Mark Ames: When Mother Jones Was Investigated for Spreading Kremlin Disinformation

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By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here. Originally published at The Exiled

Mother Jones recently announced it’s “redoubling our Russia reporting”—in the words of editor Clara Jeffery. Ain’t that rich. What passes for “Russia reporting” at Mother Jones is mostly just glorified InfoWars paranoia for progressive marks — a cataract of xenophobic conspiracy theories about inscrutable Russian barbarians hellbent on subverting our way of life, spreading chaos, destroying freedom & democracy & tolerance wherever they once flourished. . . . because they hate us, because we’re free.

Western reporting on Russia has always been garbage, But the so-called “Russia reporting” of the last year has taken the usual malpractice to unimagined depths — whether it’s from Mother Jones or MSNBC, or the Washington Post or Resistance hero Louise Mensch.

But of all the liberal media, Mother Jones should be most ashamed for fueling the moral panic about Russian “disinformation”. It wasn’t too long ago that the Reagan Right attacked Mother Jones for spreading “Kremlin disinformation” and subverting America. There were threats and leaks to the media about a possible Senate investigation into Mother Jones serving as a Kremlin disinformation dupe, a threat that hung over the magazine throughout the early Reagan years. A new Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism (SST for short) was set up in 1981 to investigate Kremlin “disinformation” and “active measures” in America, and the American  “dupes” who helped Moscow subvert our way of life. That subcommittee was created to harass and repress leftist anti-imperial dissent in America, using “terrorism” as the main threat, and “disinformation” as terrorism’s fellow traveller. The way the the SST committee put it, “terrorism” and “Kremlin disinformation” were one and the same, a meta-conspiracy run out of Moscow to weaken America.

And Mother Jones was one of the first American media outlets in the SST committee’s sites.

Adam Hochschild, the founding editor of Mother Jones (and author of some great books including King Leopold’s Ghost), responded publicly to the threats coming out of the Senate in the early Reagan years. In a New York Times op-ed published in late 1981, “Dis-(Mis-?)Information”, Hochschild wrote about a Republican Senate mailer sent out to 290 radio stations that accused Mother Jones of being Kremlin disinformation dupes. The mailer, on Senate letterhead, featured a tape recording of an interview between the chairman of the SST subcommittee, Sen. Jeremiah Denton of Alabama, and a committee witness— a “disinformation expert” named Arnaud de Borchgrave, author of a bestselling spy novel called “The Spike” — about a fictional Kremlin plot to subvert the West with disinformation, and thereby rule the world.

Here’s how Hochschild described the Republican Senate mailer in his NYTimes piece:

“In it, the writer Arnaud de Borchgrave accuses Mother Jones, the Village Voice, the Soho News, the Progressive magazine of serving as disseminators of K.G.B. ‘disinformation’ – the planting of false or misleading items in news media.
“Mr. de Borchgrave provided no specific examples of facts or articles. But, then, the trouble with the K.G.B. is that you don’t know what disinformation it is feeding you because you don’t know who its myriad agents are. So the only safe thing is to distrust any author or magazine too critical of the United States. Because anyone who is against, say, the MX or the B-1 bomber could be working for the Russians.”

Here, the Mother Jones founder describes the menacing logic of pursuing the “Kremlin disinformation” conspiracy: any American critical of US military power, police power, corporate power, overseas power . . . anyone critical of anything that powerful Americans do, is a Kremlin disinformation dupe whether they know it or not. That leaves only the appointed accusers to decide who is and who isn’t a Kremlin agent.

Hochschild called this panic over Kremlin disinformation another “Red Scare”, warning,

“[T]o accuse critical American journalists of serving as its unwitting dupes makes as little sense as Russians accusing rebellious Poles of being unwitting agents of American imperialism. When Mr. de Borchgrave accuses skeptical journalists of being unwitting purveyors of disinformation, the accusation is more slippery, less easy to definitively disprove, and less subject to libel law than if he were to accuse them of being conscious Communist agents.
“…Although if you believe the K.G.B. is successfully infiltrating America’s news media, then anything must seem possible.”

It’s a damn shame today’s editorial staff at Mother Jones aren’t aware of their own magazine’s history.

Then again, who am I fooling? Mother Jones wouldn’t care if you shoved their faces in their own recent history — they’re way too donor-deep invested in pushing this “active measures” conspiracy. Trump has been a goldmine of donor cash for anyone willing to carry the #Resistance water.

This is quite literally the case with Mother Jones, which has been a little coy about the deal it cut to “redouble” its “Russia reporting.” That deal involves partnering with a straight-up Red-baiting, Cold War-mongering website project called “PutinTrump” featuring a scary Soviet hammer and sickle in case the Cold War mongering wasn’t clear enough — with no mind to history and the fact that Russia is a neoliberal dystopia with a flat 13% income tax rate hailed as a “miracle” by the Heritage Foundation.

PutinTrump was a project set up last fall by tech plutocrat Rob Glaser, CEO and founder of RealNetworks, to scare voters into believing that voting for Trump is treason. God knows I can’t stand Trump or his politics, but of all the inane campaign ideas to run on — this?

One would’ve thought that the smart people would learn their lesson from the election, that running against a Kremlin conspiracy theory is a loser. But instead, they seem to think the problem is they didn’t fear-monger enough, so they’re “redoubling” on the Russophobia. Donor money is driving this — donor cash is quite literally driving Mother Jones’ editorial focus. And it really is this crude.

Take for example a PutinTrump section titled “Russian Expansion” — the scary Red imagery and language are lifted straight out of the Reagan Cold War playbook from the early-mid 80s, when, it so happens, Mother Jones was targeted as a Kremlin dupe. Featuring a lot of shadowy red-colored alien soldiers over an outline of Crimea, Mother Jones’ donor-partner promotes a classic Cold War propaganda line about Russian/Soviet expansionism—a lie that has been the basis for so many wars launched to “stop” this alleged “expansionism” in the past, wars that Mother Jones is supposed to oppose. Here’s what MJ’s partner writes now:

RUSSIAN EXPANSION

Through unknowing manipulation, or by direct support, Trump will become an accessory to the continual expansionism committed by Putin.

Might does not equal right—and it never has for Americans—but Putin’s Russia plays by different rules. Or maybe no rules at all.

The communist/leftist imagery is there for a reason. In case you haven’t noticed, Clinton supporters have waged a crude pr campaign to blame their candidate’s loss on leftists, whom they equate with neo-Nazis and Trump. I’ve been smeared as “alt-left” by a Vanity Fair columnist, who equated me with Breitbart and other far-right journalists, for the crime of not sufficiently supporting Hillary Clinton. The larger goal of this crude PR effort is to equate opposition to Hillary Clinton with treason and Nazism. Which was exactly the goal of Reagan’s “Kremlin disinformation” hysteria — the whole point was to smear critics of Reagan and his right-wing politics as pro-Kremlin traitors, whether they knew it or not.

  *     *    *

What’s kind of shocking to me as someone who was alive in the Reagan scare is how unoriginal this current one is. Even the words and the terminology are plagiarized from the Reagan Right witch-hunting campaign — “Kremlin active measures”; “Kremlin disinformation”; “Kremlin dupes” — terms introduced by right-wing novelists and intelligence hucksters, and repeated ad nauseam until they transformed into something plausible, giving quasi-academic cover to some very old-fashioned state repression, harassment, surveillance . . . and a lot of ruined lives. That’s what happened last time, and if history is any guide, it’s how this one will end up too.

Today we’re supposed to remember how cheerful and optimistic the Reagan Era was. But that’s now how I remember it, it’s not how it looked to Mother Jones at the time — and it’s not how it looks when you go back through the original source material again and relive it. The Reagan Era kicked off with a lot of dark fear-mongering about the Kremlin using disinformation and active measures to destroy our way of life. Everything that the conservative Establishment loathed about 1970s — defeat in Vietnam, Church Committee hearings gutting the CIA and FBI, the cult of Woodward & Bernstein & Hersh, peace marchers, minority rights radicals — was an “active measures” treason conspiracy.

As soon as the new Republican majority in the Senate took power in 1981, they set up a new subcommittee to investigate Kremlin disinformation dupes, called the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism.  Staffers leaked to the media they intended to investigate Mother Jones. Panic spread across the progressive media world, and suddenly all those cool Ivy League kids who invested everything in becoming the next Woodward-Bernsteins — the cultural heroes at the time — got scared. The image at the top of this article comes from a lead article in Columbia University’s student newspaper, the Spectator, published a few weeks after Reagan took office, on SST committee’s assault on Mother Jones. The headline read:

The New McCarthyism / Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been…

and the the full-page article begins,

If you subscribe to Mother Jones, give money to the American Civil Liberties Union, or support the Institute for Policy Studies, Senator Jeremiah Denton’s new Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism may be interested in you.

It describes how in the 1970s Americans finally got rid of HUAC and the Senate Internal Security Committee, the Red Scare witch-hunting Congressional committees — only to have them revived one election cycle later in the Reagan Revolution.

By the end of Reagan’s first year in office, there was still no formal investigation into Mother Jones, but the harassment was there and it wasn’t subtle at all — such as the Republican Senate mailer accusing the magazine of being KGB disinformation dupes. At the end of 1981, MJ editor/founder Adam Hochschild announced he was stepping aside, and in his final note to readers and the public, he wrote:

To Senator Jeremiah Denton, chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism: If your committee investigates Mother Jones, a plan hinted at some months ago, I demand to be subpoenaed. I would not want to miss telling off today’s new McCarthyites.

So here we are a few decades later, and Mother Jones’ editor Clara Jeffery is denouncing WikiLeaks — yesterday’s journalism stars, today’s traitors — as “Russia[’s]…willing dupes and propagandists” while Mother Jones magazine turned itself into a mouthpiece for America’s spies peddling the same warmed-over conspiracy theories that once targeted Mother Jones.

  *     *    *

Jeremiah Denton — the New Right senator from Alabama who led the SST committee investigation into Kremlin “disinformation” and its dupes like Mother Jones — believed that America was being weakened from within and had only a few years left at most to turn it around. As Denton saw it, the two most dangerous threats to America’s survival were a) hippie sex, and b) Kremlin disinformation. The two were inseparable in his mind, linked to the larger “global terrorism” plot masterminded by Moscow.

To fight hippie sex and teen promiscuity, the freshman senator introduced a “Chastity Bill” funding federal programs that promoted the joys of chastity to Americans armies of bored, teen suburban long-hairs. A lot of clever people laughed at that, because at the time the belief in linear historical progress was strong, and this represented something so atavistic that it was like a curiosity more than anything — Pauly Shore’s “Alabama Man” unfrozen after 10,000 years and unleashed on the halls of Congress.

Less funny were Denton’s calls for death penalty for adulterers, and laws he pushed restricting women’s right to abortion.

 

Jeremiah Denton was once a big name in this country. Americans have since forgotten Denton, because John McCain pretty much stole his act. But back in the 70s and early 80s, Denton was America’s most famous Vietnam War hero/POW. Like McCain, Denton was a Navy pilot shot down over Vietnam and taken prisoner. Denton spent 1965-1973 in North Vietnamese POW camps—two years longer than McCain—and he was America’s most famous POW. His most famous moment was when his North Vietnamese captors hauled him before the cameras to acknowledge his crimes, and instead Denton famously blinked out a Morse code message: “T-O-R-T-U-R-E”.

In the 1973 POW exchange deal between Hanoi and Nixon, “Operation Homecoming,” it was Denton who was the first American POW to come off the plane and speak to the American tv crews (McCain was on the same flight, but not nearly as prominent as Denton). I keep referring back to McCain here because not only were they both famous Navy pilot POWs, but they both wind up becoming the most pathologically obsessive Russophobes in the Senate. Just a few days ago, McCain said that Russia is a bigger threat to America than Islamic State. Something real bad must’ve happened in those Hanoi Hiltons, worse than anything they told us about, because those guys really, really hate Russians — and they reallywant the rest of us to hate Russians too.

Everything they loathed about America, everything that was wrong with America, had to be the fault of a hostile alien culture. There was no other explanation for what happened in the 1970s. The America that Denton came home to in 1973 was under some kind of hostile power, an alien-controlled replica of the America he last saw in 1965. Popular morality had been turned on its head: Hollywood blockbusters with bare naked bodies and gutter language! Children against their parents! Homosexuals on waterskis! Sex and treason! Patriots were the enemy, while America-haters were heroes! Denton re-appeared like some reactionary Rip Van Winkle who went to sleep in the safe feather-bed world of J Edgar Hoover’s America — only to wake up eight years later on Bernadine Dohrn’s futon, soaked in Bill Ayers’ bodily fluids. For Denton, the post-60s cultural shock came on all at once — as sudden and as jarring as, well, the shock so many Blue State Americans experienced when Donald Trump won the election last November.

Sex, immorality & military defeat—these were inseparable in Denton’s mind, and in a lot of reactionaries’ minds. Attributing all of America’s social convulsions of the previous 15 years to immorality and a Kremlin disinformation plot was a neat way of avoiding the complex and painful realities — then, as now.

“No nation can survive long unless it can encourage its young to withhold indulgence in their sexual appetites until marriage.” — Jeremiah Denton

What hit Denton hardest was all the hippie sex and the pop culture glorification of hippie sex. It’s hard to convey just how deeply all that smug hippie sex wounded tens of millions of Americans. It’s a hate wound that’s still raw, still burns to the touch. A wound that fueled so much reactionary political fire over the past 50 years, and it doesn’t look like it’ll burn out any time soon.

Back in 1980, Denton blamed all that pop culture sex on Russian active measures, and he did his best to not just outlaw it, but to demonize sex as something along the lines of treason.

Just as so many people today cannot accept the idea that Trumpism is Made In America—so Denton and his Reagan Right constituents believed there had to be some alien force to explain why Americans had changed so drastically, seeming to adopt values that were the antithesis of Middle America’s values in 1965. It had to be the fault of an alien voodoo beam! It had to be a Russian plot!

And so, therefore, it was a Russian plot.

A 1981 Time magazine profile of the freshman Senator begins,

Denton believes that America is being destroyed by sexual immorality and Soviet-sponsored political ‘disinformation’—and that both are being promoted by dupes, or worse, in the media. By the mid-1980s, he warns, “we will have less national security than we had proportionately when George Washington’s troops were walking around barefoot at Valley Forge.”

Sexual immorality—it’s a common theme in all the Russia panics of the past 100 years—whether the sexually liberated Emma Goldmans of the Red Scare, the homosexual-panic of the McCarthy witch-hunts, the hippie orgies of Denton’s nightmares, or Trump’s supposed golden shower fetish with immoral Russian prostitutes in our current panic. . . .

To fight the Kremlin disinformation demons, Denton set up the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism (SST), with two other young Republican senators—Orrin Hatch, who’s still haunting Capitol Hill today; and John East of North Carolina, a Jesse Helms protege who later did his country a great service by committing suicide in his North Carolina garage, before the end of his first term in office in 1986.

Sen. East’s staffers leaned Nazi-ward, like their boss. One Sen. East staffer was Samuel Francis — now famous as the godfather of the alt-Right, but who in 1981 was known as the guru behind the Senate’s “Russia disinformation” witch hunt. Funny how that works — today’s #Resistance takes its core idea, that America is under the control of hostile Kremlin disinformation sorcerers — is culturally appropriated from the alt-Right’s guru.

Another staffer for Sen. East was John Rees, one of the most loathsome professional snitches of the post-McCarthy era, who collected files on suspected leftists, labor activists and liberal donors. I’ll have to save John Rees for another post — he really belongs in a category by himself, proof of Schopenhauer’s maxim that this world is run by demons.

These were the people who first cooked up the “disinformation” panic. You can’t separate the Sam Francises, Orrin Hatches, John Easts et al from today’s panic-mongering over disinformation — you can only try to make sense of why, what is it about our culture’s ruling factions that brings them together on this sort of xenophobic witch-hunt, even when they see themselves as so diametrically opposed on so many other issues. I don’t think this is something as simple as hypocrisy — it’s actually quite consistent: Establishment faction wakes up to a world it doesn’t recognize and loathes and feels threatened by, and blames it not on themselves or anything domestic, but rather on the most plausible alien conspiracy they can reach for: Russian barbarians. Anti-Russian xenophobia is burned into the Establishment culture’s DNA; it’s a xenophobia that both dominant factions, liberal or conservative, view as an acceptable xenophobia. When poorer “white working class” Americans feel threatened and panic, their xenophobia tends to be aimed at other ethnics — Latinos and Muslims these days — a xenophobia that the Establishment views as completely immoral and unacceptable, completely beyond the pale. The thought never occurs to them that perhaps all forms of xenophobia are bad, all bring with them a lot of violence and danger, it just depends on who’s threatened and who’s doing the threatening…

The subversion scare and moral panic were crucial in resetting the culture for the Reagan counter-revolution. Those who opposed Reagan’s plans, domestically and overseas, would be labeled “dupes” of Kremlin “active measures” and “disinformation” conspiracies, acting on behalf of Moscow whether they knew it or not. The panic incubated in Denton’s subcommittee investigations provided political cover for vast new powers given to the CIA, FBI, NSA and other spy and police agencies to spy on Americans. Fighting Russian “active measures” grew over the years into a massive surveillance program against Americans, particularly anyone involved in opposing Reagan’s dirty wars in Central America, anyone opposing nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, and anyone involved in providing sanctuary to refugees from south of the border. The “active measures” panic even led to FBI secret investigations into liberal members of Congress, some of whom wound up in a secret “FBI terrorist photo album”.

I’ll get to that “FBI Terrorist Photo Album” story later. There’s a lot of recent “Kremlin disinformation” history to recover, since it seems every last memory cell has been zapped out of existence.

After Reagan’s inauguration (the most expensive, lavish inauguration ball in White House history), Senator Denton sent a chill through the liberal and independent media world with all the talk coming out of his committee about targeting activists, civil rights lawyers and journalists. Denton tried to come off as reasonable some of the times; other times, he came right out and said it: “disinformation” is terrorism:

When I speak of a threat, I do not just mean that an organization is, or is about to be, engaged in violent criminal activity. I believe many share the view that support groups that produce propaganda, disinformation or legal assistance may be even more dangerous than those who actually throw the bombs.

Congratulations Mother Jones, you’ve come a long way, baby!

Next post, I’ll recover some of the early committee hearings, and the rightwing hucksters, creeps and spooks who fed Denton’s committee.

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41 comments

  1. craazyboy

    Chastity Bill
    ==========

    Some age old good ideas never grow obsolete. Bane teenagers from sex!

    They should wait until they are older and get into politics or are CEO age. Then learn about sex.

    This is an idea both Graham Cracker and his soul mate John “McCuckKoo” McCain could get behind.

    Both parties need something in their platform! This one belongs in both!

    And bring back closed toe shiny black patent leather girls shoes and vouchers for Catholic School!

    Our kids need educating!

    1. Carolinian

      This article is great wayback but I’d say it goes off the rails a bit with the sex thing. Middle America seems to have shrugged off Trump’s satyriasis including the mythical Golden Showers.

      What’s amazing is that so many sophisticated people are falling for this Russia crap. It almost seems that the readers of tony Vanity Fair are the real rubes.

      1. Lynne

        What do you mean, almost? Every group is insular and provincial. We have “thought leaders” pronouncing that they can’t be bothered to read any history because it’s all about old white men. Schools have for years resisted teaching civics and history. What they do promote is pablum.

        Are you surprised that the “sophisticates” are no better able to recognize how they are condemned to repeat past follies?

        1. Carolinian

          And yet many of them voted for Trump. The high tide of the Christian right was probably 1978. I live in the buckle of the Bible belt and I’d say prudery is on a low flame. Gay rights parades take place unmolested. Our library has LGBT movies and racy French sex films and nobody complains. Reportedly Mormon Utah is one of the most avid consumers of internet porn. Abortion is still an issue but far less prominent than thirty years ago. If Republicans weren’t so dominant in state legislatures it might not be an issue at all.

  2. glmmph

    I think that John McCain may well be correct, if for the wrong reasons. ‘Russia is a bigger threat to America than Islamic State.’ is almost certainly true. If one insists, as the US has done, on standing at the border of the bears lair and poking it with a very short stick, then there may well be consequences. On the other hand, Islamic State is no threat to the US in any way, shape or form.

  3. Disturbed Voter

    This is now, that was then. There is no comparison. The Cold War is over, so now the US can reveal its truly feral nature. It seems both parties are struggling to bring back the 1960s with Cold War 2.0. We need to pull out of the Middle East, and invade Vietnam, again ;-( And yes, probably even back then, Mother Jones was controlled opposition. They just don’t bother hiding it anymore.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @Disturbed Voter – Dontcha know. We just signed deals with Viet Nam that will bring “billions of dollars” to the U.S. Trump said so last week after meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister, so it must be true. They’re safe for now. :-)

  4. witters

    “Might does not equal right—and it never has for Americans—”

    Is there a Darwin Award for this?

    1. Disturbed Voter

      American slogan … Violence R Us

      Not judging, just being honest.

      We were no more interested in the common good of the Vietnamese back then, any more than we are interested in the common good of the Syrians today.

      1. oh

        Our nation worries about other countries’ problems but we never care about ours! It’s always ‘Russia this, Russia that’, how we’re going to bring democracy to some other part of the world, how some country’s leader is a dictator. These are excuses we can do reverse Robin Hood wherever we can and enrich the 1%.

        Magazines (tabloids) and (fake)news organization are cheer leaders to this effort because they cash in on the chant du jour.

  5. Baby Gerald

    Thank you so much for exposing in such great detail the hypocrisy regarding MJs recent neo-Red Scare leanings. If only the editorial staff at dear MJ would educate themselves not only about their own organization’s history, but history in general, they might avoid looking like complete fools and enemies to their own institution’s founding principles when we collectively reminisce on this bizarre era at some point in the future.

    It’s my duty to point out that the glaring similarities in this brand of cold war Russophobia with that of pre-WW2 anti-Comintern material coming out of Nazi Germany (or even the anti-Semitic material from the early 1900s) are no coincidence.

    Among the Nazi intelligence officers and scientists we spirited away before the Russians could get their hands on them [Operation Paperclip] were a few sly operators who immediately started filling our elected leaders’ ears with stories of Reds under the bed. One of these reps was Senator Joe McCarthy and the rest, as they say…

    American-produced historical documentaries tell it like we were united as a country in support of Stalin against Hitler. This reluctance is usually credited to not wanting to get into another bloodbath like WW1 but let’s be straight- about half the country (proto-deplorables?) wanted nothing to do with helping the commies beat the Nazis and actually thought the Germans weren’t the bad guys. Anti-communism, big brother to anti-unionism and first cousin to anti-Semitism, was all the rage before we helped Uncle Joe beat Hitler, making it all the easier to revive after the war was over and it looked like the only threat to US world domination was a war-weakened Soviet Union.

    As a kid in the 80s I remember MJ being singled out as a leftist commie rag by Reaganites of the day. Through college this was about all I knew about the magazine– as an epithet for what hippie commie liberals read before trying to ruin our country. Despite it leaning to my political inclinations, I never paid it any attention.

    A few years ago, with the advent of internet freeness, I’d added MJ to my news stream. Once Sanders- then later Trump- started looking like an actual threat to the Clinton campaign, their headlines started turning snippy and trite toward her opposition. I turned them off my feed last year, so the only exposure to their drivel is thanks to the links here at NC. Now with the advent of twitter, their staff have taken the extra step of proving how twisted their personal Russophobian views really are. Between just Corn and Jeffery, there’s enough material to make any McCarthyite proud.*

    [* – I was going to close with ‘…and make Adam Hochschild roll in his grave’ but then I googled him and discovered that he’s still alive. Wonder what he thinks about this current turn at the magazine he co-founded?]

  6. Damson

    Find Ames style – vitriolic and lengthy – quite a turnoff.

    Would benefit from editing, and more focus on the propaganda current, not historical.

    Some interesting info here, but as usual Ames exploits it to beat a long-since obsolete ‘counter – culture’ drum, now looking more like the last days of Roman Empire, oscillating between poles of hedonism and nihilism.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are the only one to complain about the piece, which says this is about your taste, not the post.

      The headline said it was by Mark Ames. If you don’t like his work, don’t read it rather than reading it and grousing. This is like going to an Indian restaurant and then telling your fellow diners you don’t like spicy food.

      1. Damson

        Now now.
        Don’t get huffy.

        Ames has his moments – did an excellent piece on Peter Pomeramov (sp.?) some time back, an article that has proved quite prescient in this era of hoaxes, fake news and false flags.

        But this was mostly a rant in my view.

        And you do your site a disservice with the mono – ethnic analogy – it’s got a wider reach than that.

  7. Damson

    Reposting a comment that imv, snapshots the reality of Russophobia far better than Ames (it was in response to a Ray McGovern artic on Trump’s visit to NATO HQ) :

    “Ray has written well to the general audience, bridging the information gap for those heavily propagandized. He has properly shown the expansion of NATO as an act of calculated betrayal, a policy of aggression in the face of zero threat.

    It is sensible but really too polite to say that NATO expanded because “that is what bureaucracies do … and … it became a way for U.S. presidents to show their ‘toughness.’” To expand a bureaucracy by subversion of Ukraine and false reports of Russian aggression, to show toughness by aggression rather than defense, requires the mad power grasping of tyrants in the military, the intel agencies, the NSC, the administration, Congress. and the mass media.

    They are joined in a tyranny of inventing foreign monsters, to pose falsely as protectors, and to accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty, as Aristotle warned. This is the domestic political power grab of tyrants, a far greater danger.

    Tyranny is a subculture, a groupthink of bullies who tyrannize each other and compete for the most radical propositions of nonexistent foreign threats. They fully well know that they are lying to the people of the United States to serve a personal and factional agenda that involves the murder of millions of innocents, the diversion of a very large fraction of their own and other nations’ budgets from essential needs, and they have not an ounce of humanity or moral restraint among them. Those who waver are cast aside, and the worst of the bullies rise to the top. This is why the nation’s founders opposed a standing military, and they were right.

    Apart from NATO and a few other treaties, the US would have no constitutional power to wage foreign wars, just to repel invasions and suppress insurrections, and that is the way it should be. Any treaty becomes part of the Supreme Law of the land, and must be rigorously restricted to defense, with provisions for international resolution of conflicts. NATO has been nothing but an excuse for warmongering since 1989.

    Let us hope that Trump pulls the plug on NATO interventionism, accidentally or otherwise. The Dem leaders have now joined the Reps in their love of bribes for genocide, but at the least the Reps still don’t like paying for it. Perhaps the last duopoly imitation of civilization.”

    1. nowhere

      Hmm… “but at the least the Reps still don’t like paying for it.” I strongly disagree. War is the only thing Rs don’t mind openly supporting.

    2. Ptolemy Philopater

      One can not repeat often enough: War Crimes Tribunals! How to disincentivize the madness.

    3. Skip Intro

      I think this is much closer to the mark than the association of the anti-russia fearmongering with sincere xenophobia. Russia is the go-to foreign enemy because there is such a huge and convenient stockpile of propaganda material lying around in stockpiles, but left unused because of the tragic and abrupt end of Cold War 1.0. And Russia is a great target because it is distant, and has a weird alphabet. Anyone who knows enough about Russia to contradict the disinformation (like by mentioning that they are not commies, but US-style authoritarian oligarchs) is suspicious ipso facto.

      1. Damson

        It is also extremely wealthy in natural resources, especially gas.

        As is Iran.

        And the old money of Europe – which spawned much of the new money in the US and is still deeply intertwined has never forgiven Russia for communism.

        Lenin was only supposed to overthrow the Romanovs, not start a Marxist revolution.

        Now they want to grab the tangibles, as the debt monster threatens to explode….

  8. Mary Wehrhein

    Having lived in Kansas for 60 some years which is the poster-child for trickle-down necromancy and a land heavily infused with rural, German-Catholic sensibilities, I can vouch for the deeply felt attitudes towards sex as a primary issue. “Family Values” being the code word for the whole sex and reproductive moral prism. Like Cuba with its 50s autos, the conservatives have never given up their 60s conception of the Democrats as the party of free love, peace-nicks (soft on commies hard on guns) and tax and spend bleeding hearts coddling dependent malingerers. The GOP here campaigns against a democrat party that no longer exists (if it ever did). They seem oblivious to the fact that the democrats have become the moderate republicans of yore. Both parties being pro wall street deficit and war hawks differing in perhaps degree….with the Demos supporting a more generous portion of calf’s foot jelly being distributed to peasants of more varied hue as they also support privatization, more subtle tax cuts and deregulation for the rich, R2P wars, and globalization’s race to the bottom. People seem to inhabit their own Plato’s Cave each opposing their own particular artfully projected phantom menace.

    1. HotFlash

      supporting a more generous portion of calf’s foot jelly being distributed to peasants of more varied hue

      Ms Wehrhein, I salute your prose!

  9. GERMO

    Brilliant, as Ames usually is.
    Especially the point that this is a manifestation of consistent anti-left sentiment within the establishment whether R or D. The confounding of Putin’s Russia with some imagined communist threat always amazes me. D’s got to keep up the hippie-punching at all times though!

  10. Pespi

    This is a great piece. The Russophobia is stuck on an endless loop. I wish they’d at least come up with new lies or some fresh enemy for us all to fear. Tell me about why South African dupes are causing all the problems in society, tell me that the people of the Maldives each own a nuclear capable artillery piece and are burning American flags.

  11. Susan the other

    Thanks for this post down memory lane. I assumed MJ was liberal. And Jane Fonda was a conservative. And by 1981 I was completely confused about where the media stood on any given issue. And now finally the mask is coming off and we can see (Phillip K. Dick style) that left is right and right is left. And we are all fascists. Will the real Atilla please stand up? #Resistance is a little over the top and so is putintrump. But what looks like actual progress is the fact that Bernie was not completely destroyed by the state paranoia. There has to be a certain bed-rock decency that can rise above this eternal crap. Just a note of interest on the young Orrin Hatch being on the SST as a freshman senator. Orrin was the subject of local rumors that claimed he had been put in the senate by the mafia (some mormon-mafia connection in las vegas) and the fact that they did use entrapment with a hooker to disgrace his opponent was mafia-enough to make the story convincing. The story died out fast. But we should all remember that the mafia was involved in its own anti-commie terrorist tactics for decades.

    1. Susan the other

      file under Too Weird: 15 minutes after I posted the above I got a call from Orrin Hatch’s robo-computer inviting me to a local discussion… call me paranoid.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Susan the other – It’s not paranoia if someone really is out to get you. Or, to get all of us. Or, demonstrates that they have the ability to do so at will.

  12. REDPILLED

    Only 16% of people surveyed are very worried about climate change.

    Corporate news is consumed with covering the Trump/Russia affair, but whatever the truth of all this turns out to be, it pales in significance to the real existential threat that is upon us. Largely due to a lack of coverage by corporate television news, there is a dangerous lack of public awareness of it.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @REDPILLED – There is also the problem that most MSM coverage presents a false equivalence that leads many people to feel complacent about climate change. Between this and the constant right wing claims that it’s not a settled issue it’s not surprising that the issue only gets one in six people agitated.

  13. Susan the other

    land of the free and home of the brave… you have to be brave to live in this free-for-all. Just want to pass on this killer quote from Discover Magazine: “It is sometimes argued that the illusion of free will arises from the fact that we can’t adequately judge all possible moves with the result that our choices are based on imperfect or impoverished information.” … what a nightmare world.

    1. mpalomar

      “It is sometimes argued that the illusion of free will arises from the fact that we can’t adequately judge all possible moves with the result that our choices are based on imperfect or impoverished information.”

      Accepting that premise does not rule out the possibility of free will, it only suggests that our free will is likely mired in a blind stumbling, darkness of unknowing.
      Hallelujah.

    2. Aumua

      Oh noes! We’re not all-knowing.. why does that have to be a nightmare? God forbid we make mistakes in life.

  14. sunny129

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    George Orwell

    Every one has that ‘right’, right or wrong!

    But it is your right & duty to develop ‘critical’ thinking to DISCERN the difference

  15. John Zelnicker

    Great article although there was a bit of repetition. It was worthwhile, though, to be reminded of some of this history again. From the time I became politically aware (about 1960), the Russians have always been the boogeyman.

    One of the things I had forgotten about was how freaked out the conservatives were about the sexual revolution. At the time a lot of us thought they were just jealous that they had missed out on it before they got married. But now I can see that their freak out has not ended.

    The intense and constant efforts to restrict and ban abortions, the refusal to teach real sex ed in the schools, rather than abstinence, which never has worked, the ongoing efforts to make contraception as expensive and as hard to get as possible for women are all current symptoms of this freak out.

  16. Tomonthebeach

    This article demonstrate one thing about journalism. If all you have is smoke, blow a lot of it.

    It is just the annoying “fact” that I heard the president elect actively, loudly, repeatedly, in public, encourage Russian espionage within our electoral process. Never heard that come out of Reagan’s mouth. Then of course, there is torrent of denials about Russian meetings and collaborations (business or otherwise) that continue to be unmasked as lies.

    Sorry, this story neither buries Mother Jones nor exculpate the administration from lying with kleptocrats.

    1. Darn

      Without defending Trump, it is wrong of the Dems to push this stuff when Ukrainians helped Clinton’s campaign and Clinton approved Uranium One getting 20% of US uranium when they gave $100 million to the Foundation. The book “Shattered” says her campaign did internal polling which found Uranium One was the most damaging line to use against Clinton so she decided to get her retaliation in first and use the Russia charge at every opportunity. And on election night when they realised they had been defeated they decided to blame Russia again. What has Trump done for Russia so far? He’s kept up sanctions and bombed their client state Syria. Whereas Clinton had a pattern of arms sales to Foundation donors. Prefer Clinton? Fine, but not over this.

    2. bob

      Infowars for the “left”

      The formula-

      Tautology about the piece you supposedly just read.

      Then, onto the conspiracy.

      Closing, with some big words

      Not one single fact or verifiable piece of evidence. Smoke, you say?

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