June 07, 2018

Two-siderism and 'deep state' blather

I finally decided to pull these thoughts out from a separate piece I did about six months ago about deterioration at Consortium News after the death of founder Robert Perry.

Ray McGovern
Former CIA agent Ray McGovern has been the biggest offender there, willing to rebroadcast almost any claim by Rep. Devin Nunes as gospel truth. He ran multiple articles both before and after the infamous Nunes Memo's release arguing for a simplistic "Deep State vs Trump" take on the memo and refusing to read Idries Shah and note there's more than two sides to this.
“To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.” 
Another way of putting it would be via Ron Chusid at Liberal Values Blog. The header of one piece, excerpted below, says:
Nunes Memo Provides Reminder Of Republican Hypocrisy And Democratic Dishonesty.
That's about right. But the twosiderism folks can't or won't accept that.

McGovern was soon joined in this by that tireless promoter of leftist union with the alt-right, Caitlin Johnstone. In her piece kicking off her contribution to two-siderism, she even admitted the content of the memo was a nothingburger but said that didn't matter anyway.

Johnstone did not start contributing to the site until Bob's passing. I suspect that an alive and healthy Bob would have kept her a non-contributor.

The "more than two sides" would accept that recent data deletions by the FBI and NSA are a problem while noting they in no means obscure that the Nunes Memo was in fact just the latest in a string of partisan hackery by Devin Nunes ever since Trump was sworn into office.

It would also develop the "third side" (there's really four or more) of not only Nunes' level of hackery, but details of the political issues at hand with this memo. We all know them — possibly setting up the firing of Rod Rosenstein is obvious, or, if not, angling for his impeachment. There could be more.

The "more than two sides" would note the clear omissions from the Nunes Memo, above all that quarterly renewal of surveillance requests on Carter Page were based on material besides the Steele dossier. Per Liberal Values, the memo does let that cat out of the bag at the very end, but both McGovern and Johnstone refuse to even mention the name Papadopoulos. It would also note that while Rod Rosenstein signed off on Mueller's wanting to make the quarterly requests, he did not examine the individual filings.

The Steele dossier was, and still is, problematic as to how much in it is true or half true. It's also problematic as to how much Steele might have been played. Its political optics are both problematic and interesting. Remember, Jeb Bush was the one who first wanted this, before he dropped out of the GOP race. That could amplify "deep state" claims, or could amplify claims of how many people were concerned about Trump and how early.

Byron York jumps in to say that the FBI surveillance requests appear to have had four sources — Steele, a Yahoo story based on Steele, Papadopoulos, and a previous 2013 investigation of Page, plus the general worry over Russia environment as a backgrounder. He then tries to claim the dossier was nonetheless "essential." He also references, on Twitter, Trey Gowdy engaging in ersatz mind-reading of a judge to try to prove that point. (Hang on to that thought. Gowdy, as the chief peddler of Benghazigate, is a wingnut of some sort himself. If he's not sniffing half of the Nunes glue, you know it's bad and we'll discuss it further. And, while he peddles the glue here, he doesn't everywhere.)

I respond back that without the judge's comment, which of course will not be forthcoming, we have no way of knowing that, and that if Nunes wanted to show what York and flacks like Gowdy claim, he should have mentioned all sources in the memo in the first place.

Instead, Nunes comes off as still looking like a hack, and Gowdy still looking like a flak at that time, and both them and York still trying to push a two-sides argument.

Eventually, on this point, Nunes crumpled. He has since admitted that the FBI told judges all along that they knew of the political backstory of the Steele dossier.

Meanwhile, per North Star, none of these alt-Trumpistan folks have put the Nunes Memo and Trump's support for it in larger context of Trump's personalized attacks on law enforcement that don't agree with him.

So, Liberal Values needs to have an extended excerpt to show just what a smart "third side" looks like:
There certainly might be grounds to question both the initial surveillance and the continued renewal of FISA warrants for the surveillance of Page (as is required every ninety days).  However, if the Republicans see abuses re FISA, why did they overwhelmingly just recently vote to renew it and expand surveillance? It is hard to take seriously Republican concerns today regarding surveillance when they have been such strong supporters of mass surveillance. 
It is not even clear if Carter Page is very significant with regards to Robert Muller’s investigation considering he is not one of those who have been indicted or who has entered into a plea agreement with Muller. 
The release of the memo does serve as a reminder of the dishonesty of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which had denied for months their role in paying for the Steele dossier. They very well might have violated federal election rules, and should be investigated for this. However, that is a separate matter, and is hardly enough to discredit investigations into money laundering and obstruction of justice within the Trump administration. On the other hand, the attempts by Democrats to fabricate a case, contrary to all the evidence to date, that the election was stolen from Clinton due to a conspiracy between Trump and Russia, is likely to ultimately help Trump distract from his actual crimes. 
The real significance of the Nunes memo is not the content, but how it is used. If it is used to reform mass surveillance it could be a good thing–but that is very unlikely to happen by the hypocritical Republicans. The greatest fear is that Trump will use the Republican spin not only to undermine the credibility of the investigation but to justify another Saturday Night Massacre.
I presume the Consortium News'nothingburgers over a nothingburger will die down at some point. How long that will take, I don't know. (And since I've now removed it from my blogroll for other reasons beyond the ones in this piece being the last straw, I don't really care. But, that link? Led me to suspicion yesterday ... and yep — Ray McGovern is a JFK assassination truther and beyond that and as well, he's also a 9/11 truther.)

It's gonna take a while, at least with McGovern. If he reframes himself at all. Six weeks after that initial Consortium News blog post by me, he wrote a new piece still calling the Nunes Nothingburger delicious. Specifically, he uncritically praises Nunes' threat yesterday of prosecuting FBI agents and others connected to the Mueller investigation. It's laughable to compare Nunes to Otis Pike. I'm sure that he [and Ray] are NOT concerned about civil liberties violations of the indictment, unlike me.

Since then, as of mid-May the Senate Intelligence Committee on this issue shows more intelligence than Nunes [and hack lieutenant Mike Conaway] has and than McGovern is currently demonstrating.

I also presume that we're likely to get new nothingburgers over new nothingburgers soon enough.

Outside of Consortium News, other writers like ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller now have contributed to this boneyard of nuttery. On CN, Daniel Lazare is now part of the problem.

I don't know if this is costing, or will cost, Consortium News some readers. Since I will be one of those lost readers at that point, I won't care, either.

Meanwhile, back to Gowdy, at the end of May. Gowdy has for a full month or more being less and less inclined to play ball with Nunes' most partisan antics, like Nunes' attempt to squeeze classified info about the FBI informant who investigated members of Trump's campaign in 2016 out of Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein.

As much of a Hillary hater inside Congress as Gowdy now says that McGovern, Johnstone, ShirtLost DumbShit Zach Haller, Jared Beck and the many others practicing two-siderism are simply wrong on one specific issue connected to Nunes' brain fevers. Gowdy says the FBI informant seeking info from inside the Trump campaign on Russia connections issues was perfectly proper.

Let's quote Gowdy:
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said Tuesday during an interview on Fox News.
And, not just Gay Trowdy. Dracula himself, Andrew Napolitano, agrees.
Trump's claims "seem to be baseless," he said. This "is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal investigations."
At the same time, Gowdy said Democrats should be, and have been, specific, that the investigation isn't about Trump himself.

That may or may not be true. Mueller's writ is broad. Now, if he's talking specifically about the FBI informant, he seems to be quite correct. This investigation was not targeting Trump himself.

Of course, the glue-sniffers may claim that Gowdy's been "turned." And no, that wouldn't surprise me.

No more than Gowdy being a voice of reason.

Unfortunately, I now notice that someone who SHOULD know about third sides, 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, has chosen at Counterpunch to pretty much frame this in terms of two-sided "Deep State vs Trump" as well. That said, this is not the first time Baraka has "struggled for separation" on an issue like this.

Disobedient Media is another glue-sniffer.  That said, Per MediaBias FactCheck's analysis of it, that doesn't surprise me. (That, OTOH, is a good website.) Its information content is general factual, but its framing of this is usually biased, if not highly biased, and definitely toward Wingnutistan.

Plus, like some other of these "gnu media" places, its name is simply pretentious.

I have a few Twitter friends who retweet it. I haven't yet decided whether or not to mute it.

The Anti-Media is another one with a pretentious name. And, not for wingnuttia, but simple lack of factual information, plus a dollop of conspiracy thinking framing, its reputation is even worse.

Sadly, that's another that a few friends at least used to retweet.

McGovern went on another idiotic rant in mid-April saying that 11 random House GOP Congresscritters (not united by coming from House Intell or any other single committee) throwing shit at the wall by making criminal referrals to strawman people, a list which has now been expanded to include Sally Yates, should be taken seriously, that the "corporate media" are slacking even more than normal, and in conspiratorial dulcet tones, asking "Will the Constitution hold"?

My response:
Well, given that Cohen has withdrawn his suits against Fusion and BuzzFeed (which Ray conveniently omits), which in turn may give credence that Mueller does have proof that Cohen was lying about not going to Prague. (Update: McClatchy hasn't offered confirmation on that, no other major media has followed it, and today's McClatchy is NOT that of 10-15 years ago.)
And, we've already been down the "mislead the FISA Court," Ray. 
And, also along those lines, the 11 Rethugs can make all sorts of "referrals." Nice to pull Sally Yates in the mix. (If she's actually guilty of anything, it's of telling Dear Leader not to pardon or even commute the sentence of Leonard Peltier before he left office, and I'm sure nobody in the House GOP gives a damn about Leonard Peltier.) 
The "corporate media" is probably silent because this is even nuttier than Nunes. It's not the Rethug majority of House Intell or any other House committee. It's just 11 random Republicans throwing shit at a wall. 
There. Fixed it for you, Ray.
God, he's a nutter at times. So much a nutter that he touts an action that even Nunes wouldn't do.

Worse yet? He says, per Wiki, that he voted for Stein. Tis true; here's his official endorsement on his website. So, theoretically, he shouldn't be engaging in two-siderism. That said, his quasi-conspiracy theory take makes him a good fit as a Green voter.

All we need now is one of these 11 going Dan Burton and shooting watermelons in a backyard.

Besides and the bottom line? The fact that Trump has twice tossed cruise missiles into Syria and continues to toady to Gulf Arab states says that he's either been turned by the deep state or that projectionism, like denial, is not just a river in Egypt.

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