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Showing His Assange

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Above: Donald J. Trump (l.), Julian Assange (r.)

To follow-up on Paul’s note yesterday that WikiLeaks withheld Russian intel, this New Yorker profile of Assange is worth reading, and is all the more devastating for being written by someone who admire(d?) him. I found this amusing:

At the start of this year, as the allegations grew that Assange had facilitated an act of Russian information warfare, his closest friends strove to offer a protective circle of support. “This wholesale campaign to portray Julian as a supporter of Trump has done a great deal of damage,” Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, told me.

This “portrayal” is so damaging…because it’s indisputably accurate. Even in real time it was obvious — the piecemeal release of information at strategic points during the campaign, and the way it was framed when released, made it blindingly obvious. The best you can do is to say he was more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump, but…in a zero-sum contest it’s a distinction wholly without a difference. This describes many Trump voters, and their votes have exactly the same effect as votes from his fans.

None of this lets the media off the hook — given both the privacy interests at stake and the obvious agenda WikiLeaks had, the leaks should have been treated with skepticism, but were often treated with pretty much the opposite of that. Because of whatever combination of the Clinton Rules, the assumption that Clinton would win, and a desire by some sources to keep re-litigating the primaries, the WikiLeaks spin on innocuous material was often advanced uncritically. This doesn’t make its agenda any less obvious.

And he doesn’t really deny it, and is also really clear that he doesn’t think women and their perfidy belong in positions of power:

The day that the arrest warrant was announced, Assange sent me a message with a smiley-face emoticon. “I’m in my element,” he told me. “Battles with governments come easy. Battles with treacherous women are another matter.” It was our first conversation about the investigation in Sweden, and I asked him what the case was about. “It perplexed me to begin with,” he said. “I understand where they’re at now, though.” He spoke of Sweden’s “very, very poor judicial system,” weakened by external political meddling, careerism, and a culture of “crazed radical feminist ideology.

[…]

In his view, Clinton was corrupt, pathetically driven by personal ambition, a neoliberal interventionist destined to take the United States into war—the epitome of a political establishment that deserved to be permanently ousted. In February, 2016, he wrote a rare editorial on the WikiLeaks Web site declaring Clinton unfit for office. The piece cited video footage, from 2011, which showed Clinton learning that Muammar Qaddafi had been killed. “We came! We saw! He died!” she declared, laughing—a reaction that prompted Assange to write, “Hillary’s problem is not just that she’s a war hawk. She’s a war hawk with bad judgment who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people. She shouldn’t be let near a gun shop, let alone an army. And she certainly should not become president of the United States.” Only Assange knows whether sexism informed his dislike of her. But he often speaks with disdain about feminism generally, and in unguarded moments he is liable to comment on essential distinctions between the sexes. In 2010, when Julia Gillard became Australia’s Prime Minister, he told me scornfully that the incumbent, Kevin Rudd, “just got rolled . . . by a woman.”

[…]

In a later conversation, I urged him to articulate a coherent view of Trump, but the prospect seemed to pain him. “It’s hard to sum up in the current climate of polarization,” he told me. It seemed his main concern was that by criticizing Trump he would somehow appear to validate the previous norms of American politics. “Governments are evil,” he told me. “The last government was evil. This government is evil. Does the Trump Administration appear to have a potential to be uniquely bad? Maybe. But in many other respects it’s the same problem that existed under Obama. The difference is that now everyone is talking about it. What is associated with this Administration is a certain aggressive rhetoric, which can make the problem worse if people accept it; on the other hand, it also makes everyone pay attention to problems that have been there for a long time.” He told me that, whatever Trump’s flaws, his Administration had the capacity to challenge entrenched power in Washington, and to disrupt the structure of American power overseas. “I will give you a list of counterintuitive structural positives,” he told me. Several days later, he presented a set of ideas that could be distilled into one: “A complaint from civil libertarians and constitutional scholars is that the power of the Presidency is too strong. O.K., it has been reduced now.”

The contradictions are heightening nicely!

Anyway, there’s no mystery here. Assange supported Trump because he’s a libertarian who wanted Trump to win. The end.

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  • SomeTreasonBrewing

    There’s a job open as the senior White House adviser. Could that job be done through tele-commuting from the Ecuadorean embassy in London?

    • Drew

      Are you referring to the news that just broke about Bannon? I do love this part of The NY Times story “The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.”

    • Sly

      Rep. Rohrabacher (R-Duma) visited Assange a few days ago to talk to him about the possibility of a pardon in exchange for releasing any documents he had that “exonerated” (read: muddied the waters for the credulous) Russia in the DNC hack. He might not even have to telecommute.

      • SomeTreasonBrewing

        Russpublicans of the world, Unite!

      • Shantanu Saha

        Assange is not holed up in the embassy to escape American wrath, but Swedish justice. A pardon from Trump won’t prevent the Swedes from extraditing and roasting his lily-white ass for sexually assaulting their citizens.

        • Sentient AI From The Future

          I seem to recall that the Swedes have more or less dropped the case, so the putative threat of extradition comes from the UK or something

          • AIUI, they sort of let the case go because they did not expect to be able to reach him, and time is an element in Swedish law. But they have until 2020 to re-file (? Not sure the terminology.) if the bastard can be caught outside the embassy.

            Obviously IANAL but I just read it during the reporting on Rohratraitor popping in for a mutual handjob.

          • heckblazer

            According to The New Yorker article linked to above:

            What [Asssange] wanted, it seemed, was immunity: a guarantee that he would never be called to the United States to face any trial. Without it, he was going to stay put. “The question is: where do you stage your conflict?” he had once said, as he assessed his tactical situation. “I think in the center of London, at an embassy that is connected to the traditions of Latin America, is quite a good place.”

            I agree with the speculation that this meeting is Assange is angling for a pardon in exchange for “proof” that Russia was uninvolved in the DNC hack.

    • brad

      My understanding is Assange’s WH role will be filling in for the Minister of Propaganda when Hannity takes a night off.

  • Cervantes

    Well, he has a point. The Trump presidency is definitely associated with the decline of U.S. influence in the world, and quite likely long-term damage to the authority and capacity of the American state. That is what some people want.

    • liberalrob

      That’s certainly what Assange wants.

  • Hogan

    “A complaint from civil libertarians and constitutional scholars is that the power of the Presidency is too strong. O.K., it has been reduced now.”

    This pistol is very dangerous, but if I hand it to this toddler, it becomes less effective.

    • Xer

      Not so sure it’s less effective in the hands of a toddler. American toddlers shoot people every week, and they’re not even trying!

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/20/toddlers-have-shot-at-least-50-people-this-year/?utm_term=.9bb244732b87

      • SamR

        Yep, that’s the joke.

    • Michael

      That’s a brilliant analaogy. After all, it does indeed follow that the toddler might do less damage with it, but it will also quickly be revealed the dangers of giving the gun to a toddler. Logically then, a society would seek to make sure the toddler can not obtain a weapon. But here we don’t. Because America.

      (…I realize I just labouriously explained a joke).

    • NonyNony

      Can you give us the gist of it? I really don’t want to click through to his site.

      • Short answer: Fascism = freedom and if you disagree with that formulation, you’re a dirty communist. I’m not actually kidding. Not since the Unibomber has political theory been expounded with such scholarship. Here’s a couple of excerpts

        “So libertarians and the right more generally are reduced to memorizing nonsensical talking points about the war on drugs, the welfare state, the legacy of slavery, and a host of other platitudes which amount to apologizing for not being a communist. They keep on trying to explain away inequality by blaming it on the government, as if human beings didn’t pass on traits through their DNA. It’s profoundly irritating to those of us who have bothered to try and understand the subject of racial disparities throughout the world, and throughout time. Worse than this, our more respectable counterparts are often joining with our mortal enemies, in trying to exterminate scientific facts from the collective human consciousness.

        Why? Because if they don’t, they’ll be called racists. Their careers will be ruined, their social standing will suffer, and depending on the time and place they might even be arrested or assaulted or murdered over this. Shockingly enough, no matter how much one tries not to be a racist, disagreeing with communists always seems to bring the accusation anyway. Even if you’re a gay Jewish immigrant, you’re literally going to be called a Nazi if you dare to suggest a different public policy than the television set has decided will be the future of the country.”

        . . . .

        On the left side of libertarianism, just like in the Democratic party, you see the embrace of homosexuals, immigrants, and things they’ll be referring to as racial minorities until the last white man is dead. Judging people for vices, or just about anything at all is seen as wicked statist authoritarianism. Their views on race could be summed up as, kill whitey. Some would say I’m oversimplifying matters, and I am, because these people are idiots. I’m not going to bother addressing communists just because they call themselves libertarians. I really don’t believe these people have a right to live anymore.

        If you’re a right libertarian, people are going to call you a racist, and eventually they’re going to be right. Their constant shifting of the goal posts aside, the reason Democrats hate racism is because it is harmonious with racial reality. If you’re a right libertarian and you fancy yourself an intellectual, I imagine you’re going to have a hard time not becoming familiar with subjects like race and IQ, crime demographics, and who runs the media and financial institutions while telling you you’re the oppressor. I’m not saying you’re gonna get a fashy haircut and start curb stomping degenerates or anything, more typically, your path from here forward will involve a great deal of keeping your mouth shut so nobody discovers your crimethink.’

        • Anna in PDX

          Basically he’s trying to sound “intellectual” about his racism by using a lot of words.

        • stepped pyramids

          Is he associated with Curtis Yarvin? Moldbug also likes to claim that the American political mainstream is communist.

          • Anna in PDX

            I don’t think so? Much more of a gadfly than those “dark enlightenment” original guys.

        • Gwai Lo, MD

          That’s a manifesto alright and one worthy of a position on a government watchlist (not that our government is currently worthy).

          And, as someone on the left side of libertarianism, my home IS the Democratic Party.

    • Sly

      To the casual observer, someone with the political stance of “I used to be a Libertarian, but ever since I saw Tamir Rice get shot I’ve realized the potential benefits of gassing the Jews” might seem a bit of a wierdo, but I think its important to note that Cantwell grew up on Long Island, where “Libertarian” means “I kind of like drugs, but not as much as I hate taxes and minorities.”

      • It seems his Twitter account has been cancelled.

      • keta

        I think by “grew up” you meant “biologically aged.”

        This correction can be applied to all libertarians.

        • Anna in PDX

          One of the things that most amazes me about this period of history is how juvenile these guys act.

    • Bizarro Mike

      Christopher Cantwell? Boy, Christopher can’t very well indeed.

  • efgoldman

    Somebody’s got to say it in pretty much every thread. I’ll take one for the team.
    CHRIST WHAT AN ASSHOLE!

  • Justin Runia

    Most visitors—even celebrity friends, like PJ Harvey and Brian Eno—meet Assange only here.

    GodDAMNIT

    • Tom B

      I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT.

      • petesh

        Um, yes, yes you did. Eno has some very dodgy friends intellectual companions, Harvey supports fox hunting, and neither of those factoids mean they don’t make good art. But they do demonstrate that artists are unreliable guides; in fact, good ones often tell you that.

        • Bizarro Mike

          Thank you for this. You don’t have to decide that Eno is a bad artist because of his horrible taste in companions. Judge the art by the art.

          • rea

            A 21st Century Ezra Pound.

        • Justin Runia

          Well yeah, I’m not going to stop listening to his albums, but it puts a dent in my image of him as a thoughtful person; he’s one of the people behind the Long Now project, which purports to be above the fray of day-to-day politics. Assange and WikiLeaks seem very much the antithesis of a project like that.

  • Tom B

    “None of this lets the media off the hook — given both the privacy interests at stake and the obvious agenda WikiLeaks had, the leaks should have been treated with skepticism, but were often treated with pretty much the opposite of that.”

    Anyone know how the 2016 is being treated in journalism schools? Because I like to think that there’s universal disdain for the major players in American journalism these days in our places of higher education.

  • Kevin

    The best you can do is to say he was more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump

    Even that has been proven false by more current releases with misleading tweets. Like the way he tweeted about Mueler’s bringing of enriched uranium to Russia. That was recent, and intended to damage Mueler’s reputation, but the slightest digging into that story showed it was beyond nothing. Assange is actively working to help Trump.

  • Bloix

    Actually I’m beginning to think that Assange wanted Clinton to lose not because of ideology (“he’s a libertarian”) because he’s a horrible, horrible misogynist. Assange is a damaged person who served the world well in the early years of Wikileaks but whose flaws (his fantastic vanity, his poor judgment, his thin skin, and his contempt for women) overwhelmed his good points, particularly after his refusal to return to Sweden to respond to the sexual assault charges and the subsequent self-imposed imprisonment and isolation that must have had terrible effects on his personality.

    • Kevin

      That’s in the second block quote.

    • TroubleMaker13

      “Assange is a damaged person who served the world well in the early years of Wikileaks…”

      There’s a straight-line of ratfuckery from Assange/Wikileaks’ introduction to the world, to today. Some of us saw it from the start. Whatever incidental positive results spun out, his influence has always been toxic. He’s never been your friend.

      • liberalrob

        I’m appreciating more and more the accuracy of the movie “We Steal Secrets” based on Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book.:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/daniel-domscheit-bergs-inside-wikileaks/2011/03/25/AFdc37jD_story.html?utm_term=.1777bc18c514

        For an organization devoted to exposing the secrets of others,
        Wiki­Leaks, under the leadership of Julian Assange, has been
        aggressively protective of its own secrets. Now Daniel Domscheit-Berg
        has pulled back the curtain with a memoir
        about his three years as Assange’s spokesman. Although he began as an
        idealistic supporter of Wiki­Leaks’s whistle-blowing mission,
        Domscheit-Berg left the organization because he was dismayed by
        Assange’s paranoid resistance to transparency, lack of political
        neutrality, and addiction to concentrating power in his own hands —
        anti-democratic vices that Wiki­Leaks was founded to oppose.

        • dcavea

          The thing to keep in mind is that the US security state itself very much began with good intentions. It was originally (and in some cases still is) an effort to protect that in America which was and is valuable from being endangered. Given that it was corrupted by power, there was no reason that Wikileaks would somehow be immune to this process.

          • TroubleMaker13

            The key here is accountability. The US security state realistically has far too little. Assange/Wikileaks has absolutely NONE.

            • dcavea

              Yep, that’s a pretty good summary of the situation.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      This. I like how your post makes him cut from the Trump cloth but good at the cyber.

    • Anna in PDX

      Exactly this. I do not know why so many “leftists” still cape for him. They must hate women.

      • liberalrob

        A few probably do. A few more are probably in denial that anyone “leftyish” could act in misogynist ways. Most probably are just idiots who don’t realize what they’re supporting; all they know is Assange is fighting The Man and that’s as far as they look.

  • MikeG

    He told me that, whatever Trump’s flaws, his Administration had the capacity to challenge entrenched power in Washington, and to disrupt the structure of American power overseas.

    Because once US power retreats, it can only be replaced by rainbows and gumdrops. For another power to move in with dirtier motives and uglier actions would be Unpossible.

    • dcavea

      Yeah, that’s the thing that always gets me about this stuff. Seriously, the two major powers in opposition to the US are the Russian Federation, and the PRC. Does anybody really think that a world dominated by those two would be any better for humanity?

      • dcavea

        I mean, I have often been quite critical of American foreign policy, and I think some decline of American power is inevitable. The United States is not outside history or immune to that which happens to all human institutions.

        But if said decline is going to happen, it is better that said decline be gradual and controlled rather than precipitous. Also, the force which replaces it should ideally be friendlier to liberal institutions and the principles of justice and humanity-or at least not actively worse. This kind of decline fails on both counts.

        • Hogan

          It would be nice if the unwinding goes better than it did in, say, India/Pakistan or Cyprus.

      • Lurker

        As a leftist European, I really don’t like everything the USA does. Only a madman can condone the blatant aggression of the Iraq War, the support of corrupt dictatorships in South America, the industrialised cruelty of Vietnam War or the support for nuclear-armed apartheid states in Africa and Asia.

        Yet, there is a lot of genuinely good things in America. Your general outlook on the world is positive and humanist, and you have been a loyal ally in Europe. Overall, the countries where the US has influence are usually better off than the countries of the same region that have a hostile relationship with you. And it is quite possible to have a really democratic government and be your friend. While you are not without problems, you are a in most cases a net force for good.

        And even if you were not, the collapse of the Soviet Union showed that a collapse.of a hegemon causes a lot of small wars ramping up, corruption getting out of hand, economic depression and civil unrest. If you were to collapse, Europe would be in for a heavy ride. It would take us at least ten years to get some semblance of normalcy back. So, while I often don’t like your individual actions, I like having you around.

        • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

          Thank you for saying this! It is nice to know that other parts of the world can still see some good in us.

  • Cheap Wino

    “None of this lets the media off the hook”

    Scream it from the rooftops, brother.

  • CrunchyFrog

    “Anyway, there’s no mystery here. Assange supported Trump because he’s a libertarian who wanted Trump to win. The end.”

    As is almost always the case, for this instance “libertarian” = “racist Nazi who is not Xtian fundamentalist”. Everything else is posing for chicks.

  • Michael

    “The best you can do is to say he was more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump, but…in a zero-sum contest it’s a distinction wholly without a difference.”

    I think this is one of the epistemological breaking points with the Ctrl-Left. On an existential level, they believe there *is* a major difference. Many of them can not even rise to the level of a “lesser evil” analysis, but rather see the world in pure binary terms, between good and evil.

    For any comics fans, they are like Rorschach, unwilling to compromise even in the face of Armageddon (Ozymandias is the ultimate neo-liberal technocrat, and I think it’s not surprising that many of the man-children comics fans unambiguously adore Rorschach without seeing Moore’s critique of the character/archetype).

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