while legacy media is firing it’s copy editors, Putin weaponized his and used them to Attack America!!!

          Please, someone alert Rachel Maddow to this shock horror!

    2. Jim Haygood

      NYT headline today:

      Russian Bots Moved Quickly to Exploit the Florida Shooting
      By SHEERA FRENKEL and DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI

      What ever happened to good old made-in-USA trolls? *sniff*

      Facebook, Google and Twitter are a global sandbox … get used to it.

      1. blennylips

        >What ever happened to good old made-in-USA trolls? *sniff*

        Did you miss yesterday’s links? About the google patent? Essentially a troll-bot to fake FB posts, ie, a BernaysBot, as american as you cant get!

        Google files patent for robot that writes your Facebook posts, emails and tweets

        It’s a bit like stuxnet, or the tool chest the Equation Group lost control of: We invent it and then lose control of it.

        Besides, we do so much election meddling that it had to be automated!

      2. Montanamaven

        I fear Lambert is right and that the DNC will hyjack the Florida High School students anti-gun movement and make it serve their purposes. Not Russians bots to fear.

      3. marym

        Actually saw someone (somebot? sometroll?) get called out on today for doing the Russia! thing and not the US people who actually believe whatever the issue was. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen that. Maybe the last too, but still …for a moment there…

      4. Elizabeth Burton

        Yes, those nasty Russians were stirring up conflict by using hashtags calling for gun control. Bad Russians! Bad!

      5. integer

        All Russian bot claims appear to originate from the same group of warmongers and their highly flawed Hamilton 68 Dashboard project:

        Truthdig

        [The Alliance for Securing Democracy’s] researchers and advisors have become go-to pundits for mainstream reporters seeking expert opinions on Russian online meddling. They have been endorsed by John Podesta, the founder of the Center for American Progress and chief of staff for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Julia Ioffe, the Atlantic’s Russia correspondent, has also weighed in to promote the ASD’s efforts. Both highlighted the ASD’s Hamilton 68 Dashboard as a scientific barometer of Kremlin influence over the American social media landscape…

        However, an investigation by AlterNet’s Grayzone Project has yielded a series of disturbing findings at odds with the established depiction. The researchers behind the ASD’s “dashboard” are no Russia experts, but rather a collection of cranks, counterterror retreads, online harassers and paranoiacs operating with support from some of the most prominent figures operating within the American national security apparatus.

        Bill Kristol, among others, is on the so-called Alliance for Securing Democracy’s board of advisors.

      6. JCC

        Meanwhile NPR is running a “different” story every 10 to 15 minutes this morning on Russian Hackers and Russian Trolls, all opinion, and all from “experts” that I never heard of until this morning.

        No asterisks, no exclamation points to hide a word that everyone understands, it’s not b*llsh!t, it’s bullshit, and it just never ends.

    3. jsn

      Our current Powers That Be have never been happy with the legacy of “free speech.” It’s now, demonstrably, an indictable offense for non-US citizens to engage in it in the US.

      And “b” at thinks that they’ve deliberately indicted a bunch of people they don’t expect to prosecute (they’re all in Russia) in order to have the above “message” on the books for as long as it takes for someone to stage a legal test of it.

      Until then it is simple intimidation.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Here at Sic Semper Tyrannis is a post with a link to the text of the Indictment. When I clicked on the link to the Indictment, I got to see it without any paywall. So here is the link to that SST post.

    5. OldBear

      If the Russian government actually funded this sort of thing, they must be pretty simple-minded.

      For not the first time in recent days, I am reminded of a Dave Barry joke from many years ago, perhaps even before the collapse of the Soviet Union. I don’t remember what the column was about; it might have been about comic strips in general, which were his favorites and which ones he didn’t care for, etc. He mentioned the strip Nancy and said something like it “was the product of a 70-year Soviet government experimental project to produce a joke.”

      Anyway, do we even know that it was Russian “government” money financing these things? It was some oligarch who had “ties” to Putin. By the standards used so far in Russiagate reporting, that basically means that he and Putin are both Russian.

  5. RandyM

    It’s easy to be skeptical of Russigate. For over a year now the MSM have breathlessly published a steady stream of “evidence” only to have it fall apart. When “progressive skeptics” point this out they’re accused of going too far? I think we can all assume the Russian government hasn’t been sleeping through the relentless pressure put on it by the West, but hasnt it been obvious that Russiagate is a politically motivated project?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Toward the end of the book Shattered, there’s a passage describing how the Russia! Russia! Russia! narrative was planned. This happened in a room full of Shake Shack containers and it involved people from the Clinton campaign.

  6. Peter Pan

    “It’s not a surprise that neo-Nazi groups and white supremacy groups have identified Russia as one of their key allies, in part because Russia is home to so many white people, and that the Putin government has identified these movements of key allies as well.”

    This is an absolutely ridiculous statement. The Russian Federation is very much against neo-Nazi and white supremacy movements due to what it suffered from Nazi Germany during WWII. Now Russia sees this on it’s boarders in Ukraine. But Russia is branded with this because white folk live there. What about all the Muslims in Russia, many of which have come from Central Asia? What about all the Asians in Eastern Russia? The quoted statement is born of either ignorance, misinformation or disinformation.

    1. JTMcPhee

      The ‘net says there are maybe 40,000 “blacks” living in Russia. Also reports a wide variety of experiences and opinions on what it’s like to be a black (actually, of course, various shades of skin tones from dark olive to golden russety shades of brown, to near obsidian with hints of blue, but lumped together as “black,” like I am a “white” even though my skin tones range from pinky yellow [soles and palms] to a light tannish cream [most of the rest]), living and traveling in Russia. One bit of the discourse:

      I’m reminded of Dick Gregory’s observation on America, that as to whites and blacks, “Down South, they don’t care how close you (African-Americans) get, as long as you don’t get too big. Up North, they don’t care how big you get, as long as you don’t get too close.”

      Russia is a big place, with some 143 million people living within the geographic boundaries. Nativism and related notions seem present in any population anywhere, whether deeply held convictions or convenient ladder rungs to political and economic power. It’s so hard to develop any completeness and accuracy in understanding what’s really shakin’ and doin’ in the world when people revert to simplisticated personifications as actual important functional categories. “Russia” is getting the full treatment. Too bad us USians don’t use the same lenses and mirrors to examine our own linty navels…

    2. JustAnObserver

      Absolutely right.

      Russia’s dead in WW2 – 20 million (*) is the accepted estimate. I don’t think any other nation suffered as badly (+). If anyone on earth knows the evil consequences of fascism, neo-Nazism, racial purism the Russians do.

      That one single line in Feffer’s argument comes squeaky close to invalidating the whole thing.

      (*) Strictly the USSR.

      (+) Query: Maybe the brutality of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria ?

      1. rd

        It is estimated that the total deaths in the Soviet Union under Stalin range from 9 to 50 million (book-keeping was their forte), including famines but not including death by the Germans.

        Mao’s policies are believed to have resulted in 40 to 70 million deaths in China.

        War is bad. Sometimes peace can be worse.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Not really. The German sympathizers and later defectors who just wanted out couldn’t all claim to be rocket scientists. A factory worker who just wanted to drive a big car and live in McClean has to come up with a story worth paying for.

            There was a cottage industry of tall tales for Stalin’s personal use/entertainment. I don’t think the later defectors are an issue, but powerful people helped facilitate the arrival of too many people with missing records and German accents who weren’t in a rush to go to Israel to not be a political problem.

            The former Canadian foreign minister’s grandfather was a collaborator. How did he get to the West? He probably told a tall enough tale. Someone could make their career with that kind of information coup. What happens if its discovered it was a run of the mill Nazi that was helped by a now powerful person?

            The U.S. actually sent out people to look for Hitler in South America, not escaped war criminals but Adolph, himself. The U.S. is a paranoid society. Someone was giving tips, and reason would pretty much dictate the Soviets weren’t stopping until they finished the job.

            Its similar to how many people Caesar killed in Gaul, not that he didn’t kill a great deal of people, but after a while, it comes back to there not being that many people.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Here is a Rigorous Intuition post about the CIA’s importation of Nazis into post WWII America . . . . more about the reasons for it than a lot of details about the whole scope of all the operations . . . all the ratlines, all the paperclips, all the etc.

              And here is another, this one about Allen Dulles’s persistent sympathy for German Fascism with perhaps a little of the smelliest Nazism pressure-washed off of it. It talks about his negotations through various go-betweens with German interlocutors during the early WWII period.

        1. Donald

          The larger figures attributed to Stalin are bogus.

          He killed millions, but people in the modern era are as prone to using figures as metaphors as medieval historians.

      2. sgt_doom

        And what was the historical figure of Nazi soldiers killed by the Russkies: I believe it was 3 out of every 4?!

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I’m going with ignorance – the rest of Feffer’s arguments were a bunch of bafflegab too.

      He’s got nothing.

      1. Montanamaven

        A combination of ignorance and arrogance is annoying and more dangerous than Russian troll farms. I can’t believe his stupidity about Russians being Nazis. And of Putin being an Imperialist. If you read Putin’s speeches, he is very much a nationalist or patriot. The Bear is in defense mode and trying to protect its huge borders. Putin’ s Speech to the UN in 2015 was about “sovereign democracy” i.e. self -determination of a nation. He said they learned from the USSR that you can’t and shouldn’t spread ideology. Feffer could have a permanent gig on Morning Joe for all the “bafflegab” he spouts.

    4. JerryDenim

      It’s not a particularly well-supported or well-worded statement but it’s not ridiculous nor is it without merit. Muslims are a minority group in Russia and not a very popular one. Some particularly barbarous acts of terrorism by various aggrieved groups has done nothing to improve their standing in Russian society. Vladimir Putin’s government has actively cultivated various domestic ethno-nationalist astro-turf movements with fascist predilections for some time. It is believed that Putin sees these groups as a bulwark against liberal, western ideology that can be weaponized as CIA sponsored color revolutions or MeToo# type identity politic movements. Knowing what I know about the United States and post-Cold War US political meddling, I can’t say I blame Putin for wanting a bulwark.

      I remember years ago watching a documentary about a state-funded ultra-nationalist Putin youth group called “Nashi”. They staged pro-Putin rallies, hosted summer camps and would organize free skin-head metal concerts with complimentary vodka and private tents for appropriately “Russian” ( not muslim and definitely not brown) couples to patriotically procreate in the service of the fatherland. You can call these state-sponsored groups of young Russian ethno-nationalists whatever you want, but neo-nazi doesn’t seem too unfair if you’re familiar with the ideological history and psychological undercurrents of National Socialism.

      I don’t believe Russia hacked any DNC servers, hijacked our elections or flipped any votes, but I don’t doubt for a minute that Russia is actively sowing discord and disinformation among the American body politic. I believe the ultimate goal is the political disintegration, or at least paralysis of the United States as payback for the disintegration of the USSR and Warsaw Pact. I’ve heard Putin make sly statements over the years where if you read between the lines this goal is discernible through his thinly veiled remarks and his smoldering anger at the US for it’s continued aggression against Russian influence and territory post-1989. Years before the 2016 election I remember reading reporting of how the modern Texas secessionist movement was nothing more than Moscow funded astro-turf. I have no doubts the “Cal-Exit” campaign that sprung up right after the election (and ironically supported by the exact same people most worried about Russian influence) was chiefly organized and funded by professional Russian propagandists as well.

      I don’t believe the hysterical, McCarthyist media narrative concerning the election and Russia, but I am also skeptical of absolutist, overarching narratives to the contrary. Putin is no dummy, he’s not a pacifist, and he definitely views the US as a threat/adversary. None of that means Russian needs to be treated as an enemy or that diplomacy could not result in a mutually beneficial accommodation for both countries. The world is complicated and becoming emotionally invested in overly simplistic narratives, even contrarian ones, is unwise.

    5. ChrisPacific

      I just about choked when I read this bit:

      …my major concern is its support for far right-wing nationalist—and frankly, racist—movements around the world, including here in the United States.

      What does he think Ms. Nuland and her friends were up to in Ukraine?

      Other than a few bits like that, Feffer does seem to be at least somewhat grounded in reality (contrast his comments with the quote from Dan Coats). He thinks Russiagate had little to do with Trump, for example, and was just targeted at spreading confusion in general. That alone would get him branded as a heretic by the true believers.

    6. Mo's Bike Shop

      I quit reading shortly after that. TV/Video is just awful at policy discussions. The stupid factoid barrages. I feel dumber just for reading this conversation, I suppose that’s the point.

    7. Basil Pesto

      It’s quite mad. Arguably the most insidious and disconcerting far-right sympathies are coming out of Ukraine at the moment, but that seems to have escaped his notice

  7. zagonostra

    Take a look at the online cover of the NYT and tell me this whole Russiagate canard hasn’t gone off the rail?

    1. flora

      Great examples of how to fill up newspaper columns without doing any real reporting and without rocking any important boats.

      Also, from 2013:
      For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.

      Thanks, Obama.

      1. Zagonostra

        Thanks for link Flora, I posted at Zagonostra.

        I just started a website to organize all these scattered articles I read on the various sites I visit…I need to find where I put the link to an article that outlines the planting of CIA paid journalist in major newspapers…

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Just do what I do and tell people to research Project Mockingbird. :-) And welcome to the growing club of alternative news site aggregators.

        2. flora

          Former CIA director John Brennan has become the latest member of the NBC News and MSNBC family, officially signing with the network as a contributor,” chirps a recent article by The Wrap, …

          I can only wonder kind of journalism chops Brennan has.

    2. WJ

      The Media blame Russia to distract us from their own lies and irrelevancy.

      The DNC blame Russia to distract us from their own electoral fraud.

      The Serious People need Russia to distract us from our violent failing empire.

      All three groups also hope to make some money off the deal.

  8. Ur-Blintz

    “There’s always one…” – Spike Lee

    Given the “resistance” and other self-described “progressive” voices who have lost their minds over the election of Donald Trump, one should not be surprised by Feffer’s credulity. He may do a better job at hiding it, with his oh-so-civil language, but the desperation coming from partisan believers, who rightly see Trump as dangerous but refuse to go after him for real reasons (first-strike policy in retaliation for cyber attacks, for instance – has a single Democrat gone on record saying how utterly wrong that is? Oh wait, didn’t Hillary herself campaign on refusing to rule out the first strike option?) is palpable.

    And who can blame them for being desperate?

    But I find the notion that Russian “meddling” successfully increased the amount of discord among USians to be.ridiculous. We don’t need any help from Russia to be dissatisfied with our polity and the false choices it constantly gives us.

    Mate was far too kind. Some people and some ideas don’t deserve the benefit of rational debate.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The “#TheResistance” don’t care about Trump’s genuine dangers. They care about how he prevented their Jonestown Priestess Clinton from getting coronated Empress as they were all expecting.

      There are millions and millions of Jonestown Clintonites. They are a deadly threat and a menace to political improvement in this country. You can get a sample of what they smell like by reading Riverdaughter’s blog “The Confluence” and its threads. Put your nose close to the screen and you can smell the Jonestown Punch.

  9. Byron the Light Bulb

    Not since German security services sent VI Lenin back on a sealed train to Petrograd, has one nation fractured the politics of another with cynical support for the deranged.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Nice. If the Russian Empire wasn’t on the verge of falling apart, it wouldn’t have taken the one Lenin domino to topple it all. If the US is on the verge of falling apart … people will be blamed, but not the American people, the people who are actually responsible for this sociopathy.

  10. Stormcrow

    Do the Skeptics Go Too Far?

    Caitlin Johnstone made a three-part Debunking Russiagate series back in June 2017. Here are all three. I think they hold up pretty well. (They were noted at NC.)



    Here’s her latest.

    America’s Election Meddling Would Indeed Justify Other Countries Retaliating In Kind
    February 20, 2018

    The late Robert Parry was also consistently trenchant.
    Here is a link to some of his articles. (Many also noted at NC.)

    Johnstone and Parry are only two of many incisive skeptics. I am diasppointed in Feffer.

    1. hemeantwell

      Ian Welsh offered a suggestion

      …….From the outside, Americans screaming about this look like a bully screaming, “How dare you do to me what I do to everyone else. I’m going to bury you!”

      This does not induce sympathy.

      Still, we can make a strong case that countries shouldn’t interfere in other countries’ internal political affairs, including–especially including–elections.

      I think that the Russians might be willing to agree to that.

      So the sane method of dealing with this issue, to which which virtually everyone will agree, would be to begin negotiations towards that end.

      Americans and Russians get together and have frank talks, which amount to a peace treaty: We won’t do it to you, if you don’t do it to us.

      They might even extend that to not doing it to other countries.

      This is the actual road out, though it seems laughable because it’s really impossible to imagine. Both the US and Russia have been interfering in many countries for a long time, though America is the champion of the last 30 years or so, and by a wide margin.

      1. Bittercup

        Russia has been arguing for just that — a cyberwar peace treaty — for almost a decade now. Here’s a , which is really quite interesting in a hindsight-y way.

        “We really believe it’s defense, defense, defense,” said the State Department official, who asked not to be identified because authorization had not been given to speak on the record. “They [the Russians] want to constrain offense. We needed to be able to criminalize these horrible 50,000 attacks we were getting a day.”

  11. Carolinian

    Feffer’s argument boiled down

    I find the narrative that’s been put forward to be honestly more convincing than the counter narrative

    We’re supposed to be convinced because he’s convinced. It’s a gut feeling. Appeals to actual evidence bounce right off. Guess I don’t get out much but had to look up who John Feffer even is.

    The latest M of A–linked here the other day–is a great takedown of Mueller’s troll farm allegation. Some of us prefer a little evidence prior to being “convinced.”

    1. integer

      As noted on his Wikipedia page, and his own website, Feffer is/was a fellow at Open Societies Foundations. The incontinent George Soros hates Russia:

      The Duran

      Russia is Soros’ white whale…a creature he has been trying to capture and kill-off for nearly a decade.

      Unfortunately for Soros (and fortunately for the entire planet) the Russian government realised the cancerous nature of Soros backed NGOs, and took the proper preventative measures…which in hindsight, and after reviewing the DC Leaks memos, proved to be a very wise move.

      1. integer

        From commenter at TRNN:

        Crowdstrike is the only source of evidence of Russian hacking of DNC. And Crowdstrike had to walk it back when they used the exact same evidence to claim that Russia had hacked Ukraine’s artillery. That is likely why DNC refused to let FBI run forensics on their servers.

        Feffer claims to oppose Cold War II, but is actively promoting it. Russiagate is being used to silence progressives. Note that both Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein are named in Mueller’s indictment as beneficiaries of the alleged “Russian meddling” in our election. BTW: Feffer is a Fellow at Open Society, a NGO financed by George Soros who also funds the Atlantic Council, whose board includes the owner of Crowdstrike. So Feffer and Crowdstrike are both funded by the same oligarch.

  12. shinola

    Lions and tigers and Russian bears, oh my!

    So, it appears that some Russians may have used social media to try and sway the US elections in a direction more favorable to their own interests.

    If that gets your panties in a wad, then hang onto your hat because I’ve some shocking news for you: Ice is cold & fire is hot!

      1. Bill Smith

        The Soviets and now the Russians have been messing about with the US for 70 years. Nothing new about it. Read “The Sword and the Shield” which is sourced from the KGB archives when they were briefly opened to the west after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

        Things are just easier now than then. “The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the the Third World” is also sourced from the KGB archives has details about what they did then.

        The US messed with the Soviet Union and Russia when they could. See the stories about Yeltsin’s reelection. Or the Ukraine in 2014.

        1. pretzelattack

          this was reportedly a commercial venture. still awaiting evidence that the election was in any way affected by some online scam that may have originated in russia. the us has interfered, as you point out, much more effectively in russia. other countries do it to us, but there is no evidence that russia effected clinton’s loss to trump, or colluded in effecting it.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            A commercial venture, as opposed to David Brock’s pro-Clinton paid trolls which was definitely not a commercial venture and designed solely to influence the election. Also illegal by the way but he’s a Murican so who cares?

  13. Loblolly

    This is the mental equivalent of the sunk cost fallacy. At this point the media, the Dems and legions of David Brock led trolls have invested so much time and energy into “Muh Russia” that they can’t write off their investment.

    Keep going. You’re doing fine. It’s down there somewhere. You can endure another season of Persist, the payoff is right around the corner. There is nothing more important right now than ignoring inconvenient facts.

    I might suggest that things would go faster if you give up just a little more of your critical thinking skills. To be honest they just get in the way at times like these when the narrative gets tenuous.

  14. Roquentin

    No one outside of the Dem party faithful really cares about the Russiagate nonsense. The rest of the world has watched the US meddle in and outright rig elections in more countries than I have the time to list for decades, a list with very ironically includes Russia in 1996. If a troll factory is the best they have, it’s a straight up joke. They better have more to go along with it, because as it stands now buying a few ads and paying people to post online, standard PR practice, is incredibly weak. At this stage in the game, it feels kind of pathetic, an attempt by a party elite still unable to admit they lost, grasping at straws and still in this late hour desperately trying to make it seem like Hillary was the rightful winner.

    It also, not coincidentally, works to taint the criticism of anyone, right or left, who disagrees. Not only that, it further casts doubt on all news sources which aren’t the Democrat party approved corporate sources, another bonus. One could make a good case this was the goal all along: absolve themselves for bungling the 2016 election and discredit any information sources they don’t control lock, stock, and barrel.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘The rest of the world has watched the US meddle in and outright rig elections in more countries than I have the time to list.’

      Not only has the US been hollering “regime change” since the infamous neocon Project for a New American Century began in 1997, it actually invaded and plundered several countries — Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan — for the express purpose of replacing their governments with US-backed ones.

      Check out ex-CIA douchebag James Woolsey making weird barnyard noises when MSM anchorette Laura Ingraham asks him whether “we” still meddle in other countries’ elections, before admitting on the record that it’s “only for a very good cause” [yuk, yuk]

      With waving arms and hair on fire, Rep. Jerrold Nadler claimed on MSNBC that the Russian troll farm is “the equivalent of Pearl Harbor.” If special snowflake America’s democracy is so fragile that a bunch of amateurish Boris & Natasha trolls can bring it down, then let it bleed [and share the Stoli, comrades].

      1. shinola

        ” If special snowflake America’s democracy is so fragile that a bunch of amateurish Boris & Natasha trolls can bring it down, then let it bleed [and share the Stoli, comrades].”

        I like that framing. I am so gonna steal it.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      Your second paragraph is I think all that matters at this point. The Russian trolls (who are probably still active online, albeit with less vigor) are pikers compared to the native manipulators who swarm the ‘liberal’ ring of our 2-ring media circus. The latter are devoted to squelching dissent, and unconcerned about sounding like idiots while they do it. Of course the only people they are aiming to shame are waverers on their ‘own side’. Republican flyover types are unpeople in their eyes; their target audience is pretty select — mainly those who don’t want to be out of place among the youthful hipster elite. I.e. former Sanderistas who might pay attention to establishment Democrat perfidy…… if the noise machine stops howling for a second.

      I’d love to know where these frantic fellows were when the New York Times comments sections were overtaken by Correct the Record trolls 2 years ago. That Brockian anti-Sanders effort was more effective and Orwellian than anything they’ve since tagged as Russia-generated. So much of the furor now seems to be coming from men who fear they may be getting bested at their own game!

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      “Tainting the criticism” of anyone who disagrees is the primary mid-range goal of the Russiagate Information Operation. The long range goal is to pass Patriot Act type laws to suppress and control all expression on all media; digital, analog or other.

    4. Eureka Springs

      ‘The rest of the world has watched the US meddle in and outright rig elections in more countries than I have the time to list.’

      I cannot begin to count the blank stares I see when stating this. So many people have no idea, nor are they inclined to believe it.

      1. Expat

        Do they at least know about the assassinations we committed and revolutions we fomented? Maybe the blank stares come from those who can’t believe the US is subtle enough to merely meddle.

  15. pretzelattack

    feffer keeps saying “who hacked the dnc” but there is no evidence anybody did. it’s like the repeated assertions made about saddam’s “wmd’s” in the runup to iraq 2.

    1. False Solace

      Timestamps on the DNC data show the files were copied locally, not over a network. That means they were leaked. Not hacked. Leaked by someone with physical access to the data. This came out . Maybe Mate isn’t “convinced” but I haven’t seen anything, ever, that convincingly refutes the analysis.

      So if someone wants me to believe in Russiagate they need to show me some damn evidence. I’m not going to believe something simply because every flexian apparatchik in the press parrots it 24/7 (90% of whom were in the tank for Hillary and personally devastated when she lost and more than happy to blame evil foreigners for how they called the election wrong). What we’re seeing is a serious mental breakdown on the part of Democrats. What happened to these people? Back when GWB was in office they were supposedly the party of reality, the rational people who didn’t make things up to justify a convenient war. It appears that only lasted as long as elections went in their favor. Now we see them for the dishonest hysterical fantasists they really are. Just like Republicans.

      So where does that leave us? At the dawn of a Second Cold War with a psychopathic party on either side. Well, that’s just awesome.

      1. Bill Smith

        How do we know that the time stamps where created on the DNC’s computer and not some other computer later on? It’s easy to change the date backwards and make those time stamps be anything.

        1. blennylips

          I had occasion to view a Podesta email recently:

          Big banner across the top:

          This email has also been verified by Google DKIM 2048-bit RSA key

          Like a blockchain transaction, this DKIM algo was designed to prove cryptographically that you are viewing what existed when the user clicked send.

          Click on the DKIM link in that banner for a full explanation.


          Domain Keys Identified Mail, or DKIM, is a highly regarded email security system that can be used to independently authenticate the contents and sender of an email that uses it.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Some folks just can’t keep themselves from pushing the Narrative. I wonder how many of those people have been involved in “interfering with elections,” as part of the Great American Enterprise…

        Just for a little fun, here’s a list of actual “interference” done by the good old US of C.I.A, attempts and actual overthrows of various governments, including democratically elected ones:

  16. DJG

    Yves Smith: You yourself have written that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What we are getting is flimsy hearsay and calls for war. It is all Remember the Maine (and don’t remember that the Democrats, in particular, brought this on themselves).

    Feffer’s typical in not being able to keep control of the simplest of facts:
    “It’s not a surprise that neo-Nazi groups and white supremacy groups have identified Russia as one of their key allies, in part because Russia is home to so many white people, and that the Putin government has identified these movements of key allies as well.”

    So now Russia is the international source of white people? What can this possibly mean? And don’t tell the Volga Tatars or the Mari or the Yakuts or any of the many peoples who aren’t “white” by U.S. standards. (Many of the Mari are among the last pagan Europeans.) The comment is worthy of Sarah Palin, well-known foreign-policy expert and Chunky Monkey shoes fancier.

    I am reminded of the Watergate crisis. By all means, let’s have indictments for real crimes (besides lying to the FBI) of people who are living within American jurisdictions or can be extradited. Then have a trial(s) with a judge of the quality of John Sirica.

    But that isn’t what the powerful want, particularly because establishment figures soon will be dragged in. They want confrontation, more looting, and more war. And if we are all suddenly worried about Putin being morally stinky, what should we do with Erdogan, Netanyahu, Viktor Orban of Hungary, Brazilian President Temer, and Aung San Suu Kyi, all of whom are considered “friends” of the U S of A?

    And as to sowing discord: Someone should have noticed that 50 years ago with Nixon and the Southern Strategy.

  17. Paul Cardan

    Seems to me that Maté did just fine. I’m not sure of what else you can do with someone like Feffer. When presented with good reasons for doubting his purported evidence, Feffer pretty much concedes the point every time. But then he insists that he finds the evidence convincing. In other words, he insists that he’s going to go on treating it as good evidence, drawing the relevant conclusions, and asserting as much. That means he’s a gullible person, and rather dogmatic to boot. Arguing with such people won’t get you very far.

    I did find Feffer’s repeated demand for a counter-narrative interesting. This seems to be a way of simultaneously lowering the bar for knowledge and raising the bar for doubt. He’s trying to say that doubt is only reasonable if the skeptic can produce a better theory than the believer. Absent such a theory, doubt isn’t reasonable and everyone should believe. In other words, having conceded that the evidence isn’t very good by ordinary epistemic standards, he’s decided to switch to extra-ordinary standards. Roughly, I think the ordinary standard for doubt goes something like this: I can correctly say I doubt something when I can explain why the supposed evidence doesn’t provide sufficient support for the claim in question. I’m not required, as a skeptic, to produce a superior argument for a different, incompatible claim about the same issue.

    And now, having written that, it looks to me like Feffer is just engaging in a bit of argumentum ad ignorantium, a fallacy so old they named it in Latin.

    1. Mattski

      The counter-narrative, IMO, is this: The avaricious and foolhardy Trump wanted to build more onanistic monuments to himself in Moscow, to slurp oysters there and cavort with Russian women. He threatened to upset decades of planning by both Dems and Republicans alike to encircle Russia, expand NATO, and SELL BILLIONS AND BILLIONS WORTH OF ARMS, often to dictators, with kickbacks on the side (legal and illegal) to ours truly. The powers that be in the CIA and FBI decided that intervention was needed, even if the cost was democracy itself. Trump has enough irons in the fire with Russia, enough outstanding loans and dirty dealings, that such a clear-eyed narrative may never get its head above water, but that is as close as we may come to nutshelling it.

    2. witters

      “That means he’s a gullible person, and rather dogmatic to boot. Arguing with such people won’t get you very far.”

      Which also means, surely, that his demand that others who refuse to endorse his gullible dogmatism must meet “extra-ordinary epistemic demands” is – at best – mere sounding off. For who could be a worse pick for assessing both the required standards and their being met?

      I think the kindest thing to say here, epistemically, is that the man is in a terrible mess. It is a sad thing to see. But then there are a lot of sad things to see in the “progressive reality-based community” today.

      1. Paul Cardan

        Makes me wonder what’s to be done about it. When I hit upon the idea that he’s just arguing from ignorance, I started thinking about informal logic courses, the ones called Critical Thinking hereabouts. Perhaps more of those would help.

        By the way, I was talking with a colleague who does Ancient yesterday, specifically the philosophy of Socrates, and I mentioned the question you raised about the Noble Lie. He told me that it’s quite similar to a myth recounted by Hesiod. That was news to me. He also said that Greek colonists, prior to departure, would settle on a constitution for the new city together with a founding myth. As for the bit about the whole of one’s childhood having been a dream, he guessed that this was a story that was intended to be told repeatedly, to successive generations. Now, the first generation was unlikely to believe, granted. But later generations would believe it of the first, the founding generation. He noted that this would be quite similar to what a number of native American peoples believed about the first of their kind. Oh, and one more thing occurred to me: earth mother goddess myths were common to the region back then, dating back at least to the Minoan civilization. Altogether, to me this makes the Myth of Metals seem a good deal more plausible relative to the people for whom it was intended.

        This also makes me think that education in the humanities could be part of the solution to widespread credulity and dogmatism. Studying Plato can, for instance, inoculate against myth, something which is still with us. Knowing myth when you see it, it’s possible to appreciate it without being taken in. There’s much to be gained, too, from thinking like Thucydides from time to time. It’s good to recall that both Sparta and Athens claimed to be fighting for freedom. And every time I hear about how we’re going to use better, more powerful tools to finally vanquish the things we find most threatening, whether those things are “enemy” states or tactics (terrorism) or catastrophic ecological processes that we have ourselves set in motion, I can’t help but recall Lucretius’ account of what happened when bulls and boars and lions were trained up for war and loosed upon the enemy. “Don’t believe what I’ve just told you about all this,” he says, “for no one would be so foolish as to think they could ever really control such beasts.” I don’t often use the word, but there’s wisdom here, or so it seems to me. We’d profit from knowing it. But, by and large, we don’t.

        1. shinola

          “When I hit upon the idea that he’s just arguing from ignorance…”

          Perhaps that should be: “..arguing FOR ignorance…”

        2. witters

          Thank you and your classicist friend for the Noble lie information. Very interesting and plausible. Of course Plato uses the new colony idea explicitly in The Laws – it frames the entire inquiry – but there there is no appeal to the the Noble Lie myth, nor anything equivalent, if I recall. I wonder why not? (Perhaps you could ask your colleague for me?)

  18. JohnnyGL

    If I take my young kids and have an easter egg hunt with those plastic eggs and tell them that there’s candy inside, and they keep finding them, opening them and there’s just candy wrappers with no candy, then my kids are going to quickly grow tired of looking for the eggs since they’re not delivering the promised candy.

    This is what Russiagate feels like. We keep finding eggs, getting excited, then, no candy. But we’re told to keep at it….eventually SOME of those eggs will have some candy. Other people who are really good at finding eggs have said they found some eggs with candy in them, even though we know they’re habitual liars.

    Feffer and the others who believe in this story are going to need some SERIOUS F-ING CANDY at this point to justify this unshakable belief they have that THERE IS CANDY SOMEWHERE IN THESE STUPID, PLASTIC EASTER EGGS!?!?!?!

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I won’t get my hopes up, some people like that kind of thing. The internet can always bring them together. /oi

  19. John Merryman

    It reminds me of that iceberg that broke off Antarctica last year. The enormity and extent of the hypocrisy and global delusion it represents.
    If anyone wants to understand the level of breakdown, consider the amount of debt being issued today. That is the real source of cognitive dissonance.

    1. Susan the other

      I certainly agree. When politics gets this chaotic and confusing there is some far more important hidden agenda being guarded by a “bodyguard of lies.” The turn of this century will go down in history as the beginning of the energy wars. When the stakes are this high everybody pretends to be innocent. My knowledge is scant – I assume Russia’s lifeblood is natural gas and LNG and they want to sell it to Europe. We claim Europe as our URally and do not want this to happen. Unless we can strong arm our way into some of the action. To that end we have been pushing US natural gas/LNG exports regardless of the expense and short returns of fracking. The dead silence on global warming and the energy crisis should be the first give-away.

      1. Clive

        A hugely important point which is seldom ever if ever covered in the media here (umm… scratching his head, I wonder if it could be for any particular reason) — Europe is highly dependent on natural gas from Russia. We’re forecast to have a p and suddenly everyone starts getting a little twitchy about energy security.

        Of course, us gas consumers here (well, our governments, anyway) resent their dependence and the self-loathing which it engenders. But that dependence in fact increases geopolitical security because neither “side” wants to do anything which upsets the energy apple cart.

        Shale gas and LNG exports from the US threatens this equilibrium. But there’s no economic (cost of production) advantage for US shale gas over pipeable Russian gas. Wouldn’t it be nice for the US shale gas industry if, oh, I don’t know, there were some shenanigans which gave a voice to anti-Russia sentiment and a clamour for, maybe eventually, economic sanctions?

        Cynical, moi?

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          And during the last cold snap in the US, several tankers full of Russian LNG made port here to make up a shortage. So, having prohibited Europe from buying Russian gas in favor of importing the US version, we ended up not having enough for our own people…and got it from Russia.

          The farce be with you.

          1. JTMcPhee

            The Great American Grain Robbery: Anyone remember back to 1972, when our US rulers gave a huge benny to US Big Grain by subsidizing (via MMT, of course) the sale of something like 80%, 10 million metric tons or so, of US grain harvests to the Russians/Soviets who were facing starvation? From the St. Louis Fed, with charts:

            That bit about forestalling starvation, that’s the good part of “trade,” or what CAN happen when people sort of share. Like Rosneft or whichever oligarchism sent LNG to the US in a recent cold snap, or “our” government (to benefit a few Big Grainers, resulting in sudden jumps in US food prices for us mopes to bear) sending wheat, oats, corn and soybeans to Russia/“the Evil Soviet Union,” in days gone by (though of course the ripoff artist in all of us humans always comes to the forefront and takes the kindness and decency right out of the mix.) The Golden Rule seems always to be brought down to that cynical formulation that says “Those who has the gold, RULES.” Rather than that version that I learned about in Sunday School and Westminster Fellowship and hundreds of smarmy sermons by preachers whose activities off the pulpit proved the bit, also in the Bibble, about “feet of clay.”

            And from the Heartland of the Homeland, here’s an editorial from the halcyon ‘70s that not only explains the profiteering by US corps at pubic expense (direct subsidies of at least $300 million in 1972 dollars, the externalities of much higher food prices to 200 million Americans), but in the Original Cold War Spirit, how Agriculture Secretary Butz and that guy Kissinger could have hardballed the Soviets by denying the grain and thus raising the pressures for a “popular revolt against the Kremlin.”

            And in case we forget that someone always manages to benefit from a crisis, including crises where the benfitting party has a hand in creating the crisis, here’s a slightly more current reminder of how fragile the “trade” system is, in the face of real world constraints of population and hunger and weather: “Hang on to your fertilizer stocks.”

            The Realpolitik of starvation continues, as explained by the NYT here:

            Cui bono, indeed… grain traders and lobbyists and revolving door operators, not us mopes…

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Free debt and fracking may leave a mark. Also always remember peak everything. How long ago did we see those cool charts about how we are in overshoot on everything? Things have moved on since then.

        I don’t see a general consensus yet that the future is less. So I expect more lookovertheregate until the next natural disaster.

  20. Rob P

    >We have the report from the intelligence community here in the United States that provides at least a trail. It’s been challenged, but I find the narrative that’s been put forward to be honestly more convincing than the counter narrative.

    I agree that the ‘Russia hacked the DNC’ theory is more likely to be true than any other individual theory, although there still isn’t any hard proof available to the public. But that’s hardly a good defense of ‘Russiagate’. Not having a better suspect isn’t really a justification for sanctioning Russia (or more, if the Russiagaters get their way).

    1. voteforno6

      I disagree that the report provides a trail. It lists a number of APTs that conducted the hacking, and states that they are tied to Russia. However, it provides zero underlying evidence that the hacking was conducted by those APTs, and that they were related to Russia in any way.

      Another possibility is that, yes, Russia did hack the DNC for intelligence-gathering purposes, but didn’t provide the emails to WikiLeaks. It’s entirely possible that more than one entity hacked into them (if anyone did at all). As flimsy as the narrative is with Russia doing the hack, it’s even thinner when it comes to transmitting the emails to Russia.

      1. pretzelattack

        thanks for this summary. just more assertions sans evidence from the people that brought you the iraq war (republicans and democrats, working together like the harlem globetrotters and the washington (hmm) generals.

    2. False Solace

      That’s like saying the most popular theory is correct, on the basis that it’s the most popular. Truth doesn’t work that way. Supply some evidence. Otherwise you’re operating on the basis of what feels true. “Truthiness”, not truth.

      Why did the FBI never examine the server?
      Why do the timestamps show the data was copied locally by someone with physical access to the machine?
      Why did the NSA decline to back the whitepaper when we know they have every single network intercept and can literally prove what happened?

      All we have is a bunch of handwaving and people who don’t know much about computers repeating things they heard from people with a track record of lying.

    3. Skip Intro

      The foreign hack theory has been disproven by the ‘Reality Winner’ leak that showed that internally, the NSA had only the Crowdstrike claims as ‘evidence’ of Russian hacking. If those files had been accessed externally, particularly from overseas, the NSA would have records of it.

  21. JohnnyGL

    I think it’s worth looking at the Russia-gate believers, on this. If they all agreed on one narrative, that’d be something, but they don’t even agree among themselves, which I’d argue is actually really problematic.

    Marcy Wheeler says collusion is there, Steele doc is garbage, and the social media stuff is just fluff. I think she says crowdstrike is garbage, too, but might have had some good bits.

    Some in corp media says Steele doc is unquestionably awesome and should be believed.

    Cenk Uygur says it’s not about the hacking of the DNC, it’s about money-laundering and not collusion to rig election.

    Feffer says crowdstrike is legit report, even though they’re Dem Party hack consultants. Feffer also says Russia wants to sow discord and the social media stuff matters. He says they’re hacking European elections, too, even though those reports have been knocked down. He also says Trump was an imperfect vehicle for Russia’s agenda.

    Luke Harding and Steele say Trump and Russia have been besties for years and planned this all along.

    I may be off on one or more of the details above, but all of these “serious” believers in Russia-gate don’t even agree with one another.

    I’m growing increasingly tired of watching Aaron Mate disembowel these people one-by-one but I’d agree it needs to be done because this story just….won’t….go….away….

    1. pretzelattack

      it’s like global warming deniers, they often take contradictory positions in coming to the preordained conclusion that it isn’t happening.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Exactly….I’ve heard…

        Climate change is real, but not caused by humans….not real…..real, but caused by solar activity….real, but planet is getting colder and risking new ice age….maybe real, but don’t have enough evidence….

        almost like it’s an organized campaign to spread DIS-information?!?!?!?

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          If anyone has a fun link to someone trying to tackle where the secret volcanoes spewing CO2 are, I’d appreciate it. Because it’s become a meme-earworm to me: “Which volcanoes?!?”

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      The people you’ve mentioned are not perfectly mainstream. At least they were not until quite recently. They are members of the (formerly) ‘left’ wing blogosphere. A group that contains many natural contrarians, who each have cultivated slightly different views of things over the years.

      Although they sure seem pretty lockstep now, on this matter, don’t they? I suspect most of them cannot not allow themselves to accept why it is that a skank like Trump was elected. The ‘left’ blogosphere was completely neutered over the past decade, and it’s leading lights now have little value to add to anyone’s thinking on current affairs.

  22. Dwight

    Feffer says that progressives don’t take Russiagate as seriously as they should. I think critical thinkers are taking it very seriously, because of potential censorship of dissenting voices that favor peace over war, and that favor productive social spending over wasteful military spending.

    Even absent such concerns, the Russiagate hysteria is obviously a partisan power struggle that sucks the air out of the room for productive political discourse to address real social, economic, and environmental problems.

    How seriously to take Russiagate is a separate question from skepticism over evidence we have yet to be shown. The bigger question that Feffer doesn’t address is “So what?” Even if the facts stated in the 3-agency report and the DOJ indictment are true, do they really justify all this hysteria?

    If the Russian state is actually interfering in our elections, then quietly take measures to stop it. Instead, over the past 15 years, the federal government has promoted hackable computers and voting systems.

    Moreover, even if the Russian state did interfere for geopolitical goals, treat it as the actions of an adversary and quietly take countermeasures. This should not be a political issue.

    The Russiagate narrative has gone far beyond authentic reaction to Russia’s actions, which many experts such as Cohen and Mearsheimer consider to be reactions to NATO actions.

    Feffer’s concern is that Putin and Trump are colluding to promote white supremacy. That’s his big picture, and would be concerning if true. However, even if true that doesn’t address the concerns I raise above.

    1. sgt_doom

      Would recommend a recently published book by investigative journalist, Michele McPhee:

      Maximum Harm: The Tsarnaev Brothers, the FBI, and the Road to the Marathon Bombing

      Highly recommended

    2. moving left

      All good points, Dwight. We need to separate the discussion/investigation of Russian influence from the ridiculous and dangerous hyperbolic reaction to it. We need to take steps to make the election process fair and transparent and un-hackable as far as possible (paper ballots, hand-counted) as much or more for domestic reasons. I care far more about voter suppression (legal and illegal) and about domestic players monkeying around with electronic voting systems than I care about a tiny amount of crude ads and trolling on social media.

  23. Code Name D

    Democrats have just strangled the “Blue wave” in the cradle.

    Political tides are turning, and the Democratic Establishment is starting to feel the pressure from Progressive primary challengers. And evidence is mounting that Progressives win elections, even in “red districts” while corporate Democrats still manage to lose even in blue ones. And on the horizon, is a Sanders run in 2020.

    So, the 13 incitements, in addition to keeps the Russian narrative alive for another few weeks, is providing political cover for the establishment to clean house as it were, and clear out the Progressive infestation threatening to cripple the money train the establishment has become accustomed too.

    The “Do Russia-gate skeptics go too far” is a part of that narrative. Interesting to note that “Russia-gate skeptics” don’t actually get much air-time to challenge the narrative. So, the notion that they have gone “too far” is a bit laudable. No, the point here is to justify further squelching independent media and to silence the few individuals out there who still dare to speak out over watercoolers.

    Already, more assertive smears have been made against Jill Stine and Birney Sanders as receiving “Russian aid” in their campaigns. The end game is to knock them out of the running in 2020, justifying even more extreme steps.

    Democratic Establishment being challenged in primaries will start to invoke a kind of “don’t change horses” privileges for their primaries in response to this new “9-11”. They might even go so far as to accuse the primary challengers as receiving “aid from Russia.” This will cripple their primary efforts. And failing that, justifies simply locking them out of the primary all together in the name of “election integrity.”

    Their thinking is that if they lock out the progressives, then the establishment can rise the wave for another cycle. But in so doing, they squelch the issues progressives are trying to represent, and makes Russia-gate more prominent in the 2018 strategy.

    It plays right into the hands of the Republicans. Giving them the intellectual high ground when it comes to rallying around the president. While at the same time de-mobilizing the progressive vote, ending the blue wave before it gets started.

    The Dem-establishment are finished, they just don’t know it yet. It’s just a mater of time before they fade away completely. What remains undecided is whether a progressive moment will take their place, either by taking over the Democratic Party or forming a new third party to take its place. Or weather America becomes a single party state under Republican Rule.

    The 13 indictments is a step closer to the later.

    1. pretzelattack

      yes, i think it’s a twofer, clean house in the democratic party to preserve their control and maintain their grift, and support the neocons who haven’t had enough wars lately.

    2. MichaelSF

      So, the 13 incitements, . . .

      I think that is an apt term to use instead of indictments, as it seems to cut to the heart of why this is happening.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      The answer is to defeat every single mainstream Democrat in every single race, every single time. Loss by loss, the Mainstream Democrats can be exterminated from political existence.

  24. Tobin Paz

    Clinton paid for the dossier…

    The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

    … which included Russian sources …

    How good were these sources? Consider what Steele would write in the memos he filed with Simpson: Source A—to use the careful nomenclature of his dossier—was “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure.” Source B was “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.” And both of these insiders, after “speaking to a trusted compatriot,” would claim that the Kremlin had spent years getting its hooks into Donald Trump.

    … lied about it …

    The Washington-based Campaign Legal Center (CLC) said in a Wednesday complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that Hillary for America and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) broke campaign finance law by trying to hide payments related to the dossier, which included graphic, unproven claims about the current president’s sexual habits.

    … and the FBI used it:

    The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump’s campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

    And what is the origin of all this Russia BS?

    Thanks to the Podesta Emails available on Wikileaks, we can have a clear view of what research and polling was done to try to come up with a good strategy for the Clinton campaign.

    Secretary Clinton’s top vulnerability tested in this poll is the attack that claims as Secretary of State she signed off on a deal that gave the Russian government control over 20% of America’s uranium production, after investors in the deal donated over $140 million to the Clinton Foundation. Half of all likely voters (53%) are less likely to support Clinton after hearing that statement and 17% are much less likely to support her after that statement.

    And guess who was the FBI director at that time:

    Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

    The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.

    1. clif

      that is a convincing compilation. one would think if the investigation had integrity they would all be pressing questions.

  25. voteforno6

    I found the intelligence agency report on the DNC hacking to be rather flimsy. I think the tell for me was that roughly half of it consisted of some very generic, boilerplate cybersecurity tips – the kind that you’ll find in your agency’s annual security refresher training. The only thing that would’ve made it more obvious, I think, is if they had changed around the font size and margins, in order to drive up the page count. What does that say about their confidence in the rest of the report, that they felt the need to add fluff to it?

    1. todde

      You have no chain of evidence to convict anyone in a court of law for the hack. The FBI was called in months later, and the already deemed guilty party just so happened to collude with her election opponent.

  26. Ranger Rick

    I often get called a supporter of “fake news” for ignoring any and all reports on Russian election interference and Russian bots as profoundly not interesting or important. No evidence has ever surfaced that votes were changed, fabricated or deleted. The electoral process itself was untouched. The candidates were not bribed (for a given value of ‘bribed’ — i.e. ‘quid pro quo’). Thus, there was no interference.

    I was especially ridiculed for claiming that the recent four-alarm fire at about Russian Twitter posts following the Parkland school shooting was crisis exploitation at its most disgusting. I do not dispute that posts by Russian government employees exist. I just fail to see them as a threat or even a meaningful fact to report about.

    1. cocomaan

      You CLEARLY don’t spend your whole life on . If you DID you’d UNDERSTAND.

      What are you, some kind of shut in?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      “No evidence has ever surfaced that votes were changed, fabricated or deleted. The electoral process itself was untouched.”

      Imagine the screaming from 3000 county clerks if Diebold, et al. had failed to deliver what they’re paid for?

  27. pretzelattack


    I’m sure the second article has been linked here, but bears repeating.
    h/t to Sonja commenting on it for the counterpunch link.

  28. Tomonthebeach

    Why would Putin prefer Trump to Clinton? SABOTAGE.

    The term sabotage derives from the practice of throwing “sabots” (clogs) into machines to break them. It’s Luddites 101. Tossing Trump into the machinery of Democracy has clearly achieved precisely the same thing. Since Trump, many headlines continue to assert that democracy in the USA is broken.

    To Putin, the beauty of it is that he did it so easily and for so little money.

    1. pretzelattack

      clinton sabotaging the primaries broke our democracy, and so did the supreme ct in citizens united. are the justices and clinton controlled by putin, too? i understand clinton has a higher price tag than the average russian troll.

    2. Massinissa

      Yeah, sorry, but if we lost our ‘democracy’, we lost it some good number of years before Trump. Perhaps when George W Bush beat Gore, if not before that. Trump is just the latest right wing sh*tlord president we have had in succession, including supposed leftists Obama and Clinton. The only reason Democrats hate Trump more than they hated Bush (whose image by the way has since been rehabilitated by the Democratic establishment!) is that he is rude and goes against social norms.

      Also, do you really think a few hundred thousand dollars worth of shitty advertisements comparing Hillary to the Devil is really enough to actually affect the election in any significant way?

      1. pretzelattack

        yeah love it when shrub is now getting brought back into the fold, assuming their disdain for him ever was real. and ronnie was often complimented by obama.

      2. Arizona Slim

        Trump is hated because he is rude and goes against social norms? Well, I’ll bet that the Democrats would have hated Lyndon Johnson too. Oh, wait …

    3. WJ

      Ah yes, that well-oiled “machinery of Democracy” in which the DNC fraudulently violated its own charter, thousands upon thousands of registered NYvoters were mysteriously erased from the rolls, and the Nevada State caucus concluded peremptorily and unparliamentary with a heavy dose of police intimidation.

    4. Michael Fiorillo

      Political economist Thomas Furguson has called the Mercer family’s late-in-the-campaign contributions to Trump “the greatest out of the money call option ever.”

      Perhaps Vlad’s (pretty minimal, if it occurred at all) effort to stir the pot is similar…

    5. Pearl

      @Tomonthebeach: I agree with you.

      First of all, I understand that the U.S. has done (our) share of wrong.

      But we’re not even close to being a society that is ruled by a Putin and his friends, or a society ruled by a Xi and his friends. The US might just be the cleanest dirty shirt on the dirty laundry pile, but, speaking as a housewife who has done a lot of laundry, there are dirty shirts, and then there are dirty shirts for which one does not even have enough chemicals to get them clean. To me, the cleanest shirt on the dirty laundry pile of China and Russia is obviously the US, and the US is salvageable. The US is a slow learner, but for many years, most of us were at least trying—or gradually being able to try to be better. We certainly had far more soft power in the world prior to November of 2016 than we have today.

      But I see our current position as being more tenuous than ever. We don’t want to become more like Russia. And the Trump/Putin connection—whatever that turns out to be—portends to drag us closer toward authoritarianism and kleptocracy, and most certainly not further away from authoritarianism and kleptocracy.

      I think Mueller has stumbled upon Trump and his family and friends being involved with Russian money laundering. The Russian election tampering can be blamed on Americans, because we were naive enough to let ourselves get duped; I hope we can accept and fix that. But I think Russiagate is going to end up being more about how the US accidentally left nothing but bad guys and dolts to quickly and irrevocably run our country into the embrace of an authoritarian leader of Russia and his greedy fistfuls of kleptocratic oligarchs.

      So, what frightens me is the confluence that Trump is. (We have exhausted adjectives to describe who/what he is.) But having someone so bad, in every regard, in the position he is in right now is just dangerous. For everyone.

      Look at every person in Trump’s Cabinet. Think of how quickly those department heads can undo so much of what IS good about the U.S.

      I live in Georgia (U.S.) and of all the things that Trump has not managed to get around to doing, someone made sure that Georgia’s US Attorney along with his whole staff of AUSAs was recently and quietly replaced by a Trump appointed staff. Their names are all on the DOJ press release; I do not yet know who these folks are, but I intend to find out.

      Maybe they’re all integrity-laden, remarkable folks. Or maybe they are the type of folks who will look the other way while Georgia ramps up its slave labor force via incarceration. Maybe Trump will bring jobs back to America—by turning the incarcerated into practically free labor. I don’t know. But to the extent that we know Trump, Trump would be the sort who would not only have the nerve to do it, but he would also have the nerve to victoriously look to his base and proclaim a twofer—that he brought jobs back to America AND that he was tough on crime!

      Sonny Perdue, our new Sec’y of Agriculture and former scandal-ridden Georgia Governor, met with Vladimir Putin in the Savannah River area back in 2004. Sonny Perdue’s cousin, David Perdue, is now the Junior US Senator from Georgia.There’s a story there. I don’t know what it is yet, but I hope a journalist looks into it and finds out.

      Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin. Think OneWest. Think IndyMac. Think Countrywide. Think Deutsche Bank. Think Russian Money Laundering.

      And the list goes on.

      I think we need to look at each Trump Cabinet Member appointment and ask “who better for the Russian oligarchy than…..” And then “Russiagate” takes on a whole new meaning.

      1. time2wakeupnow

        “The US is a slow learner, but for many years, most of us were at least trying—or gradually being able to try to be better. We certainly had far more soft power in the world prior to November of 2016 than we have today. ”

        SOFT POWER….REALLY! Invading Iraq (twice) resulting in the deaths more than a million Iraqi’s, invading Afghanistan – bombing it to even smaller pieces of rubble, then permanently occupying the devastated country, assisting in the overthrowing and killing of Gaddafi, while screwing Libya up so badly that it’s currently one the the worlds best places to trade & sell human beings into slavery. .

        Is that what you were referring to as examples of Americas use of “soft power prior to November 2016”?

        Like religion, some folks find the need to worship a ‘narrative’ that helps them to cope with things they really don’t know about, or understand, but desperately cling to as the only truth they can bear.

  29. Taras 77

    The extent of the hysteria is mind boggling-do people believe this? another pearl harbor, worst atk sincie 9-11?
    The head of these 13 people, yes just 13, was a former hot dog vendor in St Pete. The $1.2 mil also covered ads to internal Russian markets. Moon over alabama says it was a commercial exercise-VP of Facbook says most ot the russian sourced ads were place after the election.

    i agree with kuntzler that the us has collectively lost its mind-it really is beyond hysteria, it goes to “can you top this.” I think “worst atk since 9-11” gets us close to the top but I have never credited scarborough with any ability to think-just keep repeated the mantra. I do not know where this will wind up but clearly the neo cons have won big time and america has embarassed itself beyond what anyone could conceiveably imagine. I hold my head and try not to completely dispair.

    1. Buck Eschaton

      It’s the blatant in your face lies…and it’s the ludicrousness of the lies. I recently saw Dr.Strangelove at the theater, and what do you do when confronted with people who are crazed or possessed by something? To say things in all seriousness that would make you spit your drink out in laughter. There’s got to be something going on for this many people in “serious” media outlets to be saying the most lunatic and bizarre things in unison.

      1. pretzelattack

        i’m afraid it’s a push for another war, syria, iran, russia, you name it. it’s just about as bad as the extended propaganda campaign before we attacked iraq for nonexistent (and very obviously nonexistent, as hans blix and mohammed elbarridei shot down each and every report of wmd’s) weapons. i just hope and pray to the gods of randomness that this one doesn’t work as well.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        A few thoughts: Cord cutting. Who watches cable news? In the end people who are older and towards the more comfortable end of the spectrum, the last eight or sixteen years, weren’t terrible. Trump might be more upsetting to them that the Iraq War, hence the new found admiration for Shrub.

        We should remember the rightward shift of the media in the 90’s to chase after the audience being lost to cable news and talk radio. Rush harped endlessly on the liberal media. It was grossly inaccurate, but newspapers shifted right in response as conservatives stopped buying newspapers.

        Who is the most likely to be a cable news viewer of the next few years? A kid who went to an Occupy rally? No, I don’t think so. The networks have been furiously fear mongering to keep the election viewership watching because in the long term they won’t pick up new people. After all, what does Maddow do in an hour (imagine she never went full Glenn Beck) that you couldn’t read in under five minutes? They are pulling out all of FoxNews tricks to win old people over. Look at the graphics on MSNBC and CNN. In years past, the three cable networks had different acts, but they look almost interchangeable. Everything, even opinion pieces, get the “breaking news” chyron. Turn on MSNBC. I guarantee you, you will see “breaking news” in a frightening form over something entirely trivial.

        Senior citizens viewership. Anathema to advertisers. Seniors even the ones with money already have loyalty to brands. Ads are a waste on them.

        Then of course, there is the basic problem with “access journalism.” The msm “press” revolves around the need for “interviews” and access to subjects. For example, Trump and the NYT have the strangest relationship. The snipe at each other non-stop, and then hold weird public love fests when Trump does an interview. Instead of “following the money,” the media looks for Deep Throat to provide answers. The Bush and Clinton courtiers dominate Washington (Obama just kept whoever was around in power), but going forward, what good is a useless Clinton lackey to a corporate board? A Bush family endorsement? They are still in Washington, but they desperately need for the paymasters to believe the Clinton/Bush apparatus are still marketable. They provide the press with a story, and their story of “OMG Russia” excuses their own losses. Lets not forget $125 million Jeb lit on fire and promises of how Trump couldn’t down to Bush Country and defeat Jeb after the Southern Dandy’s endorsement in SC.

        At the end of the day, it still goes back to “What Happened?” The political elites in this country are so effed up that they allowed Jeb vs. Hillary to be a real possibility. The future of the GOP is a clownshow, and the Democrats have Bernie Sanders and a drooling Kennedy or whoever their desperate attempt to block a candidate having to make promises is. Who is at fault? It can’t be “Mother.” It can’t be people with fancy titles. No, its foreigners.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          i wander through my mom’s living room, and observe the constant msnbc hysteria…the ads indicate target audience of the various shows: mostly big pharma, targeting boomers with incontinance and plaque psoriasis and RA….next is former republican statesmen hawking reverse mortgages(screw the damned kids) or life insurance that doesn’t care if yer old…then a cell phone(a dumb one, it seems) with great big numbers, for old eyes and shaky fingers…
          -the new Golden Age we’re all supposed to pine for is circa 1995.

    1. Taras 77

      To cap things off, CNN, yes that CNN, dispatched one of their reporters to St Pete to go through the garbage of the troll farm; he tried to enter the building and was asked to leave.

      This was all on video presented by cnn.

  30. Rob P

    I think the most recent Mueller indictments are more dangerous than many people realize. Claims that Bernie was supported by ‘Russian bots’ in the primaries are already being used against him. Assuming most Democratic primary voters still believe in Russiagate in 2020, it would be very easy for Trump to use the Russia conspiracy against Bernie or another progressive that had a good chance of beating him. His intel heads are all Russia hawks who have vowed to help prevent ‘Russian interference in our elections’. There’s guaranteed to be at least a few Russian internet trolls supporting the campaign, or some minor official with some vague connection to Russia, so all they have to do is open an investigation, and leak that investigation to the press.

      1. Skip Intro

        Good thing he said that too… his lip-service to the russia hysteria provides some important positioning. I assume he anticipated this sort of attack…

  31. petal

    I was just at a talk and Q&A session given by NH senior Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. There will be an article in the local paper tomorrow that I’ll post, but in the meantime I will do my best to write up the highlights here today, so please bear with me. I was scribbling furiously. Unfortunately it was not videotaped.

    She gave a 15-20 minute talk at a podium and then the rest was Q&A with the crowd and a professor moderated it. There were 168 chairs set out but from a quick head count only a little over 100 people attended- most were retirees, and then students made up the rest. It was at 11am, so not a very good time of day for normal people.

    Okay so for her talk: she said she looks at the cybersecurity threat through a lens of global security, and that the Kremlin has used these tactics versus Ukraine and in the lead up to Brexit. She said this isn’t a new Cold War because technology has rendered countries borderless, and only recently has the US become aware that it’s been targeted by cyberattacks, especially spread through social media. She said our efforts in Syria were damaged by these cyberattacks. She kept mentioning Kaspersky over and over again, how he’s a major buddy of Putin and does his bidding, said Kaspersky Labs is Kremlin-linked, and that under Russian law it is required to have all servers located in Moscow available/all info shared with the FSB. She used the term “Russia’s hybrid warfare” at least a few times, and said that our government has to “protect Americans from threats”. She wants to establish a clear command structure for cybersecurity at the federal government level. And that it’s crucial for younger generations to be taught how to identify fake news and disinformation.

    She thinks Putin is doing this to manipulate our open media in order to turn Americans against each other, and reiterated that all 17 intel agencies have incontrovertible evidence of Russian interference. She brought up that Dan Coates repeated Pompeo’s statement that the US is under attack. Sanctions against Russia were brought up and she repeated how the bill was bipartisan, and it sends a strong message to the Kremlin and that Trump won’t okay these sanctions. She said there have been partisan attacks on Mueller, the DoJ, and FBI in order to undermine the investigations, and that this would help achieve the Kremlin’s goal of turning Americans against each other. She said elections here in the US and “all across Europe” have been threatened.

    The “misleading” Nunez memo was mentioned and she said trolls and bots using facebord and led to its release, that the Russians are pushing the deep state narrative along with anti-Obama messages in order to enflame social divisions in the US, and that the Russians are pushing messaging about Ukraine and Syria. She said “a hostile foreign power interfered in our election”, that the Russians are trying to undermine American democracy, that we have to fight back because “It’s about Patriotism”(yeah, she actually said this-it was all I could do to not throw up at that point), and how important the independence of the FBI is and that the Mueller MUST be allowed to complete his investigation. She said the US is being eroded from within and trotted out a JFK quote about defending freedom “against Putin’s methods”. Unity unity unity! Felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

    She accused the Russians of building up their military might and extending it to Ukraine and Syria, that they caused the Brexit vote result, fomented and stirred up Catalonia’s secessionist movement the other month, and caused a certain Czech leader to be elected(I’m not up on Czech politics).

    She brought up the idea of using paper ballots again and admitted there had been no hacks to voting machines. She said the Russians were trying to undermine people’s(not just Americans) faith in democracy, getting folks to think elections are rigged, and that their vote doesn’t count (yeah yeah I know, right?!).

    During the Q&A session, she said how they were talking to Treasury and others to find out ways to force the sanctions through, brought up the Magnitsky Act(and his murder in jail). Someone asked about the Korea troubles and she said how she completely believes McMaster and other military leaders that the bloody nose strategy isn’t on the table even though “Trump has pleaded for it”. She stated that she thinks an AUMF from Congress is only necessary when 10s of thousands of soldiers would be sent somewhere for an extended period, and she mentioned how the Syria situation deteriorated because Obama drew a red line and then didn’t back it up.

    She thinks the Russians are trying to undermine The West in order to create a new Russian Empire. She actually said this out loud. A student called out the US’s efforts influencing the elections of other countries(he brought up a recent Carnegie Mellon paper about how the US meddled in 80 countries), coups, propping up dictators, etc and you could hear a pin drop. I think she looked like a deer in headlights and then she spurted out she thinks we shouldn’t be doing that. It was awesome and I thanked the kid on the way out.

    Anyway, sorry for the super long post, but that’s how it went down. She seemed not very intelligent, like she was just mindlessly repeating what someone above had told her to say, kept repeating certain terms and statements like Russian hybrid warfare, etc. She sounded like a crackpot, to be honest with you-I couldn’t believe some of the stuff she was saying. It was very concerning-this is a US senator and there must be a lot more like her, and they are leading the Dems. She seemed very uncomfortable and not very knowledgeable talking about this stuff, even though that’s why she was here and it’s supposed to be her thing. It’s like for example when you didn’t actually do the work but you’re talking about it-you memorize the answers or what you’re supposed to say and that’s it-no depth, just repeat certain terms over and over. I got the feeling she doesn’t know much geography or history, too. It was scary. These are the people in control and driving this agenda. Cheers.

    1. hemeantwell

      Thanks for the report.
      The public gutlessness and corresponding stupidity of most senior US elected officials regarding relations with major competitive powers is like a bizarre form of patriotic observance in which the speaker proudly announces the sacrifice of their critical faculties in the service of the nation. It’s as though there are no constituents who will reward analytic honesty and the corresponding lives and resources saved. One wonders if her interactions with staff on these matters amount to anything more than a selection of camouflage statements that allow her position to become indistinguishable from the modal patriotic dimwit her fellow elected officials aspire to be. It’s like watching high schoolers try out team cheers.

    2. todde

      Did we repeal the War Powers Act and I missed it? Why are we confused about when we can send troops abroad?

      Russia can’t dominate more than one province in the Ukraine. I think we are safe from the Russian Empire for the time being.

      1. petal

        After today, I’m not confident she knows what the Twitter actually is. And bots this, bots that, bots bots bots. It was a lot to digest, and makes me appreciate Lambert and his yellow waders even more. I tried to write down as much as I could word for word what she said, especially the Russian Empire thing. It seemed like she really thinks the Russians are trying to take over the whole world to create a new Russian Empire with Tsar Putin at the helm, and that this supposed meddling is truly an act of war. It’s scary. Walking out of there, I felt like a (family blog) genius. What she said about congressional authorisation needed only when 10,000s of troops are being sent for an extended period, my head exploded. Like I said before, caught in a Twilight Zone episode.

        1. petal

          The D party is pushing this Russia! thing whole hog-this is what they’re going with for the long haul instead of focusing on real issues. They are 100% sure Mueller’s going to find something that takes down Trump. That’s their whole plan.

          1. oh

            Methinks that they want to keep this going until the 2018 elections. They’re hoping to win some seats. It’s always the Blue team vs. the Red team for them. I hope people are waking up to this ploy.

          2. Michael Fiorillo

            My latest rhetorical habit is to try and throw some cold water in the faces of self-described Lefty Russiagaters by comparing them to 9/11 Truthers.

            The analogy works, I think, in that both involve magical thinking, and a deluded belief that “if only the people knew,” then our problems would be solved.

            The analogy also serves because neither group can argue rationally from evidence, and consequently resort to name-calling and every other logical fallacy in the book.

        2. petal

          So I must have missed a page in my notebook earlier, sorry-just remembered how she made a point to crow about forcing the Kremlin-backed and very well-funded RT to register as a foreign agent, and talked about how if RT’s on in a hotel in the US and you watch a few minutes of it, it’s very subtly biased(those sneaky Russians!) and the delivery is a little different than on CNN and other mainstream US news stations and this is in order trick American viewers and to subtly sow discord amongst the American public. It was epic stuff today, so much to try to keep track of and remember.

          1. Eureka Springs

            Oh my, great report. What a brain scramble! Let us all remember Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was a darling – must elect – Dem back in the Downwithtyranny, Dkos, FDL Act Blue Blue America heyday.

            Whether or not she had an issues page on her web site..
            Before Citizens United…

    3. Harry

      We have a phrase in the UK.

      WALOB.

      No offense to the poster, the NH’s Shaheen appears to fear for Americas precious bodily fluids

  32. grizziz

    John Feffer, “the reason we take it seriously is twofold.” (What do you mean we, kemo sabe?)

    “One, because we’re worried about our U.S. democracy and whether it can function in a fair way.” (We live in a Republic which by design favors the moneyed classes primarily through the Senate and Electoral College. Fairness has been in retreat since Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. FEC.)

    “And the threats to U.S. democracy, by the way, are not, you know, specific to Russia.” (I’m afraid and you should be, too.)

  33. Anonymous

    It sure doesn’t help cybersecurity when top US officials (e.g. a former 2016 POTUS candidate) do not even bother to follow basic government cybersecurity protocols.

  34. Clif

    i just did something fun. Google ‘Evidence of Russian meddling’, or ‘Why can’t Google find evidence of Russian meddling?’. One gets links to GWB and McMaster’s claims of ‘clear evidence’ and ‘incontrovertible’, but no actual evidence.

    Good times.

  35. John

    The American electoral system has always been open to the corrupt current flavor of the day. George Washington passed out free whiskey,poll taxes, Jim Crow, voter suppression, gerrymandering, Citizens United, secret money, hackable computerization and so on. We leave the barn door open and are surprised when stuff happens.
    I would be shocked if the Russians did not try to stick a toe in the door and create a little chaos if for nothing else than our hypocritic and insufferable claims to exceptionalism, freedom fries and all things bright and beautiful. Especially using a tool as perfect as the web and social media…the Americans own creation.
    We have lost all sense of racketeering…though sort of on the books, it is not really a crime any more in this country. I think Russia and the USA are organized as competing racketeering oligarchies. The cold war was about the commies and the commissars. This is just about your basic Sicilian mob activity.
    Very muddled and gray.
    Average Americans do not understand cultures where the lie is the first response in most discourse. We are working on it, but we are not really there in comparison to the older cultures.
    So while I am certain that elements within Russia have been sowing chaos wherever possible and that there is some truth in Russia Gate…I also recognize that it mirrors the chaos that the US has sowed throughout the world. Mostly motivated by an ideology of greed and naked power on both sides.
    Donald Trump was for sure laundering money in New York real estate and saved by mob money in everyone of his bankruptcies. We know Sheldon Adelson was in collusion with the Chinese mob and got a “cost of doing business” penalty from the government. Grrr. Rant. corrupt.corrupt.corrupt

  36. John

    Did the finagling around the election have any effect on the outcome? As far as I can see, no it did not. Worse than Pearl Harbor? Worse than 9/11? Of course not. The hysterical posturing became tedious long ago. Wake me if you find anything.

    Why is Trump trumpeting? I would follow the money.

  37. RMO

    A minor point but perhaps someone could point out to Feffer that Nazis (both the ur-example and those currently U.S. favored Ukranian ones) consider Russians to be sub-human?

  38. Fastball

    I get labeled a Trump supporter by decrying Russiagate.

    Frankly I couldn’t care less what Mueller does to Trump. This bothers me on several different fronts.

    1. This is demonstrably a McCarthyite witch hunt with goals at clear divergence from what Mueller was originally appointed for, which was to investigate “collusion” (whatever that means) between Putin and Trump. We know because of one Adam Schiff (D-McCarthy) and similar Democrats and their Russian demagoguing anyone who dares to disagree with them.

    2. These indictments are clearly exaggerated in their impact on the American system. Why? I can think of one major effect of the witch hunt: The attempt by the establishment to roll up dissent of any kind. We now have this media fueled hysteria going on by proven liars in the establishment to suppress what they call “fake news”. We saw efforts such as the infamous “PropOrNot” anonymous troll cavalcade to try to censor sites. Now Google and Facebook are doing the censoring for them by ranking non-establishment sources as somehow untrustworthy — as if the establishment press was ever trustworthy.

    3. The hypocrisy. No one in the corporate media establishment ever seems to note that this cyber behavior and other types of regime undermining is completely typical of the U.S., which mere hypocrisy might not be so bad, except it leads directly to #4:

    4. The warmongering. People have openly talked about Russia engaged in acts of war (as if the U.S. is pure as a crystal snowflake in this regard). This exaggeration and hypocrisy are a direct threat to world peace and my own personal survival as a human being.

    These are the things I fear: Being silenced by authoritarians who call themselves “liberal” and getting nuked. That’s it. People who accuse everyone of being “Russian dupes” or “supporting Trump” are IMHO engaged in sheer demagoguery. The influence of the Russians on the American system, whatever you call it, can be described as ephemeral at best, but the censorship and warmongering are very real and dangerous.

    That our politicians and media are being grossly irresponsible in a supposed effort to get Trump (the real effort is much more than that) is an understatement.

    1. Expat

      That the US is hypocritical is not news. But that we should call this a witch hunt because we are guilty of tampering and worse is not fair to either our constitution or the American people.
      The costs of this investigation are small in the grand scheme and tiny compared to the principles it purports to protect. Mueller is far from done. Writing this off now smacks of partisanship. If there is something there, then it will out. If not, then a few will hang anyway. I, for one, am quite happy that the likes of Manafort and Gates got caught. I think hillary should swing as well, so don’t tar me with a red or blue brush. But the Republicans had their chance to investigate her and never did, so that tells me something.

      Remember that this is a 100% Republican administration carrying out this investigation. Everyone involved is Republican from Potus to Congress to Mueller.
      Frankly, if this keeps Trump from doing too many stupid things, it’s time and money well spent.

      1. Procopius

        I may be wrong, but I seem to recall they investigated her AND Bill many, many times over the years, starting when he was governor of Arkansas, and never found any evidence they could take to a prosecutor. Do you happen to recall how many discrete investigations of Benghazi there were?

      2. Donald

        It’s pressuring Trump to do stupid things. Russiagate is hyped to justify a more militaristic and hardline policy towards Russia and Syria.

        Trump is a fool, but it seems difficult for some people to understand that both sides of the Russiagate controversy have bad motives.

        1. Expat

          While there might be bad motives, we either accept that good results can come from bad motives or we write off our entire justice system and let everyone run amok. We have checks and balances in place to monitor and control our police. If the entire Republican controlled government is unable to find legitimate reasons (beyond the typical rantings one finds on Fox or ZeroHedge) then it tells me that there is a “there” there, as they say.

  39. rps

    “Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for allegedly using social media to sow discord in the U.S. and support the candidacy of Donald Trump”

    The 13 Russian national stooges social media talking points show is all smoke and mirrors to distract from the DNC and Clinton campaign tactics that did intentionally interfere with a presidential election. Considering the enormous amount of actual evidence in the complicity of the DNC, a foreign ex-spook national- Christopher Steele is fed ‘info-mation’ by Clinton buddies Trey Gowdy and Sidney Blumenthal, Fusion GPS, Hillary Clinton campaign, FBI surveillance and FISA memo to spy on the opposing presidential candidate (Trump) is the real show. All based upon a dubious paid for foreign dossier filled with hearsay of anonymous sources used to undermine and destroy an american presidential candidate during an election year is the real crime of complicity Mueller is trying to avoid.

    Throwing a ruskie sheet over the 800lb elephant sitting in the middle of the room doesn’t hide the facts and more than likely brings into question the Clinton campaign influences and connections with the NSA.

    Onto more relevant news: Lucky Charms has added marshmallow unicorns to its cereal.

  40. OldBear

    This actually makes me a little sad. I am only skimming the transcript so far and I don’t think I could stand to watch the video, even though I really like Aaron Maté. I didn’t care when he took apart that Luke Harding fool, but John Feffer always seemed like a pretty smart guy and a good writer. I was dismayed a few days ago when he went off in this direction in one of his posts. If Aaron is holding back, maybe he feels a little sorry about him, too.

    John Feffer, one more decent person lost to the McCarthyite pod people, for whom I can no longer have a shred of respect. Is that going too far?

  41. Angry Panda

    Why…….is this here?

    I could have gotten the same exact “depth” of analysis from watching CNN. Or MSNBC. Or what have you.

    Even the interviewer was off the ball – by the time he identified KASPERSKY as a “Russian hacker” I was essentially howling with laughter. And by the time the interviewee started insinuating that Russia is supporting far-right neo-nazi type groups in the West…yeah. No. Incidentally, the West [i]is[/i] doing just that in specific places, but that is a different conversation.

    Finally the stamement: “So I don’t think anybody, much less Vladimir Putin, could have predicted the turn U.S.-Russian relations would take…” pretty much discredits the interviewee as any kind of analyst or expert on the subject. Because on every single US-Russia flashpoint 2017 was a direct continuation of 2016 (and 2015, and 2014…) – and that was pretty much the “base case” to begin with, since it is silly to imagine that either nation will just “surrender” and stop pursuing its policies whether in Europe, Asia or the Middle East. The “Trump == unpredictable-loose-cannon-maverick” talking point, much as it has been bandied about, applies mainly to Trump’s account and decidedly not the ACTUAL foreign policy steps taken by the US.

    And so I reiterate the point – why is this blog suddenly carrying MSNBC-level content? Because that’s why we come here in the first place?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Many of us are a long time since watching this kind of stuff. So it’s a service to us text-only Luddites.

  42. oaf

    “we’re worried about our U.S. democracy and whether it can function in a fair way.”

    WTF???

    Very high entertainment value….

  43. Clif

    I’d be curious to know about any activity resulting from the ‘ProporNot’ listing NakedCapitalism as a conduit. I vaguely recall having the impression that legal action was considered?

  44. The Rev Kev

    Sometimes when this whole things goes several shades of crazy you have to pull back and try to look at it from a historical level. I try to imagine what people will be saying some 20 years from now when there is a new generation in place. What will their text books say about what is happening now. And I realize that we are going to be mocked but hard by them. Can you imagine what comedians routines on us will say? It will be embarrassing. So, getting back to the present, I pull up the news this morning and I find a CNN reporter checking out trash dumpsters next to the ‘troll farm’ in Russia – which is no longer even there. Uh, OK.
    Maybe some people in government and the media should go back on their meds again and have a nice warm cup of shut-the-xxxx-up. Just because Trump won the election does not mean that the ‘establishment’ gets to have an epic triggering – and take the rest of the country with it. Are there criminal charges to be laid against certain people? Absolutely. Thing is, they don’t have Russian addresses but more likely American ones and I think that a lot of people are starting to realize this which may partially explain the increasing support for the GOP. You can only keep up evidence free accusations so long until somebody shout “Call!”.
    If you want to know about election meddling, ask the Russians () as they have much experience here. And that story doesn’t cover even half of what went on. Getting back to seeing things from a historical level, my own idea is that what we are seeing is a power that has dominated the world for decades now finding itself with peer competitors arising and the people in charge are unable to deal with this. There are far too many careers at stake. Too many lucrative contracts at risk. Too many rice bowls to be broken. It’s too many powerful people not being able to get their way – and being unable to handle it. This is what I think that we are seeing.

  45. Clark Landwehr

    Foreign interference in the U.S. is nothing new. Its why we are so divided.
    “The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained in one block and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world. The voice of the Rothschilds prevailed… Therefore they sent their emissaries into the field to exploit the question of slavery and to open an abyss between the two sections of the Union.”
    Otto von Bismarck, German chancellor, 1865

  46. Procopius

    This is a great example of why I think I’ve gone crazy. This guy Feffer seems more reasonable than most of the Russiagaters I see on other blogs, but when Mate points out the lack of evidence he acknowledges that and then goes right on as if he had refuted it. He acknowledges that the Dutch “revelation” is unsupported, and regrets that, and then goes right ahead as if that is irrelevant. His whole method of argument seems to be, “Well, we have a pattern of other Russian involvement, …” and then cites speeches by Putin that probably are not relevant to the case. I mean, supporting white nationalism? This is something you want to blame Russia for? Spreading divisiveness? Undermining confidence? Kill me now.

  47. Webstir

    The revolution will not be televised for the reasons Gil Scott-Heron supposed. It won’t be live. It was already pre-recorded. You didn’t even know the revolution happened.

    We all just woke up one day living in an oligarchy instead of a democracy. Should we be surprised by any of what we are witnessing?

  48. Basil Pesto

    lmao, the condescension. In a court of law you’re going to have to present, yknow, actual evidence. And that evidence had better be better than “because those guys said so” or you’re going to be in a spot of bother. It is, of course, very easy to indict foreigners who will never be extradited for a crime that is so comically vague, and arguaby practiced by the fourth estate and body politic on a daily basis. Such allegations, of course, can never be tested in fact or in law, but in the public imagination they have already taken on the air of being the incontestable truth of… something?, as tho
    ugh they were on stone tablets freshly minted on Mt Sinai itself.

    Incidentally, the casual manner in which 13 Russian blokes have become a synecdoche for the Russian Federation in the public imagination is astonishing.

  49. Michael C

    In the end, isn’t this investigation not about Russian interference at all, but about keeping that fire going to provide time so that Mueller can investigate Trump’s financial dealings and come up for a reason to kick him out of office? That’s why we get piecemeal information thrown out every once in a while, and not very good information by the way, that is like pouring gasoline on the fire when it begins to die out, all while another actually indictable charge is sought and made iron-clad.

  50. Michael C.

    Though no one will read this due to the length of comments, this gal from Australia has been exposing the weak Russia narrative since it started. Her analysis about the Real News Maté interview is spot on:

    People might want to follow this woman. She has insight into American politics, freshly drawn from an outsider perspective.

    1. blennylips

      Yes. Seems to me Caitlin Johnstone is well regarded here.

      Try this search in your favorite engine:

      “Caitlin Johnstone” site:nakedcapitalism.com

      and judge for yourself.

      ϟ aside: tried this on the google, duckduckgo & bing. Only google presents a slug of Antidote’s du jour in a near top of the page image strip! Very cute.

  51. Expat

    color me paranoid, but are my posts getting rejected or just taking a long time to appear? Is mentioning “Watergate” forbidden, for example?

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