Is Trump a Russian plant?

Here is my Bloomberg column on that topic.  Excerpt:

“But if Trump were in Putin’s pocket, why would he be so nice to him in public? Wouldn’t a real KGB pawn keep a proper distance and play a subtler game?”

…Then there is the “hiding in plain sight” theory. If you know you did something wrong, and people are searching everywhere for evidence of it, then you also know they will eventually find it. So you might as well put it somewhere obvious. For one thing, it might take them longer to look in the middle of the room, so to speak. And when they do find the incriminating evidence, you can argue that it can’t be that bad because you never tried to hide it.

But that hypothesis doesn’t work either. Trump’s embrace of Putin hasn’t exactly put people off the scent, for one. And if Robert Mueller’s team does present serious evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, an “I was open about our friendship at that press conference” probably won’t serve as a workable defense.

p.s. probably not.


Here is an anagram of Tyler Cowen: New Trol Ye C

How about not overlooking the obvious: the demands for more contributions to the anti-Russian NATO alliance, the criticism of the Euros for excessive dependence on Russia for energy, the counterattacks in Syria, the extra pressure on Russia’s friend Iran, the strengthening US economy and oil production which puts additional pressure on oil prices.

Trump has clearly gotten tougher with Russia, with China, with North Korea, but the lunatics need to add more epicycles to their conspiracy theories.

Such obvious logic will never work on people who were blase' about the USSR at the height of the cold war but now think Russia is our existential enemy.

The Russian pipeline to Europe thing caught me off guard (even though it really, really should t have).

Given Hillary's national security violations and ethical lapses, Putin would have checkmated her in many ways.
How can Trump trust the Rosenstein and Mueller indictments when they have circled the wagons to cover up rampant official misconduct by Obama administration law enforcement and intelligence officials in both the Hillary and Trump investigations? I read today that the Malaysian link in the indictment's chain broke because the Malaysian entity dose accept cryptocurrency as payment. The latest news is that Tony Podesta, guilty of the same FARA type violations as Manafort was offered immunity by Mueller. More official misconduct by opponents of Trump. Is there no deceny left? Have the anti-Trumpers no shame. I guess they have too many ghost stories to conceal.

The Malaysian entity in the indictment does not accept cryptocurrency...sorry.

Well duh. He's the Useful Idiot.

Trump derangement syndrome. There is a cure. Open your eyes and ears. Follow the light. Climb out of that paranoid confused anti-trump hole and see the light. You are being used. To even ask the question "is Trump a Russian plant" shows how far you have fallen into that useful idiot hole. There is hope for you, but you must turn off CNN...

And OneGuy is just one guy among throngs of followers of the useful idiot, namely, useful idiots themselves.

It probably is TDS to presume Trump is literally controlled/in thrall to the Russians. However, it's not even a question he is way out of his depth and getting played by Putin and others. And he clearly had some business dealings with them when US banks wouldn't touch him, so he's being far more solicitous than he otherwise would be.

If Obama was doing/saying the exact same things of course Team Red would be crying treason. More tired partisanship I'm afraid, ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ

A reasonable assessment.
I'd add that if Obama were behaving in this manner, they'd likely calling him Putin's cuck, amongst other things.


This is the most plausible account of the Trump/Putin relationship -

Obama had no depth. You couldn't say he was out of his depth because he was never in it or had it. He was an empty suit, a puppet, a teleprompter reader. He may never had an original thought, he may never actually gone to the colleges he claimed he did but refused to prove. It's not even clear that he wrote his own book where by the way he claimed he was born in Kenya.

For a law professor, Obama ignored whatever he may have learned. The writing on the barn wall was always changing to accomodate his pigs.

These guys, my friends, are exhibiting what is known as Obama Derangement Syndrome, or ODS. ODS has faded in intensity for many in the last year or so, but pockets of virulence remain. It shares many features with a current more prevalent malady, Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).

Study up on both and watch for symptoms in your own lives.

However, it's not even a question he is way out of his depth and getting played by Putin and others.

He's not out of his depth, and the man is a total player.

He beat 16 political pros for the highest elected office in the US, in his first run ever for political office.
In his term, he is going to establish a "Trump" SCOTUS.
He trashed the abominable TPP/TPA.
He got corporate tax rates competitive with the rest of the OECD.
He moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, telling the Arab world to grow the eff up.
He enforces the borders of the sovereign State of which he is the head.
He started the peace process with North Korea, by telling the South Koreans he has their back, and not humiliating the NK dictator.
He recognizes Russia as one of the three countries that matter on the planet, along with China.
He recognizes the EU as a fragile, juvenile partner, with deep structural issues.
He is re-negotiating awful trade agreements in accordance with his country's national interests, like everybody else does.
He has enabled, through some astounding needle-threading, the re-emergence of a secular and stable Syria, instead of the theater-wide, multi-party war Miz Her Turn would have us in.
ISIS, as he promised, is gone.
He has the Left in absolute meltdown, revealing themselves as the anti-white, anti-bourgeois, anti-religious, mentally ill fanatics that they are.

All I heard during the campaign was that we needed to vote for that old lush Hillary because otherwise Trump would get us all blown up over North Korea and Russia. Now that he's elected and practicing realpolitik, all I hear is that the Cossacks and NorKs are marching on Crown Heights, just like happened to great-uncle Moishe back on the pale.

Personally, I'm looking forward to 2020 and the Immigrant Annihilation Act, the Pact of Steel with the Visegrad Group, and George Soros being
deported to London, the historical destination for all corrupt, money-laundering, Marxist oligarchs.

Then it's on to 2024 and Don Trump, Jr. And y'all can keep telling me how out of his depth Trump is.

This guy gets it.

Tyler himself tips his hand by entertaining the conversation; the actual collusion/corruption story of the election really is in plain sight, its perpetrators pointing still furiously in Trump's direction.

Plain sight indeed.

Top members of the US intelligence and national security bureaucracy conspired, colluded, and interfered in the electoral contest for their own Chief Executive. There's not a law against that?

Journalism/commentary is going broke--the internet has obliterated its business model so most of them have to hope for a millionaire sugar daddy to operate them at a loss. Consequently, the reporters are low-paid strivers who can't afford to live in the cities where they work.

The CIA and NSA have large black budgets which include media operations.

Wonder how many editorial writers and reporters are getting sub rosa payments? Like I said, D.C. and Manhattan are pretty expensive.

Just throwing that out there, while we're talking about puppets and plants and assets.

better to suffer from trump derangement syndrome, than trump delirium syndrome.

I'll be happy when TDS, ODS, BDS, CDS and all the DSes go back to the fringes instead of the mainstream. In the social media age that may never happen.

True, things were were much calmer when the MSM could control the narrative completely. Not to worry: Google, FB, Twitter are starting to agree with you.

Breitbart just got banned as hate content for a large swath of UK readers; now we're getting somewhere!

Classic derangement yourself, kiddo. I'm against the TDS and BDS types too. You're just one of the partisan sheep.

Trump must be really intelligent in order to be able to so convincingly pretend to be stupid.

Or he ist just stupid. Who could have seen this coming? /


The most compelling reason to doubt that Trump is a Putin asset is that he’s so bad at not acting like one.

9:26 AM - 16 Jul 2018

I think there might be a mistake here. It is that if Trump were in any way compromised Putin would want to hide that. That Putin wouild want Trump to hide it.

Not if Putin's goal is to destabilize the west. A president that is obviously (and from his perspective hilariously) compromised only proves the weakness of the west.

Tyler Cowen was always one of those people who believed that politics was "really" about raising the status of one group and lowering the status of another group.

Funny that he'd forget that now.

Trump's disoriented walk through global politics has CLEARLY lowered the status of Americans and raised the status of Russians. Helsinki sure as hell did.

Too early to predict the results, but Trump's results so far have countered Russian power...much more aggressive than anything Obama/Clinton/Kerry ever did.

The strongest counter to that is it the destruction of NATO undermines the strength and security of the United States, and improves the Russian ability to influence peripheral states.

But on a more basic and obvious level, the president of the United States playing beta male to the president of Russia's alpha, tells the world the new order.

What else Putin might have got.

So the guy is just a moron...

Not sure what's worse: being a moron or being a Russian asset :-) .

I think the explanation is far simpler.

The Mueller team dropped the Russian indictments right before Trump's meeting with Putin in an obvious display of power politics. This pissed Trump off and he over-reacted.

I'm not sure why people insist on over complicating Trumps reasoning.

It's been widely reported that Ron Rosenstein invoked a national security exception to the DOJ policy and briefed Trump on the coming indictments, allowing him to choose when they were announced.

Brett, you're a gossip, NOT an insider.

'you're a gossip, NOT an insider'

Which just might be why his first four words were 'It's been widely reported....'

Though he probably should have copied the current style of our president, and said 'Many people are saying....'

Actually, Putin is in a relatively weak position, but he floated the idea of interrogating former Ambassador McFaul. That way, he got the MSM to collude with him in undermining Trump. Now the MSM is helping Putin, but that’s what they wanted to do anyway.

No, Rich, I think he (Putin) is trying to have sanctions lifted, claiming that the Magvinsky sanctions legislation was the result of some conspiracy involving the Clinton Foundation and Broder.

Trump, stupid as he is, whenever he hears "Clinton Foundation", bites at the bait.

Putin will reel him in as the country discusses the illegal origins of the sanctions.

As Putin would say, don't think about Ukraine.

Hillary, Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya, and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS all lobbied against the Magnitsky restrictions. What a coincidence that they were reunited to undermine the Trump campaign. Clinton's record is that of facilitating Putin's objectives.

Actually, rather than as evidence of Putin and MSM conspiring, I think the McFall/Magvinsky matter is evidence of Trump AND Putin conspiring, not Putin and MSM.

Think about it for a minute. If you follow this rabbit down the hole, you would have to argue that the Senate and House conspired with the Clinton Foundation to enact the Magvinsky Act. Hell, sounds like Putin should also be able to interrogate the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committee (one of which was a Republican) about their conspiracy with the Clinton Foundation.


The reason this is a conspiracy between Trump and Putin is that Trump has to know it is false, given what we know about our government and the legislative process.

So, now Trump works with Putin on this diversion and has to coordinate with him.

What does that tell you.

Well, Rich, looks like the Senate just knocked off the horse that Trump was going to ride: 98-0 Resolution against Russian interrogation of current and former diplomats.

I haven't seen the Left this mad since Reagan called the USSR the Evil Empire.

Maybe the left is upset at Russia for no longer being communist.

At this point I don't think that's enough, they'd have to be communist and stop being white for the left to get back with team Russia

Yeah that's why the left hates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Oh wait, are Jews white? And I guess Warren is Native American so bad examples.

LOL. That circular firing squad is just getting started. Have you heard of a young Puerto Rican named Ocasio-Cortez?

What are you on about? They're all still gonna vote Dem.

Point being, a lot of folks in WI, OH, MI, and PA won't.

I support the candidacy of Ocasio-Cortez. I am encouraged that there will be more Democratic candidates like her.

No one in WI, OH, MI, or PA are eligible to vote for Ocasio-Cortez. The voters that are will probably elect her with a 90% majority.

But they're eligible to vote for Presidential electors, which is the real prize here.

Like I said, I look forward to the future Democratic Presidential nomination of Ocasio-Cortez.

And I look forward to Mila Kunis dropping by tonight with some champagne, but I think we will both be disappointed.

lol who's shrieking about the evil empire now beyatches

And how do we know that Tyler Cowen is not a Russian plant?
Or perhaps a root vegetable, like a beet?

The plot thickens: Cowen's wife is Russian.

When did this blog start? Early 2000s? That's when the BRICs were making all the money and Putin got in power...i call that Putin's long game investment.

potted plant? hmmmm, very interesting, but schtoopid.

Now we need Tyler’s favorite root crops in order would make a great post, but only if it is comprehensive. Turnips and beets need to be ranked along with camas and taro.

The issue isn't Trump and Putin. Trump is doing a better job containing him and he some things he wants him to do like pressure North Korea. I don't know how that is going but we don't hear a bunch of bravado of of that corner so probably ok.

The issue is that Trump won the election and has the temerity to not suck up to the people who think they run the world in Washington.

This is 9/11 truther level bullshit.

Don't investigate is what you say.

Partisanship takes you really far when the investigation is led by Mueller, a former Republican.

Trump is an animal, not a plant! #Biology

Feels beneath you; unserious, throwing something together to meet a deadline. A marginal step backward for the Tyler Cowen brand.

To be generous, it was probably written before the McFaul story really developed.

What we now call diplomatic immunity has a very deep history. Trump would have to be more than a little bit foolish to not know that independent nations do not give up their ambassadors to the justice of others. He would have to be a perfect fool to consider doing so. To not know that "considering" makes him personally Putin's bitch.

Strange days. And now I really will hike. The trail is called "rattlesnake" which always spooks me a little.

Ah yes, he must be Putin's bottom bitch since he is so submissive. You liberals are so tolerant when it counts.

I am a disgruntled ex-Republican, and I find it hilarious that you demand I be politically correct.

"What we now call diplomatic immunity has a very deep history."

As far as I understood, the (not obviously serious) proposal was for the FBI to go to Moscow to witness the questioning of the 12 Russian military spies, in return for FSB or whoever to go to the US and witness the questioning of McFaul, Browder, and so on. Has there actually been any discussion of extradition in either direction? That would surprise me. It would also surprise me if diplomatic immunity provided you immunity from being *questioned* with respect to a criminal case.

You are right that there is some nuance here, and I told the strongest version of the story.

But actually yes, I think there is a lot of precedent for diplomatic personnel never even being questioned. If it is handled, it's by expulsion.

I'm not familiar with the norms around questioning ambassador after he has retired. Anyway, it's all basically irrelevant, I suspect, and will go nowhere. Though it is fun to watch the squirming of McFaul, against whom I do admit a bias. As somebody else commented once, McFaul is the reason I tell Russians I'm Canadian.

Is there some McFaul scandal you can link to? Or is the right half of America willing to go with "Putin doesn't like him, so he must be bad?"

He repeatedly made an idiot of himself in Moscow. It's a bit hard to appreciate if you don't speak Russian, but this might help:

If you don't want to read the whole thing, begin at "So it is with great pleasure..."

This guy, on the other hand, seems to have been a class act:

"right half of America"

I'm interested in realism and sanity, not partisanship. My enemy's enemies are not necessarily my friends.

OK, that's funny. Yoburg. I wasn't sure what you meant by "squirming." But on small things, it looks like McFaul has done his squirming.

The Yoburg incident was pretty hilarious, though my wife, who had a proper Russian upbringing, would not laugh. Anyway, that was the least of his problems in Moscow. Sending someone like that to Moscow is simply a sign of contempt.

The squirming I was referring to are his recent tweets about not wanting to be questioned.

"The squirming I was referring to are his recent tweets about not wanting to be questioned."

Now we're back to serious issues and my question. Do we have any indication that McFaul acted as other than a proper civil servant? Was he rogue?

If not, is this questioning (again!) an attack on our sovereignty? That is, is Putin tricking or partnering with Trump to undermine the idea that the US government has authority over its ambassadors?

Is Trump going to make the very foolish and shortsighted argument that the government does NOT provide ironclad protection for diplomatic staff, but gives them up with the winds of politics?

One of the things Trump consistently does is when a situation has been a problem for a long time with no improvement, he looks for 'rules' to break. "Oh, the North Korean situation has been terrible forever? Well, what are the 'rules', and are there any that might actually be good to break?" Eventually he settled on engaging personally with Kim Jong-Un, which was something we basically never considered before.

Remember at some point he asked something along the lines of "Why *don't* we ever use our nukes in war nowadays?" at a meeting. He saw a rule, and said "what would happen if we broke it?". Presumably in that instance someone explained it to him and he agreed to keep the rule.

The point is that a terrible situation often persists because the 'rules' actually prevent the players from fixing things properly. With NK, conventional diplomacy had a perfect track record of failure ('the definition of insanity...'), so he decided to try something else. We'll see whether it works in the long run, but for now it seems much more promising than before.

So now you tell me he "considered" breaking yet another rule. What a surprise.

The situation with NK is exactly what it was pre Trump, with the caveat that South Korea is angling to normalize relations.

Also that support for sanctions has dropped.

That's a damned big caveat for things being "exactly the same". The South Korean president specifically credited Trump for helping to make normalization possible.

Let me give some more examples of things that have changed.

- The North Korean official media has completely given up on the pretense that North Korea is a super-advanced nation. State TV showed off how *Singapore* looks in a huge documentary; the state newspaper showed pictures of Singapore at night; both reported that Kim Jong-Un said North Korea should learn from Singapore.

(Singapore looks like it came from the future even to me, an American. What will it look like to someone from Pyongyang?)

- Kim Jong-Un ordered anti-American propaganda taken down.

- North Korea is scheduled to return the remains of US servicemen killed in the Korean War later this month (July 27th, according to CBS)

In short, the myth that NK and the USA are enemies for *deep meaningful reasons* is draining away on both sides. As I said, we'll see how it turns out in the long run - but for now, yes, it does look much more promising.

We've apparently accepted them as a nuclear power so now they can pivot to other things.

That used to be a big deal. Its not anymore. That is what has changed.

PS. Oh, and about the 27th. They left the Americans on the DMZ standing there with their dick in their hands last time. It is totally up to them whether it happens again. And what are you going to do about it?

Accepting them as a nuclear power is called 'being real'. They are one, and we aren't going to invade and kill millions to stop it. Our best hope has always been to get Kim to dial back the crazy and for him to want to make his country 'normal'.

I'm as anti-Trump as they come but I agree with Tuesday, NK is easily the best thing Trump has done as president. Really the only good thing (cutting taxes would have happened under any Rep president). It may amount to nothing but he's already made more progress than any before him there.


Or he's sown the seeds of dismantling the alliance. And played an idiot for an idiot.

The biggest threat to NK was the US. With SK they can threaten, cajole, and beg their way to reunification under NK terms.

That's just looking for a reason to worry. Can't make progress with SK and NK friendship because NK might get the upper hand? Then you can never be friendly at all. Change has to start somewhere.

How about reunification of Virginia and West Virginia first?

Shouldn't we go in reverse chronological order?

So first put Sudan back together, then Czechoslovakia, then Yugoslavia, THEN Korea, then the Austo-Hungarian and Ottoman empires and so on.

Lots to cover before we get to WV and VA

Then Britain and the U.S....

"Or he's sown the seeds of dismantling the alliance. And played an idiot for an idiot."

Let's cross-read the Montenegro situation. A tiny nation of 622,781 people. Putin tried a coup there earlier this year. Tiny Montenegro has been trying to join NATO for their own security.

So, right after Helsinki Trump visits Tucker Carlson:

CARLSON: Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member who has been attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked: Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack? Why is that?

TRUMP: I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people.

CARLSON: Yeah, I’m not against it — or Albania.

TRUMP: No, by the way, they have very strong people — they have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. Now I understand that — but that’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago. But I took over the conversation three or four days ago and said, “You have to pay.”

So, can we really paint this as Trump just being "foolish" again? Or who's line is he toeing when he dutifully says that the people of tiny Montenegro are so, so dangerous?

This guy has to be compromised. There is just no way anyone, even an innocent fool, blindly follows along to "the great threat of Montenegro."

Teusday: "So now you tell me he 'considered' breaking yet another rule. What a surprise."

You could call it a rule, but it is a rule about our national sovereignty. And this is not the first time Trump has broken rules about national sovereignty. He and his sons paint meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary as just something campaigns do. Or that publicly asking the Russians to hack her was just a joke. No. There really was no precedent for that yielding of national sovereignty to foreign interference. And certainly since Trump got his full briefing on that intervention in January 2017 he has been trying to reset expectations that this is normal.

We should not accept it as normal. Not unless you want a joint Democratic-Iranian campaign in 2024. Or heck, a joint Democratic-Russian campaign in 2024. Putin would probably get a great kick out of switching sides and screwing a new set of people.

His whole game has been to humiliate the President of the United States and humiliate American leadership in the world. In Helsinki he got everything he wanted. But sure, he could enjoy round two.

One problem is that multiple explanations may be true. The gains-from-trade hypothesis and the countersignalling hypothesis, for example, aren't mutually exclusive. As long as we seek one clear explanation, we fail to determine whether a combination of factors is at work. But multicausal explanations are notoriously hard to verify.

Another complication is that Trump's motivations may have changed over time. What motivated him as a long-shot candidate would likely be different from what motivates him now as an increasingly controversial president facing multiple scandals. What was rational for him once may have been irrational had he known electoral victory was assured. Because of earlier calculations and miscalculations, he may be locked into a situation where he has no good options.

Anyway, there too many known unknowns, as well as too many unknown unknowns, to figure out whether he's a plant at this point.

It is obvious to any one with common sense that Trump is a Russian asset.He was cultivated as far back as the 80s.Russian money keeps his business empire afloat after American banks stopped lending to him.

Come now, you are ignoring the Deutsche Bank, who is perfectly fine with handing money to Trump.

It is far easier to explain how Deutsche Bank is Russian Controlled than how Trump is.

It is even easier to explain why Deutsche Bank likes having Trump in their ever so stylishly tailored pocket.

'Deutsche Bank has been fined more than $630m (£506m) for failing to prevent $10bn of Russian money laundering and exposing the UK financial system to the risk of financial crime.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority imposed its largest ever fine – £163m – for potential money laundering offences on Germany’s biggest bank, which it said had missed several opportunities to clamp down on the activities of its Russian operations as a result of weak systems to detect financial crime between 2012 and 2015.

A US regulator, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS), also fined the bank $425m as it listed problems at Deutsche including one senior compliance officer stating he had to “beg, borrow, and steal” to get the resources to combat money laundering. As part of the settlement, the DFS has imposed a monitor, who will police the behaviour inside the bank for two years.'

Oops - that shows Deutsche Bank involved with Russians.

Of course, one can be confident that none of that laundered Russian money ended up buying high end NYC or Florida real estate, right?

Oops? Deutsche Bank being controlled by Russians is a lot less damning than that they are just that incompetent. But if you meant that this means Trump is, that is a pretty terrible argument, especially when you merely argue without proof. You are just making your foundation shoddier.

Trump wants hotel deals in Moscow. All of his foreign relations trips involve new Trump Hotels.

Not all - sometimes, they involve having taxpayers put money into Trump's coffers.

'Donald Trump’s Turnberry hotel was paid about £53,000 by the US government to cover the costs of the president’s two-day visit there last weekend, official payment logs reveal.

State department documents show that payments of $30,074 (£22,987) and $37,744 (£28,857) were authorised to cover Trump’s accommodation costs, paid directly to the hotel operating company that he owns.

Trump was joined at his resort by his wife, Melania, his son Eric, his White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, and John Kelly, his White House chief of staff, for what was billed as a private visit.

In all, there are seven payments authorisations listed by the State Department tied specifically to Trump’s stay at his Turnberry resort, costing US taxpayers nearly $237,500 in total.'

Strangely, you would think a public choice economist would direct their expertise into exploring this sort of presidential activity instead of essentially private meeting with former KGB members.

I think the only actual nefarious activity other than not investigating "foreign meddling" from countries other than Russia, is the nepotism, influence peddling, and possible fraud of using the Trump Hotel as official government lodging for his and his staff's official purposes.

I think he doesn't want exposure to the money laundering and possible bribery that was likely involved in the "Stans" hotel development deals at Russian's southern border.

The press is disappointed that the Helsinki meeting didn’t turn into an episode of the Jerry Springer show. Complete with chair throwing, hair pulling etc

Trump's a visionary genius. Cold war is over. The odds of a nuke being used as an effective weapon of war are far lower than the odds of an accidental detonation. We won in part by spending the Soviet Union into bankruptcy. And yet we've continued that spending apace for a quarter century after our victory. Look at all the wise men of foreign policy from Richelieu and Metternich to the Best and Brightest of the Vietnam era Has there been a truly wise man in the bunch?

'The odds of a nuke being used as an effective weapon of war are far lower than the odds of an accidental detonation.'

Considering the general relations between Indian and Pakistan, that would be a nice bet to accept. Accidental detonation is virtually impossible, but Indian or Pakistan lobbing nukes when making decisions within to their 2 minute response time window (no Cold War 20 minutes luxuries there) is an accident waiting to happen - though the detonations will definitely be effective.

"We won in part by spending the Soviet Union into bankruptcy"

How exactly does a nation go 'bankrupt' if it has no debt and doesn't owe money to anyone? The fact that North Korea and Cuba are content to live for very long periods with intense material poverty and not reject their ruling class makes this thesis pretty questionable.

In WWII the USSR spent huge resources to quickly industrialize and threw millions of men against Hitler. In comparison the Cold War was pretty cheap. Nuclear missiles don't cost that much nor does a large standing army....especially if you're not actually using them.

"How exactly does a nation go 'bankrupt' if it has no debt and doesn't owe money to anyone?"

It spends too much money & manpower on it's military and not enough investing in economic policies. As time goes by it's economic output drops thus requiring even higher relative investments in the military to keep the large existing military infrastructure functional. At some point, neither the economic nor the military infrastructure is comparatively efficient and internal political dissatisfaction results in substantial changes.

1. Funny thing is the Soviet military infrastructure was never really tested against the US. It's possible a WWIII might have been a blowout with lots of Soviet equipment not working, massive failures etc. But that doesn't really could turn out 80% of Russia's tanks couldn't make it 100 miles without breaking but nonetheless a few hundred working nuclear missiles (which Russia certainly could pull off), would be more than enough to make it worthy of being called WWIII. doesn't seem to indicate the USSR was imploding economically. The implosion came with the transition from old to new system.

But why did the system change? The theory has merit: the West showed the USSR that they were nowhere near a modern nation, and they eventually threw in the towel.

the West showed the USSR that they were nowhere near a modern nation, and they eventually threw in the towel.

Ok, did that work in WWII when Hitler invaded with airplanes and tanks and Soviet troops were still on horseback? That didn't cause any towel throwing but the slow intake of Sony Walkman's in the 1980's caused the system to collapse? Wait consumer goods don't fit the 'outspent on military' narrative.

A somewhat informed military planner on either side in 1985 probably would not have seen any dramatic problem with Soviet forces. In the US the image of the USSR was one of a formidable military foe even without considering nukes both with experts and the general public (Red Dawn, Amerika). This might have been an incorrect perception but perception is pretty much reality if you're not going to actually put it to the test in an actual war.

'A somewhat informed military planner on either side in 1985 probably would not have seen any dramatic problem with Soviet forces.'

Actually, there was, and it ties into the 'modern state' aspect. I believe this was pointed out in several books at the time, so this is not an original idea by any means.

Basically, by the mid-80s, technology was decisively changing to favor smart weapons, particularly of the defensive variety. Fire and forget and various other applications involving IC/computer technology - the Soviets were clearly inferior, and the situation was only going to get worse, as the Soviet system could not tolerate the disruptions such technology brought in its wake.

Of course, intent matters - but the Soviets pretty much had an offensive oriented military in terms of its land forces in Europe, and its value had already begun to plummet. One quote ran along the lines of something like a 10,000 dollar TOW equals a million dollar tank, and a 100,000 dollar anti-air missile equal a 10 million dollar jet - with the Soviets being on the wrong side of that particular equation, especially if they invaded Western Europe.

Of course, intent matters - but the Soviets pretty much had an offensive oriented military in terms of its land forces in Europe, and its value had already begun to plummet. One quote ran along the lines of something like a 10,000 dollar TOW equals a million dollar tank, and a 100,000 dollar anti-air missile equal a 10 million dollar jet - with the Soviets being on the wrong side of that particular equation, especially if they invaded Western Europe.

Except with SDI the equation was against the US. There it is something like $10B to maybe have a 50% chance of shooting down one missile running 1970's or earlier tech.

I agree that equation was changing but the problem is something like an invasion of Western Europe was always a bluff anyway in the nuclear age. The moment someone actually tried it, the odds of it going nuclear go up a lot and the moment you go nuclear there wasn't and isn't any technological advantage on either side.

All the USSR needed was to maintain the impression they could mount a non-trivial invasion of Europe. 'Cheap' TOWs might make hordes of Soviet tanks easier to defend against (assuming both sides agree to hold back on nuclear), but the USSR still posed or at least appeared to pose a serious threat.

This played out before too in WWII where the Nazis were the ones with the great technology, better tactics, and just much more modern all around. The Russians took their licks and just kept throwing men at them until they forced their tech to, well not quite catch up but catch up enough. I doubt the Soviet military was so perplexed by cheap anti-tank missiles that they decided to just give the whole thing up.

Also that kind of belies the 'we outspent the USSR on defense' thesis.

Actually the collapse of the Soviet Union had more to do with low oil prices which collapsed from 1979 to 1991, rather than any kind of massive chance in military capabilities. The Soviet Union was the world's largest producer of oil during the 1970's and 1980's and oil revenues were critical part of state finances. Collapsing oil prices made running the USSR much more difficult and the economic stagnation of the 1980's made the population less tolerant of the regime as economic growth from 1920 to 1980 was satisfactory enough at cap gdp growing at around 2 to 2.5% but it slowed down tremendously after the mid 70's to less than 1% by the 1980's.


The Soviet economic model was broken. By 1980 real economic growth was zero, or possibly negative. It would have failed sooner or later.

2 factors made it fail sooner rather than later. Firstly, the arms race put it under additional pressure by diverting, perhaps, 30% of GDP into, effectively, pure deadweight loss. Secondly, failing oil and raw materials prices destroyed the value of Soviet exports, starving them of critical imports which they had become dependent upon in the absence of domestic growth.

I can think of almost nothing more idiotic than: “how can a country go bankrupt...” as a rhetorical device.

It is evidence of a combination of obtuse literalism, absolute ignorance, a complete lack of historical imagination, and dishonesty. What makes it so irritating is that to argue with it you have to define every word, from bankrupt to country to the verb “to go”.

Yes we know the meaning was not that the USSR maxed out its credit card and the nuclear store wouldn't let them charge any more missiles. Saying the US spent them into bankruptcy is either a metaphor or an analogy but both are dangerous ways of reasoning. They provide a plausible sounding story while letting ourselves get detached from the hard facts.

Hard facts are the economy of the USSR was doing better in 1990 than it was in 1980, 70, 60 or before. There's no economic indicators out there that tell us the USSR went into any type of metaphoric bankruptcy. It is easy to confuse the post Soviet economic collapse of the USSR with the collapse of the USSR itself.

The steps the Soviet state was required to take to get the economic improvement visible in 1989-90 were also the steps that destroyed both the Party’s control of the state apparatus and thhe cohesion of the Soviet system both internally and externally. Until Gorbachev the leadership had explicitly not followed his liberalizing path BECAUSE they knew it would damage the state, but by the mid ‘80s the cost of keeping up with the US militarily began to require them to take the risk or fall ever further behind. The entire purpose of Perestroika was to better compete.

Thought experiments applied to guessing the "why" of human behaviors is addicting, and often fun, but provides almost no useful results.

The subjects internal logic never follows raw reason, but is always nudged by internal emotions and attitudes. Those impulses can take decades of intimate knowledge to decode.

According to the epitome of a non-stig profession, the various "national security analysts", we are witnessing a double fake with the old give the US military a blank check budget, spurn further NATO investment by member nations, station US troops permanently in Poland to appease Russia/Putin's 13-dimensional chess trick.

Maybe Putin is so prescient that he realized the overreaction and hysteria from the MSM, vested MIC actors, proto - neocon Hillary supporters whether through Trump derangement syndrome or Red Scare 2.0. If Trump doesn't start WW3, he must be appeasing the Ruskies.

Still do not buy the theory that stupid memes and Russian spies typing "lol" at Hillary swayed the election. Anymore so than not campaigning in key flyover country battle ground states such as Wisconsin rather than Brooklyn, NY or Marin County CA , campaigning as she deserved the election, and insulting and mobilizing half of Trump's possible base by calling them scumbags might be detrimental also.

Maybe Trump can be both a narcissistic idiot but not a useful idiot.

John Oliver called it "stupid watergate" for a reason.
it is treason of course, but it is mostly stupid.
I mean look at the Trump kids...

They still leave Americans with a president willing to sacrifice reputation of the nation, and the stature of his office, for his own reasons.

What reputation might that be? Isolated between the seas and generally oblivious to the opinions of Europeans, Asians and Africans, the only reputation that matters is that of the Americans themselves. No American cares, or even pretends to care, if the Mongolians have a low opinion of any American politician. This is strictly a domestic affair.

The stature of the office itself is important in preserving the legitimacy of the institution and the government as a whole. For those that regard the whole thing as a fraud and, like Trump himself, know that the country is operated by a nepotistic hierarchy of business, academic, political and bureaucratic figures the stature of the presidency has become what it's been for at least 150 years, a symbol.

Oh, we pretend to care. We pretend to care *so much*.

"Oh no, the President said something that made the Montenegrins angry at us!"

Stuff like that actually matters, as we saw during the Iraq war. The low opinion of America led directly to the abrupt withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq in 2004, which led directly to the Shiite insurgency and the loss of many American soldiers lives, not to mention putting the entire project in jeopardy. Arguably, had we had the solid support of the world behind us, the insurgency would have been far less.

Hazel, that's ridiculous. Spain pulled it's troops out as a direct result of the Islamic Madrid Train bombing and a Left wing government winning the election.

Furthermore, Spain only had less than 1,400 troops in Iraq. The US had over 150,000 troops in Iraq. The Shiite insurgency wasn't because the Spaniards left the country.

And why was a leftist government promising to withdraw Spain's troops if they won? The fact that there is a lot of anti-Americanism around the world, including Spain, has a lot to do with it.

You're not suggesting they are our "foes," are you?

Spain liked Obama just fine: GW didn't even have that bad a press, until the waterboarding news came out. Trump is very easy to understand from a Spanish perspective, however: The country has seen its fair share of corrupt real estate developers, boastful idiots, and the recently dead that reminisced about Franco's time. If you put every negative stereotype in Spain together, you'd get something that looks a lot like Trump, except the tan would be real, and he'd eat better food.

"The fact that there is a lot of anti-Americanism around the world, including Spain, has a lot to do with it."

Sure, but that was hardly a new thing in 2004.

My point is that it's not stupid to care what other people around the world think of America. It's stupid not to.

The Shiites rose against when supported by Iran, after it was clear that Bush could not politically continue his grand plan to invade Iran.

Iran had massive armies on its eastern and western borders. This was not an accident. Invasion, or the threat of it, was part of the plan to subdue Iran. Absent a credible threat, Iran can and did support militants against the US.

The deaths from the uprising are directly attributed to people undermining the war effort.

The withdrawal of the Spanish troops (all 1,300 of them) led *directly* to the Shiite insurgency? Are you ser... you know what, never mind, you actually probably believe this. Are you sure it wasn't Iceland's 2 troops though?

Spain added less than 1% of all troops, and were there for one year. Not much of an influence on anything.

They were responsible for some key areas, and their withdrawal happening so abruptly that it created a kind of power vacuum. Maybe it's an exaggeration to say it led directly to the insurgency, but I've heard others historically attribute the breakdown in order at least in part to the Spanish withdrawal.

This is by far the dumbest thing you have ever said on this website.

Spain contributed essentially nothing to the security of Iraq. They were a token force so we could add a flag to the emblem of the 'coalition of the willing.'

Jesus Christ Hazel.

They were stationed in Najaf, and withdrew from it literally at the same moment that Muqtada Al-Sadr and his "Army of the Madhi" were holed up in the central Mosque there.

And they announced their withdrawal in advance. So you think the fact that Al Sadr, et. al. decided to launch their attacks precisely at the moment the Spanish were withdrawing was a pure coincidence?

The United States has started to take over responsibility for two provinces in south-central Iraq from troops from Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic which have begun to withdraw, the Polish army said on Monday.

Geez. Two provinces were being controlled by "token" forces, and their withdrawal had nothing whatsoever to do with the raging insurgency that was happening there or how it progressed. Nothing whatsoever. Just a huge coincidence.

You are so far out of your depth in this area it makes me question my own libertarian leanings.

Armed with Wikipedia good god.

First, I would be quite surprised if we found ourselves dependent on Montenegro's help in a war anytime soon. I care about a country's opinions if they're big enough to really affect us. Spain is; Montenegro (and Mongolia in chuck's example) are not.

Second, if what you say is true, think about what the press - especially the *American* press - is doing. That is, they are constantly bashing Trump and his supporters, to the tune of flat making stuff up (see the horrific story of the 91-year-old Mexican beaten with a brick - the press blamed Trump supporters when there was basically no evidence for it). This plays to the domestic audience, but also quite a lot to foreign audiences - and you can see the tone of coverage when Trump goes and meets with Merkel or Macron or May or Putin or Kim or who have you.

If what you say is true, and America is seriously dependent on what other countries think of our politicians, this behavior by the press is - in a moral sense, not necessarily a legal one - treasonous.

Yes it's the press's fault the world thinks Trump is a douchebag LOL

The press pushes people around the world to hate Trump, and they often use very misleading language to achieve this.

Do you disagree with this statement?

In case it wasn't clear, I don't think the anti-Trump press is treasonous. The point is that starting from Hazel's premise - which I reject - we could easily make a case for it.

'Do you disagree with this statement?'

Not speaking for anyone else, but you do realize that pretty much anyone can actually read Trump's tweets for themselves?

Like this one - 'Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.

Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames.

I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!'

The press cannot add anything to such official White House pronouncements, as many of Trump's tweets (if not all) are apparently considered that way by his administration - 'The Department of Justice is treating President Trump’s frequent Twitter posts as official statements, attorneys for the government wrote in a new federal court filing.

Justice Department lawyers qualified the president’s tweets in an eight-page submission entered in D.C. federal court Monday after U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta asked the government earlier this month for clarification concerning Mr. Trump’s Twitter musings.

“The Court has asked, broadly, about the official status of the President’s tweets … asking the parties to ‘provide insight on … the President’s tweets and what they are, how official they are, are they statements of the White House and the President,’ ” Justice Department attorneys wrote Monday citing a Nov. 2 status conference hearing.

“In answer to the Court’s question, the government is treating the President’s statements to which plaintiffs point — whether by tweet, speech or interview — as official statements of the President of the United States,” the Justice Department responded.'

That's right, the president of the U.S. has seemingly officially pronounced himself a super geni... oops, 'being, like, really smart.'

I actually don't understand why everyone flips out about "stable genius". Sure, it's funny wording, but that's about it. Is everyone really so freaked out by that?

Trump looks extremely mentally stable to me. People talk about his fragile ego, but it seems like precisely the opposite to me - someone with a fragile ego would have fled from the media circus decades ago, but Trump freaking bathes in that stuff.

My guess is that it's a highly-educated and liberal-leaning political-slash-intellectual class (most of my friends are in this category) which goes bananas over his mannerisms and style, because it signals that (a) he's not one of them, and (b) he's not even trying to placate them.

Yes I disagree with that statement. Trump needs no help in being seen as a disaster all over the world. As clockwork mentioned, he tweets it every day.

You didn't address the statement. I didn't ask if he "needed help" being hated, nor did I say he wouldn't be hated without the efforts of the press.

I asked if you believe the press *does* spin their stories to encourage people to hate him.

As a counterpoint, Obama said many things that many people here would hate and many people would have hated him anyway - but it's still true that Fox News pushed people to hate him (through spin, through selective coverage, etc.)

Well ok, there is Team Red and Team Blue press, and they spin for their team. I agree. Still doesn't make Trump any less terrible. Nor does it mean the world is mistaken about that.

Ok, cool, we've got agreement at least on this one narrow point.

So what does this mean to the original argument? To go back to the beginning, Hazel said that Trump was terrible because he looked bad to lots of people around the world - and if the American president looks bad, then bad stuff happens.

My point was that by this standard, the Team Blue press is also guilty for spinning things to make him look as bad as possible. It could be excused if they merely objectively reported things that happened to make him look bad (which would be his fault, not theirs) - but their coverage also included large doses of spin (and even some 'mistruths').

(Incidentally, it would also make the Team Red press guilty during the Obama years - though (a) most of the press is Team Blue, and (b) the Team Blue press has vastly greater reach overseas than the Team Red press.)

So that's what happens if we start with Hazel's premise. On the other hand, I don't believe "looking bad to foreigners" is a serious sin for a President. Obviously he should avoid it everything else being equal, but it's not anywhere near the top of my list of concerns.

My point is that we should care what people think of us. Ultimately, the President should conduct himself in a manner that doesn't allow his political opponents the opportunity to "spin" things in a way that makes him look bad. Years ago politicians used to say things like "we don't want to create the appearance of impropriety". Trump's tactic is to brazenly act with impropriety and then blame the fact that people notice on the media.

"Trump's tactic is to brazenly act with impropriety and then blame the fact that people notice on the media."

THIS. How is the media being 'unfair' (his favorite word) to him, when he's such a douche in plain sight? They are just describing the man in full.

I think the real point is if the Leftwing media attempted to describe Trump in a non-biased fashion it would be far worse for him, than the current situation whereby they sputter with rage.

Well, perhaps. The news media don't sputter with rage, they just report what the guy does and says. Op-eds run the gamut from reasoned critique to raging and sputtering. But not really any different than in years past. And when the Dem is president, they other team's media does the same thing.

I was just noting how his take on the media is yet more evidence of Trump's childish douchiness.

" The news media don't sputter with rage, "

Of course they do.

"Anderson Cooper calls the Trump-Putin press conference "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader certainly that I've ever seen"

That's reporting the facts actually, he's right. I don't hear any rage.

And in any case, that's an editorial. The other team's people say stuff like that all the time about the Dems. It's not rage then either.

There's a vast difference between Trump's "impropriety" and Bush-the-Younger's "starting a pointless war and causing significant death and suffering". If the press wants to spin "impropriety" as some kind of moral disaster, then fine - let them tie themselves into knots.

It's self-defeating to be constantly straitjacketed by worries of how "they" will spin the narrative, and I believe Trump's brashness and 'douchiness' is a net benefit. Whenever a State Dept official talks about how much America cares about [insert country here], my skin crawls - it is exactly such people who ran around sowing chaos in the Middle East for the past decade-and-a-half. By his mere willingness to cause offence, he signals that he is not one of those people.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - CS Lewis

Trump's brashness in and of itself is not such a bad thing. If he was only brash and non-politician-y (I know, I know) that would be refreshing and salutary. Combine it with a total lack of interest in understanding the world (i.e. reading anything), or civility, or statesmanship, or class, or honesty, or unifying, or care for anyone outside his own self and family, and you have a problem.

This is a simple case of two-movies-on-one-screen.

I think you're badly underestimating how much Trump knows and understands about the world - in particular, I think you're focusing on the wrong details and clouding your vision ("Green Lumber Fallacy"). Furthermore, I think it's obvious that Trump cares a lot about things other than himself and his family, as he has knowingly exposed himself and his family to a great deal of danger and reputational damage.

Presumably you think I'm being far too credulous when I trust that Trump has a coherent strategy with the objective of improving America, and too willing to believe that (the vast majority of) the press simply has it in for him.

From the outside, everything is speculation - but my view (that Trump usually has a strategy, and a good one too) does have the advantage of explaining how he won (easily!) against a gaggle of seasoned Republican politicians, and then beat 'the-mostest-qualified-candidate-ever' to become President.

If you want a peek at the guts of the 'Trump strategy', I recommend Coffee with Scott Adams (video series on Periscope). The benefit with Adams is that he makes explicit predictions - and has a genuinely impressive track record. For example, he predicted progress with North Korea very early.

Montenegro alone probably doesn't matter, but if you alienate all of Europe it does.

People during the Iraq war did say just that - that drumming up anti-Americanism in the midst of the Iraq War is sort of treasonous. But there's a difference between drumming up opposition to America and opposition to a particular president. The left has long despised what America stands for - it's who they are, no surprise there. Unfortunately Trump is the "ugly American" par excellence, and he's actually playing directly into that negative image of America. The opposition to Trump, the ugly American, if anything reminds the rest of the world that Trump doesn't represent America, that Trump is an aberration. And his nationalist fan boys ... those guys are the one's making America look like the fascist state that the left likes to portray it as.

I agree that hating America and hating the current US president are very different things. But if you asked "anti-American" Europeans in 2004, most of them would say they're fine with Americans, they just think Bush, Cheney et al. are monsters. So your 'negative repercussions of foreign opinion' happens even when it's just the administration which is hated.

I don't think we look like a fascist state, and the Left has been portraying us as such for decades - they've just gotten a bit more shrill about it lately, and managed to get a lot of the press on to it too.

So I don't think either side "makes us look like" it either - it would look *much* more fascist if everyone was on one side. The fact that much of the press can, and does, openly mock the President makes us look non-fascist - as does the fact that much of the population can, and does, openly mock the press.

'f you asked "anti-American" Europeans in 2004, most of them would say they're fine with Americans'

Nope, the anti-American Europeans I know tend to have a real problem with Americans, and not just their government. That is why they are anti-American, after all. Policy disagreements are not what makes someone anti-American.

The irony is that just about all of the real German anti-Americans I have ever known have essentially no experience of the U.S. - they tend not to speak English, nor have they ever travelled to or within the U.S.

'I don't think we look like a fascist state'

To people who actually know their own nation's history as a genocidal fascist state, the child/parent separation as official policy issued by the president certainly looked like the sort of thing a fascist would do, especially in defense of the sanctity of the Fatherl ... opps, homeland.

'and the Left has been portraying us as such for decades'

And most of the world yawned.

'it would look *much* more fascist if everyone was on one side'

No, it looks fascist when the leader of a state simply ignores common humanity to pursue his vision of returning his nation to greatness by locking up kids into wired off enclosures.

"the anti-American Europeans I know tend to have a real problem with Americans"

Especially the one in your mirror.

Who knows? I generally don't deal with anti-American Germans, particularly as their ignorance of the U.S. tends to be both stunning in its depth and impossible to change. There is enough of that in this comment section to keep me entertained at a keyboard as it is, without needing to keep listening to it voluntarily in social settings. But you are right that my contempt of their anti-American attitude is not very well hidden in even the most polite situation, so yes, it is quite likely that they do have a problem with how I act towards them.

Which is fine by me. After all, what American would ever want to waste time in real life with hopelessly ignorant anti-Americans. Personally, most Germans I know and deal with regularly are pro-America, though pointing out that a majority of Americans do not want Trump as president is wearing thin as a defense of the U.S. these days - putting kids in cages will do that for a nation's image.

Basically all of my German friends have spent a year or two living the U.S., and generally, they have about as much patience for anti-Americans as I do, and for pretty much the same reasons.

Whoosh. Or if you prefer, Das ging dir über den Kopf

1. The fact that it's even something that intelligent people can plausibly speculate about is disturbing.

2. Nobody really wants to believe it, because this is America and we don't want to believe that our President is a Russian puppet, so we have to be extra skeptical of our inclination to not believe it.

3. People keep saying things like this: "Trump’s embrace of Putin hasn’t exactly put people off the scent, for one. " and yet, for them it IS putting them off the scent, because it's serving as evidence (in a roundabout way) that it still isn't true. At least, we should disregard outward demeanor entirely, rather than use it as evidence one way or another - instead default to just looking at the Trump administration's actual policies with regard to Russia. Are they overly friendly, to an extent that does not seem rationally explainable?

4. I don't know what to think. I am disinclined to believe conspiracy theories by nature. So I contemplate 2, and settle on 1 - we shouldn't even have to wonder.

Hazel, you seem like a reasonable person. Could you help me practice empathy by explaining why a reasonable person would plausibly think that Trump is a "Russian puppet"? For example, what favors, in your estimation, has Trump done for the Russian state?

Be serious.
Are FBI investigators intelligent, reasonable people? Do FBI investigators think it's plausible that Trump might have colluded with Russia to get himself elected? To claim that it's implausible or crazy to see how there might be something there is sticking your head in the sand. It's getting to the point where the go-to defense of Trump for all of Trump's fans is to simply declare all his critics insane and pretend that nothing is happening. Trump is an immaculate saint and anyone who think otherwise is just CRAZY. Nothing to see here! Move along! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

I am being serious, and am asking for your reasons, not those of the FBI, which as far as I know they have yet to make public.

As for real Trump fans, I don't know any, so I can't comment on their psychology.

So my choices are: trust that the FBI actually knows what it's doing, or believe that they are all Hillary puppets belonging to the Deep State. Who is the conspiracy theorist now?

The FBI isn't claiming that Trump is a Russian puppet.

The FBI investigation shows that a reasonable intelligent persion might plausibly think trump owes something to the Russians. You can fill in the other details with information from other sources which a reasonable intelligent person could trust.

Like all bureaucracies, the FBI's empolyees are interested in perpetuating its existence and increasing its numbers and power. That's why they kept Whitey Bulger and other crooks in operation. All institutions are made up of individuals. In the case of the FBI, practically all of whom have law degrees, these people were unable to translate their expensive legal educations to a lucrative career in private practice. Being unacceptable to corporate law, or even business management, they were forced to join the lesser compensated but powerful ranks of the federal government. These bureaucrats are hardly the cream of the legal crop, as we see by the information available re: Peter Strozk and his inamorata.

Chuck, c'mon, if indictment are brought they get a public trial. You can claim that FBI agents have law degrees. So what. People will get a trial if there is anything uncovered.

What you are afraid of is that more will be uncovered.

"The FBI investigation shows that a reasonable intelligent persion might plausibly think trump owes something to the Russians. "

The FBI hasn't reached any such conclusion. I could see how someone that is highly partisan might draw that conclusion however.

More "Nothing to see here, move along."

Only a totally biased person could possibly think Trump might owe something to Russia! Only crazy people actually think maybe Russian interference could have helped him. Sane people know that is totally un-possible!

Although American, I've lived outside the US for a long time, and don't carefully follow US news, so I am not familiar with your priors. I'm genuinely trying to understand where you are coming from, not proposing false dichotomies such as "either you believe the FBI or you believe they are Hillary puppets". Ideally, we all are trying to be reasonable here, so we shouldn't just believe anybody without evaluating the evidence. Naturally, we can't all see all of the evidence, but Congress should.

"The FBI investigation"

Are you referring to the investigation headed by Strzok, or something else? Has the FBI claimed to have found anything unusual? So far I've only heard that Russian military intelligence was perhaps responsible for some phishing, and some troll farm in Saint Petersburg bought a 100,000 dollars worth of Facebook ads. Neither of these has anything to do with Trump, nor is either really so surprising or distressing. But maybe there are some other important things one should be concerned about. I don't follow this closely.

'I don't follow this closely.'

You really should - the timelines are fascinating, particularly when the information comes from information published by a figure like Trump's son. Or the counterintelligence investigation prompted by an Australian reporting what he heard from someone involved (to whatever extent) in the Trump campaign saying that the Russians had dirt on Trump's opponent.

Here is a good source - 'This timeline documents everything we know thus far about the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia. The sources are either verified events, court filings, public statements, or on-the-record media reports.'

Thanks for the link, which I've read, including some of the original documents. It turns out I've been following more closely than I thought. So far, given the evidence, it seems that some people within the Trump campaign had some meetings with important Russians like Ambassador Kislyak (is that problematic?), and with some losers like a "Professor" and a "Female Russian national" who claimed to have connections to the Russian government and to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.

If there is a law against receiving foreign aid during a presidential campaign, then these people seem to have had the intention of breaking that law, and so have to be prosecuted. Same if you replace connections with "Russian government" by "Saudi and Israeli governments". I wonder, though, how common this kind of thing is in presidential campaigns.

Anyhow, the Trump campaign seems to have been run by a bunch of idiots who couldn't effectively "collude" even if they wanted to.

Mass hysteria and patriotic herd behavior - even by those that believe they are intelligent - are a fact in this country and humanity.

See the Iraq war as a recent example.

1. Would you have said the same thing in the 1950s, during the McCarthy era and the Red Scare? We definitely had to wonder about it then.

2. Many people on the Left *do* want to believe it, just as many on the Right wanted to believe that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii.

3. The people who say that don't believe the allegations in the first place.

Re #1 Intelligent people do not think this is plausible. Speculation about this is similar to people dreaming about winning the lottery, with even less chances of this being true.

Nothing to see here! Move along!

It probably is going to far to say Trump is actually a Russian asset. But he's way too cozy with them and they probably did try to help him get elected. If Obama or god forbid Hillary was doing or saying the exact same things re Russia as Trump is, can you imagine the firestorm from Team Red?

The TMC/Dick the Butcher/SMFS/Rich Berger posts write themselves. Well, even more so than usual LOL.

He's also the guy who has been tougher on Putin than Obama. He's added sanctions and killed 40 Russians in Syria for using chemical weapons. THAT's what a red line looks like.

They helped Trump initially because he was the weakest in the GOP lineup, then they organized anti-Trump rallies when he was running against Hillary. I don't see how either of these were trying not to help Hillary.

Come on, TMC, he's your guy so he can do no wrong. Team Blue does the exact same stuff, you would be ripping them to shreds. Hell, Obama got grief for bowing to the Saudi king, compare that to Trump basically making out with the worst dictator on the planet (Kim) and making kissy face with Putin. Not to mention holding glowing orbs with the same Saudi king.

They can do plenty wrong, but if you reserve your criticism to that you'd have a lot less to complain about. I'm uneasy about his trade ideas, hoping there's a good endgame to it, and really not happy that we are still running the debt we are. All the Russian stuff is BS. He'd have to nuke them to get the TDSers to shut up.

It's almost certain Russia tries to influence our elections, though usually they don't have that much reason to care because usually both candidates are part of the same machine. Incidentally, the EU also tries to influence our elections, and we try to influence theirs too - remember Obama's remark about sending the UK "to the back of the queue" during the Brexit referendum?

Trump being "cozy" with Russia is not a bug in the system. Obama was "cozy" with the EU in a much stronger way. Foreign influence in elections is a given; what we want to prevent is a much narrower category of collusion.

PS. I feel vaguely insulted at being left off your list of pro-Trump regulars. I suppose I must try harder.

LOL I'm not as familiar with your work. You seem less kneejerk partisan (so far).

I remember Obama's "back of the Queue" remark. So does 52% of the British electorate.

I agree with Tuesday; a low level of mutual "meddling" is ubiquitous and "accepted" amongst the larger powers. The Russian FB ads and Server hacking barely rises above the background noise for Russian-US activity. Probably worth a formal "Hey, cut this out" memo, but not 5% of the energy and attention that the MSM/Democrats have actually spent on it.

Alistair, I doubt that the "larger powers" that have reasonably fair elections find hacking acceptable. What happens is not "mutual" meddling because any hacking-informed Facebook ads purchased by the U.S. in Russia (if any) were not going to change the fact that the Putin-Medvedev regime continued.

In so far as it can affect an election it is no different from burglary which continues to be considered to be unacceptable. Theft of non-rival goods is still theft. MSM and the Dems put their attention on this because a theft led to the resignation of Nixon.

Alistair, do the indictments of July 13, 2018 increase or decrease the probability you estimate of Trump conspiracy with the Kremlin?

"But it is far from clear what concessions the U.S. is getting from Russia or Putin, or how it might be possible (even in principle) to make an enforceable deal with them."

I don't know what concessions, if any, the US would like from Russia, but as far as I know, the Russian state abides by treaty obligations, except in the most extreme circumstances affecting its vital interests. Can anyone provide another counter-example, besides Crimea? If there was something the US wanted from Russia, like an arms treaty, I see no reason it can't be negotiated.

"explanations for Trump’s bizarre behavior?"

Exactly which behavior was bizarre? I haven't been following this very closely, other than that Putin and Trump had a meeting and nothing really came of it.

"They still leave Americans with a president willing to sacrifice reputation of the nation, and the stature of his office, for his own reasons."

Does TC really mean that having a meeting with the President of Russia does more damage to the reputation of the US and Office of the President than that same president meeting with leaders of North Korea or Saudi Arabia, or other recent presidents completely destroying Iraq and Libya? What am I missing?

I agree, and unmentioned is that Trump's policies are tougher on Russia than his predecessor's were.

I wish discourse was a bit more analytical on this subject.

Really? How so? Didn't he rescind a bunch of sanctions that were imposed on Russia?

On the plus side, he apparently wants NATO to spend MORE money on defense, which sort of runs counter to Russian interests, and last week he was yelling that Germany is a Russian puppet (project much?), but that might be just because of his general incoherence - he might not have realized that NATO spending more money on defense might be something that Putin wouldn't approve of, or maybe Putin was just happy he was charging around like a bull in a China shop and didn't care much about the spending levels.

In terms of military power a dollar of German spending probably buys less defense than a dollar of US spending. So in the long run reducing the US's role in NATO is almost certainly in Putin's interests even if it happens to be matched by spending increases among EU nations.

Second this is only 'tough' on Russia in the sense that it may make it marginally more difficult for Russia to invade Europe. But given nuclear weapons that's been an academic type of exercise. WWII ended the idea of massive invasion as a main strategy. So even if you can spin Trump as trying to increase Europe's strength by pushing them to do more themselves, that's probably not anything that Putin would get very upset with.

"Didn't he rescind a bunch of sanctions that were imposed on Russia?"

When? On the contrary, let me quote from

"In August 2017, United States Congress passed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that imposed new sanctions on Russia for interference in the 2016 elections and its involvement in Ukraine and Syria. The Act prevents the easing, suspending or ending of sanctions by the President without the approval of the United States Congress."

"On April 6, 2018, the United States imposed economic sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they control, accusing them of "malign activity around the globe", along with 17 top Russian officials, the state-owned weapons-trading company Rosoboronexport and Russian Financial Corporation Bank (RFC Bank)."

You mean the sanctions that Trump's government isn't implementing despite being required by law to do so?

Thanks. Can you be more specific? I'm getting mixed signals from web searches. The Wikipedia article does say

"On March 15, 2018, Trump imposed financial sanctions under the Act on the 13 Russian government hackers and front organizations that had been indicted by Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections."

and links to this

On the other hand, there is this:

By the way, from that latter article:

"The law also limits Trump's ability to lift prior sanctions or return diplomatic compounds seized from Russia under the Obama administration."

Does Congress have the authority to impose sanctions insofar as it is responsible for regulating trade with foreign nations? Or insofar as it can declare war?

Really? How so? Didn't he rescind a bunch of sanctions that were imposed on Russia?

No. You are confusing him with Obama. Obama removed the missiles from Poland.

"Really? How so? Didn't he rescind a bunch of sanctions that were imposed on Russia?"

Let's imagine what would have happened if no one said or did anything about Russia since the election. If the entire issue was just not on anyone's radar.

Mike Flyn, essentially an agent of Russia, would be on the National Security Council

Paul Manafort, head of Trump's campaign would have almost certainly had a high position in the administration. Under Manafort, a man growing rich and deeply in debt to Russian oligarchs, the GOP mysteriously scrubbed language condemning Russia annexation of the Crimea from its platform. Why wouldn't we expect a man like him to use an actual gov't post to do things Russia wants?

The Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on individual Russians involved with murder and human rights violations, which Putin hates with a passion because it endangers his cronies and possibly puts his stashes of stolen overseas loot in danger, probably would have been watered down to support 'adoptions' (Russia banned US citizens adopting Russian babies in response to Magnitsky, recall the original cover story for the meeting with Don Jr. and Jared was supposedly about encouraging 'adoption').

Of course none of these things happened but not without Trump clearly kicking and screaming all the way.

"Let's imagine ..." Points for honesty that you're just making sh!t up.

Flynn, who the FBI twice confirmed, did not lie to the FBI. He plead guilty because he already drained his bank accounts and sold his house to defend himself.

Manafort has a short stint in the campaign, that's it.

Flynn, who the FBI twice confirmed, did not lie to the FBI. He plead guilty because he already drained his bank accounts and sold his house to defend himself.

From Wikipedia:
Flynn was paid over $65,000 by companies connected to Russia in 2015, including $11,250 from both Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab.[41][42] Other clients included Palo Alto Networks, Francisco Partners, Brainwave Science and Adobe Systems.[41]

While working as a consultant Flynn served on the board of several organizations, including GreenZone Systems, Patriot Capital, Brainwave, Drone Aviation and OSY Technologies.[43][41][44] Subsidiaries of the Flynn Intel Group included FIG Cyber Inc, headed by Timothy Newberry, and FIG Aviation.[43][45]

In July 2018, the consulting firm Stonington Global LLC announced that Flynn was joining the firm as its director of global strategy, though Flynn's attorneys disputed that there had ever been a partnership several hours later.[46]

So Flynn had a slam dunk easy to win case if he had gone to trial but ran out of lawyer money between Nov 5th and Dec 1st when he accepted a plea bargain. OK thanks for playing.

"Manafort has a short stint in the campaign, that's it."

Manafort resigned after it came to light he had received $12M+ in 'off the books' payments from a Russian align Ukrainian political party. While Trump has been pretty erratic in his staffing decisions, I did ask what would have happened if the Russia thing was not given the focus it did. He probably would have remained on the campaign and would have had a higher position in the administration.

Manafort looks like he's a POS, but you are really exaggerating his influence in the Trump campaign.

In what way exactly?

Just getting an early start for 2020.

Remember in November, on Thursday 19 July 2018, US weekly jobless claims fell to a 48-and-a-half year low. But, (sputter) Alexandria says it's because everybody has two jobs. Listen to her!

Pssst! Don't tell anyone. In Sumer 2016 we deployed Hillary's "Reset Button" to order Obama (he loosened because he didn't need to run for re-election) to cease his intel/law enforcement arms' work on Russian election meddling.

Trump 2020. Tovarich!

Some of the logic assumes Putin wants a secret agent in the White House, but it's also plausible he wants public show of trust or respect or whatever, which would play pretty well to the Russian public.

I see a great idea for a new TV series: “The American”. How the Trump family in America were all a KGB plan...

If you really want long game conspiracy theories, why isn't Yeltsin considered an American plant who led the way to Putin? Is this blowback?

Don't make me get my giant white board out and show you how this all leads back to Castro

Ross, is that you?

No. It's the ghost of John Nash.

You joke, but Yeltsin actually did our bidding beyond what you can imagine.

I think it's more like revenge for the Orange Revolution.
Maybe Putin selected Trump because he wanted to make sure that the word "orange" was involved, to send a message. LOL.

Maybe tRump should be spanked by the Constitution!

Hiding in plain sight. Precisely. This is why the US did not even pretend to distance itself from the Saudis after 9-11.

Just sayin'...

There was a time not too long ago when the fact that foreign powers were spying on us, infiltrating positions of power, and attempting to influence our policies was just blase. Of course they're doing it. We do it. So what?

And despite the knowledge that these foreign powers were doing all this, including murder, we still maintained as good a relationship with them as we could.

When leftists admit that Harry Dexter White, Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, and Salvador Allende were all Soviet agents, then they can begin to criticize Trump.

I disagree with your last statement. If Trump were really intentionally damaging US interests at the behest of Russia, then that is a huge problem - even if the critics are being hypocrites.

But I don't see much damage to US interests at all. Most things I can think of - the economy, North Korea, the war against ISIS, Saudi liberalization - are going pretty well. If NATO sees the US as a little less reliable and draws more from Europe, that's not a terrible thing either. The trade dispute with China is ongoing and we'll see how it turns out, but my bet is that the US has the upper hand - after all, the Chinese stock market was hit much worse than the American one.

PS. You're correct about the Red Scare being real, though Allende - as a non-American - doesn't belong on this list. The weird thing is that nobody really thinks White and Hiss are innocent, they're just somehow content to ignore the fact that *a group of top-level State and Treasury officials were Soviet agents*.

PPS. The Rosenbergs were just spies, but White is a different matter. He - along with some top China policy advisors and diplomats (all Soviet agents) - deliberately held up a major US loan to Chiang's Kuomintang government, thus helping Mao to gain power. The fact that hardly anybody has heard of this does creep me out to no small extent.

With our uninterrupted meddling, the GOP at the speed of light raised $213 million (99% small donors) on the way to spend $250 million in November Congress races.

Vote Republican, Tovarich!

This afternoon we are telling people to send their money to the NRA.

Уважаемые Товарищи Борис и Наташа,

Не говори им! Эта операция секретна!

Путин будет очень злой.

- с уважением, Товарищ Вторник


И никогда не забывайте Ёбург:

Mы отомстим.

I will give Cowen the benefit of the doubt and assume he is just applying Occam's Zazor. Here's an application of Occam's Zazor to explain why Trump's base has decided that Russia is America's ally and the European Union is America's enemy: They are stupid. Not coincidentally that explains Trump's behavior.

You are wrong so often you should be an economist.

Let's think about how you can have a puppet:

1. Double agent type puppet- This person is aligned with the puppet master. He knows the masters' plans and goals and works to carry them out. This requires planning, commitment, patience, etc. None of this seems within Trump's skill set.

2. The slave type puppet. This would be the guy who just does whatever the puppet master says. There's little secret about it, the puppet is essentially a huge 'fanboy' of the master and no matter how much he makes a fool of himself, will abide by the master's judgment and requests come hell or high water.

3. The true puppet. Here the 'master' knows how to pull the strings. He may make the puppet angry but in his anger the puppet will make rash decisions that play into the masters' hand. He may play the ally. The puppet, in this case, doesn't know he is a puppet, thinks he is following only his own interests but the reality is the master is using his ability to know the puppet's nature to shape his actions to his own interests.

There is a bit of #3 going on here IMO but ultimately I think a better term is simply 'aligned'. Trump is aligned with Putin. He thinks the guy is basically good, thinks we should ignore Russia's abuses. Clearly part of this is transnational, by helping Trump, Trump figures that is how Russia is opening friendship to the US (Trump, of course, is unable to distinguish between the US's interest and his own interests). Some of it is probably precautionary. Russia probably has bankrolled his organization in the past and probably present, there probably is something to the 'pee tapes' (it does fit his character)...then again one wonders why Trump continues to even try to defend his character anymore? Trump basically has created a kind of force field by surrounding himself with so many ethical lapses from so many angles it's hard for anything to stick directly.

The US successfully confronted Russia from 1945 to around 1999, but may have pushed too far since then. Trump is appropriately attempting a slight reduction in tension, just as Obama and Hillary Clinton tried to do in 2009 (while Bill collected half a million in fees from Russia). Trump’s opponents are ratcheting up tensions for domestic political advantage, and Trump is taking advantage by telling Putin he is the only thing standing between Russia and the pitchforks. It's complicated, but Trump might pull out a good result for the US and the world unless the Democrats manage to blow it all up.

I'm not inclined to read the article, because if TC has anything interesting to say on this topic it will have been Straussianized and I don't care enough to go and dig up my decoder ring.

That's why he put the p.s. If you don't read it, or don't get what he's trying to tell you.

All this talk of foreign influence and meddling but no accusations and show trials against Israeli and Saudi Arabian entities or people lobbyists etc, must be nice.

Apparently schools long ago stopped teaching kids that "laws" are supposed to apply equally to everyone.

That doesn't advance the narrative. Ergo, it ain't true.

Obama chief dick-head confirmed Obama issued the "stand-down" order in Summer 2016 re: Russian election meddling.

"Do you notice how often the media point out in their pieces or on television that the intelligence agencies agree the RUSSIAN inteference didn’t impact the election outcome? They almost never mention this or if they do, it’s in paragraph 47.”

Liz Sheld, "FBI Director Wray spoke at the Aspen Security Forum yesterday and said that the RUSSIANS are trying to sow discord in the United States. You know who is helping the RUSSIANS achieve their objective? The media, the grandstanding Democrats and the cultural elite."

I don't think you need to hypothesize whether Trump is a plant, if you are armed with a subpoena for documents and testimony.

In fact, speculating without evidence undermines the authority of a President, which may be what Putin wants as well.

If you have nothing to hide, come clean.

As most lawyers know,

Documents kill.

You are assuming that Russia thinks he can do more damage the longer he remains hidden, but maybe they feel that there is nothing they can do to actually throw people off the scent and so he should just be as destructive as possible before he gets caught. In fact, couldn't getting caught actually be good for Russia? They will of course deny that Trump was a pawn no matter what the evidence is and could realistically avoid some of the stronger reactions from such a revelation, while at the same time making Democracy look very weak and susceptible indeed.

Not that I think Trump is really a pawn. The simpler explanation is that he rewards people that do things that are good for him regardless of the legality or possible negative effects on America, its allies, or the concept of democracy.

Tyler, you pay attention to and write about an extraordinary number of topics and threads throughout the world at a very high level of quality. This post, however, is not among your best, and betrays a not-even-armchair-level of familiarity with the substantive issues.

Trump is obviously not a plant.

Trump is a poor businessman who has conducted innumerable frauds over decades. Note that he is not unusual in this regard, he is merely the latest in a great tradition in American history.

Trump has deep financial ties to Russian and Eastern European sources of money, of at best questionable legitimacy, and has been acting as a laundry, again for decades.

Trump, like those in his cabinet, not only does not hide self-dealing and self-enrichment from public coffers, but instead actively promotes it. Many are troubled by this, but many are not. (You not infrequently write about ethics- how about taking this one?)

Trump is very likely a classic, systemic racist.

Trump drives chaos, has to be at the center of attention, and does not trust or engage on any level with patient analysis.

Trump is a genius at public relations. He recognizes that the big lie, and litigating facts, are an asymmetrical Denial of Service attack on intelligence and critical analysis.

So- Trump is not a plant. His interests and goals and persona align with Putin's and others in ways that are so natural and so obvious to him that he cannot think of another way of being.

There is no doubt that under pre-Trump institutional rules of engagement, what has occurred between he and Putin and others constitutes treason.

But he is the elected executive. His id represents the voice of a certain majority of voters. Doesn't he alone get to decide which national entities are allies and which are not? The Constitution is not clear on this matter.

The perspectives that seem useful to game out are those of a) Putin- the details of decision making of course are shrouded, but the game theory is clear- what does he get from doing what- b) Republicans- who in really a very short amount of time have completely changed messaging and behavior on topics related to Russia. Game it out- are they doing so for electoral or for financing reasons?


"Republicans- who in really a very short amount of time have completely changed messaging and behavior on topics related to Russia."

Russia Scare Democrats are at least as surprising a development.

It goes back to Obama's zinger To Romney about the 1980s calling and wanting their foreign policy back. Obama was right, Romney was wrong. But today, Dems and feckless nevertrump neocons are united in denouncing Obama's level-headed view. Weird.

"Russia Scare Democrats are at least as surprising a development."

Are they? I recall Trump supporters pounding on the line "Hillary will start WWIII" because she supported a no-fly zone in Syria (which Russia did not).

I'm not talking about campaign accusations hurled by Trump supporters, I'm talking about the actual utterances of actual Democrats on the subject of Russia SINCE the election. Just batshit. Obama wept.

I do wish the opposition would stop wasting time on the wackier conspiracy theories and focus on Trump's obvious awfulness in plain sight.

Let's keep in mind Nixon lost his job over Watergate...and in Watergate his campaign didn't even get any documents out of DNC headquarters.

Such shifts are not all the out of sync historically. The Republican Party was generally pro-civil rights until around the time of Nixon. Before WWII the GOP was relatively isolationist but after it was internationalists. During the Bill Clinton era the Republican Party was pro-free trade and trade skeptics were more often found among Democrats. After a shift began to happen with 'paleo-conservatives' starting to break from free trade and now Trump starting to finish the process.

I was born during the Cold War.

Who cares?

After Hillary's jaw-droppingly awful loss in 2016, it became important for the powers that be inside the Democratic Party to come up with a story that absolved them of blame. The Russia story was whet they came up with.

Classic Iron Law of Institutions in action.

Ignore the facts.

It can be explained because they were sore losers.


Ignore the facts. They were sore losers.

Nothing to see here. Move along. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

You can sleep better knowing that there's nothing to see here and its all just a Witch Hunt.

David is the only person here that is both sane and has a memory span longer than a gnat.

Maybe after a couple hundred more TDS posts, someone else will recall that Trump has actually bombed Syria and killed Russians, and was wildly accused of provoking WW3.

But my hopes are not high. Troll on, tards.

"The Russia story was whet they came up with."

Yes, Trump in "collusion" with a hostile foreign power is a classic "stabbed in the back" theory.

The Amerikanization of America well before our eyes.

I always like how people decry how absolutely honorable America and it's people were during time X in the past, but brush aside the myriad of horrors, lesser evils, hypocrisies, and transgressions as nuanced thinking yet are religious in their fervor and absolutism with Trump.

An indefinite legal fishing expedition will find crap on anyone due to the mounting legal fees - sure indict some Russian guys and with no due process if it makes you feel good about Trump!

Some of these extremely online types are trying to rehabilitate Bush the lesser.

These people are the "educated" version of the tea party.

A quibble: the Bloomberg column uses the term “economic game theory”. The word “economic” is superfluous: Game theory is game theory!

One of my favorite movie scenes is the one in Forrest Gump in which the Gary Sinese character, the one who has been raging against life for dealing him a harsh fate in the war, comes back to Forrest to introduce his wife to Forrest. His face says it all. There is a deep wonderment at Forrest, happiness, and thankfulness in it. The rage is all gone. That is great acting.

It is amusing and disturbing at the same time to read this essay/blog-post and 90% of the comments above. What has happened is that the 9/11 truthers have simply moved on to the next conspiracy theory, but picked up more than a few more converts along the way. When "almost certainly not" has morphed into "probably not", in this case, one should probably carefully examine ones mental health over a nice weekend retreat- and when it has morphed into "probably", then you are beyond help at that point.

You skipped over a few conspiracy theories, like Obama's citizenship, the pedophile pizza parlor, etc. Note that the conspiracy dumdums change depending on the conspiracy, almost like they are being partisan hacks or something.

I don't deny all of those are conspiracy theories, too. However, here is the difference- we have one of the political parties where well over half of them now believe that Trump is a Russian plant- at no time did we have half the Republicans/conservatives believing that Obama was illegally president because he wasn't really an American citizen, or that so-called pizza gate was real. Both of those were very fringe beliefs (and in the case of the birth certificate- almost everyone realized that Obama was a citizen regardless of where he was born), and neither of them were dangerous in any way to the country itself. This present conspiracy theory is just as crazy, but is far more widely believed, and is far more damaging.

I again remind people, there hasn't been a single piece of solid evidence revealed to the public that supports the assertion that the Russians hacked the DNC and gave the material to Wikileaks. In fact, the only solid evidence that has been seen by the public suggests that the Wikileaks files were downloaded on site at the DNC, though I do think that evidence could probably have been manipulated by someone with the requisite skillset who works for Wikileaks, or gave the files to Wikileaks in the first place. I apply skepticism to anything the US intelligence agencies claim- show me the evidence, don't describe it to me. I can assess it to a certain level, and the public as a whole can definitely do that, so what possible reason could there be to not release all of it publicly? Occam's Razor suggests the intelligence agencies aren't releasing it because it really only consists of an "educated guess" based on inferred motives- a construct that reasonable people will obviously not all agree on.

I don't recall Tyler giving any space to any of those whack theories.

Space in f--king USA Today, no less.

msgkings is a troll, let him go. He wants you think that TWO YEARS of this "Trump is a Russian agent" crap, which has been fully endorsed by the Dems and the NYT every single step of the way, is equivalent to the 5-minute pizza parlor thing.

They are all nuts, Tyler included. They put all their faith in the old drunk lady who lost to Trump -- I can't remember her name any more -- and they no longer care about anything but their rage.

I hadn't realized how much I've gotten under the skin of the troll brigade until they started projecting on me. Face it TPM, you got nothing.

Cute how all you do is post here to rag on the blog host though. Classy. But sure, call others trolls.

And you don't even know your audience. BD is not a Trumpy.

Yancey, Sounds like you don't want an investigation to resolve this. Correct?

Bill, no comment to yancey on the weather in St. Petersburg?

As for truthers moving on, the "russia, russia, russia" types are a different population of idiots but believe they are educated since they watch Colbert, might read NYT, The Economist, or better yet FT, and may hold college degrees.

Bill, I want to see the evidence. An investigation that only describes the evidence is worthless. If Mueller files a report with full tranparency- in other words, everything is revealed, electronic files, sources, recorded/transcripted testimony, all the names and identities, it will be worth it. If, as I suspect is going to happen, the report just describes vaguely the evidence, but refuses to reveal it to public scrutiny for "national security" reasons, then it is worthless in answering the question.

I put it to you directly- which piece of publicly revealed evidence supports the theory that Trump is a Russian agent? Which piece of publicly revealed evidence even supports the assertion that the Russians gave the material to Wikileaks? I await your answer with the appropriate links.

Anyone think Bill will show up with anything here?

No problem.

I can list you many articles. But, I know you are not ignorant, and just rely on the reader to assess your beliefs based on what news they have followed.

As I said earlier, I believe that the Mueller investigation should continue, that the grand jury should continue and issue subpoena for documents and testimony, including, by the way, the President, if necessary.

I noticed, also, Yancey, that you backed away from your initial post where you compared this to the 9/11 truthers. Good for you.

And, I am glad we can both agree that the investigation should continue.

Bill, I asked for publicly revealed evidence- you give me assertions from Mueller's indictment document. That isn't what I am asking for. Try again. What I am asking for is evidence that isn't a description of something- that is what the Mueller indictments are- it is the evidence, it is a description of evidence Mueller is claiming, but without saying so explicitly.

So, let me make it even clearer on the small possibility you just didn't understand what I was asking for- what is the single best piece of publicly seen evidence that the Russians were Wikileak's source for the DNC e-mails. Again, I note, that Mueller has shown us nothing yet.

Yancey, As you know, Mueller won't reveal evidence during the investigation, even if you want it revealed now. If he has anything to say, it will be an indictment or a referral.

And I backed off of nothing, Bill- I think the Trump Collusion story is exactly as nuts and unsupported as the 9/11 Truthers story. That is why I asked for verifiable publicly revealed evidence- and you didn't supply it. For every single story you link to me asserting "the evidence will show", I can link you a story saying the evidence "doesn't show", and it all comes down who believes what- and none of it is actually supported by evidence- the only difference is that the burden of proof in the two cases isn't symmetrical- in other words, I don't have to prove something didn't happen- you have to prove it did happen.

I suspect you just aren't all that bright, and you probably proved it by linking the story you did to the question I asked- thinking you could convince anyone with that link.

All those words to say:

No investigation.

Or, as Colonel Klink would say:

"I see nothing."

Here, I thought, in the spirit of Helsinki, we had agreed to continue the investigation.


You don't realize, Bill how stupid you look online- and dishonest. I ask you for evidence, and you link to claims about evidence. When I point this out, and say I want to see the evidence at some point, you then somehow infer from that I don't want an investigation. Not even remotely true at this point, and clearly untrue just based on my comments above- what I don't want is an investigation that doesn't eventually let me see all of the details. That is where the Mueller investigation looks like is heading- everything he has actually done to date has the appearance of not wanting to go to trial over the Russian parts of it- if he did want to go to trial, he could have indicted the Russian GRU or government itself last Friday- they probably would have gone to court for a trial, but he didn't do so- he indicted only individuals he couldn't have arrested, and even worse if he actually has solid evidence, he made sure that they can never be arrested because he unsealed the indictments.

All I am asking for is for the evidence to be released publicly once the investigation is closed. I don't want to see a report that describes the evidence without full disclosure, and I am 100% certain you will agree with me if it closes without indicting Trump or leading to an impeachment, right, Bill? Can we get you on the record right now?

Yancey, I will repeat what I said earlier: s I said earlier: " I believe that the Mueller investigation should continue, that the grand jury should continue and issue subpoena for documents and testimony, including, by the way, the President, if necessary.

I noticed, also, Yancey, that you backed away from your initial post where you compared this to the 9/11 truthers. Good for you.

And, I am glad we can both agree that the investigation should continue."

Good post. I agree that he's likely not a plant. Having said that, if you'd asked me last week if the pee tape was real, I would have said no. Now I can no longer dismiss the possibility, which is not to say I find it the most likely explanation. Still, we'll remember this era as "stranger than fiction," and I'm not sure the pee tape will be an outlier.

And, I will point out something that many people missed in last week's indictments. In the first round of indictments, Mueller made an error in indicting non-person entities whose management, if they wish, can hire legal representation to contest the case- all without anyone in the organization having to show up in court to be arraigned. Based on the delaying tactics the prosecutors are now using to prevent that case from going to trial, it is all but certain that Mueller and his team never expected to have to try the case and thus reveal their evidence to public examination.

Mueller fixed this problem with last week's indictments by only indicting the GRU agents themselves, even though the case for indicting the GRU itself is just as strong. He did this in the hope of foreclosing the possibility of the Russian government hiring lawyers and doing the same thing Concord did with the first set of indictments. You have to ask why, and the obvious answer is that Mueller doesn't really want to have to try a case, and never did.

Yancey, Mueller's obligation is to give the opposing party exculpatory materials and materials they plan to introduce at trial. They don't get to rummage through the investigative file. Here is the link to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule governing this:

In addition, Mueller is setting up the predicate conspiracy to others may become attached by the GRU indictment.

I find it implausible that Russia invited Trump to co-operate with them in subverting US elections, because that would involve Russia handing compromising evidence to somebody they have no reason to trust. I find it entirely plausible that Russia would take every opportunity to make the Great Experiment look foolish, very likely supporting anybody and everybody they thought would make trouble. As for Trump's behavior - he recently stated that the UK-US special relationship was "the highest level of special." Note that the UK is less than pleased with Russia at the moment, on the grounds that a Russian assassination attempt on UK soil not only injured two targets, but was sloppy enough to leave one innocent bystander dead and one injured. So Trump's statements are inconsistent, which sounds like a huckster who likes to lay on flattery with a trowel to grease any possible deal, rather than a conspirator who wishes to favor any particular foreign country.

And we know the Russians tried to assassinate Skripal how exactly?

CCTV identification comes to mind - 'Police are believed to have identified the suspected perpetrators of the novichok attack on the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Detectives think several Russians were involved in the attack in Salisbury in March and are looking for more than one suspect, the Press Association reported.'

But since I am sure that Putin would just deny it, probably the British should have their last Russian ambassador interrogated by the Russians to make sure that no stone is left unturned when coming up with excuses for an obvious attempt to kill a Russian traitor. As President Trump has noted, it is like we don't do the same thing - well, OK, maybe we don't use nerve gas to poison enemies of the state, but you undoubtedly understand Trump's general meaning concerning moral relativism better than many.

Again, how do we know any of that story is true? All you have here, Clockwork, are anonymous sources in the government telling you this- that is all it has ever been. Notice how the sources never give you any names, leak any video, etc. It is 100% narrative.

We were told from the very first day it was the Russians who tried to kill Skripal, but that was before an investigation could have even been done. This case looks more like a serial killer if the the cases are truly linked together, and far less like a political assassination by the Russians unless I have missed where the two latest victims were of importance to the Kremlin.

Yes, Yancey, how do we know anything is true.

That is a deep philosophical question.

Thats not the point, Bill- it isn't a deep question. All it is is a shocking lack of skepticism, and from people who would not have blindly believed the exact same government officials if they had been describing the evidence on a case that had opposite political connotations. The selective application of arguments from authority are precisely what I find disturbing. Tyler, at least in his quibbling manner didn't display this fallacy in his essay- you do it in spades.

' if they had been describing the evidence on a case that had opposite political connotations'


The Russians tried to assassinate someone they consider a traitor (after all, he did work for the British to betray Russian secrets). Subsequently, a British citizen died from the same nerve agent, and another was made critically ill.

What political connotations are there supposed to be? This isn't the first time the Russians done their best to kill someone who they considered a traitor in the UK, after all -

Oh, and the British named names in that murder investigation, by the way.

I realize I am wasting my time with you, Clockwork, but you are again assuming facts that no one has seen outside the government. We have seen literally nothing that proves the Skripals were poisoned with "Novichuk"- all we have to date is the UK government claiming this is the case.

If a DA accused you of being a pedophile and that he had evidence proving it, I don't think you would be encouraging people to believe the guy, right? Nor would I, even if it was still you being accused.

It is utterly shocking to me how you and Bill seem to believe everything anonymous sources and government documents tell you- and I don't doubt you were among the people who thought the exact same agencies, and in some cases the exact same officials, said about WMDs in Iraq. Your skepticism is selective, mine has not been- I basically believe nothing government officials claim about any issue that is connected to partisan politics- I just assume everyone shades the truth, tells lies if necessary, and hides stuff if neither of the first two options work. We need more people like, and fewer like you.

'We have seen literally nothing that proves the Skripals were poisoned with "Novichuk"'

And clearly, we have no proof that Dawn Sturgess actually died - have you seen her body? I haven't either - and the small perfume bottle containing the nerve agent is not real either.

'It is utterly shocking to me how you and Bill seem to believe everything anonymous sources and government documents tell you'

Actually, Alexander Litvinenko wasn't killed by polonium in the UK either, right?

'I basically believe nothing government officials claim about any issue that is connected to partisan politics'

Why do you keep insisting that a UK murder investigation has anything to do with partisan American politics?

'Again, how do we know any of that story is true?'

'But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law?
We both have truths - are mine the same as yours?'

'It is 100% narrative.'

And when the indictments are announced involving the murder of a citizen of the UK, I'm sure you will have another defense.

'This case looks more like a serial killer if the the cases are truly linked together'

See what I mean?

And since if I actually post information about why that UK citizen died, you will have the same objections that my truth is not your truth, and that any facts provided will just be part of that 100% narrative. But if it helps, the favored term for her death is 'collateral damage,' not 'political assassination.'

Again, indictments mean exactly shit unless there is a case tried in court. I will make a prediction for you right now- the UK indicts someone who can't be forced to stand trial- just like Mueller did, and the evidence will never be shown to the public so that the public can do the examination- we will again be assured that that evidence is there, but it needs to remain secret until the trial takes place that will never actually take place.

'Again, indictments mean exactly shit unless there is a case tried in court.'

And when they are tried in court, you will have yet another excuse ready.

'the UK indicts someone who can't be forced to stand trial'

I am sure that the term 'in absentia' means something to you, right? Especially since such trials are allowed in the UK.

'but it needs to remain secret until the trial takes place that will never actually take place'

Why do so many people here think that the U.S. and the UK are the same place?

I won't have another excuse- the public trial is what I want. I might question the quality of the evidence presented, but I won't be complaining that I didn't get to see it. Sure, the government could do a trial in absentia, but the odds of it are basically zero. Just to give you an example, the people prosecuting the Russian case against Concord have done literally nothing one could construe as eagerness to go to trial, and there a defendant actually showed up with their own lawyers.

Will you be willing to acknowledge I was right when the UK government fails to conduct a public trial? A trial is what I want- I will applaud it. But if the UK government doesn't conduct one, I still want to see the evidence just as much as it would have been revealed at trial. That is all I am asking for- not having to take assertions on faith alone.

'but the odds of it are basically zero'

Not if this case is any guide -

'the people prosecuting the Russian case against Concord have done literally nothing one could construe as eagerness to go to trial'

Why do you keep confusing the U.S. with the UK?

'Will you be willing to acknowledge I was right when the UK government fails to conduct a public trial?'

Sure - but based on the past on how the UK has treated Russian directed murder in the UK, we can all expect to hear your applause when it occurs, right?

'not having to take assertions on faith alone'

Like the suggestion that someone using a Russian nerve agent was a serial killer acting on their own?

"Why do you keep confusing the U.S. with the UK?"

I am not confusing them, and only an idiot would really think that. As I wrote, if the British do try the Skripal case in absentia, I will applaud it, I still think the odds are basically zero that they do- such trials are not common, and they are almost always done when it is extremely convincing the perpetrator has been found- that was true in the Litivenko case, the trial showed that. I doubt that is so in the present case.

Like I wrote, will you be willing to admit I was right if it turns out like I predicted- could I get a reply from you at that time since I do know where to find you online?

'will you be willing to admit I was right if it turns out like I predicted'

Of course - I don't waste any time denying reality. Seems to make me an outlier in this comment section, actually - though maybe posting links is just too burdensome for most people after the site was redesigned to look like other web properties.

How would anyone in the world have thought 20 or 30 years ago that Donald Trump would be President in 2016?

I can see it now, "Comrade Putin, I saw Home Alone 2 and it has a cameo from a NYC businessman. We must make him an asset so 30 years from now when he is President, the Soviet Union can rule the USA too. Da, Comrade, go ahead."

Ha, we will show Moose and Squirrel dis time.

Most lies have an element of truth, which makes them convincing or at least believable. I assume there was some level of Russian meddling, but I don't think it was material. Sour grapes is a better explanation.

Would you consider foreign political contributions meddling or illegal activity? Coordination with a foreign power?

Would you consider contributions in kind, AKA, hacked emails, a political contribution and illegal activity or meddling.

Your term meddling could encompass illegal activity.

If it is illegal activity, that's not sour grapes.

That's illegal activity.

Meddling is just an euphemism when it includes illegal activity and don't get blinded by that word in your thinking.

So why aren't Israeli or KSA citizens, intelligence agents, lobbyists, donors/US politicians that have connected with said countries being investigated also?

Seems like the scope of this investigation, if there is one, does not address the bigger question of what constitutes foreign influence or perhaps it purposely ignores these obvious players and known intelligence threats such as Israel.

Or MAYBE foreign influence and deals, promises, lobbying, etc. have ALWAYS been a part of the US government foreign policy - whether giving or receiving this "influence."

Still don't have any proof of Russians hacking or swaying an election unless Putin stopped Hillary from campaigning in Wisconsin.

And if there was "influence", what moral ground and laughable appeal to legality are some elements of the US - so oblivious to their own hypocrisy when the US has been meddling, destroying, and overthrowing countries they don't agree with every couples years? Dies this compare?

If "Russian hackers" did release the true Hillary emails, does this constitute meddling, can you even quantify the effects of this compared to Hillary calling 50% of potential Trump voters dirt bags?

"If it is illegal activity, that's not sour grapes."

Let's call it a steaming pile of sour grapes with a dash of illegal activity. I'm just tasting the sour grapes, but your palate could be more sophisticated.

If a butterfly flaps its wings in Russia...

Illegal activity is illegal activity. You don't measure it by ounces. It's either illegal or it isn't; and if it is, you go to jail.

Cowen is no Andy Borowitz:

Trump talking to Putin is my 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.

What we have right now is the equivalent of someone being indicted for murder based on the DA claiming to have both DNA and ballistics implicating an individual. I don't think a single person in this thread would just blindly accept this as fact and think the defendant should just be immediately sent to prison, right?

That is precisely where the Mueller investigation is in regards to the DNC e-mails. We should demand a trial, and absent a trial, we should be demanding that Mueller reveal all the evidence he implies that he has according to the indictment. As a people, we should demand nothing else.

What will be interesting to me is this- what will the Bills of the world be saying if Mueller closes his investigation without indicting Trump for anything? Will Bill just accept that without demanding to see the evidence Mueller collected and decided not to pursue? I will state it right now- I would still want to see all of it, and I don't doubt for a second Bill would, too.

There's no reason for a "right now" disclosure.

Let the investigation continue, and don't wet your pants in the meantime.

I'm sure you and I both want a careful and thorough examination,

Just like you would get at your doctors office when he gave you an enema.

Wanna bet there is more sh-t coming.?

I am willing to let it continue, dumbass- will you admit that you haven't seen any evidence either because it hasn't been disclosed? All you have so far are people who claim the evidence exists. Can I get that from you as a concession?

No, of course not. I am letting the readers decide if they have seen any evidence rather than wasting my time responding to you with your request. As I keep saying, let the investigation proceed. You have trouble reading that I keep saying that. Repetition usually works.

So I have a story to tell, a little plausible fiction. But first let's start with the facts.

We know that Rosenstein showed Trump the indictments and Trump took them to Helsinki. Trump was rested and ready. We are told he would brace Putin with the evidence. He goes into a "90 minute meeting" but emerges more than two hours later, shaken. He says that Putin has been "very strong" and then proceeds to trash the American position on Russia's intervention. That's fact.

Here's the story. Trump does say to Putin, look we have evidence. There will have to be some accommodation. Putin says of course you have evidence, I did it. I have even more evidence. I have tapes of your sons talking to my agents. Do you really want me to help the FBI and release those tapes? Trump whines and pleads for an hour and then Putin says no, just do what I say.

So then we saw the result. Trump emerged and did what he was told. Even on something as small and embarrassing as abandoning little Montenegro.

Could it be something else? Sure, but tell a better story that fits the facts.

Hey, Bill, you can linked to ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ's comment as evidence. It is just as plausible as anything else.

Let's just see where the evidence takes us. I thought you were going to respond with a link to Infowars.

What's your problem with a continuing investigation that gets to the bottom of the issue?

Again, for the record, I have no problem with it continuing, but I want to see the evidence at some point regardless of the conclusions based on it. You do seem to now understand what I was asking for earlier- actual evidence that can be publicly examined, not claims that the evidence exists but can't be disclosed yet.

Yancey, Here's what you'll see: 1) If there is a criminal proceeding, materials will be disclosed to the defendant pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (link I attached above in reply to a comment of yours; note that disclosure to the party is limited pursuant to the rules) ; 2) if there is a referral to the House Judiciary Committee, as there was in the Nixon matter, the Judiciary Committee gets access; 3) Investigating committees defer oversight while there is an ongoing investigation; 4) Closed investigations are treated like Hillary Clinton's House oversight hearings.

I'm not sure what the Yancey and Bill conversation is, but I think that (1) there are a lot of facts in evidence now, my fiction aside, and (2) Mueller's pace is probably appropriate to the seriousness of the situation.

If anything like my fiction were correct Mueller's investigation and charges would be the most serious in the nation's history. He doesn't want to go down as worse than the people who let OJ get away.

That isn't really a discription of the points of contention. I don't know what evidence there is that supports one conclusion or the other, but then neither does Bill- that is the point of contention. Until we actually get to see the evidence, all we have are claims that it exists and that's provenance and meaning are unquestionable. Bill is someone who truly believes the evidence exists even though he hasn't seen it, I am someone who needs to see it first- an indictment document isn't nearly enough because if it were, you wouldn't need to conduct criminal trials in the first place- you could just send people accused directly to prison because, why would a DA lie or exaggerate the strength of a case? Why would a source lie or exaggerate the information he claims to have? Why would a paper publish something it didn't know for a fact to be true?

It is called healthy skepticism. Bill has it when it suits his narrative purposes- a common failure on both the left and right. I am perhaps too cynical in a lot of instances, but as I get older, my unwillingness to take anything on faith that involves important and consequential issue has served me well. Adjudicating claims of treason in the present case is one of those things, and it is shocking to me what people are willing to take on complete faith here- usually extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but people like Bill already believe even though they haven't seen a single piece of the evidence. Even when I narrow it all down to just telling the strongest piece of evidence showing Wikileaks got the e-mails from the Russians, he failed- all he had was the Mueller indictment for which no outside the government has seen- I even doubt the grand jury saw the actual evidence, but rather got a description of it shows from the prosecutors, just like we did with the indictment document itself.

That is all I am asking for- the evidence itself when all of this is finally finished.

OK. I think all of us are constantly trying to juggle what is known and what is conjecture as this unfolds.

No that isn't true either. No one knows what is "known" for a fact that isn't working in the US government investigating this, or was part of the conspiracy if that conspiracy really existed. In the public realm, which includes everyone in this comments section, it is all conjecture. I strongly suspect that conjecture and analysis underlies a lot of the evidence used to indict the GRU offiecers, but would need to see the actual evidence to confirm that suspsicion.

What worries me are how easily people are fooled by arguments from authority. People like Bill are either easily fooled, or are extremely dishonest. Either way would worry me. If the case for WMDs hadn't been so badly exaggerated/lied about, think about how different history might be today. There are consequences for simply accepting the proclamations of government officials and intelligence agencies. There are no good solutions, but a good start is to always question everything government officials say, both those who do it under their own name, and those who do it anonymously. If people have an incentive to lie, they often will, and will convince themselves it was right to do so for good reasons.

I say that we're trying, you say that isn't true. Whatever.

Once again, I ask the gentle readers of this post to ask themselves: have they seen any evidence of possible collusion. Yancey would like me to list what I've seen in the public media, but rather than chase this bunny, I trust that the reader has a working knowledge of this matter, and can answer the question themselves as to whether they have seen any evidence.

Yancey has not.

And then, Yancey has the gall to mischaracterize me as saying that "Bill already believes....": Go up to my comment at 11:56am which reads:

"I don't think you need to hypothesize whether Trump is a plant, if you are armed with a subpoena for documents and testimony.

In fact, speculating without evidence undermines the authority of a President, which may be what Putin wants as well.

If you have nothing to hide, come clean.

As most lawyers know,

Documents kill."

I can't be clearer that the investigation should continue, that if there is evidence sufficient to support a claim, it will be brought, that there be a trial if there is an indictment, and that the jury decide.


Chasing that bunny isn't that hard, Bill. I just asked for a single piece of evidence that you think most strongly proves that the Russians gave the e-mails to Wikileaks. That shouldn't be that hard, and you did try to finesse the issue by linking to the Mueller indictments, but I had to point out to you that the indictment document isn't evidence - it is a claim about unseen evidence. I would have been willing to assign a probability of greater than 95% that the evidence was actually quite compelling on just that narrow issue if Mueller had indicted anyone or any entity that would have certainly taken the case to federal court- I have a great deal of faith in the trial system's public nature- it is the forum where the evidence is sure to get revealed so that the people can examine it, too.

I realize you don't want to play this game, that is why I asked you to, and now you just try to explain it all away claiming it isn't worth your time . Do you believe Mueller has the evidence or not? Your comments suggest you do believe Mueller has the evidence supporting not just the Wikileaks/Russian collusion, but your comments strongly imply that you also believe the Russians control Trump- a question I didn't ask about, by the way.

I just find it hilarious how you know there is all this evidence I am ignoring, but when I ask you for it, you link to a news story about an indictment that contains none of the evidence on which the indictment is based. That spoke volumes about your integrity and/or your intellect- and when called on it, you want to scurry away claiming it isn't worth your time to support something that is so obvious.

Sure, Mueller can subpoena till his heart is content, but Occam's Razor suggest he has already done all of this by this point in time, and yet not a single piece of actual evidence that supports the narrative prominent in papers like the NYTimes has leaked out- just assertions about what the evidence shows, or leaks about what Mueller is looking at, but nothing the public can actually examine and make a judgment about.

So, again, and for the last time- what is the single strongest piece of publicly available evidence that supports just the assertion that Wikileaks got it information from the GRU officers named in Mueller's indictment. Please don't use circular logic and link to a story about the Mueller indictment again- at least be smarter than that.


Not on topic. I have never once claimed the Russian government or Russians aren't hacking away. I am disputing the the claim that Wikileaks got the DNC e-mails from the Russian government. I just assume everything of importance is being hacked all the time by actors from all over the globe. I mean, I really take that as a given. The story you linked to has no evidence either- if you read carefully, just someone from Microsoft making assertions again. I asked for evidence on a quite specific subject, and yet this is the best you can do? Seriously, dude, get help- your reply was even worse than Bill's and that is a high bar to get over.

"Here's the story."

It's a good one. I like it. Meanwhile, back in the realm of evidence-based discussion...

How do we know Putin didn’t have anything on Obama? After all, Obama declined to bomb Assad, refused to arm Ukraine, repeatedly praised Putin, forged military/diplomatic alliances with him, and downplayed ‘election meddling.’

Should Obama be brought before Mueller for questioning? Maybe Putin helped Obama win since he was scared of Romney?

Maybe one day there will be a war memorial in Brooklyn Heights featuring a bust of John Podesta, an eternal flame burning in remembrance of his emails, and a life-sized replica of Hillary’s private server...

I dunno, did Malia and Sasha meet with any Russian operatives in between classes?

Lots of people think they did, so they must have. Case closed, right?

I heard from an unnamed government official that they talked to a Russian once.

Utterly pathetic. Podesta fell for simple spearfishing, but Trump is the idiot.

Consider two simple facts. 1. If the DNC had not been so corrupt, wikileaks would not have been a scandal. 2. Even if the Russians did and continue to fund Black Lives Matter and the enviro-whacko groups and promote them on social media, there was no way they could have forced the Democrats to march in lock step with them. But the narrative shapers have to distract attention from all that and fling fecces in the now time honored Democrat tradition. No wonder so many wise US citizens are simply tuning out this grotesque display of ignorance and hate.

That one is funny, because it so perfectly encapsulates Putin's goal in all this.

"edgar" says we can't trust anything in America anymore. That sure sounds like a strong American position! (irony, no it does not)

Putin could publicly announce he did it all and probably cause utter chaos in the US, but would you believe him? If one is going to ask for evidence that he didn't do it, one should be asking for evidence he did. As I wrote above, the two situations are not symmetrical- one involves proving a negative, which is what really makes it all so funny, and why I really liked the story you told and suggested Bill link to it as "proof".

I think to believe all the US intelligence agencies is just to go with Occam's razor. There is no need to invent an *extra* conspiracy.

Oops, this one was supposed to go with your 4:13 pm comment.

Unfortunately, we have too much actual evidence about the anti-Trump biases of the people who kicked off the entire investigation in the first place- they were damned by their own written words in texts, and their spoken words both before and after they left the executive branch after the inauguration in January 2017. I haven't identified a single person who worked at the CIA or the FBI in July 2016, when Crossfire Hurricane became an official investigation, who isn't today known as a vehemently anti-Trumper and worked on the case then or today. That is the primary reason I don't trust the assertions from the CIA, Mueller, the FBI, or any of the people no longer working on the case. I don't even trust the people working on Trump's legal team, but there, at least, one can support the rights of criminal defendants.

Of course, people like Bill will argue that it is obvious these people are anti-Trump because the evidence against him here is so compelling. Circular logic all around, and arguments from authority.

I expected better of you Yancey. First, the issue of bias and the issue of guilt are entirely separable.

Second, anyone who spotted Trump as (at best!) a fool early on deserves our respect. They had perspicacity.

Anyone who spotted Clinton as a crook early on deserves our respect. They had perspicacity. Those who didn't were morons. Unfortunately, you first assertion is incorrect one- while the two can be separated, to date they have not. Indeed, that has been the entire point I have made til I my fingers are getting sore- we don't know that Trump is guilty of anything- what we have is a lot of people sure he is guilty before seeing the first piece of evidence of anything. In other words, you and Bill are exactly the same now- not questioning anything you are being told.

Maybe at the end of all this, Mueller will give us the evidence everyone like Bill is assuming is there. I will be the first to offer a mea culpa, but if Mueller closes the investigation without indicting Trump, I will feel vindicated, but I will still want to see the evidence collected anyway. I suspect we never get to see it, but hope to be proven wrong.

Hillary is a crook? Why can't Trump's Justice Department bring even one case? Or those FBI agents in New York who famously hate her?

Politically, not prosecuting Clinton after 2017 is the right thing to do, regardless of what I think about her guilt. I don't like that the Obama DoJ let her skate by substituting "extremely reckless" for "grossly negligent", but that is water under bridge as far as I am concerned. In any case, the time to have gathered the evidence for a trial has passed- any prosecution now would rightly be seen as both incompetent and politically motivated. I certainly would argue against doing so.

lol. no. there is literally no way the "lock her up" crowd has something and is letting her skate. if they had it, they'd use it. twice. three times.

Trump made a decision- a public one- to not pursue the matter- this happened after the election, so he didn't have to promise that. I thought it was a good decision at the time, and I still do. I would have given Comey less criticism over the July 5th, 2016 press conference if you had just said something plausibly true- that no reasonable prosecutor brings this to trial because the jurisdiction involved could never seat a jury that might convict her- your jury pool is D.C. In any case, my main criticism of Comey and his press conference was this- it was inappropriate to hold one altogether- he was doing the AG or the Deputy AG's job, and even worse, he was describing and revealing evidence against a target for which no grand jury had actually been convened. It was, in fact, unfair to Clinton in a very real sense- almost like Comey having his cake and eating it, too. Such criminal investigations are almost always closed quietly with a simple statement that it isn't being further pursued.

Based on all these pixels you've been spilling Yancey, I would expect you have some EVIDENCE that Clinton is a crook?

My evidence is Comey's press conference from July 5th, 2016. Grossly negligent is synonymous with "extremely reckless". The law cited doesn't require intent, it just requires gross negligence. However, my comment was tongue in cheek- see the comment I replied to. Comey's press conference demonstrates that this should have been taken to a grand jury at the very least- just based on Comey description, she violated the law he discussed- whoever it was that originally wrote the phrase "grossly negligent" in the draft knew this even if they didn't want to have to charge her with it. Someone later, changed that exact text for exactly that reason- if it stays in the report, everyone has documentary evidence the FBI knew she had broken at least one statute.

So, yes, the evidence does support that she violated a law concerning sensitive information- a law several people have been tried and convicted on who arguably violated it less thoroughly than she did. Even the intent argument Comey made is weak since it isn't like the server ended up there all by accident.

So, I will concede this- she isn't a convicted felon, but she is definitely crooked.

"So, I will concede this- she isn't a convicted felon, but she is definitely crooked."

Fine, and I will apply the exact same sentence to my feelings about Trump.

It's not really fine, because to the extent it is true it is wholly asymmetric.

Hillary's biggest documented "crime" continues to be if she can securely held her emails away from the Russians.

Whereas the Trumps are mixed up with stealing things with the Russians.

Dude. That's what's happening right now. And I'm sure Vlad is laughing into his vodka.

I am sure he is laughing his ass off, but at the Democrats and the media if the Russians truly aren't involved with Wikileaks. I am quite sure he has all kinds of amusement for the predicament Trump is in regardless of his own involvement. Given the lack of evidence all around, though, Putin is probably just stunned at how easily the American media can be steered by carefully placed disinformation. If the Russians didn't meddle in 2016, they are sure to do so now. Why wouldn't you sow disinformation everywhere if you thought the US was an enemy?

Hell, Putin could endorse any body in any race and ensure that candidate's defeat now- it requires nothing more than a carefully placed piece of disinformation- no one in the US questions the provenance of anything any longer.

Oh yeah, it's totally "the Democrats" fault that we elected at minimum a moron and at worst a compromised moron.

They certainly bear some blame, don't they? Really, could Trump have beaten anyone other than Hillary? So why did the Democrats go to the mat for Hillary when they could have indicted her in 2015 and opened the race up for a candidate that couldn't have lost WI, IA, PA, and MI to literally anyone?

As crazy as I think Bernie Sanders is politically, I think he would have beaten Trump because the Blue Wall doesn't fall in that race- Trump might win still win OH and win VA, but that would not have been enough.

So, you Democrats certainly bear some blame.

Pfft. That relies on two misdirections. The first is that Republicans give up all responsibility for their own primary. The second is the crazy sliding scale that Hillary magically becomes worse in memory to match Trump's latest blunder.

1. Republicans could have nominated a reasonably smart, hard working, and moral man.

2. Your latest fantasies about Hillary don't really interest me.

And just like Bill, you mischaracterize immediately. I like Trump as president, so I don't have a problem with him being in office- I would rather have had Ted Cruz, but he couldn't beat Trump. However, I am just taking your first statement which implies that Democrats bear no blame for Trump, if you think Trump is terrible- I am just making the observation that Trump beat Hillary, the Democrats choice. The Democrats made this choice at several different points- any of which they could have picked a candidate that probably, in my opinion, not have lost to Trump. I think Clinton is probably the only one of the three Democrats in the race that Trump could have beaten. The Obama Administration literally knew in the Summer of 2015, at the latest, that Clinton's treatment of classified and confidential information was arguably grossly negligent- a simply grand jury indictment in 2015 drives Clinton out of the race and opens the field to a more viable and likable candidate.

Counterfactually, maybe if Clinton isn't the sure opponent, Trump never wins his own party's nomination, but all in all, it is difficult to not understand that we have Trump partly because the Democrats wanted Clinton rather than anyone else.

I get it now, though- you were "With Her" the whole way, weren't you? Any criticism of Clinton, even one as indirect as mine, reveals them immediately.

Trivia: Since I'm still registered Republican I voted for Ted Cruz in the California Primary.

But I still think all that is b.s. My old party owns all the responsibility.

(That was a real hold my nose moment, voting for Cruz. But it was a last ditch Never Trump effort.)

"All this said, what are we left with as explanations for Trump’s bizarre behavior?"

Trump is baiting his domestic opponents to attack him on flimsy Russia allegations in the hopes that mainstream Americans will take his side. Even Tyler Cowen who isn't at all a fan of Trump is basically endorsing Trump's side of this fight.

That certainly fails Occam's razor. If Trump were actually strong, he'd just go govern. He wouldn't "bait" himself into press conferences where he explains that "would" means "wouldn't" or vis versa.

I seriously doubt Trump did that Monday intentionally, but you are correct- this is what the effect is going to be. I don't think the Democrats realize just have insane the charges they made are. They are literally preaching to the choir of the base- the people who actually decide general elections aren't going to be swayed by assertions of treason- again, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. These are people who are basically able to vote for Republicans or Democrats without cringing one way or the other- in other words, non-partisans- they don't respond to extreme exaggerations like we have seen the last week. If the Democrats run on Treason this Fall, they will get crushed- non-partisans don't vote for lunatics.

Here's another random thought.

Tyler Cowen might recognize that Putin is successfully lowering the status of the United States, and Tyler might think that the way to fight that is to raise the status of Donald Trump.

I don't buy it. It's a dead end. Helsinki shows what you are trying to raise the status of. The only way to correct this is to vote all the bums out, and begin with a plausibly fresh and untainted government.

Rohrbacher, that means you retire to Siberia.

Then your position should be voting against every Republican and Democrat. If it all is just to vote in a member of the other party, then you just reveal what it is you truly want, which isn't what you actually said, right?

I consider myself and independent at this point. That makes it easy for me to say that every incumbent who has been in any way dishonorable should be voted out.

"voting against every Republican and Democrat."

Sounds good to me.

I am sure it truly sounds good to a lot of people. I just always doubt all assertions of being an "independent" unless their advocacy for a Congressman's defeat is not aligned with what I assess to be one's political leanings. In the case of ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ, I feel pretty confident that he will happily vote for Rohrbacher's opponent, and would have happily voted for Rohrbacher if he Rohrbacher were a Democrat. Independent trolls are legion in online forums- and from both sides. I tend to discount anything they write unless it seems to be against interest- then I might consider it authentic.

The convenience of your beliefs is actually a contra-indicator.

So, which third party candidate are you voting for in November? He/she can use a donation- I might even spend some time talking this third party candidate up before November for you, and encourage others to do so, too.

I believe in strategic voting. Vote for the person closest to your VALUES who can win. Rohrbacher's Democratic opponent actually leads in the polls, and is closer to my values than "Putin's favorite congressman."

Lol! Confirming exactly what I thought about what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with wanting Rohrbacher gone, especially if you don't agree with his politics, but don't try to imply it was all about getting rid of an incumbent this election cycle.

Whatever man.

And it American race there are only two parties who may win. Third parties may not apply.

so someone votes Democrat and you say "aha I knew you were a big liberal?"

Kind of dumb.

'Then your position should be voting against every Republican and Democrat.'

Of course it is - I have never voted for a Democrat or a Republican since first registering to vote.

I can never, under virtually all circumstances, imagine voting for any candidate from either party in any election.

Speaking of one asked you.

"Putin is successfully lowering the status of the United States"

Hazel Meade made a claim like this, but declined to explain it. Apparently I'm daft, because I just don't get it. Can you help?

Sure. Let's start by looking for something measurable:

World's Approval of U.S. Leadership Drops to New Low

I know that people have spun a lot of "but, but, but" responses. "but" why not take it at face value?

The link is from January. I get why Trump could lower US status. But I don't get what this has to do with Putin, or more specifically, with meeting Putin in Helsinki, which is what Hazel and you seemed to be referring to.

Seriously? We can wait for more polls, but I find it astonishing that anyone anywhere in the world would view Trump in Helsinki (going off about Hillary in response to hacking questions!) and say "oh yeah, that's the kind of global leader I admire."

"view Trump in Helsinki"

I tried. Too boring. Did Trump say anything he hasn't already said a million times? And if not, how could it have more than a marginal effect on US status? I don't see what is so special about this one event.

And honestly, I think it is of little consequence who exactly successfully phished the DNC and Podesta. Suppose for argument it were the Israelis. Do you think Trump should then refuse to meet with Bibi?

Or suppose that US intelligence successfully acquired and published embarrassing information about government X (which they surely do routinely). Do you think it would be in the best interest of government X to refuse to meet with Trump?

As I've said, I think there is an important distinction between "information gathering" and "dirty tricks" undermining an election.

Watch out for people who intentionally conflate the two.

"undermining an election."

Now this is getting silly. Somebody, say Russia, leaks emails from the DNC and from Podesta, which tell us little we didn't already know or suspect. And some troll farm in St. Petersburg buys a 100,000 dollars of Facebook ads about woke blacks, kittens, Hillary, and God knows what else, with many of these ads coming out after the election.

If this is all it takes to undermine an election, then everybody should stop spending billions on their campaigns and just hire the Russians.

Is that clever?

No it is not clever. It's not clever to say that elections are always compromised, who cares.

Looking over at the latest news ..

"The Director of National fricking Intelligence has not yet been briefed on what happened in a private 2 hour meeting between the President of the United States and Vladimir Putin. "

But sure Red, nothing embarassing there.

"The Director of National fricking Intelligence has not yet been briefed"

Now *that's* interesting. Can you provide a link?


Hi, foreign interference here, nothing wrong or worth investigating, right?

"In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal (link:

So to recap: actual Israeli interference, ok, no big deal.

Alleged Russian influence: bad, worthy of impeachment, civil war, worse than 9-11, ww3 material.

Trump could hold a primetime address to the nation in which he thunderously denounces Putin and kills Russian troops in Syria and it would make no difference to the narrative at this point.

It’s officially unfalsifiable, conspiracy within a conspiracy, territory.

The difference from those right-wing theories generally percolated on the margins, and may have not been tolerated by GOP mainstream central command.

Whereas Trump/Russia originates in the most mainstream precincts of elite society: media, think tanks, top politicians and is a business model for some networks. The secondary message is that if you don't have absolute trust in the intelligence agencies, you must be a traitor.

'Trump could hold a primetime address to the nation in which he thunderously denounces Putin and kills Russian troops in Syria and it would make no difference to the narrative at this point.'

In reality, however, Trump invited Putin to DC.

But you would be right that some people are going to cling to their narrative when it comes to the idea that a former member of the KGB is a great guy who deserves adulation and praise - and maybe the opportunity to interrogate - oops, investigate - oops, interview a former American ambassador to Russia.

Yancey, you asked about this several times, here is the best evidence I’ve seen that: Russian spook = Guccifer 2.0 = Source of Wikileaks’ Podesta download.

This strikes me as much more believable than it was an inside DNC leak or whatever. Implications? Not a lot as far as I’m concerned, this is what spooks do.

Advice for the sane:

Fret not about the left's completely deranged self-absorption over the last two years, and their willingness to do or say anything to make themselves feel better about their old, drunk lady losing the 2016 election. None of it matters. And there's no point in engaging them in how stupid today's thing is; they will just come up with something else tomorrow.

Instead -- revel in everything the left has lost since Jan 20, 2017. It is a stunning list. The SCOTUS decisions alone are crippling and joyous.

Have a great night!!!!

Is it possibly true that Putin has embarrassing footage of Trump with prostitutes, and Trump is appeasing Putin so that Putin doesn't release it?

Why is that seemingly being discounted as a possibility? It would explain this very easily.

Another not-so-implausible theory:

Trump had long-standing associations with Russian mafia figures going back to his casino days. Following the 2008 financial crisis, he once again found himself in financial dire straits. In desperation, and no other options, he secured loans from these folks and/or their oligarch patrons. Putin became aware of these debts at some point in the following years, and seeing an opportunity he "bought" the debt from the original lenders and gave Trump the following terms of repayment: leverage his notoriety to be a high-profile disrupter of American politics. This began with Trump's asinine birther campaign (which was also widely promoted by the Russian troll factories), and eventually his insurgent campaign of the GOP primaries. In all likelihood, Putin's best case scenario was that Trump would lob bombs at other GOP candidates similar to his birther campaign against Obama, with 15% of the populace actually believing it. Perhaps the idea was that after losing the GOP primary, Trump would turn his fury toward Hillary as a pundit or third-party candidate. But, with some luck, his anti-establishment campaign and willingness to tear down everyone garnered enough support in a dispersed GOP field, and the rest has been history. Following an election neither expected nor fully planned for, Putin has patiently watched as Trump went from tearing down Obama, to tearing down the GOP, to tearing down American alliances, all the while suffering minor setbacks with sanctions as to win the longer game. Trump must continue to play along, lest his deep financial debts be revealed to the world, surely leading to impeachment and likely imprisonment. Importantly, Trump's post-2008 financials and tax returns have never been disclosed, but we know from Don Jr. that Russian money played a role.

In all likelihood, Putin's next move will be to protect his prized asset in the upcoming mid-terms. I anticipate this will happen one of two ways: 1) More direct election interference: Putin disrupts voting in one or several key states, enough for the GOP to keep house control (the Senate will likely remain GOP without any assistance by virtue of the 2018 map). They will likely obscure such an attack to look like another party like China or Iran, with enough credible deniability that Trump voters and the GOP will simply call such allegations Democratic sour grapes ala 2016. 2) A staged attack, perhaps also cyber in nature, resulting in American deaths and/or massive destruction of property, with a country like Iran/NK playing the patsy, and the endgame being a "rally around the flag" election favoring the GOP. Both carry major risks for Putin, but the possibility of Dems taking the house and neutering Trump's future presidency will probably be deemed good reason to take such risk. If GOP keeps Congress, Trump will have free reign the next two years to push toward Putin's endgame: the end of NATO and US hegemony, the emergence of a tri or Quad-polar world order with US-Russia-China-EU exercising dominance over their respective regions, and perhaps massive civil uprisings in the US as Dems turn violent following another stolen election (arguably, the third stolen election in 18 years).

I'm willing to accept that much of this may be fantasy, but really the only way to disprove the core thesis would be revealing Trump's post-2008 financial info, which amazingly he continues to get a free ride by refusing to do.

Or maybe he's just not very good at it.

Hiding in plain sight. It worked for Hilary when Bill was president.

My goodness. Is this legit? They say Trump tweeted a clip of Hillary, except the clip came from Russian state TV?

So, will Putin be staying in a Trump property? Perhaps be given a VIP tour of Fort Meade? 'The White House announced Thursday that Vladimir Putin has been invited to Washington this fall, even as leaders in Washington tried to fully understand what happened when President Trump and the Russian leader met earlier this week in Helsinki.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the planned visit in a tweet, saying that national security adviser John Bolton extended the invitation and that “discussions are already underway.”'

I'm glad we are in agreement that releasing the fact that DNC manipulated the primaries in favor of Hillary is a casus belli - without any proof and investigation of her servers of course.

Makes total sense.

Years from now, when I hope the Podesta-DNC-Hillary server monument is made, we shall remember the battle cry, "remember the password, password. "

Again the simple difference is national sovereignty.

In every nation, political parties have the power to influence or even decide, but what they don't do in strong and secure nations is fold to foreign influence.

And this goes back to the basic question what "influence" would that be and based on what?

Yet the ultra-patriot Russia obsessives speak of US sovereignty being violated by DNC's devastating emails yet let Israel dictating US foreign policy in plain site?

I has subscribed to the blog of these idiots for 1-2 weeks; too long

As someone who despises Trump's personality, ideology, and most of his policies, this whole Russia thing comes across to me as nuts.

Rather than thinking about Trump and Russia, I'm trying to figure out how well coordinated this Russia-hunt is. Is this an organic narrative that has taken a life of its own? Is this a somewhat planned strategy that progressives in power think will deliver results? Or, is it that Trump's foes are out of ammunition and this is all they have?

I don't think Trump and his pals are smart enough to have any meaningful relationship with Moscow. It seems that approach has indeed turned out to be a nothing-burger.

However, if the Russians did indeed meddle, what exactly was the outcome? They exposed what crooks Hillary and the DNC are. (Not that this makes Trump worthy of his position.) It's not like video, photos, or recordings were doctored just before the election. How odd is it that Russians shed some light on sleazy American politicians for a change.

Does this make me a Russian bot?

"what crooks Hillary and the DNC are"

They acted well within the historic norms for American politicians and American political parties. What they didn't do is sacrifice National sovereignty.

Really? Trump has sacrificed national sovereignty? We'll all be speaking Russian if Trump wins another term. Am I missing something in this whole story?

If there's any danger to however many years of Trump's foolishness we have to endure, it will be his protectionism. (Of course, the continued excessive borrowing and spending isn't good either, but that's within historic norms - amirite?)

It is really sad that after 360-some comments , the go-to answer is "but, but vague and unsubstantiated charges against Hillary!"

What charges? People just got to see a little more of her dirty laundry. Yeah, probably a majority of politicians are crooks. What's new?

Even then, I don't even think that threw the election. All Hillary had to do was energize her base that showed up for Obama twice and she would have had the election in the bag.

Instead, go ahead and focus on exciting stories about the Russians. Maybe even gin up a war, which is probably what Hillary was going to do anyway if she had won.

Butler says "what crooks Hillary and the DNC are" and then asks us "what charges."

These two things do not go together. If Bulter wants to say "crook" he needs a crime of significance, and not just managing your own email.

If managing your own email was a "crime" surely he'd be going nuts over Trump's private and insecure Android phone?

good point!
but here is what the middle class is thinking;
it looks like the fraught and feckless media has sorta redefined treason as not saying what the media wants the president to say about putin when putin is sitting 3 feet away from the president at a meeting set to ostensibly address political problems between the us and whatever the ruskies are calling the ussr this week. putin is not exacly a model of healthy picture of mental health and he has a lotta nuclear missiles
that's not really treason is it?
everbody likes a overblown metaphor right?
aren't the cable news fools and the oft fraught fringe right and left
to some extent doing the fraught dance like the medevial french
who danced around in circles until they were too tired to stand?
if the media is gonna holler treason we would like to see some proof
bold claims require hard evidence not mucosy maheresque emoting
somebody in the sociology dept told the media and the politicians
everthing is signaling so now all they do is signal..
it is what biologists call a feedback cycle.mebbe the reason nobody is doing the actual news or the legislating is because the sociology dept
told them everthing is about signaling.

To themiddleclassmediacritic, and anyone still listening, I have been thinking about this and digesting later news. The NPR interview with General Hayden was particularly good. What he says is, the Republicans in Washington (but perhaps conservatives in general) now recognize that Trump is "compromised"(1), but won't say so publicly. They would rather support a compromised "conservative"(2) than give any incidental support to liberals, even liberals of good character and standing. That is about as base and cynical a politics as anyone could imagine.

1. "Compromised" is a good word, covering a lot of grey area. It might be as light as Trump being embarrassed by Russian assistance, and not seriously addressing the risk for that reason. But note that in that light scenario he isn't giving 100% as a responsible public servant. Russia benefits from his avoidance (there is no coordinated executive branch response to, or leadership on, Russian dirty tricks, period). The darker shades of grey only look worse. Russia has knowledge of a little campaign coordination, or at the very worst serious crimes, and is applying leverage.

2. "Conservative?" I would prefer a conservative that pressed for a science driven EPA and more free trade, rather than less science and more tariff wars.

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