the great Russian interference hoax

11.720 Eastquarter 37, EE (Earth Epic Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Bob Dylan, “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”

America Ballot Box Russian interference hoax
conolan / Pixabay

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist, said “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” It’s time to dismantle one of those oft-repeated lies. The truth is that the Democratic National Committee and US intelligence agencies are interfering in American elections. They aren’t the only ones, but the DNC and US intelligence–with the help of most cable news channels and major newspapers–have been feeding Americans a steady diet of anti-Russia fearmongering. They are perpetrating a great Russian interference hoax with the explicit purpose of diverting American attention from ballot box machinations going on in this country. A global pandemic may have swept the globe, but we still face an election in November. However people may choose to vote, it is important that we discern fact from fiction as we make our choices at the ballot boxes.

They cheated

People probably remember that Wikileaks revealed hacked emails right before the 2016 Democratic Convention that demonstrated 1) The DNC, in violation of its own charter requiring it to be neutral in its primaries, deliberately used its office to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016, and 2) The DNC deliberately “elevated” the most extreme Republican candidates as early as April 2015 in order to provide Clinton with a GOP opponent she could (theoretically) easily beat.

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned at the convention. She was roundly booed by many delegates, but she was nevertheless appointed “honorary chair” of Clinton’s “50 State” program.

And in November 2017, Donna Brazile revealed that not only was the DNC office used to strategize for and actively promote Clinton, but that in a secret agreement signed August 2015, Clinton financially supported the broke DNC party (roughly $20 million in support before the convention) in exchange for control of the party’s money, staff, and strategy. Brazile discovered this after taking over as interim DNC chair following Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

Yet these discoveries–especially the Donna Brazile revelation–disappeared as quickly from the news as they appeared. This is because the allegations of Russian interference have served as a useful foil against what would be damning criticism against a Democratic Party leadership

Development of a lie

A closer look at how the Russian interference hoax evolved is useful.

When Wikileaks’ revelations about DNC maneuvering first broke, someone going under the pseudonym “Guccifer 2.0” claimed responsibility for hacking the DNC emails and turning them over to Wikileaks. But in October, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence claimed that the intelligence community was “confident” that the Russian government orchestrated the interference in order to interfere in the US elections and help Trump win the election. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cited the organization’s policy in not releasing sources, but in January 2017, said that the source was neither the Russian government or any other state actor.

Yet the event that most likely sank Clinton’s campaign had nothing to do with Russia. On October 28, 2016, FBI director James Comey reported to Congress that the FBI would be investigating recently discovered emails in connection with the private email server Hillary Clinton used for government business while Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013. Clinton’s poll ratings plunged within days. On November 6, two days before the election, Comey reported to Congress that there was no evidence in the emails that would suggest that Clinton should be charged with a crime.

But the damage had been done. Clinton ultimately lost the election to Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, shocking the mainstream media and many pundits.

Four days after the election, Clinton blamed James Comey for her loss. Regardless of the appropriateness of Comey’s investigations (of which I make no judgment either way), the evidence connecting Comey’s investigation and Clinton’s drop in the polls was strong.

Yet, later that fall, Trump opponents did a sudden about-face began to blame Russian interference for Clinton’s loss in the elections. Many argued the Electoral College should invalidate Trump’s election because of fears that President-elect Trump was incompetent and because of allegations that the Russian government had interfered in US elections. It was at this time that we began to see members of the Democratic Party actually claiming that people who did not agree with this Russian interference hoax were “Russian assets,” a charge that has since been repeated over and over again the past four years. This video below from December 7, 2016, might be one of the first forays into Russia-baiting that we have repeatedly seen since.

The CIA buttressed this narrative on December 9 when they told Congress that the Russians intervened in the 2016 election in order to support Trump. However, the effort to sway the Electoral College failed in a spectacular fashion. Only two Trump electors from Texas defected, but four electors from Washington and one elector from Hawaii defected from Clinton to vote for someone else. Three more electors from Maine, Minnesota, and Colorado also tried to defect from Clinton, but were held back by their states from doing so.

You might think that having this scheme blow up in the Democrats’ faces would have caused them to admit defeat and develop other ways besides Russian interference hoas to resist the Trump agenda. However, Democrats, CNN, MSNBC and other mainstream media outlets have continued these accusations of Russian interference ever since. And these have garnered more media attention than the Wikileaks emails themselves.

Yet serious questions about the role of the Russians remain. In January 2017, CBS reported FBI Director James Comey had requested access to the compromised DNC servers where the emails had been hacked. The FBI made “multiple requests at different levels,” but the request was never granted. Ultimately, the FBI accepted a report of findings from Crowdstrike, a company employed by the DNC for cybersecurity services. It seems highly unusual for a political party making accusations of Russian interference of its emails to deny FBI access to the hacked server and for the FBI to instead accept the interpretation of a company on the party’s payroll. Under normal circumstances, such a denial could legitimately result in obstruction of justice charges. None have been filed in this case.

But this McCarthyist abuse has been employed dozens of times:

The Russian bogeyman was trotted out once again when Donna Brazile revealed the secret agreement between Hillary Clinton and the DNC for the 2016 elections. Senior DNC staffers responded by trying to label Donna Brazile a “Russian agent.”

The Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald documented dozens of “Russian interference” allegations that were debunked, often with scant retraction of the story after proven false. These stories would then be retweeted by other pundits with tens of thousands of followers, and even if the story was retracted, the re-Tweeters have rarely done the same. Greenwald said, “This is the climate Democrats have successfully cultivated — where anyone dissenting or even expressing skepticism about their deeply self-serving Russia narrative is the target of coordinated and potent smears…”

A former memer of the British Parliament now living in the US had, as of April 2017, accused 210 people of being Russian agents. And MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has, for four years, spent endless amounts of time promoting Russian conspiracy theories.

Okay, I’m not thrilled with the profanity that Jimmy Dore and company used
to mock Rachel Maddow, but really, Maddow’s words speak for themselves.

I myself had that accusation launched against me by a Facebook friend and professional colleague moments before he unfriended me. ZeroHedge writes a good article talking about the psychological game involved in these accusations.

Allegations put to the test in 2019

For months and years, we kept on hearing about how Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 was going to offer definitive proof of Trump’s guilt in colluding with the Russian government. Many Democrats gleefully predicted the end of the Trump presidency (as they keep on doing even now). The Mueller report said it found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government, but, oddly enough, said that the report “did not exonerate Trump.” Which is strange because the standard for guilt is “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and there is no legal basis for saying that a person is “not exonerated.”

Note that toward the end of the Jimmy Dore video above, a 2003 video shows the same Robert Mueller testifying before Congress that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction–including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons he was poised to hand over to terrorists. We now know that allegation to be false. The fact that Democrats lionized this liar says a lot about their values as a party.

Once the report was released to the public in April 2019, both major political parties responded in typical ways to the report: Democrats said that the report provided proof of collusion, Republicans said that the report didn’t change anything. And Americans remained split over the conclusions.

Independent journalist Aaron Maté wrote an excellent post-mortem on the Mueller investigation and the Russian interference hoax in general. One of the things he pointed out was how the mass media had treated this issue, and, like Glenn Greenwald before, pointed out a number of statements by media outlets such as the New York Times that were proved to be falsehoods but still not retracted.

Of course, within a few months, like a zombie emerging from the grave, the Democratic Party revived the question of impeaching President Trump due to allegations that he had solicited foreign election interference from the President of Ukraine for the 2020 election. This process, like other previous impeachments, resulted in no finding of guilt, no removal from office. And as was previously the case, belief about guilt or innocence depended on which party the politician belonged to.

And lest one might think that this loss would have them turn around and reflect on their behavior, they have been bringing this poison into the 2020 elections

Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swallwell claimed that Russia supported Bernie Sanders. Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard had “Russian asset” slurs hurled against her repeatedly–by NBC News shortly after she declared her candidacy, and again by Hillary Clinton a few months later. Joe Biden claimed that the Russians were rooting for Bernie Sanders. 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean claimed that Tara Reade, a woman who has come forward with a rape allegation against Biden, “is a Russian asset.” And never-Trumper conservative David Frum alleged that concerns about possibilities of Biden’s cognitive decline are akin to the Russian allegations about Hillary Clinton’s health in 2016.

.More than an anti-Trump agenda

There have always been good reasons to impeach Donald Trump. Other legitimate reasons include Trump’s violation of the Emoluments clause of the US Constitution, and statements he’s made that have encouraged violence. The facts of these cases are well-established, well-documented, and much easier to prove than allegations of Trump collusion with the Russians.

But since Trump’s upset of Clinton in the 2016 election, the Democratic Party has had other goals beyond resisting Trump’s agenda. This Russian interference hoax is a weapon of mass distraction designed to achieve several aims: 1) to divert attention from the fact that the DNC actively interfered in the 2016 primaries, and furthermore, permitted one of the contestants in the primaries to secretly control the party in a situation that was presented to the public as a democratic process, 2) to avoid reforms that could make the Democratic presidential nominating process more transparent and small-d democratic, 3) to avoid having to admit they made a mistake in miscalculating the public’s feeling about Democratic Party policies, 4) keep corporate lobbyists and large donors in the driver’s seat of a party that has been continually moving rightward for several decades, and 5) to enhance a foreign policy towards Russia that has grown increasingly hostile over the last 25 years.

The DNC essentially treated Trump’s election as a shock-and-awe opportunity to cover up its own role in rigging the primaries by accusing Russia of rigging the general election. It has used this event to push narratives on the American political left that previously were treated with lots of skepticism. These narratives include: 1) That US intelligence agencies are to be trusted unquestioningly even though faulty intelligence led to numerous blunders throughout history–including the allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. 2) That online misinformation is a national security threat and that the likes of Google and Facebook should be permitted to decide what they consider to be misinformation and remove it from the Internet.

That they would seek to make false allegations against a nuclear-armed foreign power to cover up their own shortcomings is beyond reckless. I have already established that the new “cold war” with Russia is, in large part, to decisions made by Presidents Clinton and Obama. Russian and American national interests may not be completely aligned, and no one is pretending that Putin isn’t an authoritarian, but there is plenty of precedent in American diplomacy for working constructively with such foreign powers without risking all-out war. Indeed, Stephen Cohen, whose expertise on Russia I’ve been well aware of since the 1980s, has expressed deep concerns about widespread opposition among the media and pundits to improved Russian-American relations.

The Russian interference hoax sought to cover up some very questionable activities and attitudes that permeate the DNC leadership. In June 2017, the DNC made some rather shocking statements in response to a class-action lawsuit against the party that Bernie Sanders donors filed in 2016. The lawsuit alleged that the DNC defrauded Sanders donors by violating its own charter which called for DNC neutrality in its own primary elections. The DNC argued that it was not obligated to follow its own charter because it is a private organization, and literally said that if they wanted to, they could go back to the days of smoke-filled rooms and choose their favored candidate behind the scenes. This is a weak argument, since the DNC consumes public resources from thousands of state, county, and municipal bodies when they hold their elections. Nevertheless, the Florida judge ruled in DNC’s favor.

DNC’s own election interference was ruled not illegal, but the ethics have remained highly questionable. Here, a candidate competing in a political party’s primary elections is secretly calls the shots for the party, thereby guaranteeing the candidate a victory.

When I started seeing how widespread the neo-McCarthyist gaslighting about Russia had become and how many people were falling for it and parroting it, I grew deeply concerned. I have often posted a video of Bob Dylan’s satire “John Birch Paranoid Blues” in response to such Russia-baiting to remind people of the ridiculousness and the toxicity of the anti-Russia hysteria. That the Democratic Party, of all parties, would resort to this is an example of just how low our politics have gone.

That the DNC would go to such great lengths to conceal their problems is disturbing. The party seems to have grown increasingly adept at shooting itself in the foot. With repeated failed attempts to take down Trump in a way that serves their convoluted agenda, the Democratic Party has only strengthened Trump, and frankly, make him look reasonable compared to the Democrats.

That so many supposedly “open-minded” liberals have taken this Russian interference hoax at face value surprises me. Many of them include activists that I have known for years–people who are used to questioning authority. All I can say is that there are a lot of people that simply can’t deal with cognitive dissonance generated by the fact that the team that they’ve been rooting for is just as corrupt as the other team. But I knew this even before the 2016 election. Bernie supporters have been more inclined to focus on actual issues than party loyalty, and I have followed the news closely enough to realize that for a very long time, the Democratic Party is not who they’ve said the are. Even in mainstream media, the evidence has been profound–from the party leadership’s response to Edward Snowden and the surveillance state to Obama’s response to the 2008 economic crisis, and we are seeing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer pass bailouts that soak large corporations in trillions of dollars of printed money while small businesses and the average American are scrambling for peanuts.

The DNC’s “Anything but Bernie” agenda has now essentially forced voters to chose two men in their late 70s that each appear to have serious cognitive challenges. That these are our choices during a pandemic, double-digit unemployment, and a looming climate crisis tells us a lot about the sorry state of American politics. Like its presumptive major party nominees, America itself seems to be in cognitive decline and increasingly unable to function in the world around us.

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