2:00PM Water Cooler Special: Mueller Time

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune


Readers, here is a standalone Water Cooler on the Mueller report. Needless to say, I haven’t been following the ins and outs of #RussiaGate, as I suppose I have to call it, in any detail. What follows, then, is press coverage with commentary (as opposed to an over-arching theory of the case). Twitter-haters, there will be a lot of tweets; like it or not, that’s the field this story is being fought out on. I wish this were more coherent than it is, but c’est la vie! Have at it!


(2) Moving the goalposts from “collusion” to “obstruction of justice.” As for example: “Whether Trump obstructed justice isn’t the attorney general’s call to make. It’s Congress’ decision.” So, that should keep the clicks coming for another few years.

Obstruction of justice as defined by FindLaw:

Elements of an Obstruction of Justice Charge

The elements required for a conviction on an obstruction of justice charge differ slightly by code section. For instance, prosecutors must prove the following elements for a conviction under section 1503 of the federal statute (influencing or injuring an officer or juror):

  1. There was a pending federal judicial proceeding;
  2. The defendant knew of the proceeding; and
  3. The defendant had corrupt intent to interfere with or attempted to interfere with the proceeding.

But regardless of the specific section of federal law (1501 through 1521) cited in a particular case, the prosecution need not prove any actual obstruction — the defendant’s attempt to obstruct is enough. The element of intent, which is central to such cases, is also usually the most difficult to prove; although memos, phone calls, and recorded conversations may be used as evidence to establish this.

IANAL. It’s not clear to me how you prove intent with Trump at all, because he emits so much bullshit his intent is opaque. I also don’t know whether there must be an underlying crime for obstruction; Guiliani says so, but the above seems to say not. It would seem to me, however, that Trump, by not firing Rosenstein or Mueller, has a case for not obstructing (assuming the Comey case can be distinguished).

Oh, goalposts:

(3) Good journalists and writers. Axios, of all places: “Be smart: These liberals/contrarians are right — they got this story and outcome more right than many who dominated Twitter and cable news.” Here’s a handy list. There are more than you would think. Thread:

And of course Taibbi. Commenting on reaction to this post:

(4) Deprogramming: A giant task, and who even knows if it can be performed?

NPR tote bag people are my people. Professors, lawyers, wriers, even college deans; professionals all. So this is extremely distressing to me:

And on this matter, at least, they all need to be gently led away. I can’t think of a historical precedent. Perhaps the bursting of the South Seas bubble?

Cognitive dissonance:

Bogus collusion tale…

The view from brunch:

Where were these people when Bush whacked a few hundred thousand brown people? Or Obama destroyed a generation of black wealth?

(5) 2016

Maybe now the Democrats will do a 2016 post mortem?

Because Stoller’s not wrong.

(6) 2020

“Mueller report reprieve becomes Trump’s re-election weapon” [Associated Press]. “As the president’s lawyers debated legal strategy, Trump aides and political allies developed a plan to turn the end of the probe into the launching pad for a new round of attacks on the president’s foes and a moment to reinvigorate his supporters in the run-up to the 2020 campaign. Trump surrogates rushed to take a victory lap, depict the probe as a failed coup and rub the results in the face of Democrats, many of whom had spent months promising that Mueller would turn up more.” • Well, if one does not characterize #RussiaGate as a “failed coup” (see Naked Capitalism here), how ought one to characterize it? What is giving the intelligence community veto power over the selection of a President other than a coup? And if #RussiaGate is what they did to Trump, imagine what they’ll do to Sanders.

And then Mike Gravel:

Of course, there’s also the issue that in 2020 Trump can say — with reason, after two solid years of hysteria from almost every venue over what turned out to be a damp squib — that press coverage of his campaign is, well, fake news. And how exactly will the press go about disproving that? What a weapon they’ve handed him. “Mueller report: Trump cleared of conspiring with Russia.” After all the yammering and stamping and frothing and mimosas!

(7) The Berlusconi Precedent:

Holding office rather than power:

Exactly what liberal Democrats did with Mueller. I don’t understand the mentality; the wish for an external, apolitical authority figure to come in and settle the matter. Why not practice politics, instead? As the Financial Times says:

Liberals, on the other hand, are like a child who has discovered Santa Claus does not exist. Enormous faith was invested in Mr Mueller’s report as a magic bullet to solve the Trump problem. By the same token, an outsized role was conferred on Vladimir Putin as the evil genius who robbed Hillary Clinton of the presidency. There were large dollops of evidence supporting both views. 

I don’t understand the liberal Democrat need to demonize Trump, either; perhaps so they can keep him distinct, mentally, from the other very rich figures in their donor class? Back to Berlusconi–

“The case for normalizing Trump” [Vox]. From 2016, still germane: “[S]everal students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, what his opponents need to do is practice ordinary humdrum politics. Populists in office thrive on a circus-like atmosphere that casts the populist leader as persecuted by media and political elites who are obsessed with his uncouth behavior while he is busy doing the people’s work. To beat Trump, progressives will need to do as much as they can to get American politics out of reality show mode.” And the precedent: “In a post-election op-ed, [Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago] revisited these themes and observed that the two politicians who beat Berlusconi in elections — former Prime Minister Romano Prodi and current Prime Minister Matteo Renzi — had two important things in common: ‘Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character. In different ways, both of them are seen as outsiders, not as members of what in Italy is defined as the political caste.” • Needless to say, the Democrats have taken — and will continue to take, absent deprogramming their base — a different approach.

Interestingly, however, Buttigieg agrees with Zingales:

Gotta say I like that answer. It’s articulate, like Obama, but substantive in a way that Obama never quite was.

(8) Talking Points: At least they’re consistent about some things:

(9) The IT perspective

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Peter):

Peter writes: “First trillium — Redmond, Washington.” You get a bonus plant, this one for spring!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Watt4Bob

    So, what will be the next distraction?

    We’re so easily distracted/misdirected by the latest spectacular BS, it seems we, as a nation just can’t maintain our concentration for more than a few hours, if offered some new item designed to outrage, we’re off, as directed, and insisting our friends follow.

    Russiagate, and the emergency on our southern border are both meaningless, synthetic issues.

    There is one small group campaigning on tangible material benefits for the working class, could we please start paying attention to them, and quit looking forward to the next diversion?

    1. Pat

      Have you missed that my congressman is not letting this go? Similar to May they have no plan B.

      Sadly Jerry has been one of the better Dems in the last few years, but I think the shared delusions of the Upper East and West Side has had an effect. I don’t know if he shares them, is still working with the restraints of the Clintonite Democratic Party or some combination of the above. Whatever the reason he is going full tilt “It can’t be true, this is not all there is!!!!!”


        1. Yves Smith

          As Glenn Greenwald pointed out. Barr and Mueller are long-standing colleagues at the FBI, going back decades. There was also a big team working for Mueller. If anyone thought Barr had cherry-picked the bits he quoted from the report in a way that had misrepresented the findings, you can be sure there’d be leaks like crazy. Any MSM outlet or Dem Congresscritter would be salivating at the opportunity to limit the damage to Team Dem and dirty up Barr.

          So don’t hang your hat on the idea that the full report will change overall conclusions.

    2. urblintz

      We can do both and I for one will not stop calling out the conspiracy theorists of Russiagate until the whole sordid affair is buried which, alas, looks like a long haul. Nor do I consider myself distracted. I never stopped paying attention to tangible material benefits. The Democratic Party leadership and the cabal of yellow journalists never started. You consider that unimportant?

    3. Krystyn Walentka

      The next distraction? I guess you missed it …

      Apple TV+!

      Because we need MORE stories!

      1. jonhoops

        Apple TV+ Bleh, what a sad sorry presentation that was … this is a 90s yuppie vision of what they think good TV is.

        Apple really needs to look at the current crop of Youtube influencers/stars or just make a service like youtube that will let new talent blossom. It is basically branding itself as the geriatric service (for out of touch 50+ people who still think they are cool and that stuff from the 90’s is relevant)

        Surprised they didn’t announce reboots of Murder She Wrote, Friends,Touched by an Angel, 7th Heaven and 8 is Enough… I guess Apple wants to be the Readers Digest/Hallmark golden oldies service.

        Nobody really likes earnest goodie two shoes. Apple lost it’s cool when bad boy Steve died.

        The only cool thing in the entire event was the credit card (despite being tied with Goldman Sachs).

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          I feel the Jimmy Dore YouTube show format can be scaled down to any individual user. Invite some friends over, make fun of local MSM content, and post dat!

          1. The Rev Kev

            People like Jimmy Dore are a threat to the narrative. That is why his videos get de-monetized, his subscribers kicked off and notifications of new videos not made. Some of his subscribers note being subscribed to CNN or MSNBC without their say-so which may explain those organizations increased numbers of subscribers the past two years or so.

          2. Summer

            But you have to remember Jimmy Dore originates from radio and tv.
            That is where he built his base.

            Radio and tv provided the early marketing dollars.

        2. Summer

          “Apple really needs to look at the current crop of Youtube influencers/stars or just make a service like youtube that will let new talent blossom…”

          I think we are still at least a decade out before it can be said YouTube allows blossoming careers. Careers last decades.

          1. jonhoops

            I don’t know any of these youtube stars, yet they currently earn millions and have millions of followers. This is who the new cool kids like, if Apple really wants to be cool they can’t live in the past.


            Apple is now like the 40 year old white dad who dons a backwards baseball cap and tries to rap or skateboard to show how cool he is. And even that depiction is 30 years out of date.

        3. Summer

          But that was a funny dig at Netflix…
          “Quality over quantity”

          Even if you don’t like what they call quality, it will always be the widest open lane.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The next distraction?

      No control over what the oppostion will do, but do not, never, give them anything to use to distract, if it can be avoided.

      And if an inadvertent mistake is made, acknowledge it, cut the error loose, so as to preserve the main body of the work.

      “I don’t mean that word…it was a typo or I misspoke…”

    5. WheresOurTeddy

      it’s almost like politics in the US is a rich man’s grift to get people to argue over meaningless BS that doesn’t affect their lives one bit in order to distract the citizenry from the glaring reality that they are not interested in Fixing Our Problems

      1. jrs

        I suspect most people have lost interest in fixing long standing problems. Because they aren’t news. Now new shocking problems that pop up gain some traction for awhile and set the social media world abuzz (BLM, issues with immigration detention centers, even the recession way back when).

        Then again they too tend to become “not news” in due time. U.S. poverty as such (unlike a recession) is a very very old problem. Robert Kennedy was trying to address it.

        1. JBird4049

          Then again they too tend to become “not news” in due time. U.S. poverty as such (unlike a recession) is a very very old problem. Robert Kennedy was trying to address it.

          And for awhile we were making progress there, which stopped around 1973, and for the past twenty years have made increasingly fast progress in increasing the poverty level. It is almost as if some people just purely hate the idea of no poor Americans, or at least there being an absence of hunger, sickness, homelessness and general want.

      2. Briny

        Looking around the planet, all the media is about distracting the citizenry from the glaring reality of what is being done to we, the people. It’s d*mn*d difficult to piece together what’s really going on and that’s a full-time gig. That’s the only positive aspect of the Internet. The negative is the sheer amount of disininformation to be waded through, especially the MSM.

  2. Matthew G. Saroff

    My thoughts on all of this, it was worse than a crime, it was a mistake.

    They took a man who defrauded banks, cheated on taxes, and was mobbed up, and decided to hang their star on Russia, because it meant that the incompetents in the DNC, DCCC, DSCC and Hillary campaign don’t have to find new careers.

    So now, they have inoculated him against future scandals, which is ironic, since Trump panders to antivaxxers.

    BTW, this video of Maddow is informative:
    Doing her best impression of Mort Sahl, circa January 1964.

    1. AdamK

      Agr, I would like to see her resign. But scheduled right before Brian Williams she should feel at home

  3. Jim A.

    A thorough investigation did not find any evidence that the president of the united states conspired with a foreign power. We should be happy with that no matter what our political leaning are. And we should all be sad, regardless of our political leanings, that the bar has been set SOOOO low.

  4. a different chris

    >I’m realizing that a “moving the goalpost” .gif doesn’t cut it.

    I don’t know what that gif actually shows, but somebody once upon a time (could have been the always hilarious “Poor Man”) characterized somebody attempting to cover up a miscue like this as “not just moving the goalpost but cutting it down, attaching rockets to it and firing it into the sun”.

    I still like that the best.

  5. nippersmom

    There are really some True Believers on the Koen thread. Nice to see NC recognized as as one of the outlets who never succumbed to the hysteria.

  6. JohnnyGL


    Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston on Democracy Now.

    Johnston’s done so much good work over the years, he’s wrecking his reputation because he won’t let go and still says Trump is an ‘unwitting Russian asset’.

    Greenwald does a verbal equivalent of the old WCW move and grabs a folding chair and beats him with it mercilessly. Johnston deserves it, he’s better than this. He should thank Greenwald for straightening him out.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Sorry, I know Johnston is a progressive, but he’s not better than this–this is who he is. Hopping on the RussiaRussiaRussia express shows who is on the left and who is not. It was sheer fantasy from the beginning and I know everyone reasonable smart knew this from the beginning but power and influence is sooo seductive that creeps like Johnson go for it every time. Johnston and many others on the fake left went out of their way to, essentially, make Russia the permanent enemy. Even if the whole escapade was based on lies many if not most Americans will still think Russia is “the enemy” and this guarantees endlessly high “defense” budgets as far as the eyes can see–and guys like Johnson are responsible for this.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      I’m unfamiliar with Johnston’s work (and didn’t like the way he puffed it to defend his Russiagate support), but was very unimpressed with his performance on DN: deflection, red herrings and vapid, useless attacks on Trump’s character.

      He reminded me exactly, in appearance and manner, of a Bard professor who last year served me a banquet of smug condescension when I respectfully demurred from the ritual TrumpHate/Liberal Virtue Affirmation at the dinner table, and suggested that in the end Russiagate would work to Trump’s advantage.

  7. Carey

    Could that NYT headline not be seen as deliberately inflaming their readership, given
    what they and the rest of the MSM have been ginning up for the last two-plus years
    against Trump?

    They know what they’re doing.

  8. Chris Cosmos

    I read Taibbi’s wonderful evisceration of the Russia/Trump conspiracy fantasy (it was no theory but 100% fiction) and his attempt to “care” about his profession is touching. He wants to continue to be friends with people he works with and covers events with so he’s blaming journalists for being fooled, not looking at evidence and the usual “mistakes were made” kind of bullshit story. No, journalists knew very well there was no “there” there but it was understood very quickly by the usual nudge-nudge-wink-wink method those of us who know how journalists work know very well. Editors make known that certain kinds of stories need to be pushed and so, since there are a hundred people behind them wanting their job, they enthusiastically run for the goal line wherever it’s put. Journalists today are, mainly, presstitutes moaning on cue to wherever they see power moving–that’s why the move in packs. They know very well they’re lying. They knew there were no WMDs in Iraq but reported as if there was proof (Hell, I knew it because they airbrushed Scott Ritter out of being the foremost American expert on the matter). They knew the 2008 financial scandal was coming (at least those who were covering the Street) because I knew in 2006 from a Wall Street insider who told me all about derivatives in a long drunken summer evening (you find out a lot of stuff drinking with guys)–he said “everyone” knew the thing was going to pop at some point.

    My point here is that we should be through with “journalists” they can no more be believed than intel officials. We need to stick to journalists who put their asses on the line, Hersh, Hedges, Greenwald and many others who can’t get published in mainstream media. Everyone should make it clear that the world of NPR, NYT, WaPost, and the cable channels are garbage conspiracy theory sites that are equal to Alex Jones though less entertaining. And open up to online commentators like Jimmy Dore need to be praised for their stalwart attempt to deprogram ourselves from mainstream crap. Check this on out this rant by Keith Oberman captured by Dore that is insanely funny. Trump is 100% correct in calling the media the enemy of the American people because it is no matter what side of the political fence you’re on. And this catastrophe, which was bound to happen, will benefit Trump in the next election unless the DP is purged of the corrupt corporate sleazebags that still dominate the Party.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      The Oberman clip Dore shows near the end of his show is funny but also terrifying. Obermann looks and sounds like he was ready to drag anyone who dared disagree that Trump was Putin’s puppet into the street and personally beat them to death. That is some textbook crazy right there.

      1. Carolinian

        Don’t forget that after the 2016 election Michael Moore tried to enter Trump Tower and persuade Trump to step aside because Trump didn’t get a majority and for the good of the nation. This current crazy is the offspring of that crazy. They just couldn’t accept or believe the result and in the Clinton version of the left the claimed ends always justify the means.

        Anyhow nice roundup Lambert.

        1. James Cole

          Michael Moore predicted Trump’s victory while mainstream pundits were pooh poohing the possibility Trump would win the Republican primary. Moore is not in the same class as mainstream journalism that bought/sold this story.

      2. flora

        This 2017 Guardian article about an intervention and deprogramming of a former non-political cult member seems a strange echo of the the current madness, imo. The former cult member was an honors student. When reading it, I kept thinking the cult itself was an effective business model that raked in big, big bucks; built on abuse of the ‘true believers’ to keep those dollars flowing. That’s some business model….


    2. Summer

      “Journalists today are, mainly, presstitutes moaning on cue to wherever they see power moving–that’s why the move in packs. They know very well they’re lying.”


      “It demands a tremendous effort of the will and an absolute surrender of the personality to act on the lies one tells oneself. It is not true that people become liars without knowing it. A liar always knows he is lying, and that is why liars travel in packs: in order to be reassured that the judgment day will never come for them. They need each other for the well-being, the health, the perpetuation of their lie. They have a tacit agreement to guard each other’s secrets, for they have the same secret. That is why all liars are cruel and filthy minded—one’s merely got to listen to their dirty jokes, to what they think is funny, which is also what they think is real….”
      James Baldwin…No Name In the Streets…1972

      “No Name In The Streets” – a must read on the workings of American Empire.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Thanks for the link. Baldwin was one of the most insightful and beautiful prose stylist of his generation.

    3. elissa3

      Contrary to Taibbi and Greenwald’s hand wringing about how the fiasco of Russiagate has destroyed the reputation of American journalism, I might suggest that this is a good thing. There is no such creature as objective journalism. When living in Paris in the 70s and 80s, one knew automatically that Le Monde was center left, Liberation more left, L’Humanite purely French Communist Party, Le Figaro center right, and L’Aurore harder right. Saturday and Sunday’s L’Equipe was read by all persuasions, with great interest. Trying to figure out what was going on ALWAYS required a good deal of skepticism and critical thinking. Perhaps this approach will be taken up by some American consumers of the media. And today, with great internet sources like NC, Caitlin, the Automatic Earth, Wolf, Moon, etc., one can develop a degree of trust that is not possible with the corporate media. The relationship between the consumer and journalist is more intimate, and without the cover and protection of a billion dollar corporation, more precarious. If the trust is betrayed, this consumer can and has cut off a source forever.

      I agree, however, that the very bad thing that has resulted from Russiagate is how much it has strengthened Trump.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Exactly right! The emphasis here ought not be on the state of journalism–because its beyond bad, but on the many accurate sites where real and accurate information is. For example, it was only on the Saker, and MoA that I found accurate depictions of battles, battle lines, disposition of forces whereas the NYT and other reputable sources had nothing but fictions and inaccurate stories that had almost no connection with reality–literally. I almost couldn’t believe the contrast and the mainstream outlets were ALWAYS wrong about simple facts. I could only conclude that they lied just to lie maybe to please their Commissars to show themselves as slavishly dedicated to the State?

  9. JohnnyGL

    Jimmy Dore and Aaron Mate have an extended conversation….

    One of the most interesting parts is where Mate discusses how there’s been a round of media layoffs and NONE of the prime Russia-gaters got let go. Same story as Iraq WMDs, a lot of them got promoted.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      It is impossible to get someone to understand something when his paycheck depends on him not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

      Who got it wrong? Oligarch media. Who got it right? Independent media.

      Trust accordingly.

    1. Cal2

      Too bad Bernie jumped on this bandwagon. Trump will use it against him if he’s nominated.

      Send a check to Tulsi to get her in the debates to hammer the Democrats in the right direction.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Unless Sanders retracts on this, I don’t think I can vote for him in the primary. Depends what the others do. Things are very fluid and will get even more so in the coming year.

      2. Lee

        As long as he maintains focus on issues that matter, I don’t much care about his positions on the carnival sideshow. However, I did just now hedge my bet by sending a modest contribution to Tulsi Gabbard. It would be good to see her up there on the big stage, getting more public exposure for her positions on issues. The more fire from the left the better.

      3. voteforno6

        He could try, but it’s a long time until the general election. A lot could happen. I remember how, at this point in 1991, George H.W. Bush looked unbeatable in the ’92 election. That didn’t work out so well for him.

        1. Cal2

          “I remember how, at this point in 1991, George H.W. Bush looked unbeatable in the ’92 election.”

          So, somewhere out there, right now, Wall Street and the Neocons are dredging up some obscure state governor from a Mafia casino state to come from out of nowhere? Bonus points for an obnoxious power hungry wife?

      4. VietnamVet

        I did my donation to help Major Gabbard get into the Democrats Presidential Debate. For me Russiagate has been visceral. The Republicans Invasion of Iraq was crazy. The Democrats restart of the Cold War with Russia is totally insane. In the first go around, in several incidents, if officers had followed their orders and launched their missiles, we would not be here today. Keeping the earth green, not more endless wars, is the only way to assure a future for our families.

  10. Hameloose Cannon

    Justice: obstructed. The Barr letter defines, so narrowly, the definition of wrongdoing, either “conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA” or “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government”, leaving a massive gap through which contacts, cut-outs, power brokers, and hacks, that neither draw a gov’t check or haunt an IRA cubicle, can skate. Because Barr’s letter is heavy on statutory citation and scope but fails to cite one piece of evidence that exculpates the President and fails to cite the actual report [pagination? quotes?], Barr’s letter could have been drafted prior to the report’s release. And why do subordinate, and tangential actor to the obstruction, Rod Rosenstein’s opinions matter at all? Spreading the blame? It’s all bitter.

    1. Darthbobber

      They don’t need to exculpate him, because that’s not where the burden of proof lies. The law is what it is, not whatever you might like it to be.

    2. Beniamino

      Little known fact about the U.S. justice system – it’s actually the government’s responsibility to identify inculpatory evidence against a prospective defendant before proceeding with charges.

    3. Joe Well

      Hameloose, if there is any kind of conspiracy or obstruction that hasn’t come out yet, why has no one new been charged?

  11. ewmayer

    [Bolds mine] “As the Financial Times says:

    Liberals, on the other hand, are like a child who has discovered Santa Claus does not exist. Enormous faith was invested in Mr Mueller’s report as a magic bullet to solve the Trump problem. By the same token, an outsized role was conferred on Vladimir Putin as the evil genius who robbed Hillary Clinton of the presidency. There were large dollops of evidence supporting both views.”

    Uh, no, there never were *any* dollops of evidence – as in the kind of thing that holds up under even the slightest scrutiny – supporting either view. Team establishment-mouthpiece-ink-stained-wretch *still* doesn’t get it. What’s that famous Uptom Sinclair quote again?

    1. ewmayer

      ‘Upton’ – must’ve had a too-large dose of the Epson salts when I wrote that, or something.

    2. Sol

      It is very difficult to convince a man a thing is wrong if his paycheck depends on it being right.

      There was never evidence. There was loads and loads of conformation bias – which we tend to interpret as evidence unless we’ve learned better.

      And now we’re seeing backfire effect. Neurology can be fun.

      1. jrs

        shouldn’t this be updated for the modern world, I mean with paychecks all being from gig work anyway, maybe the temporary gig workers will fake that for their paycheck, but when the paycheck itself an not be depended on no matter … what are they really convinced of at the end of the day?

        1. polecat

          Here, I’ll give it a go* ….

          It’s hard for a (Pick one or more of the following …) cis/She/xe/’They’ to do the right gig .. when cis/She/xe/’They’ depended upon NOT wanting to get fatally gigged causes cis/She/xe/’They’ to choose the ‘Sophie’s Choice’ of having to do the damn gig anyway! ….

          *updated to reflect some of the many contemporary Id-Pol gender fluxations.

          1. Sol

            *thumbs up*

            People seem to have the devil’s own time telling the difference between ‘good’ and ‘good for me’.

  12. marku52

    Phenomenal job the “resistance” did in immunizing Trump from any further damning details or indictments, even if true.

    House Dems will spend the next 2 years performing investigations that are discredited before they even begin….

      1. nippersmom

        The only things the “resistance” was ever interested in “resisting” were acknowledging their own candidate’s vileness and unpopularity, and addressing any actual policy issues.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          As Jimmy Dore has said over and over again the Democrats are mainly interested in destroying true progressives not in beating Republicans. I believed and continue to believe that the real target was not Trunp or Russia but Sanders and his fellow travellers.

          1. pretzelattack

            the centrist dems are a giant fundraising scam disguised as a political pary. the real threat to them was not losing an election, it was sanders then and a few more now. and they will fight even dirtier now, imo.

            1. Chris Cosmos

              Politically, that’s why it’s critically important to rub the corporate Dems’ noses in this BS conspiracy. I hope Republicans will do it for us but I’m not sure they’ll follow up. I do know that NPR and other propaganda outlets seem to be doubling down, or nearly so. It will be an interesting few months. I’m guessing they’ll gradually move away from this fruitless vine and simply point to Trump as “enemy” and Russia as “enemy” and leave it at that.

  13. barrisj

    What I’ve observed on several of the more notable collusionist blogs – after yesterday’s Sturm und Drang and Mueller birthing his baby – is a sort of post-partum depression by-proxy, where the dark cloud lifted from above Trump has now settled upon the collective heads of the collusionist community. Several high priests of the Gospel are at it already, rallying their knee-capped troupe, by, e.g., blaming the messenger – Barr/Rosenstein – for the perfidious Summary. A whole lot of, “But what about…?” business, reviving the Trump Tower “dirt on Hillary” meeting, Trump Tower Moscow, Roger Stone, ad nauseum. The once-sainted Robert Mueller is in some quarters now considered a dupe of the Anti-Christ Trump…no end to it, and as I once remarked, it’s beginning to take on the “Who killed Kennedy” trappings.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      NPR always ready to double down, or so it seems, wants to get Mueller in front of a Congressional Committee to face grilling. I think they’ll imply that he was paid of by Putin.

      1. Duke De Guise

        Wait, they’re turning on Mueller?

        That’s so mean, after I went to a candlelight vigil for him and Jeff Sessions!

  14. Barbara

    To me, the best item in all of the reactions was the description of how Berlusconi’s opponents dealt with him – like an opponent. How many years have we had this bankrupt political approach, “I plan to work with my colleagues across the aisle.” “We can’t pass this because we don’t have the votes, so we’ll go and vote with our adversaries.”?

    They stand for nothing, therefore they can’t stand for anything.

    How much better they would have done by going down fighting. Hat’s off to the congress people who stand firm on their principles. More of those, please.

  15. DonCoyote

    Thanks for the comment by Buttigieg. Jamarl Thomas likes to call O’Rourke the white Obama, but based on Buttigieg’s CNN town hall, I was about ready to dub him the gay Obama, since I found that substance lacking there. But maybe there’s hope for him.

    As for Mueller–like Comey, he can go (back) into the Democrat hall of shame, where virtually all of these intel/ex-intel types belong.

    1. edmondo

      Don’t be so quick to give the benefit of the doubt to Mayor Pete. For a man who seems to understand that the last 30 years of American presidencies have been horrid, one would think he might have come up with better solutions to the problem. His Issues page on his campaign website is a complete laundry list of half-assed, neoliberal quackery since. I don’t know, 2008 peak-Obama.

      He is merely a fall back for the establishment Dems for when Beto’s balloon pops – which is looking like Memorial Day 2019 at the latest.

      1. jrs

        Regardless he has a popularity of sorts though, people especially seem to want him in the debates. He could do better than expected in the primary.

        Hey, I’m not sold yet, I just want Inslee in the debate to hammer climate change, even if I vote otherwise. Not sold at all in that Buttigieg yet. And yes the website seems so weak.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Re: “very deep issues” Keeping it on the Mental Health vs TINA spectrum.

        I was struck by his ‘but not racist!’ somersault before even broaching the possibility of addressing populist issues. We all look like deplorables from the heights.

  16. Chromex

    It seems to me, based on what has been released to date that the other wing of this ( in order to find collusion Russia must have meddled) is extraordinary weak. I have not read an article that points this out ( other then perhaps Taibbi). Given that Mueller KNOWS that theory will never be tested. as all the ( private citizens) Russians the grand jury indicted will never respond to the indictments, there must have been literally NO evidence for him to say no conspiracy/collusion. Must say on the basis of what has been presented, there was no meddling either. And if the evidence Mueller presented leads him to conclude that there was meddling, I would be very unimpressed if he decided that there WAS collusion. But really, we have to quit the xenophobia of thinking Russia meddled in our elections as well . I hate Trump but beginning to hate the Clintons more for what they are doing to this country in the name of salvaging their already awful rep. Will they please exit stage right?

    1. pjay

      Based on Barr’s summary, Mueller apparently concludes that both Russian hacking of the DNC and “meddling” in the election through media/internet activity are established facts. I’m not sure what “evidence” is cited, but if it is what has been discussed publicly, then it is certainly weak.

      This side of Russiagate has been discussed pretty extensively as well. Consortium News has been especially good on this, in my admittedly biased opinion (see the links posted in this morning’s Taibbi discussion). So has Aaron Mate at Real News Network and, more recently, The Nation.

      1. Summer

        “Based on Barr’s summary…”

        The Dems and their pundits better hope someone on their team has read the actual report.
        The summary is just enough to have them clamoring even more for it.

      2. Mike

        You’ve hit it at the weak spot. The “fact” of Russian interference is not erased, and the “fact” that Congress has made it official will not be reversed. Exoneration of Trump or not, this whole episode leaves the system primed to go after all possible Russian “meddling”, including those who balk at saying it’s Russian. Trump could very easily use this against Progressives by saying “See, I wasn’t involved, but who was?”. Going after Hillary and leading Dems may gut them, but Progressives are next in line if they are part of the Democratic Party compromised in the eyes of voters.

        I see no reason to celebrate this finding.

  17. poopinator

    This was actually a big win for Democrats. They were able to push their DCCC Pro Incumbency policy into a news cycle so that it would be starved of any journalistic coverage/scrutiny.

    1. jo6pac

      A win for sure. Those fund raisers are in the snail mail/email tonight. This works great for the consultants of demodogs and other friends

  18. ACF

    I’ve always thought that #RussiaGate was not exactly about proving Clinton a good candidate (that’s a funnier way of putting it, I’m not as funny as Stoller), but it was all about proving she really did win and the election was stolen. Anything to de-legitimize Trump’s election and avoid having to process him having won it. I’ve avoided paying attention to the whole thing because it was pretty clear–ever since “collusion” was the watchword, rather than “conspiracy”–that this investigation was not about crime but was purely about legitimacy.

    And the whole thing was so hypocritical when remembering the US’s much more aggressive interference in other nations’ elections/election outcomes/governments (most recently, see, e.g. Venezuela, but there’s a tremendously long history to our south and in many other places in the world. And many people hyperventilating about Trump and Russia know that history. I mean, the Russians ran an advertising campaign they targeted for maximum effectiveness using Trump campaign data? And their ads were full of lies (unlike political ads generally, right?) I mean, we do coups, assassinations, and so much more…

    Last, if the hyperventilators were sincere and thinking this through–if they defined the problem as: We need to protect our electoral process so no foreign power can hack it–we would 1) go to hand marked paper ballots counted in public and 2) we would change the rules about political advertising to make it harder to do micro targeted lies. Or at least they’d be proposing/pushing the same. And they weren’t.

    Because this really was a 2 year long freakout by the professional class and MSM over Trump’s election, and nothing else.

    And in one of the big ironies, the nonsense may help re-elect him

    That said, I would be *thrilled* if the SDNY or an AG’s office or other prosecutor was able to prosecute Trump and his cronies for their palpable corruption. Let’s #DrainTheSwamp (a swamp that festered long before Trump was elected). If we can get some scalps in this arena, maybe we can drive some good change. Not that I’m hopeful.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      but it was all about proving she really did win and the election was stolen.

      The problems with Team Clinton were long and numerous. The weakness of another Clinton run was both predictable and required maybe 5 or even 10 minutes for those who had lived on Mars of research to determine.

      Maybe on the level of little people, but no one voting to give Trump a huge defense budget thought for a second he going to be removed. This is about covering up eight years of neoliberal policy and punching the left. They needed to prove the election was stolen because if it wasn’t stolen it raises questions not just about the Queen, herself, but the legitimacy and competence of almost the entire nominal left.

      This is the Third Way Promise: sacrifice a few issues to win elections and win on more issues, even pushing the Overton Window to the left on the whole. The Third Way ran their wet dream of a campaign and lost to Trump.

    2. pjay

      “Because this really was a 2 year long freakout by the professional class and MSM over Trump’s election, *and nothing else*.”

      No problem with the first part of your statement, but the “and nothing else” is misleading. It seems pretty clear that the anti-Russia hysteria (which predates Trump) is a major hybrid warfare propaganda effort by the Deep State (sorry Lambert – I know the term is contested but I like it). Hamstringing Trump with “Russiagate” served several convergent interests at once. Making Democrats or “liberals” feel better or even getting rid of Trump were *not* the most important issues, in my view.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        One important item on the agenda was doing something to clamp down on the online Left. PropOrNot was ready to go right away once the allegation was made. YouTube defunding became frequent. Twitter bannings. Pressure on Facebook to censor news.

        This is a very tough nut to crack for these folks. They love to take your money through the Internet, but this ability of the Internet to provide a nearly free way to get your news and views out means that people can pick, for free, those sources they want to read from a wide variety of viewpoints. So you have a nice “consensus” on corporate media and the speed and thoroughness that you exhibit when getting a new propaganda line out there is almost embarrassing. But some 22 year-old anarchist or cranky 65 year-old Mcgovernite can make a YouTube and destroy your narrative overnight.

        It’s gettin’ hard out there to be a pimp for the 1%.

    3. WJ

      The 2016 election was about populist economic concerns displacing fully the manufactured culture wars and giving a big fat middle finger to the corporate establishment.

      Russiagate was about discrediting that reality and blaming Russia instead. In this sense, Russiagate really was as much or more directed against the left–remember Stein as a Putin agent! Lol–as against the right.

      Since 2016 we’ve seen YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other monopolies design and implement new policies intended to deplatform popular alternative analysis from both the left and the right.

      We’ve seen the invention of “Fake News” used to impugn actual truth tellers and recast the actual fake news–Times, Post, AP, NPR–as “central” to our democracy.

      We’ve seen the widespread use of government propaganda against the US people both wrt Syria (where it was used to justify missiles attacks, the demonization of Assad, etc etc) and Venezuela, of a quality that is more overt and less believable than even the WMD op was. People able to identify and repudiate the propaganda are said to be “Russian bots.” (Later, the same will be said of black Americans who do not support Kamala Harris.)

      We’ve seen the coordinated mass expulsion of Russian diplomats on the basis of the Skripal incident–about which the U.K. has never been able to tell a single coherent story–and we’ve heard Theresa May insinuate that there was a connection between Russia’s (fictitious) poisioning of the Skripals and Russia’s support of Assad’s (fictional) use of sarin against his own citizens.

      (Meanwhile the Skripals themselves have, like Joseph Aboud [sic] been conveniently disappeared)

      We’ve seen the imposition of multiple sanctions on Russia, the shipment of arms to the Ukraine, etc.

      So I don’t know why everybody thinks Russiagate was a bust. To me it looks like it helped accomplish a great deal of “reforms” over the past two years.

    4. ACF

      A general reply to all the comments to my comment:

      1) it’s true there’s been a long campaign to hype Russia hysteria in general; that made Russia the natural ‘colluder’ with Trump. But I think that was a matter of opportunity spotting and maximization, rather than primary driver. The breadth, depth and longevity of this corporate Dem meltdown originated with that power center, and was simply seized and exploited by other power centers. Without a profound nihilistic commitment to explaining Hillary’s loss as anything other than Hillary’s fault we don’t get Mueller madness

      2) it’s true there’s a longstanding profound commitment to silencing the left and discrediting left media, and MullerMadness served that function too. Like Russia, I see those pieces of it as shrewd opportunity spotting/maximization by longstanding power centers to further a longstanding agenda.

      If there had been no collusion hysteria, both anti-Russia and anti-Left media would have proceeded apace, through other vehicles.

      This particular vehicle was created by the professional class/MSM inability to understand that the policies of the 10% are not the policies of the 99%, that they have not been doing God’s work, benevolently ruling the masses, that the people who voted for Trump actually rejected them on the merits–they could not comprehend nor accept a Trump victory. He had to have cheated, and he’s too ‘stupid’ to have done that alone, he needed the help of a big powerful ally

  19. Iapetus

    Maybe some of media’s focus on this Russia investigation was an excuse to explain why the highest spender lost the 2016 election, so that raising similar amounts of money could be justified for the next election cycle. After all, its well known that political advertising gives a boost to media company revenues during election cycles. Large campaign donors were probably pretty upset after the 2016 result, and needed some justification to keep giving. There also needed to be an alternative to the frank explanations that were starting to crop up from prominent Democrats like CNN commentator Van Jones who said:

    “The Hillary Clinton campaign did not spend their money on white workers, and they did not spend it on people of color. They spent it on themselves….Let’s be honest, they took a billion dollars, a billion dollars, a billion dollars, and set it on fire, and called it a campaign!”


    “A billion dollars for consultants. A billion dollars for pollsters. A billion dollars for a data operation, that was run by data dummies who couldn’t figure out that maybe people in Michigan needed to be organized.”

    I imagine the media considered these frank explanations to be really bad for business.

  20. NotTimothyGeithner

    I fully expect Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney to lead the moderate, suburban Republicans (White Flight Republicans) to the promised land and usher in a new age of Hillary Clinton’s Presidency by denouncing the FBI, Robert Mueller, and all other obvious KGB Plants, possibly even Robbie Mook. Mook was paid to help HRC, but he’s beginning to look like a Kremlin plant.

    Now with Trump’s stronger hand despite the assurances of Maddow about a Russian conspiracy, I think we have to recognize Maddow as Comrade Maddow.

  21. clarky90

    “Agitprop (portmanteau of “agitation” and “propaganda”) is political propaganda…that is spread to the general public through popular media such as literature, plays, pamphlets, films, and other art forms with an explicitly political message….


    Agitational trains and ships: To expand the reach of the oral-agitation networks, the Bolsheviks pioneered using modern transportation to reach deeper into Russia. The trains and ships carried agitators armed with leaflets, posters and other various forms of agitprop. Train cars included a garage of motorcycles and cars in order for propaganda materials to reach the rural towns not located near rail lines….”

    I pinch myself sometimes. Wake up Clarky! Really? Here? Now? Agitprop everywhere! Oh my God.

  22. Ptb

    So much for that.

    Part 2, which won’t be anytime soon, would examine how the same hyperventilating members of the press and TV systematically promoted Trump in the ’16 primaries, with the documented Blessing of the DNC, who knew the specific Democratic nominee they had in mind from the beginning would need a real stinker of an opponent in the general election… now *that* would actually be the correct use of ‘collusion’.

    Part 3 might look at the Dem primaries.

    Part 4 might take a look at blatant involvement of foreign governments, none too democratic or anything like that, but allies nonetheless, basically paying to have the electoral process on both sides tailored to their needs.

    Part 5 might ask what compelled all the talking heads to actively promote blatant mccarthyism, and do their best to further empower the goons in a government they have good reason to believe has some proto-fascist tendencies.

    Blah. You don’t need special prosecutors to bring most of this to light. If anything, that mechanism they silences witnesses more than gives them a safe avenue to reveal what they know. A media ecosystem that doesn’t suppress these deeply unfortunate but fixable realities would be sufficient and more effective.

  23. Darthbobber

    And all the airtime devoted to this nonsense was unavailable to cover the succession of real outrages at the policy level that have been occurring during the same period. So much so that a very large fraction of the population remains unaware of them. Brilliant.

    “If you mention in the first act that there is a gun hanging on the wall, that gun
    absolutely must be fired during the second or third act. Otherwise it should not have been hanging there in the first place. ” But we’re not dealing with Chekhov here.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      That’s one and perhaps the main cause of all this malarkey. The other is to keep corporate Democrats in power in the DP and the mainstream media. And finally, the coup de grace, this will elevate Russia to an existential enemy that wants to actually conquer and control the US and therefore keep “defense” spending growing forever (it will have to grow since a dollar spent in Russia will get you $0.90 worth of useful stuff, and a dollar spent in the USA will get you $.10 worth of useful stuff). There is no more blatantly corrupt organization in the US and perhaps the world than the Pentagon.

  24. Jane

    Lol…I’m seeing ads to see Kevin O’Leary “live” in Toronto. Do Yves and Lambert want me to go boo him ;)

  25. grizziz

    I would like to add that I felt muted and circumspect around women who were very attached to the idea of the first woman president when the topic of Russian interference was mentioned. I was treated as someone unhinged to think that Putin did not have direct control over Trump. It was all so obvious that I must have received my information from Russian controlled media outlets. The idea that any Russian oligarch who might have an interest in ending US sanctions and wasn’t being whispered to by Putin was an absurdity. I was tut-tutted to think that the Clinton Global Initiative was something other than a generous institution to bring peace, love and kindness to the world.
    I will own up to ticking 98 out of 100 boxes of male privilege, but the educated and liberal circle of women to which I am attached brought the fury and shame upon me if a brought a scintilla of doubt upon their collective judgement. I am thankful some of the disinformation has cleared and the work of ousting our own whispering oligarchs might begin.

    1. Missie

      Sixty-something female here. All of my female friends believed the msm stories and could not wait to turn on their favorite cable shows to get a rage on. It seemed like total horse puckey from the git-go and was always about revenge for HRC. I was not invested because she did not get my vote. It has been a great relief to read NC, G. Greenwald, A. Mate, Matt Taibbi and to watch J. Dore — my friends during this debacle.

      1. Cal2

        So a vote based on emotionalism has the same weight as one based on the weighing of facts and evidence?

        Tell your girlfriends to send a check to Tulsi if they really want to get Trump, reform the Democrats and promote a woman.

  26. Beniamino

    It’s beginning to look like the Night of the Long Knives for Never Trumpers – Michael Avenatti apparently arrested for attempted extortion.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, this was just Trump hitting the jackpot re lucky timing.

      Avenatti was trying to extort Nike and caught on tape. David Boies represents Nike. You do not fuck with Boies unless you really really have the goods, like John Carreyrou with Theranos. Plus a separate case out of CA re extorting client settlement $. The latter alone will get you imprisoned and disbarred permanently.

      Admittedly he has to be tried, but the evidence against him looks awfully strong.

      Stormy Daniels just tweeted that she was saddened but not surprised.

  27. RMO

    “the wish for an external, apolitical authority figure to come in and settle the matter. Why not practice politics, instead?”

    They wanted the FBI and the Justice Department to get rid of Trump because turfing him out by election would require the Democrats adopt a platform of policies that the donor class really hate – you know, the sorts of policies that would be of benefit to the vast majority of US citizens, the US as a whole and the world in general.

    The added benefit to them would be that if those eeeeevil Rooskies had worked with Trump to rig the election that would mean no need to reflect upon how poor a candidate they pushed through and how incompetent the very expensive campaign was. Double win!

  28. Grant

    The problem in this is that the actual left (Greenwald, Chomsky, etc.) were always skeptical of this Russia nonsense. It was obvious from the beginning that this was a propaganda operation, and one that brought tons of risk because of what has now come about. Why focus on this, throw all of your eggs in this basket, knowing that it was far from certain that anything would be found? Why do this when Trump was always incredibly vulnerable on policy? Why? Because they have nothing to offer. After this, and after people are on to what liars these people are, what are they going to focus on? Who will take them seriously? But, since the actual left is not in the media, and the “left” with most of the public are people close to Hoyer or Pelosi ideologically, even if the actual left was skeptical, their horrible ineptitude could harm the actual left in the eyes of some. Cause not many people read Counterpunch, not as much as the “liberal” NY Times, right? It is breathtaking how utterly horrible the establishment Democrats are. Off the charts. They offer nothing at all to anyone but themselves, their donors and those relatively well off.

    1. Yves Smith

      It was also very very profitable for the media. Look at the huge boost the NYT got in subscriptions, when it had been firing staff, and MSNBC in viewers, when it had been doing poorly in ratings.

    2. Timo Soini

      > Cause not many people read Counterpunch, not as much as the “liberal” NY Times, right?

      Counterpunch is valuable, of course. But I just noticed something extremely disappointing: in order to comment on the articles, you have to be on Facebook!?!

  29. dearieme

    McCarthy was right that the FDR administration had housed a lot of communists: his wickedness lay in accusing many individuals without his having any evidence specifically against them.

    This new McCarthyism was even more evil: there was never any evidence at all. It was a fantasy and a fraud from the beginning. And there will be no punishment, will there? At least, no punishment of anyone important. Because who whom.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      As usual, those who followed the Party line will be promoted and those who dissented will never be allowed in the mainstream news. This is what happened during the Iraq debacle–real journalists were purged and others, no matter how wrong they were, were allowed to continue. However, this time there will be pressure on the official media to expand what is allowable and I’m going to guess here that they will start this shortly as the major Democratic Party challengers begin to assert their rather controversial programs, debt forgiveness, universal HC, UBI, and maybe, just maybe skepticism about permanent war and Russia is the enemy nonsense. The reason I say this is that I think the ruling elite are getting a little jumpy on how their attempt to stage either a hard coup or a soft coup failed and Trump now has the inside track on winning–the elites have to decide whether they want Trump or a progressive Democrat–those will be, in my view, the only two choices–I think many will support a progressive Democrat this time and try to control him or her.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > whether they want Trump or a progressive Democrat

        The only two options that fit under the “progressive” heading would be Warren and Sanders (though I like the sound of Buttigieg, he hasn’t really been in politics long enough to have skin in the game). The rest of them are just opportunists and time-servers who will say anything, some more pleasing personalities than others. And there’s considerable space between Sanders and Warren. If I were an oligarch, I’d go with Warren, as somebody I could do business with. Plus, her bark is much worse than her bite.

        FWIW, I think Trump would have a hard time beating Sanders, though the liberal Democrats would surely help Trump do that as much as they could. I think Trump would have an easier time beating Warren. I don’t think she’s been in the ring with somebody who would hit her over the head with a chair, WWF-style.

        1. JBird4049

          In a nation of over 300 million Americans of which I am guessing ¼ or 75 million citizens who are eligible for the presidency; the only “choices” we have for an electable progressive president is Sanders and Warren.

          TPTB have done well in controlling who can actually run for office. I would like to have some more honest and sane candidates even those who are right of center. If we had some more leftists, I would be joyful.

  30. Summer

    This is the very same press that called for no investigations of Trump during the 2016 election because they thought he would be the useful idiot to get Hillary elected.

    They thought it was funny.

    And today, more than ever in the past two years, the entire Russiagate looks like another failed HRC campaign strategy from the usual players.

      1. Summer

        “It may look like Russiagate was a failure, but it was actually a success. It deflected the left’s attention from endemic corruption within the leadership of the Democratic party, which supposedly represents the left. It rechannelled the left’s political energies instead towards the convenient bogeymen targets of Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.”

        The Democratic Party would turn their attention away from corruption without Russiagate.
        And they aren’t ever going to channel their energies toward anything but fear manufacturing.

        “the Democratic party, which supposedly represents the left…” – can stop pretending. Really, this is as bad for as believing in meritocracy.

        1. Carey

          From my POV, this Dem elite strategy has done a good job of narrative-shaping. Conditioning happens to and affects all,
          whether aware of it or not.

  31. Tom Stone

    The only people I have been able to have a conversation with about “Russiagate” that was at least remotely rational were with younger people.
    Only one was in her 30’s.
    More than a few people I know who are capable of critical thinking and who identify as liberal became hysterical when I raised questions about the official narrative, it was disconcerting to say the least.
    And the deification of the FBI was and is simply bizarre.
    We are at best rationalizing animals, not rational animals.

  32. tokyodamage

    I’m more concerned about what happens when consumers of MSM finally stop trusting the MSM altogether.

    We’ve seen what people want more of: conspiracy theories and easy scapegoats. That’s what made Russiagate so profitable for MSM, apart from political motives.

    If the Russiagate obsessives (what some call ‘radical liberals’) decide to stop trusting MSNBC and switch to getting their daily BS only from facebook or youtube grifters. . . the ignorance and paranoia is only going to go up, not down.

    And the national security state is all ready for youtube/facebook to be the main source of news; they’ve got a hundred subcontractors who all specialize in starting social media rumors to disrupt enemies, sew doubts, and control the narrative.

    But for now, watching my favorite journalists take a victory lap is fun enough.

    1. jrs

      yea it will get worse if they all go down the youtube rabbit hole etc.. and that is much (not all of course but much) of the alternative.

    2. John k

      What’s the diff? Msm is lying and tries to get us into more wars. How could fb be worse?
      Plus, maybe some begin to listen to rational sources.
      Msm doesn’t deserve any believers.

    3. Temporarily Sane

      I’m more concerned about what happens when consumers of MSM finally stop trusting the MSM altogether.

      Facts and truth have lost much of their persuasive power and the media being factually wrong about a major issue will not induce a mass abandonment of the MSM. The problem is that most people who still trust mainstream media do not think critically about “the news” and instead rely on tribalistic groupthink to tell them what to believe.

      This bleak state of affairs wasn’t as widespread when the news media at least tried to present a more or less balanced view of situations and events (within certain limits of course). That all changed in the late-1990s when Murdoch’s Fox News began treating news as a commodity to be sold to a consumer. Hilarity ensued as liberals laughed their asses off at talking point parroting conservatives who were obviously deranged and clearly not too bright. Fast forward to the 2016 election campaign and the liberal media makes up for lost time and goes full Fox News, blatantly editorializing content to reflect a DNC/Wall Steet eye view of the world.

      (So now insufferably self-righteous MSNBC/NYT liberals sound just as, if not more, family blogging crazy as their Fox News watching counterparts.)

      Social media, of course, exacerbates this echo chamber effect and we now have a population that has difficulty separating opinion from fact and fact from truth. It is fed by a media that encourages and reinforces the tribalism and groupthink that has destroyed the common ground that used to exist between citizens, regardless of their politics.

      People need to stop being mindless consumers of news and information and cultivate a skeptical and critical attitude towards the media. In short, they need to (re)learn how to think critically. How this can happen in a society in which the means of information production are dominated by nefarious tech monopolies and establishment controlled media outfits that saturate the culture with highly emotive propaganda that pushes conformity and discourages self-reflection and nuanced thinking, I do not know. We live in a Philip K. Dick universe filtered through a neoliberal lens.

  33. Summer

    “I don’t understand the liberal Democrat need to demonize Trump, either; perhaps so they can keep him distinct, mentally, from the other very rich figures in their donor class?”

    And in their NIMBY “nothing like another tax break” neighborhoods.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Mueller’s wiki is scrubbed, but I’m guessing he’s out of the big leagues of WASP but emulates the style and is more of a power worshipper than anything else with an ego open to stroking, hence how he could easily join a new administration, especially when he has enough of a bio the GOP would find him a role normally.

        He went from Presbyterian to Episcopal.

  34. Alex morfesis

    The new brass check…same as the old brass check…luv Matt taibbi but…he imagines a profession that never existed…it has always been a bread and circus silly yellow journalism world…the eloquent ignorance that flows from the fingers of the self proclaimed fourth estate defenders of the Commonweal… Rarely has there been much “investigative” reporting which was not a bag job handed to a hack to look as though “they” discovered it…


    Maybe now we can get some play on the Panama papers and lux leaks…

    1. Yves Smith

      Honestly, I would have liked to have been more openly skeptical, but after PropOrNot, we were a target. We were several times attacked as a fake news site and third-tier academics were organizing volunteers to classify sites as fake news, which looked like it could get them kicked of FaceBorg. FB has never been a meaningful source of traffic, but being designated as a fake news site would have really hurt our credibility. So we kept our heads down and linked to people like Aaron Mate and made our points in comments. McCarthyism works.

  35. kimsarah

    The Russiagaters apparently aren’t yet finished digging to reach the bottom of their grave. May they find their special place in the afterlife.

  36. integer

    Trump hints at payback for ‘evil’ enemies over Mueller report BBC

    “There’s a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things,” Mr Trump said, “I would say treasonous things, against our country.”

    “And hopefully people that have done such harm to our country, we’ve gone through a period of really bad things happening.

    “Those people will certainly be looked at, I’ve been looking at them for a long time.

    “And I’m saying, ‘why haven’t they been looked at?’ They lied to Congress – many of them, you know who they are – they’ve’ done so many evil things.”

    Mr Trump did not name the alleged culprits.

    I would like to see Brennan, Clapper, and Obama put under the microscope. I would also like to know more about the roles of MI6 and GCHQ in the genesis of Russiagate.

    1. integer

      Also Lynch, and it goes without saying that the actions of Comey, Strzock, Page (Lisa), and McCabe should be scrutinized. It would also be worth taking a look at Ukraine’s involvement in the election, in particular the Chalupa sisters’ ties to the DNC.

  37. Glen

    Seems like pulling the plug on TV, cable, and satellite goes a long way towards clarifying one’s thoughts.

  38. dk

    The entire RussiaRussia debacle looks like a coverup by the Clintonites to avoid answering questions about the quality and effectiveness of the 2016 campaign. How does one blow a billion dollars (and more dark money) and lose to a clown? Nefarious agents with sophisticated technology and real estate side deals don’t really explain the phenomenon, but it made a nicer story than the excesses and failures of Clinton’s campaign.

    Think of these poor [sic] journalists! Who wants to beat the sudden underdog, at that moment, amirite? The Russians what? Really? In the Post? Who would be the first to step out against Clinton… *crickets*.

    Okay but it’s been a few years now.

    Democrats are again seeking and sniffing out a presidential candidate, it might be worth re-examining the Clinton campaign and be wary of its methods (and cast of continuing characters). Heavy reliance on media visibility (and spin by proxies and allies in the press) impresses the donors, but it takes more to turn out voters. Several Dem runners are mounting field campaigns of various kinds, this kind of early field work is valuable if pursued and followed through to GOTV.

    1. Mike

      Remember “The Candidate” (Robert Redford)- on a piece of paper was his instruction if agreeing to run.

      Democrats got that instruction by way of the Clintons. The warhawks (political, economic, and financial) don’t shoot liberals anymore (why make them dead Saints when you can create eviscerated zombies?), but control the avenues to media and politics so there are no surprises. Moderate Republicans willing to “compromise” with reactionaries are necessary now. The DP is filling that niche.

      As for journalism, we do have a few investigators, but they’ll have to fund themselves. The rest watch for the buttered side of the bread.

  39. Carey

    Adding that I expect the MSM to double down, fail upward, and above all, continue to silence and banish dissenters from their insane, brain-dead narrative.

  40. Mike

    And now, for the continuing saga of “keep it alive, Bosco!” – this is how it will continue:


    This, of course, by “Flora Lewis foreign policy award winner” Trudy Rubin (look up overseas Press Club for entertainment), writing for all Philadelphia papers on the Middle East and her favorite Israel.Tried and true liberal Democrat in the Kissinger vein… never met a non-interventionist who could be trusted.

  41. mauisurfer

    Hillary has done more damage to the democratic party

    than any other unsuccessful candidate – ever

    hillary makes nixon (in 1960 loss to jfk) look like a great statesman

  42. Joe Well

    Is anyone making a list of the Russiagate deadenders?

    One of the saddest casualties of all this for me is boingboing.net

    Xeni Jardin has been beating the drum often and hard and she is still spouting conspiracy nonsense about the Mueller report.

    Along with all the viral social shaming posted by other contributors (they were also pushing the MAGA Catholic high school students’ social shaming), the only reason to read it is Corey Doctorow and his silence in the face of what his “colleagues” are doing really makes it hard for me to respect him.

    On the other hand, this has been the value of this whole episode, to separate the wheat from the chaff. But sadly, for the Establishment, it has also put a red laser dot on members of the real left. I fear for them.

  43. paullauter

    I’d give the last word to Allen Ginsberg in “America”

    . . . . America you don’t really want to go to war.
    America its them bad Russians.
    Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
    The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
    Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
    That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
    America this is quite serious.
    America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
    America is this correct?
    I’d better get right down to the job.
    It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
    America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

    Berkeley, January 17, 1956

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