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Trump May Rise from the Ashes of Russiagate
Reflections on the Dishonest Media and Trump's Attempt at Regaining Power
“They hated Nero; and they liked Gaius Calpurnius Piso. His membership of the aristocratic Calpurnian house linked him, on his father’s side, with many illustrious families. Among the masses, too, he enjoyed a great reputation for his good qualities, real or apparent. For he employed his eloquence to defend his fellow citizens in court; he was a generous friend- and gracious and affable even to strangers; and he also possessed the accidental advantages of impressive stature and a handsome face. But his character lacked seriousness or self-control. He was superficial, ostentatious, and sometimes dissolute. But many people are fascinated by depravity and disinclined for austere morals on the throne. Such men found Piso’s qualities attractive.” - Tacitus [Annals, XV.48]
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From just about the beginning of Donald Trump’s political career our senses and reason were under endless assault by promoters of the idea of a vast Russian conspiracy. Their claim was that Vladimir Putin, a nefarious “enemy for all seasons,” with some sort of super-human ability and malice, controlled Trump and was responsible for everything else they didn’t like. It is no coincidence they used this to bludgeon Trump and simultaneously generate widespread fear and hatred of Russia, leading to now where the idiot masses are frothing at the mouth to escalate against Russia in Ukraine. With Trump out of office, powerful voices favoring any sort of reconciliation or basic sanity in Russia policy were mostly silenced. This was the case until November 15th, 2022, when former President Trump made the widely expected announcement that he was again running for President. If successful this would make him, following Grover Cleveland, the second President to serve two non-consecutive terms [one wonders what the liberals who called him “45” because they were too immature to say his name will do if he wins and, like Cleveland, Congress decides he is both the 45th and 47th President.] As I wrote previously, following the Republicans’ abysmal nation-wide performance in the mid-terms, I was hoping Trump would instead announce his retirement and give way to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or someone else in the party. However, that would be very un-Trumplike, so I never believed he would step back. Further, my concerns about DeSantis’ hawkishness have had time to elevate since the election. Still, it has hardly felt like Trump is running, since he is still off of mainstream social media, though Musk unbanned him from Twitter and Meta says he will soon be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram. The media has continued to try to generate outrage about the past based on their bullshit narratives while mostly ignoring Trump’s new campaign. Though I found Trump highly entertaining before, I must admit I am not looking forward to season two of the Trump show.
I have deeply ambivalent feelings about the premise of Trump’s return to power and about the man himself. The truth is, for his problems, in my opinion he was remarkably good at being President despite what amounted to a widespread conspiracy against him. That is, he was good until they found his Achilles’ Heel with covid, and managed to combine his disease fear and extreme hubris to get him to destroy the country and his Presidency with a kamikaze attack on a cold. If you ignore the media gaslighting and fake panic, 2017-2019 were actually great years in America; it was an era of peace and prosperity for the common man. While I enjoyed how crazy he drove people I hate, at the same time, I don’t want to go back to what they put the public through as a sort of punishment for disrespecting the “expert” class so much as to elect Trump. I also always liked the premise of a sort of clown taking political power, but now it seems that someone more serious than Trump needs to fix the damage people with Trump Derangement Syndrome caused trying to get rid of him [not to mention, Zelensky has further discredited the premise of electing clowns.] From the time Trump left office, my opinion was that I hoped he would not run again, but if he did he had to win because that class could not get away with what they had done to manipulate and control the public and the political process, and if he lost they would see a full victory. Really, the only decent end after Trump leaving office on January 20, 2021 would have been him retiring to a private island to shitpost full time- sadly they cut off that option by banning him from social media, and here we are.
The reason I chose to write about this now is that a new piece from the Columbia Journalism Review has thoroughly eviscerated the “Russiagate” hoax, and it gives me an even stronger feeling that Trump needs to win as repudiation to the media cabal which promoted this dangerous lie.
This piece is incredibly damning, and perhaps even more damning is how many media figures refused to comment and the complete lack of coverage it has received in legacy media organs. The Columbia Journalism Review is essentially like the government’s Office of the Inspector General but for the media- that is to say, this is the most credible conceivable neutral source for media analysis within the industry. Further, this was done by an investigative reporter with over 30 years at the New York Times. The piece is long, and to analyze it would be an article in and of itself, but the “too long : didn’t read” [TL:DR in internet lingo] is that the entire Russia investigation was a hoax, the government investigators knew it wasn’t credible, and the most basic skepticism and honesty from the media would have stopped them from going into a frenzy. [If you want some key excerpts without reading the entire gargantuan article, here is a permanent link to the days which Taibbi discussed the article on Twitter.] The fact that the media still hasn’t self-reflected or accepted accountability when they should be returning Pulitzer Prizes and other awards they’ve received for disproven stories speaks to how corrupt they’ve become. To give you an idea of just how “insider-y” the CJR is within the industry, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which publishes the magazine, was was founded by Joseph Pulitzer himself. Further, the school shares an office with the Pulitzer Prizes, and the head of the board which runs the magazine is the Editor-in-Chief of Reuters. It was this publication, which bills itself “The Voice of Journalism” and states its mission as “we monitor the press in all its forms, calling attention to its shortcomings and strengths in order to ensure that the standards of honest and responsible journalism remain the bedrock of our profession” which has torn down the Russiagate story as dangerously irresponsible and horribly damaging to the media’s credibility. Beyond calling out the appalling and irresponsible work of the largest mainstream publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post it also praised Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Aaron Mate, who all left major publications to become independent journalists on Substack due to their refusal to go along with this dangerous and false narrative, which they instead devoted their efforts to debunking. It is hard to imagine a more thorough condemnation of modern corporate media- and the media is choosing to simply ignore it.
Perhaps this is the death knell of the “mainstream” media, but at the least Trump has been exonerated in a big way for the fake scandal which consumed most of his administration. This won’t matter to Russiagate believers, however, as the horrible modern Democrats and their sycophants won’t let even this break their cult-like faith in this fake story. As chapter 4 of the article reports, following Trump’s 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where Trump tried to improve relations, “A Yougov/Economist poll found that two-thirds of Democrats were definitely or somewhat sure that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected.” This is not something that even, as far as I know, Rachel Maddow tried to claim, though it was surely insinuated. The truth is even if Russia did all of the things it was actually accused of it wouldn’t have impacted an election in any meaningful sense. This is a similar phenomenon to how much of the public thought Saddam had a role in 9/11 despite the Bush Administration never claiming that, or the public believing that covid was much more dangerous than even the most overblown alarmist statistics claimed [Note: I couldn’t find a source before publishing. Citation added 2/3 after a kindly woman on Twitter found it for me.] I was discussing this concept with a friend last night, how such beliefs arise, and the best we could come up with is that the media makes such an enormous deal out of a story that the public fills in blank space in their head so the panic makes sense. Saddam must have been involved with 9/11 or they wouldn’t want to invade Iraq; covid must be that deadly or they wouldn’t shut down schools; Russia must have changed vote totals or the media wouldn’t be talking about it every day. And people still believe this nonsense, as cited in the article:
On top of all of this, by genuine coincidence [it occurred to me I almost exclusively use “coincidence” sarcastically in my writing] Matt Taibbi continued the Twitter Files a few days before the article was published, this time going after the “Hamilton 68 Dashboard.” Though it was not directly related to the accusations against Trump, this “dashboard” was one of the main things the worst propagandists and warmongers in our society used to baselessly claim Russia has deeply infiltrated all of our domestic politics.
It doesn’t appear possible to make these people see or acknowledge the truth by any means. As I’ve argued before, I don’t see another option but to politically dominate them. This is a difficult conclusion for me personally, because that is my least favorite way of solving problems, beyond which having the power to do so isn’t reliable. However, this is necessary because they think the government’s business is to arbitrate the truth, which would be bad enough if they actually promoted truth, but is all the worse since their “truth” is objectively false. Only by their being removed from power can we return closer to a government whose business is the well being of the commonwealth, instead of trying to force belief in invented narratives. John Locke wrote of this struggle in A Letter Concerning Toleration:
“The business of laws is not to provide for the truth of opinions, but for the safety and security of the commonwealth, and of every particular man’s goods and person. And so it ought to be. For truth certainly would do well enough, if she were once left to shift for herself. She seldom has received, and I fear never will receive, much assistance from the power of great men, to whom she is but rarely known, and more rarely welcome.”
Trump may play fast and loose with the truth, but it is setting and executing policy that is the job of elected leaders. Trump takes great exception to the Russiagate lies which are slanders on him personally, but besides that he hasn’t indicated that he generally views forcing the public to believe a specific thing is the job of government. Alternately, the other side is using misinformation to make the public scared of misinformation so they can make you believe misinformation. It all inevitably leads to same places: increased government and corporate control of your life, corporate profits, and hostility towards Russia. Unfortunately, we are left in a situation where yet again Trump seems to be the only one who can potentially stop these people. There is hope that he would be completely off the chain his second term, while the media fails to generate the same debunked panic, which will no longer work among what percentage of the population can be reasoned with.
There is an Edmund Burke quote I use frequently, which is again relevant to what should be the death of Russiagate:
“It is true, the fraud may be swallowed after this discovery, and perhaps even swallowed the more greedily for being a detected fraud. Men sometimes make a point of honor not to be disabused; and they had rather fall into an hundred errors than confess one. But, after all, when neither our principles nor our dispositions, nor, perhaps, our talents, enable us to encounter delusion with delusion, we must use our best reason to those that ought to be reasonable creatures, and to take our chance for the event. We cannot act on these anomalies in the minds of men. I do not conceive that the persons who have contrived these things can be made much the better or the worse for anything which can be said to them. They are reason-proof.” [Letter to a Member of the National Assembly]
This group cannot be brought back to reality, but there is enough of the population that can be reasonable to see the vastness of the anti-Russia lies we have been subjected to. Besides Trump, I don’t rightly know how to fight back against this faction, but at the same time, I have a psychological need to see their comeuppance, which is likely clouding my judgment.
The truth is that for the goal of reducing tension and working toward any sort of global rapprochement- something I am certain I believe in for the right reasons- there don’t seem to be options besides Trump; many seem happy to barrel towards a wholly unnecessary Third World War. Though Trump has other foreign policy problems, such as being an implacable Iran hawk, he has also been the only power center within our politics that seems to genuinely fear nuclear war. [The CJR article also mentions him having a fixation on the risk of nuclear war.] He also has always had an instinct towards reconciliation with Russia, which the Russiagate nonsense was designed to make impossible. Trump is going around saying he could rapidly end the Russia-Ukraine War- and he means at the negotiating table, not by indefinitely arming Ukraine. Regardless of my dread about living through another season of the Trump show, it seems inevitable that Trump will be the only relative Russia dove on the debate stage when the time comes. So far our other contenders are the former Trump official, single-issue “attack everyone” lunatic John Bolton [more on him later,] the ultra-hawk former Trump official Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis who is also wholly a neocon hawk but who has been consumed with domestic affairs [he hasn’t announced his run but everyone expects it.] The Russia-Ukraine war is sure to be at a different point by then- if still going- but it is most likely that all of the candidates are going to want to “confront” everyone, and won’t have any countries with whom they are trying to make peace
I like Ron DeSantis a lot on most domestic policies, and appreciate his no-nonsense attitude towards the media [whereas Trump fights nonsense with nonsense.] However, I think I was too unconcerned about his foreign policy views following the unexpected midterm election results. It is difficult to imagine he will do anything to reign in the feverish Russia hatred, and is more likely to be a competent leader during the Third World War than to prevent it. It is probably unwise to let his good domestic record distract us from the area where he has real power, as Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute explained in December:
McAdams’ line of reasoning is in keeping with the great libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard, who was a brilliant political pragmatist and believed you should vote solely on which candidate is least likely to cause or instigate nuclear war. His premise was that firstly, this is where the President had the broadest authority and further that foreign policy shows you how a President will behave domestically [he also, of course, didn’t want nuclear war.] Basically, someone who thinks you can overthrow Saddam and turn Iraq into a “Jeffersonian Democracy” has completely unrealistic views of the limitations of government power, and someone who would consider using a nuclear bomb has no concern for human life. Both of these things clearly translate to how domestic policy is conducted. This is usually pretty solid, as it tells you how heavy-handed someone is willing to be, which can be more meaningful than his standing on the political axis. However, there is also a different way to look at this: the great anti-war writer Justin Raimondo’s “Libertarian Realism” posited that most warmongering is for the purpose of distracting the public from domestic concerns. By this line of reasoning, perhaps DeSantis wouldn’t be so bad because he is competent and isn’t scandal-prone, so he might not have problems to distract us from; he does seem like someone who wants a domestic legacy. That is an awful big gamble, however, and it doesn’t make me want to roll the dice.
It needs to be noted Trump kind of turned both of these theories on their heads: though he was resistant to foreign adventurism and saw the limits of government action in that regard, it did not stop him from declaring an impossible, oppressive, anti-human war on a disease; on the other side, Trump’s Administration existed under unprecedented domestic attack, and even though he was only praised by the media when he launched unnecessary attacks on foreign targets, he avoided creating any new large military engagements. Either way, it seems that besides Trump the Republicans will only have everyone-hawks running, and the Democrats have reached a truly deranged level of Russia hawkishness. It is most likely I will be pushed back to rooting for Trump, despite that I really don’t want to go through all of this again.
By nature Trump is somewhat of a wildcard. This is less true than it was in 2016, having had the chance to observe him in office, but it is still the case. Though he will likely by the only one trying to avoid nuclear war, some of his domestic behaviors are unforgivable, and it seems unwise to go for this “solution” to America’s problems again. Still, if somehow the media being so much more discredited left Trump open to pursue policies instead of defend himself, it’s tempting to think he might do a better job this time, especially not having to worry about running again. Still, we become enthusiastic about his candidacy at our own peril:
There are two specific things about Trump’s term which were mentioned above and should give enormous cause for alarm. The first is that Trump made terrible, inexplicable, staffing decisions his entire first term. It’s true, as was observed at the time, that the foreign policy realists and populist conservatives have a very shallow bench in DC. There aren’t a lot of people who have the career experience to hold high-level cabinet positions and aren’t absolute “swamp creatures.” However, even that being the case, Trump chose some of the worst people imaginable. One example was Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the only Senator who supported Trump in the primary campaign. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because he had said he hadn’t met with the Russian Ambassador when he once shook his hand and said “hello” in his capacity as the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee [the idea that speaking to Russia’s Ambassador to the United States was somehow nefarious was one of the most absurd aspects of the early Russiagate scam.] Jeff Sessions was terrible anyway, but Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went along with the scam enthusiastically in his role overseeing the investigation. We finally got some answers from Trump in this regard, I believe for the first time, out of the Columbia Journalism Review article. Trump said in his interview for the piece:
“Jeff Sessions was a mistake,”…He explained he had been to Washington “only seventeen times in my life, and I never stayed over,” so “when I got there, I didn’t know any people in Washington.” As a result, he made some poor personnel decisions, such as Sessions.”
[I find it hilarious he would know he had been to DC specifically seventeen times; he must have had a secretary record his travel since he reached adulthood, and told someone to tally it at some point.]
Though I, and surely many others, knew Sessions was a mistake from the beginning, this still does show a huge problem with trying to get any “Washington outsider” into office. However, Trump also had problems with most of his own people he brought in. It seems they couldn’t handle the pressure of the sharks circling, which makes sense being as all restraint and convention disappeared when it came to the career political and media establishment destroying the lives of anyone who dared work with the Trump Administration. The Sessions appointment, however, was not perplexing, as Trump was rewarding one of the only major sitting politicians who had supported him in the primary, and further it gave him a Washington insider in a key position.
More confounding than Sessions was Trump’s appointment of arch-hawk, now Presidential candidate, John Bolton as his National Security Advisor. This washed-up lunatic has never done a job well, and no one could make heads or tails of his decision. However, Trump has now explained, and I give him some credit here:
“For his part, Trump, when asked about Helsinki in my interview, blasted Bolton. “Bolton was one of the dumber people, but I loved him for the negotiations,” he said, because “all these countries,” aware of Bolton’s hawkish views, “thought we were going to blow them up” when Bolton sat in on the negotiations.”
This is a fairly classic “good cop, bad cop” sort of technique. Bolton’s only real use is as a sort of muzzled German shepherd the person you are negotiating with doesn’t want to be released and I wholly believe that had some effect in negotiations. This is one of many examples of how at times I like how Trump thinks. Even knowing Trump was a fan of Nixon’s “Madman Theory” I fell for this one and was distressed by the Bolton appointment. Trump had going for him that unlike some other people, when post-Administration Bolton started his “trashing Trump tour” he already had zero credibility. Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador was a similarly perplexing decision, but with Trump’s dislike of international organizations and her prominence it at least made some sense. It doesn’t appear Trump learned much, though, as evidenced by the fact that he is still palling around with Lindsey Graham, who is against everything Trump allegedly stands for, as Tucker Carlson explained recently:
This bring us to a much larger problem that also involves staffing. Trump is the one who let the covid mania happen to us. Don’t forget the misery they put us through from the start and in the following years. It is still unclear how it all came to happen, but Trump’s extreme hubris and general ignorance about disease clearly led him to believe he could play up the dangers then defeat the virus and it would help him politically. How could this former The Apprentice host not say “You’re Fired” to Fauci, Birx, et al who were destroying him, his Administration, and America? Why did he allow lockdowns that destroyed a strong economy and then cause horrible inflation through unprecedented government spending while much of the economy sat idle? It’s tempting to defend or forgive Trump since through most of this he was relatively less insane about covid than other political power centers, but he was the President and in the famous words of Harry Truman, “the buck stops here.” It is also tempting to imagine that the entire global covid mania was a plot to get rid of Trump, which is unlikely, but domestically it was used that way, and he gave them enough rope to hang him with.
The basic point of America is to be a haven from Old World insanity and oppression, so getting unnecessarily drawn into it always represents a leadership failure, and Trump let it destroy him. Further, if America wouldn’t have fallen to the madness the dominoes may have stopped.
Regarding Trump’s loss, I don’t want to get into claims of election fraud [though as I’ve said before I don’t trust our elections in general,] and I do not care about “January 6,” but it’s clear all the last minute rule changes which used covid as a justification, many of which were clearly illegal, changed the results a great deal and were only possible because he let covid mania happen. He thought he could defeat a virus through bold government action, which as said above discredits Rothbard’s theory that an understanding of the limitations of foreign policy translates to lighter-handed domestic government.
One way or another, the shitstorm of trends within our society, including slavish devotion to institutional authority, incompetent institutional authority, corporate greed, a general hatred of freedom, and Trump Derangement Syndrome allowed the Pharisee class to destroy our lives. Trump likes to say something along the lines of “They’re not after me, they’re after you, I’m just in the way.” If that was ever true, he was not in the way when it mattered. Somehow or another they got to him, and he doesn’t appear to have learned anything. In some ways it seems as if he will be the fall guy for the whole fiasco. He is still touting his role in developing “vaccines" that are widely considered to cause death despite that praising the vaccines gets him “booed” by his base. Though I generally dislike when people use pop psychology on public figures, and he did admit some mistakes in the CJR article, I am quite confident he is pathologically incapable of recognizing the gravity of his error, or at least admitting to it. If he were to run a campaign of vengeance against the people who led him and us into this it would be one thing, but I doubt he will, and so it seems there is no good reason to give him another chance.
No good reason to give Trump another chance. However, perhaps some unfortunately necessary reasons. For one, no matter how much work I do on myself, I can’t shake the need to prove the point that the media, government, and general “professional” class can’t do what they did with Russiagate and covid and everything else and get away with it. If, in internet lingo, they would “take the L” on Russiagate- or anything for that matter- it would be one thing, but they clearly won’t. Another reason is that even though the domestic aspect ultimately proved wrong with Trump, I do still follow the line of reasoning of Rothbard that the President has the most unilateral power over foreign policy and our main focus needs to be on preventing nuclear war; in that regard Trump is our only current option. As I have discussed repeatedly, the Western leadership class appears to have developed an ideological opposition to negotiation. There are a lot of extremely dangerous problems in the world, most of all the risk of nuclear war, and Trump is the only person in our political discourse who thinks negotiation is how you solve these problems.
Still, even with the break we’ve had, I don’t have the energy to go through more years of Trump and media antagonism in an ever more dangerous and broken world, but sadly I don’t see a better option. Perhaps Trump has a “Road to Damascus” moment about covid restrictions, perhaps DeSantis has one about foreign policy, perhaps by some miracle a great unexpected candidate arises out of nowhere and saves us, perhaps we all die from nuclear war before the election. Any number of things could happen, but none of them are simultaneously likely and promising. ‘Twas ever thus. In the immortal words of H. L. Mencken, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Indeed, the one sure thing is we will be getting it good and hard.
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