“Fire and Fury” exposes the fundamental problems of the anti-Trump movement

Anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom with the new Michael Wolff book. Credit: Carlos Barria/Reuters

I have long considered myself a “lefty,’ a “liberal” and a “progressive.” But I have despaired over the last 18 months at the behaviour of what I have often considered “my side.” The sinking of “fellow liberals” into a quagmire of political partisanship, political conspiracy theories, confirmation bias and hateful hostility to anyone daring to present an alternative viewpoint distresses me. I have personally been called pro-Nazi and pro-white supremacist for defending freedom of speech and daring to point out simple facts. And this by people from “my side.”

It all suggests the story of the emperor who had no clothes and I can sympathise with those people who have adapted to this atmosphere by simply shutting up. I have found myself also doing that at times as there no longer appears to be room for a reasoned discussion among “liberals” and people on the “left.”

I keep telling myself this will pass – and perhaps we are starting to see a glimmer of hope. A new opinion piece by David Brooks in the New York Times (which has unfortunately often fed the confirmation bias, political partisanship and conspiracy theories) is a hopeful sign. His article The Decline of Anti-Trumpism outlines many of the feelings I have had over the last year about the anti-Trump (and anti-Russian) hysteria in the US.

Lets’ be clear – Brooks’ article is not a defence of Trump – he declares himself  a “proud member” of “the anti-Trump movement.” That is also my position – but not in a party political partisan way. After all, I do not live in the US and if I did I would not have voted for either Trump or Clinton.

Reducing everything to a fairy tale

Brooks believes the anti-Trump movement seems to be “getting dumber:”

“It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.”

That’s what I noticed from early on – yet to challenge these fairy tales, particularly the dangerous conspiracy theory of “Russian collusion,” just means one gets called one of “Putin’s useful idiots” or pro-Trump, pro-Nazi and a white supremacist. And this is by people who I have considered in the past as rational – people who should know better.

Insularity and lowbrowism

The anti-Trump movement has all the marks of an internet silo – if a big one – which excludes any contrary viewpoint.

“The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him.  . . .  So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.

The movement also suffers from lowbrowism. Fox News pioneered modern lowbrowism.[It] offers a steady diet of affirmation, focuses on simple topics that require little background information, and gets viewers addicted to daily doses of righteous contempt and delicious vindication.”

“Fire and Fury”

Maybe Brooks has come to this position relatively recently as he writes  “anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom with the Wolff book.” He is, of course, referring to the latest “exposures” in the just-published book Fire and Fury.” it is selling like hot cakes. I even have my own copy but am unsure now whether to waste time reading it. Wile the mainstream media is promoting it more rational comments suggest the book is a disaster. Brooks says of the author:

“Wolff doesn’t pretend to adhere to normal journalistic standards. He happily admits that he’s just tossing out rumors that are too good to check. As Charlie Warzel wrote on BuzzFeed, “For Wolff’s book, the truth seems almost a secondary concern to what really matters: engagement.”

The ultimate test of the lowbrow is not whether it challenges you, teaches you or captures the contours of reality; it’s whether you feel an urge to share it on social media.”

That description seems to me to describe the whole anti-Trump, Russian collusion story right from the beginning. Brooks points out this is not good:

“I’ve noticed a lot of young people look at the monotonous daily hysteria of we anti-Trumpers and they find it silly.”

There is more to life than Trump

On the one hand, this sort of hysteria weakens the “anti-Trump movement,” or of more concern, it discredits serious attempts to fight against the harmful policy of the current US president and Congress. There are many harmful policies that need fighting against and it is silly to see the anti-Trump hysteria as contributing anything to those specific struggles.

More seriously, Brooks points out that this descent into a quagmire of irrational confirmation bias, political partisanship and political conspiracy theories is of wider concern – and more long-term concern:

“This isn’t just a struggle over a president. It’s a struggle over what rules we’re going to play by after Trump. Are we all going to descend permanently into the Trump standard of acceptable behavior?

Or, are we going to restore the distinction between excellence and mediocrity, truth and a lie? Are we going to insist on the difference between a genuine expert and an ill-informed blowhard? Are we going to restore the distinction between those institutions like the Congressional Budget Office that operate by professional standards and speak with legitimate authority, and the propaganda mills that don’t?”

Footnote

Another example of this low brow hysteria “bursting into full bloom,” in this case over the Russian collusion myth, is the book Collusion by former Moscow correspondent for the Guardian, Luke Harding. This interview with Harding illustrates again how the current narrative has become dominated by mediocrity and lies and not truth and excellence.

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97 responses to ““Fire and Fury” exposes the fundamental problems of the anti-Trump movement

  1. Ken, you make some good points here. However, discounting as being a “myth” the possible collusion between Trump and his team with Russia, ignores the disclosures of Trump family members, and others within Trump’s inner circle, of contacts and meetings with personnel connected to the highest level of Russian government, for the purpose of obtaining Russian help in winning the election. Whether such contact constitutes collusion will be left to the special counsel, the courts, and Congress to determine. However, the contacts are documented fact, as are the falsehoods/denials of Trump and his people in attempting a cover-up of these contacts/meetings , and of their true purpose.

    With the majority party in Congress continuing with efforts to impede, rather than assist, the investigation of Trump, the full truth will take that much longer to emerge. However, until it does, to buy into Trump’s delusionary rants that the collusion question is a “myth” or “hoax” is premature and a mistake.

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  2. Steve, I call it a myth because it is a story heavily promoted by politicians and the media but lacking any credible evidence. Really. Not one skerrick of credible evidence for the official narrative.

    I keep asking people who question that for their own take – what specific evidence have they seen. And all I get is documents outlining opinion (the January intelligence report) and innocent meetings for which the person displays their partisan politics by making significant. (For example, not one of those questioners has even mention contacts of Clinton and her team with Russia – yet one can find plenty of examples. And I am asked to draw impossible conclusions from the fact that trump met Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the White House and he was accompanied by the then Russian ambassador. As if that has never happened in the past! As if it is at all unusual for international politics!

    You mention contacts and acknowledge that they are, as yet, not evidence of collusion. Yet the media presents them as such.

    Now we all have contacts with Russians. Every day you and I knowingly and unknowingly have contact with Russians. As we do with English, Samoans, Australians, French, Lebanese, Ukrainians, etc. And these contacts could well be documented fact

    You get my point. Russians are just like any other people. All peoples are engaged in commerce, culture and diplomatic activities. There is absolutely no reason to see Russians differently. In my view, it is simply racist to question such contacts purely because of the ethnicity involved. And let’s face it that is what is being done.

    So, until I see proper evidence I will continue to call this story a myth. And any objective person watching the Harding interview must surely agree – don’t forget this book was also heavily promoted as revealing the facts, the evidence for collusion.

    But I do have an open mind on this so will ask you, as I have asked others, what specific evidence do you see as so damning as to justify this political meltdown in the US? This revival of McCarthyism? Yes, there a plenty of reasons for that meltdown (not least of which is Trump’s buffoonish character), but nothing I see to do with Russian contacts or “collusion.”

    So what is it that convinces you that this story is anything but a political myth?

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  3. I am not convinced of anything in regard to the investigation of potential collusion between Trump and Russian authorities, Ken. I’m waiting for all information before jumping to conclusions. Given the information provided in the infamous dossier which has been accorded enough credence by investigators to be taken seriously, the reported corroboration of points within the dossier by independent sources, documented fabrications and false denials about Russian contacts made by Trump and his people, Don, Jr’s admission that the Trump Tower meeting with Russian personnel was to obtain supposedly damning information on Clinton, Trump’s bizarre defense, and apparent fear, of Putin, and the feverish attempts by Republicans to discredit the Mueller investigation as it closes in on the White House, there is far more reason to keep an open mind about this than to simply dismiss it all as a “myth”.

    While the Congessional investigations are far too partisan to be of any value, Mueller’s is not. Until it is revealed what his investigation has uncovered, dismissing it as a “myth” is doing nothing but buying into Trump’s rhetoric, and jumping to a premature conclusion.

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  4. I am not convinced of anything in regard to the investigation of potential collusion between Trump and Russian authorities, Ken. I’m waiting for all information before jumping to conclusions. Given the information provided in the infamous dossier has been accorded enough credence by investigators to be taken seriously, the reported corroboration of points within the dossier by independent sources, documented fabrications and false denials about Russian contacts made by Trump and his people, Don, Jr’s admission that the Trump Tower meeting with Russian personnel was to obtain supposedly damning information on Clinton, Trump’s bizarre defense, and apparent fear, of Putin, and the feverish attempts by Republicans to discredit the Mueller investigation as it closes in on the White House, there is far more reason to keep an open mind about this than to simply dismiss it all as a “myth”.

    While the Congessional investigations are far too partisan to be of any value, Mueller’s is not. Until it is revealed what his investigation has uncovered, dismissing it as a “myth” is doing nothing but buying into Trump’s rhetoric, and jumping to a premature conclusion.

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  5. OK, Steve, you say:

    “I am not convinced of anything in regard to the investigation of potential collusion between Trump and Russian authorities, Ken. I’m waiting for all information before jumping to conclusions.”

    That is more or less my position – and why I call the media promoted story of Russian Collusion as fact a “myth.” When credible evidence turns up I will no longer use the word – but after all this time and so much fake news on the issue I strongly suspect nothing will turn up. I do see the story as a myth and the frenetic activity around it as political hysteria with a heavy overlay of neo—McCarthyism I suspect many other people are now coming to that conclusions as well..

    To be clear, I did not dismiss the Mueller investigation as a myth – not by any means. I was referring to the story promoted by the media and the politicians. This mythology is typified by the way Harding performed in his interview. I am as interested as anyone at the results of the Mueller investigation and other justice department investigations – and I actually think many Republicans are as well as the discoveries my not reflect well on the Democrats and the Clinton campaign.
    One can argue about issues like the dossier (which was paid for by the Clinton campaign), fantasies about what was said in meetings, etc., but there is nothing of substance there. Although the Mueller and other department of justice investigations of the dossier and bias/leaking from the FBI may turn up something of interest – but probably more damning to the Clinton campaign than the Trump campaign. Despite some indictments those investigations have not turned up a single bit of credible evidence to support the collusion story/myth.

    However, could you please explain what you mean by “Trump’s bizarre defense, and apparent fear, of Putin,” I just do not understand it as his comments about President Putin and the need for cooperation with the Russian Federation in the fight against terrorism have, in my view, been far from bizarre. They have probably been the least bizarre (and most hopeful) comments he has made.

    I am aware that there is a heavily promoted demonisation of President Putin in the US and western media and, yes, I am amazed at how bizarre and pitiful many western politicians and journalists are when discussing that president and his country. Perhaps the truth is that Trump said something sensible about Putin and it looks bizarre to the brainwashed. 🙂

    Still, I will await you example because I do not follow Trump’s ravings so may have missed something he has said which was bizarre.

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  6. Trump stated something to the effect that he believes Putin when Putin tells him that he had nothing to do with interfering in US elections. This is in direct contradiction to what Trump’s own intelligence people have made clear to him. So, basically, Trump has gone on record as believing Putin over intelligence from his own CIA. “Bizarre” pretty well describes it. Perhaps we are “brainwashed” about Putin. However, I believe it more likely that those who trust him are naive.

    Granted, Trump very grudgingly backed off of this repudiation of his intelligence people, but only after public uproar and adamant urging from his advisors. It’s clear his retraction was disingenuous, at best.

    The dossier was paid for by “an unamed Republican” initially, then picked up by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

    https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/kzgn3a/clinton-campaign-trump-dossier

    We aren’t going to agree on your dismissal of the potential collusion, but here is some info on the dossier. Given Newsweek’s publication of tabloid level, error-riddled antifluoridationist articles lately, it has lost a good bit of credibility in my opinion, however, take the info for whatever it may be worth.

    http://www.newsweek.com/trump-russia-dossier-one-year-later-what-we-know-777116

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  7. Now, Steve, that hardly qualifies as “bizarre or showing apparent fear. I judge that as simply an acceptance of the facts as he saw them. After all, the intelligence had absolutely no evidence, admitted that it didn’t and its opinion could not be interpreted as fact. In the end, it was the OPINION of a few selected agents in four selected agencies.

    I would have said exactly the same thing – or more likely (rather than a matter of belief) that Putin’s assurances coincided with the facts – the intelligence report didn’t.

    Having read the intelligence report I would, in fact, claim that it is that which was bizarre – and it is bizarre to claim it has any credibility. The only “facts” it actually reported were things like RT interviewing 3rd party candidates in US elections. Bloody hell, one has to be brainwashed to see that as evidence of Russian interference or collusion. Surely the bizarre thing is that the US media practically ignores the 3rd party candidates. In this case, RT was doing a service for US democracy – and yet these intelligence agents cite that as an attempt to meddle in US politics.

    One can’t help but conclude the real “crime” of RT is that it did not provide partisan support for Clinton in the way most of the rest of the US media did.

    It’s not so much as believing Putin over the intelligence community but a matter of recognising the unreliability of that intelligence opinion.

    I see that as being wise on Trump’s part – especially with the record of that community (remember Iraq and weapons of mass destruction?)

    I haven’t’ disagreed on potential anything – obviously. Just stated that I have seen no evidence, only a lot of fake news and unbalanced reporting. Given the long time available to find some evidence I think it is reasonable to take a working assumption that this is simply another case of weapons of mass destruction. To be critical and cynical about the whole affair is sensible.

    I have seen a number of reports on this dossier (I have also read it and concluded one would have to be very gullible to accept these stories) and the more intelligent ones are suggesting that there is an attempt to move away from it as primary evidence (wise). Whatever, the investigation of this and other issues will drag up a lot of muck from the Washinton swamp – and some of it, maybe even most of it, will be damning for Clinton. It may also expose real problems of bias and partisanship within the intelligence agencies and the FBI.

    So rather than prejudging the investigations, I am all for them. It is going to be entertaining to watch.

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  8. Ken, you’re providing unsubstantiated opinions. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s all they are. Your perspective on Russia and mine are obviously very different, so we’ll probably never agree on the advisability of trusting what Putin says over what the US intelligence community has determined and made clear to Trump. The bottom line is that we have a President who is unqualified for the position and incapable of governing effectively. Resolution of the problem is why we have regular elections.

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  9. There are nothing but unsubstantiated opinions around on this issue., I obviously can’t prove a negative and there is absolutely no evidence to support the claims being made. That is why I call the official story from the media and politicians another myth – similar to the Iraqui weapons of mass destruction. And surely no intelligent person these days should accept without evidence the unsubstantiated claims of an intelligence community if they remember their record. That is how I come to my current opinion.

    I will change my mind when I see credible evidence. Surely that is sensible. You know, I remember the Cuban missile crisis – then the US actually did produce evidence. These days all we are presented with is unsupported opinion. Not good enough for me. especially when we consider the political motives involved.

    It’s not a matter of trusting Putin or any politician or intelligence agent. The simple truth is Putin’s declaration accords with the facts as they exist. He is not alone in this regard (except that he has access to inside knowledge) – many people have recognised the emperor has no clothes and are saying so.

    As for the qualifications or credibility of your president – there is hardly anything new there – at least from my perspective. But he is the elected president and, as you say, this problem can be resolved by elections. And that is how it should be resolved – not by a hysterical neo-McCarthyist campaign which is destroying the credibility of US politics and degrading the quality of political discourse. This is the point made in Brook’s article. I have been absolutely disgusted at the behaviour of people I considered “on my side” – their willingness to accept and promote outright lies and to resort to street violence. That is not the way to improve the situation.

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  10. Ken, As I’ve presented, there is enough substantiated evidence to raise legitimate questions of collusion that require investigation. This is what has been reported in the media. Ignoring that evidence is certainly your prerogative, but it does not mean it doesn’t exist. If there have been media reports that there definitely was collusion, I am unaware of them, but would agree that, in the absence of more evidence than is currently known to the public, any such claim would be premature at this point. I agree, as well, that any “hysterical neo-McCarthyist campaign”, or “street violence” is not the way to resolve the problem. However, I am unaware of any such campaigns or violence in the US which may be associated with the questions of Trump’s possible collusion. There is simply an investigation into the legitimacy of these questions. In my opinion, the more lies Trump continues to make and the more he and his allies continue in their attempts to obstruct and discredit this investigation, the longer it will drag on and the more questions will be raised as to what he may be trying to hide.

    Although I’m not sure how you obtained the Trump dossier and classified CIA intelligence reports, I have enough respect for you to know that you don’t make claims you can’t support. If you know for a fact the contents of those documents as well as what evidence Mueller has, then you certainly know far more than do I, and probably the rest of the general public. However, again, based on what I have seen made available to the public, claims that all of this is a “myth”, or “hoax” are premature at this point.

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  11. David Fierstien

    From the David Brooks opinion piece that you seem to be touting: “Wolff doesn’t pretend to adhere to normal journalistic standards. He happily admits that he’s just tossing out rumors that are too good to check.”

    Please provide a link to the quotation where Michael Wolff happily admits that he is just tossing out rumors that are “too good to check.”

    Whether you believe Wolff’s book to be true or not, obviously Trump sees the truth in it (after calling it a “phony book”).

    In the book, Bannon called the actions of Trump’s family members “treasonous.”

    Trump’s reaction to the “phony” book? “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

    So either Trump does not believe the book, in which case Bannon never called his son & son-in-law “treasonous,” or he does believe it, in which case he is lying when he claims it is “phony.” Sorry, Mr. President, you can’t have it both ways.

    Trump’s own reaction proves the validity of the book. Not only that, but it provides clear evidence regarding claims made about his mental fitness.

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  12. David, as you are aware that is Brooks’ assertion, not mine. You will have to ask your question of Brooks himself.

    However, I have seen this assertion made in several commentaries on Wolff’s book and get the impression it is a comment on his general approach and goes back to things he has said in the past.

    As for the book itself – I have yet to read it. Given it has only been available for less than a week few commentators have probably read it anyway. Like “Collusion” it was to be the next book I read – but having seen the Harding interview and a few interviews with Wolff I am seriously questioning whether it is worth my time.

    Will have to make up my mind in a few days by when I will have finished the books I am currently reading.

    As for your claim “Trump’s own reaction proves the validity of the book” I refer you back to my last article on confirmation bias. I personally would not make a decision based on anything Trump says.

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  13. David Fierstien

    Ken, In reading through these comments I thought you had come a long way. At the top of this thread you only used the word “collusion.” I didn’t see you denying Russian interference in the U.S. election.

    But when you asked Steven to “please explain what you mean by “Trump’s bizarre defense, and apparent fear, of Putin, . . ” he rightly pointed out Trump’s denial of conclusions presented by his own intelligence community took a back seat to Putin’s denial of Russian interference. He is right. That is bizarre.

    However, and more to the point, it is your rational that I find so amazing.

    Your quote: “It’s not so much as believing Putin over the intelligence community but a matter of recognising the unreliability of that intelligence opinion.

    I see that as being wise on Trump’s part – especially with the record of that community (remember Iraq and weapons of mass destruction?)”

    And you did it again in the next comment: “That is why I call the official story from the media and politicians another myth – similar to the Iraqui weapons of mass destruction.”

    This is the sole rational that you have presented in discounting U.S. intelligence regarding Russian interference. Ken, your ability to filter out information which might interfere with your bias is astounding.

    You have already tried this argument on me and I have debunked it. U.S. Intelligence did not get it wrong prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Again I refer you to this Opinion Piece by Joseph P. Wilson, dated July 6, 2003. Wilson presented a detailed account of his findings on March 1, 2003. The invasion began on March 20, 2003.

    Again, U.S. Intelligence got it right. It was the President who lied about his own intelligence. And most of the media was spoon-fed by, and played along with, that Administration. But not all of the media got it wrong did they. Again, I cite Knight Ridder: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/knight_ridder/ . . . and . . . https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/17/the-reporting-team-that-g_n_91981.html

    And the politicians who voted for that war got it wrong because their President, who had access to that intelligence when they did not, lied to them.

    So . . in light of that example, which you raised, in which a President lied about his own intelligence, your rational for denying Russian interference in the U.S. election is little more than very thin ice.

    But my question to you is, ‘When you have previously been presented these facts which debunk the myth that U.S. Intelligence got it wrong prior to the 2003 Iraqi War, why do you continue to use this fabrication as a rational that, therefore, U.S. Intelligence must be getting it wrong now?’

    Why do you so easily filter out that which might dent your worldview, and claim it doesn’t exist after it has already been presented to you? What is the point of a dialogue with you when certain information doesn’t seem to filter its way in?

    Your quote: “I will change my mind when I see credible evidence.”

    Again, here you go: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/zuckerberg-acknowledges-russians-exploited-facebook-last-years-election-202101016.html

    Let me see you change your mind.

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  14. Steve, I think there is plenty of substantiated evidence to raise concern about corruption in the US political system – by both sides. Hopefully, the current investigations will get into some of these concerns. The muck racking paid for by the Democrats will probably be looked into. Focus is already being investigated (interestingly it turns out that the Russian lawyer present at the Trump Tower meeting had also hired Focus for her work on Bower – amazing what links are coming out. Saw an interesting interview with her last night). I am unsure if the Democrat emails released by Wikileaks will, though. I know the content of these is a great concern to many Democrats.

    I repeat – I am not ignoring evidence – I am just stating that to date there is no substantiated evidence of collusion. I think that is a fact that has been admitted by several politicians and investigators – and even some of the media. Tellingly some of the media now talk about alleged collusion rather than collusion or meddling.

    The January Intelligence report and the “Trump dossier” were both made public and can be found with a little effort. Here is a link to my copy of the January intelligence report. – https://1drv.ms/b/s!Ah6TuA1O6sT9h6k3_FyrWmr5UBwXQA – it’s a Onedrive link so I am unsure how long it lasts. If you cannot access it I will upload a copy to my blog and link to that.

    In it you will read statements like:

    “In an effort to highlight the alleged “lack of democracy” in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a “sham.””

    Unsubstantiated but it is true that RT has run interviews with third party candidates – I personally saw that, and a debate between the Greens and Libertarians, in the last election. Larry King also showed an interview with Trump. I didn’t see any RT interview with Clinton – but I suspect RT would have jumped at the chance if she had been agreeable.

    Frankly, I think that works in favour of the US democratic system – it does not undermine it. And it is an indictment of the US mainstream media that they didn’t show similar interviews.

    I probably have the “Trump Dossier” on my hard drive somewhere. It was available for download. However, after my initial reading, I found it so offensive I have not bothered referring back to it. I don’t think any serious commentator gives it much credibility – “Golden Showers” indeed. But I am sure you can find a copy online with little effort.

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  15. David – you say of me “your ability to filter out information which might interfere with your bias is astounding.” And you are referring to the intelligence information claiming collusion or interference.

    Please cite from the January report the specific evidence I have filtered out. Here is a current link to that report if you don’t have it – https://1drv.ms/b/s!Ah6TuA1O6sT9h6k3_FyrWmr5UBwXQA

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  16. Yes, Ken, there is ample evidence of corruption within the US political system, as there probably is for any political system. And, it starts right at the top in the US. However, this does not negate the documented evidence which has led to the investigation of possible collusion by Trump and his people, or the independent corroboration of information within the dossier which, again, had both Republican and Democrat funding. Attempts to deflect focus away from Trump and unto his favorite obsession, Hilliary’s emails, are nothing but obstructionary tactics. Once again, the longer Trump and his allies continue their transparent attempts to obstruct and discredit the investigation, the longer it will drag on, and the more will questions arise as to what he may be trying to hide.

    What I have been referring to is information on Russian interference, provided to Trump by his own intelligence community. You claim this information to not be credible based on a declassified intelligence report which, out of obvious necessity, omits classified information on specifics, supporting evidence, and sources. No credible assessment can be made of the validity of intelligence provided to the President of the US based on such a public, declassified document as that.

    Given that we don’t know what evidence Mueller has uncovered, it cannot be credibly stated that it is a fact that there is no substantiated evidence of collusion. Until his findings are made public, we have no idea as to whether there is any such evidence, or not.

    Again, as far as I know, the media, politicians, and investigators have always talked in terms of “alleged collusion”. I am aware of no credible source which has made definitive claims that there was collusion. We’re still in the investigative stage trying to determine this.

    Trump’s stated belief in that which he states Putin has told him, when his own intelligence community has informed him otherwise is akin to if Netanyahu were to publicly express greater trust in what Arab leaders have told him, over that of which his own intelligence community has informed him. Bizarre still seems to be an apt description.

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  17. David Fierstien

    Oh Ken, we’re fighting again. My mother warned me this would happen with you.

    You are purposely being disingenuous when you say, ” . . you say of me “your ability to filter out information which might interfere with your bias is astounding.” And you are referring to the intelligence information claiming collusion or interference.”

    No, as you know I was referring to this statement from you: “I see that as being wise on Trump’s part – especially with the record of that (the U.S. Intelligence) community (remember Iraq and weapons of mass destruction?)”

    My question is, ‘Why do you continue to use the Iraqi WMD myth as a pretense for claiming that the U.S. Intelligence community lacks credibility when you know that an untrue illustration? Why has this not filtered in yet? You know better, and you continue to do it anyway.’ (By the way, I should have included this link in my previous comment http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/what-i-didn-t-find-in-africa.html )

    There is a clear difference between “interference” and “collusion.” You, like so many anti-fluoride fanatics, appear to be blurring the issues. Whether collusion occurred is up to the Special Counsel to determine. Interference has been determined. I cite Mark Zuckerberg’s own admission that his own IT has established this as a fact. Why would he do that which could damage his bottom line?

    As I recall, when previously presented with this, you claimed that Zuckerberg was being pressured by our anti-Russian hysterical government, and was forced to make an untrue admission. Correct. This wreaks of desperation. If I was a 30 year old billionaire being pressured by the U.S. Government to make untrue admissions about my Fortune 500 company, I would simply move to Switzerland and do whatever I wanted. (The U.S. government couldn’t even stop Julian Assange for crying out loud.)

    By the way, when you speak to Steven about this “racist” anti-Russian hysteria, I feel I should point out he is not criticizing the Russian people. Far from it. He is criticizing a repressive regime which has become known for the murderers of its own journalists. Putin is not the Russian people. By defending him and his regime, you are, yourself, assisting in their suppression.

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  18. Steve – you refer to “the documented evidence which has led to the investigation of possible collusion by Trump and his people.” I don’t know what that means. Yes, there are plenty examples of people from Trump’s team or people from Clinton’s team meeting with foreign nationals. Surely that is normal and to be expected (unless you are a racist and see something horrible in any interaction with a Russian). However, I think it boils down to interpreting these meetings according to one’s own bias.

    Personally, I cannot see why Trump jnrs 20 minute meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya (a mundane lawyer dealing with other matters) should be seen as evidence of collusion – any more than the Democratic Party’s funding of Fusion research involving Steele meeting with ex KGB and current FSB people in Moscow and paying them money for dirt on Trump. (Russians laugh at the idea that paying an ex KGB or FSB agent money for slander will give you anything than what you want to believe. These sources are well known for taking money from such “researchers” in this way). Yes, I am sure Trump jr was attracted by the misleading suggestion that Veselnitskaya may have had some dirt on Clinton (which she didn’t) and Clinton’s team was attracted by the prospect of dirt on Trump – but Collusion?

    So I can not see what the specific credible evidence was in the case of the Trump team – especially if one is excusing Clinton’s team attempts at muckraking.

    No, I am not attempting anything in the way of diversions by mentioning the Democrats emails (not Hilary’s emails). But right from the beginning, it was obvious to me the Clinton raised the Russian collusion myth in an attempt to divert attention away from the exposure of DNC corruption in the Wikileaks email dump. It is the collusion story which is the diversion. And surely we can understand why Clinton resorted to it.

    I wish someone would tell me specifically what this credible evidence is.

    Also, you refer to ” independent corroboration of information within the dossier” – can you tell me specifically what the information anmd its corroboration was? Did Trump hire prostitutes, indulge in golden showers and is there independent confirmation of that? People loosely talk about confirmation and evidence but never mention the specifics. So frustrating. It all smacks of partisanship and confirmation bias.

    Please tell me – specifically – what the evidence is that is getting everyone so excited. I just cannot see it.

    I have no interest in defending Trump – I am non-partisan. But obstruction and discrediting of investigation is normal procedure for politicians and is being used both by the Clinton team and the Trump team at the moment regarding the different investigations underway. Why moan about it – and, in particular, why moan about one side doing it when we all know what politicians are like. As I said, it all smacks of partisanship and confirmation bias to me.

    All I ask is some concrete evidence to justify the claims of collusion – or even to justify, objectively, the investigations. Is there something or are these just the normal result of a biased and corrupt political system with actors refusing to accept an election result and seeing the hope of some sort of judicial coup instead of preparing properly for the next election.

    Please understand Steve – I am not claiming it can be “credibly stated that it is a fact that there is no substantiated evidence of collusion.” I am saying there is no evidence that has been provided to justify these claims. Yes, a lot of spin and fake news but no evidence.

    If and when such evidence is provided I will change my opinion – but currently I see the whole thing as a myth – motivated by a childish response from Clinton to explain her loss. I think it is pathetic for people who wish to promote this myth to fall back on appeals to wait to see what the investigations will reveal. It suggests to me they are holding out false hope – and yes I have come across people who think the Iraqui weapons of mass destruction are still an open question – they still want us to withhold judgment until all the evidence is in!

    You must use different tinted glasses when you read the media – I have often seen opinions reported as fact on this issue. In particular, the January intelligence report which everyone seems to rely on (but probably have not bothered to read) is reported as factual and evidence when it is neither – nothing but the opinion of a few selected agents. And what about Harding’s book – promoted by the media as full of evidence and the final say on the matter. Yet, his interview suggests it is rubbish.

    I do not give a stuff about who a buffoon like Trump wishes to “believe.” All I can say that Putin’s declarations on this matter (which are very few but very definitive) correspond with the facts that are available. The fact that Trump is discounting what the intelligence community has told him suggests to me that they haven’t told him anything substantive – and that is a reasonable conclusion based on all the publicly available material and leaks.

    I frankly think the media driving a story of something being wrong with Trump because he has looked at the evidence and made his judgement is really bizarre.

    But then again – as I say I am driven by evidence and someday, someone, may actually come up with something to change my assessment. But so far it hasn’t happened.

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  19. David – what you specifically wrote was:

    “This is the sole rational that you have presented in discounting U.S. intelligence regarding Russian interference. Ken, your ability to filter out information which might interfere with your bias is astounding.”

    You were referring to the intelligence report – that is the document everyone cites for supporting evidence and “proof” of collusion.

    So, I repeat:

    “Please cite from the January report the specific evidence I have filtered out. Here is a current link to that report if you don’t have it – https://1drv.ms/b/s!Ah6TuA1O6sT9h6k3_FyrWmr5UBwXQA

    And I say that because I have read the report and do not see any substantive evidence. I see opinion and disclaimers about treating these opinions as fact. But absolutely no evidence of collusion.

    What I do see is a real concern on the part of these intelligence agents that a free media might report unpleasant facts about the US or, god help us, give some coverage of people standing for election who don’t have the blessing of the establishment. And this threat to a free and open media does concern me -especially considering the Senate pressure that has been put on social media to censor their contents.

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  20. David, I think it is probably worth looking at the Iraqi WMDs story in a little more detail because its strikes me there are extremely strong parallels with the current collusion story
    When I say “more detail” – I mean rather than use absolute black and white terms we should recognise that there were different sections of the intelligence community. They were saying different things. Politicians were selecting the stories they wanted and squashing the stories that did not support their manufactured WMD as a reason to invade Iraq. After all, the intention of invasion had been there for a long time. It was a declared aim of the New America Century grouped. All they needed was a story toi justify it and get political support.
    Al Jazeera recently ran an interesting documentary on the WMD deception and the differences in the intelligence community. I think it is called Iraq: A Deadly Deception – http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2017/01/iraq-deadly-deception-170108082649899.html
    Yes, I know, your usual habit is now to attack Al Jazeera as not being reliable, funded by the Qatar state, incapable of criticising its president, not criticising terrorist attacks, etc., etc. But give it a watch – it is certainly interesting.

    This went into the different intelligence information available, the selection of suitable information by politicians, the suppression of counter information available and the dissatisfaction of the intelligence agents whose much more credible information was suppressed.

    Several of those intelligence agents (now retired) were interviewed and described what happened – how the whole story was a deception and how the reliable intelligence was suppressed and unreliable intelligence promoted and amended to support to programme or agenda.

    Now, I find it interesting that some of those interviewed retired intelligence agents are the same ones (people like McGovern) who are now warning about the current carry on. In fact their veteran’s organisation has submitted forensic information to Congress showing that the DNC leaked emails released by Wikileaks had been downloaded onto a drive like a usb stick and not hacked. And this occurred on the east coast of the US. That evidence (the speed of transfer) is very convincing. They also show how another batch had been processed to insert diversionary information which could imply some east European origin.

    So I think there is a strong parallel. The intelligence information used to support the collusion myth has been released or produced by a few selected (by politicians and politically motivated agency heads) agents. We do not yet have access to what dissenting agents think about this (although some leaks suggest a lot of concern). This selected information is being used to justify a wider and predetermined agenda. Agents who dissented over the Iraqi WMD are the same ones warning us now that the current “official” information is false.

    If only in 2003 there had been some politicians who stood up against this pressure – even saying they trusted Hussain’s word rather than the false intelligence reports, perhaps we would not have had that invasion tragedy and all the disastrous consequences that flowed from it.

    If only there were politicians who could stand up today against the neo-McCarthyist pressure and racist attitudes and shout out that the emperor has no clothes. Then we might be able to resist the current move to heightened international tension and prevent disastrous consequences – perhaps more disastrous even than that resulting from the US invasion of Iraq. After all today the specific protagonists have large numbers of nuclear weapons.

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  21. Ken, in previous comments I have given you the evidence which justifies the raising of questions of collusion. I have not claimed it to be definitive proof of collusion, just sufficient to justify raising the questions and initiating an investigation. Only after completion of the investigation will we possibly know whether there was collusion or not. If you want to continue to ignore this evidence is up to you. However, for the US government to ignore it would not only be grossly irresponsible, but a threat to national security.

    The absurdity of attempted trivialization of the importance of the meeting of Trump people with Russian personnel with ties to the highest level of Russian government, speaks for itself. Trump, Jr. lied about the purpose of this meeting, with a statement prepared by his dad, the President of the United States. If this fact alone doesn’t set off screaming alarms about potential collision, nothing will. I suppose it’s also entirely normal for Jared Kushner to have discussed with Russian personnel the establishment of back-channel communications with Russians…….utilizing Russian equipment?

    Sure, Putin would prefer that it all be treated as nothing but harmless little, everyday contact, but for the US to do so would be utterly ridiculous.

    Yes, attempts to shift focus away from Trump and unto the Democrats are nothing but diversionary and obstructive tactics of Trump and his allies. The fact that you continue to omit the fact that the dossier was funded by a Republican, as well as the DNC, is indication that your intent here is to mislead, rather than inform.

    I did not state that you claimed it “can be credibly stated that it is a fact that there is no substantiated evidence of collusion.” The following is what I stated:

    Given that we don’t know what evidence Mueller has uncovered, it cannot be credibly stated that it is a fact that there is no substantiated evidence of collusion. Until his findings are made public, we have no idea as to whether there is any such evidence, or not.

    What you stated was:

    “I repeat – I am not ignoring evidence – I am just stating that to date there is no substantiated evidence of collusion. I think that is a fact that has been admitted by several politicians and investigators – and even some of the media.”

    You stated as fact that there is no substantiated evidence to date. Again, until we know what Mueller has uncovered, it cannot be credibly stated, as you clearly attempt to do, that there is no substantiated evidence of collusion. We don’t know what evidence there is.

    I have no expectation of changing your mind on this, Ken. I simply go back to my original point. There is far too much documented evidence suggesting the potential for there to have been collusion for it all to be discarded as being a “myth”. If the investigation clears Trump of this allegation, fine, but this question must be taken seriously and fully examined prior to its dismissal.

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  22. David Fierstien

    Ken, again there is a difference between “collusion” and “interference.” I may be mistaken, but it appears that you are blurring the two issues for the sole sake of argument.

    Your quote:

    “David – what you specifically wrote was:

    “This is the sole rational that you have presented in discounting U.S. intelligence regarding Russian INTERFERENCE. . . . (And Yes. That was what I wrote.)

    “You were referring to the intelligence report – that is the document everyone cites for supporting evidence and “proof” of COLLUSION.” (And No. I was not referring to that document.)

    Do you not see what you just did there? If not, I’ll say it plainly. I have no proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and anyone from Russia. But I have previously offered proof of Russian interference, which, by the way, you seem to have overlooked.

    Beyond that, I like what you have written about the parallels between the G.W. Bush Administration and the Trump Administration and their relationships to their own Intelligence.

    However, I disagree with this:

    “So I think there is a strong parallel. The intelligence information used to support the collusion myth has been released or produced by a few selected (by politicians and politically motivated agency heads) agents.”

    I disagree that this is the parallel. The parallel is — In 2003 the President manipulated and misrepresented US Intelligence as a pretense for war. In 2017-18, the President is also attempting to manipulate US Intel, only in this case, it may be defined as Obstruction of Justice. His firing of James Comey, . . . his extreme displeasure in the fact that his Attorney General recused himself from oversight of the very investigation which centered on his own campaign, . . . the constant right-wing media’s (state-tv) attempt to discredit Special Counsel Mueller (for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZBHvZGIHvQ ), . . . and his own tweets condemning these investigations as “witch hunts,” thereby attempting to discredit them.

    In both cases, Bush & Trump, the actual Intel took/is taking a back seat to the agendas of each president. There is your parallel.

    Sadly, it appears that President Bush was more successful than our current president in this pursuit. Sadly, it appears he was more apt . . more intelligent . . more successful.

    One more thing – When I was in the Middle East I often watched Al Jazeera. The choices were Fox, CNN, and Al Jazeera. At that time, during the late Bush, early Obama Administrations, I found Al Jazeera to be the most balanced on U.S. politics 🙂

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  23. David Fierstien

    Ken:

    “If only in 2003 there had been some politicians who stood up against this pressure – even saying they trusted Hussain’s word rather than the false intelligence reports, perhaps we would not have had that invasion tragedy and all the disastrous consequences that flowed from it.”

    Response: There were. However, Bush’s drum-beat for war drowned out the voices of those opposed to it. State tv publicly criticized and attempted to paint those opposed as un-patriotic / pro-terrorist. This was the genius of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. They were highly successful in their manipulation of the media and intel. Trump, on the other hand, sadly flounders around, unsuccessfully attempting reign in his own intelligence.

    In the Senate, the 21 Democrats, one Republican and one Independent who courageously voted their consciences in 2002 against the War in Iraq were:

    * Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii)
    * Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico)
    * Barbara Boxer (D-California)
    * Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia)
    * Lincoln Chaffee (R-Rhode Island)
    * Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota)
    * Jon Corzine (D-New Jersey)
    * Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota)
    * Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)
    * Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin)
    * Bob Graham (D-Florida)
    * Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
    * Jim Jeffords (I-Vermont)
    * Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)
    * Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
    * Carl Levin (D-Michigan)
    * Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland)
    * Patty Murray (D-Washington)
    * Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)
    * Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland)
    * Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)
    * The late Paul Wellstone (D-Minnesota)
    * Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

    UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    Six House Republicans and one independent joined 126 Democratic members of the House of Re[resentatives in voting NAY, on October 11, 2002, to the unprovoked use of force against Iraq:

    Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) Tom Allen (D-Maine) Joe Baca (D-California) Brian Baird (D-Washington) John Baldacci (D-Maine, now governor of Maine) Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) Gresham Barrett (R-South Carolina) Xavier Becerra (D-California) Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) David Bonior (D-Michigan, retired from office) Robert Brady (D-Pennsylvania) Corinne Brown (D-Florida) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

    Lois Capps (D-California) Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts) Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) Julia Carson (D-Indiana) William Clay, Jr. (D-Missouri) Eva Clayton (D-North Carolina, retired from office) James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) Gary Condit (D-California, retired from office) John Conyers, Jr. (D-Michigan) Jerry Costello (D-Illinois) William Coyne (D-Pennsylvania, retired from office) Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland)
    Susan Davis (D-California) Danny Davis (D-Illinois) Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) Bill Delahunt (D-Massachusetts) Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) John Dingell (D-Michigan) Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) John Duncan, Jr. (R-Tennessee)
    Anna Eshoo (D-California) Lane Evans (D-Illinois) Sam Farr (D-California) Chaka Fattah (D-Pennsylvania) Bob Filner (D-California) Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois)
    Alice Hastings (D-Florida) Earl Hilliard (D-Alabama, retired from office) Maurice Hinchey (D-New York) Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) Mike Honda (D-California) Darlene Hooley (D-Oregon) John Hostettler (R-Indiana) Amo Houghton (R-New York, retired from office) Jay Inslee (D-Washington)
    Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Illinois) Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) Dale Kildee (D-Michigan) Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Michigan) Jerry Kleczka (D-Wisconsin, retired from office) Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
    John LaFalce (D-New York) James Langevin (D-Rhode Island) Rick Larsen (D-Washington) John Larson (D-Connecticut) Jim Leach (R-Iowa) Barbara Lee (D-California) Sandy Levin (D-Michigan) John Lewis (D-Georgia) Bill Lipinski (D-Illinois,retired from office) Zoe Lofgren (D-California)
    James Maloney (D-Connecticut, retired from office) The late Robert Matsui (D-California) Karen McCarthy (D-Missouri, retired from office) Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) Jim McDermott-D-Washington) Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts) Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) Carrie Meek (D-Florida, retired from office) Gregory Meeks (D-New York) Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-California) George Miller (D-California) Alan Mollohan (D-West Virginia) Jim Moran (D-Virginia) Connie Morella (D-Maryland)
    Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) Grace Napolitano (D-California) Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) Jim Oberstar (D-Minnesota) David Obey (D-Wisconsin) John Olver (D-Massachusetts) Major Owens (D-New York)
    Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-New Jersey) Ed Pastor (D-Arizona) Ron Paul (R-Texas) Donald Payne (D-New Jersey) Nancy Pelosi (D-California) David Price (D-North Carolina) Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) Charles Rangel (D-New York) Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) Lynn Rivers (D-Michigan, retired from office) Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas, retired from office) Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) Bobby Rush (D-Illinois)
    Martin Olav Sabo (D-Minnesota) Loretta Sanchez (D-California) Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) Thomas Sawyer (D-Ohio) Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) Jose Serrano (D-New York) Louise Slaughter (D-New York) Vic Snyder (D-Arkansas) Hilda Solis (D-California) Pete Stark (D-California) Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) Burt Stupak (Michigan)
    Mike Thompson (D-California) Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) John Tierney (D-Massachusetts) Edolphus Towns (D-New York) Mark Udall (D-Colorado) Tom Udall (D-New Mexico)
    Nydia Velaquez (D-New York) Pete Visclosky (D-Indiana) Maxine Waters (D-California) Diane Watson (D-California) Melvin Watt (D-North Carolina) Lynn Woolsey (D-California) David Wu (D-Oregon)

    https://www.thoughtco.com/2002-iraq-war-vote-3325446

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  24. Steve, here is something we can both relate to and helps describe my attitude towards the current US political hysteria about Russia.

    I often get into discussions with anti-fluoride people who assure me that fluoridation is harmful and there is ample evidence of that. I ask for specific evidence, they might refer to the IQ myths. If we get around to specific papers to discuss (which inevitably they have never read) then we can look at that evidence. It can be discussed.

    That is exactly what I am doing in this case – asking for SPECIFIC evidence which can be discussed and being frustrated by the lack of specificity in the charges. (Vague charges of “meeting of Trump people with Russian personnel with ties to the highest level of Russian government” come across to me like vague charges of fluoridation being neurotoxic without actually providing specific evidence or specific studies). The anti-fluoride promotion of the IQ myth or mantra simply relies on the mud sticks phenomena. It works for them, unfortunately, and it works for the Russian collusion/interference myth too – unfortunately, and probably largely because of common anti-Russian prejudice or even racism. The problem with this story is that the stakes are much higher – for the whole world. Let’s not forget that both the US and =the Russian Federation are armed with sophisticated nuclear weapons.

    A common anti-fluoride approach or response when they are told that there is no evidence of harmful effects from fluoride at recommended concentration is to go nuclear and say – “not yet.” They have a strong, ideological drive, a conviction that fluoridation is harmful and that it is just a matter of time, of more research to identify that harm. (This parallels exactly the response of a local radio interviewer I respect responding to the US ambassador saying in an interview that no evidence of Russian collusion/interference had been produced. She said “Not yet!” My opinion of her dropped dramatically with just those 2 words. She displayed an ideological conviction which was not evidence-based but held out hope that somehow, sometime evidence would arise to support her conviction. It is the sort of conviction that argues for a suspect being imprisoned despite lack of evidence for any crime – but just on the convictions that one day evidence will be found).

    On the one hand, the appeal to wait and see – for years – for some sort of evidence does not stop me calling the anti-fluoride IQ stories, etc, myths. On the other hand, I am all for more reviews, further research, etc. If that research, review, turns up evidence of an IQ effect I will stop calling it a myth. Exactly the same here. Given the original diversions used by Clinton and the fact that some of these stories are sticking, I am all for a review of the actual evidence. There is, of course, an inevitable problem that such reviews can be influenced by bias and political agendas and that is why so many people are concerned about the examples of bias, agendas, leaking and political motivations of FBI and intelligence people. I guess that is the real world anmd it happens in the science world too.

    Another common approach from the anti-fluoride people is to claim the initiation of new research as evidence of harm – the new NTP studies are a classic example where the anti-fluoride people have reported it as some sort of evidence to back their claim. Stupid – but this is exactly the attitude of people who cite the investigations as evidence of collusion/interference and argue that “where there is smoke there will be fire.”

    I see this current US hysteria as being very similar to the anti-fluoride hysteria and I am trying to react the same way – asking for evidence and basing my conclusions of the real facts as I have them at the moment (and always being willing to update my conclusions when or if new evidence arises). I will certainly not give in to the political pressure whether it be by anti-fluoride people or US politicians and media. I am calling this whole thing a myth because, at this stage, that is all it is – in the same way the anti-fluoride IQ story is a myth.

    I can only conclude, with the current information I have, that the emperor has no clothes and will not succumb to pressure demanding that I say he has.

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  25. Steve, an example of my frustration is your refusal to be specific about meetings. You refer to my- “attempted trivialization of the importance of the meeting of Trump people with Russian personnel with ties to the highest level of Russian government, so I am forced to interpret this to mean you reference is to a meeting held in Trump Towers between Trump jr and specifically lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Now, where were the “Russian personnel with ties to the highest level of Russian government.” It is pathetic to make that claim about Natalia Veselnitskaya – simply because she has Russian origins. This is the sort of treatment of Russian I often am forced to conclude amounts to racism. It is the sort of attitude promote by Stalin to prevent Russians having contacts with foreigners.

    The currently available information about that meeting (apparently leaked from the Mueller investigation) does not support the spin being put on that meeting (NBC News https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/russian-ran-ivanka-after-2016-trump-tower-meeting-donald-trump-n835661)

    “Mueller’s team is less interested in the meeting as a direct example of collusion, the sources said, although Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after being told he would receive incriminating information about Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government effort to help his father.

    No evidence has emerged publicly to contradict Veselnitskaya’s account that she wanted to press a case about U.S. Magnitsky Act sanctions, and that she did not possess significant derogatory information about Clinton, despite the email from a music promoter to Trump Jr. promising incriminating details about the Democrat.

    Moreover, no evidence has emerged publicly that connects the Russians in the meeting with the Russian intelligence effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”

    Interestingly Veselnitskaya has asked several times to give evidence to congressional committees on this meeting and her professional relationship with Focus. I think she is frustrated that her requests have so far been turned down.

    Now, am I trivialising that meeting because I refer to its brevity (Trump quickly saw he wasn’t going to get anything he wanted) and to the status of the lawyer? Or are you overblowing the meeting by referring to Veselnitskaya as having “ties to the highest level of Russian government.”

    Now, I appreciate you may be overblowing it because that is the way you media spun the whole story. But that is exactly why I say we must always approach the media, any media, critically and intelligently. We should ask the right questions and determine the facts as they are available. Otherwise, we end up being fooled by fake news.

    Your reference to back channels is also overblown This happens all the time in international politics – how else would progress be made. And, yes, US politicians and diplomats do this as do everybody. It could be that Russian diplomats doing this more intelligently and successfully – and that may explain why they have had the success they have had in Syria with the launch of the Astana talks and the imminent launch of the political negotiations in Sochi. This has only arisen becuase they have been prepared to talk with everyone – including the rebels forces – and this inevitably involves back channels.

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  26. OK David, I am seeing you differentiation between collusion and interference as a diversion. So I will repeat my question in an amended form..So, I repeat:

    Please cite from the January report the specific evidence of Russian interference I have filtered out. Here is a current link to that report if you don’t have it – https://1drv.ms/b/s!Ah6TuA1O6sT9h6k3_FyrWmr5UBwXQA

    It is simpoly a matter of getting down to specifics. After all – you are making the charge – if you cannot substantiate your accusation of me perhaps you should withdraw it. If you can, then I can make amends.. But at this stage, I do not see anything to amend.

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  27. Apples to oranges, Ken. Antifluoridationists condemn an initiative when decades of completed research have clearly demonstrated otherwise. No such research has yet been completed on the collusion question, and no conclusion has been reached on its validity. A better comparison would be to the very beginning of fluoridation. Valid evidence was observed suggesting a correlation between the content of public water and increased resistance to dental decay. No conclusion was reached at that time, but the evidence was strong enough to warrant detailed investigation. Only after detailed research and investigation as to what in that water could be the cause of the increased decay resistance, was a conclusion reached that it was fluoride.

    What you are doing is akin to someone in the early part of the 20th century proclaiming that the claim of increased dental decay correlated with water content was a myth because he had seen no conclusive evidence otherwise. In other words, putting the cart before the horse. While sufficient evidence had been documented to warrant detailed investigation of the question, conclusive evidence was not available until adequate research had been done to determine the source of the decay resistance. Had research been ceased because of such premature condemnation of the question we would have missed out on decades of valuable decay prevention.

    We are in the beginning stage of the collusion question. While sufficient valid evidence has been documented to warrant a detailed investigation of the question, no such investigation has yet been completed. Claiming the question to be a “myth” at this point ignores the valid evidence suggesting otherwise, and reaches a conclusion before any valid research has even been completed. Rather than waiting for the results of the investigation, you are basing your dismissal of the question on a declassified intelligence report which lacks key information provided in the classified original, and a complaint that no conclusive evidence has been made available…..when there can be no such evidence until completion of the investigation.

    When antifluoridationists call for waiting for further evidence, they are ignoring decades of research which has already been completed, and instead waiting in hope for some unnamed research which has not yet begun, and does not exist. There is no prior investigation of the collusion question which is being ignored, and the ongoing one has not yet been completed and made public. Prior to reaching any conclusions, we need to first see what exactly is the evidence which has been uncovered.

    The only “hysteria” I see is in those who desperately seek to obsruct and shut down this investigation before it has been completed. This hysteria began when Michael Flynn pleaded guilty, and the White House began seeing the investigation rapidly closing in on Trump.

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  28. David, perhaps you should watch the video on the Iraq deception and try to think objectively about the strong parallels with what is happening currently.

    I am disappointed you did not attempt a diversion by attacking the source. What would have been your reaction if I had linked to that video if it had been shown in RT? Complelety possible – perhaps I should check as RT very often runs US docos and may well have run this one.

    I am also disappointed you did not also attack the reliability of the veteran intelligence agents – after all, they have also appeared in RT programmes or news reports.

    You aren’t on your usual mark at the moment 🙂

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  29. David Fierstien

    Ken, your comment: “Please cite from the January report the specific evidence of Russian interference I have filtered out. Here is a current link to that report if you don’t have it – ”

    Response: Why would I use a source that you are providing to prove something that I am saying, when you are telling me there is no evidence of what I am saying in it? That is ridiculous.

    Let me try to illustrate how nonsensical you were:

    This website is the website that everybody cites because it has more information on fluoride than any other website. Use this link to prove that optimally fluoridated water is safe to drink: http://fluoridealert.org/

    Do you see what you just did?

    There was Russian interference in the 2016 election. If there was not, please explain to me why Mark Zuckerberg, a 33 year old billionaire, worth $74 Billion, would admit to a flaw in his Fortune 500 company that allowed foreign interests to infiltrate the democratic process of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S..

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  30. Yes, Steve, apples and oranges because there is definitely a very different time scale to politics compared with scientific research. I see your argument as special pleading as surely we are not going to wait for decades. Politics has a much shorter cycle. Much shorter. Otherwise, we should still be withholding our assessment of the Iraqi WMD deception which occurred “only” 15 years ago

    We are definitely not at the beginning – we are 18 months out and still nothing. Some of the investigations have reached sufficient maturity to allow indictments – and none of these fulfils the hopes of those supporting the anti-Russian hysteria. This whole myth has amounted to one crashing failure after another, the collapse of one central pillar after another.

    No, I am not going to give into political pressure to wait for decades and meanwhile accept the “official” story. I will stick to calling it a myth until some credible evidence is produced. That is how I reacted to the WMD myth and I see no reason to change that objective approach. I think that is the only credible and honest approach for the non-partisan, non-racist person to adopt in this case.

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  31. Cart before the horse, Ken. I have simply made the case that sufficient evidence has been documented to warrant a detailed investigation. This is a far lower bar than that required for proof of collusion. You seem to believe that there needs to be conclusive proof of collusion before even raising the question….ignoring the fact that conclusive proof cannot be obtained without first investigating. Your opinion seems to be that the documented lies by Trump and his people, the Trump Tower meeting, the Trump contacts and financial ties to Russia, the Kushner attempt to set up a back-channel communication line with the Russians circumventing US intelligence, and the Trump obstruction of the initial FBI investigation, are insufficient to warrant an investigation by special counsel, thereby rendering the collusion question to be a “myth”. The US government and I disagree.

    Invoking claims of racism is beneath you, Ken. You are informed, knowledgeable, and intelligent enough to make your case without sinking to such a tactic. There is no evidence, whatsoever, of racism in my comments.

    As far as Veselnitskaya‘s ties to top tier Russian government:

    “In a July 14, 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Veselnitskaya acknowledged that she was in regular contact with the Russian prosecutor general’s office and with Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika ‘while waging a campaign against U.S. sanctions’ “.

    Are you claiming that the Russian Prosecutor General is not at the top level of Russian government?

    You claim “media spin” and advise approaching media intelligently and cautiously, yet you quote a media report to support your opinions on the Trump Tower meeting.

    Back-channel communication between governments can certainly be useful. However, Kushner suggested setting up such communication using Russian equipment, thereby circumventing US intelligence. Are you suggesting that it is normal procedure for governments to set up back channel communications with those who have been historic opponents, letting those opponents fully control all information in those communications, and shutting out the intelligence community of these governments? It would not raise questions if Netanyahou allowed Arab leaders to have full control over back-channel Arab-Israeli communications, while shutting out his own Israeli intelligence?

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  32. So, David, you see the January intelligence report as equivalent to FAN??

    Really??

    Yet it is the report that the media have relied on as “proof” of interference. They have sued it to convert selected opinion into “fact.” It is the report which people say Trump should believe over the answer President Putin gave to his question.

    I think this is an admission on your part that there is absolutely no evidence. This is why you cite vague media reports instead. Realy, the statements of the social media heads under pressure and strong criticism from the Senate committee to censor their media are hardly reliable.

    You are accusing the intelligence agents behind this report as being no better than FAN – and you have the cheek to accuse me of “filtering out” evidence.

    That is pathetic.

    Really, you should question more. 🙂

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  33. David Fierstien

    Ken, your first comment to Steven can be summed up with this sentence from you: “we are 18 months out and still nothing. Some of the investigations have reached sufficient maturity to allow indictments – and none of these fulfils the hopes of those supporting the anti-Russian hysteria.”

    Well . . 18 months out. Let’s compare Apples to Apples. Let’s compare the timeline of Russiagate to the timeline of Watergate, since the U.S. AG has specifically stated that an investigation of Hillary has no basis.

    Watergate:

    The Crime – September 3, 1971: “White House Plumbers” E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and others break into the offices of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist Lewis Fielding looking for material that might discredit Ellsberg, under the direction of John Ehrlichman or his staff within the White House.

    January 28, 1974: Nixon campaign aide Herbert Porter pleads guilty to perjury. (That would be an “apples to apples” comparison to George Papadopoulos pleading guilty to perjury. – That’s more than 2 years, Alexander.)

    March 4, 1974: the “Watergate Seven” (Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson, Gordon C. Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson) are formally indicted.

    Well, Ken, 18 months out and 4 indictments so far. Russiagate seems to be a roller-coaster ride compared to the dragged out process of Watergate. Apples to apples. You would have been climbing the walls by 1973 proclaiming the innocence of Nixon.

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  34. David Fierstien

    As to your comment to me. You seem to be insisting that I look at your link and provide you with evidence of something which you say does not exist – in that link. Why? Because, “it is the report that the media have relied on as “proof” of interference.””

    Ken, I’m not the media. You asked for evidence of Russian interference and you insist that I use your source.

    For the third time now, there was Russian interference in the 2016 election. If there was not, please explain to me why Mark Zuckerberg, a 33 year old billionaire, worth $74 Billion, would admit to a flaw in his Fortune 500 company that allowed foreign interests to infiltrate the democratic process of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S..

    This is the third time I am asking the question. You have avoided it twice now. Is there some reason why you are avoiding the question? ‘I think this is an admission on your part that Russian interference occurred.’ 😉

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  35. David Fierstien

    And no, I wasn’t comparing an intelligence report to FAN. I was comparing your use of your source to the way anti-fluoride fanatics use FAN.

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  36. David Fierstien

    Ah . . My apologies, Ken. Upon reviewing the comments, I see you did answer the question as to why a 33 year old worth $74 Billion risked the bottom line of his company to admit that foreign interests interfered in U.S. Politics.

    Ken: “Realy, the statements of the social media heads under pressure and strong criticism from the Senate committee to censor their media are hardly reliable.”

    Who, Ken? What politicians pressured Mark Zuckerberg into making a false admission which could have threatened the status of his billion dollar company? Please cite specific names.

    Please cite a reliable source which confirms what you are claiming.

    And please explain why Mr. Zuckerberg wouldn’t just put his money into an account in the Cayman Islands, move to Switzerland, and give the Finger to some alleged U.S. politician who had the nerve to threaten him and his very successful, global company.

    Your answer wreaks of desperation. And you accuse Steven of reaching unsupported conclusions with little or no evidence? Please.

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  37. Steve, let put this bone of contention to bed.

    You say “You seem to believe that there needs to be conclusive proof of collusion before even raising the question….ignoring the fact that conclusive proof cannot be obtained without first investigating.”

    I assure you that is not my position. I think there is ample circumstantial evidence for corruption in the electoral process on both sides in the US to justify an investigation. As I have said I welcome it and look forward to outcomes. I have followed up the outcomes so far, read the indictments and see nothing to justify Russian collusion or interference. I found the intelligence veterans release of forensic information on the Wikipedia leaks pretty convincing. It is perhaps a bit irrelevant but it does show one aspect of Clinton’s claims in her diversion attempt was wrong.

    I look forward to results of the investigation of the Focus report (the dossier) and how it was used to justify electronic snooping on an election campaign. So far, we only have leaks about the findings on that. Yes, I apologise for referring to a media report of a leak – unfortunately all we have to go on. And, please recognise your complaint is a matter fo pots and kettles considering you have linked me to such reports. But I agree – I look forward to the formal outcome of the investigation of that specific meeting and I really hope that Veselnitskaya is given the opportunity to give evidence.

    Lies by politicians are expected and the specific withholding of information, in this case, is typical of this sort of Stalinist or Neo_mcCarthyist investigation where the victim is never proven to be guilty of the charge but gets caught through their omissions. Those lies in themselves do not support the collusion claim. And, yes, we have seen plenty of lies from the other campaign – specifically Clintons whole manufacture of the Russian hacking diversion. Lies are part of politicians day to day activity.

    My reference to racism comes out of my own feelings and experience. My family has both Russian and Māori members and I am sensitive to examples of racist attitudes towards them which I do see quite often. I really do believe the willingness to see Russians as always the villains is racist. They simply do not deserve such attitudes. It is similar to old attituides towards Jews.

    In this regard it is worth reading the article by Alexander Mercouris – Western racism and the stereotyping of Russians – this really strikes a chord with me. He has returned to that theme again in his current article on the extreme report by Senate Democrats – see Democrat Senators publish a deeply disturbing and profoundly racist report about Russia in which he points out:

    “This report – with its hostile attitude towards the spread of Russian culture and to the Russian Orthodox Church, and its depiction of corruption, aggression, disinformation and organised crime activity as peculiarly Russian activities – is a case in point.

    It is inconceivable that such a report could be written about the cultural, religious and information policies of any other other country – Israel or China are obvious example – without this provoking a furious outcry. By contrast in the case of Russia such a report not only can be published; it is widely treated as authoritative and goes unchallenged.

    What the report shows is how far these anti-Russian attitudes which can be accurately called racist – and which President Putin has recently compared to anti-semitism – have become internalised even at the highest levels of the US government and of the US political elite, so that it is not only possible but even respectable to repeat them there.”

    This racism is also seen in the reaction to the lies of Flynn outlined in his indictment. Despite the fact that he lied about the way the Israeli PM had asked them, and him specifically, to intervene with diplomats for a number of countries (including the Russian Federation) to prevent an upcoming UNSC vote on Israel this is not being described as collusion or interference. Why not? Perhaps to do so would bring a charge of antisemitism? Or perhaps anti-Russian racism is just more acceptable by the establishment? After all, we have the spectacle of Cramer in official evidence claiming it is the Russian genes to lie and cheat! Would such comment go past unnoticed if he said that of Jews?

    I see you reference to news reports of a Russian Lawyer’s contact with the legal authorities in her country, especially when working on the specific issues she was working on, as desperation. Come off it. Would you make that claim about an Israeli lawyer? Why is it OK to do so with a Russian Lawyer. And are you seriously suggesting that the Russian Federation handles its delicate intelligence and special ops though its legal authorities? Come off it.

    I really cannot see why you cling on to the back-channel misrepresentation. Why are you upset that the Russians use their own equipment in their diplomatic work. Why do you call Russia a “historic opponent?” Simply because they are presented as such to you by your media or has there been some specific act of aggression against your country? And just imagine – how we would laugh if someone objected to US diplomatics using their own equipment in their diplomatic activity.

    By the way, I am sure if Netanyahou is doing his job he will probably regularly use all sorts of communication opportunities to talk with his neighbours – and in many cases he will not want to have that communication thwarted by Mossad.

    I thought it great that President Putin could pick up his phone and personally thank President Trump for the information provided his intelligence services by the US intelligence services leading to the capture of a number of terrorists in St Petersburg. Many lives were saved. I thought it was great that Trump could meet with Russian foreign minister Lavrov in the White House (in the same way Putin has met with the US secretary of state, as also great. It is disgusting for the establishment media and politicians to try to prevent such contact or to present it as dangerous. It is nice that such communication can be made without going through the FSB and CIA.

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  38. David, you may not have picked this up so perhaps its a case of me letting you into a little secret. I never, or hardly ever, bother to follow up links provided me by anti-fluoride or pro-collusion activists to news media. I recognise how bad and unreliable the media, all media, is. But give me a link to a paper or document and I will follow it up. I do so with links anti-fluoride people provide me with their favourite papers and end up reading and discussing them.

    In this case, I have gone for documents on the collusion story. The January intelligence report is a primary one – provides the information politicians and the media continually refer to. It is essentially what Obama used to justify his questionable expulsion of Russian diplomats. If there is any real evidence that is where it will be – not in media reports.

    I have read all the indictments (perhaps this is why I can see your reference to 4 indictments as somehow progress in evidence for the collusion story as silly as they actually are evidence against, if anything.

    Regarding the pressure put on the heads of the social media companies to censor their media, I suggest you have a look at the video of that particular senate hearing.

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  39. David Fierstien

    I’ll let you in on a little secret. Here is Mark Zuckerberg’s statement in full. This is not a link. Please give a credible explanation why he would take the time to make it. If you claim that he was pressured into making it, please provide evidence of such:

    I just went live a minute ago. Here’s what I said:

    Today is my first day back in the office after taking parental leave. It was really special to be with Priscilla and August after she was born, and to get to spend some more time with Max.

    While I was out on leave, I spent a lot of time with our teams on the question of Russian interference in the US elections. I made some decisions on the next steps we’re taking, and I want to share those with you now.

    First, let me say this. I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity. Facebook’s mission is all about giving people a voice and bringing people closer together. Those are deeply democratic values and we’re proud of them. I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That’s not what we stand for.

    The integrity of our elections is fundamental to democracy around the world. That’s why we’ve built teams dedicated to working on election integrity and preventing governments from interfering in the elections of other nations. And as we’ve shared before, our teams have found and shut down thousands of fake accounts that could be attempting to influence elections in many countries, including recently in the French elections.

    Now, I wish I could tell you we’re going to be able to stop all interference, but that wouldn’t be realistic. There will always be bad people in the world, and we can’t prevent all governments from all interference. But we can make it harder. We can make it a lot harder. And that’s what we’re going to do.

    So today I want to share the steps we’re taking to protect election integrity and make sure that Facebook is a force for good in democracy. While the amount of problematic content we’ve found so far remains relatively small, any attempted interference is a serious issue. Here are 9 things we’ll be working on over the next few months:

    1. We are actively working with the US government on its ongoing investigations into Russian interference. We have been investigating this for many months, and for a while we had found no evidence of fake accounts linked to Russia running ads. When we recently uncovered this activity, we provided that information to the special counsel. We also briefed Congress — and this morning I directed our team to provide the ads we’ve found to Congress as well. As a general rule, we are limited in what we can discuss publicly about law enforcement investigations, so we may not always be able to share our findings publicly. But we support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete.

    2. We will continue our investigation into what happened on Facebook in this election. We may find more, and if we do, we will continue to work with the government. We are looking into foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states, as well as organizations like the campaigns, to further our understanding of how they used our tools. These investigations will take some time, but we will continue our thorough review.

    3. Going forward — and perhaps the most important step we’re taking — we’re going to make political advertising more transparent. When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they’re required by law to disclose who paid for them. But you still don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook. We will roll this out over the coming months, and we will work with others to create a new standard for transparency in online political ads.

    4. We will strengthen our ad review process for political ads. To be clear, it has always been against our policies to use any of our tools in a way that breaks the law — and we already have many controls in place to prevent this. But we can do more. Most ads are bought programmatically through our apps and website without the advertiser ever speaking to anyone at Facebook. That’s what happened here. But even without our employees involved in the sales, we can do better.

    Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to catch all bad content in our system. We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think our society shouldn’t want us to. Freedom means you don’t have to ask permission first, and that by default you can say what you want. If you break our community standards or the law, then you’re going to face consequences afterwards. We won’t catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere.

    5. We are increasing our investment in security and specifically election integrity. In the next year, we will more than double the team working on election integrity. In total, we’ll add more than 250 people across all our teams focused on security and safety for our community.

    6. We will expand our partnerships with election commissions around the world. We already work with electoral commissions in many countries to help people register to vote and learn about the issues. We’ll keep doing that, and now we’re also going to establish a channel to inform election commissions of the online risks we’ve identified in their specific elections.

    7. We will increase sharing of threat information with other tech and security companies. We already share information on bad actors on the internet through programs like ThreatExchange, and now we’re exploring ways we can share more information about anyone attempting to interfere with elections. It is important that tech companies collaborate on this because it’s almost certain that any actor trying to misuse Facebook will also be trying to abuse other internet platforms too.

    8. We are working proactively to strengthen the democratic process. Beyond pushing back against threats, we will also create more services to protect our community while engaging in political discourse. For example, we’re looking at adapting our anti-bullying systems to protect against political harassment as well, and we’re scaling our ballot information tools to help more people understand the issues.

    9. We have been working to ensure the integrity of the German elections this weekend, from taking actions against thousands of fake accounts, to partnering with public authorities like the Federal Office for Information Security, to sharing security practices with the candidates and parties. We’re also examining the activity of accounts we’ve removed and have not yet found a similar type of effort in Germany. This is incredibly important and we have been focused on this for a while.

    At the same time, it’s important not to lose sight of the more straightforward and larger ways Facebook plays a role in elections — and these effects operate at much larger scales of 100x or 1000x bigger than what we’re discussing here.

    In 2016, people had billions of interactions and open discussions on Facebook that may never have happened offline. Candidates had direct channels to communicate with tens of millions of citizens. Campaigns spent tens of millions organizing and advertising online to get their messages out further. And we organized “get out the vote” efforts that helped as many as 2 million people register to vote who might not have voted otherwise. Many of these dynamics were new in this election, or at much larger scale than ever before in history, and at much larger scale than the interference we’ve found.

    But we are in a new world. It is a new challenge for internet communities to deal with nation states attempting to subvert elections. But if that’s what we must do, we are committed to rising to the occasion. Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere.

    Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll keep you updated with more soon.

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  40. Stating that one needs to wait for results of an investigation before drawing conclusions on that investigation is “special pleading”? Eighteen months into a very complex investigation which is being obstructed by the most powerful politicians in the United States is equated with waiting decades for some potential research which may or may not be initiated at some point? Ken, you’re getting ridiculous now.

    What is your hurry to discard the question of collusion as being a “myth” before any detailed investigation has even been completed? Why is it so important to discredit the investigation before it has been completed? Are you somehow concerned with what it will reveal? I’m really not sure what is going on here with you, Ken. Your being one whom I have known to seek the truth as discovered through proper research and investigation, regardless what that truth discloses, your adamant rush to judgement in this case prior to all the facts having been determined and revealed, really surprises me.

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  41. David Fierstien

    Ken, let me ask you this as plainly as I can.

    Are you seriously saying that Mr. Zuckerberg was pressured into making a false, disadvantageous, indeed harmful claim about his company and Russian interference in the U.S. election?

    Yes or no?

    If yes, what evidence do you have to offer to support this position?

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  42. No, Ken. This is not an investigation into corruption within the electoral process of the US. It is an investigation into possible collusion of the President of the United States with a foreign government which has been a historic adversary of the US. Attempts to divert attention in this way are simply obstruction of that investigation.

    Until the results of this investigation are finalized and made public, it is premature and irresponsible to conclude that there is nothing to the question of collusion.

    I did not complain about your use of a media report to support your position, nor have I complained about media reports. You have. I simply pointed out the hypocrisy of your warning about relying upon media reports when that’s exactly what you did with your quote of the NBC report.

    That politicians lie is not a reason to discard evidence suggesting collusion of Trump wth the Russian government, nor does it justify the pathological lying by our president and his people, especially when those lies are specific responses to questions raised in an investigation of this president and his people.

    Your points about racism are well taken. However, they are irrelevant to my comments. Questioning a meeting with citizens of a long time adversary of the US, who have ties to the highest level of government of that adversary, does not, by any stretch of the imagination, have anything to do with racism. It has everything to do do with the prudence and diligence which would be expected of any responsible citizen or government.

    I did not reference contact of a Russian lawyer with legal authorities in her country as being desperation. I responded to your request for evidence to support my claim that this specific lawyer has ties to the highest level of Russian government. Again, are you claiming that the Prosecutor General of Russia is not at the highest level of government of that country?

    Yes, I would say the same about an Israeli lawyer, or that of any other nationality, were they involved in this same exact scenario.

    Yes, I am suggesting that the Russian Federation handles its intelligence ops through any productive means available, as does any such country. Can you guarantee that this Russian lawyer is not a part of the Russian intelligence community? Can you state unequivically that she was not recruited by the Russian government and briefed specifically for this particular op? In the absence of such guarantees, it would be grossly irresponsible not to consider that such a person with clearly stated ties to the top level of Russian government might very well be working for that government in direct opposition to the best interests of the United States.

    I have not expressed that I am upset with Russians wanting to use their own equipment. I have stated the obvious reality that a US citizen suggesting to a historic adversary of the US, that this adversary establish back channel communications with that citizen, with that adversary having complete control over all information from that communication, thereby circumventing the intelligence community of the US……is absurdly idiotic and reckless at best, and strongly suggestive of collusion and a threat to national security at worst.

    It is highly doubtful that the Russian government “would laugh” at the suggestion by a top level advisor to Putin to establish a back channel communication with the US government, with the US retaining full control over all communication through that back channel. Banishment of that advisor to Siberia would be far more likely.

    If you believe that Netanyahou would cede complete control of highly sensitive back channel information with Arab leaders to those leaders, thereby circumventing his own Israeli intelligence, then you obviously believe him to be a complete idiot, every bit as incompetent as Trump.

    For information on the historic adversarial nature of the US-Russian relationship with countless examples of acts of agression of each country against the other, read up on the Cold War.

    Yes, Putin, as does our Congressional leadership, knows exactly how to manipulate Trump….stroke his ego.

    To consider a White House meeting of the President of the United States with high level officials of an adversarial government, in which press of that government was allowed in while United States press was barred, to be “great” and not dangerous to the best interests of the US may be a good description from the Russian perspective, but certainly not so from the US perspective. Ditto for our President blurting out sensitive intelligence information to those adversaries during that meeting.

    Did Putin allow US press into his meeting with the US Secretary of State, while barring Russian press? Extremely doubtful.

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  43. Steve, I respectfully suggest we are going to have to agree to disagree on this issue. We obviously have different perspectives (not surprising as we live in different countries and have different experiences and backgrounds). And I find you are uncritically repeating many of the stories that the media has promoted but are simply based on misrepresentation of just outright fake news. (For example, the official media of both sides were present at the Oval Office meeting which is the normal accepted practice. The Russian press office released their photos – which were widely used – the US side did not. Yet this is somehow suggested as evidence of collusion and Trump being a Manchurian candidate in the media!! In reality, this misleading presentation of the completely normal meeting is simply an attempt by the establishment to constrain the new president in his relations with a major geopolitical partner – and that should worry us).

    I actually find it disappointing that sensible people are so uncritical in their reading around this whole issue – but as I suggested in my previous article we are all subject to confirmation bias and we will all select and interpret media stories to fit our preconceived agenda. This is especially true in areas like this where most people have a partisan ideological affiliation. I just find it tiresome to confront such stories again and again and find people are allowing themselves to be driven to a position by them.

    You say of me “Your being one whom I have known to seek the truth as discovered through proper research and investigation, regardless what that truth discloses, your adamant rush to judgement in this case prior to all the facts having been determined and revealed, really surprises me.” Yet you cannot accept my description of this hysteria as “myth” is not a final judgment. It is a working conclusion based on our experience in similar matters (Iraqi WMD) and the existing evidence that can be gleaned from very biased reporting and official reports and texts of indictments. As I said, if an when credible evidence is produced to support the allegations I will change my mind and will no longer call it a myth.

    This is exactly my approach on, for example, the Mexican prenatal F study. I drew a working conclusion on the value and credibility of that study and the way it was being reported. I actually think it very possible high F intake by women can affect the cognitive abilities of their children – just not in the way the study reported, and the way anti-fluoride people used that study. My final conclusion on that will await a proper study of the association of fluorosis with premature births, low birth weights and cognitive results – or similar work.

    I think what you have a conflict with is that I think differently to you. I do not see the Russian Federation or Russians as adversaries. I have resisted such brainwashing over years (and my family connections have helped in this). Just as I do not see Māori as lazy and criminal and always assume the worst of them (a common local comment). Again family connections and sympathies.

    I think we can both agree that there is no credible evidence yet to support the allegations of collusion or interference, that one should wait for the conclusion of the investigations and their final report (what time scale are you allowing of this, by the way?) And I wish the media and politicians would also treat the issue this way. Until then I think we will simply go with our own preferences in our working judgments. I will keep calling it a myth and not credible while you will keep seeing it as credible (if not proven) and possibly a confirmation of the feelings you have about Russians who you see as “adversaries.”. I hope we can both have the honesty and objectivity to handle the final reports and conclusions properly. (As I said I have come across people who still argue the case for Iraqi WMDs)

    As I say, until then we simply have to agree to disagree. A completely normal and mature position for adults, surely. It should not upset us when we come across people who draw different (working) conclusions is such matters.

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  44. Certainly, Ken. As you say, we both have our perspectives and biases. Healthy discussions such as this between those from different parts of the world are never a bad thing. As long as you fully recognize your own confirmation bias in this issue, I have no problem in agreeing to disagree. While your comments here remain surprising to me, my consideration of you as being a friend, as well as my respect for you as a scientist and a warrior against the misinformation of antifluoridationists, have not diminished in the least.

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  45. David Fierstien

    Steven, you say, “Your points about racism are well taken.”

    No they are not. The Russian people are not a race. However, the Caucasian people are a race. The vernacular of that is “white people.” The word Caucasian comes from the geographical area of the Caucasus Mountains which lie in Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Therefore, if the Russian people were to be identified by race, they would be white people. That being the case, Dr. Perrott is complaining about racism against white people.

    In light of President Trump’s recent racial comments on this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, (and that is about as perfect as it gets), perhaps Dr. Perrott, as a white man living in an area formerly inhabited by the indigenous Maori, should rethink his use of the hot-bed word “racism.”

    Anti-Russian hysteria, or Russo-phobia are descriptive of “ethnocentrism,” not racism. Dr. Perrott likes to throw around that word because it draws a more strong, more negative emotion than does the more correct “ethnocentrism.”

    Ok, Dr. Perrott, as a white man living on Maori land, do you really want to talk about racism?

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  46. David Fierstien

    Ken, you say, “I think we can both agree that there is no credible evidence yet to support the allegations of collusion or interference . . ”

    Collusion? No . . at least not public evidence. Interference? Yes.

    You have asked for tangible evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. I have provided an admission from one of the wealthiest men in the world in which he states that Russian interests infiltrated his media platform in efforts to influence the election.

    That is tangible evidence which you requested . . and yet you still maintain there is no “credible evidence yet to support the allegations of collusion or interference . . ”

    This is what I mean when I say you filter out that which threatens your preconceived worldview.

    Oh . . one more thing, and this may have been an oversight on your part, but you seem to have neglected to respond to my previous question to you. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, and for your convenience, I’ll repeat it:

    Ken, let me ask you this as plainly as I can.

    Are you seriously saying that Mr. Zuckerberg was pressured into making a false, disadvantageous, indeed harmful claim about his company and Russian interference in the U.S. election?

    Yes or no?

    If yes, what evidence do you have to offer to support this position?

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  47. Steve, I have no problem recognising my own problems with confirmation bais as I recognise others. it is part of being human — we are an emotional rather than a rational species. Capable of rational thought but it takes an effort.

    I have recognised over the years that movements I have been involved in have often deteriorated into dogma and this has made me conscious of my own tendencies and need to counter them

    I find the best way at the moment is to use a wide spread of sources – I really oppose the blinkering people indulge in by refusing to access alternative sources (and this blinkering is heavily encourages by governments in the US and NATO to the extent that forms of censorship are now being considered). I also go for documents rather than news reports. These can still be unreliable but it is much easier to assess the information being used.

    An example was the press agencies at the oval office meeting. I got, as did everyone else, the story that only the Russian press office was there. But reading alternative source shows that to be simply a lie – fake news. In particular, I remember reading the comments of the Russian photographer who was there. (His comments were not published by the mainstream media – of course).

    Whether this extreme bias in the mainstream media is due to outright racism or simply the pressure of group thinking (with heavy pressure from the establishment) I will not speculate. But again and again, I come across these outright lies so if a story is of any interest I simply check alternative sources and documentary material to try to get more balanced information and make up my own mind.

    This is the reason some people find my comment “surprising”. And it is the same reason people immersed in anti-fluoride propaganda find my comments “surprising” on that issue.

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  48. David, whatever your rationalisation I am sticking with the term racism because I think it underlines the extreme prejudices involved.

    Your arguments could also be used to discredit use of the term in NZ as Māori are similarly not a race in your terms. And yes, in NZ (which is a multicultural scoewity where Māori are the tangata whenua) we often discuss racism. The term “Maori land” could be interpreted as racist – it is never used today but was in the old, less informed, days).

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  49. OK, David, you are on record as saying there is, currently, no evidence of collusion – whatever that term means.

    But you claim interference. Please explain specifically what you mean by that term in this context. Does it mean manipulation of vote numbers, gerrymandering, burning ballot boxes? I need to know what form this specific alleged interference occurred in.

    Then please provide your specific evidence for this – documentary not press reports (we know that are unreliable). What specific evidence is there of specific interference?

    Of course, the document that is considered most reliable on this subject (and I am happy to discuss the specific examples of interference it provides) is the January Intelligence report.

    And, no, there is no point harking back to the statement of Zuckerberg’s which provides absolutely no evidence (he specifically says he can’t or won’t) – and after seeing the pressure placed on the heads of these companies by the Senate committee these sort of vague statements bear a strong similarity to the “confessions” of Stalin’s victims while being far less specific. The only difference is that Stalin’s torturers would have got the victims to list specific “evidence.”

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  50. David Fierstien

    By the way, Ken, Thank you for the link to the Al Jazeera documentary. I finally had a chance to watch it.

    I completely agree with the film. Not only does it testify to the fact that U.S. Intelligence was aware there was no basis for war, I was surprised to see that there was actually more knowledge about the “yellow-cake lie” than I had previously known. The truth was very well known prior to the war.

    In answer to this question from you, “What would have been your reaction if I had linked to that video if it had been shown in RT?”

    The answer is that I would have thanked you for the link, and I would have said, “I completely agree with the film. Not only does it testify to . . . . ” 🙂

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  51. David Fierstien

    First this: “OK, David, you are on record as saying there is, currently, no evidence of collusion – whatever that term means.”

    Response: Actually I am on record as saying there is no PUBLIC evidence of collusion. Here are my exact words, “Collusion? No . . at least not public evidence.”

    What does that mean? Well, let’s take the example of your friend Alexandar Mercouris who writes the Duran. When he went off on his rant about the Trump Dossier being the original and sole basis for the Mueller Investigation ( http://theduran.com/another-special-counsel-investigate-real-scandal-2016-election/ ), there was no PUBLIC evidence to the contrary.

    However, when Senator Diane Feinstein released the transcript of Glen Simpson, of Fusion GPS, the PUBLIC learned that it was George Papadopoulos, who kicked off the Trump-Russia investigation by telling Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton; a fact that Republicans tried to keep from PUBLIC view.

    So . . in that case, first there was no PUBLIC evidence, then there was PUBLIC evidence. But the evidence always existed. Easy enough.

    Ken’s quote: “But you claim interference. Please explain specifically what you mean by that term in this context. Does it mean manipulation of vote numbers, gerrymandering, burning ballot boxes? I need to know what form this specific alleged interference occurred in.”

    Response: Methinks thou art feigning ignorance. Why would you think this? No on, to my knowledge, has ever suggested that Russian interests burned ballot boxes, engaged in gerrymandering, or manipulated vote numbers.

    Please provide a link to any citation from anyone who has suggested this, which would naturally be where you got the idea. Or did you just make that up?

    Interference means interference. It is a crime for a foreign national to spend money to influence a federal election. See https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2145572/bluman-v-federal-election-comn/

    Any foreign influence that can affect a vote is interference. For example, if a voter was on the fence as to whether to vote for The Donald or Hillary, and that potential voter was surfing through Facebook and saw a meme from a group calling itself The Heart of Texas that said “Hillary Clinton has a 69% approval rating among all veterans,” that might influence their vote. And if The Heart of Texas was really concocted invention from a troll farm in St. Petersburg, that would be foreign interference in a U.S. Federal election.

    (By the way, take a look at this one, you’ll love it: “Satan: If I win, Clinton wins. Jesus: Not if I can help it.” Take a look at the image on the meme. It’s hilarious. http://www.businessinsider.com/russian-facebook-ads-2016-election-trump-clinton-bernie-2017-11

    Ok. To Zuckerberg. This is what you have to say: “And, no, there is no point harking back to the statement of Zuckerberg’s which provides absolutely no evidence (he specifically says he can’t or won’t) – and after seeing the pressure placed on the heads of these companies by the Senate committee these sort of vague statements bear a strong similarity to the “confessions” of Stalin’s victims while being far less specific.”

    First of all, a Senate Hearing is not Stalin coercing a confession. Take a look at this. This is a great example of a Senate committee trying to pressure an industry leader into confessing War Profiteering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDkTkpoyfL0

    If you bothered to look at the footage, what you saw was an actual McCarthyistic Senate, the real thing from 1947, not your imagined pseudo-McCarthyism of today, trying to pressure Howard Hughes into admitting that his company engaged in crimes against the United States. Howard Hughes told them to go fuck themselves.

    After watching that, do you honestly believe a Senate Committee could pressure Zuckerberg into anything?

    Let’s look at Zuckerberg, a guy who is wealthier, younger, and more sane than Howard Hughes. Face it, no one can put any pressure on someone worth $73 Billion.

    Aside from that, Zuckerberg made statements Under Oath. A sworn statement is considered valid evidence, because the penalties for perjury can be severe.

    Let me get this right. Your off-the-wall theory is that Mark Zuckerberg took an oath to tell the truth before a Senate Committee, and you are saying he lied, under penalty of perjury, so that he could make statements which would have defamed and devalued his Fortune 500 company, because some Senators, whom he could squash like bugs – and then move to another country, pressured him?

    What evidence do you have to put forth such an outlandish theory and discount the sworn testimony of Mark Zuckerberg? If you have personal knowledge that he committed perjury in his claim that Russian interests attempted to influence a U.S. election, I suggest you get your documents to the Trump White House. They would be very interested in this.

    So again . . Sworn testimony is valid evidence. What evidence do you have to discount Zuckerberg’s testimony?

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  52. Bit confused here, David.

    You assure me there is no public evidence of collusion and now you say there is – all within a few paragraphs?

    I am beginning to think we should have a specific definition of what is meant by “collusion.”

    I am aware of the controversy around the Fusion report and the apparent desire to move away from. But the Australians are laughing about the substitute ring in.

    No, I am not feigning ignorance – just that I cannot see what this interference is that you talk about as I cannot see anything covered by such a term. The specific examples I mention (with the possible exception of ballot box burning go on in the US and I am aware there are investigations currently underway on them. I don’t think there is any serious suggestion of involvement from the Russian Federation. Manipulation of votes by Russia by hacking has been suggested but I didn’t think anyone seriously took that up – and even the mainstream media has gone back on, or denied such reports.

    OK – you give a specific example – foreign nationals spending money to influence a federal election. A can understand that. It is the sort of thing the US indulges in around the world and did so heavily in the 1996 presidential elections in the Russian Federation. Boxloads of money were passed around in that case and US nationals had offices in the Moscow White House – the seat of the Russian Duma. While it is generally acknowledged that the US financed their efforts heavily most of the money came from the Russian oligarchs who had stolen it from the Russian people. This has often been described as the biggest theft in history. The US supported, and helped, that theft.

    (I imagine this is one of the reasons Russians roll their eyes and laugh when they hear unverified stories of how their government or president interfered in the US elections.)

    Understandably countries try to prevent this and I notice the Russian Federation has recently tightened up their laws in an attempt to prevent money being transferred via NGOs to political parties. This has been a common way for the US intelligence agencies to get finance to “opposition” groups like Navalny’s in Russia.

    You give one example of someone or some group on a Facebook page saying something about election candidates. That happens, of course, it happens a lot. I have seen no credible evidence that any Russian state organisation does this but am aware of the unsupported claims being made – such as the Heart of Texas. It is incredible how news reports will claim “proof” and they simply baldly claim a facebook page is controlled from Russia with no evidence at all. Ah, the sorry state of the US media (and the gullibility of its readers) – especially when the words “Russia” and “Putin” are used. the need for evidence seems to fly out the window.

    But, I imagine in the upcoming Russian Presidential elections there will be all sorts of social media comments made about candidates. And I bet some of those will be made by foreigners, including US and British citizens. I imagine the US intelligence agencies will be organising some of these too. Of course, a lot will be made by Russian citizens – I have already seen such derogatory comments about some of the potential candidates. I wonder if any of the political organisation or candidates will moan after the election that the result was influenced by a Facebook comment? And, if they do, I wonder who in their right mind will take them seriously given that the average Russian voter is exposed to such derogatory comments, and such comments coming from the US anmd NATO countries, all the time..

    So, you claim that while there is no public evidence of collusion (just like there is no public evidence of harm from community foundation but some nutters still hold out hope) there is evidence of interference.

    So, please provide specific evidence. You mention money from foreign nationals. Can you provide specific evidence of any money being transferred from Russia to the US to support any of the candidates?
    Can you provide any specific evidence of Russian money being used by a state organisation to plant social media comments (I add state organisation as I am aware plenty of Russians, many living in the US as well as Russia, regularly post on social media)? No, unverified news reports do not count.

    Finally, can you suggest any serious likelihood of such social media posts on an election in either the USA or the Russian Federation having any significant effect? After all, in the USA at least, the candidate campaigns had budgets of billions of dollars. Anything like a Facebook post is hardly going to have an effect – even if planted by a foreign intelligent agent.

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  53. David, sworn testimony is just that – sworn testimony. It may or may not contain evidence but it is not evidence in itself.

    Zuckerberg’s article (which was not sworn) is evidence-free. He does make a claim of something but says he can not provide the evidence.

    This is the content story through this whole hysteria. And shockingly, media and the faithful have taken to describing evidence-free reports and statements as “evidence.” We have see selected opinion being converted to official documents and then convert to “facts.” What a stupid fiasco.

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  54. David Fierstien

    First

    There is a difference between individual citizens voicing their opinions on Facebook and actual interests paying people to flood a social media platform. We know that the crime of actual foreign money being paid for sway an election occurred. How do we know this? What actual evidence do we have?

    Second

    “The testimony of a witness is the information and answers to questions given by a witness to the court as a whole. Testimony is considered to be a form of evidence, just as physical objects are considered to be evidence.” https://trial.laws.com/testimony

    So, to summarize your answer, Ken, you have absolutely no evidence to support your claim that Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch lied under oath when he testified that Russian disinformation reached as many as 126 million U.S. users in order to affect the 2016 presidential election.

    To quote you: “I keep asking people who question that for their own take – what specific evidence have they seen. And all I get is documents outlining opinion.” . . However, in your case, you’re not even providing a document. All you are providing is your opinion.

    You have ask for evidence supporting the claim of Russian interference in the 2016 election. I submit the sworn testimony of Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch which, as I have shown above, is actual evidence. You have nothing but your opinion to counter this evidence. Therefore, in this debate, we have concluded that certain Russian interests did commit the crime of spending foreign money to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    End of story.

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  55. David Fierstien

    It pains me to say this, Steven, but Condoleezza Rice isn’t exactly the most credible source you could have chosen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyFgdVSOqtg

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  56. You’re missing the point here, David. Ken has painted the Russian probe as nothing more than “Democrat funded muck raking” and “myth”. Here we have Rice, a very prominent Republican, former Secretary of State under a Republican President, stating that Trump should not be calling this question a “hoax”. It’s difficult to dismiss this question as being simply a partisan “myth” when opinions such as this are being put forth by both Republicans and Democrats.

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  57. David Fierstien

    Ken, you seem to have misunderstood:

    “Bit confused here, David.

    You assure me there is no public evidence of collusion and now you say there is – all within a few paragraphs?”

    Re-read it. I said there is no public evidence of collusion. End of story.

    What you are referring to (when you say “now you say there is”) is my example from the Duran in which the writer went off on his rant about about the Trump Dossier being the original reason for the Mueller investigation. First there was no public evidence to the contrary, and then after Sen. Feinstein’s actions, the evidence to the contrary became public.

    Two different things. 1. Collusion & 2. the Trump Dossier being the sole reason for the investigation.

    I hope this helps.

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  58. David Fierstien

    Steven, Ok. I get it, but Condoleeza Rice?

    “Ken has painted the Russian probe as nothing more than “Democrat funded muck raking” and “myth””

    Democrat funded? Has Ken provided any evidence that the funding for any investigation or probe has come from Democrats? Has he provided any evidence of any funding from Democrats for any muck racking? If he did, I missed it.

    I’m sure he would have provided such evidence of funding since he has an evidence based mindset.

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  59. David

    My point from the very beginning has been that there is ample documented evidence demonstrating that Ken’s labeling this collusion question as being nothing but a “myth”…..is premature and lacks credibility. Ken has knowingly or unknowingly fallen into the Trump tactic of seeking to trivialize and discredit this question before the bulk of the facts of any detailed investigation have even been revealed. I don’t claim to know these facts yet, nor have I claimed that there is enough valid evidence to prove collusion. I have simply stated that there is enough documented evidence to warrant a full investigation of the question of collusion, and that judgment on its validity needs to be withheld until we have the results of this investigation.

    The “Democrat funded muck raking” to which Ken refers is, I have assumed to be, the dossier, which he rightly indicates was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. He uses the facts that there are unproven allegations in the dossier, and that the dossier was funded by Democrats, as a large part of his argument that the question of collusion is nothing more than a partisan “myth”, kept alive by Democrats and media “hysteria”

    What Ken omits is the fact that the initial information gathering for the dossier was funded by a Republican, that there are aspects within the dossier which have been corroborated from independent sources, and that Democrats are not the only ones taking this question very seriously. Whether one accords credibility to Rice or not, she is a very prominent Republican, former Secretary of State under a Republican President. That she is on record as stating that the question should not be labeled a “hoax”, puts a big dent in Ken’s implication that the question is simply a partisan “myth”. Her former position as Secretary of State provides her with a world view, which puts a dent in Ken’s implication that those who take this question seriously are basing their opinion on nothing but what he considers to be biased American media reports.

    None of this proves collusion, nor have I claimed that it does. However, it does support the point I have been making all along. There is too much documented evidence which has been made available, to simply discard the question of collusion as a partisan “myth” prior to bulk of information from a highly detailed investigation having even been released.

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  60. No David, it doesn’t help. It still comes across as confused.

    I am well aware of the debate over which specific story was used by the FBI to get legal approve of their electronic monitory of the Trump people. I don’t think it matters – both stories are farcical – and surely the easiest way to decide is for the FBI to release their documents used for the legal application.

    However, I must take your statement that you say there is absolutely no public evidence for collusion as your current position

    I realise you are, actually, in the position of those anti-fluoride nutters who agree there is no public evidence for harm from CWF but have faith that sometime somewhere in the future credible evidence will turn up.

    It’s a position I think is logically correct by stupid for normal people who are prepared to go with the existing evidence, draw working conclusions, get on with life and be prepared to change their mind if and when new evidence turns up. This latter position is the way humans work – if they want to achieve anything in life.

    I take this position over the IQ myth. I agree logically that sometime, somewhere, evidence may turn up to show a negative IQ affect from CWF. If this ever happens I will stop calling this particular story a myth. But meantime I get on with my life using the current knowledge.

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  61. Please, Steve, don’t talk past me repeating arguments we have already dealt with (but presenting them in a way you know does not reflect my position).

    It is not respectful or mature.

    I am always happy to discuss this issue further with you – all I have said is that it this stage we have a different perspective (you see Russians as adversaries who cannot be trust, I don’t – any more than other peoples). If you think there is something else I should consider then bring it up with me. Please don’t misrepresent me behind my back.

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  62. Ken, I apologize. It is indeed, irritating when people talk past other commenters, and that was not my intent here. Knowing that you read all comments, I was commenting to you as well as David, and should have made that clear in my wording. If there is anything I have presented which misrepresents what you have stated, please let me know and I will gladly reconsider my statements. As of now, I stand by what I stated.

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  63. Thanks for the opportunity to correct some of the misrepresentation, Steve.

    1: I have not “painted the Russian probe as nothing more than “Democrat funded muck raking” and “myth”.” You may have interpreted it that way but it is certainly not how I see it. I am completely non-partisan in this and recognise Trump’s opponents come from both major parties – both before and after his election. I do see a strong partisan component though – it has disturbed me that people I have often considered rational have so willingly taken up a neo-McCarthyist, Russophobic (even anti-Russian racist) argument simply because of their partisan disappointment. I would have thought their principles, and therefore attitudes towards world peace and international understanding, let alone the fight against terrorism, would have had deeper roots.

    I guess I should know better as I do really know how tribal party politics are.

    2: You say:

    that there is ample documented evidence demonstrating that Ken’s labeling this collusion question as being nothing but a “myth”…..is premature and lacks credibility. Ken has knowingly or unknowingly fallen into the Trump tactic of seeking to trivialize and discredit this question before the bulk of the facts of any detailed investigation have even been revealed. I don’t claim to know these facts yet, nor have I claimed that there is enough valid evidence to prove collusion. I have simply stated that there is enough documented evidence to warrant a full investigation of the question of collusion, and that judgment on its validity needs to be withheld until we have the results of this investigation. “

    May I reword this in a way we should both understand – and this is an attitude I sometimes get from anti-fluoride people.

    “that there is ample documented evidence demonstrating that Ken’s labeling this fluoridation- IQ question as being nothing but a “myth”…..is premature and lacks credibility. Ken has knowingly or unknowingly fallen into the pro-fluoide tactic of seeking to trivialize and discredit this question before the bulk of the facts of any detailed investigation have even been revealed. I don’t claim to know these facts yet, nor have I claimed that there is enough valid evidence to prove a fluoride IQ effect. I have simply stated that there is enough documented evidence to warrant a full investigation of the question of fluoride and IQ, and that judgment on its validity needs to be withheld until we have the results of this investigation.”

    I am using the word”myth” in both cases – because of the similarity of the claims and the misrepresentation of the evidence. In both cases, I support further investigation – but a rational investigation, unplagued by partisan politics, agendas and confirmation bias.

    I actually think that there is a real question of IQ effects in endemic fluorosis areas and that should be investigated further. To the extent this fact overflows to create concern about CWF (and let’s face it, anti-fluoride activists, just like the US establishment on the collusion question, have falsely promoted this concern) then there should be further investigations in areas where CWF exists.

    But I will continue to call this story a myth (largely because of the false promotion of the story) until there is credible evidence to suggest it is not.

    My use of the word “myth” is a working conclusion in both cases. As a scientist, I would never say it applies to the more complete knowledge we have yet to find.

    3: I labelled this story as a myth long before any revelations of dossiers etc. it had nothing to do with Trump – simply the fact that Wikileaks releases presented ample evidence of corruption within the DNC, a corruption which upset many Democrat supporters, and that the candidate attempted an immediate diversion by claiming the Wikipedia link was engineered by “Russians” or even “Putin.” That was a clear political trick and I was attacked for daring to say that people who brought her story were refusing to face up to the facts of corruption. Or even that the specific mechanism of leaking the DNC documents was beside the point – the corruption was the issue.

    By the way, nothing has changed. There have been “revelations” after “revelations” – each one getting their moment of glory but then crashing to the ground. One can be excused for thinking this pattern will continue until there is a final report finding no evidence of collusion – but plenty of evidence of financial corruption, lying to the FBI, etc., etc. In the nature of these investigations, I expect that the DNC anmd Clinton will suffer their own exposures of similar activities.

    4: I do not see any credible evidence warranting the charges that were made by Clinton and various members of the establishment since. That is, I disagree that there is “ample evidence” to warrant an investigation. However, there is plenty of concern, manufactured, politically motivated or otherwise – and that warrants the current investigation.

    I have never suggested the Mueller investigation be stopped – and have actually welcomed its progress and final findings. So far the material that has come out of that investigation – documented and leaked – reinforces my understanding of the issue. None of it supports the collusion or interference story.

    5: As for Rice – her previous positions do not provide a sensible reason for anyone to take her assurances as fact. After all, look at Trump and Nikkii Hally – both with high positions, e4xperience in world matters, and laughed at by almost the whole world. And the expectations are those countries who are paid not to laugh, publicly.

    I think Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov are extremely experienced in world matters, are highly respected and demonstrate a very high professionalism in their jobs. But I would never take an unsupported claim made by them as evidence in important matters.

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  64. Ken, I accept your clarifications, other than the fluoridation comparison. Again, that is apples to oranges. There were indications of potential IQ impact by fluoridation. Studies were run and completed to determine the validity of that question. Given the results of these studies, a credible claim can be made that the IQ association is myth, because the studies have produced no valid evidence otherwise. A fluoridation comparison to your current claim here would be having claimed the IQ question to be a myth prior to any studies, whatsoever, having been performed to determine the validity of the question raised by the initial indication of IQ impact.

    Claiming the collusion question to be a myth because bits and pieces of the only credible investigation which has been initiated, and incomplete information in the unclassified portion of an intelligence report, are insufficient to prove collusion, has no validity. We don’t have enough information to reach such a conclusion yet. If you are really seeking to inform, rather than influence toward your bias through the use of dismissive language, the objective characterization of the question would be “as yet unproven allegation”.

    The introduction of Rice into the mix is not as evidence that there was or was not collusion, but simply to demonstrate that the this question is not strictly partisan, born out of “Democrat funded muck-raising” and media “hysteria”. Rice is an example of a highly respected member of Trump’s own party with a world perspective who is taking this seriously.

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  65. I disagree with your interpretation of the fluoride-IQ story, Steve.

    I called this story a myth long before any specific studies were done on areas of CWF – because it was based on misrepresentations. The studies referred to were of poor quality and occurred in areas of endemic fluorosis.

    I think I was justified in calling it a myth then – as a working conclusion – because of the nature of the evidence (poor and biased) and because of the unreliability of those promoting the myth. Strong parallels with the collusion myth.

    OK, there are now some studies done in areas of CWF but I do not see them as a final, conclusive rejection of the myth. One can fall back on the issue of the size of the effect one can detect (Broadbent’s study had a relatively large confidence interval, for example). In science one or two studies are not generally treated as conclusive proof.

    So I am still open. My working conclusion is that the story is a myth. Initial studies support that conclusion, but I am still open to changing my mind when more conclusive evidence comes in.

    In practice, this was also the attitude of others who reviewed the evidence. They did not accept the promoted story – and this was before the publication of Broadbent’s paper.

    In the real world, the anti-fluoride attempt to argue that one should wait until all the evidence is in did not sway the reviewers. They still argued for the continuation of CWF on the basis that the evidence to date showed no harm. That is how humanity makes progress – we don’t sit around waiting for new studies just because someone claims they have faith there will be some. But we do keep our eyes on new studies and are prepared to change our conclusions if necessary.

    I initially called the Clinton story a myth becuase as a politician she cannot be trusted. She was attempting to divert attention away from the exposure of corrupotion and the attempts at evidence were extremely poor. Since then there have been several releases of findings, documents, from the investigation – I see them as similar to the NZ, Swedish and Canadian studies on the fluoride-IQ story.

    So the evidence to date confirms my initial working conclusion the collusion story is a myth in the same way the IQ studies in areas of CWF confirmed my working conclusions.

    In this sense, the collusion and IQ stories are certainly not apples and oranges. I think my response has been reasonable in both cases. I can understand why anti-fluoride activists and partisan Clinton lovers or Trump haters (or extreme Russophobes) may object to my use of the word “myth.” But, hell, it is my blog and I love to be provocative. I do not use the word myth when writing scientific papers on the IQ effect.

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  66. David Fierstien

    Ken says: “However, I must take your statement that you say there is absolutely no public evidence for collusion as your current position

    I realise you are, actually, in the position of those anti-fluoride nutters who agree there is no public evidence for harm from CWF but have faith that sometime somewhere in the future credible evidence will turn up.”

    No, I am not.

    Ken, I’ve already made this as clear as I can. I am not discussing collusion with you. I have already said there is a difference between “collusion” and “interference.” You appear to be discussing collusion with Steven. Leave me out of that.

    You have asked for evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. I have provided that evidence. You have offered nothing to counter that evidence. This debate is over.

    Russian interests interfered in the 2016 election. I am in no position to discuss whether or not foreigners colluded with the Trump campaign.

    Is that clear enough?

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  67. So, David, your story about Russian interference is restricted to “actual interests paying people to flood a social media platform.”

    A bit vague. But specifically which of these interests are state authorities of the Russian Federation?

    You fall back on “Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch . . . testified that Russian disinformation reached as many as 126 million U.S. users in order to affect the 2016 presidential election.”

    That again is vague. Could you provide the piece in his testimony which described the Russian state agency involved? Or, perhaps you could link me to the testimony – I can’t find it and I do not have access to NYT at the moment. I have seen a video recording of the pressure put on Stretch by the Senate hearing.

    The closest thing I can find is a reference to Facebook adverts paid for in rubles. Is that what you mean by interference?

    Weird, as I bet there was plenty of advertising related to the US elections paid for in a number of currencies at that time. The adverts paid for by RT may have been paid in rubles. RT has made public their ads on Facebook from that time and the amount of money spent on them. The ads were simply promotions of their programme content. Presumably, all news agencies in the US were doing similar things at the time.

    And what the hell is the problem? Facebook approached RT with a plan for their advertising around the elections. RT declined the offer as it was too expensive. But now, after political pressure, Facebook bans all ads from RT!!

    Apparently, in their innocence, Facebook thought it a good thing for news agencies to report on the US elections and were willing to provide a service for money. Now they have had their wrist slapped for such innocence and the US seems to be retreating into the paranoia characteristic of the Soviet leadership during their time. They seem to be seeking to control, even censor, media they do not have direct control of.

    There is talk of a firm based in St Petersburg. I don’t know what that firm does or who pays them to do it. It is quite feasible that if they are involved in placing Facebook posts a US political organisation or company paid them to place such posts during the election. However Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said in the written testimony that the 80,000 posts from Russia’s Internet Research Agency were a tiny fraction of content on Facebook, equal to 1 out of 23,000 posts. The amount of money allegedly spent by this firm pales into insignificance when compared with the billions the presidential election campaigns had in their budgets. And I bet some of that was used to place misleading facebook posts.

    I really think this sort of thing is pathetic if you are describing it as Russian interference. I am sure this sort of thing goes on all the time. For example, I often post things on the MSoF facebook page. Sometimes I will pay for the post to be promoted (I assume this is similar to what RT was doing). It means the post gets in front of a wider audience – I pay more and the audience becomes even wider. Facebook makes some money and we get more nutters commenting.

    Now just imagine of an anti-fluoride Senate pressured Facebook, lectured them on allowing NZ money to be used to influence things in the US and Facebook responded by refusing to accept paid promotions from MSoF!

    Isn’t the whole thing silly?

    And yet US and NATO politicians are running around claiming “Russian” or “Putin” interfered in the French, German and Catalonian elections. They interfered in the Brxist referendum (crazily actual figures were produced in this case to show Russian money of less than 1 US$ was used to pay for posts or ads). They are being accused of interfering in the upcoming Mexican elections. Bloody hell – perhaps they are also going to be accused of interfering in the upcoming Russian presidential elections.

    The whole thing is just so bloody stupid. If that is what it is all about I don’t think evidence matters.

    But it does show that the establishment in the US appears to be unable to handle the democratic situation where free speech enables this sort of thing to happen. People do get a chance to participate – and yes misinformation gets promoted, there is dross among the good stuff. Nothing new there as misinformation has been promoted by the mainstream media for yonks. Apparently, the real problem is the growth of the internet and alternative media is allowing others to promote their information.

    All this means for the discerning reader is that they have to apply their critical and intelligence analysis of the available in information to a wider number of sources. I think that is well worth it as I have found it far easier to work out the real situation in various parts of the world than I did in the past when the mainstream media had a monopoly.

    Like

  68. David Fierstien

    Ken, read your entire comment (just above) with this in mind. It is a violation of Federal law for foreign money to be spent in the U.S. to influence a U.S. Federal election. https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2145572/bluman-v-federal-election-comn/ (The same is true in Canada. I can’t spend money in Canada to try to influence an election there. And I assume the same is true in many countries.)

    For example, when you spend money on Facebook for MSoF, are you trying to influence a federal election? When RT spends money on adverts to promote its own programming, is it trying to influence a Federal election?

    Your comment: “Now just imagine of an anti-fluoride Senate pressured Facebook, lectured them on allowing NZ money to be used to influence things in the US and Facebook responded by refusing to accept paid promotions from MSoF!” — Irrelevant.

    Your comment: “Apparently, in their innocence, Facebook thought it a good thing for news agencies to report on the US elections and were willing to provide a service for money. ” — Irrelevant.

    Your comment: “Weird, as I bet there was plenty of advertising related to the US elections paid for in a number of currencies at that time. The adverts paid for by RT may have been paid in rubles. RT has made public their ads on Facebook from that time and the amount of money spent on them. The ads were simply promotions of their programme content.” — Irrelevant.

    I will look for Stretch’s testimony later, when I have more time.

    Like

  69. David Fierstien

    Here you go. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/10-31-17%20Stretch%20Testimony.pdf

    I personally haven’t read it in it’s entirety, but just glancing through it, he did testify:

    “We found that fake accounts
    associated with the IRA spent approximately $100,000 on more than 3,000 Facebook and
    Instagram ads between June 2015 and August 2017. Our analysis also showed that these
    accounts used these ads to promote the roughly 120 Facebook Pages they had set up, which in
    turn posted more than 80,000 pieces of content between January 2015 and August 2017. The
    Facebook accounts that appeared tied to the IRA violated our policies because they came from a
    set of coordinated, inauthentic accounts.”

    ” Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company located in
    St. Petersburg. “

    Like

  70. Thanks for the link, David. I actually already had it. The questioning and pressure placed on these spokespersons for social media, and their responses under pressure, are really the interesting aspect of those hearings. Actually quite revealing.

    As I said, $100,000 spent on ads on Facebook and Instagram (and I assume ads might mean the promotion of posts) is pitifully small and certainly does not justify the hysteria.

    The interesting thing though is that IRA is probably just one example of a number of companies around the world doing this sort of thing, and getting contracts to do so. It could be that this is even done under contract for US parties – campaign, etc. I often feel that the climate change and anti-fluoride campaigns employ companies like this to achieve their level of saturation.

    The important thing is that this is not evidence, it is allegations and it would be interesting to see what it is based on. There is no claim of Russian state agency involvement (although of course the FSB, CIA, FBI, Democrats, Republicans are all equally possible as contractors of this and similar companies).

    Facebook acknowledges a problem with unauthenticated accounts (and presumably they are alleging this specific company, like similar companies would be creating such accounts) They have undertaken to attempt to prevent unauthentic accounts – surely a good thing.

    But an element of this dredging for evidence of collusion/interference is that simply because a company has an office in St Petersburg is taken to imply evil intent and acting as part of a subversive organization. In the end, givne that capitalism is global, companies have bases and offices around the world and this is usually considered a good thing. The attribution of intent or evil because this office is in Russia or that it is a Russian registered company (if it is) is simply another example of a prevailing racist attitude. Certainly, it is evidence of how words like “Russia” and “Putin” are used to confuse people and promote Russophobia.

    Like

  71. David, I glad you think this concentration on the activity of RT and RT promoting their news by ads in Facebook are irrelevant. You do realize that is the only example of “evidence” in the January intelligence report which is used to give formal justification for this whole Russophobic hysteria of interference?

    Like

  72. David Fierstien

    Ken, right at the start I would like to point out that you are the only person here who has used the word “evil.” I never called anyone evil. Steven never called anyone evil. I think you should honestly take a long hard look at your own persecution complex in regards to whatever ties you have to Russia or its government.

    Let me also say that my father’s family came from the Volga River region of Russia. I would never say anything derogatory about the Russian people, despite the illusory persecution feelings you appear to harbor.

    The Russian government, on the other hand, has become famous for the murders of its own journalists whose only vocation is to inform the Russian people of the truth. The Russian government has displaced its own people for the sake of global prestige during the Olympic games held in their country.

    My contempt for a repressive regime says nothing about the love of the Russian people who currently live in the land from where my father came. If you want to support that regime and profess your love for the people of my family, you are neither honest, inquisitive, nor critical.

    Nevertheless, Russian interests did interfere in the 2016 election.

    As expected, you did not tell the truth. This is what you said, “I will change my mind when I see credible evidence.” You didn’t change your mind did you. Are you willing to admit that Russian interests interfered in the election? Yes or no?

    Let’s go through this again. Sworn testimony is considered credible evidence. https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2145572/bluman-v-federal-election-comn/

    Sworn testimony was provided that Russian interests did interfere in the election. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/10-31-17%20Stretch%20Testimony.pdf

    The fact that you do not accept sworn testimony as evidence does not negate the fact that it IS acceptable evidence. Proof has been provided that it is acceptable evidence. Your inability to accept a fact is your issue. It is not with the rest of the world that has the problem. (Your quote: “The important thing is that this is not evidence . . “)

    Your quote: “It could be that this is even done under contract for US parties – campaign, etc. ”

    Response: If U.S. companies are doing this in U.S. elections, that would not be illegal. Your point is irrelevant.

    Your quote: “As I said, $100,000 spent on ads on Facebook and Instagram (and I assume ads might mean the promotion of posts) is pitifully small and certainly does not justify the hysteria.”

    Response: What you failed to mention is that according to sworn testimony,
    “Our best estimate is that approximately 126 million people may have been
    served content from a Page associated with the IRA at some point during the two-year period.”

    126 million exposed to IRA content in a country of 323 million. That is almost 40% of the population of the United States exposed to fake account adds from foreign interests attempting to influence the Presidential election. And you don’t understand what all the fuss is about?

    You have deliberately cherry-picked an insignificant stat in order to trivialize the matter. That in itself speaks to your dishonesty.

    Your quote: ” . . simply because a company has an office in St Petersburg is taken to imply evil intent and acting as part of a subversive organization.”

    Organization? Quote from the sworn testimony: ” the IRA violated our policies because they came from a set of coordinated, inauthentic accounts.”

    A set of “coordinated” inauthentic accounts IS a subversive organization.

    Your quote: ” . . companies have bases and offices around the world and this is usually considered a good thing. The attribution of intent or evil because this office is in Russia or that it is a Russian registered company (if it is) is simply another example of a prevailing racist attitude.”

    Please provide evidence that the IRA is a global company with only one office in St. Petersburg. If you cannot do so, please retract the statement.

    Show me the evidence for what you just said.

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  73. David, do you think this sort of thing is a violation of Federal law for foreign money to be spent in the U.S. to influence a U.S. Federal election. This is an email from Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy to Hillary campaign chair John Podesta

    wikileak

    Like

  74. David this illustrates a problem in these sorts of discussions – you say of me:

    “I think you should honestly take a long hard look at your own persecution complex in regards to whatever ties you have to Russia or its government.”

    That you could claim I have “ties . . . to Russia or its government” shows a paranoia or just plain brainwashing. I find it incredible for this to occur as these are subjects everyone can discuss and do so in a collegial fashion. When people start accusing blog discussion partners of having some sort of ties with a foreign government (a common response from people who wish to dirty the waters) proper informed discussion becomes impossible.

    But it does illustrate how unreliable such sort of claims are and how unreliable you are as a source of information on this issue. If people can say that of a discussion partner how credible are their claims of collusion/interference in the US presidential elections. Surely it just illustrates how easy it is to make things up to fit their story.

    I am well aware this sort of thing goes on and it is a reason I always ask for specific evidence. A discussion partner’s biases and conspiracy theories are of no value to me. I am as prepared as anyone else to recognise wrongdoings, commercial and political, by people in Russia and the Russian government as I am for any other national or national government. But the demonisation of the country and president that we are all exposed to just means it is simply sensible to ask for, and look at, specific evidence. There are just so many lies being promulgated. For example, you say:

    “The Russian government . . . . has become famous for the murders of its own journalists.”

    Not one iota of evidence. It is like the story we were told as kids that Russian women are fat. Or Russian women have become famous for being fat. Yes, tell enough lies and the lies become famous – but lies are not the truth.

    This a first for me:

    “The Russian government has displaced its own people for the sake of global prestige during the Olympic games held in their country.”

    What happened? Did some citizens lose their homes with the rebuilding involved? Were drunks moved off the street? Aren’t these action common in all countries holding such big events? What is so special about the Russian Federation?

    But, this is so typical – fact-free comments being made and the recipient is expected to accept them without any evidence at all. Remind you of the January intelligence report?

    No, David, sworn testimony is only evidence of the testimony. It does not mean that any claims made in the testimony are true – that we should accept such claims without any specific evidence. You are just, again, using a trick to avoid facing up to the fact you have no specific evidence. No one appears to have – at least so far.

    For example, the Facebook representative appeared to promise (in September) to make available a large number of posts made by the company under question. I would love to see them so that I can make up my own mind about the nature of the evidence and the nature of those posts. Can’t find them anywhere – have you seen them? If so, please provide a link. Is this the material Facebook claims to have but is not allowed to make public?

    You are worried by a statement that “possibly” 126 million people could have been exposed to some posts. Hell, so could have I been exposed – it doesn’t worry me one bit as I don’t thing anyone on Facebook is so simple to accept conspiracy theories and childish rumors unless they correspond to their own biases. That number means nothing because anyone on Facebook is “possibly” exposed to promoted material.

    Even more people are exposed to the mainstream (“official”) media which often contains misleading material. Hell, statements from political leaders, well known for telling lies, are exposed to more people.

    I am well prepared to believe that companies like IRA violate Facebook’s authentication policy. I am sure we have seen material from similar companies in our discussions on the fluoridation issue.

    As for IRA – I simply cannot say anything. I have done my best to research its nature, origins, and location of offices. I find lots of speculation (based mainly on two articles from Russians sources which don’t necessarily have credibility). I don’t find anything surprising – but really, the commercial world with all it links (usually international) changes in ownership, etc. is beyond me. It is even worse in attempting to deal with information in a foreign language from a country where business registers would confuse the hell out of me and where, as a strong residue of the criminal anarchy of the 90s, so many cowboys operate. It’s bad enough here and we only had the 1984-1990 Labour government deregulations to worry about.

    So, no. “Sworn testimony” is not convincing to me. However, if you can produce some credible verified evidence from the testimonies I would love to see it. Those Facebook posts from IRA which were to be handed over to Congress would be a start.

    Like

  75. David Fierstien

    Ken, thank you for your reply. To your first comment, I don’t know what that is therefore I can’t comment on it. “Subject: Endowment.” Endowment is rarely, if ever, used in the context of a contribution to a political campaign. “Endowment” is more often, if not always, used in the context of a contribution to a charitable or humanitarian organization.

    Can you put this in context or provide a link to this? Until then, all I can say is that there is nothing illegal about anyone making a contribution to a charitable fund.

    My quote: ““I think you should honestly take a long hard look at your own persecution complex in regards to whatever ties you have to Russia or its government.”

    I don’t know if you have ties to the Russian government. That is why I used the word “or,” rather than “and.” But you do have ties to Russia. You have family ties to Russia. My comment was not incorrect.

    Your comment: “This a first for me: “The Russian government has displaced its own people for the sake of global prestige during the Olympic games held in their country.”

    Response.

    According to Human Rights Watch, tens of thousands of workers, a large number of whom are foreign migrant workers, are building 136 Olympic sites. Media, activists, human rights organizations and other NGOs have been highlighting human rights abuses related to these works, including: exploitation of workers engaged in Olympic construction; illegal dumping of construction waste threatening residents’ health & safety; evictions and displacement to make way for Olympic construction, sometimes without fair compensation; refusal to relocate people whose homes are severely damaged or affected by Olympic construction; and pressure on and harassment of environmental and human rights activists and journalists who criticise Olympic preparations or other government policies. https://business-humanrights.org/en/major-sporting-events/russia-human-rights-abuses-related-to-2014-winter-olympic-games-in-sochi

    For more on Russian government abuses prior to the 2014 Olympics you may visit the Human Rights Watch page here: https://www.hrw.org/tag/sochi-olympics

    If you have any evidence that Human Rights Watch is lying, please present it.

    Regarding these abuses, you say, “Aren’t these action common in all countries holding such big events? What is so special about the Russian Federation?”

    If you have evidence that “evictions and displacement to make way for Olympic construction, sometimes without fair compensation,” or, “refusal to relocate people whose homes are severely damaged or affected by Olympic construction,” occurred in the United States, please present it.

    Russian murders of its own journalists. We have been here before: “March 17, 2017 – Journalist Yevgeny Khamaganov died of unexplained causes in Ulan-Ude. Khamaganov was known for writing articles that criticized the federal government and was allegedly beaten by unknown assailants on March 10.”

    Interesting that so many of these murdered journalists were critical of the Federal government, local government, or local police. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia#Under_Putin

    If you have any evidence that Wikipedia is lying, please present it.

    It is clear that an environment exists in Russia which allows criticism of its government to be brutally snuffed out. More so than in the United States. If you can provide a list of murdered journalists in the U.S. who have been critical of their government, please do so.

    In the United States, The First Amendment is the FIRST Amendment for a reason. Freedom of the Press to criticize its government is Sacred. How many journalists were murdered for criticizing President Nixon, who was brought down by that Free Press?

    This climate does not exist in Russia. Russia IS famous for the murders of its journalists. I live on the other side of the planet and I know about it. That is what famous is. And no, I can not prove that anyone ordered the murder of Human Rights activist Timur Kuashev. Nor can I prove that anyone ordered the Holocaust. But I can prove that a climate of free criticism of government does not exist in Russia.

    Your comment: “No, David, sworn testimony is only evidence of the testimony. It does not mean that any claims made in the testimony are true.”

    According to U.S. law, it does. https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2145572/bluman-v-federal-election-comn/

    If you have legal credentials which allow you to argue U.S. law, please present them. If you have a law degree obtained in the U.S. which would allow you to voice a qualified legal argument, please present it. Otherwise, your comment is meaningless.

    The fact that you don’t agree with legalities in the United States doesn’t mean they are invalid. It means you have a problem with reality. For 330 million of us, sworn testimony is valid evidence. It’s your problem. It’s not the law’s problem.

    Your comment: “You are worried by a statement that “possibly” 126 million people could have been exposed to some posts.”

    Actually, I am worried that you don’t see it as a problem. And of course you see the problem. That is why you didn’t mention this particular stat in your original comment. What you did mention was this: “the 80,000 posts from Russia’s Internet Research Agency were a tiny fraction of content on Facebook, equal to 1 out of 23,000 posts.”

    1 out of 23,000 posts makes the problem seem more trivial than the fact that almost half of the population of the U.S. was exposed to these foreign political posts during an election that was so close that the loser actually had 3 million more votes than the winner. Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote by 2.2%. That is how fragile this election was. . . And you don’t see a problem with almost half of all voters being exposed to foreign propaganda favoring one candidate over the other?

    That says more about you and your bias than it does about the election.

    Your comment: ” As for IRA – I simply cannot say anything. I have done my best to research its nature, origins, and location of offices. ”

    In other words, you can not support your implication that the IRA is a global company with one office in St. Petersburgh. Well, I suppose that is some progess.

    Like

  76. David Fierstien

    Ken, my sincere apologies. In re-reading my comment I see that I provided the wrong link. In discussing sworn testimony as evidence, this link would be more relevant:

    “Testimony is considered to be a form of evidence, just as physical objects are considered to be evidence.” . . https://trial.laws.com/testimony

    And again: “.“Evidence” is the sworn testimony of witnesses, the exhibits admitted into evidence, and anything else I tell you to consider as evidence.”
    https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/100/104.html

    And again: “CONCLUSION
    Under the conditions discussed above former testimony is now
    admissible as evidence in criminal cases in Montana as in other jurisdictions.”
    https://scholarship.law.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=2235&context=mlr

    And again: “Evidence, in law, any of the material items OR ASSERTIONS OF FACT (my emphasis) that may be submitted to a competent tribunal as a means of ascertaining the truth of any alleged matter of fact under investigation before it.
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/evidence-law

    And again: “Testify
    To provide evidence as a witness, subject to an oath or affirmation, in order to establish a particular fact or set of facts.”
    https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/testify

    And again: “Testimony – Oral evidence given by a witness under oath, either orally or in the written form of an affidavit or deposition.”
    http://www.fedbar.org/For-the-Media/Legal-Definitions.aspx

    And Again: “Evidence – Anything tending to prove or disprove a disputed fact. Examples of evidence include, but are not limited to: testimony (oral statements made in court), tangible evidence (things or objects that have physical existence), documentary evidence (letters, memoranda, reports or other writings), and demonstrative evidence (procedure or re-creation where the cause and effect of an event are shown or acted out). See also Circumstantial Evidence, Rules of Evidence, and Parol Evidence Rule.”
    http://www.fedbar.org/For-the-Media/Legal-Definitions.aspx

    Like

  77. David Fierstien

    And while I’m at it, I might as well comment further on this:

    “As of 2015, Russia has been ranked 180 out of 199 countries in terms of press freedom. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s ranking for press freedom has steadily declined in the past decade.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timur_Kuashev#Context

    “The CPJ lists Russia as “the third deadliest country in the world for journalists” since 1991, exceeded in the number of deaths only by Algeria (1993–1996) and post-invasion Iraq.[15] It is more revealing, perhaps,[according to whom?] to set Russia alongside its G20 partners — not just the USA and France, but also Saudi Arabia and China (see Table 1, in the IFJ report).[16] Russia’s problem, shared by certain other members of G20 (India, Brazil, and Mexico), is not simply one of the number of deaths but that killing with impunity has persisted over time.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia#International_comparisons

    “Similar figures were produced by the CPJ.[35] In a June 2007 statement, the CPJ said, “A total of 47 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992, with the vast majority of killings unsolved,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia#Concern_abroad

    And . . . since we are speaking of Freedom of the Press: “After Russia took control of Crimea, the Russian parliament passed a law making it a criminal offense to question Russia’s territorial integrity within what the government considers its borders.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_freedom_in_Russia#Criticism_of_annexation_of_Crimea

    I imagine this means a journalist, or anyone for that matter, can be jailed (and whatever else goes along with that) for criticizing the illegal annexation of Crimea.

    No. I can’t prove that any government official ordered the murders of any of these people. But I can prove the oppressive climate exists in Russia which allows this to happen. And its government appears to be encouraging the situation. Illegal to “question Russia’s territorial integrity,” whatever that means.

    If you truly care about the Russian people, you should be screaming about this instead of arguing with me in its defense.

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  78. David, the email was one of the DNC’s leaked by Wikileaks.

    I only presented it (without any claims) because you raised the illegal use of foreign money for election purposes in the US. I wonder if the authorities do any checking of money transfers like this – I bet all parties probably indulge in things like this.

    Luke Harding in his book Collusion (described as the definitive book on the subject 🙂 )is presenting as evidence of interference the profit made by Trump in selling his house to a Russian Oligarch. If this sort of thing is being considered – well gooses and ganders.

    Like

  79. David Fierstien

    ” I wonder if the authorities do any checking of money transfers like this – I bet all parties probably indulge in things like this.”

    I would be willing to bet real money that any foreign endowments made to the Clinton Foundation have been put under a microscope many times over. That would probably explain why this irrelevant email was released by Wikileaks.

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  80. One would hope so, David. But seeing you are putting up money you must be able to provide a link or evidence that “the Clinton Foundation have been put under a microscope.” I understand the Clintons and the foundation are still the subject of investigations.

    However, John Podesta was Chairman of Clinton’s election campaign – it’s amazing how things got mixed up financially. Her subsequent DNC chairwoman even admitted that money laundering was going to transfer money away from the DNC into the Hillary campaign and this violated election law.

    Irrelevant or not this email is in the Wikipedia dump because it leaked the DNC and Podesta emails.

    Like

  81. David Fierstien

    Your quote: “But seeing you are putting up money you must be able to provide a link or evidence that “the Clinton Foundation have been put under a microscope.””

    Response:

    “”Time after time, the Clinton Foundation has been subjected to politically motivated allegations, and time after time these allegations have been proven false,” Craig Minassian said in a statement to CNN.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/politics/clinton-foundation-arkansas-probe/index.html

    “The FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for months, reviving a probe that was dialed back during the 2016 campaign amid tensions between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents about the politically charged case, according to people familiar with the matter.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-fbi-is-investigating-the-clinton-foundation/2018/01/05/1aca0d4a-f1cf-11e7-97bf-bba379b809ab_story.html?utm_term=.c7220304fc87

    “The Foundation, which was formed in 1997 during Bill Clinton’s presidency and has raised roughly $2 Billion, has been a repeated target of Republicans.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/us/politics/clinton-foundation-fbi.html

    Your quote: “Irrelevant or not this email is in the Wikipedia dump because it leaked the DNC and Podesta emails.”

    Response:

    When exactly will your non-partisan source release some of the damning Trump emails . . or his tax returns?

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  82. David, you should be given a packet of gold stars for the way you enthusiastically rely on sources like CNN. But it will be interesting to see what comes out of the current investigations.

    What do you mean by MY “non-partisan source?” The source was the DNC and Podesta. The emails were linked by Wikileaks and experts say they have not been altered.

    I do not consider the DNC or Podesta to be MINE or “non-partisan.”

    But, then again, YOUR non-partisan source, Hillary Clinton, describes Wikileaks as a Kremlin spy agency!!

    Like

  83. David Fierstien

    Alright then, when exactly will your non-partisan, whistle-blowing source, Wikileaks, release those damning Trump emails . . or his Tax returns?

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  84. Are there some damning trump emails? Do you have “testimony” for thta? 🙂

    Or is this a diversion, again?

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  85. David, your little trick of claiming testimony is evidence is surely something you do not want to persist with.

    Are you then going to accept the claims of people like Bill Hirzy and Paul Connett on fluoridation to be “evidence” of harm simply because they were presented as sworn testimony?

    Come off it – such testimony is not acceptable as proof, or as material evidence, where factual matters are concerned.

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  86. David Fierstien

    “David, your little trick of claiming testimony is evidence is surely something you do not want to persist with.”

    Response: It’s not my little tick. It’s a fact of U.S. law.

    “Are you then going to accept the claims of people like Bill Hirzy and Paul Connett on fluoridation to be “evidence” of harm simply because they were presented as sworn testimony?”

    Response: If they were sworn under oath to provide truthful testimony, and they knowingly said something false, then they are guilty of perjury. If you can find an example of that, by all means, let me know and we will proceed from there.

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  87. David Fierstien

    “Are there some damning trump emails? Do you have “testimony” for thta? 🙂
    Or is this a diversion, again?”

    In light of the Hollywood Access tape, and other examples, knowing the way he talks, do you honestly believe there won’t be anything damning in his emails?

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  88. David – it is a trick and it relies on different meanings of the word “evidence.” Testimony, newspaper articles, opinion, etc., may be included as “evidence” in investigations and legally. But the fact they are accepted in that sense or given in sworn testimony does not make them factual or in anyway an argument to prove anything – whether political interference or harm from fluoridation. Whether the claims are sincerely believed by the witness or not.

    One advantage of testimonies like those of Hirzy and Connett is that they usually cite scientific references. The fact that they believe their claims of harm in a testimony considered as legal “evidence” to be considered does not prove their claim or make it factual.

    That is a great advantage – I can follow up cited references, check out how they have interpreted data, etc., I can make up my mind according to the underlying real material evidence (scientific data) not the legal “evidence” of a testimony.

    Similarly, if I could actually see the posts that Facebook refers to (and which they claim are not allowed to make public) then I could have proper material evidence to consider. The sworn testimony does not do that for me.

    Similarly, my next article describing the Strzok-Page texts is worth nothing without access to those texts – no matter how much I believe the story or how much I swear. I have quoted from a few of the texts and the article I describe quotes more. These texts (or a small proportion of them) are publicly available and they help me make up my mind using real facts – not newspaper articles or testimony, sworn or not.

    Like

  89. David Fierstien

    You failed to cite any specific example in which Connett or Hirzy knowingly lied under oath. FB General Counsel, Colin Stretch made statements of fact under oath. End of story.

    Ken, your quote: ” Testimony, newspaper articles, opinion, etc., may be included as “evidence” in investigations and legally.”

    Wrong. Newspaper articles or opinion may not be admissible as truthful evidence. However, they may be admitted in cases of libel or slander as evidence against a defendant who wrote said newspaper or opinion pieces.

    Nevertheless, I refuse to engage in a discussion with someone who has no knowledge about what they are discussing. You are factually in the wrong here. Either educate yourself, or open your mind, and then maybe we can have a meaningful discussion.

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  90. David, you well know that anti-fluoride activists often give sworn testimony or affidavits in hearings, including court hearings. As an example, several anti-fluoride activists presented affidavits to the NZ High Court in the legal action attempting to prevent fluoridation of two small south Taranaki towns.

    Here are some affidaviets from that court:

    Paul Connett’s affidavit
    Affidavit of Mark Atkin
    Affidavit of Stamoulis Litras
    Affidavit of Kathleen Thiessen
    Affidavit of Martin Ferguson
    1st Affidavit of David Menkes

    These affidavits present the opinion of the people on issues (eg is fluoridation a medicine) and interpretation of the science which they claim shows harm from fluoridation.

    Now the affidavits are taken as evidence in the court – legal “evidence” – not scientific “evidence” or fact.

    In fact, an objective person with access to the literature can check out these affidavits and find several factually incorrect claims.

    That is the nature of legal “evidence” – it is not fact and cannot be used to prove a claim.

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  91. Another one of Paul’s sworn statements full of misrepresentations of the science.
    https://afamildura.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/paul-affidavit_final_20110408-1.pdf

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  92. I should correct myself regarding the Strzok-Page texts.

    In fact, while a large number (something like 10,000) have been given by the DOJ to Congress only 375 have been made public. This was done by the DOJ, to a selected number of journalists. There may be a document somewhere listing them all but at the moment all I can find are quotes in newspaper articles.

    There is some speculation as to why the DOJ took the unusual step of making a selected number available to journalists (and Democrats are pretty pissed) There are also attempts to get the rest of the texts made public through official information demands.

    But, in the nature of things, Congress may well decide not to allow the rest to be made public. Or it may be some time before they appear in some congressional document outlining a decision.

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  93. David Fierstien

    This is interesting. I wasn’t aware that these people had actually provided sworn affidavits. I would like to take some time to look into these.

    You raised the “fluoridation is medicine” argument in these affidavits. The truth is, Connett has probably said it so much that he actually believes it. When I met him in 2014 I raised the medication argument. Using the definition that he has chosen to use, he is correct. However, using that same definition, I forced him to admit that Cranberry Juice is medicine, because people use it to treat irritable bowel syndrome.

    Now, if someone wanted to take this to the hysterical level that anti-fluoridationists have taken it, a parent could argue that their children’s school is forcibly medicating their children when the school serves cranberry juice – according to the definition that Connett chooses to use.

    Now, would that parent knowingly be misrepresenting what he actually believes? That would be the relevant question. Does Connett believe what he is saying? I don’t think so. I have an email from him in which he admits to exaggerating the truth.

    Sworn statements are to be taken as fact. A U.S. President was impeached because, under oath, he did not tell the truth about his sex life – in an investigation surrounding Whitewater, which had nothing to do with sex.

    In Stretch’s testimony, he made verifiable statements of fact. He did not state opinions.

    Nevertheless, thank you for the links.

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  94. David – a statement may be a fact in that it is a fact that it is a statement. But this does not mean the contents are necessarily factual.

    You say Stretch made “verifiable statements of fact” – I would say “potentially verifiable” in the same way a scientific hypothesis is potentially verifiable by testing it against reality.

    This is what is, currently, not possible with Stretch’s statement. He makes claims without providing the evidence anyone could look at to test his claims. In some cases the evidence is there – it’s just that at this stage it is not available to you and me – only Senate committee members.

    Given the current neo-McCarthyist and Russophobic hysteria in the US – including in the US Senate – it is simply wise to want to see the material evidence. If this opportunity is continued to be denied us then it is understandable if people get suspicious. Especially those of us with a little surviving memory.

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  95. David Fierstien

    Stretch’s statements were factually verifiable. If anyone on that Senate Committee wished to scrutinize anything that Stretch said and asked for absolute proof of what he just said, and if that committee member wished to provide his or her own IT expert to verify what Stretch said, he or she could do that. (And for all we know, this may have happened in a classified setting.) His comments were verifiable.

    Stretch is the General Counsel of Facebook. He understands that if he were caught perjuring himself, expelled by the bar, he would lose his job, he would forfeit his career as an attorney, and he would face a prison sentence.

    Now, whatever delusional persecution complex you may harbor as you froth at the mouth about Russo-phobia, and whatever imagined pressure you feel Stretch was under by this Third-World oppressive government, it all pales in comparison to the repercussions of Stretch perjuring himself.

    Get real.

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  96. Steve, a while back I said in a comment:

    “I look forward to the formal outcome of the investigation of that specific meeting and I really hope that Veselnitskaya is given the opportunity to give evidence.”

    At the time I was not aware that Veselnitskaya had in fact back in November appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I have a copy of her testimony and, while long, it would be useful for you to read it as it provides information on her relationship and communications with the Russian Federation’s Prosecutor General’s Office, her understanding of the meeting with Trump Jr and details around that.

    While it is hard to get one’s head around the specific legal cases she was working on (and which she wanted to raise her concerns about with Trump Jr) the testimony does provide answers to a range of specific questions put by the committee.

    I think documentary evidence like this is of far more value than hearsay of media rep0orts and claims.

    You can download her testimony from https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000161-0605-da22-ad65-67efbb000001

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