Sunday, May 17, 2020


I know, I should probably not waste everybody's time commenting on this nonsense, but the push on it has been masssive, with it seeming to influence a lot of people it should not, so I have decided some pushback is called for, even if those who should see it do not.   I am partly triggered in this by getting defriended on Facebook yesterday by a generally intelligent libertarian academic economist I know who started massively linking to every crackpot pushing this nonsense, and when I pointed out some serious problems with all of it and declared the whole thing to be "insane," I was told that my "TDS was showing" and was defriended.  As far as I am concerned, TDS is people who believe lunatic lies by Trump, showing as a result their own derangement.

As part of all this the Trump media push on this is massive. I am not sure it held for the whole Sundy-Saturday week, but  reportedly for at least a substantial portion of last week Fox News was spending more time on this story than on the pandemic, no distraction with this, of course.  And  this was not as in there might be two sides to it, at least not on Hannity where I have kept an eye on it.  He has been for quite some time pushing for investigations of how the Russia investigation started with a demand that people go to jail for it for a long time.  So he has been all u-rah-rah to Trump coming on to Fox News on Thursday morning with his completely off the wall claim that "This is the greatest political scandal in US history," repeated several times, along with his demand that Senate committees drag lots of people in and that Obama, Biden (of course), Comey, and Brennan should all go to jail for 50 years, although he has not mentioned any actual crimes for which they should go to serve these long sentences that would effectively put them away for life. Both Sens. Grassley and Graham have jumped sort of to attention to promise hearings on all this, although the generally odious Graham did show some streak of sanity by saying he would not call Obama before his committee, perhaps aware that the guy is the most popular political figure in the country, warning "Be careful what you wish for," although I did not see him ruling out dragging Biden in.

So have there been any actual crimes in all this "Obamagate" as Trump has now repeatedly labeled it?  Not much.  Probably a majority of the talk in this past week and a half or so as this has ramped up has been about the unmasking of former General Michael Flynn.  Hannity has all bu frothed at the mouth over the supposedly awful "unmaskers," who seem to be as bad as Islamic terrorists, if not Commies in the 1950s.  Of course, unmasking is a completely trivial and ordinary thing that goes on all the time,  with the rate of it higher under Trump than under Obama.  Officials ask the NSA for the identity of an American identified in a phone call with some foreigner of interest.  This does not mean their identities become public, which rarely happens.  In 2017 there were over 8,000 such unmaskings, with the requests needing to be approved by NSA.  In 2018 this hit an all time record of over 16,000, approximately one per half hour, with that number falling back to something over 10,000 in 2019.

Apparently between his appointment as incoming National Security Adviser and Trump's inauguration, about three dozen officials requested him to be unmasked, some of them on multiple occasions.  Note that while they may have suspected it was him, they did not know this when they made these requests.  While there has been a big focus on Flynn's Dec. 29 phone conversations (two of them) with former Russian Ambassador Kislyak, the majority of these unamsking requests, which were granted as legitmate, came in mid-Deecember due to other phone calls he was in on, the contents of which remain unpublicized to this point. The Dec. 29 ones, which were later leaked to the Washington Post that published about them on Jan. 12, were especially important in that they made it clear that Flynn had lied to incoming VP Pence about making promises to the Russians about weakening sanctions just imposed by Obama to punish them for their interference in the US election, which lie Pence had publicly pronounced.  This would lead Trump to eventually fire Flynn, and it was this matter that Flynn lied to the FBI about on Jan. 24, although they did not coordinate with the DOJ when they spoke with him.  I note that two days after the election when Obama met with Trump, he specifically advised him not to appoint Flynn to anything due to his screaming incompetence, with Obama having fired Flynn from being director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA, Pentagon junior cousin to the CIA).  There is an old Cold War era Wsahington joke that goes: "The CIA director testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, 'The Russians are coming!" Then the DIA director testifies and says, 'The Russians are coming tomorrow!" and then the Air Force Intelligence director testifies that, 'The Russians arrived yesterday!''"

I find it a sign of Flynn's screaming incompetence that as a former DIA director he did not realize  that when he started having phone conversations with the Russian ambassador and who knows who else we do not still know about that NSA would be listening so any lies he would tell later would be caught and that indeed he would get unmasked by a gazillion officials all over the security establishment.  And he has now committed perjury by withdrawing his confession of lying to the FBI, with all this pile of Trump media people pressing for Judge Sullivan to drop his case now that AG Barr has requested it, since AG Barr is clearly such an honest and straightforward player himself, given how he blatantly lied about the Mueller Report when it came out.

So, roughly coinciding with Barr's move was that of Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Grenell declassifying and bringing to the Dept of Justice, with Fox News filming his arrival there with a briefcase containg them the roughly three dozen names of people who dared to unmask Flynn.  Barr promptly transmitted these names to various GOP senators, three of whom then made the list public so Hannity and others could staart denouncing these evil unmaskers, triggering them to start receiving death threat from lunatic Trump followers. I note that Grenell's sole experience in intelligence or foreign policy matters was his recent bout of serving as ambassador to Germany where that government requested he be removed, a request that was ignored by Trump.  Shortly after he arrived in Berlin, Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear JCPOA, and Grenell then issued a demand that no German businesses have any dealings with Iran, a demand that was ignored aside from the German government's demanding he be removed.

Ah ha!  At least one possible crime has been identified!  (This has been "the scandal in search of a crime")In Friday's WaPo, Trump fan Mark Thiessen (who I grant has on rare occasions criticized Trump mildly for this or that) published a column in which he declared "Flynn isn't the one who committed a crime" (yes, he did).  According to Thiessen the crime is the leaking of the stories about Flynn's Dec. 29 phone calls to Kislyak, about which he lied to Pence and others in the incoming Trump admin, which led them to fire him. Thiessen proceeded to identify 8 out of this three dozen people who might have been the evil leaker (although he only listed 7 names), and thus possibly open to being prosecuted, if only DOJ can figure out which  one it was. This was the set of people who supposedly not only reuested unmasking of Flynn from NSA, but were actually given his name (allthough apparently in some cases these requests were made by staffers in their offices without even the main person even knowing about it, this being so routine). Obama's name was not among the 7 Thiessen listed, but Biden's, Clapper's, and Somantha Powers's were.

Obviously there is attention being paid to Biden in this regard, and no doubt we shall hear a lot about this from the Trump media mob, with him possibly even being demanded to testify before one of the Senate committees.  However, it is almost certainlhy not him or even one of his staffers.  Why not?  The one unmasking request that came out of his office did so on Jan. 12 (not mentioned by Thiessen but reported elsewhere in WaPo), the day the leaked story appeared in WaPo.  So quite likely somebody in his office sent the request after seeing the story in the paper.  Anyway, not the leaker.

Curiously another name is somebody I never heard of, one Stephanie L. O'Sullivan, identified by Thiessen as "a CIA official whose name is redacted." What?  He does not explain where her name was redacted.  If it was redacted in the report given by Grenell to Barr, how did it come to be unredacted and made public?  This looks like illegal leaking of its own, of a still hired person in the CIA whose identity is supposed to be kept secret.  But ah, obviously this shows how the evil Deep State was after Flynn and the whole Trump administration, blah blah blah.  The hypocrisy of this particular piece of this just stinks to high heaven.

Anyway, I realize that this is pretty complicated.  But that may be why I see a need to put it out there as there is no doubt the Trump people will be putting out distorted and wildly exaggerated versions of this big time.  So, here it is, for any of you who have made it this far.  And that is enough from me on this, at least for now.  Stay well, one and all.

Addenda: In today's Washington Post, Ruth Marcus noted something I had forgotten: it was Michael Flynn who led the chants to "Lock her up!" at the 2016 GOP convention.  Of course such a worthy cannot be locked up himself.

For the record, here are the 7 people listed by Thiessen in his column as being candiated leakers (or maybe somebody from one of their staffs, although he does not mention that possibility): former VP Joe Biden, former UN ambassador Samantha Power (Fox News commenters have made much of her, who supposedly made 7 unmasking requests, how dare her!), former DNI (not Acting) James R. Clapper, Jr. (why would somebody in his position have any authority to make such a request?), former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, deputy nation intelligence director Michael Dempsey, ah, and the above-menioned Stephanie L. O'Sullivan, whose name was supposedly "redacted," but I missed that she also is a "former deputy national intelligence director."

Oh, and in Trump's diatribes on all this he  has called this "the greatest political crime" as well as "scandal" in US history.  Maybe a "political crime" is not quite the same thing as a "legal crime," although, wow, there is this case of leaking!

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

I am partly triggered in this by getting defriended on Facebook yesterday by a generally intelligent libertarian academic economist...

[ Actually, I never met a generally intelligent libertarian and a few years ago learned never to read any such economist. Brad DeLong would link to a couple and I learned almost immediately how nutty and, yes, mean they were, even if DeLong remained attracted.

I thought this worth pointing out especially at this critical time. ]

Anonymous said...

As for this essay, I appreciate the explanation of the matter that I would otherwise have given no thought. I realize more and more just how dangerously served we have been by the Rupert Murdoch media which cultivates irrational thinking.

Thank you for the essay.

Anonymous said...

Every falseness of the president is supported by Rupert Murdoch's multicountry media and that makes all the difference:

Kevin Rudd @MrKRudd

Murdoch media said Trump’s lab claim was backed by leaked intel dossier by “Five Eyes” spies (US/UK/Oz/Can/NZ). Now @FT, briefed by intel community, states definitively no 5-Eyes dossier ever existed. Will Murdoch admit they lied to sex-up their coverage?

Inside Trump’s coronavirus meltdown

What went wrong in the president’s first real crisis — and what does it mean for the US?

5:43 AM · May 17, 2020

Anonymous said...

The FT article is relevant, related, important and open to read:

Kevin Rudd @MrKRudd

Murdoch media said Trump’s lab claim was backed by leaked intel dossier by “Five Eyes” spies (US/UK/Oz/Can/NZ). Now @FT, briefed by intel community, states definitively no 5-Eyes dossier ever existed. Will Murdoch admit they lied to sex-up their coverage?

Inside Trump’s coronavirus meltdown
What went wrong in the president’s first real crisis — and what does it mean for the US?

5:43 AM · May 17, 2020 said...

Yes, there is a lot more to all this unfortunately. Curiously also in today's WaPo is major article by former investigative reporter, BartonG Gellman, as well as a review of his latest book, "Dark Mirror," about the Edward Swnoden affair, which he reported on back in the day, and its implications for internet security and US national intelligence, with its focus on NSA 5 Eyes shenanigans, not to mention the FISA process and a bunch of other stuff back in the news thanks to these new rantings by Trump and ths push coming from his associates in this hyped up "Obamagate!" pseudo-scandal. said...

I am not going to get into naming names, although some of them are indeed well known, but I do know some libertarian economists whom I respect and who I think are decent people. I would note that most of them serously do not like Trump and do not support him, although quite a few of them end up following the late Gordon Tullock's view on the supposed irrationality of voting, so did not vote for any of his opponents, even if they did not vote for him.

ilsm said...

Enough "there" there for a special prosecutor.

I never see 'random' or 'accident' where there is a hint malice/intent.

Wiretapping the incoming NSA, indeed.

Libertarians dislike of Trump is same as progressives not being democrats. said...


I suspect you are not getting this. Sure libertarians and paranoid Trumpcreeps will see all sorts of conspiracies, and of course "unmasking" sounds bad, which is what they are loudly pushing, oh these awful unmaskwrs!

But, first of all, this is not somebody wiretapping NSA, this is normal ongoing NSA wiretapping. They listen to a bunch of foreigners, but in doing so they are constantly also picking up lots of Americans, whose names are normally kept secret. But lots of officials have the right to see what these are and when they see some American being listened to in a particular call they have the right to ask who it is, if they are certified to do so. I understand NSA decides if they can see who the person is, and then if it is approved tells the requester who the person is. This is what unmasking is, and it happens all the time, like over 10,000 times last year by Trump admin officials, more than any year under Obama.

So in this case you had a bunch of phone calls with siginificant Russians, like the ambassador to the US and possibly other parrties, that NSA listened to with the name anonymous. And a whole bunch of people, 16 is the number I am now seeing, asked who it was. They did not know who it was before they asked. But apparently it was Flynn, who should have known this was going to go on, given that he was a former director of the DIA. All of this happened after the election, so it had nothing to do with any plot to undo the election.

As it is, there was technically a crime when two of those calls from Dec. 29 got leaked, but what was in them revealed that Flynn was lying to the members of the incoming administration, leading them to do foolish things. The leaker was doing the Trump people a favor by making it public that they had an incompetent liar for an incoming NS Asviser, something Obama had warned Trump about two days after the election. He strongly advised him against appointing Flynn precisely because he was nothign but trouble, and they did fire him without bringing down the rest of the admin at all.

While most of us find this whole unmasking thing creepy , I note that sometimes it is done to help out the person or entity that is being unmasked. So reportedly one reason there were so many unmaskings in 2018, over 16,000, was due to a lot of hacking of US corporations and other entities by foreigners. In many cases the unmasking made it clear such a hacking effort was going on, which led to somebody letting the corporation or entity know what was going on, presumably a good thing. But the vast majority of it we simply know nothing about.

Again, ilsm, there was no specific plot or activity here. Normal unnasking was going on of Americans showing up talking to important Russian officials, and it happened to be Flynn, who got unmasked and then found to be lying to his own fellow Trump people. No organized plot, simply came out of normal procedures, even if one might disapprove of those normal procedures.

Sandwichman said...

I'm sure a lot of people are going to confuse this "unmasking" business with the wearing of masks to mitigate the spread of covid-19.

Fred C, Dobbs said...

Well, Trump (& McConnell, and who knows
how many other GOPsters) are desperate
to get re-elected, really desperate
so what do you expect?

Anonymous said...


I'm sure a lot of people are going to confuse this "unmasking" business with the wearing of masks to mitigate the spread of covid-19.

[ Right, I do not like the term at all in this environment. ]

john c. halasz said...

Jeez. If Trump and his gang say A, it must be B. If they say B, it must be A.; that's just a mirror relation, abstract opposition. It could be that both A and B are wrong, a binary opposition that excludes a pregnant middle. unless you want to expound upon the providential theological niceties of choosing between the lesser of two devils.

If you want to waste your time on something less unenlightening than the Bezos Post, here's a far saner accounting of #Russiagate:

Anonymous said...

I know, I should probably not waste everybody's time commenting on this nonsense, but the push on it has been massive, with it seeming to influence a lot of people it should not, so I have decided some pushback is called for, even if those who should see it do not. I am partly triggered in this by getting defriended on Facebook yesterday by a generally intelligent libertarian academic economist I know who started massively linking to every crackpot pushing this nonsense...

[ We have a "mad" president, abetted by a self-interested antisocial Republican political leadership, who will go to any unscrupulous lengths to remain in office. I would find it impossible to have a "friend" who failed to understand this. ]

ilsm said...,


Why don't NSA/DSA/FBI call in the unsuspecting object of their "inadvertent" invasion of privacy (4th Amdt) and tell him/her they are trashing the Bill of Rights and let the US citizen explain himself?

My resident anti Trumpster keeps saying "our democracy is being taken away". While losing our "rights" (Patriot Act, FISA as abused, etc.) has been going on for at least the past several administrations.

As to Trump or anyone else I do not support evils, objective or comparative.

I am not so bored as to get in to the latest muddled dust up over the muffed transition. said...

John C.,

Youe link does not work. Can you perhaps summarize he argument it makes as well as tell us who is making the argument, please?

More specifically and for me usefully, does this source disagree with, better yet, proivde strong evidence against, anything in particular in my fairly long post. My post is a bit more than an "A" or a "B." I am perfectly open to at least some things in it being inaacurate, so if there is reason to believe they are, I would appreciate seeing what is questionable and what is the evidence it is (and who is making the claim).


Presumably you mean "DIA" not "DSA," which last I checked stands for Democratic Socialists of America.

I am not sure what you are proposing: that when the NSA and other intel agencies realied Flynn was making all sorts of calls to various Russians (most of which we still know nothing about, onlhy the two on DEc. 29; again, the majority of the unmasking requests were made prior to those phone calls with Amb. Kislyak) they should have called him in to apologize (or something) that they were listening to him talking to a unchof Russians, including phone calls he was lying about to his associates in the incoming Trump administration?

If it is the broaser issue of all this listening by NSA, then maybe the possibly thousands of people who get unmasked should also be called in and informed of what is going on. All this does make me unccomfortable, but it is much less objectionable than what Snowden found out the NSA waas doing some years earlier with PRISM, which amounted to listening to baskcally all US phone calls as well as digging into pretty mucheverything about everybody on Google, Facebook, and you name it.

Or is this back to somehow Flynn is some especially agrieved person who was especially badly treated and should be declared innocent by acourt of a charge he pled guilty to previously, and which President Trump could easily pardon him of at any moment if he is so bloody innocent, but would prefer to concoct this wild "Obamagate" matter that is "the worst political crime and scandal in US history" and for which both Obama and Biden along with Comey and Brennan should all be given 50 year jail sentences, although not a single one of them seems be being accused of any actual crimes?

john c. halasz said...


I tested the link; it works for me. It was a "Useful Idiots" interview between Matt Taibbi and Aaron Mate', skipping the first 1/2 hr of bandinage, both of whom where early skeptics of the whole #Russiagate fiasco. and entirely correctly so. It's known for a fact that the senior Clinton staff, the day after, decided to blame their failure on Russia, having already run a hawkish neo-Cold War campaign against the Russians. And yet, evidence of any significant Russian interference in the campaign was scarce (because largely non-existent or fabricated). But 2+ years of a complicit corporate media barrage remained uncheck. Even when the story of Cambridge Analytica broke, there was no course correction; (really $100,000 in Russian social media adds, which theoretically were supposed to reach millions of eyeballs, vs. $150,000,000 spent by the Trump Campaign?) This was obviously a standard political playbook, government by scandal, rather than any substantive contesting of the issues and a perfect illustration of Robert Michel's old iron law of institutional oligarchies; that institutional elites are far more interested in maintaining their power and position within the institution rather than serving their constituencies and the ends that they ostensibly seek. even if at the cost of failing to attain overall political power at all. It should have been obvious from the get-go that this was a subterfuge by neo-liberal corporate Dembots, to avoid any reflection on the causes of their ignominious defeat and and undermine any challenge from their left, (as the fate of the Bernie campaign clearly shows), to any thinking person. And then they went on to style themselves as #Resistance, as if they were the return of the Maquis, while slandering any dissent from the party line as Putin apologists. And now the whole nothingburger has disintegrated in public. to Trumps sleazy sociopathic social media enhanced delight. Good work if you can get it!

Lt. Gen. Flynn might well be a reactionary nutcase, BTW. but when he was head of the DIA that agency issued a report in Aug 2012 stating that continued unrest in Syria would or could result in the emergence of an Jihadi-Salafist state in eastern Syria, which the Obama administration ignored together with pleas from the then Iraqi government for strikes against the emerging threat (since Obama apparently regarded the threat as leverage against an Iraqi gov. that wasn't sufficiently compliant with American wishes). So warning Trump against Flynn, who, yes, was deliberately and baselessly targeted, is a bit rich on Obama's part. said...


Oh gag, "Russiagate fiasco"? That would be the 105 interactions between the Trump campaign and various Russians or just the activities of Cambridge Analytica that you contend did not influence the election as much as the total amount spent by the Trump campaign? I do not see a single thing in this that overturns a single fact in my post, mostly a lot of seriously vacuous sloganeering "Robert Michel's old iron law of institutional oligarchy" along with whining about Bernie losing and getting worked up that anybody might be labeled a "Putin apologist" not to mention how all this was or how "the whole nothingburger has disintegrated in public" although not quite clear what the "nothingburger" is or was, the 105 interactions reported in the Mueller Report that led to several Trump people ending up in jail? Apparently the nothingburger is not "Obamagate," which Sean Hannity a few hours ago was ranting on and on about again as being "the worst political crime in history," although now AG Barr seeems disinclined to indict either Obama or Biden for it.

I do have to ask, are you aware that Robert Michels ended up moving to Italy to join Mussolini's Fascist Party, are you? Yes, that old iron law, initially thrown at the German Social Democratic Party in 1911, resembles Pareto's "circulation of the elites," which was something Mussolini also liked.

Regarding Flynn at DIA, the August 2012 report on ISIL was not all that wrong, although it was a bit odd in that the US had just removed its troops from Iraq in 2011, this fulfilling a campaign promise made by Obama that he had to undo later to go in and combat ISIL, with him setting up the plan that eventually did lead to ISIL's defeat in Syria after Trump succeeded him, although at the beginning of the Trump admin Flynn was opposing it because Erdogan was opposing the US supporting the Kurds in fighting ISIL, and Flynn had been receiving funds as an undeclared funds from the Turkish government.

Reportedly Trump for a time denied that Obama warned him against Flynn, but then later claimed that he thought Obama was "joking" when he warned Trump against Flynn. Flynn got in trouble in the Obama admin, leading to his firing as DIA director in Aug. 2014, partly because he was covering up various interactions with various Russians. He had led a visit to GRU HQ opposed by others in the Obama admin, with GRU the entity running much of the Russian interference in the 2016 election, with Mueller indicted a bunch of GRU agents. After his firing, Flynn became a regular on RT and was paid by Russian companies (as well as by the Turks), including either $30,000 or $40,000 to give a speech in Moscow that ended up with him sitting at a table with Putin. Apparently his big policy initiative for Trump was to have the US and Russia jointly build a bunch of nuclear power plants in various Arab nations, something that definitely would have required ending those pesky sanctions.

We also saw yesterday, Richard Grenell declassify the rest of the Susan Rice 1/20/17 memo, with the newly released part showing Obama and Comey discussing how maybe Flynn should not be shown certain classified stuff about Russia because of "the unusual number of phone calls" he was making with various Russians, especially Amb. Kislyak, that, following his old pattern he was not telling his fellow Trumpsters about. Hannity thinks this is a definite "smoking gun" although probably it is just a nothingburger.

john c. halasz said...

Wow! The next thing I am to learn is that Martin Heidegger was a Nazi.

There are people who can't think their way out of the paper bag they've put over their own head. If you wish to be such a person, I certainly can't stop you. But the fact is that the long Mueller investigation came up empty. None of the indictments had anything to do with with collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The indictment ( not conviction) of the St. Petersburg troll farm was a freebee, since no one thought they would or could be tried. Yet they did hire a lawyer to challenge the indictment and it has since collapsed. And that a senior U.S. general might be a right-wing nutjob and go on to profiteer from his former uniformed service is certainly not to be expected. But in fact, to repeat, alleged Russian interference, let alone in collusion with Trump, in the 2016 election had nothing to do with the outcome. After endless obsessive readings of the psephological tea leaves. Pew Research came out with a definitive study 1 1/2 years later: the reason HRC narrowly lost was because of non-voters, specifically lower class and minority voters who had failed to be inspired by the highly entitled candidate, ( who had denounced a portion of the working class as "deplorables"). No amount of blame-shifting can erase that fact. SO I think the overall reading of the political situation is as I stated, not mere "whining"

Cable news is not legitimate news, but a partisan propaganda apparatus, and best ignored, CNN and especially MSNBC are just the counterpart of Fox, Rachel Maddow, in particular, the equivalent of Sean Hannity, has explicitly stated that Roger Ailes was her mentor, And after years of leaks from anonymous sources.- (and just who were those anonymous sources and was their leking of supposedly classified information legal?)- which proved to be untrue, the whole scam has collapsed, (The bit about the Rice memo BTW is that it was written 15 days later and Sally Yates, the acting AG, has stated in sworn testimony that Rice was not in the room when the conversation occurred, which Rice claims to have been in the memo).

I have long since figured out, Barkley. that you have poor political judgment, (as do imho most economists). But also you are a poor deontic score-keeper, responding to your interlocutor with distortions, ad hominem innuendo, and obvious fallacies. said...

OK, I have now tried to post a comment here twice, long ones, but somehow they have not taken. Not sure what is up. But this is frustrating as I have a lot to say in response to John's comments here, which are really disappointing from somebody I have over the years seen make usually intelligent comments. Not here, not now. said...

OK, so I shall do this respoinse in small pieces. First we have John claiming I engaged in "ad hominem innuendo," even as John throwing out stuff about "paper bagss" and claims of not having "poor political judgment." Given his Heidegger opening, I guess he is upset about me pointing out that Robert Michels was a fascist political theorist.

But John should realize that dragging this guy in to criticize as "instituitonal oligarchs" people who are criticizing a president who is an open and outright oligarch, the only president to ever even be accused of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, not to mention to be openly and repeatedly guilty of doing so, and furthermore is thought by many of us to be trying to end democracy in the US and replace it with a fascist dictatorship led by him, is well beyond irony. Yeah, bring in a fascist to criticize people criticizing a wannabe fascist. said...

Then we have his screamingly false bs that the Mueller Report "came up empty" over "collusion" and a further claim that the indictment against GRU agents "has collapsed." On the latter, the indictment remains in place although nobody expected those GRU agents would be prosecuted, and indeed they are reportedly stil at work now interfering with the 2020 election, according to Mueller before Congress.

John repeats the lie AG Barr spouted over the MR that it said anything about "collusion." Guess you did not read it, John, it explicitly said it was not investigating "collusion," which is not a legal concept. It failed to find sufficient evidence to indect on "conspiracy," which involves a higher standard, but it did find evidence of obstruction of justice, although Barr lied that they found Trump innocent on that matter. Lie lie lie, that you seem to agree with, John. Really, are you a stinking liar or just a complete political moron?

Of those sent to jail many were on the basis of lying about dealings with Russians, including Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and Paul Manafort. Are you unaware of this, John? Really? said...

Then we have your highly questionable claim that the clearly documented Russian interference in the election (which is simply outright illegal), had not impact on the outcome, citing a Pew study. Well, we will never know for sure, but your assurance on this matter shows rank lying or political stupidity on your part. This remains a highly debated matter and it is quite reasonable to think they did make the crucial difference. Such is argued in an Oct. 1, 2018 article in New Yorker by Jane Mayer says they did.

The argument it made a difference is that the interference was carefully targted, importantly at African American communities in major cities in swing states, like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Doubtless a higher turnout in those communities would have put Hillary in the WH and once upon a time she was quite popular among African Americans, more popular even than Obama in the early stages of the 2008 Dem primary. But somehow those people became disillusioned. It might not have been due to the targeted Russian intervention, but it is certainly not the case that one can say no no no, it was not the case.

What is clearly clear is that Comeey's speech 11 days before the election turned swing voters in Wis and Mich, if not PA, against Hillary, leading to the outcome, despite her having 3 million more votes than Trump. Comey withdrew this vacuous garbage about her emails, but too late. As it was, just as Obama could have but did not, Comey did not report on what he then knew, that the Trump campaign was indeed colluding massively with Russians interfering in the election to favor Trump. This makes it all the more ironic that Trump not only fired Comey but is now demanding he be thrown in jail for 50 years. said...

On the matter of cable news, yes, the channels are politicized, although curiously CNN tries on many of its programs to have panelists "representing both sides." Maybe they ultimately dislike Trump and do not do a good job, but Trump repeatedly calling CNN "enemy of the people" is simply more fascistic creepiness out of him. Disgusting.

Maddow has from time to time pursued incorrect memes and makes incorrect statements. But when it is shown to her she is wrong, she readily stops doing so. Of coure she tilts what she talks about, but on most shows she does not make outright fslse statements. This is not what we see on Fox or its leading star, Hannity. He regularly lies multiple times every night, and follwing Goebbels repeats his special lies over and over and over night after night after night.

To note just two current ones on the repetition roll with no guests challenging him at all, one is the claim that Joe Biden demanded the firing of a Ukrainian proseccutor because this prosecutor was investigating Hunter Biden. This is simply an outright total lie, but Hannity shamelessly keeps on and on with this lie. Do you support this, John, do you?

Anothet is the claim that the "bought and paid for" Steele dossier "has been debunked." No it has not. It was always reported that it was not fully verified, in fact since then the vast majority of it has been verified, with only a few items found to be false (although some of those involved the unfortunate Carter Page who was inappropriately investigated). But again, Hannity is lying and repeatedly doing it. Do you support this, John? Just how many lies do you wish to support and even spout?

Finally we have the Rice memo. It is the Trump gang who says she was there and are publicizing it as supposedly showing the "smoking gun" for this whole insane "Obamagate" nonsense. Ah ha, in this 5-10 minute meeting Obama said he only wanted to hear further about Flynn if it was found hat he was actively leaking classified information, but apparently that did not happen, even though he lied to both his Trump colleagues and the FBI about his conversatons with Kislyak, something he should have known would be caught and revealed. So, do you think this justifies throwing Obama into jail for 50 years?

Really, John, this performance is not onlyi disappointing, it is actually nauseating in its massive compilation of false and nonsensical statements. You should be ashamed of yourself.

john c. halasz said...

(There are character limits onyour comment boxes. If you want to comment at length, you need to break it up to a couple of paragraphs at a time).

You have problems with reading comprehension/interpretation. The reference to Heidegger, (who i have directly read), was sarcastic, not as you wantonly impute because I was upset about your unmasking of Michels (who I've never directly read) as a "fascist theorist". The only connection between the two is that both. given their priors, managed to entrap themselves, self-seduce, into what now seems obvious political delusion. In Michels' case, as a disciple and protege' of Max Weber, who was an obvious influence on his thesis, it was as a member of the SDP that he made his criticism of that party's leadership. Because he was a member of the SPD , he couldn't get an academic job in Germany, so he accepted an offer from Turin, where he had previously taken a degree. Once there he joined the Italian Socialist Party and aligned himself with the leftist syndicalist faction. Mussolini it should be remembered was originally a member of the ISP and Michels was tempted to support him as a charismatic leader, a Weberian notion, for a mass working-class base, as a way out of the dilemma he had outlined. (In the meantime, he had clashed with his mentor over the latter's enthusiastic support of the German War). So initially at least a left-wing commitment, however mistaken. And his critical thesis is still a good one, and can be frquently observed not just in political parties, but in other organizations as well, e.g. labor unions. Heidegger was, of course, a right-winger of conservative-nationalist, if somewhat socialistic leanings. That leap is at least easier to understand, though he was notably unsuccessful in influencing the Nazi leadership and can't be held singularly responsible for the enormity of its subsequent crimes.

The way one lest the fly out of the fly-bottle is to reflectively re-examine the priors, which had entrapped on in error, and revise them in the light of a transformed conception of reason and evidence. Repeatedly asserverating the claims from the same network of establishment Dembot journalists, not just from cable news, but from the Post, the NYT, the "New Yorker" and the like, who perpetrated their baseless memes for 2 years, as if that were the best, even the only, way to oppose Trump, in entirely circular fashion, without allowing any contrary evidence to seep in.

I don't know you personally, (and, of course, it's your blog and thus your bat and ball and you can always take you ball and bat home with you , if someone doesn't play the game as you wish, or with the outcomes you desire),- but, judging by your discursive conduct many times here, you seem to have a markedly hysterical personality and react with hissy-fits when you are challenged and distort points and impugn motives without evidence, rather than trying to understand what your interlocutor is trying to convey. Yes, that is what I termed mirror dynamics and it quite frankly has a paranoid tinge. Maybe you could consult the likes of Robert Brandom on the rules for what "proper" discursive rational and argumentative conduct looks like.

ANd you could do worse than actually listen to the conversation between Taibbi and Mate', which I initially posted here, in which they clearly and calmly dissect and dismantle the #Russiagate memes and the course they have taken.

In the meantime, this video from March 2017 of Susan Rice has surfaced, in which she denies any knowledge of matters which she claimed to know of in her memo, despite not actually being in the room apparently when the discussion which she claimed knowledge of occurred:

All politicians lie, of course, though few lie as preposterously, carelessly, and ineffectively as Donald J. Trump. said...

Hmmm. I definitely got ticked off with, John, so I am not surprised that you have cooked up a fresh set of insulting things to say about me personally, even though you supposedly eschew ad hominem attacks while pompously lecturing on proper discourse. As it is, I shall not go dragging back through details, and you have mostly avoided replying to substantive points, which would have been hard for you to do successfully, but I shall simply remind you that you contradicted yourself quite outrageously at several points as you pompously pronounced your various hard-to-defend claims.

Your discussion of MIchels is useful, although it certainly does not exonerate him from sticking with Mussolini as he moved beyond his period in the Italian Socialist Party. ON that I would say it is not the case that Mussolini was important in the leftist faction of that party. He was the leader of its militarist faction when the party split during WW I against its pacifist faction that did not wish to enter the war, and that led to what followed after.

What is important with Michels is his syndicalist roots, and indeed his most famous idea is very much an anarchist one. The more substantial problem with it is that it has trouble avoiding becoming essentiallly vacuous and useless, all but unscientific from a logical positivist perspective in that it is essentially untestable. If all organizations are or become oligarchic, what can be done? This kind of attitude leads to the sort of nihilism that easily falls into supporting a fascistic strong leader, which is very much the problem for a MIchels position.

I know Tabibi's view of "Russiagate," and I think is crap, not to put too fine a point on it. But I am not interested in debating that further here.

As for whether ot not Susan Rice was in the meeting or lied about it or not, I do not care. It is the Trump people who are trying to make the fact that she wrote the second memo on 1/20/17 about the meeting 15 days prior into some big deal that somehow shows some smoking gun about Obama and his "cabsal" plotting wickedly to undermine or overhtrow the Trum presidency. Whatever one thinks of the accuracy of any of what she wrote, none of it establishes what the Trump people claim it does, and again, they are the ones making a fuss about it, not me.

As for your claim that relying on sources like WaPo for factual material is unreliable because it (and other sources) is "Dembot" iss frankly just stupid sloganeering of the sort that the worst of the Trumpsters engage in. Most of the problems with our argument had to do wiith the fact that you were repeating things that are not factual or even contradictory. Not impresssive.

BTW, John, I do not know you personally either, although, as I said I have seen you make intelligent comments in the past here and there. I shall note that when I googled as I have done now after this tangled display by you all that showed up were some of your comments on various blogs, so I do not know much more. If you google me, you quickly find out who I am and some of what I have done. For you, near as I can tell, commenting on blogs is all that you have ever done that has made any impression on the world, although it may be that "John C. Halasz" is not your real name. In any case, to be blunt, I do not see much basis for your assertions of some sort of superiority on any grounds that you have been making here.

Oh, and I certainlhy got that your citing Heidegger was supposed to be sarcastic, but mostly it was just silly. said...

Needless to say, I am plenty pompous mysrlf. But there it is, takes one to know one, :-).

Anonymous said...

Of course, the Russian influence mattered - there was a difference of only 80K votes over 3 states and the Podesta emails were released just as the Trump 'locker room talk' tape was issued. Plus, most of us should be aghast at the obstruction of justice activities that took place even though they were not charged by Mueller - at least Ollie North and John Poindexter showed up and testified before Congress, but Don McGahn did not. If you rate news shows solely on conspiracy theories, FOX news wins in a landslide!

ilsm said...


Troops of 3rd Inf put flags out at Arlington, Va; the cemetery is 'closed for Covid 19'.

If you see a conspiracy/crime do you stop it or do you let it continue to see how large the wave grows, how much damage (I won't say national security bc that is a very vague term these days) can be done?

"I am not sure what you are proposing: "

Respect for the Bill of Rights.

Wiretapping a foreign national for 'cause' that does not suspend the privacy rights of a US citizen.

To make it "fair (?)", not take sides or make politicians feel "unsecure" and disregard the Bill of Rights a shade lighter than black, call in the marked citizen's boss, oh yeah the boss was the opposition politician.

I do not see Obamagate as covering up covid rather the news cycle is running out of covid 19 "ain't it awful stories" that fly.