Saturday, April 20, 2019

That One Sentence

On March 25, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone:
On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress, summarizing the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The most telling section, quoted directly from Mueller’s report, read:
[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
That one sentence should end a roughly 33-month national ordeal (the first Russiagate stories date back to July 2016) in which the public was encouraged, both by officials and the press, to believe Donald Trump was a compromised foreign agent.
"That one sentence" unexpurgated:
Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through the Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.


john c. halasz said...

Do you have any actual point here, or are you just doubling down on your own mistaken inverted snobbery? Yes, Trump is a thoroughly nasty creature. Who coulda node? But do you really think that the Russkie's alleged miniscule interference in the 2016 election determined the outcome? And do you fail to understand that all this legalistic pettifoggery is just the same old government by scandal trope, to elide real and pressing issues, and to evade responsibility and blame-shift for the neo-liberal Dembots own abject failure in managing to have lost to Trump, while desperately clinging to power in their own apparatus? There are people who can't think their way out of the paper bag that they've placed over their own head. I surprised that you would want to be one of them.

Sandwichman said...

Let me show you how to read. The first quote is from Matt Taibbi, in it Matt quoted William Barr's letter quoting the Mueller report. That should give you some kind of clue that this is a post about QUOTATION, not a post about Trump or Russia. YOU are the one getting all riled about Trump and Russia.

The second quote is the entire sentence from the Mueller report -- it is only ONE sentence -- from which William Barr took his quote. The reason for juxtaposing the two excerpts is to reveal WHAT WAS LEFT OUT of Barr's quote from the Mueller report.

Frankly, John, I have no more reason to trust Robert Mueller than I do to trust William Barr. I can't independently verify whether what the Mueller report says is accurate. But I can evaluate whether Barr's excerpt is a fair representation of the argument being presented in THAT ONE SENTENCE.

Matt Taibbi, not I, appealed to the ultimate authority of THAT ONE SENTENCE. "That one sentence should end a roughly 33-month national ordeal..." I repeat: that is not MY standard, that is Taibbi's standard. How many words are there in THAT ONE SENTENCE? Are there 23 or 63?

What the fuck do you think you're talking about? "snobbery," "Russkies," "legalistic pettifoggery," "Dembots," "Trump," "evading responsibility." What do you think you know about all that shit IF YOU CAN'T EVEN FUCKING READ?

This was a post about THAT ONE SENTENCE. Nothing more. Nothing less. The title told you what the post was about but you ignored and vomited out your paranoia.

Sandwichman said...

Matt Taibbbi has been silent on Twitter for 60 hours now. Presumably combing through the Mueller report looking for snippets that confirm his thesis of a totally baseless frenzy whipped up by the media and sore loser Democrats. Oh, here's one: "Wapo... reported... [redacted] could... not... establish... [redacted]." Take that, Russkiegate conspiracy mongering deadheads!

Unknown said...

Let's note 2 sentences from Josh Marshall -"The simple takeaway from the Mueller Report is the President betrayed his country and spent two years lying and breaking the law to try to hide that fact. He should resign and be tried for his crimes." Exactly right!

Unknown said...

Given that long rant from one JOHN C HALASZ, I consulted with Google which popped this up!

“For some time now, you have been posting extremely long "comments" to my Marx tutorial. I have not replied for several reasons, one of which is that I find what you write rather difficult to engage with or to understand at times. I would like to suggest that rather than using the comments portion of my blog for what are essentially independent essays, you start your own blog and present them in a more orderly and coherent fashion…”

Robert got two more incredibly long rants from Mr. Halasz! Go figure!

Anonymous said...

I understand being passionate, but a teacher, a professor, should not use profane language. Please do not use profane language on this wonderful blog.

Sandwichman said...

Anonymous, where have you been the last three years? "Profane language" has now become Lingua Franca:

"I did try and fuck her."

"This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

I will refrain from using profane language when the current occupant of the White House is impeached.

Calgacus said...

Well, I get the point about the sentence. But I don't think it is a very telling one.

Consider what was omitted:

"Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through the Russian efforts"

There are several provable lies tucked in here in the omitted portion. "Although the investigation established" What investigation? It is provable that what Mueller did does not deserve the label "investigation". Associating that word with Mueller's antics is an insult to every investigator everywhere, so I am suing Mueller on behalf of Columbo, Mr. Monk & Sherlock Holmes. More particularly "information stolen and released through the Russian efforts". This appears to be the Podesta emails released by Wikileaks. This was precisely Mueller's core duty, and the one he ostentatiously refused to perform and provably lied about in his report. On the basis of his antics he should have been impeached.

What Barr extracted was the key quote, the part that had genuine effect. Maybe he did not want to be associated with or want to distract with the irrelevant garbage, the sour grapes, preceding it. So judging on the basis of the Mueller "investigation" and this supposedly misleading extract- it is clear that Barr is more to be trusted than Mueller. To act comparably to Mueller, Barr would have had to have boldly stated the garbage accusations as facts, and omit the key, bolded part that he extracted.

As has always been the case, the prima facie and the totality of the evidence shows that it has all been nothing but "a totally baseless frenzy whipped up by the media and sore loser Democrats". Though the "sore loser" is a bit off the mark. There are real political issues out there - plutocrats are terrified at the prospect of a self-proclaimed socialist being elected President. Whether the alternative is labelled R or D is of little matter. So the Democratic Party has seized on this as a way to distract the public over patent nonsense, in full knowledge that the outcome would likely strengthen Trump.

Again, what Halasz & I are saying here - Russiagate is BS - is the norm on anything vaguely "left" in the USA. It doesn't make it true, but people who haven't observed this might want to get out more. That the left says "Russiagate is BS" is to its credit, because it is based on logic and evidence. I would say it is another sign that today's left in the USA is a lot healthier and stronger than it and most people, especially longtime lefties, think.

Sandwichman said...


To put it another way, what I posted was a mirror. What you see in it is your own reflection.

Or a Rorschach inkblot. What you see is your own projection.

Unknown said...

"what Halasz & I are saying here" is the Trump has paid us minions a lot of money to spew this BS. Hey fellows - so hello to Putin for us!

Sandwichman said...

"the left"

"In the end nobody really wants to read about a couple of overgrown suburban teenagers writing about anal sex and the clap and then calling themselves revolutionaries when some third-world dictator gets bored of letting them stay published.” -- Matt Taibbi

Let's not forget, John Brennan voted for Gus Hall in the 1976 presidential election. Mark Ames "flirted with right-wing politics" at U.C. Berkeley in the 1980s: "We'd ridicule the boring lefties, our enemies."

But... sure, if one considers "the left" to be synonymous with "counter-culture" debauchery, then the dribble Calgacus and Halasz spew "is the norm on anything vaguely 'left' in the USA." I am disgusted by centrist Democrats and only indulgently tolerant of "progressive" Democrats who fantasize that they can advance their agenda inside the "pro-choice" wing military-industrial complex duopoly. But the animus of Greenwald, Taibbi and Ames is PERSONAL. Bill Clinton signed the GOP defense of marriage act. Michael McFaul tried to get the eXile banned from an internet discussion list, etc. So there's that.

Now I get the Chomsky argument that focusing on Russiagate let's the Republicans off the hook for their REAL sins and does so in order to conceal the Democrat's complicity in those abominations and aversion to dealing with REAL issues. I agree with that -- as far as it goes. What I don't buy is the counterfactual that IF ONLY the Democrats had refrained from drumming up Russiagate, they would have addressed those real issues. And IF ONLY the Democrats had refrained from drumming up Russiagate, the GOP would have imploded by virtue of its internal contradictions. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

The bottom line is this: if I don't trust the Republicans and I don't trust the Democrats, why would I be stupid enough to trust "a couple of overgrown suburban teenagers writing about anal sex" to reveal the TRUTH?

The "left," my ass.

john c. halasz said...

Oh, yeah S-man, You;re friggin' Jacques Derrida and I'm just a functional illiterate. I'm supposed to infer your point, because I obviously can't read closely, based on no additional content or point whatsoever. The actual factual basis of the omitted section is non existent. (Do you really think that the alleged Russian interference determined the outcome of the election, when a) according to media reports they spent $150,000 on targeted social media adds, whereas the Trump campaign spent $150,000,000. b) Mueller indicted a Russian troll farm that was probably an entirely commercial click bait operation and will never be brought to trial, and c, Trump had taunted HRC during the campaign about her emails, not the Wikileaks releases, which were in fact entirely authentic about Dembot machinations, while there is scarcely any evidence linking the Russians or Trump to Wikileaks: to the contrary, the Roger Stone indictment, if true, indicates a lack of prior knowledge? Oh, but you've already declared yourself not well acquainted with ascertainable facts and regard the Mueller report equally skeptically, adopting the otherworldly pose of hyperbolic skepticism, (which, philosophically speaking doesn't exist). And then claim that I and others are just indulging in personal paranoia, (when we're in fact clearly criticizing paranoid politics), and complaining that Taibbi hasn't personally contacted you over social media of late.

Oh! And then you trot out same old quotes, one from the assiduous "national security" careerist John Brennan, who somehow confessed irrelevantly to having once voted for the CPAUSA years ago, another from Mark Ames 30+ years ago and another from Taibbi, which obviously must have been satirical, in however poor taste, to smear the rest of us mere "skeptics", while decrying that we would take anything personally, ( as if mere commitments were risible and as if we were deploying ad hominem rants rather than informed and reasonable arguments), while gleefully denouncing that there might be anything like a North American "left", let alone any practically effective one.

Oh! It's so fine to see you pull yourself by your own ponytail, like the fabled Baron von Munchausen, into the pure empyrean of your own putrid snobbery, without rationally answering a single point that has been made. while the world descends from its last tenuous hold on civilized barbarism into the collapse of any thing like civilization at all. You claim to be holding up a mirror to the rest of use mere mortals, but I think you should attend to the stain in your own mirror first of all. And the best thing you could do with this disgraceful trolling operation is to delete it entirely.

The next thing is that you start lecturing us on how the world as a whole only exists as an aesthetic phenomenon.

Sandwichman said...

When you're done flagellating yourself, John, I would appreciate it if you would hang the cat-o'-nine-tails on the hook by the door for the convenience of the other patrons.

john c. halasz said...

O.K. So he read and watched all this hit so you didn't have to:

Sandwichman said...

"Reporters are supposed to be more curious than invested. That’s why a lot of us went into this line of work, because we share that personality quirk... Part of the job is to never care enough to be certain of anything, at least not during business hours.

"The defining characteristic of the Russiagate press corps was certainty. It knew everything in advance, and whenever it turned out to be wrong, it just moved to the next thing it knew."

Mostly projection except for the part about moving "to the next thing it knew." Taibbi never moves on.

"Of course there is a ton in the report that is disturbing, and if you’re a Trump fan, which I’m not and never have been, it’s even possible that some of the material Mueller describes will shock you."

What universe does Taibbi live in? If you're a Trump fan NOTHING disturbs your faith in the Godhead. Shock? Ha!

"I could probably sit down and list a thousand things Trump has done or said that are more scandalous than this, especially since, as Mueller put it, there was no evidence of an 'underlying crime.'"

Where did MUELLER "put it" that "there was no evidence of an "underlying crime'."? Citation please? Because this is a mighty big assertion by Taibbi here. As far as I know, it is 100% false. But perhaps I am wrong. SHOW ME THE WORDS or shut the fuck up.

"Mueller’s decision to punt the obstruction question to Barr, knowing he wouldn’t pursue it, seems to speak powerfully..."

BREAKING: Taibbi's EXCLUSIVE interview with Robert Mueller in which Mueller disclosed his foresight into how Barr would dispose of his report... How does Taibbi know what Mueller knew about what Barr would do? It's not in the report and Mueller hasn't done any interviews. Taibbi pulled this tidbit out of his ass.

My advantage is that I pretty much ignored the "Russiagate" reporting as it struck me as speculative, credulous and sensational. If that was all Taibbi was ranting about, I would agree with him. But, oh no, Taibbi goes THERE. Taibbi BUYS the Trump/Fox/Rudy/MAGA witch hunt narrative. To do so, all he had to do is remain silent on the conspiracy theory counter-narrative spun by the GOP and its propaganda Wurlitzer.


Sandwichman said...

Taibbi is not a Trump fan and never has been. So he says. Never take a disavowal at face value. People don't make disavowals innocently. They disavow what they worry others may suspect of them. "I'm no racist, but..."

What Taibbi does is mine the reporting over the last two and a half years for examples of hysteria, while studiously ignoring coverage by the same mainstream outlets of denials and refutations. He then claims that the Mueller report "does not merely say this fantasy is not true. It smashes it to pieces, exposing the mass psychogenic illness of the last few years as the work of amateur cops in the press..." Who knew that the Mueller report was a comprehensive analysis and critique of PRESS COVERAGE? Was that even in their remit?

I am less appalled by Taibbi's dishonesty and hypocrisy than by his laziness. He combats credulity with wordplay and hyperbole with mind reading. He disavows being a Trump fan but writes like a MAGA asshole.

Speaking of disavowal, this Reason column by Jacob Sullum presents a much more compelling argument than Taibbi does. Sullum concurs with Taibbi's view that the Mueller report conclusively debunked allegations of "collusion." But he acknowledges something that Taibbi ignores: that Trump lies about everything and therefore his incessant denial of "collusion" fueled suspicion. "The one thing that made me think there might be something to the conspiracy theory," Sullum admits, "was the fact that Trump kept denying it."

I am not convinced the Mueller report presents the whole story. I doubt we will ever know the whole story and I frankly don't care. Here is a passage from something I wrote on MaxSpeak 15 years ago:

"The US system is illegitimate long before a single vote is cast, counted or converted. First, you need a democratic culture to even consider having a democratic political system. Market totalitarianism doesn't cut it. Second, you need a system that is designed to maximize political participation and competition rather than restrict it. Electoral college, gerrymandering, first past the post, campaign financing... Third, you need to have some kinds of "checks and balances" on corruption. When the business of government becomes giving out contracts to corporations who then make political contributions to those who vote for or dispense the contracts the issue of who steals how many votes has already become moot."

Do I think the Russians somehow hacked into an ruined such a perfect democracy? Don't make me laugh. But, on the other hand, do I think the handling of the Russia election interference story by the media is the greatest assault on truth, justice and the American Way since Reefer Madness? Much worse than the build-up to the invasion of Iraq? Or the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump's campaign rallies? Or "in that moment he became president of the United States"? Give me a break.

john c. halasz said...

Umm...Taibbi is basically a political reporter. He does things like attending boring campaign rallies, so you don't have to, (while observing the behavior of the press gaggle as well. And he's not going to "move on" until these issues themselves move on because that's his job as a political reporter. Accusing him of some denegated support for Trump is an absurdity, on the par with my accusing you of a denegated support for the corporate Dembot establishment. Honestly, I don't know or undersatnd what you've been trying to accomplish with these threads, other than venting an obscure peevishness.

john c. halasz said...

Papa is an infant Hungarian "Holocaust" survivor. (Go Honkies!)

Sandwichman said...

Yes, Gabor is right, John. YOU are emotionally invested.

Now, the one kind of ideology critique that I reject is the kind that says, "You're bound by your ideology but I'm ideology-free." I have my biases. One of them is that, yes, the MSM and centrist Democrats over-invested in the Mueller investigation and Russian interference as the big story of the 2016 campaign. Another is NOTHING the MAGA-GOP claim can be taken as good faith. These two biases do not always and necessarily cancel each other out.

When someone who CLAIMS to be a "skeptic" accepts the MAGA-GOP's framing unquestioningly, they forfeit their credibility -- EVEN if some of what they say HAPPENS to be true. It does happen that some of Matt Taibbi's complaints are valid but that does not apply to "That One Sentence," which is what my post was about. In another article, Taibbi conceded that the proponents of Russiagate were LESS WRONG than Trump but maintained that just being less wrong than Trump is a pretty low bar (no pun intended). I have no problem with that -- Taibbi is entitled to his OPINION.

Meanwhile, 807 former federal prosecutors have signed a statement outlining that, "The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming." Admittedly, none of them is Gabor Mate but then neither is Gabor Mate a former federal prosecutor.

john c. halasz said...

Ha! If you actually knew me, you would know that I'm little likely to be emotionally invested in anything; I'm a bit emotionally stunted. But YOU, Tom Walker, are over-invested in your own EGO-DEFENSES, projecting all sorts of crap on me, as if, condescendingly, I didn't know any better. Mate Jr. is one of those "skeptics" you've been unreasonably attacking. He's also been "skeptically" covering the Venezuela crisis, as with the "Greyzone" website where this clip appeared. Yes, Trump is a ratfucker as with his whole reactionary crew. Not news. But that 807 fed. PROSECUTORS signed a statement is hardly a convincing counterargument. IANAL but can you "obstruct justice" when there is no corpus delecti, i.e. tangible material evidence of an underlying crime, (such as, in a murder case, a corpse with a certified cause of death, since murder convictions on circumstantial evidence are very rare)? What #Russiagate has been about is not any obstruction of justice, such as it exists in the good ole U.S. of A., but rather about the obstruction of politics, i.e the failure to mount any effective opposition to the status quo and its mounting crises, which both incumbent parties are desperately clinging to with their declining "popular" legitimacy. Honestly, of all the internecine disputes I've ever been involved in on or off the tubz, this one has to be the stupidest. End of discussion.

Sandwichman said...

Obstruction of Justice Is a Crime for Some People and Not for Others. Any Questions?