The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


For people who don't follow events closely, it's taken as conventional wisdom that: (1) the Russians inserted themselves into our election to the extent that they somehow swung the result in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton, (2) that Trump and his campaign "colluded" with the Russians to accomplish this, and (3) that the Russians' actions and Trump's participation in all of it are a "threat to our democracy." After all, the trained hamsters of the main stream media have pushed the story for almost a year, the #nevertrump congress has conducting never-ending investigations, leaks from the FBI and DoJ abound, and a Special Prosecutor is turning over as many rocks as he and his team of pro-Clinton lawyers can find. But if you step back for a moment and consider the hard evidence and actual facts, the context, and the players—all of this is nonsense—evidence-free nonsense.

Like most narratives that are based on a foundation of big lies, the narrative's claims are dangerous because there are very small elements of truth in them. The Russkies do mischief and psyops all the time, including trying to foment hysteria and strife within the United States. (The media has helped them greatly in that regard.) Russian hackers are legendary for the mischief they create, and yes, people do meet with Russians all the time for a myriad of reasons. But the hysterical claims of collusion are supported only by innuendo—person X met with a Russian, AND the Russians might have hacked DNC computers (although that is highly debatable) AND the Russians purchased $150K work of ads on social media (take a breath and recognize that close to $1.5 billion was spent on this past election, making a $150K ad buy about 1/100th of 1 percent of total dollars spent, but never mind), THEREFORE, Trump is a Russian stooge!!

Glen Greenwald writes about a report from HHS that claimed that the Russians tried to hack into the election systems of 21 states in the run-up to the election. The trained hamsters reacted to the story by getting the vapors. Greenwals writes:
They [the media and some Democrats] were one small step away from demanding that the election results be nullified, indulging the sentiment expressed by #Resistance icon Carl Reiner the other day: “Is there anything more exciting that [sic] the possibility of Trump’s election being invalidated & Hillary rightfully installed as our President?”

So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false. The story began to fall apart yesterday when Associated Press reported that Wisconsin – one of the states included in the original report that, for obvious reasons, caused the most excitement – did not, in fact, have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers.

The spokesman for Homeland Security then tried to walk back that reversal, insisting that there was still evidence that some computer networks had been targeted, but could not say that they had anything to do with elections or voting. And, as AP noted: “Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator, Michael Haas, had repeatedly said that Homeland Security assured the state it had not been targeted.”

Then the story collapsed completely last night. The Secretary of State for another one of the named states, California, issued a scathing statement repudiating the claimed report:

Sometimes stories end up debunked. There’s nothing particularly shocking about that. If this were an isolated incident, one could chalk it up to basic human error that has no broader meaning.

But this is no isolated incident. Quite the contrary: this has happened over and over and over again. Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence.
There seems to be a pattern here. Outrageous claims drive hysteria by the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd, followed by actual evidence that the original claims were blatantly false, followed by a quick pivot by the #nevertrumpers to yet another false claim.

Greenwald asks a question in his article's title that seems wholly appropriate: "Is skepticism permissible yet?"