• The Russia-Trump scandal

    For the last year or so, I’ve been too depressed by what’s happening to write.  However, irritation can overcome misery, and I felt compelled to jump in on this “Russian collusion” nonsense.

    Let’s get the obvious question out of the way:

    But Prussian!  You’re an Objectivist!  Trump is a big state corporate cronyist; he’s everything you guys hate!  How can you defend him?

    When I wrote my Anti-Racialist Q&A, I said that anti-racialism was important enough to be done with good arguments, not shitty ones.  The same thing applies to anti-Trumpism.

    Also, and this is where there’s a difference between this and my anti-racialist pieces, as much as I dislike Trump, many of those set against him are worse.

    The Russia-Trump case

    Here’s Scott Alexander:

    Okay, but did you look through the evidence that Russia was involved in the hacking? And don’t you agree it’s pretty strong?

    Repeat fifteen times.

    Not that I don’t agree.  It’s that I don’t care.  It’s hard to remember this in the middle of the yells of “RUSSIA!  HACKING!” but what’s being alleged here is that Russia got hold of DNC emails and then decided to publish them selectively so as to torpedo the Clinton Campaign.  This is no different from, say, Deep Throat leaking to take down Nixon or the current leaks against Trump.

    That’s not the same!  For a start, this was dishonestly and deceptively edited!  They were clearly pro-Trump!

    You mean like the 90%+ of U.S. Reporters who are registered Democrats or the way Time misrepresents Charles Koch’s words ?

    But there may have been collusion between Trump and Russia!  That’s deeply unethical!

    You mean the way that CNN fed Hillary Clinton questions ahead of time?

    Okay, okay, but those are true-blue Americans!  We can’t have foreigners interfering in our elections!

    You mean like when the British Guardian openly campaigned for John Kerry?

    But, but RUSSIA!  Russia is scary!  What if Trump ends up owing favours to Putin, favours that could be damaging to America and the world?

    You mean like when Hillary Clinton got Bill Clinton to revise India-Pakistan policy in exchange for 50 grand from the Pakistani junta?  (you cannot imagine how happy I am that this sort of thing goes on along the world’s most likely nuclear flashpoint)

    And if Trump is so in Putin’s pocket, what’s with all these sanctions?

    But Russia!  And Hacking!  Those are SCARY WORDS!

    Okay, so much for the factual basis.  As I said, I have a good reason for hating some of the people pushing this.  Let’s start with the selective release of these emails.  As far as I know, no one is disputing their authenticity, and I have a suspicion that if they were bogus, we’d have heard it by now.

    On the other hand, if you want to see what fake news interfering in an election looks like, read this story:

    Kenyan fury over ‘alarmist’ CNN story on Monday election.

    Back in 2013, Kenya had an election.  A peaceful transition of power, something the Kenyan people are rightly proud of.  CNN decided that it would be more fun for the elections to face trouble, so they searched and searched and then found four idiots messing around in the outback (who were worse armed than the average American rally), and decided to run a story about dangerous militias arming and getting ready for civil war.

    I know plenty of Kenyans who loathe Trump and still cheered when he said to CNN:

    “I am not going to give you a follow up question.  You are fake news.”

    I believe CNN’s official line is: “How dare Putin interfere in democratic elections!  That’s our job!”

    Then there’s this business of the Deep State…

    Ha!  You call yourself a skeptic, but you’re just parroting the crazy Alex Jones far-right conspiracy theories!

    Well, as I’ve said before:

    One can’t go around believing conspiracy theories, can one?  If you start down that route, you end up believing really weird things, like, I don’t know, that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon conducted secret diplomacy to extend the Vietnam war, and got tens of thousands of American GIs and who knows how many Vietnamese killed, just to put Nixon in the white house, or that the CIA betrayed Nelson Mandela to the Afrikaner Police, or that the CIA itself was formed from former Nazis, hired en masse at the end of the second world war, or that JFK was sharing a bird with a mafia don and used her to help set up an assassination attempt on Castro, or that Clinton used cruise missiles to destroy the Sudan’s only medicine factory just to distract from Monika Lewinsky.

    That’d be just terrible, wouldn’t it?

    Alex Jones is nuts, and that does not mean that these sorts of things don’t happen.  May I suggest you look up an article in that crazy far-right publication Harper’s Magazine, in 1991, by Christopher Hitchens, titled The State within the State.  You can find it in his collection For the Sake of Argument, and it is a hair-raising summary of the CIA’s role in subverting democracy both in the United States and abroad.  When Trump picked a fight with the CIA – well.  I’m an atheist, but I couldn’t help but feel that somewhere Nelson Mandela is laughing his socks off.

    In case you can’t get that article here are some of the salient points:

    • That the CIA repeatedly and flagrantly refused all democratic oversight, including budgetary oversight.
    • That the CIA pushed through pacts with American crime families
    • That it deliberately set up deniable funds and think-tanks to spread disinformation (‘fake news’)
    • That it built up the Russian empire (the then USSR) into something way scarier than it actually was in order to ensure that it is still well funded and protected from anything like democratic oversight.

    Sorry, any of this sounding familiar?

    Someone put together the following compilation:

    I notice that the deeply dishonest Doug Saunders has crawled out to say that the Deep State exists and that it’s a good thing.  Comforting to the victims of Saddam Hussain, Zia ul-Haq and the Taliban I’m sure.

    At this point I find myself wondering whether I’ve somehow staggered through the looking glass.  Trump is everything I dislike in politics, and I wrote an article arguing against him (that went unpublished by the people who dismissed Trump as a joke).  But I keep coming up against the fact that there are far worse things than Trump out there.

    Category: InternationalismLife and Reason

    Article by: The Prussian

    • Julian Assange was leaking docs from the DNC order to help throw an American election.

      Mark Felt was leaking information in order to *expose* attempts to steal DNC docs in order to throw an election.

      The analogy doesn’t quite work.

    • Goosebumps

      Hi Prussian,

      Unfortunately I must disagree very strongly with your dismissal of Russia’s efforts to help Trump. Let me give you an analogy.

      Trump hasn’t released his tax returns. Imagine if Chinese intelligence agents broke into Trump Tower and stole the documents in an effort to swing the election towards Hillary Clinton? Yes, it’s obnoxious that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns (much more so than any “scandal” in Hillary’s emails) but the moment an adversarial foreign power attempts to help one candidate over another, the far more important question is why they did it.

      Can you imagine Putin trying to get Trump elected without being confident to a large degree that Trump would shift US foreign policy in a pro-Kremlin direction? There are known links between Marine Le Pen and Russia. She admitted that she had to borrow money from Russia because no European bank would lend to her. And yet the Kremlin didn’t get all that involved in the French election. There was a half-hearted release of documents just before election day, but nothing like the sustained efforts seen in the US election. Which is why a suspicion of collusion was reasonable to start with. Trump’s behavior since he took the presidency has done nothing to ease those fears.

      I get that Democrats are using the Russia story to avoid introspection on how they’re going to handle the rise of nationalism and white identity as electoral forces, but that’s not a reason for others to minimize Russian interference in 2016.

      • Goosebumps

        Also, please don’t be too depressed to write. Intelligent, rational voices like yours are sorely needed.

      • ThePrussian

        Good to see you :-) Just to take that in order:

        1. If China were to do that, do you think for ten seconds those wailing would raise a peep? I wouldn’t be particularly bothered by that myself.

        2. Of course Putin was pro-Trump because he thought Trump’d benefit Russia. Ditto Israel being pro-Trump. Ditto the Saudis being pro-Clinton. And so on.

        As I said, I’m having trouble seeing the scandal here.

        • Goosebumps

          Sure, many major countries had a stake in the election – but hacking and breaking & entering are crimes. If it’s okay for Trump to collude with email hacking orchestrated by a foreign power, why not cut out the middleman and allow candidates to employ hacking teams? Why was Watergate even a scandal, then?

          The point is that there are some activities which shouldn’t be part of any election campaign, in order to preserve democratic norms and a sense of country over party.

          • ThePrussian

            I suppose if I had to put my finger on it, what I don’t get is how collusion with foreign states that consists of taking money is fine, and collusion with media organizations to get support is fine, but collaborating with foreign states’ media organizations is Armageddon.

            I can see where you’re going with this – I guess it comes down to the fact that it isn’t my country, and I care more about the effects in the wider world than within the states. I am also sickened beyond belief by some of the things that the Clintons have been allowed to get away with.

          • ThePrussian

            But to look at it the other way: I get what you’re saying. That if _this_ line is crossed, then there are really no lines left. That it’s all over.

            …that’s a very good point. Thanks for sticking around :-)

            • Goosebumps

              Thanks. I live in the US, and believe me, it’s disturbing – the extent to which there’s practically no country any more, just two sides who delight in scoring points over each other.

              I mean, after a terrorist attack like the one in Orlando, they can’t even take a moment to acknowledge that the country being attacked by jihadists is more important than partisan politics. The debate shifts to bloody gun control!

              I don’t know what the solution to this is, but I think it’s a good thing that civic and democratic norms are being debated in the light of the Trump-Russia scandal, with establishment Republicans like Lindsey Graham and John McCain showing some admirable bipartisanship.