Streetwise Professor

October 22, 2017

Cranking the Russian Absurdity to 11: Logical Consistency Need Not Apply

Filed under: Politics,Russia,Uncategorized — The Professor @ 4:37 pm

The absurdity of the Russia collusion investigation knows no bounds. The most recent iteration is that a Russian troll farm placed Facebook ads that promoted political division in the US. A far cry that from Trump personally canoodling with Putin, but put that aside. Front and center among the most recent allegations is that said troll farm placed material advancing Black Lives Matters themes with the intent of stoking racial division.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are extremely critical of Facebook for failing to derail the ads:

“This is a very fragile moment in time for African-Americans across this country,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the CBC, told reporters. “What we needed Facebook to understand is that they play a role in the perception of African-Americans, and they are influencers that use their platform to influence this country.”

. . . .

CBC lawmakers said they think the Russian ads promoting Black Lives Matter would have been easily flagged, and likely not seen by as many as 10 million people, had Facebook employed more people of color. Sandberg committed to adding a person of color to the board of directors soon, Richmond told reporters.

Several comments about this.

First, far be it from me to defend Facebook, but can you imagine the hue and cry had Facebook blocked similar–or even identical–content from any BLM-affiliated or sympathetic group or individual? The CBC would have been first in line to scream censorship. And does anyone believe that “people of color” at FB would have been more likely to flag and suppress pro-BLM messages? In what universe? Thus, this chin pulling is a case of ad hominem argument: it is not the content that they find objectionable, but who placed the content and for what purpose. (I doubt that the foreign origin of the material matters either: I imagine that the same people would be quite comfortable with similar messages being spread by ideological allies from say, Venezuela or Cuba. The alleged Russian origin only looks problematic in hindsight in the aftermath of the election.)

Second, the Obama administration was very sympathetic to the BLM agenda. Obama hosted BLM leader DeRay McKesson at the White House. I daresay he met privately with DeRay and other BLM leaders more than he met with some cabinet secretaries. Even more outspoken than the president was his Attorney General, Eric Holder. Holder traveled to Ferguson, Missouri at the height of the turmoil there and made remarks that hewed very closely to the BLM line–that was pretty damned divisive.  He gave speeches praising BLM.  BLM played a prominent role at the Democratic convention in 2016, and Holder said “black lives matter” during his speech there.

Again, if such BLM-themed remarks are racially divisive when made in Facebook ads placed by Russians (allegedly) and seen by a relatively small number of people, aren’t they much more so if expressed repeatedly by the president and the country’s chief law enforcement official at a time this issue was very raw, and receiving wall-to-wall coverage in all forms of media? Is BLM-themed rhetoric dangerous per se or not? If it is, that is true regardless of who says it.

And if advancing BLM-related themes is inherently bad, why are the same people criticizing the Facebook ads (and Facebook) the most outspoken defenders of kneeling NFL players, and the most vocal critics of a president who criticizes those players?

The logical fallacies and logical contradictions are rampant.

Third, assuming the allegations re Russia are correct, and indeed, assuming that this was part of a political influence operation run by Russian intelligence, it is nothing new! The Russians/Soviets have done this for years and years and years. The medium–social media–is new, but the methodology is tried-and-true: the Soviets/Russians have always used available media as part of these operations, so it should be no surprise that they have turned to social media given its current dominance. Further, the Russians/Soviets have focused on sowing racial division in particular during periods of racial strife in the US (e.g., the disinformation campaign claiming that AIDS was a CIA plot to kill black people). It is only the historical idiocy of the American establishment/political class that leads them to find something novel and uniquely dangerous in this new iteration of a very old game.

Indeed, when I argued years ago that ZeroHedge was a Russian influence operation it was precisely because it exhibited tells and used methodologies that I became aware of during the height of the Cold War. I noted specifically the seeding of pro-Occupy stories and themes in ZeroHedge as an indication that it was an influence operation. Replace Occupy with BLM and ZH with FB, and the analogy is exact. Again, anyone who thinks this is something new and a unique threat to the Republic is an historical idiot.

Indeed, look at the similarities with what is alleged about the social media strategy and ZeroHedge. ZH has long run very contradictory messages. Yes, there were many Occupy-themed posts. But there were also many Ron Paul-liberatarian posts, and anti-Obama administration posts. The common theme was that the posts addressed controversial issues in inflammatory ways. There was no common ideological line: they pushed everybody’s buttons. This is exactly what is alleged in the Facebook-Russia story.

This hysteria over this recent–and rather mild, by historical standards–iteration on this methodology wreaks of desperation to rationalize a devastating political loss, and an intent to delegitimize the winner of that election.

The triviality and triteness of this alleged conduct is all the more evident when one considers another story–one which the media is doing its damndest to ignore. The Hill–hardly a fellow traveler of Breitbart–has run several stories detailing the myriad links (including specifically financial links) between the Clintons and Russia, which were contemporaneous with the decision by the US government to approve the sale of Uranium One (which owned 20 percent of US uranium production) to Russia. Further, The Hill reports that the FBI had engaged in a thorough investigation of corruption surrounding the deal, which ultimately resulted in an indictment and conviction of one of the Russian principals–something which the FBI and DOJ announced with virtually no fanfare. Further, the plea covered a fraction of the criminal conduct that had been uncovered, greatly undercharged the offense, and was delayed until after it could have scotched the Uranium One deal.  Congress and the government body that must approve foreign takeovers over national security-sensitive companies were kept in the dark about the massive bribery scheme. The US informant has been gagged and threatened with criminal prosecution if he talks to Congress.

The Clinton Foundation was at the center of a nexus of connections between the corrupt parties to the transaction. The fact that many of the main actors in the Trump-Russia imbroglio–Hillary, Mueller, Comey, Rosenstein, and McCabe–were also deeply involved in the events reported by The Hill makes it all too much, really.

Today the Daily Caller–yes, closer to Breitbart than The Hill–notes the potential connection with the Russian spy ring story of 2010.

I’m not going to try to parse these stories–it is not necessary to do so for my present purpose here. Suffice it to say that the connections reported by The Hill–which, in turn, were allegedly uncovered as part of an FBI investigation that resulted in a conviction–are far more substantial and better documented than any of those that involving Trump, despite the assiduous efforts of legions of journalists and investigators to find the latter. What’s more, The Hill allegations involve Hillary Clinton’s actions while she held the most senior post in the president’s cabinet, and the concealment of the details from Congress and the American public required the complicity of Holder and Obama, as well as the FBI. All of which means that if the more flimsy allegations against Trump warrant a special counsel and numerous Congressional inquiries, those against Clinton (and the Obama administration) deserve at least as much, if not more.

Again–is a little logical consistency too much to ask for? That was a rhetorical question, folks.

The upshot of all of this is that the frenzy regarding Russia right now has little, if any, relationship to its substantive importance. The new social media-related allegations are ad hominem in nature: if advancing a BLM narrative is racially divisive, and that is inherently bad, Russian troll farms are the least important offenders. Obama, Holder, and Colin Kaepernick are far more culpable. Further, the alleged conduct is par for the Russian course, and indeed, is exactly the kind of activity that I pointed out in 2009–and which was well known decades before that. Lastly, the Democratic hysteria over Russia has to be the greatest case of projection in political history, when one considers the myriad Clinton-Russia connections.

This cranking of the Russia absurdity to 11 has nothing to do with facts or realities or even logical consistency. In fact, I should say especially logical consistency. The grotesque inconsistencies demonstrate instead that it has everything to do with a peculiarly American disinformation campaign intended to overturn the results of an election, and to kneecap the victor thereof.

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  1. I’m not a fan of Trump. I’d have voted for him had I been American but only because Hellary is a treasonous racketeer.

    Nonetheless the failure to pin on him even the mildest of accusations after a year and more of investigation of his alleged Russian collusion means that, in my eyes, he’s pure as the driven snow on this subject, or near enough.

    It’s not been a great success for your “Deep State” I think. Talking of which, how is their investigation of the Las Vegas shooting going?

    Comment by dearieme — October 23, 2017 @ 4:45 am

  2. Not a fan of Trump either – and did not vote for him and would not vote for him next election – (I’m in a Bernie county – would have liked to see the race between Trump and Sanders) However, I come here for perspective – things to consider – from my usual news/blogs/twitter sources.

    Comment by Howard Seth Miller — October 23, 2017 @ 11:51 am

  3. And to add: Since the election I’ve considered the Russian thing overblown – and a distraction – yes, finding excuses for blowing the election. However, on the other side of the coin – can’t help but see the voter laws enacted after the Supreme Court decision – which seem blatant voter suppression by the Republican party in those states – with the cynical lie about voter fraud – as well as the gerrymandering (by both parties) to be serious. The seeming dismissal of Gerrymandering problem by our newest Supreme Court justice – Trump appointed – does not give me hope to fix that.

    Comment by Howard Seth Miller — October 23, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

  4. “The logical fallacies and logical contradictions are rampant.”

    I can get that kind of thing at National Review. The questions are WHO is retailing nonsense and WHY do they think it is going to be effective?

    Possible answers: the regime elite is always using the bottom against the middle to secure power.

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — October 23, 2017 @ 12:17 pm

  5. P.S. ZeroHedge doesn’t retail BLM stories.

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — October 23, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

  6. Howard Seth Miler, stop trolling.

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — October 23, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

  7. @SWP…Re: >>the Obama administration was very sympathetic to the BLM agenda<<
    Wasn't bho more than sympathetic? Wasn't the organizer of the Ferguson riots one Brittany Packnett, from Teach for America?
    Didn't TfA organize all the St. Louis and Baltimore shenanigans? Of course, with the help of the Community Organizer himself.

    Re: the Russia dstraction
    A Clinton method is to accuse the 'other' of the very crimes a Clinton has committed. Now that the Uranium One story is getting more light, the Clinton memo to all her acolytes has to have "yell 'Russia' 24×7" in red, and underlined.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — October 23, 2017 @ 10:30 pm

  8. One comment that I saw is priceless, in essence/substance as follows:

    “so for $125,000 in Facebook ads, the Rooshans controlled the presidential election and caused Trump to win;

    the donors who donated millions and millions of dollars to Clinton must be asking themselves why they donated and where their money went”

    The BLM’s and their leftie cohorts are all about controlling free speech – only certain free speech is allowed, inevitably only that which emanates from BLM’s or lefties.

    Hence, “hate speech,” and “politically correct” speech, etc.

    No counter-revolutionary talk allowed, tovarish.

    That’s why they hate Trump so much – he took on their leftie blabber and stood up to it, and exposed the lies behind it.

    How dare he exposed that Pocahontas Warren was not really “Native American”?

    How dare he call “her” – Billary Clinton” – crooked? She is, after all, “for the children.” Or so she says.

    All the myths and lies of the lefties failed – so it must be that the Rooshans brainwashed and hornswoggled an entire electorate.

    With $125,000 worth of Facebook ads.

    Comment by elmer — October 24, 2017 @ 9:43 am

  9. There’s no logical inconsistency in the Russians promotions of BLM and Antifa. It’s been established that the Russians are faking both, many times, for example,

    Why would they do this? because it distracts and energizes the base from the big issue: Donald Trump used the Russians to help him win an election. It’s hilarious that your blog ignores the MOUNTAINS of evidence that is coming out and the numerous lies that Don Jr, Kushner, Flynn, Sessions, etc… have all made with respect to Russian contacts.

    Trump used the Russians, willingly, to help him win an election. Trump has been laundering money for Russian mafia for decades. This will all come out by next year, and will be proven in a court of law. Trump will go to jail and you’ll be tossed on the internet scrap heap of people who chose to enable a Russian asset to fuck up our country.

    Comment by Willis Warren — November 25, 2017 @ 11:47 am

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