Permanent emergency in the liberal imagination

 

Over the weekend, Russia-gate took an even more surreal turn when former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was accused of being a Russian-stooge because she shared a table with Vladimir Putin and former General Michael Flynn in 2015 at an RT dinner celebrating their 10th anniversary.

Rogue-blogger Caitlin Johnstone asks the obvious questions. “How fucking stupid do you have to be to believe that a party which has out of necessity run a candidate every presidential election since 1996 only ran one in 2016 because of some kind of nefarious Kremlin plot, and how fucking stupid must your echo chamber be to have fostered such a belief? How fucking stupid do you have to be to believe that a candidate who received one percent of the popular vote (less than half of what Ralph Nader received in 2000) despite running against the two least popular mainstream candidates ever was only able to achieve this via Kremlin collusion? How fucking stupid do you have to be to never bother to research the perfectly reasonable explanation that Jill Stein has given for the picture in question?”

Here’s one of the tweets to demonstrate just how far down the rabbit-hole the Russia-gaters have gone.

Here is the photo of the infamous dinner where Flynn began to coordinate on behalf of trump with Putin in Russia and was paid to be there. Question – why is Jill Stein here? She has never given a reasonable answer.
She was paid to run as part of their conspiracy.

FILE- In this file photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, center left, and Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, obscured second right, attend an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today) 24-hour English-language TV news channel in Moscow, Russia. The Kremlin said Monday Dec. 4, 2017 that conversations between the Trump administration and the Russian ambassador to the United States could not have possibly swayed Putin's decision on U.S. sanctions imposed by the outgoing administration. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file)

And another from someone in the “Resistance”, (who’s obviously off her meds).

Yesterday, Russia-gate got local, when the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story entitled–Ex-SLC mayor found a seat at Russian dinnerRocky Anderson, our radical ex-mayor who famously protested President George W. Bush when he came to SLC, was at the 10th anniversary RT gala as well. While not at the same table as Putin, he was in the company of “noted communist” Peter Kusnik, who with director Oliver Stone made the controversial documentary–The Untold History of the US, (probably at Putin’s express direction).

If all this sounds like an episode of South Park, you’re not alone.

History professor Jackson Lears recaps the sheer idiocy of Russia-gate in the London Review of BooksWhat We Don’t Talk about when We Talk about Russian Hacking.

“A story that had circulated during the campaign without much effect resurfaced: it involved the charge that Russian operatives had hacked into the servers of the Democratic National Committee, revealing embarrassing emails that damaged Clinton’s chances. With stunning speed, a new centrist-liberal orthodoxy came into being, enveloping the major media and the bipartisan Washington establishment. This secular religion has attracted hordes of converts in the first year of the Trump presidency. In its capacity to exclude dissent, it is like no other formation of mass opinion in my adult life, though it recalls a few dim childhood memories of anti-communist hysteria during the early 1950s.

The centrepiece of the faith, based on the hacking charge, is the belief that Vladimir Putin orchestrated an attack on American democracy by ordering his minions to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump. The story became gospel with breathtaking suddenness and completeness. Doubters are perceived as heretics and as apologists for Trump and Putin, the evil twins and co-conspirators behind this attack on American democracy. Responsibility for the absence of debate lies in large part with the major media outlets. Their uncritical embrace and endless repetition of the Russian hack story have made it seem a fait accompli in the public mind. It is hard to estimate popular belief in this new orthodoxy, but it does not seem to be merely a creed of Washington insiders. If you question the received narrative in casual conversations, you run the risk of provoking blank stares or overt hostility – even from old friends. This has all been baffling and troubling to me; there have been moments when pop-culture fantasies (body snatchers, Kool-Aid) have come to mind.”

In my opinion Russia-gate is less about Russian meddling in our sacred elections than with the Democratic party using the constant drumbeat of charges and accusations as a means to avoid addressing the issues that average Americans care about. The Russia-gate scandal has been driven by the well-educated professionals that writer Thomas Frank castigates in his latest–Listen Liberal. For example–last summer, according to the Washington political journal The Hill:

Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia. … Rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare.

Russia-gate is also about the corporate media freaking out about their loss of credibility and respect. If you look around you’ll notice that there are a myriad of corporate media stories that have one thing in common–they all paint anti-establishment speakers, writers, film-makers and even comedians as “Russian propagandists” simply because they advance opinions that run counter to US establishment interests.

George Orwell would surely appreciate this moment or two.

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