Peter Van Buren vs Andrew Sullivan on ‘Russiagate’ and its erstaz hero Robert Mueller. Political Cynic comments (Revised)

Peter Van Buren’s essay at The American Conservative web site offers something Mr. Sullivan can never match: an examination of the known facts about the investigation, as presented in the indictments presented by Mueller.

Headline: What Mueller Has and What He’s Missing

Sub-headline: So far there’s little of the former and a lot of the latter. Absent more evidence, skepticism remains a healthy stance.

Some Russians somewhere may have somehow meddled in the 2016 presidential election. But what Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller really has to answer, some 16 months after the voting, is whether Donald Trump knowingly worked with a foreign government to get elected in return for some quid pro quoRussiagate. So where’s the proverbial beef?

On February 22, Mueller handed down a 32-count indictment, following a similar one in October, that charged Paul Manafort and Richard Gates with financial crimes going back eight years or more, all related to work in Ukraine, none related to Russiagate. A day after the indictment, Gates pled guilty to financial conspiracy and lying to the FBI about a meeting five years ago. Manafort’s case is more complex: no trial date has been set, and it will likely take a year or more to conclude once started.

Two weeks ago, Mueller dropped a multi-part indictment against 13 Russian citizens connected with a so-called troll farm. The indictment alleges the group bought Facebook and Twitter ads, planned small rallies, and otherwise “meddled” in the U.S. election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made clear there was no allegation in the indictment that any American, including on the Trump campaign, “was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity.”

Even if some connection to the Kremlin can be shown (it hasn’t been and since Mueller will never take this case to court—his defendants all live in Russia—it’s unlikely it ever will be), this “meddling” has no link to Trump or Russiagate. In fact, the social media campaign started when the U.S. was considering war in the Ukraine years before Trump announced his candidacy, and about half of its modest ad buys took place after the election was over. The troll farm itself was not much of a secret; the New York Times profiled the place in 2015.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/russia-investigation-fbi-what-mueller-has-and-what-hes-missing/

Mr. Van Buren’s careful analysis of the Mueller’s indictments and those who are now co-operating with him, up to February 28, 2018, is model of rational evaluation, in all of the available particulars.

Compare this essay to Andrew Sullivan’s essay of March 2,2018:

Headline: Is This the Beginning of Trump’s End?

Some Russians somewhere may have somehow meddled in the 2016 presidential election. But what Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller really has to answer, some 16 months after the voting, is whether Donald Trump knowingly worked with a foreign government to get elected in return for some quid pro quoRussiagate. So where’s the proverbial beef?

On February 22, Mueller handed down a 32-count indictment, following a similar one in October, that charged Paul Manafort and Richard Gates with financial crimes going back eight years or more, all related to work in Ukraine, none related to Russiagate. A day after the indictment, Gates pled guilty to financial conspiracy and lying to the FBI about a meeting five years ago. Manafort’s case is more complex: no trial date has been set, and it will likely take a year or more to conclude once started.

Two weeks ago, Mueller dropped a multi-part indictment against 13 Russian citizens connected with a so-called troll farm. The indictment alleges the group bought Facebook and Twitter ads, planned small rallies, and otherwise “meddled” in the U.S. election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made clear there was no allegation in the indictment that any American, including on the Trump campaign, “was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity.”

Even if some connection to the Kremlin can be shown (it hasn’t been and since Mueller will never take this case to court—his defendants all live in Russia—it’s unlikely it ever will be), this “meddling” has no link to Trump or Russiagate. In fact, the social media campaign started when the U.S. was considering war in the Ukraine years before Trump announced his candidacy, and about half of its modest ad buys took place after the election was over. The troll farm itself was not much of a secret; the New York Times profiled the place in 2015.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/andrew-sullivan-is-this-the-beginning-of-trumps-end.html

From its portentous title to its carefully cultivated paranoia, it is a monument to the Sullivan rhetorical screech.  Yet it loses its energy as Sullivan rambles on about Trump’s other failures. Sullivan’s  Bill of Attainder against the traitorous Trump is antithetical to the  very legal definition of treason in the US :

To avoid the abuses of the English law, the scope of treason was specifically restricted in the United States Constitution. Article III, section 3 reads as follows:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason#United_States

The reader need only examine both essays to see that Van Buren offers an empiricism, based on the available evidence . And that Sullivan offers an ideologically based set of examples of the Trump political mendacity, as the sine qua non of his political guilt. Its ‘as if’ Mr. Sullivan suffers from a case of political amnesia, instead of a self-willed forgetting of other American Presidents: Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. Except that Trump is representative of the complete moral/political collapse of the whole of America’s Political Class, whose Neo-Liberalism eventuated in economic catastrophe and was the harbinger of  Trump’s political irrationalism.

But also consider Mr. Sullivan’s political evolution from Thatcherite to Neo-Conservative to Neo-Liberal. His enthusiasm for The Bell Curve as an expression of Conservative Sociology’s belief that black people are naturally inferior beings. On his not so subtle extemporizing on the themes of Huntington’s Clash, in his 2001 New York Times essay This Is a Religious War. Not to see that the rise of Political Islam is in fact anti-imperial, no matter how the defenders of the Western Hegemony construct the Islamist as bloodthirsty barbarian. One need only look to the history of Western Colonialism preceded by  its  Crusades, to see the glaring contradiction between action and proffered virtue.

Consider also Mr. Sullivan’s attacks on Antifas as innately nihilistic, while the body count grows in the War on Terror, now being fought of at least eight fronts, that we are aware of, fifteen years later . Note too his  misogyny in attacking Feminists who have ‘gone too far’!  The reader is made aware that his listing of the crimes of his many enemies, awash in hysterical indignation and condemnation. Functions as a defense, for his *abysmally bad judgement, on all questions he takes to be within his purview, over a long career as a self-appointed political and policy expert.

Political Cynic

 

*Mr . Sullivan isn’t just subject to his own bad judgement and the fact that it is utterly reliable,  but is part of a political Centrism that dominates respectable bourgeois  American politics. This  includes the Neo-Conservatives like Kristol and his coterie at the Weekly Standard, and his various front groups, Neo-Liberals like Clinton and her apparatchiks in the Democratic Party, Michael Ignatieff and Samantha Power of the R2P Imperial Project by the back door, and other assorted apologists for the American National Security State. At ‘think tanks’ like Brookings and its metastasizing clones.

The collapse of the Neo-Liberal Mythology and its dismal watershed of the triumph of the 1% , and immiseration of the 99% is the frame for the rise of Trump and other ‘populists’ across Europe. Yet the reader has to marvel at the political rise of Macri in Argentina and Macron in France: the political potency of the ‘Free Market Mythology’ ? Macri faced a 24 hour truckers strike last week, and Macron’s poll numbers are in steep decline.

Political Cynic

March 3, 2018 8:22 AM PST

 

 

 

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s