Trump didn’t invent the problems – and his opponents didn’t invent protest

Anti-Trump rally. Union Square, Manhattan, New York. November 2016. Image credit: Kelly Kline

At last, I find myself agreeing with something written by PZ Myers – well, sort of. I agree with the main message in his article about the current US political mess  – It is disturbing that the news is all Russia all the time – but it really does not go far enough. It doesn’t identify what actions should be pursued – nor does it identify the problems that have resulted in his main complaint.

Let’s get the fallacy in his first sentence out of the way. A fallacy which undermines the rest of his argument. Talking about the current political turmoil in the US he says: “I agree that the administration’s Russian connection ought to be pursued.” But he doesn’t say why.

The Russophobic diversion

The fact is Russia is a normal and natural country in the modern world. Its economy has strong international links and it is only natural that business and political personalities in the US will have, or will have had, links to Russian business, diplomats, and political personalities. Just as they have, and will have had, links to such entities from other countries, the UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Poland – and even little old New Zealand.

And that goes for US business and political personalities of all different political persuasions. Are US officials really going to get distracted by pursuing all these links, or even all the links with Russian entities? What about the international business links, including with Russia, of Democrat politicians – including the Clintons? What about the contact between Democrat politicians and Russian diplomats? Hell, should officials really investigate, and cast aspersions, on the many meetings ex-President Obama’s White House administration had with the Russian ambassador?

These links and contacts are perfectly natural in our modern global society – and they are only a current issue in the US because of the wave of neo-McCarthyism stalking that country. Neo-McCarthyism, we should remember, launched by Hillary Clinton to divert attention away from the political corruption in the Democratic Party revealed by Wikileaks. Neo-McCarthyism now maintained by Democrat politicians and anti-Trump elements of the intelligence community and mainstream media as a tool to control or limit the powers of the new administration.

Neo-McCarthyism is terribly dishonest and pernicious. It relies on Russophobia (which I often see as a form of racism – the last respectable form see Western racism and the stereotyping of Russians) and, in the end, the fear of being outed as a traitor, to bring people’s thinking “into line.”

And PZ Myers has fallen completely into that trap with this acceptance of neo-McCarthyism in his first sentence.

The real problems – and they aren’t new

But Myers goes on:

“but I am not happy that that is being treated as the primary reason to delegitimize Donald Trump. The man is a destructive incompetent with a fist full of bad policies, and the most effective way to bring him down is to expose the fact that his campaign staff talked to the Russian ambassador? What? Have you looked at what he is doing to the country right now? Because there is a whole lot of crap going down while we’re busy looking for Russians under the bed.”

Myers should be unhappy that such neo-McCarthyist reasons are used at all – from the point of view of democratic and human rights. But, yes, he makes a valid point – the neo-McCarthysim is a diversion. People should be paying attention to the real problems the US election result has left them with – a President and, probably more importantly, a Congress where anti-science and anti-human rights elements have been strengthened.

PZ illustrates this by listing some of the proposed cuts to the EPA budget. Others will find similar regressive proposed action in other areas. But PZ Myers is all at sea when it comes to fighting these problems:

“There is no single reason to rise up and throw these assholes out — they’ve provided an embarrassment of causes that make them terrible leaders, which is part of the problem, that the reasons for taking action have been diffused so widely. It seems to me that our targeting is off when conversations with Russian diplomats become the strongest reason for investigating the president, rather than his habit of appointing incompetents and looters like DeVos and Pruitt to run major government agencies.”

It is politically immature to see the solution as “to rise up and throw these assholes out.” Come off it. The president was legally elected. It is childish for the defeated parties to see “rising up and throwing out” elected leaders as a solution. Such advice, while it may appeal to the more emotional and immature, is a recipe for continued defeat, not a solution.

The fight-back is not new either

These problems upsetting people did not suddenly appear with the election of a new president. They have been there for a long time – as has the struggle against them. The election results did not create the problems – it simply made them worse.

Democratic and humanitarian-minded people (and science-minded people) have been fighting these problems for years. The fight against racism, environmental pollution, climate change denial and limitations on the reproductive and other rights of women is not new.

The fight-back uses many methods – lobbying and representation to Congressional committees, publicity in the mass media and alternative media,. petitions, citizen’s meetings. participation in political parties, rallies, and demonstrations.

No, the current rallies and demonstrations are not new. But, I am amazed that some people who have joined these, donned knitted pink hats and vented their feelings at anti-Trump rallies think they have invented something new. Perhaps the only new thing in their political activity has been the lack of clearly defined purpose. (And perhaps it is this focus on Trump himself which has made them susceptible to the ne0-McCarthist argument – to the extent they will often use it in their slogans).

Where have these people been? And that is a valid question as there is a school of thought that some of the current protesters had, in the past,  been lulled into inactivity, a false sense of contentment because they believed “their” democratic president was handling the situation. Solving all the problems. Stopping US interventions and war mongering overseas.

While it is true that Trump’s election may have encouraged some people to become active and to join the fight back, let’s not pretend the fight-back is at all new or that these newcomers have invented it. If anything, their lack of specific targets and resort to personal expression of their own anger is a bad sign, not a good one.

Because the fight back on all these important issues is not new and has developed its own maturity it will not disappear when the current highly motivated and emotional responses subside. Hopefully, many of the people who have joined the fight back because of their response to the presidential election result will stay and participate in the long-term struggles.

It would be nice to think that PZ Myers would get past his current emotional concept of the fight-back – “rising up and throwing out the assholes.” That he might actually participate in the day to day struggle of people fighting against the anti-democratic, anti-women, racist and anti-science policies.

Unfortunately, if his current habit of attacking people involved in these struggles because they do not measure up to his standards continue, this will not be the case.

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See also: The Democratic Party seems to have no earthly idea why it is so damn unpopular.

 

 

 

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36 responses to “Trump didn’t invent the problems – and his opponents didn’t invent protest

  1. I an not an American but do feel moved to say this is a fine essay– thoughtful , concise, toughly honest, and pointing to a way forward that may be useful in non-American contexts too. But it may ignore ( as being unfocused, perhaps) what some see as relevant cultural diseases now shared east and west, such as: Muted hypocrisy, that is, the tendency to view civic discourse in terms of personality (or worse, pre-defined celebrity) rather than the actual (or underlying) issue; and the extinction of respect, ie the very old fashioned concept of the honourable opponent. (And, it seems to me, as a final quibble, the essay was also obliged to ignore, when prescribing an antidote to Trump, the general effect of life lived in oligarchies, quasi-democracies, thought this is a side issue here, not new. It has though, a new aspect: The increasing ease with which modern electorates are ‘nudged’, manipulated, played, used, that is, ‘managed’ by the oligarchs. We all of us hate to admit we fit into a demographic ‘sector’.)

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  2. I’m in general agreement with your post, which I find well reasoned, insightful, and perhaps most of all, useful. However, I think you might be overlooking the core reason for pursuing the “Russian connection”. That is not because of the business ties between Trump and his administration, but rather because of the realistic possibility that the Russians meddled in the presidential election. I think whether or not such meddling occurred, and the extent of it if it did occur, are legitimate questions to ask, given that there already exists some evidence of it.

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  3. Please excuse me, I meant “the business ties between Trump and his administration and the Russians”.

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  4. Paul, In now way am I mongering your neo-McCarhtyist claim – I did include politicians and political issues.

    But, why do you even raise it? Do you have any evidence? Come on, if you do let’s see it.

    You talk about a “realistic possibility that the Russians meddled in the presidential election.” Will anything is possible. Why are you not concerned about the “realistic possibility that the New Zealanders meddled in the presidential election?” Or any other country?

    There is absolutely no more evidence that New Zealanders interfered than there is that Russians interfered – but if you are concerned only with possibilities why not raise the New Zeland scenario?

    In fact you could do that for any country – and you might find there is actually some evidence in some cases – for example, the Ukrainians who lobbied strongly for Trump and were very pissed off with the result.

    Perhaps you should pay attention to my point about Russophobia being a form of racism. If you want to make such claims then produce the evidence – otherwise I call it out as racist.

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  5. Ken —

    “The United States Intelligence Community has officially concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 United States elections.[1] An intelligence community assessment stated, “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Hillary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”[2]

    “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), representing 17 intelligence agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security…”

    You can read the rest here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_interference_in_the_2016_United_States_elections

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  6. Paul, you said evidence existed and I asked for it.

    The reports from the US intelligence community do not provide any evidence at all – just assertions. They are evidence-free.

    Given the climate of neo-McCarthyism that exists in the US, these reports do not surprise me.

    What I find surprising is that no evidence could be produced – none at all.

    I think it is a very poor argument to produce such reports as evidence – if you really have any evidence at all please produce it.

    I remind you of Boris Johnson’s statement where he says there is absolutely no evidence of Russian interference in UK politics – but there is plenty of evidence that the Russian Federation is capable of such interference.

    By that argument perhaps the UK should be coming down on New Zealand as there is plenty of evidence that our country is capable of interfering in UK politics.

    Can you not see how silly this has become.

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  7. I in some cases consider the consensus of knowledgeable people in a field, such as intelligence professionals or climate scientists, to be at least some evidence in favor of a thing — especially when I do not count myself personally qualified to assess all the facts myself. If that doesn’t sit well with you, that’s fine. That’s your choice, not mine.

    At any rate, thank you for your views. I’ve believe we’ve come to an impasse.

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  8. I suspect, Paul, you are choosing to believe what you want to believe.

    One thing about accepting the consensus of people like climate scientists is the vast amount of evidence they have and present.

    These intelligence reports admitted to not having evidence – just beliefs. Unfortunately, foolish people seem to accept a report without evidence as somehow evidence in itself!

    That is very gullible considering the wide-ranging political war underway in the US at the moment where elements of the intelligence community and the mass media are lining up on one side.

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  9. David Fierstien

    “Perhaps you should pay attention to my point about Russophobia being a form of racism. If you want to make such claims then produce the evidence – otherwise I call it out as racist.”

    First of all, the Russian people are not a race. Beyond that, your arguments, as always, reek of Russian apologia and little more.

    Your sole argument is: Prove it to me.

    Prove to me that a billion people live in India. Have you, personally, counted them all? Why not a billion people in New Zealand? Have you personally counted each and every person in New Zealand? Can you prove any of this beyond using a Census Report and a few phone books, all of which could easily have been faked by New Zealand Intelligence?

    And Is not your claim of an overcrowded county Indian-phobia? Maybe somebody is making up the numbers in India as a prelude to forced genocide. This is clearly a racist claim. Can you prove to me this is not true?

    Your argument is ridiculous, Ken. We do have common sense. We can draw reasonable conclusions using said common sense.

    If this is nothing but Russia-phobia, why all the lying from the Trump administration, Ken?

    There is nothing wrong with meeting with a Russian Ambassador. So why lie about it?

    If there is nothing to hide about meetings with the Russian ambassador, why did Sessions, Flynn, and a host of others feel the need to lie about it until it was “proven” that they did in fact have meetings with Russian representatives prior to the election? After it was proven, the story changed to, “Oh yeah, now I remember.”

    Why was Michael Flynn fired from his position as National Security Adviser if there was nothing to any of this . . as you desperately try to argue?

    And now we find out that Michael Flynn was being paid by Russian propaganda tool RT. Do you also need proof of that? That can be provided.

    Common sense, Ken . . You are literally arguing against common sense.

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  10. David Fierstien

    Regarding this post itself:

    If the downfall of Nixon taught us anything, it’s that, “It’s not the crime . . It’s the cover-up.”

    You argue that there is nothing inherently wrong with meeting representatives of the Russian government. You are absolutely right.

    The Obamas and the Clintons have also met with Russian diplomats. What hypocrisy. Where is the outrage regarding those meetings?

    Here’s the problem: If you can show me any instance in which the Obamas or the Clintons felt the need to lie about their meetings with Russian officials, I will be happy to show you the outrage. The problem, Ken, is the lying. It’s that simple.

    You also argue that, “The fact is Russia is a normal and natural country in the modern world. . . . ”

    Well . . that’s not exactly true. Russia has one of the two greatest nuclear arsenals on the planet. Which arsenal is superior is a matter of debate. However, when talking about these weapons, it is also a moot point. Russia, and the United States, each, independent of the other, has the ability to devastate the planet. Neither Russia, nor the United States, is “normal.”

    And while you are correct, . . links to Russian businesses and diplomats is completely normal . . it is not normal to feel the need to lie about those links. Do I really need to document the lies that have come from Trump’s people regarding their links to Russia? Is that really necessary, or can we leave it at that?

    You go on to say, “It is politically immature to see the solution as “to rise up and throw these assholes out.” Come off it. The president was legally elected.”

    I agree. If no laws were broken, if no impeachable offenses were committed, then you are quite right. He is our president. In two years the appropriate response to our disagreement with his policies will be to give him a Democratic Congress . . rendering him, we hope, the most ineffective president in U.S. history.

    And we hold this hope because we want history to note that lying your way through the day – from 6 am tweets accusing a former president of felonies, to blatant lies of inauguration crowd sizes, and so on, and so on – was met with fierce resistance. We want history to understand that the people of the United States stood up and demanded at least the pretense of honesty from those representing their interests in the world.

    And it is ironic that you claim this Russia-phobia is a diversion away from issues like Mrs. Clinton’s emails, (which to my knowledge exposed no crimes) because I believe history will show that Trump’s outrageous tweets were themselves a diversion away from the Russian issue. Indeed, Chuck Todd has documented the fact that Trump’s fake-news tweets have, until his most recent and outrageous, directly followed media reports of his Administration’s ties to Russia.

    And since you did bring up Wiki-leaks, it’s goal, according to Mr. Assange, is, “to bring important news and information to the public… One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.”

    Truth, Mr. Assange?

    I find is odd that nothing of Trump’s has been released by Mr. Assange. Not Trump’s taxes, (which, according to all polls, is “very important to the public”). . not his emails (which would have been a gold-mine of “important news and information.”) . . . not even where he shops . . Nothing. Trump appears to be un-hackable. HOW EXTREMELY ODD, considering the fact that Trump just let the cat out of the bag and said even the CIA was hacked. The CIA can be hacked . . U.S. Intel can be hacked . . Yahoo can be hacked . . banks can be hacked . . . a former president’s wife can be hacked . . but not Trump’s personal information. This defies belief. Maybe Wikileaks isn’t quite as non-partisan as it claims 😉 .

    Trump’s hack-proof cyber-fortress, which appears to have super-hero impenetrability, is even more unbelievable when you consider that Trump is little more than a salesman. It’s what he has done his entire life. He lies to make a sale, and he sells his lies. Do you need proof of that? And he’s not really very intelligent, considering his recent blundering miscalculation, an outrageous claim that President Obama committed a felony against him, personally. That attempt only put more of a focus on his problems.

    Sorry, Mr. Trump. Your clumsy, desperate attempt at diversion failed miserably. No one, other than your group of sad minions, was fooled. The American people, and even your own Republican Party, have taken their blinders off. You’re a show-man / salesman. Nothing more.

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  11. I cannot understand your arguments about India, etc., David. They come across as very confused.

    I do not feel any interest in defending any US politician – but do point out that at the moment there is an obscene political war going on in the US between the elected president and his administration on the one side and elements of the intelligence community, mass media and Demcioratric Party on the other. In NZ we find this rather silly and haven’t seen anything like such political childishness since Muldoon resisted the results of his election defeat in 1984.

    As an outsider with no sympathy for politicians in general, and US politicians in particular, I can just sit back with my popcorn and be amused. But having gone through the cold war and period of McCarthyism I do not want to suffer from that again.

    But in the interest of balance, I could just take a simple trivial example – Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi denied ever meeting with the ambassador and politicians of the Russian Federation. When shown a photograph of her at the negotiating table with the Russian ambassador and prime minister she backtracked and said it was public. We could say she was caught lying, couldn’t we.

    But to be a bit sympathetic to her she does seem to be suffering a bit of dementia these days.

    My experience tells me you are incapable of overcoming your own anti-Russian racist attitudes. But the simple example of payments to Flynn for his appearance in Moscow shows how over the top you have become.

    Flynn was one of many overseas invited visitors to the 10th-anniversary celebrations of RT. He gave a speech, I think, and/or appeared on stage with Sophie Shevednasi – whose programme is very informative. I am aware of many other speeches and panel discussions held as part of that celebration. The only one I watched involved the head of the BBC, an Indian media leader, the head if a major Chinese media company, the founder of Al Jazeera and the head of RT. The panel discussion was actually quite fascinating as it revealed differences in the ability to recognise partisanship in the media.

    Now I am sure that all these visitors received payment for their appearances and expenses. Perfectly normal for invited speakers. As for proof – yes I have seen RT officials who handle expenses provide that information. I have seen the fee received by Flynn compared with the fees US politicians are paid for appearances in their own country (of course Flynn’s speaking fee and expenses were minuscule compared with those regularly received by the Clintons, Bush and Obama).

    But who the hell is going to want to make something out of a normal payment of speaking fees and expenses – just because it was for an appearance in Moscow rather than Washington. Only someone suffering from anti-Russian racist poisoning.

    Bloody hell, do we now assume that the BBC is controlled by Putin because their head received fee payments and expenses for her participation in the panel discussion I referred to.

    As they say – only in the USA could someone be that stupid.

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  12. David, your unhealthy obsession with Trump has blinded you to the issue my article raised. The US election results (congressional as well as presidential) have strengthened anti-democratic and anti-science elements in the US. This means extra work for the people carrying out the day-to-day struggle on these issues (I do not include PZ in this – he just rants and raves. A pity, as I have met the man and quite liked him. But he seems to have since gone around the bend, possibly driven by an expanded ego).

    The struggle against violations of democratic rights and anti-science forces will go on after Trump’s term is completed, just as it went on before his election. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people who were completely silent about these issues under Obama who have now suddenly become active and donned pink hats to demonstrate in the street. It will be a pity if these people do not over time become active in the day-to-day struggle in a realistic way. It will be a pity if they again go to sleep if a Democratic president is elected next time.

    After all, the Libyan intervention occurred under Obama’s watch and Hillary Cinton publicly and obscenely gloated in the lynching of the Libyan president by Islamist extremists. And where were the protesters then – pink hats or not?

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  13. Thank you for your kind reply, Ken. It was pretty early in the U.S. when I wrote it, EST, and perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I should have been.

    First, to my comments regarding India that came across a bit confused. I was responding to your comments to Paul Sunstone. He rightly pointed out to you that U.S. Intelligence has unanimously verified Russian attempted meddling in the U.S. election. In fact, ever person who has been privy to classified material on this subject, Trump included, has concluded that Russian did attempt to sway the U.S. election.

    Your response, as it usually is when someone disagrees with your pro-Russian bias was, “Where’s the proof? Prove it to me. As a citizen in New Zealand, why aren’t I seeing the classified material that I am entitled to? I don’t believe the Russian government would behave in such a way.”

    Was this not basically your response?

    In pointing out the fallacy of your biased argument, my response to you was: “Try to prove anything to me.” Prove to me, for example, that there are a billion people living in India. Prove it, Ken. Did you count each and every one of those people? Your argument of “prove it to me” is nonsense when faced with universal agreement by those whom have seen the evidence. Prove to me there are a billion people living in India. Did you personally count each and every one? Or do you rely on sources beyond yourself?

    I hope this helps clear things up.

    You make the argument, “But in the interest of balance, I could just take a simple trivial example – Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi denied ever meeting with the ambassador and politicians of the Russian Federation. When shown a photograph of her at the negotiating table with the Russian ambassador and prime minister she backtracked and said it was public.”

    Prove to me that she met Kislyak. You point out that a photograph was taken of her, sitting across from the Ambassador. So what. Can you prove that she ever spoke to him, acknowledged him, or even knew who he was? She readily acknowledged that she met Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev. She never denied it. It was he with whom she had intended to meet, had acknowledged meeting, had met, and never lied about meeting.

    How exactly does this compare to the mountain of lies being perpetrated by Trump’s people about meeting privately, in Cleveland, in Washington, in Trump Tower, and who knows where else, with the Russian Ambassador.

    By trying to make such a comparison, you are desperately reaching. Sad.

    Your lame apology for Trump’s former National Security Adviser receiving tens of thousands of dollars from Russia Today is meaningless. Regardless of your weak diversion regarding whom else may have received payments from RT, whether it be the Obamas or the Clintons, it doesn’t change the fact that Flynn lied about it.

    Flynn had previously acknowledged the speaking engagement, telling multiple news outlets in July and August that he received money for the speech. But he declined to state the amount, saying that the source of the funds was his US speakers bureau, not the Russian broadcaster RT, a propaganda tool of the Russian government.

    “I didn’t take any money from Russia,” Flynn told Yahoo News in July.

    Flynn purposely lied about it. His payments came from his “US speakers bureau?” A purposeful lie is not a mere oversight.

    If you can’t even admit that, you are too far gone to discuss this issue rationally.

    The rest of your comment, events in Libya . . Obama . . Clinton are mere diversions meant to distract away from the real issue. The never ending stream of lies, cover-ups and finger-pointing coming from Trump and his people regarding their ties to the Russian government, and the possibility of his collusion with them in the past U.S. election.

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  14. You begin your next comment with: “David, your unhealthy obsession with Trump has blinded you to the issue my article raised.”

    My unhealthy obsession? With the elected leader of my county who is little more than a pathological liar, who has accused the former president of a felony – with no evidence – an accusation, by the way, in which no one is willing to go out on the limb and admit they share his belief, not even his own WH Spokesman, Sean Spicer.

    My unhealthy obsession. I consider it very healthy to speak out against corruption and lies in power. This is who we are. It would be unhealthy to ignore it, hide under a rock, and hope for the best. Your pathetic idea of “health” is sad.

    You say, ” The US election results (congressional as well as presidential) have strengthened anti-democratic and anti-science elements in the US. This means extra work for the people carrying out the day-to-day struggle on these issues.”

    Agreed.

    You say, “The struggle against violations of democratic rights and anti-science forces will go on after Trump’s term is completed, just as it went on before his election. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people who were completely silent about these issues under Obama who have now suddenly become active and donned pink hats to demonstrate in the street. It will be a pity if these people do not over time become active in the day-to-day struggle in a realistic way. It will be a pity if they again go to sleep if a Democratic president is elected next time.”

    Other than your snide reference to “Pink Hats,” — Agreed.

    The remainder of your comment, the Clintons, the Obamas, Lybia, is a diversion and is of no relevance here.

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  15. David, you are away with the birds. I have no idea how many people are in India but know there are quite a few – the evidence stands out like a sore thumb.

    But you are happy to take McCarthyist reports that are evidence-free as reliable!! Says a lot about you doesn’t it?

    The fact is not all intelligence experts support these claims, even in the reports the differences are mentioned. But there are a number who have pointed out publicly the lack of evidence. Hell, some Democrat leaders have warned party members to get over it, stop believing this racist nonsense and do their job instead of childishly crying over spilled milk.
    Both Clinton and Trump have made claims – no evidence has been produced on either hand and I treat them both with the cynicism they deserve (although we do know now that everyone in the US is being spied on, don’t we. Aren’t you worried about the fact you are making contact with me being recorded by the NSA?)

    As for Flynn’s speaker’s fees going through his speaker bureau – come on. You are desperate. RT has presented the documents outlining how he was paid. These is nothing suspicious there at all. No secrets – their only complaint was that the arrangement emails which were marked confidential were released to the media. This is causing them to review their accounting procedures. But such a reds under the bed hysteria is extremely dangerous. People were imprisoned, lost jobs, fled the country, etc., last time that happened. And you are promoting the return.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  16. Whoa there, Cowboy!! . . . What??!! . . . You’re telling me, “I have no idea how many people are in India but know there are quite a few – the evidence stands out like a sore thumb.”

    What evidence!!?? I asked you to prove it to me. And all you hand me is, “The evidence stands out like a sore thumb.” That’s all you’ve got? The evidence stands out like a sore thumb?? Man, that is really pathetic.

    Your quote: “But you are happy to take McCarthyist reports that are evidence-free as reliable!!”

    And yet you are happy to take reports from those who claim a billion people live in India . . . “evidence free, as reliable!!”

    Where’s the evidence that a billion people live in India? Haven’t seen it yet, dude.

    Has the light gone on upstairs yet? . . . Or do we have to keep doing this?

    Your quote: “The fact is not all intelligence experts support these claims, even in the reports the differences are mentioned. But there are a number who have pointed out publicly the lack of evidence. Hell, some Democrat leaders have warned party members to get over it, . . ”

    Citations please.

    Your quote: “As for Flynn’s speaker’s fees going through his speaker bureau – come on. You are desperate. RT has presented the documents outlining how he was paid.”

    My ONLY point was that Flynn lied about the source of his payments. It is odd that, since this was my ONLY point, you seem to have overlooked it.

    Again this is the only point I made, which you conveniently seem to have overlooked:

    “Flynn had previously acknowledged the speaking engagement, telling multiple news outlets in July and August that he received money for the speech. But he declined to state the amount, saying that the source of the funds was his US speakers bureau, not the Russian broadcaster RT, a propaganda tool of the Russian government.

    “I didn’t take any money from Russia,” Flynn told Yahoo News in July.

    “Flynn purposely lied about it. His payments came from his “US speakers bureau?” A purposeful lie is not a mere oversight.”

    I also pointed out that, “If you can’t even admit that, you are too far gone to discuss this issue rationally.”

    Well . . I guess you’ve admitted that you are too far gone to discuss this issue rationally.

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  17. By the way, since you asked, “Aren’t you worried about the fact you are making contact with me being recorded by the NSA?”

    First of all, I’m just a guy with an anti-Trump agenda, and I’m not convinced the NSA is completely on board with Trump. In fact, I would bet good money most US Intel isn’t on board with Trump.

    Am I worried that because I have an anti-Trump agenda, and I am freely promoting it on the internet that I might get “wiretapped?”

    There are more than 150 million people ahead of me, dude.

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  18. David – I think you have a reading problem. My question was:

    we do know now that everyone in the US is being spied on, don’t we. Aren’t you worried about the fact you are making contact with me being recorded by the NSA?

    You have vilified me as the most horrible slave of Putin. I would have thought someone might question your relationship with such a horrible person. After all, in the 50s this sort of relationship lead to job losses, loss of your passport and congressional inquiries. You might have had to flee overseas to survive. That is the nature of McCarthyism. Very similar to Stalinism.

    And you are promoting it!

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  19. Well . . according to Trump, it was Obama who was spying on everyone. According to Kellyanne Conway, even our Microwave Ovens were spying on us . . under Obama that is. Trump, of course, only an innocent a tool of RT and the Russian Federation, wouldn’t .ever stoop to that level, would he..

    Since I am at the political polar opposite of you, and since you are a stalwart apologist for the Russian Federation, and since the Russian Federation worked to put Trump in the Oval Office, and since Trump wouldn’t ever stoop to the level of Obama – spying on us through our microwave ovens, . . . I don’t think I have anything to worry about.

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  20. But more to your point . . In the 1950s, McCarthyism was the U.S. government thefueling anti-Russian witch hunt against the citizens of the U.S.. That was McCarthyism. It was the Free Press who shed the light of truth on it.

    Today the McCarthyism of which you seem to be afraid consists of the Citizens of the U.S. and the Free Press organized in an effort to shed the light of truth upon the Trump administration, the government, and its ties to Russia.

    The McCarathyism of the 1950s was the exact opposite of what is happening today, and your argument has no merit.

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  21. David, as we know the NSA spies on everyone in the US (and the rest of the world). And one thing we also know from experience is that spies do not necessarily handle the collected intelligence rationally.

    Possibly there is a special watch on you – I wouldn’t be surprised – but more because you exhibit highly irrational attitudes (as can be seen in your comments here) than any specific political orientation.

    I suppose that sort of monitoring could be considered beneficial to the rest of society – we should be keeping an eye on nutters. :-).

    As for you association with me – who knows. I was certainly not able to get a visa to travel to the US or South Africa during the McCarthy period and the cold war. I was prevented from using my post-doc fellowship funds to attend the International Social Science Congress in Moscow in the early 70s while I was in Scotland because the officials at NZ house wouldn’t approve travel to an “iron curtain country.” Crazy, because I and my family had the previous year visited relatives in Moscow during our trip to Scotland!

    At the time I kept running into UK citizens who also were not allowed to travel to the USSR because they had served in the military. Which is funny because I was in Berlin in the 80s and saw many US soldiers visiting East Berlin to buy household items which were cheaper there than in the west – the Soldiers had access to different exchange rates between the Deathmark and Ostmark.

    It was a crazy period, even while it was dangerous and oppressive.

    Significantly, (and relevant to your situation) a distant friend of mine only got his US visa after being called into the US embassy and being grilled. He was specifically asked about his connection with me (he had visited my flat once when we were students and there was very little other connection except we went to the same primary school – he was a year or two behind me).

    So, I welcomed the end of the cold war (as no doubt did my friend). I was soon able to travel to the US, South Africa, Israel, China, Mexico, etc. I would have been able to travel to the Russian federation if I chose to (no relevant conferences came up for me in that period). No hassle with visas. I was able to attend scientific conferences and even do a bit of backpacking in the US and Canada.

    So you can see why I abhor McCarthism and cold wars and why I abhor their return.

    As for your justification for the present neo-McCarthyism by reference the “the Free Press organized in an effort to shed the light of truth.” I recognise those words as they were used all the time during the last McCarthy/cold war period.

    Isn’t it any wonder I am starting to feel the same oppression I felt then.

    An important part of the oppression then was the hysterical attitudes of otherwise normal citizens towards people like me who chose to think for themselves. That hysteria is an important component of repressive movements like McCarthism, Stalinism and Maoism.

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  22. David Fierstien

    Well . . this discussion has certainly taken an interesting turn.

    First of all, when you say that the NSA spies on everyone and the rest of the world, we should clarify, hopefully you mean that in the broadest sense. Yes, technology certainly exists that was created to net and raise red flags when certain words or phrases are used. For example, if I was on a U.S. military base in a foreign country, and I googled “How to make a molotov cocktail,” that might raise a red flag or two.

    There are things that I would never say in a phone call or write on the internet simply because it would be stupid. Freedom of speech does not allow someone to yell “Fire!!” in a crowded movie theater. Nor should it.

    And thank you for your warning to me that I might be under surveillance, or have my own dossier, because of my association with you, and because I am a nutter.

    Well, Ken, if there is a file on me, I have found that it is to my benefit. Not only did my country, on two separate occasions, blow up people who tried to kill me, but I have found that in many cases I am offered preferential treatment, in sharp contrast to what you have described about your experiences.

    . . and you are warning me because of my association with you, and because I am a nutter. Ok.

    When it comes to international politics, I often argue with a guy who is incapable of criticizing the Russian Federation or it’s president. I often find myself at odds with someone who “Likes” the FB page of Vladimir Putin. I seriously doubt that would put me on the NSA’s radar.

    And as far as me being a nutter, and my highly irrational attitudes, to my recollection the most extreme thing I ever said to you was when I called you a racist pig, and I told you to fuck off. I showed restraint in my remarks.

    I called you a racist pig when you posted a cartoon suggesting that Muslim men hate their daughters.

    I told you to fuck off because you posted a cartoon that openly mocked U.S. veterans who suffer from PTSD. The people you offended there take that 2nd Amendment pretty seriously.

    So, you purposely tried to piss off two of the most dangerous groups on the planet . . Even Salman Rushdie had the good sense to go into hiding after he published his book.

    On top of that, you tell me that the NSA spies on everybody in the world while running you run a pro-Russian / anti-US blog on the World Wide Web, while FB friending Vladimir Putin . . And you Want to travel abroad? . . . I’m the one who’s highly irrational? Ok. Whatever you say.

    And . . to my previous comment. In the 1950s it was the government who persecuted U.S. citizens. Americans did lose their jobs. Today, on the other hand, it is the American people who are demanding that its government provide full disclosure about what happened during the 2016 election . . You know the one in which Trump openly requested that the Russian government hack Mrs. Clinton’s emails https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubDmKwr_gd0

    And, as we have seen in the case of Michael Flynn . . people are losing their jobs, but this time, it’s not the American people who have to worry.

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  23. It is truly ironic that you would say, ” I recognise those words as they were used all the time during the last McCarthy/cold war period.”

    Because, I recognize these words: “This is McCarthyism.” They can be found in a Donald J. Trump tweet that was issued at 6:35 am on March 4th, 2017.

    It looks like you and the the donald are on the same page 🙂

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  24. We certainly seem to be agreeing on that.

    Shock, horror, sometimes Trump actually does make sense. Even a buffoon can get it right sometimes.

    Mind you, he would know, wouldn’t he?

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  25. Hey, you reckon Putin has a facebook page – can you provide a link? He is certainly someone that a person like me who has an open mind should try to follow.

    But damn, I bet it is in Russian. How inconsiderate of him.

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  26. David Fierstien

    https://www.facebook.com/Vladimir-Vladimirovich-Putin-178036605661762/

    Since I found this under your “Likes,” I’ll bet you already have the link. For a guy who is saying the NSA spies on everybody in the world, you seem pretty ballsy.

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  27. David Fierstien

    This is the tweet, in its entirety, to which you were referring when you said, “Shock, horror, sometimes Trump actually does make sense. Even a buffoon can get it right sometimes.”

    Tump:
    “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
    6:35 AM – 4 Mar 2017″

    Well . . as we just found out on March 20th, the FBI and the entire DOJ disagree with both you and Trump.

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  28. And now we find out that Paul Manafort, Trump Campaign Manager, was paid $10 million per year by Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally who became one of Russia’s wealthiest men under Putin, buying assets abroad in ways widely perceived to benefit the Kremlin’s interests.

    Did you get that? Trump’s Campaign Manager paid $10 million per year by Oleg Deripaska. Who is he?

    U.S. diplomatic cables from 2006 described him as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis” and “a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad.” In response to questions about Manafort’s consulting firm, a spokesman for Deripaska in 2008 — at least three years after they began working together — said Deripaska had never hired the firm.

    It is indeed interesting that Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

    This is McCarthyism? Get over yourself. This is reality. You show common sense in your futile attempt to deflect away from this discussion in favor of a pro-fluoride argument.

    Your deflection not withstanding, this is not going away.

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  29. David, I have just spent a couple of days interacting with anti-fluorde activists during submissions at parliament.  One factor they have in common with you is the Gish gallop – when you get presented with the actual evidence about a claim you have made you drop it and move on to something else. It is a tiresome technique aimed at wearing down your discussion partner. But it also has the effect of that partner saying so what – I have better things to do with my time than chase up details for a paranoid neo-McCartyist nutter. Hell, the political mess you guys have created doesn’t even involve me – it’s not country.  I have better and more productive things to do with my time.  It is a pity you don’t.

    Sent from my Samsung device

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  30. David Fierstien

    No gish gallop here. I have been focused on what you call a Russophobic diversion. When presented with facts, it is you who chooses to drop the discussion.

    To fully illustrate this, under your own post you now say, “Hell, the political mess you guys have created doesn’t even involve me – it’s not country.”

    You’re right. It doesn’t even involve you. Which begs the question, then why did you put up the post the in the first place?

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  31. David Fierstien

    However, I would like to clear up some confusion that you may be having. Gish galloping is the tactic of resorting to new arguments when faced with defeat in a current argument.

    And, yes, I have brought up new items in this thread. On March 21st I referenced James Comey’s testimony in front of a Senate investigation hearing. I said, “Well . . as we just found out on March 20th, the FBI and the entire DOJ disagree with both you and Trump.”

    On March 23rd I brought up the Paul Manafort scandal. Trump’s campaign manager had a three-year, $10 million / year contract with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

    This, of course, came to light after Manafort told George Stephanopoulos that the idea of him having any ties to Russia was “absurd.”

    Now, last night, we find out that House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff says the “evidence is beyond circumstantial” that there was “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    My point is . . what you call gish galloping is, in fact, my citing of events as they unfold in real time. What you so quickly dismissed as Russophobia/McCarthyism is an evolving drama. Science doesn’t so quickly draw conclusions before all the evidence has been presented . . and yet you do. Odd.

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  32. David, you ask why my post.
    Well, partly an ongoing difference I have with PZ – I have met the guy and liked him at the time. But I really think he has gone off the rails in a narcissistic sort of way. He has attacked me a few times as a result. But then again he has attacked many others he formerly had good relations with – Richard Dawkins being a prime example. I guess I am in good company.

    I am also interested in responding to the way science is being attacked by the political establishment in the US. I have occasionally written about this over the climate change issue.

    Finally, it concerns me that people I have considered rational have been so blinded by an official anti-Russian racism that it has badly confused them in a way that neutralises their ability to rerpsond to that attack on science. “Rising up and overthrowing the assholes” is hardly a recipe for success.

    From a human rights perspective, I also think all racism is disgusting.

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  33. (alert, diversion follows..)

    But I really think he has gone off the rails in a narcissistic sort of way.

    My first real introduction to PZ Myers wasn’t cause for me to warm to his ability to think rationally either. It was in regard to his scurrilous treatment of Michael Shermer, which I first read about and commented on here [ https://onefuriousllama.com/2013/08/12/pz-myers-pr-and-marketing-campaign-seems-to-be-working/ ].

    Like

  34. David Fierstien

    Ken, I had a re-read of your post, and while your observations of anti-science trends are interesting, that’s a problem that will go away in two years when we “rise up and throw the assholes out” by voting them out.

    Your real problem is your obsession with the “Russia-phobes.” Me, for example. Your comment from this thread:

    “David . . . My experience tells me you are incapable of overcoming your own anti-Russian racist attitudes.”

    Again, despite the comments of Alexander Mercouris, the Russian people are not a race. Moreover, to throw around words like “racism” haphazardly, as you and he do, belies its own agenda and bias. You are creating a straw-man against which you can argue.

    This is your “Russio-phobia;” this is the diversion about which you complain. From your link: “Russians are nowadays regularly represented in the West in certain characteristic ways.

    Russian men are brutish, sullen, slovenly, often drunk, and always cruel. They speak in thick heavy accents. They dress badly, are dishonest, violent and greedy. They treat women oafishly.” And it goes on . . and on . . and on.

    I’ve never said any of those things, thus the straw man. I have criticized the Russian government and its leaders because it has denied its people a Free Press. I have asked you time and again to point out any example in which its state-sponsored propaganda tool, RT, is critical of its own government, and I have been met with silence each and every time.

    In your defense of any state-sponsored media, it is you unjustly harm the Russian people, not me. In your defense of any government of a country which is known for the high rate of murders of its own journalists . . it is you who impoverish these people, not me.

    And to justify your own bigotry, you throw around words like “McCarthyism” and “neo-McCarthyism.”

    Ken Perrott: “As for your justification for the present neo-McCarthyism by reference the “the Free Press organized in an effort to shed the light of truth.” I recognise those words as they were used all the time during the last McCarthy/cold war period.”

    Ironic, since it was Edward R. Murrow and the Free Press which ended McCarthyism. Ironic, since you openly support a government and its media outlet which is incapable of criticizing its own government. You support the antithesis of a Free Press; therefore, you, in fact, support McCarthyism.

    Your thesis reeks of hypocrisy.

    More from your post regarding your alleged Russia-phobic diversion:

    “Neo-McCarthyism, we should remember, launched by Hillary Clinton to divert attention away from the political corruption in the Democratic Party revealed by Wikileaks. Neo-McCarthyism now maintained by Democrat politicians and anti-Trump elements of the intelligence community and mainstream media as a tool to control or limit the powers of the new administration.”

    So . . Hillary Clinton is to blame for everything and no Russian hacking of her emails actually occurred? Do I read you right?

    Paul Krugman speaks directly to your point: “By the way, people who respond to this observation by talking about mistakes in Clinton campaign strategy are missing the point, and continuing their useful idiocy. All campaigns make mistakes. Since when do these mistakes excuse subversion of an election by a foreign power and a rogue domestic law enforcement agency?” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/opinion/useful-idiots-galore.html?mc=aud_dev&mcid=keywee&mccr=domdesk&kwp_0=359897&kwp_4=1345337&kwp_1=594896&_r=0

    Moreover, when you say, ” . .Neo-McCarthyism now maintained by Democrat politicians and anti-Trump elements of the intelligence community . . ,” I must ask, to which anti-Trump elements in the intelligence community are you referring? The answer is All elements in the intelligence community agree. Could you please point out any “pro-Trump” element in the intelligence community, which according to your theory, would not agree that Democratic emails were hacked by Russian elements?

    In one of your comments to me you said, “The fact is not all intelligence experts support these claims, even in the reports the differences are mentioned. But there are a number who have pointed out publicly the lack of evidence.”

    What!? Are you talking about private security firms on somebody’s payroll, or do you mean actual U.S. Intelligence? Because, when you drop a bomb-shell like that it would be nice if you dropped some legitimate sources.

    Would you, deceptively, be referring to this? From Reuters: “The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday.

    “While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named.”

    The disputed issue being the motive . . not the actual Russian hacking.

    “ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”

    The fact is, contrary to your deceptive statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), representing 17 intelligence agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly stated that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and leaked its documents to WikiLeaks.

    So . . you push an alleged Russia-phobic straw-man argument in an attempt to de-legitimize the unanimous conclusion of The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), representing 17 intelligence agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which jointly stated that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and leaked its documents to WikiLeaks.

    Why would you do that?

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  35. David – this statement is incredibly naive:

    “your observations of anti-science trends are interesting, that’s a problem that will go away in two years when we “rise up and throw the assholes out” by voting them out.”

    Come off it – where have you been? The attacks on science did not start with the defeat of your candidate – we have been fighting that fight for years.

    Nor will those attacks suddenly disappear when the current president’s term runs out. That is simply silly.

    It’s an argument for pacifity – providing your candidate is in power, no matter how obscene her actions.

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  36. Perhaps you are correct, and point taken.

    But it is the contradiction of your obsession with “Russia-phobes” on one hand, and your defense of a government, Russia, that must fear the voice of its own people, since it attempts to obstruct a Free Press, that interests me.

    The Russian government itself is Russia-phobic. You criticize Russia-phobia and yet you defend the Russian government. Interesting.

    Like

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