mfioretti: russiagate*

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  1. you know, for somebody who actually has read the indictment in its entirety, and, actually, the Russian reporting that is almost entirely repeated in the indictment, it’s really hard to square that with the way that it’s been portrayed as, you know, a sophisticated, bold effort. I think H.R. McMaster is correct in saying, yes, there’s “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian meddling, but to call it bold, to call it sophisticated and to imply that we now know that it actually had an influence on the outcome of the election is absurd. It was not bold. It was not sophisticated. And it—we don’t know, and probably never will know, whether it had any impact.

    creating a cacophony, creating confusion, creating the sense that nothing means anything anymore is definitely important, right? But that is different from saying that their goal was to sway the outcome of the election and that we can say with any amount of certainty that that worked and that’s how we got Trump.

    AMY GOODMAN: And it’s also served another purpose, for example, when it comes to these large megacorporations, like Facebook and Twitter. They’ve been hauled before Congress, before the British Parliament, and they’re saying, “How could you have allowed this to appear?” And in the end, they’re being pressured, basically, these corporations, to censor what is out there.

    MASHA GESSEN: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think that the agenda of holding Facebook accountable publicly is such a bad agenda. You know, I think that a conversation about what Facebook is—is it a public resource, even though it’s a privately owned corporation? Is it a media company? It is certainly not just a platform, as Facebook has claimed repeatedly. I think that is a really important question. I just think it’s been asked in the wrong way, right? It’s been asked—you know, when we saw Senator Al Franken badgering the Facebook lawyer and screaming, you know, “They were Russians! You know, how could you not see that these ads were bought for rubles?” Well, why are we starting at a place where we assume that selling advertising for rubles, that there’s something necessarily sinister and horrible about it? Right? And that is—I don’t think that moves forward a conversation about how something that has de facto become a public resource, but is privately owned, functions in society.
    https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/23/masha_gessen_did_a_russian_troll
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-02-24)
    Voting 0
  2. Highlighting the U.S.’s long history in meddling in other countries’ elections is not “whataboutism,” but rather a highly germane point to understanding the context for the allegations of Russian meddling in Election 2016, Caitlin Johnstone observes.

    By Caitlin Johnstone

    There is still no clear proof that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 U.S. election in any meaningful way. Which is weird, because Russia and every other country on earth would be perfectly justified in doing so.

    Former CIA Director James Woolsey admitting on national television that the United States routinely meddles in other countries’ elections.

    Like every single hotly publicized Russiagate “bombshell” that has broken since this nonsense began, Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian social media trolls was paraded around as proof of something hugely significant (an “act of war” in this case), but on closer examination turns out to be empty.

    The always excellent Moon of Alabama recently made a solid argument that has also been advanced by Russiagate skeptics like TYT’s Michael Tracey and Max Blumenthal of The Real News, pointing out that there is in fact no evidence that the troll farming operation was an attempt to manipulate the U.S. election, nor indeed that it had any ties to the Russian government at all, nor indeed that it was anything other than a crafty Russian civilian’s money making scheme.
    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/02/20...y-other-countries-retaliating-in-kind
    Voting 0
  3. Some observers have speculated that Trump's volatile week, which has included retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a British hate group and making a racially disparaging remark during an appearance with Native American war heroes, may have reflected a mind scrambled by signs that Flynn was about to enter a plea deal.
    The impact on Trump's temperament and mood -- at a time of a dangerous nuclear crisis involving North Korea -- and the potential of the latest Russia revelations to further distract him -- will be even more closely watched now.
    The sheer magnitude of Friday's events left Trump's defenders within his party with yet another infuriating distraction in their relationship with the President.
    Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, who is leading his own probe into the Russia issue, refused multiple requests by CNN's Manu Raju to comment on Friday's bombshell developments.
    It is a measure of the shocking significance of the Flynn news that it completely obliterated two other massive political developments -- the apparently imminent passage of the most sweeping tax reform bill for 30 years in a hugely significant victory for Trump and the stunning public humiliation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by the White House.
    In many ways that's the story of the Trump presidency itself -- everything has been overshadowed by Russia.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/01/pol...s/russia-trump-white-house/index.html
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-12-02)
    Voting 0
  4. For Mueller’s findings to have any effect, they will have to break some part of the basic dynamic on the right. Here’s how it works:

    Pundits and yellers in right-wing media compete to freak out the base and reinforce its allegiance to Donald Trump. The base leans on politicians. And most elected GOP officials are in seats safe enough that they fear a primary challenge from the base more than a Democratic challenger. The only way to stave off a primary is to pay obeisance.

    That’s why Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are leaving the Senate. They no longer have any control over what their constituents believe or want, and their constituents believe and want increasingly ugly things. Sen. John McCain is saying all the right things now, but back when he faced his own Tea Party challenger, he sprinted right as fast as he could.

    GOP politicians cannot (or feel that they cannot) cross the base. And the base is currently being lied to about the Mueller investigation at a furious pace. The entire right-wing machine has kicked into high gear, led by the president himself, furiously throwing out chaff about Comey, Mueller, Obama, Hillary, the dossier, the uranium, the emails, and whatever else.

    What if we find out Trump is guilty and just can’t do anything about it?

    As long as the base is convinced that Mueller is an agent of the deep state (or whatever), it will punish any Republican politician that strays from the pack and criticizes Trump. For a GOP officeholder, standing up for democratic integrity could mean sacrificing reelection in 2018 or 2020.

    As long as Republican politicians are frightened by the base, the base is frightened by scary conspiracies in right-wing media, and right-wing media makes more money the more frightened everyone is, Trump appears to be safe. As long as the incentives are aligned in that direction, there will be no substantial movement to censure, restrain, or remove him from office.


    There is no longer any settling such arguments. The only way to settle any argument is for both sides to be committed, at least to some degree, to shared standards of evidence and accuracy, and to place a measure of shared trust in institutions meant to vouchsafe evidence and accuracy. Without that basic agreement, without common arbiters, there can be no end to dispute.

    If one side rejects the epistemic authority of society’s core institutions and practices, there’s just nothing left to be done. Truth cannot speak for itself, like the voice of God from above. It can only speak through human institutions and practices.

    The subject of climate change offers a crystalline example here. If climate science does its thing, checks and rechecks its work, and then the Republican Party simply refuses to accept it ... what then?

    That’s what US elites are truly afraid to confront: What if facts and persuasion just don’t matter anymore?

    Donald Trump has the power to hold on to the presidency, as long as elected Republicans, cowed by the conservative base, support him. That is true almost regardless of what he’s done or what’s proven by Mueller. As long as he has that power, he will exercise it. That’s what recent history seems to show.

    Democrats do not currently have the numbers to stop him. They can’t do it without some help from Republicans. And Republicans seem incapable, not only of acting on what Mueller knows, but of even coming to know it.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe US institutions have more life in them than I think. But at this point, it’s just very difficult to imagine anything that could bridge the epistemic gulf between America’s tribes. We are split in two, living in different worlds, with different stories and facts shaping our lives. We no longer learn or know things together, as a country, so we can no longer act together, as a country.

    So we may just have to live with a president indicted for collusion with a foreign power.
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politi...1/2/16588964/america-epistemic-crisis
    Voting 0

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