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Red Herring?

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Red herring.jpg
By misocrazy from New York, NY – Cropped from Kipper, CC BY 2.0

Jeet Heer flags a pair of articles raising concerns about the investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign:

“Imagine if the same kind of attention could be trained and sustained on other issues—like it has been on the Muslim travel ban,” Masha Gessen argued last week in the New York Review of Books. “Russiagate is helping [Trump]—both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.”

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi fears that the final scandal will amount to a relatively minor matter, thus discrediting the press and Trump critics.

Dan responded to a similar piece last week, but I think it is well beyond time to cease treating Greenwald as an honest interlocutor on these issues.  And I believe Heer’s analysis of the motivation behind these kids of pieces is spot on:

There are other reasons to sideline the Russia narrative. For a Democratic Party adrift after last year’s electoral wipeout, focusing on the Russia story risks ignoring hard questions about the need for internal reform. After all, if the election loss can be blamed on Russian interference, the party doesn’t need to change. For some on the anti-war left, there is also the fear that the Russia story will ignite a new Cold War. And pushing unfounded claims about the Trump administration’s Russian connections only contributes to the destructive culture of conspiracy created by the president.

Granting that it is possible (even probable) that the Russia connections will not amount to anything much more significant that what we’ve already seen,  I think it’s worth working through some of the complaints.

  1. Strictly in terms of doing damage to the Trump administration, the investigation has already been worthwhile; Flynn is gone, and Trump has been far more distracted by the task of fighting the investigation than the Democrats have been by pushing it.
  2. If there is anything more to Trump-Russia collusion than is already in the open, we certainly won’t find anything about it UNLESS the Dems push hard. Some Republicans are at least somewhat sensitive to these questions, but can’t be expected to drive the investigation on their own.
  3. Taibbi’s warning about a failed investigation discrediting the media is really quite strange; it seems to suggest that journalists should avoid serious investigations when they’re not sure what precisely they might turn up.
  4. There is zero evidence that “failed” investigations are politically damaging to those who drive them.  The Russia investigation has already turned up more than Benghazi ever did, and the political penalty that the GOP paid for pushing Benghazi appears to be nil.
  5. There is zero evidence for Gessen’s assertion that calling for investigations of Russia will “crowd out” other complaints, and help Trump; the Democrats (and other groups opposed to Trump) haven’t had any trouble generating opposition to Trump’s travel ban, Ryancare, etc.  The various failed investigations of Clinton and Obama did not prevent the GOP from also pursuing policy-oriented opposition (such that it was).
  6. Concern about the efforts of a right-wing semi-authoritarian country to influence a US election is not “xenophobia,” whether the country in question is Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia.  More later on the “new Cold War” nonsense.

As Heer suggests, the main driver of concern over the Russia investigation seems to be the role that it will play in internal reform of the Democratic Party. I can fully appreciate the reluctance of would-be reformers to place Russia (or Comey) front and center in an analysis of the 2016 election, evidence of their importance notwithstanding.  Narratives of reform always borrow facts selectively, and it’s not obvious that the Russia investigations will be useful for progressives in internal battles.  But this is only part of the project, and there is no reason to discard what may well be an exceedingly useful weapon against the Trump administration.

 

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  • Downpuppy

    To try and separate Trump’s campaign’s tie to Russia & Trump’s business ties to Russia is absurd. It’s not like Trump makes any such distinction. That having a President owned by a fascist foreign government is utterly horrible shouldn’t really need saying, should it?

  • Brett

    I am a little concerned that the Russian investigation is being used to rationalize what appears to be the congressional Democratic strategy going forward: make Trump seem “un-American” and unfit to govern while hoping for Republican defections. It’s the same strategy that the Clinton campaign tried in 2016, and while it wasn’t the reason she lost, it pretty clearly was a failure – Republicans did not defect.

    • upstate_cyclist

      What else are you going to do as the minority party in both houses of Congress besides call for investigations and slow things down? And its not as if its slim pickings for corruption and criminality in the White House septic tank.

    • Pat

      I’d like to see it used to promote the need for strong, public encryption of our voting machines. It’s been years since they were updated, and the software is old, out of date and relies on a corporate group for staying current.

      We can do better. It would be great if the Linux group got together and came up with an open-source, public key solution for our voting machines.

      • JR in WV

        AS a career software guy, this is a sweet but naive suggestion. What we need to do is use paper ballots, make X’s where we want to vote, and then count like hell until we count all those ballots, everywhere.

        No electrical system is foolproof from fraud, particularly from insiders with the passwords and keys to the “kingdom”.

        But ballot faking is really hard and leaves physical evidence.

        Go back to paper and pencils – harder to hack than anything.

        • Pat

          That would absolutely work for me. My state uses paper ballots, and I wish that Pennsylvania also had a paper trail.

          My point is that we can make constructive suggestions that would help reassure us, and hopefully also improve the outcome. This is an opportunity to change the subject from “in person voter fraud.”

    • I don’t think the argument is, or needs to be, that Trump is Unamerican. Its that he’s a lying liar who can be bought and was bought. Trump ran as an outsider who had so much money that he was completely above business and corruption. Hammering away at “what bought the president and when was he bought”–which should be done with every single deal that his family has made since he got into power–is part of the overall strategy.

    • jml1990

      Purely considered in terms of its political utility, Trumpworld-Russian government collusion stands as one of two key wedge issues Democrats can use to drive a divide between the Trump administration and congressional Republicans (the other is the AHCA or whatever horrible “repeal and replace” plan succeeds it.) Apparently, vulnerable Republican congressmen have been taken aback by the amount of concern fom their constituents over Russian interference/influence. There will never be an effective and independent investigation of Russian interference/influence unless we gain back a chamber of Congress – but, the more we push at it, the more vulnerable Republican elected officials have to distance themselves from the Trump administration, which further damages their party unity.

      • Pat

        True!

  • NeonTrotsky

    I’d say this was a useful line of attack if it wasn’t abundantly clear that most republican politicians and voters don’t really care, save a few of the older hawks in the senate.

    • delazeur

      Republican Senators are at the top of the list of people Democrats need to be convincing, and “a few” is enough for the moment.

    • humanoid.panda

      Except that, even if the only result of the investigation is McMaster replacing Flynn, that’s already a great achievement in terms of minimizing damages from the Trump maladministration.

    • Joe_JP

      a few of the older hawks in the senate

      Republicans have a two (three perhaps if you toss in Pence) vote margin. A few older hawks, especially given how much cred they have among the “serious people” in the media etc., very well might matter.

  • Dilan Esper

    Look, no country can be allowed to get away with what Russia did, so there needs to be a complete investigation and we need to do something about what Russia did.

    But do I fear this turning the party into the Russia hawk party? Absolutely. And do I fear centrist hawks in power will use this to try and shut down attempts to move the party in a more dovish direction. Of course. But we have to act anyway.

    • aturner339

      “But do I fear this turning the party into the Russia hawk party?”

      Is this a serious concern. That investigation of Trump/Russia links will lead to.. what exactly? Nuclear holocaust?

      • Aexia

        When you’re so wrapped up in the narrative that Clinton is objectively much worse on foreign policy than Trump and Trump is so terrible, you have to resort to increasingly ridiculous claims (Clinton will start WW3) to bolster your narrative.

      • Murc

        Is this a serious concern.

        Remember, this is Dilan. He thinks that entering into defensive alliances with countries that Russia has a long history of picking up and slamming into walls is an act of aggression against Russia’s legitimate sphere of influence.

        • Dilan Esper

          Expanding NATO was offense, not defense. Bombing Serbia was also offense, not defense.

          NATO is no longer a defensive organization. Things changed. The original NATO, I think was a reasonable response to a Soviet threat. When the threat ended, NATO should have as well (and at the very least, should have never been expanded and moved into offense).

          • ericblair

            So, are countries like Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Romania sovereign or not? Who gets to tell them which alliances they can and can’t join? Should the US and Russia just decide for them? Because that’s certainly not imperialist thinking at all.

            • Dilan Esper

              1. This isn’t about what those countries do, but what WE do. The US should not agree to risk nuclear war to protect far away countries from Russia and interfere in Russia’s legitimate sphere of influence.

              2. Your argument makes no sense anyway. NATO told Ukraine it couldn’t join. You have a problem with that?

              • ericblair

                1. How is a sphere of influence not an imperialist construct? Seriously? And how are the NATO nations bordering Russia doing versus non-NATO nations?

                2. NATO didn’t offer Ukraine a Membership Action Plan; it wasn’t the US. There are conditions, and the Alliance as a body decided that Ukraine didn’t meet them yet. In fact, like Georgia, Russian interference has made it impossible for the countries to control their own borders, and do you think this is a coincidence?

                The United States is not the same as NATO; it’s one vote of 28. While the Warsaw Pact was just a tool of Moscow, NATO is an actual alliance, and the Russians have never seemed to understand this.

                • Dilan Esper

                  A sphere of influence is realism. Great powers have them. We have one. (Ever hear of the Monroe Doctrine?)

                  It really doesn’t matter to me what nations bordering Russia are doing or not doing. It is none of our business. When the people of the world vote democratically for the United States to run the world’s affairs, let me know. Until then, I’d prefer we appease nuclear powers so I don’t get incinerated, thank you.

                  I also really don’t care whether Russia’s neighbors can prevent Russian interference or have stable borders. It seems to me Crimea, in particular, is one where the Russians can make a strong case for what they did. In any event, they are a great power with nuclear weapons and I don’t want to cross them.

                  My point about Ukraine and NATO is that you just endorsed the fact that we don’t have to let Russia’s neighbors into NATO– that’s something we chose to do, and it was dumb and imperialistic.

                  Finally, no, the US is NATO. I’m sorry, but what we say goes. No, it’s not the same as the Warsaw Pact, but nonetheless, NATO will never engage in a military action that the US does not approve. There’s no such thing as a 27-1 vote here. It’s us, and it’s our tool for dominating the world.

                • Redwood Rhiadra

                  Once again, Dilan, you make an argument that also supports the US remaining neutral against Germany in World War II while they conquered *their* sphere of influence.

                  You are a sociopathic, immoral monster. So go fuck yourself and then DIAF.

                • MDrew

                  Well, that escalated quickly (and then ended).

          • Murc

            Expanding NATO was offense, not defense.

            A defensive alliance… is offense. Right.

            NATO is no longer a defensive organization.

            This is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.

    • UnderTheSun

      The United States has got away with what it’s alleged Russia did for the better part of a century so perhaps some self reflection and discipline should be in order.
      BTW, what did Russia do? A few truthful articles in RT and Sputnik News seem to be all that Russia did.

      • Morse Code for J

        They facilitated a hack of email accounts (a federal offense) used by prominent Democrats and their affiliated organizations. They disseminated those emails through WikiLeaks, perhaps with encouragement or instruction to push a narrative of election-fixing supported neither by press investigation nor truly the emails themselves.

        Meanwhile, Trump refuses to release his tax returns, and has appointed to Secretary of State a man whose only relevant accomplishment is negotiating an oil deal that only works if sanctions imposed by the previous administration are lifted. If you can’t see a quid pro quo here, maybe you’re trying too hard.

        • UnderTheSun

          And your evidence for these claims is what exactly? The report by the ODNI which drew on “intelligence” from the CIA, FBI and NSA? The ODNI where the DNI said later that he was not aware of any evidence against the Russians?

          • Morse Code for J

            Even leaving aside the reports of FBI and CIA appraisals of who did the hacking, or contacts between members of the Trump campaign and the Putin government to a degree that would be unusual for any presidential campaign for either party?

            Look at who benefitted here. A series of hacks orchestrated against only the Democrats, with law enforcement suspecting a state actor. The famously incurious Trump, whose policy team made sure that the platform committee at the RNC made way for serious changes on how the party would treat Russia and its incursion into Ukraine, and nothing else. The famously narcissistic Trump, who spoke glowingly and unnecessarily of Putin throughout his campaign as no other candidate anywhere at any strata of the party did. The famously rich-question-mark Trump, whose post-bankruptcy real estate development empire depended on foreign cash and whose tax returns were unreleased against 45 years of political tradition.

            Add to that a campaign manager with ties to the Ukrainian president-in-exile, a close ally of Putin and supporter of Russian military intervention. Other campaign surrogates speaking to Russian officials with no obvious reason to do so. Michael Flynn’s issues. And most obvious (for me), Rex Tillerson named Secretary of State over dozens to hundreds of Republicans with real foreign policy experience, for no apparent reason but that he had done an oil deal with the Putin government that depended on sanctions being lifted.

            I don’t think Trump is a Manchurian Candidate. I do think that he was a good investment for Russian financiers who may have been looking for large business projects to launder state funds and allow for re-depositing in Western banking institutions, with Trump taking a fee. Putin saw that it would be him and Clinton, and decided that Clinton offered no hope of changing the sanctions he wants to be lifted. Trump was happy to accept the help against a candidate that was beating him in the polls. Now the quid pro quo continues.

          • ColBatGuano

            What brand of tinfoil do you use for your hat? I’ve been having problems with stray messages from the aliens slipping through.

      • gccolby

        “The USA has interfered in foreign elections in the past, therefore it’s ok that Russia is doing it to us,” seems to be an emotionally satisfying argument for many people opposed to American imperialism. Unfortunately for them, it’s also an incredibly stupid and childish argument. Foreign interference in the internal affairs of the United States is an extremely serious problem.

        • Nick never Nick

          Just because something is emotionally satisfying doesn’t mean it’s wrong. A lot of people make that argument because they are internationalists — they respect the rights of other countries and peoples, just as they respect the rights of the United States and Americans.

          Your rebuttal to them is a patriotic rebuttal — Russian interference isn’t wrong because it’s interference, it’s wrong because ‘this is my country’. Many people on the left identify excessive American patriotism as a serious problem; it feeds American exceptionalism, and it makes policy proposals such as gutting the State department, or depending on the use of military force, more reasonable. Attacking Trump by arguing that he is insufficiently patriotic is a dangerous bargain — you’re limiting the near danger while feeding its underlying cause.

          And from an internationalist perspective — look at the damage that Russian interference has already caused in America! One reason to point out that this tactic is wrong, even when America does it, is because it has that effect elsewhere. Imagine how much stronger the effect would be if a country the size of the United States interfered, in, say, the political process of El Salvador or Guatemala. The huge power differential would completely warp national governance.

          • aturner339

            Yes but of course this is the “two wrongs don’t make a right” problem. If you believe international interference in elections is wrong then it’s still wrong when Russia does it.

            • Nick never Nick

              I totally agree with this. I’m not arguing that two wrongs make a right, but that this is an excellent time for people to be saying “Hell Yes That Was Wrong” and at the same time, explicitly think about maybe we should forswear that sort of thing too. Maybe make it into what optimistic parents call a ‘learning moment’.

          • gccolby

            Your rebuttal to them is a patriotic rebuttal — Russian interference isn’t wrong because it’s interference, it’s wrong because ‘this is my country’.

            No. This is completely false. This is about as big a mischaracterization of my statement as it’s possible to make. Interference is wrong because a nation’s elections and decisions about policy should be made by it’s own citizens and sovereign government, not by clandestine foreign saboteurs.

            A lot of people make that argument because they are internationalists — they respect the rights of other countries and peoples, just as they respect the rights of the United States and Americans.

            Sorry, this is bullshit. There’s no way to take a principled stance where it’s bad if the US interferes in foreign elections, but no big deal if other nations interfere in US elections. Unless the principle is that anything another nation does to oppose the USA is good, I guess. That’s a principle, I guess, but not a good one.

            If it’s wrong for the United States to interfere in foreign elections (and it is!), it’s because it’s wrong, period. Even someone who believes in realpolitik and thinks nations are justified in engaging in these kinds of operations doesn’t need to resort to patriotism to argue that nations on the receiving end of interference operations should take them seriously. For the obvious reason that nations should want control of their own affairs, not a foreign party with different interests.

            • Nick never Nick

              Maybe I did mischaracterize your argument, if so, I apologize — but you do the same to mine. I’m not arguing that America deserved it, or that it’s bad if America interferes in other elections but OK for other countries to interfere in ours. I’m arguing exactly what your second paragraph says, and that this is a good time to affirm the wrongness of this, both within America and by America.

              I’m afraid I have to go home and watch the kids now while my wife goes to a dental appointment, so I can’t look at this carefully, but I’ll try to do so later.

              • gccolby

                See below for my thoughts on “moments of reflection,” and “national conversations.” The idea that at this particular moment we need to take a moment to loudly affirm that interfering in foreign elections is wrong is just facile. Like, is Nancy Pelosi supposed to go on the floor of the House and say, “I’m calling for an independent investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. And just so everyone knows, this sort of thing is totally wrong. Including when we do it. Anyway, investigate Russia.”? This is silly.

                • UnderTheSun

                  Like, is Nancy Pelosi supposed to go on the floor of the House and say, “I’m calling for an independent investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

                  No, but perhaps she should demand an independent investigation into possible American support for the Honduras coup in 2009, support of jihadists in Syria since 2011, interference in Ukraine in 2014, and possible war crimes in Yemen to start with.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  possible American support for the Honduras coup in 2009, support of jihadists in Syria since 2011, interference in Ukraine in 2014, and possible war crimes in Yemen to start with

                  Why am I not surprised that you want her to focus on what one specific previous administration did?

                  PS We may have committed a war crime or two between 2001 and 2009.

          • djw

            Your rebuttal to them is a patriotic rebuttal

            No, not even close.

          • rea

            Interfering with the US election to put the likes of Trump in charge of the biggest military, including the nuclear arsenal in the world, is rather more serious than interfering with who runs Guatamala–not that it excuses the US from messing with Guatemala

          • los

            Consider these:
            WW2
            Battle of the Bulge. US Corporal shoots German soldier.
            Normandy. German soldier shoots Canadian soldier.
            Both shot an opposing force’s soldier! Both sides do it!

            But isn’t there a moral difference?

            .
            Compare a moral aspect of Trump to Putin’s.
            Donald “We aren’t so innocent” Trump isn’t assassinating journalists yet.

        • James B. Shearer

          …it’s also an incredibly stupid and childish argument. …

          I don’t see what’s so stupid about the argument. Which isn’t jut that that US has routinely done similar things but that most nations routinely do similar things and that it is well within the generally accepted norms of international behavior. So complaining about it is kind of like complaining about the other team deliberately fouling at the end of a basketball game in order to obtain an advantage.

          • Hogan

            There are those of us in the US who complain when the US does it, and would love to see international norms change. Do we get to say something?

            • James B. Shearer

              …Do we get to say something?

              Sure but such complaints are more credible when directed at your own side. And when not exaggerated.

          • gccolby

            This isn’t about “complaining,” it’s about whether or not it’s in the political and national security interest of the United States to investigate possible foreign interference in a Presidential election. To which the answer is “DUH, YES.” That the USA has engaged in these sorts of activities itself is a given and doesn’t bear on the question of whether an investigation is called for.

            The point is that “Well the USA totally engages in this sort of thing, therefore we had it coming and should let it go,” is an idiotic argument. The nonsense about “a moment of self-reflection,” reminds me of the similarly vapid comments about we need “a national conversation about _____,” on whatever the Talking Point of the Day happens to be. The United States isn’t a family sitting around the dinner table. We don’t have “national conversations” or “moments of reflection” in any kind of analogous or relevant way. The arguments about how the US should conduct itself internationally are already happening. They’ll keep happening. That’s good.

            Foreign interference is bad for the United States. Period. Therefore an investigation into the possibility that it happened is necessary. That the US has behaved itself badly in the past is true, but not an argument against investigating.

            • James B. Shearer

              Foreign interference is bad for the United States. Period. …

              I doubt your commitment to this statement as an universal principle. Do you object when some foreign human rights organization complains about conditions in US prisons?

              And on a different topic, I don’t begrudge the blog owners getting some revenue from ads but does this really require making the comments almost unreadable?

              • Hogan

                Foreign interference is bad for the United States. Period. …

                I doubt your commitment to this statement as an universal principle. Do you object when some foreign human rights organization complains about conditions in US prisons?

                Major analogy fail.

              • JR in WV

                Actually, I am in favor of humanitarian groups all over the world working to take torture out of American prisons. Solitary confinement as a punishment is wrong. Solitary confinement to protect one from other inmates is different IF the prisoner being protected agrees with that method.

                I’m also against American interference in elections in other countries! Participating in missions to observe elections in an attempt to ensure fair and open election process is another thing all over.

                I’m even willing to invite election observers to come into the US to watch some counties and states attempt to sabotage the rights of minority groups to vote! Absurdly long lines as a result of inadequate numbers of voting precincts and voting apparatus is one of those tools used to hurt community rights to vote fairly.

                I’m also very interested in implementing sanctions against any country that interferes with elections in the US, no matter the methods used. I would be interested in putting Americans who aided other nations interfering in our elections on trial for federal felonies.

              • gccolby

                I doubt your commitment to this statement as an universal principle. Do you object when some foreign human rights organization complains about conditions in US prisons?

                Surely you aren’t arguing that clandestine efforts to interfere in democratic elections are equivalent to public criticisms of a nation’s human rights record. After all, that would be ludicrously dumb. So I can only assume you meant something else, didn’t you?

                • James B. Shearer

                  So in fact your commitment is qualified. Some foreign interference is okay.

                • Hogan

                  If you define “interference” this vaguely, it’s pointless to talk about any kind of principle.

            • JMP

              The people complaining also need to get their tenses straight. The US did interfere in foreign elections back doing the Cold War. Now? Not so much. The people defending Russian interference are lying when they say “but the US does it too!” instead of “but the US DID it too!”.

              But then, these are mostly the same people whining that “The DNC rigged the election for Hillary!” even though that has been proven to be completely false and actually part of the misinformation spread by Russia to help elect Trump, proving that they care as little for actual facts instead of alternative ones as Donald himself and his supporters.

              • nemdam

                And it also seems to imply that the USSR didn’t interfere in other countries during the Cold War which AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Also, didn’t the US do most of its covert government interference like in the first 20 years of the Cold War? I know Reagan got involved with Nicaragua, and none of this is to excuse what we did, but the US nature of foreign interference has changed dramatically from the early Cold War period which is usually where the bulk of the bad examples of US intervention come from.

              • James B. Shearer

                The people complaining also need to get their tenses straight. The US did interfere in foreign elections back doing the Cold War. Now? Not so much. …

                A recent example of the US interfering in a foreign election.

                • JMP

                  We’re talking about clandestine meddling in an election, and you’re trying compare an open statement favoring voting against a specific referendum – a referendum for which notably there was not a single good reason to vote for, which you have to be completely stupid to support, so of course it passed – really?

                  That is one of the most asinine false equivalences I’ve ever seen, well done proving that you’re not arguing in good faith at all.

                • James B. Shearer

                  For obvious reasons it is easier to cite (and harder to dispute) examples of open meddling than of clandestine meddling. That does not mean clandestine meddling is not also occurring.

                • Openly expressing an opinion about an election is “meddling”?

                • ColBatGuano

                  So, in other words, you’ve got nothing.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  A recent example of the US interfering in a foreign election.

                  This is the sort of stupid I don’t even know how to respond to without gifs.

        • Dilan Esper

          “The USA has interfered in foreign elections in the past, therefore it’s ok that Russia is doing it to us,” seems to be an emotionally satisfying argument for many people opposed to American imperialism. Unfortunately for them, it’s also an incredibly stupid and childish argument. Foreign interference in the internal affairs of the United States is an extremely serious problem.

          Exactly.

          Spying and espionage happen. This is a form of it. I certainly keep it in the perspective that we do this stuff too, but there still has to be a response, just as I wouldn’t be particularly exercised to find out that there were a bunch of Russian spies in Washington, but I would still try to catch them and prosecute them. (And I also wouldn’t have any problem with other countries holding us to account when we interfere in elections or engage in other forms of espionage.)

          • nemdam

            The problem isn’t even that other countries spy on us or we spy on them. Spying is as old as warfare and not unexpected. Of course we should run counterintelligence to try to root them out and blunt their influence. But Russia has done much more than merely spying. If they were just spying during the election, then it would be just like every other election. But they actively put their thumb on the scale to try to get their man in the WH. If that isn’t considered a very serious, arguably existential problem to be fought against, then the lesson Russia and other nations learn is that they should try to aggressively intervene in our elections to advance their national interests.

            • Brien Jackson

              To go further, even if we grant that Russia’s actions aren’t really that bad, which I’m sympathetic to actually, it’s still obviously the case that THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN is massively in the wrong for colluding with them.

              • nemdam

                Yeah, of course. My opinion is that the effect was significant, but even if it wasn’t, the intervention will be bigger next election if we don’t do something about it now.

              • Rob in CT

                THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN

                And other GOP officeholders like McConnell & Ryan, who were briefed and refused to do anything about it, because it was helpful to them.

      • SatanicPanic

        Russia is led by a fascist. I don’t need any more reason than that.

        • gccolby

          A foreign power using clandestine methods to influence American elections and policy is problematic just on general principles. That Putin is an authoritarian who we don’t like ratchets up the emotional and geopolitical stakes, but it would also be bad if Justin Trudeau were hacking the RNC and Reince Priebus in an effort to get Clinton elected. Worse if Clinton campaign staff appeared to be meeting secretly with Canadian officials over the course of the campaign.

          • SatanicPanic

            True. I’m just saying Russia could have been minding its own business and I still wouldn’t like the government or feel any need to defend it. So far as I know Hungary didn’t meddle in our election but fuck their government too.

      • I can’t get over that was practically a Capital Crime when Obama said it is now a praiseworthy moment of reflection when Trump does.

        • muddy

          I should have refreshed before posting the same thing.

      • muddy

        You are really staying on message.

        I think the point of an investigation is TO FIND OUT what Russia did do. If it turns out to be “a few truthful articles” then I will be happy to say you were right all along, and I will praise you every time I see you, fulsomely. Somehow I don’t think I need to worry about that eventuality.

      • The United States has got away with what it’s alleged Russia did for the better part of a century so perhaps some self reflection and discipline should be in order.

        The United States has schemed to put and keep reactionary client regimes in power in other countries.

        Another country allegedly schemed to put a reactionary regime in power in the United States.

        Those who oppose the practice of putting reactionary regimes in power through foreign interference have every reason to resist the practice, not by reflection, but by raising hell about it.

        BTW, what did Russia do?

        Allegedly, they hacked the DNC and the Clinton campaign in order to help Trump win the election – as you surely already know, so clearly you did not ask that question in good faith.

      • los

        few truthful articles in RT and Sputnik News seem to be all that Russia did.

        articles… which you demonstrate inability to name, much less link.

        • UnderTheSun

          Actually, the ODNI report(pdf) seems to rely for evidence of what happened in 2016 on a report published in 2012. See annex A of the report.
          The report mentions, the Occupy protests, the United
          States as a “surveillance state”, infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, drones, Wall Street greed, the national debt, fracking and its effect on the environment and public health, western interference in Syria and the Georgian attack on South Ossetia. As the report contains no links, I’m not going to add links because I can’t be sure I’m linking to the articles referred to.

      • JMP

        “A few truthful articles in RT and Sputnik News”

        Bwahahahahahaha.

        “Truthful” articles in RT and Sputnik, really? The Putin propaganda outfits infamous for peddling complete bullshit? Fuck, if an article appears in RT, that’s a pretty solid proof that it’s nothing but lies. There’s no such thing as a truthful article in RT!

        • UnderTheSun

          Here’s an article from RT:
          Turkey’s Erdogan calls Netherlands ‘rotten, terrorist state’
          Now show me all the lies that RT rather than Erdogan or anyone else are responsible for.

          • JMP

            And that means what? It’s an article from RT, so unless there’s actual credible sources reporting the same thing it is safe to assume that never happened, because RT is infamous for publishing outright falsehoods.

    • upstate_cyclist

      What concrete (or slurry) steps have Democratic politicians or their affiliated organizations made beyond the election cyber-warfare protection efforts?

      • Dilan Esper

        One thing I truly hope is that the DNC has learned something about internal security. John Podesta is a very powerful man, and very powerful men never seem to get held to account for their stupidity, but honestly he was extremely careless with very sensitive information and hopefully the party and its high officials have learned something from this.

        • upstate_cyclist

          Dilan, I was asking about your concerns about Russian hawks. I have yet to see much of anything justifying your anxiety about what members of this group remain in the Democratic party.

        • los

          Dilan Esper says:

          DNC has learned something about internal security.

          Should have.

          John Podesta is a very powerful man, and very powerful men never seem to get held to account for their stupidity, but honestly he was extremely careless

          Security is not Podesta’s expertise. You could blame Podesta for not employing strong security staff. Or maybe campaign management disregarded some of security’s advice.
          I read that a campaign employee previewed messages, but the employee mistakenly labeled the phish mail as a genuine google alert.
          it wasn’t (and obviously wasn’t, as seen by checking domain in the link)
          the previewing employee claimed he typoed, but the text suggested that he missed the phish.

          IMO, Google’s standard scam/spam filters should have binned the phish.
          Otherwise (why?), the campaign’s software should have caught the phish without any employee preview.

          (so, I don’t understand how the phish reached Podesta)

    • Phil Perspective

      Look, no country can be allowed to get away with what Russia did, so there needs to be a complete investigation and we need to do something about what Russia did.

      LOL! Do what, exactly? Are Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Rick Scott and John Kasich all Putin puppets too? Did Putin cause the Democrats to lose close to 1,000 state legislative seats the past 8 years?

      • Ah, it’s charming Phil with his fascinating Perspective on how Russian interference in 2016 is irrelevant because Democrats did badly in recent local and state elections. Bit of a non sequitur to be sure, but when have the rules of logic ever constrained Phil’s Perspective?

  • Morse Code for J

    “Ignoring hard questions about the need for internal reform” = failing to give disgruntled Sanders supporters as much authority as they want to shape the party, now now now.

    • cleek

      this is the key to all of it.

      • Lit3Bolt

        Ding ding ding! The disgruntled American Left also has goals that nicely dovetail with Russia, namely the destruction of international order (EU, NATO, Pax Americana), and turning against Russia now means turning against Wikileaks, whose motives must remain pure because reasons or something.

        Hey BernieBros, state your platform for dealing with Russia. And guess what? “The US deserves it” is not an answer.

        • Marek

          I don’t think I’m a “BernieBro” as you’re using the term, but this Sanders supporter wants a stronger NATO, including more armored divisions in Europe. Good enough for you?

          • JR in WV

            Unfortunately, we don’t really any active but unassigned armored divisions to send to Europe right now. We were moving some around to be closer to the threatened NATO members when the election happened.

            I don’t think Trump is likely to send more troops to the Baltic states or Poland given their attitude that Russia’s foreign policy is none of our business. And he surely isn’t going to send some new divisions to Europe when he wants to fight a war in the Middle East so bad we can all taste the blood.

            I fear that we will find that Iran, as theocratic as it is, is not the pushover Iraq was. And of course, while we defeated the Iraqi army pretty easily we never did win the war against the Iraqi people who fought against our presence there until we pretty much left.

            After Bush failed to negotiate a state of forces agreement with the Iraqi government, we pretty much had no choice but to pull our troops out. Not to mention that the entire war was a war crime based upon a deliberate campaign of lies by the Bush administration.

            Just as a war with Iran will be a war crime based upon either a campaign of lies on the part of Trump and his staff, or after an Iranian response to provocation on the part of Trump’s military, which he is in the process of giving the power to order strikes without Presidential authorization in advance.

            So once war powers are devolved to field generals, who will be blamed for the deaths of millions of civilians and military? Hard to say, especially if we don’t win the war with ease.

            • Marek

              Unfortunately, we don’t really any active but unassigned armored divisions to send to Europe right now.

              No shit. But we can organize more, and encourage our allies to do the same.

        • UnderTheSun

          Russia certainly wants a strong EU because it guarantees stability in Europe which Putin has said quite clearly he wants. And the last time there was real instability in Europe it was Russia as the Soviet Union which had to clean up the mess.
          As for NATO, Putin has said quite clearly that it would be stupid to attack it, but he does seem to have a problem with Germany positioning armored troops on Russia’s border. I can’t imagine why?
          Pax Americana. Now you’re having a laugh. On the whole, there was peace while the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact were around to counteract the US and NATO. Since the Russian gave up on the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, there has been one fucking war after another usually initiated by the United States and supported by the vassals of NATO.
          As for the instability in Europe, some of it can be laid at America’s door with its interference in Ukraine, the Middle East and North Africa resulting in streams of refugees and sanctions that impact European busnesses. The rest can be laid at doors of the various EU leaders and their totally stupid and unnecessary love of austerity. That leaves very little room for Russia to be responsible for any of it.
          As for Wikileaks and Russia, I read recently that its main connection with Russia seems to be that the servers are located at a commercial site in Russia, probably because it would be pretty difficult for the CIA to put a jackhammer through the cables.

          • gccolby

            Pax Americana. Now you’re having a laugh. On the whole, there was peace while the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact were around to counteract the US and NATO. Since the Russian gave up on the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, there has been one fucking war after another usually initiated by the United States and supported by the vassals of NATO.

            I’d reply but I’m too busy picking my jaw up off the floor.

          • ColBatGuano

            I wonder why all those peaceful, happy Eastern Bloc countries bailed as quickly as they could once the U.S.S.R lost leverage?

            • Porlock Junior

              Hey, that was one of those times when there was real instability in Europe! And arguably the last (meaning previous) time before the current family of crises. So it must be the one UtS is referring to. (At first I made the mistake of remembering 1956, a typical geezer error.)

              And the Soviets made an excellent contribution to cleaning up that dangerous mess: on that occasion they kept their fucking tanks at home. Good point, UtS.

      • msdc

        One obvious counterpoint to Heer’s argument is that the far left has other, less noble reasons to sideline the Russia investigation – namely, downplaying or denying Russian interference allows them not only to blame Clinton alone for her loss but also to deny their own culpability in promoting and amplifying Putin’s propaganda.

        Perversely, it also allows the people who were/are most gulled by that propaganda to claim they hold more power to reshape the Democratic party than they actually possess, precisely because they can present that party as weaker and more corrupt than it actually was while ignoring their own complicity in the corruption of the election.

        It has a nice “heads I win, tails you lose” logic to it. Unfortunately, this little power play depends on their willingness to defend the actions of one authoritarian demagogue to elect another as POTUS.

        • los

          far left

          I don’t think there’s much of that “far left”.

          I suspect many supposed disgruntled Sanders supporters that promoted Trump (on the web) were fake.

        • JMP

          Yeah, a lot of them fell for the “the DNC rigged the primary!” bullshit, and then helped elect Trump by staying home or voting third while encouraging others to the same by constantly spreading lies about Clinton, and now they don’t want to admit that their were fooled, that they got played by Vladimir Putin into helping to put an actual fascist in the White House. Instead, they want to take it out on the Democratic Party for daring to nominate the person who won the vast majority of primary votes.

          • los

            There are now very few twitter accounts that seem genuinely BernieBros and virulently anti-Obama and anti-Clinton.
            I think that those types of accounts preceding the election were fake.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              There are now very few twitter accounts that seem genuinely BernieBros and virulently anti-Obama and anti-Clinton.

              That has not been my experience.

            • JMP

              That would be nice if it were true – as did seem to be the case with most of the PUMAs in 2008 – but I’ve seen a lot of people in various comments sections (not Twitter, since I don’t use it) who have been around for years and so I’m pretty sure are not faking it peddling those lines.

              Though I don’t recall seeing UnderTheSun here until recently (though correct me if that’s wrong) and kind of suspect that one possibly is a Putin plant.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              All of the Bernie-or-Bust folks I knew are people I have known for AT LEAST four years, if not eight, and are people I have talked with in real time, several times a week. At least two of them had run for local offices, and one actually appeared on Rachel Maddow.

              None of them are fakes. And they were about a third of the progressive community I was active with on Facebook and Second Life.

              There are a *lot* more of these idiots than you think, and I said that repeatedly during the election.

        • gccolby

          namely, downplaying or denying Russian interference allows them not only to blame Clinton alone for her loss

          I think this explanation is sufficient. Today on Twitter I read the most succinct encapsulation of the current intra-left brouhaha I’ve seen yet. Unfortunately I don’t remember who it was, but to paraphrase, they said “[denial about the role of racism in who decided to vote for Trump] is because they want the election to be a referendum on the Democratic leadership.” This was a reply to an Yglesias tweet wondering why the racist vote had become controversial in intra-left circles; for racism you can substitute denial that there were Russian attempts to influence the election or any number of other things.

          I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen it clearly in those terms before, but that really is the nub for the anti-Clintonites. They want the election to mean that the electorate has rejected the neoliberal Democratic platform. Acknowledging other factors is kind of problematic for this idea.

    • UnderTheSun

      Go on, keep burying your head in the sand and see the Republicans win in 2018 and 2024 and the Republicans and Trump win in 2020.

      • Morse Code for J

        Oh my God, you mean pampered white twentysomethings might not be inspired enough to vote while the base turns out to fight for its life?

        Fuck you.

        • StellaB

          +1

        • Phil Perspective

          Oh my God, you mean pampered white twentysomethings might not be inspired enough to vote while the base turns out to fight for its life?

          It’s no wonder the Democrats are fucked. Since people like you are probably running the party. Do you know why close to have the voting eligible population doesn’t vote? If you did, you wouldn’t be popping your mouth off like a dumb ass. A fair amount of them don’t believe you’re going to make life better for them. Did you watch Chris Hayes last night?

          • Rob in CT

            Actually, “close to half” of the voting population never votes. Turnout bounces around a bit from high 50s to low 60s in Presidential elections and lower numbers for mid-terms, and lower still for special elections/local only.

            We should do what we can to increase turnout, including appealing to The Yout. HOWEVER, thinking that you’re going to get a political sea change out of it is just dumb. You’re tinkering around the margins.

            Most of the people who don’t vote aren’t going to vote no matter what you do.

      • sigaba

        Witness here the blackmail.

        • MPAVictoria

          As opposed to “vote for dems or else”?

          /Which I think one should do. But come on!

          • Abbey Bartlet

            “vote for dems or else”?

            The “or else” is not “or else I’ll retaliate against you.” The “or else” is “or else bad things will happen due to the actions of other people, which I’m trying to stop.”

            It’s not blackmail to point out the consequences of one’s actions. Jesus.

            • los

              The ‘or else’ phrase could avoid misinterpretation by specifing the source of the ‘or else’ danger.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              Or else those folks stay home again!

              And I will continue to not care if they drop dead.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                If they’re going to keep punching themselves despite being given ample warnings and opportunity to stop, I’m not going to waste my time feeling sad for them when they’re all bruised.

            • Brien Jackson

              It’s weird that you have to specify this, but there ya go.

      • You’re one to talk about “burying your head in the sand”.

        You’re the one going “LA LA LA LA NOTHING TO SEE HERE! Investigation can only be a waste of time”.

        • UnderTheSun

          Because the whole “Russia won it for Trump” is fake and an unnecessary distraction. It might make liberals and so-called progressives feel good because then they don’t have to face up to their support for such a useless candidate as Hillary Clinton, but it’s still a waste of time and effort and just seems to increase support for Trump.

          • Because the whole “Russia won it for Trump” is fake

            As you well know, it is alleged that Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign and spread information to fuck with the campaign, and that the Trump administration has some fishy connections to Russia. We know they were in contact with the Russians during the campaign. So, straw men aside, this is not “fake”. What, are you going to start chanting “fake news!” along with Trump and his minions?

            an unnecessary distraction

            Becsuse a foreign power fucking with a U.S. election should not be of any concern to Americans?

            It might make liberals and so-called progressives feel good because then they don’t have to face up to their support for such a useless candidate as Hillary Clinton

            If you call yourself a progressive and did not support Clinton during the general election you have no business lecturing anyone on being “so-called” or supporting “useless” candidates.

            still a waste of time and effort

            Translation: LA LA LA LA NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

            just seems to increase support for Trump

            HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Good one!

      • los

        UnderTheSun says:

        keep burying your head in the sand

        Your comments are uslessly non-specific and aloof from reality, thus pointless.
        You may be a 16 year old. We’re older.

    • witlesschum

      Couching it in these terms doesn’t change the fact that we have to come up with something that Americans will like better than a celebrity appealing to white supremacy.

      here and how does the party position itself in relationship to Trump? Medicare for all? Even if we were correct in assuming the next nominee won’t face the toxic combination of media hatred and frivolity, perceived baggage among voters, femaleness and Russian interference that Clinton got hit with, it’s probably a good idea to prepare as if that’s not the case.

      • leftwingfox

        Finding a revolutionary leftist leader for the Democratic party seems like a doomed effort. Organizational distrust and purity politics are preventing the left from making the same inroads to the DNC that the Goldwater conservatives managed with the Republicans. Instead we get weird proxy battles with artificially inflated stakes.

        The more explicitly socialist groups seem to be focused more on third party efforts at the moment, which will probably be useless without either the complete destruction of the Democratic party or a massive change in electoral politics.

        There may need to be an effort for leftists to work within the corrupt system to break it apart. Use crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding to fund pro-single-payer and pro-socialist lobbies that can buy Dem politician votes.

      • gccolby

        The current Democratic message seems pretty popular. Maybe we should try embodying it in a popular, charismatic candidate? Like this Obama guy, he did pretty well running on a pretty similar platform to Clinton!

    • veleda_k

      Yep. This isn’t about an investigation into Russian hacking drawing attention away from the Muslim travel ban. It’s about an investigation into Russian hacking drawing attention away from,”Hillary was the worst candidate ever, and everything is her fault.”

      • msdc

        And from, “we totally got played by the Russian hacking, sometimes unwittingly and sometimes quite eagerly.”

        • los

          quite eagerly

          who eagerly got played?
          I assume you meant unconsciously, inadvertently?

          • msdc

            I don’t think there’s anything remotely unconscious or accidental about Greenwald, Assange et al. siding against Clinton and with Putin.

  • rea

    Dateline: March 14, 1973:

    “There are other reasons to sideline the Watergate narrative. For a Democratic Party adrift after last year’s electoral wipeout, focusing on the Watergate story risks ignoring hard questions about the need for internal reform. After all, if the election loss can be blamed on Republican interference, the party doesn’t need to change.”

    Dateline: March 17, 1973:

    “Watergate burglar James McCord writes a letter to Judge John Sirica, claiming that some of his testimony was perjured under pressure and that the burglary was not a CIA operation, but had involved other government officials, thereby leading the investigation to the White House.”

    We’ve got to push the investigation to a conclusion before concluding that it is pointless.

  • UnderTheSun

    Granting that it is possible (even probable) that the Russia connections will not amount to anything much more significant that what we’ve already seen,

    What have we already seen beyond some lame whining about RT and Sputnik News? Nothing as the bias in RT and Sputnik News is on par with what we’ve seen from mainstream media organizations like CNN, Washington Post and NY Times. So, really, there’s nothing there as even ex-DNI Clapper has admitted.

    • As I state above:

      BTW, what did Russia do?

      Allegedly, they hacked the DNC and the Clinton campaign in order to help Trump win the election – as you surely already know, so clearly you did not ask that question in good faith.

    • q-tip

      … the bias in RT and Sputnik News is on par with what we’ve seen from mainstream media organizations like CNN, Washington Post and NY Times.

      Please elaborate – what biases do the various news outlets display, and why are they equivalent?

      • UnderTheSun

        Two words for now – Burlington and Electric.

        • q-tip

          Don’t Criss Angel me, bro. Say what you have to say.

    • JMP

      Bull fucking shit. The “bias” in RT and Sputnik News are like the biases at the National Enquirer and Weekly World News, in that the stories they push are completely made up.

    • los

      some lame whining about RT and Sputnik News

      that same lame whining is “yours”.
      same.
      same same.
      “your” comments are the same with slight rewordings.
      that’s botlike.

    • Brien Jackson

      So there was a story in Raw Story today about online Bernie trolls being fake Russian based accounts. Just saying.

  • nadirehsa

    So this is a debate my Indivisible group has been having. Some members want to go all out on calling MoCs to push Russia investigations and demanding Trump’s tax returns. To the exclusion of all else, almost, because our group mostly agrees that we need to focus on a small number of issues.

    My objection to this is that total success on this issue leaves us with President Pence. And I’m not confident that toppling Trump will kneecap Pence and prevent him from enacting all sorts of insane right wing policies. So I think we need to focus on policy issues, like health care, and hammer MoCs there, because President Trump or Pence is a clear and present danger in those realms.

    That said, I’ve noticed there is a ton of genuine passion around the Russia investigations. And I’m wary of squelching people’s appetites for engaging their reps. So I see both sides of this debate, I guess.

    • I guess I think a good idea is to ask your group to vote on how important each topic is to them and then have a working group for each topic: Working group of 5 people to push Trump’s tax returns etc.. on the press and local government officials. Working group of 5 people to do the other things (or however many sign on for it). A committed small number of people who really care about a thing is more important than 40 people all pursuing the same thing if some of that forty are backsliding or uninterested.

      I, personally, think that Pence is no more dangerous that Trump and lacks the glamor of Trump/tie to trump’ voters. So even though pence will do horrible and stupid things in power he a) won’t blow up the world and b) will lose trump’s voters at the midterm and election.

      • upstate_cyclist

        Second the organizing suggestion. And make sure that the working groups report back to the whole on their progress.

      • cpinva

        the organizing suggestion is a great idea, it might actually accomplish something concrete, as opposed to the chickens running around with their heads cut off approach that so many seem to have adopted. if I weren’t consumed with personal issues, this is something I might get into doing.

        not so sure about your take on Pence horrible v Strump horrible. sure, he probably won’t start WW3 by accident, he’ll just spend his time trying to make women wards of the state, so their sexuality can be controlled, just as the men folk like it. I would prefer to just get rid of the whole lot of them, but there’s no realistic chance of that happening.

        • Trump is not going to interfere with the christianist wing of the party doing whatever it wants so Pence will not be any worse than trump, even on the things pence cares about.

          • q-tip

            Yes. Also, AND I COULD BE WRONG ABOUT THIS, I don’t think Pence is as lucky/ favored by Azathoth as Trump seems to be.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Trump is not going to interfere with the christianist wing of the party doing whatever it wants so Pence will not be any worse than trump

            Once more for the people in the back.

        • upstate_cyclist

          I’d like a unionized tech sector but that ain’t gunna happen in the next 4 years either. So you work with what’s in front of you. Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    • Phil Perspective

      And even if you somehow impeach Trump and Pence in tandem, that leaves you with President Zombie-eyed Granny Starver.

    • jojo

      I organized an Indivisible group where I live, and we divided up much like Aimai described. Ours is somewhat different in that we have people focused on specific MoCs in some cases, and on specific issues in other cases, but the basic idea of getting a few people to lead on things they care most about is a good one. Another thing we have done where I live is to partner with other Indivisible groups nearby for actions and townhalls, etc. Since each group has its pet issues, that allows us to focus on our pet issues that are different, so nothing is being left behind. We are also reaching out to other progressive groups locally that are not under the Indivisible umbrella. Many of those groups are more single-issue specific. They are organizing actions, and our members are piggybacking onto those actions, and then some of their people are coming to things we plan. That allows our members to participate in ways they want to. We want to make sure that our people are engaged on issues they care about, so we are trying to make sure that there are ways to accommodate everyone’s passions, without overwhelming people.

      As for impeaching Trump only to have to deal with Pence, I am personally pessimistic that Trump will be impeached. Maybe if Democrats are able to capture the House in 2018, but otherwise I just don’t see it happening. Perhaps I am wrong, I often am, but I don’t believe the Republicans would ever impeach Trump. To me, the value of pushing for in-depth investigations is that it can weaken Trump by driving a wedge between congressional Republicans and Trump, and it puts his administration on the defensive. As Farley noted in his post, the issue has already had some of that effect. This can eat away at Trump’s already weak level of legitimacy with the electorate, making him less effective at pushing his crap agenda, even if it never leads to an impeachment.

  • keta

    Taibbi:

    If that’s the case, there are big dangers for the press. If we engage in Times-style gilding of every lily the leakers throw our way, and in doing so build up a fever of expectations for a bombshell reveal, but there turns out to be no conspiracy—Trump will be pre-inoculated against all criticism for the foreseeable future.

    Bullshit bullshit bullshit. Christ but does this mindset ever piss me the fuck right off.

    Look. Solid investigative reporting does NOT have to lead to a “bombshell reveal” to be worthwhile or successful. Solid investigative reporting isn’t a fucking reality teevee show with some big fucking SURPRISE! promised for the ending, no matter how much the gormless media seems to think this is the desired dynamic.

    Solid investigative reporting takes you to the facts. Period. Full Stop. What those facts tell us can be many things, one of which, yes, could be a “bombshell reveal,” but more often than not is NOT. This does not make solid investigative reporting moot, or unimportant, or heaven fucking forbid, somehow inoculate the subject from further criticism or further solid investigative reporting.

    I mean, for fuck’s sake Taibbi. Does everything in America have to be a guaranteed grand slam fucking home run or just don’t bother shuffling up to the plate? Christ. No wonder American media is such a fucking shallow, narcissistic, craven pool of jerk-off artists all looking to make themselves bigger than whatever story they cover.

    /rant

    • Robert Farley

      Matt Taibbi once came up with a clever way of describing Goldman Sachs. Criticizing him is neoliberal wrecking.

      • kped

        Another problem I have with the guy (besides the thing i rant about below). He is this “finance” reporting expert (or so he thinks), but he knows jack and shit about finance. He was ranting for years about the Feds balance sheet. Got into it with Krugman a few times as Krugman pointed out that guys like him didn’t know what they were talking about as they warned of all manner of catastrophe from Quantitative easing. Taibbi was snarky (and became a hero to conspiracy theory sites like Zero Hedge in the process). Well, almost 10 years later…where’s the doom from QE? Or QE2? Or any of the things Taibbi and others were so sure about?

        But does he or anyone like him ever go back and say “got that one wrong”. Nope. Always forward, with more and more bullshit. If he couldn’t turn a clever phrase, he’d be Thomas Friedman, the man he so loves to mock.

        • msdc

          Self-proclaimed progressives who hate expansionary monetary policy. Jesus John Maynard Keynes wept.

          • kped

            It’s because everything is rigged and only the banks will win in anything.

            Now, the banks sure do win a lot. But things like QE and QE2 did in fact help stabilize the economy and add jobs. Cap and trade, which he was also against because “the banks will speculate” would also help, even if just a little, with pollution, as carbon pollution would have a real price. But it’s always some shadow conspiracy with Goldman Sachs.

            (Krugman also ripped him for his anti-cap and trade stuff, noting that guys like Taibbi don’t seem to have a problem with commodities like wheat being traded, and if speculation in that and other areas hasn’t doomed the world, or enriched banks at the expense of all others, what makes cap and trade so different? Seriously, people like Matt are much less knowledgeable then they think they are about their supposed areas of expertise, but they get away with it because they can make a good dick joke).

            • nemdam

              No, no, no, the business model of Wall Street is fraud, ergo if a bank is involved with anything it will be exploited to only enrich itself. For example, the Wall Street bailout did nothing to actually stabilize the economy and prevent another Great Depression and just put money directly in the pocket of Goldman Sachs because Congress is all neoliberals.

            • msdc

              Well put.

              I mean, I will always love that review of “The World is Flat,” but he does seem to be at a loss when he can’t go for the easy joke.

      • FlipYrWhig

        The vampire squid essay has a whole thing about how the next thing to be financialized because Wall Street will love it so much is… cap and trade. By Taibbi’s own criterion, that sort of no-conspiracy revelation should mean that no one gets to criticize Goldman Sachs and be believed anymore, right?

    • Alex.S

      It’s the mindset that caused New York Times to breathlessly report that people asked the State Department for favors and didn’t receive them.

      Or to run a daily “Wikileaks!” email scandal story without any scandal or story.

      It’s also the mindset that caused the media to give up on Trump’s taxes and financial records. Reporters weren’t assigned to investigate Trump’s charity because there probably wasn’t a good story there, so it took a single person working months to eventually point out that Trump was constantly breaking the law with his charity.

    • kped

      Yes! 100% yes to this.

      Also, Taibbi is so fucking disingenuous here. I read this clown, and here is what he wrote during the fucking election (yes, he drives me to swearing online…that’s how annoyed I am with this shit head).

      Seriously, read this: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/stop-whining-about-false-balance-w440228

      Where he whines about people on the left pissed off about false balance. Hell, take a look at what he says in this piece about the bullshit Clinton Foundation stuff:

      The irony is, the Clinton Foundation thing is a rare example of an important story that is getting anything like the requisite attention. The nexus of elite connections that sits behind tales like Bill Clinton taking $1.5 million in speaking fees from a Swiss bank (and foundation donor) while that same bank is seeking relief from Hillary Clinton’s State Department is exactly the kind of thing that requires the scrutiny of reporters.
      This is particularly true since the charity is a new kind of structure, with seemingly new opportunities for conflicts, and an innovation that is likely to be replicated in the future by other politicians – perhaps even a future President Trump himself.
      Such investigative reports on the mechanics of political influence are also exactly the sort of thing that media audiences routinely ignore, unless by some lucky accident they happen to be caught up in the horse-race drama of a Campaign Reality Show.

      Of course, nothing was actually there, but…it was important! And good that the media went after this, according to Taibbi. Now, he won’t admit that there was nothing actually scandalous going on, but this was a story that was important to flog.

      But now…”hey guys, i’m worried that we are digging too deep on this Russia thing…what if nothing big is found?” Excuse me? Now you have fucking worry about stories potentially turning into bullshit? Now Taibbi is worried about potential consequences of going after stories that don’t add up to anything criminal?????????????????????????????

      He said a reporter should be like a hungry dog going after a bone (i believe this was on twitter, not in the piece I linked), yet now he’s saying “hey reporters, step back a little, you’re going to chew through that bone”. Seriously, fuck this guy.

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        The truly depressing is, among the eXile pink anarchist bunnies, he was the voice of sanity.

      • kped

        More dumbassery from Matt:

        https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/status/841336515976450052

        Virtually no US media outlets have picked this story up

        This being…a Russian bank hiring John Podesta’s brother to lobby. He wrote this to show…hypocrisy on liberals side? Except…this isn’t John Podesta, it’s his brother. He also worked for the same bank in the past…and it did nothing to the Democratic platform (in fact, guys like Taibbi said that Clinton was too anti-Russia…). So why is this story something that needs mentioning? Well…uh…it has the name “Podesta” in it…so there’s that.

        He also says “yuck” in a tweet about the “our sides” use of terms like “bothsiderism”, and “lesserevilism”…and calls them “soviet” techniques…because noting that the media is obsessed with yelling both sides is exactly like Stalin? I don’t even fucking know anymore. These guys are so fucking intellectually dishonest, nothing guys like Taibbi can be taken at face value anymore. It’s all about who you hate, and it seems guys like him and Greenwald hate the same people – liberals. So anything to knock us down? even if it means downplaying the actual people in powers crimes and plans.

        • veleda_k

          and calls them “soviet” techniques

          Red baiting! Wait…

      • nemdam

        Thing that angers me so much about the Clinton Foundataion and EMAILS! (other than the obvious) is that virtually no Clinton supporters think this stuff shouldn’t be investigated. Investigate away! All of our leaders should be held accountable, especially Presidential candidates! Their objection is relentless painting this crap as a scandal when there’s no there there.

        • kped

          Exactly. Like, the NYT spent 2000 words on Hillary possibly doing favors for the foundation by arranging diplomatic VISA’s for them. Now, the piece said that they didn’t give the VISA’s. Nor that they even met. And also, the VISA’s were for Bill’s aides to join him in North Korea to help free American hostages. Literally every question was answered in the piece, yet it painted this as something nefarious and adding “questions”.

          That’s the shit we objected to. If you have a story, you report it, and find it comes out clean:

          a) Don’t write it up, your investigation didn’t bring anything up, or

          b) Don’t write it up as if something fishy is going on and use that tone in the piece while burying a one sentence “no wrong doing was found” in the 10th graph.

          How many stories did you read about “while it seeked approval from Hillary Clinton’s state department”, that briefly mentioned that the State Department was only 1 of a dozen agencies to have to give approval…and it didn’t even give the approval. That was what pissed people off, not the “investigation”.

    • royko

      Well, I mean, clearly, when both Bill and Hillary’s attackers fixated on bullshit scandals, that totally inoculated them forever!

    • cpinva

      “I mean, for fuck’s sake Taibbi. Does everything in America have to be a guaranteed grand slam fucking home run or just don’t bother shuffling up to the plate?”

      good point, look how well that approach worked against the Clintons. oh………..um, wait. never mind!

    • rea

      There was never a “big reveal” with Hillary Clinton, and yet . . .

  • Alex.S

    The Russia scandal does a few things-

    * Shows how absurd and partisan the FBI interference in the election was. The FBI made a choice and used their influence to downplay Russian interference with the election and interaction with the Trump campaign. It shows that Comey knew how sensitive it was to throw the FBI’s weight around during an election.

    * Gives a possible line to maybe, just maybe, having Trump reveal his financial records.

    * Get rid of some of the worst people, such as Flynn. A lot of the terrible people surrounding Trump were also happy to work with Russia.

    * Maybe, just maybe, have the media give a little self-reflection to which stories they hype for the clicks and the general “NEWS!” 90% of the Russian scandal is the media was willing to carry water for Wikileaks over nothing.

    ———-

    I’m not expecting it to be an all-consuming scandal that causes impeachment. But it would be nice to know Trump’s finances and business holdings, which has been a basic level of knowledge we’ve had about every President since Nixon.

    • Joe_JP

      Good bullet points.

      Russia connections also seem to be something that can be used as a wedge between Trump and his supporters / other Republicans. Part of the way to win is to weaken your opposition even if the opposition doesn’t simply come to your side.

  • Bugboy

    “The Russia investigation has already turned up more than Benghazi ever did…”

    But that was never the point of Benghazi Fever. By GOP metrics, Benghazi was a stunning success, because it helped keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. That’s certainly not something GOP would consider “a failure”.

  • D.N. Nation

    Stop talking about Cheney and Halliburton; Real Americans don’t care and there are better ways to be against the Iraq War.

  • Morse Code for J

    And contrary to Gessen and Taibbi, I don’t know why it would be a minor story to prove exactly how Russia, a country under crippling sanction for good reason, used its intelligence services and WikiLeaks to divide the party most likely to continue those sanctions, for the benefit of a wholly unqualified candidate who very likely has deep and ongoing financial ties to individuals in or close to Putin’s government.

    That’s just me, of course.

  • Scott Lemieux

    and the political penalty that the GOP paid for pushing Benghazi appears to be nil.

    Given that BENGHAZI begat EMAILS!, it was in fact a huge net win for Republicans.

  • Grumpy

    Taibbi, Gessen, Greenwald, etc. are concern trolls. I liked Gessen’s columns in NYRB and NYT on resisting autocrats, but she increasingly seems to be of the far-left “I don’t like all this anti-Russia stuff because it distracts from Shillary’s emails” crowd.

    • Nick never Nick

      I think that Gessen’s basic point is that she believes Trump should be fought on the fundamentals — what he is doing to public policy in the United States (e.g. health insurance, the EPA, voting rights), that these are vital issues. Russian interference is a Hail Mary, the froth on the scum, so to speak. It’s not that different from the opinion widely expressed on this blog, which was that Russian interference was worth noting, but that the actual scandal was the behaviour of American institutions during the election.

    • Brien Jackson

      I didn’t really even think Gessen’s essay was all that good in its prescriptions for fighting Trump because she clearly didn’t know much about American politics or domestic government (i.e. federal institutions like the judiciary and bureaucracy, to say nothing of Democratically controlled state governments, certainly WILL be critical to resisting Trump and hurting him politically). She’s only made my opinion of her value as a commentator go down since.

      • humanoid.panda

        The bigger problem with Gessen is that she profoundly misunderstands where Putin came from and how he assumed power. Her story is that Russia was a fledgling democracy, and then Putin destroyed it by using massive doses of propaganda and coercion. The problem with that story is that the entire toolkit at his disposal was inherited from Yeltsin: a super-powerful presidence able to rule by decree, weak parties and othe institutions, media controlled by Kremlin proxies, rapidly recovering secret services. So its hard for her to grok that Trump doesn’t have those tools, and thus her advice is largely useless. Add to this the fact that she absolutely doesn’t care about rising popular prosperrity and restoration of basic state function as foundation of Putin’s popularity, and you see how her Trump/Putin parallel falls apart.

  • NewishLawyer

    Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who likes being a Democratic Party member.

    Jeet Herr is great but it is obvious that TNR has been taken over by the Bernie or Buster wing which doesn’t really see itself as being warm and fuzzy with the Democratic Party. They can be valuable at pushing against concern trolling from neoliberals at Vox but sometimes get carried away.

    What happened to the Democratic Party in 2016 was freakish and weird and the product of much gerrymandering. We won seats in both the House and Senate but not enough to gain control. This is dispiriting but so many people on the left and right are learning the wrong lessons (IMO) from this event.

    • Monty

      As a Democratic Party member, PLEASE articulate the party’s platform.

      k thx

      • Abbey Bartlet
        • Mr. Rogers

          I was just coming here to post the same link.

          Of course, that was before the election. Currently you can add the preamble “Oppose the fascist currently illegitimately in power by any legal means, then work towards platform of….”

      • Alex.S

        A fair and just America — the goal of the Democratic party is to have Americans treated equally and fairly by the law and the government. The party also believes it is the role of the federal government to provide a level of support for people who have fallen on hard times or are coming from a difficult situation (some might call it a safety net).

        As such, it’s primary commitments are
        * fighting discrimination
        * providing access to basic benefits such as health care, food, and housing
        * improve jobs and wages for the non-wealthy
        * also environmentalism

        Now, the largest problem facing the Democratic party is that the various issues are not solvable via one all-encompassing solution. It’s a coalition of groups that are “stronger together”, working with each other to try to improve the lives of all Americans.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Now, the largest problem facing the Democratic party is that the various issues are not solvable via one all-encompassing solution.

          When you replace the prevailing late-capitalist mode of production-for profit with a socialist, production-for-use of production, all those problems become self-solving. It's all in the Grundrisse.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      In fairness, the more ridiculous material mainly comes from Jones, Chang and Shephard.

    • gccolby

      Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who likes being a Democratic Party member.

      I know, right?

      Because lost elections always prove whatever it is that you believed in the April before they happened to be correct, the, uh, Left (?) is really hammering hard on the “Democrats are DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED if they don’t adopt my specific policy preferences right now!” drum. After a very weird election decided by 80,000 votes in three states. Where, as you point out, Democrats gained a small number of seats in both houses of Congress.

      There’s no denying the Democrats are in a very tough spot and have a lot of rebuilding to do. But explanations of the election results of 2016 that lean so heavily on ideological failure on the part of the Dems seem outrageously overdetermined to me. As do the claims that energized young people will abandon the party in droves in 2018 and 2020 if it doesn’t immediately transform into a Workers party. I’m totally fine with the Democrats tacking further left economically, but expecting that to transform us into a permanent majority party seems a little too optimistic.

      • FlipYrWhig

        As do the claims that energized young people will abandon the party in droves in 2018 and 2020 if it doesn’t immediately transform into a Workers party.

        Where the fuck did this idea come from, by the way, that rough-hewn laborers are just itching to ally with countercultural youth? It’s all over the Bernie-sphere. Don’t laborers hate the “participation trophy” and “special snowflake” generation almost as much as they hate black and brown people?

        • Lit3Bolt

          Since the Flowers of the Revolution are on the intertubes screeching at women and POC for being insufficiently Marxist instead of talking to anyone wearing Carhartts, I think we have our answer.

        • gccolby

          I don’t know. Might be because Bernie got more votes than Hillary in the WV and MI primaries. Which obviously proves these salt-of-the-earth rust belt workers are hungry for socialism.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Bluntly, the idea comes from Karl Marx (the idea that once you get rid of “false consciousness”, the proletariat will be eager to unify against the capitalists). Communism is fashionable again on the hard left. (See TVTray, NoMoreAltCenter, etc, who have explicitly advocated Marxism – by name – in their comments.)

  • Monty

    If there is anything more to Trump-Russia collusion than is already in the open, we certainly won’t find anything about it UNLESS the Dems push hard.

    Really? Then we’re sunk.

    • Fuck off.
      Kthanx, bai.

      • Brien Jackson

        People like this always want other people to fight harder. Gotta pick up slack for them after all!

    • SatanicPanic

      I know it’s fashionable to crap on Democrats as weak-willed, but since the election a lot of us have been devoting a lot of time to calling our representatives and telling them to fight. And the results have been better than usual. If you have access to a working telephone or if you have the ability to go to their office in person, they you too can join in this effort. Sitting there going “we’re doomed” is also an option, but when people around you are actively trying and seeing results, then it’s not option that is helpful.

      • I think the attacks on Democrats for being “weak willed” is all part of the romance of the political as stern, somewhat unpleasant, fighting truth teller to power. The whole Bernie Shtick. In reality politicians are responsive to pressure from their constituents and from their party–pressure from constituents should drive them. That’s why we elect them. Party membership and party goals are somewhat more long term and we shouldn’t vote for them if we don’t agree with them and we should expect that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for tough votes (like the ACA was) in pursuit of long term promises that they made to their voters.

        The soi disant leftists who maunder on and on about wanting a fighting, angry, democratic party are really in love with the notion of a authoritarian leader who is not responsive to their voters. We are the voters we have been waiting for. A shitload of people were not politically engaged and they (not me, because I’m pretty political) left the hard work of calling, pressuring, donating money, and getting out the vote to other people. Politics in this country is not going to go to the most right, or the most complaisant, voters. Its going to go to those who get off their asses and vote. So any voter who is waiting to be inspired, or to see a politician shaking their fist on TV, is in the wrong business.

        • Brien Jackson

          This comes up over and over in their hissy fits. They really did believe Bernie would rule by dictate and singularly impose his agenda Congress and Republicans be damned.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Keep in mind that Bernie’s own theory for how this would happen was that people would appear outside Mitch McConnell’s house and scare him into doing what they wanted.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              ETA: NVM DFTT.

        • nemdam

          Folks bristle when I suggest this, but I increasingly believe the Bernie-or-Busters are really just authoritarian leftists. They believe there is one narrow, uncompromising way to do leftism, they justify using bullying and intimidation to get what they want, and they put all of their hopes and dreams into a daddy-like figure. In 2004 it was Howard Dean, in 2008 it was Obama, now it’s Bernie, and in the DNC Chair race it was Keith Ellison. There was also this attitude on a smaller scale with Russ Feingold and Zephyr Teachout.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            Of course, Authoritarian Leftism is an actual political philosophy with an actual name. But of course we can’t use that name, because it’s “red-baiting”.

          • JustinRunia
            • Hogan

              a core tenant of the idea behind the United States

              OK, I’m done.

              • Shouldn’t we at least wait to find out whether he’s talking about a mere roomer, a full boarder, or someone in between?

            • nemdam

              Ho-ly shit! I know it’s the logical conclusion of the modern “left” as I outlined it, but it’s still amazing to see it articulated so clearly.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                Uh oh. Jacobin hates that guy. Circular firing squad, assemble!

                • JustinRunia

                  Ah, I couldn’t figure out where that guy was coming from, the libertarian angle does fit better than the socialist one. Paste has been on my watch list (by which I mean, my hate-read list–I might have been the reason they closed their Disqus comments last month…) since they picked up Walker Bragman. But the stable of blow-hard brogressives over at Paste may be running out of gas now that we’re out of presidential election season and the economic reality of covering hundreds of congressional races comes to bear.

                  I did find this comment pretty ironic, coming from Jacobin:

                  “So it’s not too surprising that Brennan deals with persistent social problems like racism by acknowledging their existence, expressing vague concern, and then sliding right on by.”

                  Wow, I agree, obtuse ideologues are problematic!

          • Brien Jackson

            Oh, absolutely. And this is nothing new: They’ve been this way at least since 2009 when they were shrieking about Obama ramming a strong public option down Max Baucus’ throat and demanding passage of Obamacare by the end of the day.

      • JBC31187

        We’ve gone from Schumer and Sanders saying “Well, we’ll work with the fascist if he has good ideas” to “fuck you Trump.” I’m less worried about our politicians (even Manchin!) than I am our populace.

        • SatanicPanic

          What’s amazing is I hear this in California, where I woke up the day after the election to hear politicians hammering Trump right out of the gate. It was the first time in my life I’d ever thought, wow, the pols are out in front of me (Feinstein being the lone disappointment). I’m still hearing the same old from the usual suspects. It’s like they’re immune to new information, but I’m working to get them off their butts and making the phone calls or doing something besides navel-gazing.

          • nemdam

            And what’s great about these people is they are conspicuously silent on chastising Bernie for his vows to work with Trump. Somehow all the Democrats are too weak, but Bernie gets a pass for fighting Trump less than Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

  • Aexia

    During the cold war, the Soviet Union was at least nominally a communist state so you’d understand why the left would cape for them.

    Today’s Russia is a brutal authoritarian regime with no such pretenses yet a certain element of the left continues to white knight for them. It’s time to stop giving Greenwald et al the benefit of the doubt and start looking into the actual reasons they defend Russia so much.

    • CP

      A brutal authoritarian regime with a strong penchant for “drowned-in-the-bathtub” style gangster-capitalism, and religious fundamentalism, and foreign policy imperialism.

      Speaking of which: dear God, if I never hear the phrase “near abroad” again from an alleged progressive, it’ll be too soon.

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        “near abroad”

        Only neo-liberal shills would deny this as justification for Cuba and/or Venezuela to invade the USA.

    • JustinRunia

      Greenwald is essentially a state power skeptic on the level of Rand Paul; therefore pointing out the wide variety of states that are far more authoritarian and repressive, that do far less for their citizens and ask far more of them undermines his thesis that the US is a Civil Liberties Gehenna, and cannot be tolerated. He’s not bought, he just lives in the bubble of libertarian ideology that afflicts a lot of white guys like myself.

      • A state power skeptic who is selectively blind to the horrors of some states but not others, who ignores the rise of corporate and global actors, is just fucking embarrassing at this point.

      • CP

        I’m not sure “state power skeptic” is the best term. He’s an America-power skeptic, who thinks the U.S. is the focus of evil in the modern world, and that allying with anyone opposed to it is therefore justified along “if Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons” lines. (And has convinced himself that the Democrats are, within the American spectrum, the purest embodiment of that evil).

        At least that’s the most charitable interpretation I can come up with.

        • Davis X. Machina

          (And has convinced himself that the Democrats are, within the American spectrum, the purest embodiment of that evil).

          Remember, social fascists are the real class enemy.

      • sk7326

        With Greenwald, remember where Snowden is staying. Now – it is possible that Greenwald was not involved in that arrangement, or has no positive feelings for Russia for providing such an arrangement – but I sincerely doubt it.

        • Brien Jackson

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The most charitable reading of Greenwald is that Russian agents have told him to carry water for them or they’ll kill Snowden.

    • nemdam

      Wait, you mean a journalist whose Pulitzer Prize level claim to fame is “whistleblowing” against the US, working with a person who sought asylum in Russia, and working with an organization which is a front for Russian intelligence might not be on the level? And said journalist also makes excuses for the most dangerous man ever win a major party nomination who also happens to be Russia’s preferred candidate, and said journalist also propagandizes against the one party that most closely aligns with his ostensible values and can stop said candidate? Why, you must be a red-baiting conspiracy theorist to question the motivation of someone with this background.

  • cleek

    the Democratic Party should listen to us and do as we say because hate it!

    • Lit3Bolt

      I've written a thousand letters to the girl I love calling her a worthless bitch and treacherous whore...why doesn't she respond? I've said repeatedly I only want to use her for my own self-gratification and amusement...shouldn't that be enough? Doesn't she see we could be an unbeatable team if she simply did everything I commanded and allowed me to control her utterly?

      • Perfection! I have long thought that there was a heaping dose of NiceGuy/PUA attitudes towards the democratic party in the current left in the US.

        • MyNameIsZweig

          Oh man, I had never noticed that before but now it is so obvious.

        • CP

          Puts a whole new spin on the “Dad party versus Mom party,” don’t it?

          Democrats are the party everyone takes for granted. That makes them either the national maid, the national mom, or the national unappreciated wife/girlfriend/wev. But yes, all female archetypes.

          • Bingo! Yes, this is one reason I hated having to read that stuff about how the democrats are the mommy party over and over and over again, or the nanny state stuff. If you don’t understand how that feeds into an essentially permanently misogynist attitude towards both women and government then you are not helping anything.

            • Marek

              Harrumph.

          • SatanicPanic

            mind.blown.

  • CP

    “Imagine if the same kind of attention could be trained and sustained on other issues—like it has been on the Muslim travel ban,” Masha Gessen argued last week in the New York Review of Books. “Russiagate is helping [Trump]—both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.”

    One: the question of whether or not the president has ties to our most powerful foreign competitor is not a “distraction.” It’s a real problem in and of itself that any American, much less any liberal, should be very concerned about.

    Two: whether or not Trump has illicit ties to the Russian government or entities under its control, he’s made it very clear that he’s a huge fan of theirs, more than he is of the liberal democracies that’ve been longstanding allies of ours. Anything that puts him on the defensive on this front and forces him to distance himself from Russia is a good thing.

    Three:

    and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.

    Dear God:

    Is anybody arguing that we should revoke travel privileges for Russians because they’re Russian?

    Is anybody arguing that people seeking political refuge from Russia should be banned from entering the country?

    Is anybody arguing that Russian-Americans are inherently suspect and should be made to take loyalty oaths, or sent home to Russia?

    Is anybody arguing for the profiling of ethnic Russians or of Russian-Orthodox believers?

    Has there been a series of Russian-Orthodox churches burnt down by arsonists?

    Has there been an increase in random street violence directed at people who are or look/sound Russian?

    Has there been an increase in Russophobic messages in white supremacist groups?

    I’ve come across a few of these accusations that being worried about Putin’s influence in American politics is just like Islamophobia but with Russians, and it’s even more ridiculous than the McCarthyism. People are worried about the Russian government, period. Nobody’s attacking the vodka salesman down the street. The people who do go in for that kind of crap are too busy hating on Jews, Muslims, and Mexicans. And loving Putin for sharing their goals.

    • humanoid.panda

      Has there been a series of Russian-Orthodox churches burnt down by arsonists?

      Just a matter of time before Rod Dreher runs a letter from a reader describing how a gay mob attacked an Orthodox Church, screaming “this one’s for Wikileaks!”

      • Lit3Bolt

        *grumbles, looks for cloth to clean keyboard and screen*

    • Russia/Trump is also materially tied to the emoluments issue, bribery, corruption, and graft. There’s no way to get around it. Nothing Trump does is without a literal payoff in cash money or trademark. There’s no way to ignore this.

      • keta

        Exactly.

        As CP correctly notes, this whole Trump-Russia issue needs to be looked at through the lens of the health of American democracy, not just in this moment but also with an eye to the future.

        Partisan politics has subsumed every single issue in American political life, and it absolutely blows my mind to see people squealing, “Don’t pursue that, it’ll make our party look bad!” Meanwhile, “that” is ripping apart the fabric that holds the highest office in the land accountable, respectable, and respected.

        Un-freaking-believable.

        • CP

          Totally.

          To be fair, I think it’s to some extent inevitable, because partisanship has subsumed everything else in the GOP so completely that they now can’t even be relied on to care about evidence of potential government subversion by a foreign power, as long as the subversion is from one of their own.

          That doesn’t do anything to excuse the braying brogressives, though.

          • Davis X. Machina

            The organs of the state exist to serve the Party, and not the other way round, because the Party, and not the state, is the Vanguard of the Revolution.

            Come the Revolution, as it is, the state is fated to wither away.

            All power to the soviets of jackleg preachers and hedge-fund managers!

        • Lit3Bolt

          I’m taking the Leftist concern trolling and the oblique defenses of Trump and Putin as a good sign.

      • nemdam

        If there’s one thing I learned this election it’s that no one cares about “pay-to-play” schemes.

        Unless it’s a woman.

        It’s what also makes the “Russis is overblown” criticism from the left so dopey. They are APOPLECTIC that Hillary gave some Goldman Sachs speeches because they just KNOW that this is evidence she was bought off for $675,000 even though her family is worth like $100 million and she donated the money to charity. But Trump being in the pocket to the tune of tens of millions to a hostile foreign nation that actively tried to get him elected? Nothing to see here.

  • Abbey Bartlet

    After all, if the election loss can be blamed on Russian interference, the party doesn’t need to change.

    Take out Russia and/or Comey and Hillary Clinton is in the White House. Take out both and Majority Leader Schumer is waving his gavel. Seems to me that if we had reason to believe those things won’t happen again (which we don’t), we wouldn’t need to change at all.

    • humanoid.panda

      The notion that we don’t need no freaking change at all is a deeply bizarre one. Let’s say that Hillary wins the popular vote by 4 point, putting her over the edge in the Senate, and we have a 51-49 majority in the Senate, and maybe gain 10 instead of six sits in the House. We are still faced with a policy paralysis, and heading into an election in which we are lucky if the GOP doesn’t gain 8-10 Senate seats. This is not nearly enough.

      • Morse Code for J

        It is not nearly enough to shape policy, but it would have been enough to protect our gains to this point AND install a Supreme Court justice whose vote might have made the difference between keeping or losing future gains under a hypothetical unitary Democratic government.

        When white people who need the Affordable Care Act merely to live still vote for Trump, or Sanders supporters refuse to vote for the most progressive platform in party history because of the name at the top of the ballot, maybe policy articulation is not as dispositive as we might like to think.

      • Well, we do need change but not because we did anything wrong and need to be punished for it, but because the electorate is more viciously stupid and self destructive than we could ever have dreamed. So instead of putting up a fantastic grown up with a great resume and wonderful policies which have been thoughtfully put together by experts and humanitarians we should probably run a telegenic tv candidate using free publicity that will be given to us willingly by the same corporations, tv and news media that propped up Trump. We should give the voters what they want which is someone who will promise them everything while costing foreigners, immigrants, mexico, and our own black citizens pain and suffering. How’s that working as a proposal? Is there any reason that that might not be a good idea?

        • rm

          The free nonstop TV coverage a celebrity gets is a big advantage.

          I hear your sarcasm, and it would be a bad idea to promise pain and misery to people, as that only sells among conservatives.

          But what about nonstop TV hijinx? Entertainment is the name of the game now.

          I keep thinking Justin Bieber, but he is Canadian. Scarlett Johansen I think is also foreign.

          Will Jennifer Lawrence be 35 in 2020? There is misogyny, but if she wore leather and carried a bow and arrow . . .

          Is Samuel L. Jackson too old? I can really imagine him getting the nonstop TV like Trump did.

          Aziz Ansari?

          Ryan Gosling? The memes ads write themselves.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            ScarJo is a native-born American citizen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlett_Johansson#Early_life

          • Brien Jackson

            George Clooney doesn’t sound like the worst possible option.

            • ericblair

              Clooney/Springsteen 2020. I’m not really kidding, I think.

            • nemdam

              Matt Damon would be my other choice. When I’ve seen him talk politics, he seems to really know what he’s talking about.

          • brad

            Rosario Dawson.
            I have a vague memory of being very impressed by her as a public speaker, and the demographics are right.
            Granted, she’s not a huge name.

            … or Oprah is rumored to be considering it. Oprah/Beyonce 2020.

            • Q.E.Dumbass

              I don’t consider Hillary the best American politician by a long shot, but I’ve always considered Nas to be her best hip-hop counterpart (and personally I consider him Top 5 dead-it-alive, no question).

            • Abbey Bartlet

              Rosario Dawson.

              Huge Bernie backer who then devoted her time to attacking Hillary and voting for Jill. No thanks.

              • brad

                Really? Shit. I remember her as sane, my mistake.

                • nemdam

                  She was a contender for worst Bernie supporter in the primary. She was AWFUL.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  And after the primary.

      • Brien Jackson

        What change, exactly?

  • upstate_cyclist

    Everybody remember in 2008 (or even 1973 god forbid) and we were all told that it was imprudent to litigate this past. Yeah, not this time!

    • CP

      It’s even more surreal hearing this from people who had as one of their biggest objections to Obama that he didn’t immediately jail everyone in the Cheney administration for war crimes and everyone on Wall Street for the financial crisis.

      • upstate_cyclist

        And I thought it was just the RWNJ who sustained themselves by reflexively hating anything a liberal interest group believes is a good idea.

      • rm

        And in 1973, 2008, and 2017 it’s a lot of the same bad actors we are not supposed to try to expose to sunlight.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    Second all the comments about that caviling about follow up on Trump-Russia is absurd.

    But what I really want to know is where I can buy herring or any other fresh fish at that price. British pound 5.95 per kg is just over $3 per pound.

  • sleepyirv

    The Left would not benefit a major Russian investigation as it would not give them an advantage over moderate Democrats. If the “focus” was only on economic issues, the Left would have the inner-party debate they really want. Ironically, by probably not differing that much from Moderates on the central issue (Trump working with the Russians is bad), it became necessary for the Left to come out full-throated against any change in focus, as they were afraid of losing an advantage (apparently missing that a political party should be able to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, like focusing on two issues at a time).

    I don’t know if it will change any voter’s mind, but I CARE. This is a serious news story! OF COURSE, reporters should be following up on it and Congressional Dems should be clamoring for an investigation.

    • Davis X. Machina

      The Left would not benefit a major Russian investigation as it would not give them an advantage over moderate Democrats

      Remember, social fascists are the real class enemy.

    • upstate_cyclist

      Is it just me or is the continual use of “Left” to mean non-intersectional white male Marxism REALLY frustrating?

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        Yes, which is why I’m trying to make “pink anarchist bunnies” catch on as a replacement description for these types.

      • StellaB

        If you are anything but a non-intersectional, white, male Marxist, then you are a conservative, QED.

        • upstate_cyclist

          A lefty invoking “culture war” in anything other than a description of right-wing media tactics is not to be trusted.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I’m not sure it’s non-intersectional, though, because one of their hobbyhorses is mass incarceration, concern (or supposed concern) for which makes them Woke As Fuck. But I’m still not sure how it’s supposed to be both a sort of hipster-leaning Occupy Wall Street left AND one that appeals to displaced factory workers. How many discussions of pipeline-building do you think _that_ alliance would survive?

        • Brien Jackson

          They only care about mass incarceration as a dodge for legalizing the recreational drugs they like, though.

          • FlipYrWhig

            AFAICT they mostly care about mass incarceration because Hillary Clinton said “superpredator” once, which means she’s horribad, no backsies, infinity.

    • I don’t know who ‘the Left’ are, but I’m pretty left-wing myself and I’m not prepared to grant that Greenwald, Taibbi, et al. get to define what “the Left’s” position on this is.

      • nemdam

        It’s a self-ID. These people always claim they are to the “left” of the Democratic party, and they justify what they do by saying they are trying to push the party to the “left”.

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    I remember when Matt wrote at TrueSlant and he got shares for his takedowns of David Brooks and Tom Friedman. That was years ago.

    The more I read him and the rest of the crew (Pareene, Hamilton Nolan, etc.), the more I realize that if it’s not punching down at easy targets like Brooks, they just don’t offer anything worth a damn.

    • Yup. Its the narcissism of small differences. In order to make a splash at this point they have to be anti-democratic contrarians. They aren’t going to swing all the way over to Trump so there is no where to go but punch and kick at the dems.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      I’d actually group Taibbi more with his former eXile coworkers (Eileen Jones, Mark Ames, etc.) They do, or at least have done, worthwhile work in the past — I actually read eXiled Online in the early 10’s — the problem there is that they have a large reserve of free-floating cruelty, and it gets very tiring after a while. (The Concourse lefty-bros are more snarky than cruel, and in fairness HamNo’s November endorsement managed to be critical of Clinton without descending into holier-than-thou wankery).

      • I haven’t been able to read Taibbi or Ames after reading an article about their sexual exploits with underage prostitutes in Russia. These are hideous people. The fact that they can be amusing politically does not make up for the fact that they used their infinitesimal privilege in Russia to have sport sex with desperate children.

        • Lord Jesus Perm

          Wait, what?

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            This is a good start (and BONERS actually had a good piece on it a few years ago, although it seems to have been deleted from its site).

            • Lord Jesus Perm

              Did not know about that. I feel like I need to shower now.

          • In case you don’t read far enough down on Dumbass’s link, on the general subject of exploitation of women:

            Ames then recounts how he threatened to kill a women he impregnated unless she consented to an abortion:

            “I can’t do that,” she said. “I can’t kill our child.”

            Right then, I stared at Katya with a look—I’m not sure how it appeared to her, but in my mind, I was started to contemplate two courses of action: murder, or AWOL.

            “What will you do, kill me?” she said, laughing nervously.

            “Maybe, yeah,” I replied. “I’ll throw you off my balcony. I’ll make it look like an accident.”

            She started to cry, but I was relentless. I told her that if she had the child, she would be killing me, so it was an act of self-defense. And if I didn’t kill her, then I would flee Moscow and she’d never find me. Her child would be fatherless. He wouldn’t have an Oedipal complex like the other kids; his complexes would be monumental, guaranteed to make her life a living hell … I wore her down for hours during the night, KGB interrogation-style …

            At 5:30 the next morning, Katya, acting the martyr, quietly slipped out of my apartment, made a beeline to the abortion clinic, and sucked the little fucker out (eXiled, 154).

            • Murc

              … jesus christ, that’s horrifying.

              • sibusisodan

                I know, right? It’s like a fractal of ghastly.

              • Rob in CT

                “acting the martyr”

                I don’t know this Ames person, and I’m glad I don’t. I’ve read a little bit of Taibbi’s stuff. If Matt was involved in anything even half as shitty as that, I regret giving him a single click.

                • witlesschum

                  Ames wrote Going Postal, a very good book about workplace shootings and rage killings in general. Also, he’s a monster.

        • brad

          Yep. Reading that made me give up on that whole crew, aside maybe from the War Nerd.
          Who, not coincidentally, seems to be in a happy, healthy marriage.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            John Dolan (the persona behind the War Nerd) wrote a godawful squid cloud that accused George Orwell of being an overt /white supremacist fascist. As it was ostensibly an anti-Hitchens piece, it ran as a semi-obituary; that particular idiocy was what made me quit the eXile writers for good.

            • brad

              His politics are crap, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen tweets buying into the party line on Russia, as well. But his historical groundings are informative and, as far as I can tell with my very limited relevant resources, factually trustworthy.
              And that he does not hate women with a glowing, white heat makes him notable in that crowd.

              • brad

                I miss you, edit button.

                And, to add, anti-imperialists have all too often followed Said in their reactionary distaste for Orwell. It’s disappointing that all they see is his background and miss his actual words, but understandable in many ways as well.

                • Q.E.Dumbass

                  IIRC Dolan’s hate for Orwell was based in the latter’s documented disdain for the Catholic Church.

                • brad

                  Wait, I knew something was off. The War Nerd is Gary Brecher, not Dolan.

                • Q.E.Dumbass

                  They’re the same guy; Brecher is the alias.

                • brad

                  Ah. It’s been a while since I really paid them all much attention.
                  Part of why I have trouble taking Taibbi at all seriously whenever Russia is mentioned, as well. He runs in circles, still, where talking about all this Russian mess at all is considered the true xenophobia.

            • ericblair

              As Orwell opposed the Empire in India and Burma, fought against the actual Fascists in Spain, and literally wrote the fucking book on modern totalitarianism, I don’t think so.

              Hmph.

              • brad

                But if you ignore his actual words and focus on the accent he spoke them with…

                • Q.E.Dumbass

                  Here’s the article in question.

                • brad

                  The argument is contagion. The Burmese are so vile that they infect the hero; he and his comrades should give up Burma simply to avoid infection.

                  Apparently Orwell was really barely more than a wordier Kurtz.
                  I think it ultimately is comparable to Said’s willfully blind reactionary take. Both think Orwell is just too British to have meant anything he spent a lifetime saying and doing.

            • ajay

              The War Nerd is also not very well informed about war. His continual insistence that no warship bigger than a missile boat is any use betrays the fact that he’s never actually been to sea…

        • kped

          Same, that made me see Matt in a different light. And the end of the story, where he nearly attacked the reporter for giving his book a bad review, chasing him outside of a restaurant in a rage, made me just absolutely dislike the man with a passion. If your shtick is to go after people and be as vile and douchy as possible when doing so, you better have some thicker skin. His skin is onion-paper thin.

        • ajay

          It’s enough to make you start using phrases like “kompromat” and “agent of influence”.

    • nemdam

      The Concourse bros got terrible in 2016 (happened to a lot of people but also found a lot of great people!), but Hamilton Nolan is much better than the rest of them. He can actually criticize the Dems from the left while still strongly advocating for supporting and working with the party. I still disagree with a lot of his stuff, but he isn’t a purity pony and actually cares about progress.

  • rm

    Back on the emails/Benghazi thing — not only did they pay no penalty, it is what won everything for them. I’m pasting a few lines from a FB post by a Trump-supporting relative last summer, which I normally would not do, except that I am 100% sure it is copypasta:

    I found it hard to believe she beat Bernie in New York! He was born & raised there!! Bernie was robbed plain & simple. She temp. transplanted herself there as part of this plan! And WHY OH WHY can’t most of America SEE & REMEMBER how she LET Americans be murdered in Benghazi???? They cried out & begged for help multiple times knowing they’d die without it! What happened to them? THEY WERE ALL MURDERED!! And the ambassador was SUPPOSEDLY her ‘close friend’? Did most everyone MISS this fact? And her 1st & ONLY public answer for this WAS… “What does it matter now?” I’m sure there are many internet links that would show you she did say just that!! Truly THINK about her reply… what if this was her very public reply about YOUR loved one who was murdered on her watch?

    This is the mentality that drove Trump voters to the polls in high numbers in just enough rural counties to tip the EC and win the gerrymandered House. I see absolutely no downside in pushing an investigation into the Russia ties as hard as possible, because FFS, people:
    * It’s substantively the right thing to do given what happened.
    * It is, as aimai keeps trying to get through to us, the same issue as Trump’s finances, business dealings, debts, emoluments, branding, all that money shit. We need his tax returns and bank accounts opened up by courts.
    * Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, . . . forever.
    * Pence will not drive voters to polls, as others have noted.

    • CP

      I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I really wish someone would ask those nincompoops at some point where exactly they think “Secretary of State” appears in the chain of command of anyone who might theoretically have stopped them from dying.

      • rm

        It’s really not productive to engage them at this level of The Crazy. It was a cousin I could talk to, and these weren’t her words (I realize now), so I and a moderate anti-Trump Republican got her to the point of admitting that the “what does it matter” was being twisted out of context (though she didn’t get all the way to the actual context — they were trying to make a scandal out of the exact timing of when the State spokespeople got intelligence about who was behind the attack, and that’s what didn’t matter).

        • FlipYrWhig

          And “What difference at this point does it make?” was far from being the “ONLY PUBLIC ANSWER” Hillary Clinton ever gave. I mean, her remarks to the Benghazi committee begin, as a normal human being would expect, like this:

          CLINTON: Thank you Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cummings, members of this committee.

          The terrorist attacks at our diplomatic compound and later, at the CIA post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, took the lives of four brave Americans, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty And Tyrone Woods.

          I’m here to honor the service of those four men. The courage of the Diplomatic Security Agency and the CIA officers who risked their lives that night. And the work their colleagues do every single day all over the world.
          […]

          Not that _you_ need to know that, but, sometimes, GAAAAH

    • Thlayli

      I, also, find it hard to believe that someone who won two Senate elections in New York could win that state's presidential primary.

      • msdc

        Her 16%-margin win in the 2008 New York primary was just laying the groundwork for her 16%-margin election theft in the 2016 New York primary.

        • Mike G

          Trump was, before the election, probably the most famous Manhattan resident on the planet and won a whopping 9% of the vote there.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Trump was, before the election, probably the most famous Manhattan resident on the planet

            That seems unlikely. A lot of very famous people live in Manhattan.

  • jpgray

    I’m trying and failing to imagine the GOP applying a “but what if there’s not any real wrongdoing guys!” brake on going after HRC’s email server.

    What’s the worry? That we’ll get to a space where someone says “investigation complete – no evidence of illegal behavior?”

    That happened and did little to nothing to exculpate HRC in the media or slow down the pace of the attacks. So either we’re useless at offense or useless at defense, or both?

    • rm

      Well, the Republicans have the advantage of being nihilist lunatics.

      • Nick never Nick

        power-hunger does not a nihilist make

        • brad

          Sure it does. The only thing they believe in is whatever makes them feel good.

        • rm

          They are willing to put party over country, and to spit in the face of every civilized value, for that power.

          I’ll grant that the true believer Christianists are not nihilists. They are antichrists.

    • StellaB

      “Taibbi’s warning about a failed investigation discrediting the media is really quite strange; it seems to suggest that journalists should avoid serious investigations when they’re not sure what precisely they might turn up.”

      As if the media was disqualified by its endless but failed investigations into the email server and the Clinton Foundation. They lost credibility temporarily with the most dedicated part of the actual-Democrat wing of the Democratic party. Sadly, we don’t hold grudges well.

      I am now able to look at the front page of the NY Times without a panic attack. It took more than four months though, to reach that point.

  • upstate_cyclist

    Does anyone here go to DSA meetings or Jacobin reading groups? I realize that everyone has their own tolerance for lefty shtick, but would be nice if there was some push back on this myopia from within the bubble. Or are the meetings actually productive and not what we see in media publications? That would be awesome.

    • Davis X. Machina

      DSA itself, based on one local meeting, anyways, tends to be split between olds and news.

      A lot of the olds I recognize from the two Jesse Jackson campaigns — they’re pretty pragmatic.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        The DSA endorsed Kerry in ’04. Unfortunately, they’ve since been taken over by people who are some combination of naive/young/stupid/nihilist.

        • upstate_cyclist

          Interesting. And I presume there was some pseudo-Naderism back in 2000. What then does this portend for the 2020 election. Is living through another 4 years of full GOP control going to push them again towards cooperation?

          • D.N. Nation

            I live in a city of six million people. The local DSA consists of some sparsely attended reading meetings, a snarky twitter feed, cosigning other people’s work, and nothing else of any substance. Why should I waste my time?

  • Nick never Nick

    It’s interesting — the comment thread is a whole heck of a lot angrier, and more contemptuous, than the original post. I’m curious why? I personally don’t see Jeet Heer’s article as symptomatic of any Manichaean fight with the Democratic party — to me, he’s simply questioning the value of a particular tactic. It should be possible to comment on that without bringing up Sanders, his voters, and then bashing them. Why are people so worked up about this?

    • Morse Code for J

      A subtext so obvious it’s barely subtext at all?

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      It’s also broadly affirmative of Farley’s own stance regarding the issue; my impression is that most of the anger here’s directed at the Taibbi types (and to a lesser extent Gessen, who’s really much more of the “Donald Trump SUPERGENIUS” school).

      • Nick never Nick

        I don’t get that vibe from Gessen at all, at least from her NYBooks articles — I think that her perspective on Trump is a bit outside the standard American political perspective, but that makes sense since the value she claims for her writing is based on experience with Russian politics.

        Taibbi, I’m not even sure how he came into this, was he in the original post? No opinion, there.

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          She’s generally a pretty good columnist, but here she’s treating serendipity as proof of intention — and as humanoid.panda’s noted, tends towards the maximalist interpretation w/r/t Trump’s planning.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            …hence the SUPERGENIUS appellation. (FYWP)

            Also, Taibbi was mentioned in the Heer article.

          • Nick never Nick

            You know, I’ve noticed this in a lot of people from the Middle East as well — coming from societies with political repression makes them tend to see repression or planning where chance or the confusion of having many actors are just as likely.

        • Brien Jackson

          I think this is right about Gessen: She just doesn’t know much about America’s political system and is viewing Trump through a Russian-centric prism.

  • shah8

    Man, I do have a problem with cheap Russophobicism, in that I think it obscures a necessary debate on the worth of NATO policies. I *think* that Russia does what it does, effectively because of NATO being on its borders, and that no sustainable reapproachment or return to some sort of sanity is possible without that being on the table. One does have to remember that Putin can be both the dictator, and not entirely the state. Everything I’ve seen suggests that he has pretty strong internal support for his policies, and that western orientated thinkers and businessmen have been pushed out as as a result.

    • shah8

      As far as the topic goes, Jeet Heer is wrong, except where it touches on my bugaboo.

    • Murc

      I *think* that Russia does what it does, effectively because of NATO being on its borders, and that no sustainable reapproachment or return to some sort of sanity is possible without that being on the table.

      If Russia’s demand for rapprochement and sanity is that we let it go back to the good’ol days when it could trash the smaller states in its periphery at-will, that is not a reasonable or acceptable demand.

      • Brien Jackson

        I know right? What the fuck kind of leftism is this supposed to be?

        • FlipYrWhig

          The kind that freaks out squares!

        • CP

          It’s what enrages me about the “near abroad” mantra. “Near abroad” is the Russian version of the American belief that they had the right to continue ruling Central America and the Caribbean by proxy dictator forever. Historically, the hard left has been very hostile to that idea. It’s supported the rights of nations like Cuba and Nicaragua to throw the pro-U.S. dictator out on his arse, and make their own arrangements with other foreign powers. And it hasn’t objected when Russia or China take them up on it.

          The idea that all of that is okay, but that it’s somehow terribly shady when East European nations seek the exact same independence from Russian domination, or when the West helps them achieve it, is too ridiculous for words. It’s exactly what conservatives accuse the far left of being: A-holes with no consistent principles, only a raging hate-on for the United States.

        • MDrew

          wtf

          • Brien Jackson

            ?

  • Mike in DC

    There’s evidence that Bernie supporters got bombarded with fake news stories propelling the existing anti Clinton narrative forward, and that these stories were funneled to them by Putin bots.

    I think one additional reason for the left’s resistance to looking further into the Russia story is that it may expose some of them as apologists, enablers and useful idiots for the Putin regime and their agenda. Anyone tied into RT, for example, may find their standing diminished going forward.

    • I agree with this. DailyKos was flooded with useful idiots channelling russian pro-beanie propaganda for months. The bitterest, most hateful, language imaginable was used against HRC and her supporters on the basis of internet rumors, wikilieaks, RT and guccifer. I don’t know about standing but that shit was incredibly ugly and personal. There are a lot of people who are still invested in believing that it was immoral for the Democrats to have even run such a corrupt person as HRC for president. And their hatred of the democratic party seems to them as natural as breathing. They have of emotion and personal reputation involved in not admitting they were manipulated. As much as Trump’s voters do in not admitting they were lied to and were suckered by Trump.

      • Downpuppy

        2 people I used to respect are utterly swamped by their unwillingess to forgive those of us who were right about the stakes.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      I think one additional reason for the left’s resistance to looking further into the Russia story is that it may expose some of them as apologists, enablers and useful idiots for the Putin regime and their agenda. Anyone tied into RT, for example, may find their standing diminished going forward.

      This is exactly it. And a proper accounting of what happened and what Dems must do going forward must address the media problem. The ability to ratfuck elections via intensive info manipulation campaigns is endless and not going away, whether it’s Russia doing it or someone else. I know it distracts from the all-important project of chasing white coal miners in West Virginia and sneering at Hillary but it’s got to be part of the plan.

      Also, too, Russia interfered in our fucking election and is continuing to interfere in our governance. That warrants a response and if the GOP isn’t going to lead the Democrats must.

      FFS.

      • nemdam

        Yup. To properly come to terms with the Russia story is for the “left” to admit the Bernie campaign devolved into a Russian vehicle to hate Hillary. They were Putin’s useful idiots, and no one likes to admit they got conned.

  • Arouet

    When we run out of good political reasons our reason could be that it seems like a hostile power interfered in our domestic affairs and that’s bad and should be investigated even if it doesn’t accrue to our political benefit.

  • Ernie

    Maddow says she has Trump tax returns.

  • MDrew

    This entire thread: HS, WTF.

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