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Today’s Innovation in Anti-Anti Trump Discourse

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Evidently, at this late date it’s becoming hard to argue that there’s nothing to the Trump/Russia story, what with the Trump campaign now boasting about their collusion and all. So the anti-anti Trump left needs some distracting non-sequiturs. One favorite is the (utter falsehood) that Russia is a DISTRACTION that is preventing Democrats from talking about anything else, with bonus points if the pundit in question didn’t write much or anything about the massive domestic policy differences between the parties during the campaign but did find the time to write lenghty stories about how Hillary Clinton has a media relations team constitutes a major scandal. Matt Taibbi tries another move — declaring that if you’re concerned about Russian influence in the election you must believe that Russia is an OMNIPOTENT SUPER-SUPER POWER:

Still, these efforts are probably far more limited in scope than we’ve been led to imagine. DNC hack or no DNC hack, Russia is still a comparatively weak country with limited power to influence a nation like the U.S., especially since it’s still dogged internally by those same massive economic and infrastructural problems it’s always had. Putin’s political grip on power at home is also far less sure than our pundits and politicians are letting on.

The generalized plan to create chaos in other industrialized states by seeding/spreading corruption and political confusion – which many in the intelligence community believe is an aim of Russian intelligence efforts – is revealing in itself. It’s the strategy of a weak and unstable third-world state looking for a cheap way to stay in the game (and bolster its profile) versus more powerful industrial rivals. Hyping Russia as an all-powerful menace actually plays into this strategy.

This both true and completely irrelevant. To state the obvious, you don’t have to be a particularly powerful state to materially affect the outcome of an election that was decided by 70,000 votes with a ratfucking campaign. No liberal of any influence thinks that Russia is now some incredible world force that PULLS THE STRINGS in American or international politics.  It remains true that 1)Russian interference in American elections is a serious concern, 2)Republicans looking the other way as part of their ongoing deference to Trump is even worse, and 3)maybe next time journalists shouldn’t play into the hands of ratfuckers by hyping inane bullshit as a major scandal just because it comes from a hacked source.

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  • Wait, so al Qaeda or ISIS are existential threats but Russia is NBD? Huh?

    • N__B

      It’s hard for me to get past “Russians are white.”

      • timb117

        All the ones he met when he lived there were

        • Caepan

          An old joke:

          Drunk to bartender: “Gimmie a Black Russian.”
          Bartender: We don’t have Black Russians.”
          Drunk: “Neither did the Olympics.”

      • liberalrob

        Bet there are still a bunch of red ones though.

        • majeff

          Apparently, a certain brand of “lefty” thinks so. Why else would they be so eager to join Putin’s fascintern?

    • I don’t think Taibbi’s exactly a terrorism alarmist either.

      • :)

        I just meant that it’s funny to have both these positions floating about not that Taibbi specifically holds both of them.

  • DN Nation

    Down with the ship, eh Matt?

  • Jordan

    I’m dumb. What is the angle for these people?

    • NeonTrotsky

      Contrarianism? I’m not sure I get it either. I have a friend who keeps going on about how the Dems “refuse to take responsibility for their loss and are just blaming Russia”

      • Jordan

        Maybe? It still seems dumb to me. Who exactly are they appealing to or what, exactly, are they getting out of this?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        that, I think, is a genuine line of thought: blaming the Russians is a cop out. But the thing is, it can all be true, and probably is. The Ds can fix their platform or messaging or whatever but not making an issue of R(ussian) interference and R(epublican) collusion at the same time would be really really foolish

        • NeonTrotsky

          Yeah thats what I don’t get. It’s a false dichotomy, there’s no reason that you can’t be concerned about messaging/candidate selection/policy or whatever and also care about Russian interference, and caring about Russian interference doesn’t inherently make you some kind of cold war hawk.

    • DN Nation

      We must only focus on the fact that Hillary sucked.

      • Jordan

        Ya, I mean that is definitely part of it. But there are tons of other ways to push that blah blah blah, so why focus on this?

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Basically Scott’s formulation continues to be one of the most apt ways of summarizing the views of people like Taibbi: “Both sides do it, but Democrats are worse.” In other words, for Taibbi this discussion about Russia is a distraction from talking about how much the Democratic Party sucks.

      • Jordan

        That would support the insane National Inquirer types stories where *clinton* is the one who actually colluded with the Russians.

        But this is just “Trump ain’t so bad, ya”, which (whatever else their faults) isn’t really their normal position. so idk.

        • Lurking Canadian

          Apparently the new story is that the Steele dossier was commissioned by Clinton’s people using foreign intelligence sources, so it’s literally both sides did it but Clinton is worse

      • maurinsky

        And I think there is a belief on the left that Trump is the straw that will break the capitalist camel’s back, ushering in an era of democratic socialism, which I think sane people who understand that you have to win elections to truly affect policy must be skeptical of (not to mention the damage done in the interim burn it all down period, which won’t effect our white brocialist brothers very much)

    • aab84

      The angle is that if Russia is a major reason Hillary Clinton lost, her failure to embrace True Socialism is less important, and that’s the fight they want to have.

      Plus some knee-jerk reaction to the fact that criticizing Russia over this lines you up with neocons and other terrible people.

      • Jordan

        I guess that makes sense, for terrible values of “makes sense”, ya.

      • timb117

        I think that’s right. We all laughed when Romney tried to fear-monger Russia in 2012 and now, establishment Democrats are hiding in the closet for fear that someone might try to make them eat borscht

      • Anna in PDX

        The neocon thing continues to make me feel bad. “I can’t possibly be on the same side as Jennifer Rubin or Bill Kristol.” Yet, here we are.

      • WinningerR

        That plus, the True Socialists need to downplay Russian monkeywrenching to distract from their own complicity. BernieBros were quite effectively targeted by a lot of those Russian bots spewing fake news.

        • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

          There is also that a major player was a left hero who happens to be an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi (Assange).

        • jmwallach

          And that Feingold under performed Clinton.
          [Edit: I swear as a partial heeb that I made a mistake not that I think we are all interchangeable]

        • rm

          And continue to be. They are working on 2018 and 2020.

    • Anna in PDX

      The most charitable view for me is that they are trying to remind people that foreign policy wise this country has always been awful – sort of Chomskyesque, and I think that has a certain value (for example pointing out the drone attacks during the Obama admin, etc) but lately it seems that it is just used to bash those who are slightly better than the others (the Democratic party writ large and any particular Democrats who may be able to get elected and reverse some Republic over the top evil). Why are they so opposed to incremental, better-than-the-alternative governance? Do they still believe the heighten the contradictions stuff? It has never worked so far.

      • Jordan

        Ya, the “amerikkka always worst” thing makes sense. I guess I always associated people like that with badly photocopies pamphlets and insane websites, while these are way more high profile.

        As for the rest, ya, I don’t know.

        • The kicker is that until about last year Taibbi and Ames were stridently hostile towards Putinist forces – their turns are based almost entirely in hatred of the Democratic Party.

      • mattmcirvin

        I think there’s also a legitimate fear of any US/Russia conflict escalating into a nuclear holocaust, left over from the Cold War but still fairly justified. During the campaign it escalated into an absurd notion that Hillary was the guy from The Dead Zone and was going to launch all missiles singing hallelujah. But the root of it is a worry that I don’t think is wrong.

        Many of them also have a historically-motivated wariness of people identifying anything and everything as Russians under the bed. It’s a little weird because these Russians aren’t Commies but right-wing authoritarians. But I can see how somebody could feel burned about that as well.

        • Anna in PDX

          My boomer and pre-boomer-aged relatives are holding similar views and I just don’t get why they can’t see that being suspicious of real actual dictator and journalist killer and mobster Putin is not the same as Red-baiting and seeing communists under everyone’s beds.

      • I’d like to riff on:

        sort of Chomskyesque, and I think that has a certain value (for example pointing out the drone attacks during the Obama admin, etc)

        I am, by inclination, very inclined to Chomsky like complaints and anti droneism.

        However, one thing that lefty complaints tend to ignore is what things like drones replace. The drone war roughly replaces invasion (like of Iraq or Afghanistan). As such it’s just absurdly better on every measure (including international law…maybe it violates it but not nearly as much as preventative war). It’s not as good as most policing models, but *given the kind of violence states like the US are prone too* it’s just such a better option.

        Given that we *do* have attacks on the US and allies from various stateless groups, it’s hard to imagine a world where there’s *no* force based response, looking for harm minimising ones is a big deal.

    • LeeEsq

      If the Democratic Party goes down, then surely it will replaced by an authentic Communist party.

      • Jordan

        we all know fully automated gay space communism is right around the corner.

        • rm

          According to our holy prophets, we won’t get gay space communism until we survive a devastating world war, invent warp drive, and meet Vulcans. So, a long way off.

      • M.

        Jesus, how much more Nach Trump, Uns can we take?

    • The angle for Taibbi is: Russia has tapes of everything he did when he was living in Russia.

      • Drew

        He’s openly bragged about it. It’s all in print. What could they have on him? I guess video is more damning, but if he admits to sexual assault in print, he’s probably a hard guy to blackmail.

    • Caepan

      That if Russia did collude with the Trump campaign, AND use bots to ratfuck with social media and voting registrations, allowing Trump to “win” with less than 100k votes in a few key states… they might have to admit that even Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have won the election under those conditions.

      And no way, no how will they ever cop to THAT!

      • humanoidpanda

        I think the Bernie would have won thing is tedious, but let’s be clear: there is nothing wrong with the argument that JRC was a bad candidate AND that the Russian intervention was instrumental in getting Trump over the hump. There is no way social media bigfickery works id there is no preexisting well of bad feeling about her

        • Caepan

          there is nothing wrong with the argument that [H]RC was a bad candidate

          A candidate so bad that she won the popular vote by 2.8 million.

          And we both are forgetting how much Comey’s letter, along with a corporate media fixation on clouds gathering over emails, affected those results as well. (A corporate media that, by the way, helped fan those 25+ years of said “well of bad feelings.”)

        • Stag Party Palin

          “there is nothing wrong with the argument that (H)RC was a bad candidate…”
          Please stop saying this. She was targeted for 20 years, stigmatized, demonized, etc., etc. Her opponent dragged millions of people into the abyss to vote against her. (deletes several pages of argument) To sum this all up with “bad candidate” is verging on trolling.

    • Jonathan Roth

      The ability to place all the blame for 2016 on Hillary and Liberalism.

      (I’m already starting to see a few socialists whom I otherwise agree with attacking liberalism directly rather than “neoliberalism”)

      • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

        Now, that is just so interesting. Very interesting, indeed.

      • FlipYrWhig

        ^This. If you are foursquare behind the idea of “the establishment” and “elites” being the hindrance to the arrival of the populist something something, then everything undertaken by said groups is an attempt to shore up their own position and avoid taking a long look in the mirror that will make them decide to turn away in embarrassment and create a vacuum that can be filled by the populist something something.

      • Justin Runia

        This has been a thing for a while, but liberal trolling has bled from anarchists to let-progs as a whole.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gEvxw9XKzo

        • Shouldn’t surprise anyone. Scratch a Sandernista and you’ll often find a Stalinist underneath.

          • Erik Loomis

            Oh FFS. C’mon.

            • That’s absolutely my experience, Erik. I used to host a club that gradually got taken over by these folks, and most of them would admit after talking to them for a while that they would prefer an authoritarian socialist state to a democratic capitalist one.

              Some of them went so far as to openly state we could work with neo-Nazis towards the goal of killing “bankers”. The Nazis wanted to do so because banking was inherently corrupt because it was invented by Jews, and the response of the leftists was, and I quote, “If you ignore the anti-Semitism, I think they’ve got a point.”

              That sort of shit is why I ended my involvement with the club. Even though there were still a few good people left, they weren’t the leaders any longer.

            • Lurking Canadian

              RR sees commies under every bed.

            • Michael

              Is it though? I’m really shocked how quickly the Chapo folks are shifting into that essentialist frame. Take this hilarious passage from Jacobin against Heer’s excellent critique:

              “But in the curious world of the Discourse, it’s more than a trick — it becomes their own little reality. They simply think-piece and tweet it all out until it manifests itself as “common sense” in their little corner of society. That whole big world happening outside of the Discourse doesn’t matter in the slightest.”

              Could there be a less self aware paragraph?

  • Joe Paulson

    Russia isn’t all powerful. But, like it isn’t Luxembourg. Still some bite in the bear.

    • Dennis Orphen

      And nukes. Not that they would use them, but they’re the ticket that gets you a seat at the best table.

    • Joe Paulson

      Separately, I appreciate Schumer having an op-ed promoting Democratic values but perhaps a h/t to the Clinton/Kaine (remember that guy?) ’16 platform would be appropriate.

    • Pat

      Russia’s military budget is more than enough for a whole army of trolls, hackers and bots.

  • NicknotNick

    I feel kind of sorry for Taibbi — he basically made his bones by bringing a cynical, Russian-influenced interpretation of American politics back to America, at a time when this offered the possibility of some insight. Using the term ‘oligarch’ in an American context and looking at actors with the presumption that they were lawless, corrupt loons partnering with the State to screw everyone was not a bad thing, in 2008.

    Now, all of a sudden his shtick — the Russian connection — is on everyone’s lips, including the lips of people with better analytical chops and deeper knowledge than he has. What’s a hip contrarian to do?

    • BloodyGranuaile

      I don’t. He made his bones running around Russia sexually harassing female employees and writing about it like it made him the reincarnation of Hunter S. Thompson. Apparently the last time a reporter asked him about it he threw coffee at them, so it’s possible he’s just reflexively uncomfortable with anyone reminding him that Russia exists.

      • NicknotNick

        I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised — a lot of what you say here was basically implied by The Exile . . . When I said ‘kind of sorry’, that was actually a pointless rhetorical trope, I really don’t give a shit.

      • Yixing’s Fluffer

        “You’re always trying to force Masha and Sveta under the table to give you blow jobs. It’s not funny. They don’t think it’s funny,” Kara complained.”But… it is funny,” Matt [Taibbi] said. We have been pretty rough on our girls. We’d ask our Russian staff to flash their asses or breasts for us. We’d tell them that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they’d have to perform unprotected anal sex with us. Nearly every day, we asked our female staff if they approved of anal sex. That was a fixation of ours. “Can I fuck you in the ass? Huh? I mean, without a rubber? Is that okay?” It was all part of the fun.”

      • timb117

        Those essays are embarrassing

        for America

  • Yixing’s Fluffer

    The Russian state isn’t so much the problem as the dirty money and contempt for good governance spilling out from its borders.

    • BloodyGranuaile

      That and they really have been putting a lot of time and energy and money into developing their cyber-shenanigans capabilities.

      It’s been 10 years since they hacked Estonia. Nobody’s really done anything to stop them from continuing to build up their hacking operations, since self-absorbed big powers like the US don’t care much about Estonia, apparently. I don’t think it’s giving the Russians *too* much credit to say that if you let them work on something mostly unimpeded for 10 years, they might get better at it; it’d be kind of odd if they didn’t.

  • MacCheerful

    Notably North Korea is an even weaker state with the current ability to destroy large parts of South Korea, and probably Japan and perhaps parts of the United States and yet we also fear them.

    The English Army under Henry V was smaller and hungrier than the French Army at Agincourt and yet made effective use of longbows and mud.

    A virus is a very small weak thing compared to a healthy human, but still poses a serious threat. And language, as somebody once said, is a virus. Consider how cheap it was for Russia to infect our political discourse and degrade trust in democracy simply through effective use of lying and stolen emails.

    • Kevin

      Yeah, that Latvia thing, it just read as “come on guys, Russia has a point!! I know ex-pats, and they say the same things I say, therefore we are right. Fart”.

  • Kevin

    Taibbi went full hack last year. This is just continuing that.

    It’s fun to go back to this one http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/stop-whining-about-false-balance-w440228 where he mocks guys like Krugman and others for ripping the NYT for false equivalency.

    The people complaining about “false balance” usually seem confident in having discovered the truth of things for themselves, despite the media’s supposed incompetence. They’re quite sure of whom to vote for and why. Their complaints are really about the impact that “false balance” coverage might have on other, lesser humans, with weaker minds than theirs. Which is not just snobbish, but laughably snobbish. So, shut up.

    This quote is…delicious. Matt has been whining about the media coverage for 7 months now, convinced he has discovered the truth for himself, and worried about how the coverage might impact other, lesser humans with weaker minds than his.

    I need a cigarette after that.

    • DN Nation

      There’s this weird train of thought in leftist circles right now that pointing out media hypocrisy and double standards is somehow a bad thing. Pass on that. Hard pass.

    • Kevin

      BTW: does he go on to say the Clinton Foundation stuff is real and important later on in that piece?

      You know it! He bought all of the Clinton Cash stuff, whole hog.

    • cpinva

      “I need a cigarette after that.”

      i just hope you were smart enough to use a condom.

      • Kevin

        I always wear a condom while smoking. On the cigarette even.

        • Lurking Canadian

          Putting a condom on the cigarette is just common sense. Cuts way down on lung cancers.

  • sanjait

    The rhetorical strategy there seems to be to move the question to an abstracted one about comparative power.

    However, we know that Russia has power to influence American elections. THEY JUST DID IT.

    They did it through the very obvious method of hacking Democratic party entities and drip leaking emails to manufacture stories.

    They also did it through the only-slightly-less-but-still-very-obvious method of employing web brigades of propagandists to manufacture fake media content that got tens of millions of clicks on Facebook, mostly by gullible and influence-able voters.

    So this isn’t an abstract issue or even really a question. Pfft.

  • Anna in PDX

    I have tried to fight my natural tendency towards paranoia but I am beginning to think that all American writers who have ever visited Russia have been somehow blackmailed or threatened to write this garbage – someone they met being held hostage perhaps? “That tour operator you flirted with in 2009 is gonna get it if you don’t distract and confuse people about our role in the 2016 election”?

    • NicknotNick

      I have sometimes wondered about this, but in a different context — how will it affect politics, when Google has a record of your online search history dating back to your teenage years? Politicians will know the information exists . . . Google will know it exists . . . how will the fear of one and the temptation of the other affect matters?

      • Anna in PDX

        Yeah among the other things I remember to be grateful for on a daily basis is the fact there was no internet when I was a teenager

      • LeeEsq

        The best possible result is that since nearly everybody is going to have some dumb teenage activities or later memorialized by the wonders of the Internet, it will have no effect because everybody expects it to turn up. Otherwise politics could become all about mud-flinging.

        • NicknotNick

          So your answer is to count on people being on their best behaviour?

          • LeeEsq

            More like the sheer amount of dirty on everybody will cancel things out and make the dirt less effective than it was in the pre-Internet era.

            • humanoidpanda

              There was a time when being gay was blackmailable. We made that unblackmailable by removing the stigma of homosexuality. I think same will be true of nude photos and bad google searches

        • Lurking Canadian

          My preferred theory is that in the future anybody who doesn’t have an embarrassing Facebook, Snapchat, blog-whatever history will be immediately suspect. Like what sort of juvenile goat snuff porn were they into that they had to cover their tracks so well?

          • LeeEsq

            That’s what I was trying to convey. It’ll just be seen as youthful idiocy and the collected dirt will cancel each other out.

          • John F

            I saw part of a crime show a few months ago where a character said, “well we know he [the suspect] didn’t give us his real phone”
            Someone else says, “Huh? It’s his, we have his phone records and…”
            “No porn, none, nada, zip”
            “So? Not everyone…”
            “Everyone, I guarantee you he has another phone, another account, the phone he gave us is like the dummy set of books you keep for the auditors”

      • Dennis Orphen

        Perhaps not exactly what you mean, but as the self-styled resident whacko commenter here, I can imagine a future where a lot of digital evidence won’t be admissible in a court of law because its veracity cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Or proven at all for that matter.

        • LeeEsq

          We already had an example of this with the Cannibal Cop case.

        • NicknotNick

          Yeah, but politics aren’t the court of law. What does Google do when they know that a candidate that they have an opinion on has a 35 year history of Googling ‘lactating milf hogtied’, or various other terms?

          • Dennis Orphen

            That’s why my comment begins with ‘Perhaps not exactly what you mean but’. I get it.

          • humanoidpanda

            They probably do nothing because acting gives politicians of all stripes enormous incentive to tear google to shreds

    • medrawt

      Yglesias’ youthful visit to Nizhny Novgorod was apparently early enough that he wasn’t targeted for kompromat.

      • LeeEsq

        Maybe Yglesias is just made of sterner stuff than we think.

    • As humanoidpanda is no doubt sure to point out, the powers-that-be in Russia never saw Taibbi and Ames as a threat meriting extrajudicial action – not because they were pro-Russian hacks, or fradulent in their reporting, but because the activities they reported on were not considered noteworthy in contemporary Russia.

    • LeeEsq

      My brother is vacationing in Russia right now. We’ll see if he starts spouting pro-Putin rhetoric when he gets back.

      • Anna in PDX

        I’ve always wanted to go, but now I am not so sure!

        • LeeEsq

          He and other people I know where telling me about what you need to do to secure a visa to Russia. Its real police state intense. You also apparently better travel with some Russian person you really trust to avoid a thorough fleecing. +

        • Kevin

          I would go to Moscow. It looks like Tetris.

        • Dennis Orphen

          I would rather be working in Portland than vacationing in Russia.

          • Anna in PDX

            On that note I should stop refreshing this page and get back to work :)

            • Dennis Orphen

              But say hi to Mike Anderson for me if you happen to see him, okay?

    • Dennis Orphen

      A horsehead in the bed is as effective as kompromat, maybe even more so. The only drawbacks are the mess and some criminals love animals.

      See Zuckerberg, Mark

  • JustRuss

    3)maybe next time journalists shouldn’t play into the hands of ratfuckers by hyping inane bullshit as a major scandal just because it comes from a hacked source.

    So much this, but unfortunately hyping inane bullshit is now their business model. Rather than praying for our media to reform themselves, I think we need to be cynical bastards and figure out how to work the insane system we’re now living with. Makes me sad, but that’s where we are.

    • Lurking Canadian

      Yep. The Dems are playing basketball five-on-seven. But pointing out that it’s it’s five-on-seven isn’t working. their only recourse is to figure out how to win anyway, then do everything they can (new VRA, expanded House, etc) to level the playing field when they do.

  • Murc

    I keep thinking “I used to love Matt Taibbi. What happened?”

    Then my brain goes “You’re thinking of Matt Bai. Matt Bai was the one you liked.”

    • Anna in PDX

      I really did love Matt T. and I subscribed to RS on his name alone. I’ve kept the subscription through the intervening years but this stuff is really trying. They still cover climate change pretty well and have other good writers but he is just infuriating, using his pseudo-HST gonzo writing style for evil instead of good.

      • Kevin

        My problem with RS, apart from my annoyance with Taibbi (and he can still write, he’s just really really bad on this topic), is their obsession with late 70’s rock groups. Like, if Springsteen or U2 release an album, no matter how irrelevant, RS will name it album of the year. Or if Dylan does it, same thing. Makes the magazine feel so out of touch.

        • he can still write, he’s just really really bad on this topic

          In that sense, I’ve always thought of him as gonzo journalism’s answer to Canibus: Great at the mechanics of writing, undermined by intellectual shallowness and a wet-single-ply-toilet-paper skin.

          • Kevin

            I mean that in he can write a clever sentence. (if that is why you were quoting me…lol)

            • Edit fixed! (the improperly closed tag prevented the rest of the comment from showing up)

              • Kevin

                Ah, and yes, totally agree with you there! Like, Vampire Squid was just a perfect metaphor for the financial industry of Goldman Sachs. But reading a lot of his stuff on economics since has made me realize how shallow his understanding of it is (a

                And fellas, if your going to go after Krugman on economics, please know your shit. Taibbi was against Krugman because Krugman noted that Quantitative Easing and its sequels was basic Keynsian economics, and it wouldn’t lead to inflation or a new bubble. Taibbi and the ZeroHedge crowd were having none of that. But guess who was right? And guess who never acknowledged that the thousands of words they spilled on the topic were hilariously wrong?

                • FlipYrWhig

                  The culmination of the Vampire Squid essay is a claim that cap and trade is going to be the most neoliberal plundering theft that neoliberal plundering thieves ever neoliberaled and that that’s why everyone embraces it. So, predictions are not really his thing.

                • djw

                  Yeah, it’s a good reminder that even when he turns a clever phrase or stumbles onto a decent point, at the end of the day he just doesn’t really know what he’s talking about at all.

                • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

                  I read some comment somewhere in the past 24 hours that Obama gave more trillions to the top 0.1% than anyone ever with QE.

                • mattmcirvin

                  I always thought Taibbi was starting to sound like a Rothbard-quoting goldbug when he went on about quantitative easing.

        • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

          I remember clearly that they reviewed Morrissey’s first solo album six months after it was released.

        • Caepan

          Throughout its run, Rolling Stone has been out of touch with music and fashion trends.

          When punk hit in the late 1970s, RS was constantly hyping middle of the road bands like Fleetwood Mac. When hiphop was just bubbling under the mainstream, they promoted Oasis and Coldplay. Rolling Stone consistently reviewed mediocre prog-rock albums over soul, funk and reggae.

          Rolling Stone has been so wrong, and so behind the times, for so long, that it may never catch up. The few times that it was leading with writing by cutting-edge journalists like Hunter S. Thompson, it was reviewing dreck by artists whose label bought full-page ads to guarantee a good review.

          And behind it all is the world’s most thin-skinned sycophant, Jann Wenner.

          Exhibit A: The 500 Worst Rolling Stone Reviews

          • Kevin

            And Jann Warner, head of Rolling Stone since it’s inception I believe, is also the head of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is why they have been so awful with who gets in and who waits for decades. He is the worst.

            (edited for clarity)

          • NicknotNick

            In fairness, I wouldn’t say that Rolling Stone was wrong, per se, just that they made different aesthetic decisions than the musical culture did; or that when we look back and see what survived, it wasn’t necessarily what Rolling Stone was most interested in.

            • Caepan

              Now that’s the kind of lawyerly defense I expect from my subscription to LGM!

              • NicknotNick

                It’s a slow day where I am

          • I like how Rolling Stone’s earliest hip-hop reviews are primarily the music staff whining about their lawns.

          • Um, I sort of see what you’re getting at but saying a music magazine was “out of touch with music and fashion trends” for focusing on Fleetwood Mac in the late 1970’s, Oasis in the 1990’s and Coldplay in the early 2000’s seems a bit off. “Rumors” outsold any of the punk albums of the time, for example. What I mean to say is, all these acts were very much part of the mainstream music trends.

      • Gone2Ground

        I loved his books on the economy and thought he really cut through the crap around why the Global Economic Meltdown actually happened and who the really bad actors were. This angle just baffles me.

        Although I’ve seen a similar tactic elsewhere during and since the election cycle. Supposed liberals and critical thinkers who hated Hilary Clinton so damned much they apologized for Trump, kept apologizing for him and now – EVEN NOW – approach his tweets and blatherings with “critical thinking” to try to analyze what’s going on. They simply cannot believe it is possible someone in this position to be this stupid/craven/evil (except for Hillary Clinton, a’course), so they just keep trying to make sense of the senselessness….Add in the “leftier than thou” angle and well, here we are.

    • Brea Plum

      You should actually read the article, he makes some good points. Remember, he has experience of Russia that very very few in the media have – he lived there as an ex-pat. His conclusion is that while the U.S. is still fighting the cold war against a much weakened Russia, the Russian legal case in New York that was hastily settled in May, the one that Preet Bharara spent years prosecuting before he was fired, throws a monkey wrench into the analysis.

      • Murc

        Remember, he has experience of Russia that very very few in the media have – he lived there as an ex-pat.

        Where he molested girls. Not women; girls. And bragged about it.

        Remind me why I should take what he says seriously when there are other perfectly good commentators who aren’t shitstains?

        • Kevin

          Yeah, his experience seems to be clouded in prostitutes and heroin, and ended around 2002. 15 years ago. A lot has changed since then, especially in Russia.

      • BloodyGranuaile

        Peter Pomerantsev is also a media dude who spent 10 years living in Russia, and his book contains zero descriptions of himself sexually assaulting anybody

      • humanoidpanda

        This is just a quick reminder that living in an Anglophon expat bubble where the only Russians you meet are either wealthy or sex workers does not make you into a Russia expert. And the vast majority of a Russia experts might roll their eyes with the overheated rhetoric of Putin the puppet master but are very far from Taibbi.

    • djw

      I’ve made that mistake too.

      Taibbi’s calling is writing highly entertaining, light-on-substance mockery of Thomas Friedman. When he steps outside of that wheelhouse things go south quickly.

      • Howard_Bannister

        His book about the financial crisis was pretty well written; had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.

    • stepped pyramids

      Isn’t Matt Bai the guy who wrote the book about how the “netroots” sucked and didn’t offer anything other than “we’re not Bush”? I’m not familiar with him beyond that. Although I have seen people make the opposite mixup (they thought they liked Matt Bai but it was Taibbi they liked).

      Being very sensitive to the tendency of people named Matt to be confused with each other, I have never made that mistake myself.

      • I sometimes mistake your name with that of an HS classmate.

        • stepped pyramids

          Oh, Stooped Prybars, I know that guy.

  • NicknotNick

    I am honestly confused by the inability of people to hold two related thoughts:

    1) Russian interference in American elections is problematic when it includes things like their spy agencies colluding with particular candidates, stealing and publishing emails, etc.

    2) No, this doesn’t absolve American institutions and Americans from not being sophisticated enough to still vote rationally. Yes, the Electoral College is a huge problem, larger than the Russians. Yes, our media culture is a huge problem, larger than the Russians. Yes, the stupidity and confusion of American voters is a huge problem, larger than the Russians. Yes, misogyny and racism in the American electorate are huge problems, larger than the Russians.

    However, the Russians are the ‘legal’ problem. The fact that Trump broke the law to influence an American election means that his actions can be used to bring him down. That is a respectable goal.

    • Gone2Ground

      Especially supposedly intelligent, thoughtful people who are paying attention.

    • Abigail Nussbaum

      misogyny and racism in the American electorate are huge problems

      I have yet to see much evidence that the anti-anti Trump left believes this.

      • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

        Nonsense. Noöne is more acutely aware of the problems of misogyny and racism than left gamer bros.

      • Davis X. Machina

        They are just epiphenomena of the prevailing late-stage finance capitalist mode of production. Fix that, the rest takes care of itself.

  • LeeEsq

    If Russia is a distraction preventing Democratic politicians from talking about anything else, than home come Schumer unleashed a liberal populist agenda for the Democratic Party?

    • DN Nation

      No he didn’t, because Jeff Stein “quoted” an unnamed Democratic staffer with an unfortunate parsing of the soon-to-be-barely-used slogan that encompasses the platform, therefore we should only vote DemSoc*, except where they don’t bother to put anyone up, in which case that race is stupid and dumb and who cares.

      * Current slogan: “Try Socialism,” which is just terrific. Politics as soda flavor, always nice.

      • brad

        Better than their old slogan. “Fuck you, i’m right” didn’t seem to play well.

        • jmwallach

          And that was stolen from Four Loko.

      • LeeEsq

        He had an editorial in today’s NYT about the new Democratic agenda.

      • humanoidpanda

        That Jeff Stein guy is really a shit stirrer of the first degree

        • DN Nation

          I don’t know why Vox hasn’t straight up fired his ass; there’s nothing wrong with being a cosplay-lefty shit-stirrer, but Stein lies steadily about sources/quotes.

          • jmwallach

            He’s using Alinsky tactics.

      • stepped pyramids

        “Socialism: The Praxis That Refreshes”

  • Brownian

    Fortunately for me in the 90s, I’d never had to reinstall Windows from scratch multiple times because some Russian kid wrote a worm that f*cked everything up, because how would a Russian kid have access to the kind of top secret underground super villain lair required to pull that off?

    • Dennis Orphen

      And you don’t have to be Russian. Nor does it necessarily help.

  • N__B

    OT, but somehow not OT: I just got an email from Barnes&Noble .com that It Takes a Village will soon be available as a picture book. Perhaps it will now be more accessible to our republican brethren.

    • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

      Will this unspeakable holocaust of neoliberalism never cease?

    • wjts

      I thought there was less oxygen than usual today.

      • I noticed that too when my flamethrower was only able to muster a sad fart of cold air.

    • Mellano

      The remedy for this kind of propaganda is more speech.

      Someone at Regnery needs to go put out a video adaptation of “Liberal Fascism” featuring Jonah Goldberg playing with his G.I. Joes, stat.

  • Kevin

    BTW, anyone interested should look up the stuff about Taibbi and Ames time in Russia. You’ll need a scalding hot shower after. I need to find the one where it reveals that the asshole Taibbi, whose career is based on insulting everyone, is so thin skinned he tried to fight a journalist for saying his book wasn’t very good (as a compliment to his current writing, which the journalist thought was very good). It’s not at all shocking that guys like Taibbi have no capacity for criticism.

    • Anna in PDX

      You aren’t lying, the quote from Ames’ book further down was so shocking to me, I don’t know why I am still so amazed at how evil these kind of bros are. Well there goes any residual fondness for Taibbi based on his banking articles.

      • Kevin

        Reading about his time there it wasn’t a shock when his Intercept aligned site got cancelled a few months before its debut, for I believe some type of rampant sexism in his office. It was very hard to take his claims of innocence seriously.

  • Llywelyn Jones

    Matt Tiabi is arguing against a straw man. No one is suggesting Russia is trying to recover its erstwhile Super Power status. They want regional power — as evidenced by intervention in Ukraine and Syria — and they want NATO off their backs.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    finally got a chance to hear Jared Kushner’s speaking voice. Aside from the pathetic sucking up to his father-in-law and the “how dare you people question me” undertone, he sounds pretty tightly wound. I think this is a good thing

  • pseudo-gorgias

    Here’s a better way to look at it. The gop has to be completely repudiated. But the Democratic Party as currently constituted cannot do that. If we addressed the reasons why that is and build out a larger coalition–and remember it wasn’t that long ago that major parties could command 55+ percent of the presidential vote–then the Russia problem goes away. So in that sense the Russian interference is a second order problem–it points out the larger and more urgent ones.

    • Scott P.

      1984 was pretty long ago, sad to say.

    • NicknotNick

      Uh, no — your solution seems to be “high level of political unity”. Since our current problem comes from a high level of political disunity, your argument consists of “Having our current problem go away would solve our current problem”.

      • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

        Our current problems all arise from Protestantism. They will go away if we ramp up the Counter-Reformation.

        • NicknotNick

          What’s really funny is that this is the actual opinion of the guy suggesting that Democrats win an election with 55% of the vote.

        • LeeEsq

          Pope Francis, the good Jesuit he is, endorses this message.

          • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

            He could serve as President after Trump has shredded the Constitution. I knew some good could come of this.

      • pseudo-gorgias

        Yes it’s a tough problem. But I doubt that the Democratic Party is optimally positioned to gain its maximum vote share. If it changed its positions and messaging somewhat it could win more votes. But insisting that the democrats collectively made the best possible decisions in 2016 and that therefore the only thing standing between it and control of the whitehouse is Russian interference will not lead to any type of change. But the best case scenario for the dems as currently constituted is to find themselves in power but unable to govern because of partisan courts and lack of control in state houses. Which seems kinda pointless anyway and will lead inevitably back to where we are now.

        • NicknotNick

          This is a word-salad of vague opinions, both unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable, which can’t even bother to make an internally consistent point.

          • pseudo-gorgias

            Sorry you can’t read well–I’ll simplify. The democrats can’t win “big” enough right now to do “things”. That is a pretty big problem worth thinking about.

            • Bri2k

              No, it really isn’t because Russian interference, the Comey memo and the poor job the MSM did are what caused the razor-thin Trump “victory” which was only a win in the EC.

        • “insisting that the democrats collectively made the best possible decisions in 2016 and that therefore the only thing standing between it and control of the whitehouse is Russian interference will not lead to any type of change. ”

          Thank you for your concern but one can be against Russian interference and try to learn other lessons from the election- at the same time. It gets tiresome pointing this out repeatedly.

    • Here’s an even better way to look at it: think of the GOP as the Protestant Reformation. It should have been repudiated, but was instead embraced by coldly rational elites who wished to snatch the masses’ comforts (health care, for example) away. Unfortunately, liberals are essentially the same in terms of mindset as those elites so they cannot effectively fight them. If we could have a political party that embodies the innate Catholicism of the masses, the sky would be the limit! I mean, why stop at 55%?

    • stepped pyramids

      The real problem is Lena Dunham’s absolute power within the Democratic Party. I am not a crackpot. Just ask Thomas More.

  • altofront

    Taibbi’s talking points are out-of-date. The new line is that Russia’s hackers are so powerful that no one would have caught them. Straight from the man who would know!

  • kdbart

    The unanticipated bonus for the Russians in their ratfvcking campaign was the large supply of useful idiots on the left who were willing to assist them in the endeavor.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Propaganda works on both sides.

    • How hasn’t vanden Huevel picked up Mark Ames and Taibbi yet?

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Bernie supporters keep insisting “BernieBros” didn’t exist in real life. Maybe they were all teenaged Slovenian cybermercenaries.

  • JamesWimberley

    Russia is interfering all over the place, with Brexit, the Front National, all the way to outright armed subversion and invasion in Ukraine. You should not treat the US effort in isolation.

  • John F

    “One favorite is the (utter falsehood) that Russia is a DISTRACTION that is preventing Democrats from talking about anything else”

    What’s funny is I was just looking at RoguePOTUSstaff and they’re going completely bonkers over the opposite notion- that stuff like obstructing TrumpCare is taking too much time/effort away from RussiaGate.

    That and their incessant Pelosi bashing almost makes you think that at least part of what RoguePOTUSstaff says about themselves is true- they actually are conservative Republicans (who hate Trump) – of course they never give any evidence that they actually work in the current WH.

  • Lit3Bolt

    Matt Taibbi is so CONSERNED about (((GULDMAN SACKS))) having an UNDUE INFLUENCE on the Demon-crat Party.

    What? The Trump Admin is chock full of Goldman employees? That’s okee-dokee for Matt.

    Yes, Virginia, grifters exist on the Left.

    • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

      I seem to remember someone else having been very, very concerned about Goldman Sacks having an undue influence on the Democratic Party, as well. Maybe I am imagining it.

    • stepped pyramids

      The Vampire Squid Occupies Trump’s White House
      After running against Goldman as a candidate, Donald Trump licks the boots of the world’s largest investment bank
      By Matt Taibbi
      December 16, 2016

      Get fuckin’ real.

  • royko

    Holy blankety blankety blank blank blank!

    “DNC hack or no DNC hack, Russia is still a comparatively weak country with limited power to influence a nation like the U.S., especially since it’s still dogged internally by those same massive economic and infrastructural problems it’s always had. Putin’s political grip on power at home is also far less sure than our pundits and politicians are letting on.”

    Even the strawmen shake their heads at this argument. It drives me nuts every time this comes up, and it seems to come up with a lot.

    No, Russia/Putin is not a Bond villain. It’s not Sauron. It’s not even a superpower (in the way that it once was) and it doesn’t control American politics. Who the hell ever said it was? I do not quake in terror at night at what Putin has in store for us.

    But even though Russia is a mediocre power being led by a mediocre strongman, WE SHOULD STILL NOT ALLOW THEM TO INTERFERE IN OUR ELECTIONS!!!!!

    Mother of God, why is that so damned hard to understand?

    • Kevin

      Well, were you an ex-pat living in Moscow? If not, shut up, that's why!

  • djw

    Taibbi evidently has a pretty low opinion of the intelligence of his audience.

    • liberalrob

      Insert H.L. Mencken quote here.

  • Some on the left have definitely gone too far in the whole “Russia’s no big deal” thing, but I think Taibbi’s making a valid point here. Even if Russia turns out to have verifiably hacked voting machines and stolen the election and gotten Trump into power (much less merely “hacked the election” in the sense of producing some embarrassing news stories about EMAILS), that’s not really a reason to be focused on them. Regardless of what degree of help he got from the Russians the problem now is Trump (and the rest of the Republican Party really), and how he got here is unlikely to be related to how to solve that problem. I guess all this Russia stuff might push a few Republican legislators to support impeachment, but other than that there’s nothing much to be done about it until the Democrats are in power again, at which point the action is more beefing up the security of our voting systems than anything related to Russia directly.

    • Kevin

      What? It’s not a reason to be focused on them? Of course it is. Impeachment is not the only goal. If you don’t focus on them, guess what? They do it again! And now they know you are OK with it, and it’s an acceptable part of politics to collude with foreign governments…

      These takes are getting dumber and dumber…

      • How would you prevent them from “doing it again” though? As I said it wouldn’t really be anything related to Russia, just a major effort towards strengthening the security of our voting system against all threats. And that’s the kind of thing that we can and should be doing regardless of whether the last election was tampered with.

        • Kevin

          Sanctions do have impact. “You do this, we cost your economy $1B”. They do it again, you up the sanctions. You keep doing that until the pain is too much. And yes, while doing that, you do improve systems, but you also focus on this so that internally, politicians are dissuaded from helping or collaborating with them in the future. Ignoring this because “eh, you can’t stop Russia” is the wrong take on this.

          • stepped pyramids

            Also, demonstrating Russian interference will help other countries avoid such interference. The far right in Europe is pretty snuggly with Putin. Demonstrating misdeeds on his part helps discredit them. There’s already some reason to believe that alarm over Trump’s election has influenced European politics.

          • But I’m not saying “can’t stop Russia.” I’m saying it’s actually pretty easy to stop them if we can take over the American government. Paper ballots, hand counting, it’s not rocket science. The problem is that all the Russia stuff, as fascinating and important as it is, doesn’t really contribute as much as we’d hope to the “take over the government” project.

            • Kevin

              Of course it does. It brings the other side down, makes them less likely to vote (scandal actually does depress the vote, and Russia has led to a drop in Trumps approval). That all matters. Drive up the negatives to such an extent that Democrats can win mid-terms and hold those new seats/add more during 2020.

              • This is where I think we have a disagreement. If evidence of actual tampering with voting machines was discovered that would be a different story, but as it is the whole Russia scandal is just so much less effective of a line of attack than focusing on the actual terrible things that Trump is doing in an office, and so much less of an inducement to vote for Democrats than focusing on what the Democrats would do differently.

                Nobody’s saying not to investigate the situation, or trying to silence discussion of it, I’d just recommend using whatever signal-boosting capacity you have on policy instead, which has the added benefit that it’ll keep working even after Trump’s out of the picture.

    • Bluesmank

      ‘Even if Russia turns out to have verifiably hacked voting machines and stolen the election and gotten Trump into power (much less merely “hacked the election” in the sense of producing some embarrassing news stories about EMAILS), that’s not really a reason to be focused on them.’

      Maybe it is just me, but finding out a hostile foreign power colluded with one, and only one, party to swing a Presidential election to their favor due to *reasons*, it is a BFD, and should absolutely be focused upon.

      I mean, I kinda like my elections to be free and fair, ya know?

      • I mean it would obviously be a huge news story and something to be upset about, but it wouldn’t really change anything about the situation we find ourselves in.

        • Bluesmank

          ‘but it wouldn’t really change anything about the situation we find ourselves in.’
          Except for the fact that there would be real, bi-partisan action to keep it from happening again.

          Notice I didn’t say ‘Republicon’ or ‘Demorat’ in my earlier post. Any American worth their salt should think this is a BFD and deserves to investigated.

          At least as closely as failing security in Middle Eastern diplomatic offices.

          • Finally getting people worked up about the atrocious state of our election security is definitely the best thing I’m hoping will come out of all this.

        • Veleda_k

          You would make an interesting defense attorney.

          “Your honor, if my client did shoot those people, that would be something to be upset about. But there’s nothing to be done about it, and knowing is unlikely to solve our current problem, which is getting those people physical therapy.”

          • My point is more that when the shooter has been appointed as the judge I would’t bother taking the case to trial in the first place. The thing to focus on is not how that happened but instead how we can reverse it and mitigate the consequences.

      • Lurking Canadian

        It seems likely that proof the Republicans colluded with a foreign power to get their guy elected, then did nothing about it after the truth was revealed would be an awfully good taking point for Democrats running for office for the next century or so.

    • djw

      Even if Russia turns out to have verifiably hacked voting machines and stolen the election and gotten Trump into power (much less merely “hacked the election” in the sense of producing some embarrassing news stories about EMAILS), that’s not really a reason to be focused on them

      You can’t possibly think anyone reading this comment will fall into the trap of taking you seriously after that sentence, can you? You’re worse at this than even Taibbi.

  • liberalrob

    maybe next time journalists shouldn’t play into the hands of ratfuckers
    by hyping inane bullshit as a major scandal just because it comes from a
    hacked source.

    I’d put the odds of this occurring at somewhere north of 1000000:1.

    https://youtu.be/YHimia_Fxzs

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