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“THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE—Oh, wait–the RUSSIANS ARE GOING!” (or) WOOF Chronicles the outbreak, the feverish climax, and the sweaty aftermath of the Media’s year-long bout with Russian Flu.

In "Apocalypse NOT" forum on October 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

The unluckiest moment of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may well have been his decision to crack wise about Hillary Clinton’s emails during a March rally. He had already joked during a televised debate that Mrs. Clinton’s preternaturally irretrievable emails might be locatable by Russia—a fairly amusing quip since the press was even then full of Russian hacking stories, none of which, at the time, involved Trump.  At a campaign rally, Trump iterated: “I will tell you this, Russia, if you’re listening; I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

“Maybe Russia can find them!”

It is unfair, we think, to say as many do that Leftists have no sense of humor. It is less unfair to observe that the liberal establishment is jocundly challenged, its mainstay attribute—sanctimony –having withered its less officious instincts. For this reason, the pontificators of the mainstream media routinely ignore or misinterpret irony, which explains, among other things, how Trump’s topical jape was deprived of context by Democrat politicians and newscasters.

So competent, I keep Putin up at night!

Initially, the chief utility of misreporting Trump’s laugh line as a serious remark derived from the tactical desirability of portraying Trump as a rapacious, sell-seeking power broker brazenly maneuvering to enlist foreign dictators in his effort to win office by defaming Hillary Clinton. The Russians, pundits claimed, might well collude with Trump in order to prevent a presidency helmed by the former Secretary of State whose brilliance, exhaustive geopolitical knowledge, sophisticated grasp of diplomatic nuances, and steely nerves would make her exactly the kind of chief executive Putin feared. The tone of analysis, in other words, was already psychotic.

We now know from Shattered, Jonathon Allen’s and Amie Parnes’s inside account of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous presidential campaign, that “Within 24 hours of Clinton’s concession speech, top officials gathered ‘to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up.… Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.’” But while the Clintonistas initially saw this fiction as little more than a face-saving device, the idea caught fire with media savants, Hollywood polemicists, disgruntled liberal voters, and a wide array of mentally unbalanced politicos who speak on their behalves.

In support of the hacked-election construct, the NSA seems to have leaked its own top-secret report to the effect that Russia attempted to manipulate certain regional elections by spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials. By all accounts, these efforts fizzled, yet appear to constitute the entirety of arguable Russian meddling in the 2016 election. More recent accounts suggest the Russians had nothing to do with the scheme. Even The Nation, that redoubtable house organ of American liberalism, admitted last August that “Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.”  Nevertheless, the impression was widely given by mainstream media that besides enlisting Putin to leak damaging information on Hillary, Trump had somehow persuaded the Russians to “hack the election” in some terrifyingly sophisticated manner that actually altered the vote count. Oddly, the Ruskies seemed to limit the application of this fiendish technology to the electoral count, perhaps leery of rigging the popular vote too, lest they overplay their hand.

“Mustn’t overdo! Hee, hee!”

At long last, hate!

The Dadaistic oddness of liberalism’s volte face on the subject of Russia inspires a mixture of bemusement and awe. Suffice it that nobody to the left of, say, Charlie Rose, would have dreamt of speaking ill of the former Soviet Union, its leadership, or its concerted efforts to manipulate our sociopolitical culture over the past eight decades, even while immiserating half the planet into the bargain. Russia’s immunity from liberal displeasure would be intact even today, were it not for the utility of Russo-phobia as a means of undermining the presidency of Donald Trump.

“Sunday” with Chuck and Alger….

At the height of their newly adopted Russo-phobia it seems reasonable to surmise that most Democrats would have enthusiastically impanelled a modern iteration of the House Un-American Activities Committee were its first function to investigate Russia’s clandestine abetment of the Trump administration. Notably, this signals the Democrat Party’s recent divorcement from longstanding philosophical premises (however irrational in the first place) and its newfound enthusiasm for whatever dogma seems momentarily opportune. The media, following like a leash-broken Maltese, shed its own longstanding Russophilia—a tradition that as recently as the late ‘80s saw Charles Kuralt narrating a segment of CBS’s Sunday Morning devoted to extolling Alger Hiss’s patriotism while rebuking his accuser, “the homosexual Whittaker Chambers.”

Haberman: “Never hit seventeen….”

Times change. The Great Liberal Russian Scare so fixated every establishment media outlet that remaining current on the topic proved almost impossible. Every day, newspapers rushed to print with fresh accusations attributed to unnamed sources quoted in articles that—read to their conclusions—ended with disclaimers acknowledging the absence of any substantiating evidence. For example, the New York Times initiated a particularly robust mythology when reporter Maggie Haberman mocked Trump’s refusal “to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.” In fact, America has exactly 17 intelligence agencies, but to believe the Times, one would have to believe that Russia was cited as tampering with the presidential election by every one of them, including such disparate organizations as the 25th Air Force, United States Coast Guard Intelligence, and the TSA.  Indeed, after publishing several additional yarns featuring Haberman’s “basic fact,” the Times quietly retracted the story, burying their apology in the Gray Lady’s bowels, but Haberman’s “17 intelligence agencies” lived on, thunderously declaimed by congressmen and media babblers bent on revealing Vladimir Putin’s role in helping Donald Trump steal the presidency.

Rumors of Russian computer hacking predated Trump’s victory, of course.  Going into the election year, the FBI warned both the RNC and the DNC that efforts to ransack their cyber files might be afoot. The RNC responded by taking the recommended precautions. The DNC did not respond at all, presumably because their efforts to sideline Bernie Sanders, as well as a plethora of additional, equally sleazy shenanigans, were not items they cared to share with the Bureau. Consequently, the DNC was hacked to a fare thee well, allegedly by the Russians, although no evidence of Russian involvement ever surfaced. The resulting embarrassment led to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not because she dumbly permitted her data to be filched, but because the hacked material exposed her lies, schemes, and often shockingly illiberal opinions. Obviously, there is some good in everything.

The theft of John Podesta’s computer files occurred when Podesta, then chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, fell for a primitive phishing scam. No sooner had Podesta clicked the poison link, then tens of thousands of his messages were pilfered by nefarious powers, again widely reported to be Russian, although—as seems normative in these matters–no proof of Russian culpability materialized.


Julian Assange, from liberal icon to doggie doo, in just one, short election!

Also during this period, Julian Assange was busily leaking information damaging to the Clinton campaign, widely reported as the fruits of Russian espionage, although Assange repeatedly denied receiving any material from the Russians, maintaining throughout that his sources were closer to the candidate–whose own computer scandals were now of a magnitude that demanded reporting, even by a media proclived to spike any news unflattering to her. Yes, this is the part where silly Hillary misplaced over thirty thousand emails formerly available on her private server–which she maintained in contravention of federal law–in order to (shall we speak bluntly?) trade confidential, often classified information for favors and money.  Worse, Hillary’s oft-cited ignorance of computers accounted not only for the accidental purging of her emails, but also for her equally accidental purchase and application of a pricey software product called BleachBit, designed to cleanse hard drives completely, ensuring that all accidentally deleted items were accidentally unrecoverable.


Loretta and Bill

In this regard, it will also be recalled that while appearing before congress, FBI Director James Comey detailed numerous crimes and malfeasances attributable to Mrs. Clinton, mainly related to her emails, her false statements, and her bizarre indifference to matters of national security, following which, Mr. Comey announced his unilateral decision to waive prosecution in each of the cases cited, mainly, he explained, because Mrs. Clinton didn’t know what she was doing.  Comey’s tortured rationale aside, it remained mysterious which federal codicil absolved criminals of legal responsibility on the grounds of not knowing what they were doing. Moreover, FBI Directors do not determine whether charges are preferred, they report to the Justice Department, where such determinations are made.

Fairly Odd Grandparents

We know now, however, that Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, instructed Comey to excuse Mrs. Clinton’s offenses, and, that done, hastened to assure reporters that she would abide by whatever decision Comey rendered.  Lynch’s surreptitious stand-down order came in the immediate wake of her controversial private meeting with Bill Clinton, (whose wife was currently under investigation by her department). Bill Clinton afterwards promised a preternaturally credulous news media that nothing political was discussed during his huddle with Lynch. Rather, Clinton contended, his conversation with the Attorney General focused entirely on such casual topics as the pair’s grandchildren—a version of events only slightly complicated by the fact that Lynch doesn’t have any.

The golden shower dossier….

The charges against Trump enjoyed a major revivification with the introduction of what might be called the blackmail hypothesis. By incorporating a simple, easily comprehended plot device, this approach finessed the objection that Putin had no discernible motive for promoting a Trump presidency.  Trump, in this variation on the theme, received Russian support because Putin held Trump in thrall. Details varied version to version, but the theme common to all blackmail scenarios, many of which are still recited at Georgetown cocktail events, was that Russia possessed information so damaging to Trump that policies dictated by the Kremlin would be slavishly implemented a Trump White House, lest the appalling details come to light. The apex of this narrative came and went with the discovery of the “golden shower” dossier—trumpeted in Vanity Fair (for example) as an “explosive revelation.”

“Steele…Christopher Steele!”

The secret details were provided by one Christopher Steele, whom Vanity Fair described as an “ex-Cambridge Union president, ex-M.I.6 Moscow field agent, ex-head of M.I.6’s Russia desk, ex-adviser to British Special Forces on capture-or-kill ops in Afghanistan, and a 52-year-old father with four children, a new wife, three cats, and a sprawling brick-and-wood suburban palace in Surrey.” Eat your heart out, James Bond.

In one of the most inadvertently hilarious contributions to the Russia-gate narrative, Vanity Fair breathily detailed the urgency with which Senator John McCain dispatched representatives to London to take physical possession of Christopher Steele’s Trump dossier, which must have been deemed too sensitive to be scanned and emailed—or perhaps it remains the case that Senator McCain cannot use email. At any rate, what emerged was the now-infamous yarn of Trump hiring Russian prostitutes during a visit to Moscow to urinate on a hotel bed formerly slept in by Barack Obama. This news burst upon the scene unvetted, as seems characteristic of all negative reports on Donald Trump, and dwindled slowly over the following weeks as its absurdity waxed increasingly manifest.

Director Comey–looking riveted.

FBI Director Comey initially found Steele’s “bombshell” riveting, having received his copy courtesy of John McCain’s office. Prior to its exposure as palpable nonsense, the pee scandal appears to have seized Comey’s imagination with a peculiar fixedness. That Comey, at that juncture, realized that the dossier was concocted at the behest of the DNC seems improbable, given that WOOF knows Comey initially planned to pay Steele to “continue his research.” How much Agent Steele was in fact paid by John McCain, Vanity Fair, various TV networks or any similarly dedicated guardians of the commonweal may never be known, but we hope it was a lot. We do know the DNC ponied up $6 million, although nobody at the DNC can itemize the amount, recalls paying that amount, or recalls having anything to do with the project.  It now appears, in fact, that as Obama’s outgoing functionaries took pains to ruminate publicly over Trump’s Russian involvement, each offering up vague accusations dissembled as vital gleanings fresh from the files of the FBI, the CIA, or whichever agency was up to bat, no one really had anything more substantive in hand than the Mr. Steele’s bogus pee story. The stark absence of any symmetrical concerns regarding the Clinton campaign is telling, Hillary’s transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium storage to Vladimir Putin through Russian corporate fronts in exchange for millions laundered through the Clinton Foundation, and $500 thousand handed to husband Bill as “speakers fees,” seemed to fly entirely under the CIA’s radar. Of course, they can’t be everywhere at once.

John Brennan: Third tier Democrat political hack, anti-Trump propagandist, Obama flak, and first Muslim CIA Director–for which, admirably, he never seeks any credit.

Marc E. Elias, liar, lawyer, Clintonista, and newly accused colluder with Russia.

Without contributing a single fact to the discussion, the “golden shower dossier” did more than any other news item to cement the public’s perception of Trump as somehow beholden to Putin,and therefore compromised in matters presidential. The dossier currently stands as one of the greatest examples of fake news yet ascribable to the remnants of American journalism, and as further evidence of GOP complicity in efforts to undermine Trump’s presidency. It further appears the FBI and CIA used it to secure FISA warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, which makes Watergate look like Romper Room.  In the wake of the dossier’s exposure as fraudulent, certain die-hard never-Trumpers in the Senate grumbled for a few days about requiring Secret Agent Steele to testify before a committee or two, but this idea was short lived, first owing to the fact that British Subjects are not required to respond to summonses from American Senators—even John McCain–and second, of course, because the realization struck home that offering Steele a platform could embarrass all the wrong people, including those DNC staffers who even the Washington Post now admits bankrolled the effort, not to mention Hillary’s lawyer, Marc E. Elias, who hired Fusion GPS in April 2016 to contribute dirt to the dossier, and who steadfastly lied about his involvement from that point forward.

Maxine Waters stood by the Golden Shower report in a speech to “homeless LGBTQ youth” in New York during which she vowed to “take Trump out.”

Undaunted, various Democrat senators and House members (and not a few GOP establishmentarians) appeared on the usual assortment of DNC-controlled news programs, ranting that Trump was under investigation for involvement with Russia. It has since emerged that congressional leaders who described Trump in this fashion were simply lying, having already been briefed by Comey to the contrary—although efforts by Comey to make that fact public were conspicuous in their absence.  By April 1st, Comey had in fact told the president three times that he was not under investigation. He also told the leadership of both the House and Senate that Trump was not under investigation, and assured the president that he’d told the House and Senate leadership.  But telling the media was another matter. At every opportunity, Comey demurred, affecting something akin to casuistic torment as if the truths that burdened him would prove unendurable to lesser men. Trump’s frustration with an FBI Director given to fits of coyness whenever offered an opportunity to clear his president’s name, and whose complicity with the Clintons became daily more apparent,  began to mount.

“Keep the cameras rolling, ladies and gentlemen, we’re not done lying yet!”

Floppy Hacks

Jill Stein– on the trail of guys with  floppy disks!

Evidence aside, the certainty that Russia somehow altered the election result was achieved by making “hacked election” a phrase on the lips of every TV “journalist.” It was catchy, and defensibly metaphoric, but low information viewers took the phrase literally even as experts of every stripe dismissed the idea as cyberspacially impossible.  No less a player than Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein attributed her poor showing at the polls to Russian interference. When Fox’s Neil Cavuto confronted her with the argument that voting machines are inaccessible by Internet and therefore immune to electronic tinkering, Miss Stein schooled him properly, rejoining “No… no! Because people walk around and they reprogram these machines and use, like, a floppy disk.”  Oddly, Miss Stein’s revelation failed to catch fire at CNN or MSNBC. Perhaps they missed the show. Meanwhile, sensing the impracticality of the hacking angle, the media lurched inelegantly into the revisionist argument that Trump sought Russian assistance by conspiring with Putin to assist in other unspecified ways—meaning that suddenly any association with anyone Russian by anyone in any respect affiliated with Trump’s campaign, was evidence of conspiracy.

“…with the Russians, too!”

Almost entirely forgotten these days is the explosive coverage that accompanied the “intelligence leak” from a December meeting including Trump, his national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Russia’s (seemingly omnipresent) Ambassador Kislyak. During the meeting, Trump apparently disclosed that ISIS was developing computer bombs to explode on airliners, and attributed the information to Israeli sources. The conversation promptly leaked and the media went berserk. To hear the prime-time potentates tell it, Trump had—in one fell swoop–betrayed Israel, let slip classified information, and connived with the Russians, all in less than an hour. Bonanza! Except that the splay of accusations, each feeble, worked in combination to further enhance the sense of mindless diffusion.

Sergei Kislyak–just a big fuzz ball of ambassadorial conviviality.

In a way, the case perfectly encapsulated the entire “Russia-gate” delusion—so multifaceted that no single enormity seized the imagination. The story died before defenders had time to explain that Trump could declassify any information he felt like declassifying and on the spur of the moment if it pleased him, that Russia would not be much abetted in spreading evil across the globe by learning that ISIS is inventive, or that Israel (normally vilified by the American press but cast as the pitiable victim of Trump’s neo-Nazi predilections for the remainder of the news cycle) would survive despite the President’s revelation that they spied on ISIS. Only one item of any substance emerged from the episode, namely the discovery that Michael Flynn was, to quote Warren Zevon in a different context, “with the Russians too!”

Out like Flynn

Flynn’s sins are significant only insofar as they further stoked the post-election hysteria that Moscow was somehow in command of the Oval Office, even though Flynn was long gone from the premises by the time the story caught fire. In the process, one of the most widely respected and accomplished military-intelligence specialists in the United States had his career and reputation reduced to rubble. Flynn spent better than three decades in the Army and at top intelligence posts where he was widely acknowledged as the driving force in transforming America’s special operations command from an unruly jumble of competing services and disparate tactical philosophies into a sleekly efficient instrument of death. Imagine, then, our surprise at discovering he was–the whole while–a mere tool of the Kremlin!

Barack Obama in his boundless perspicacity must have sensed Flynn’s perfidy. Flynn was contriving numerous highly creative and unconventional strategies for the advancement of American interests at the Defense Intelligence Agency when Obama ousted him (along with a virtual daisy chain of equally aggressive, patriotic war fighters and military hardliners who threatened the president’s plans for neutering America). At the time, Obama was far too busy colluding with Vladimir Putin in an effort to disarm the United States (witness his live-mic remarks to Russian President Medvedev) to notice Flynn’s peripheral contacts with Russia, but Flynn’s combative spirit and pro-American agenda were clearly unacceptable to the man who championed uni-sex lavatories, open borders, and transsexual Marines.

Contrast this with Flynn’s sins as re-imagined by the Leftist media and Obama’s comical assertion that he warned Trump about Flynn because of Flynn’s associations with the Kremlin. Flynn lasted only 24 days as Trump’s National Security Adviser before resigning, bombarded by enough superficial evidence and florid accusations to defy quantification. But WOOF here must applaud the diligent researchers of Politifact, who managed such a compilation anyway. Aggressively truncated for readability, here is an overview of Politifact’s indictments:

“So, Robot X-10, good job sticking floppy discs in all the Amerikanski voting machines!”

June 2013: Flynn visits the headquarters of Russia’s military intelligence directorate, the GRU, while serving the Obama administration. Politifact views this visit with intense suspicion, perhaps because Moscow may have begun its subornation of Flynn well in advance, knowing their secret vote-manipulating technology would eventually hand Trump the presidency, at which point Flynn could insert himself as Trump’s handler.  In August of 2015, Politifact noted, Flynn “met with and briefed Trump ahead of the Republican primary debate.” Assuming Flynn was by this time a Russian operative, his recruitment of Trump may have begun at this juncture. Still more incriminatory, in December of 2015 Flynn gave a speech about U.S. foreign policy at a conference in Moscow. Worse still, he sat beside Vladimir Putin afterwards, at dinner, perhaps receiving further orders under the cover of diplomatic decorum. Politifact next raises the concern that in July of 2015, “Flynn signals support for an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Erdogan.” Perhaps Flynn feigned support for the overthrow of Erdogan, an Islamic extremist cozy with Putin, hoping to appear anti-Putin while in fact being pro-Putin. Politifact doesn’t say, but that’s all we can think of.  In August of 2016: Flynn’s Intel Group caught Politfact’s eye when it was hired by the Netherlands-based company Inovo, which sounds kind of Russian, even though it is really owned by a Turkish businessman who also chairs the Turkey-U.S. Business Council, which is bad, because it has connections with the Turkish government, which is bad, even though Flynn tried to overthrow it, which is somehow also bad.

Aug. 17, 2016 finds Flynn attending U.S. intelligence briefings—which is exactly what a Russian spy would do, and on November 18, Trump taps Flynn as national security adviser.  Flynn now seems unstoppable as Putin’s sleeper agent in the Oval Office.

We ask you: Is this the face of a Kremlin tool?

“I feel one of my inaccessible illations coming on!”

December 2016: Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, meet with Russian Ambassador Kislyak at Trump Tower, which is bad–but it turns out that on January 12, 2017, Flynn met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak at least twice while part of the Obama’s administration, which was not bad, unless it was secretly bad because Flynn was actually a double agent already working for Donald Trump, while actually working for Putin–making him a triple agent—which is three times worse than previously suspected. Why Obama blithely allowed Flynn to meet with the Russian Ambassador (that being bad) without immediately arresting him for treason remains moot, but Obama’s subtle illations being famously inaccessible, we suppose some greater purpose was served.

“I’m giving you just enough rope to hang yourself, Commie!” “That’s funny, sir, I was about to say exactly the same thing to you!”

Jan. 22, 2017: Flynn is sworn in as the nation’s 25th national security adviser, raising the obvious question: Is he serving the Kremlin as an independent operative, or is Trump already part of the conspiracy? Next, reporters learned Trump spoke for an hour over the phone with Vladimir Putin, who besides being indisputably Russian is also authentically sinister– and among those present in the Oval Office during the call?  General Flynn! Such recklessness surely betokened a new level of conspiratorial hubris.

Feb. 9, 2017: Poltifact reports that “U.S. intelligence officials [read: Comey and Brennan] reveal Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite his earlier denials,” which they report under the rubric, “Flynn walks back denial,” which was probably his only viable option, given that “I misspoke,” “I conflated different memories” and “I was taken out of context,” only work for Democrats.

Flynn vs. the Founders?

Feb. 13, 2017: Constitutional scholars at the New York Times discover the Emoluments Clause. They rush to agreement with Congressman John Conyers (Communist-MI), that Flynn’s acceptance of fees for his 2015 Moscow speech are unconstitutional because he failed to seek congressional approval. WOOF applauds the Times newfound enthusiasm for our founding document, but any assertion that Flynn accepted a “present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” omits the fact that “RT,” (the Russian media corporation soliciting Flynn as a speaker), dealt exclusively with the speakers bureau representing Flynn, not Flynn.  Liberals argued that any corporate entity receiving government funds (as does RT) is itself a foreign state, although consistency would then dictate that PBS and NPR are also independent states. For that matter, any American official paid anything for any purpose by some such “foreign state” as the BBC, EuroRail, Volvo, Honda, or Air Canada, would be culpable of failing to notify congress. Moreover, Flynn’s speakers bureau actually charged RT $45,386 for arranging Flynn’s talk, deducted their handlers’ fee, and issued Flynn a check for $33, 750, meaning he was paid specifically by them, not RT.  Consider also that emails between the speakers bureau and the Russian corporation show that RT refused to meet the Bureau’s original price, insisting on a considerably lower amount—which certainly constitutes a novel approach to bribery.

Because that worked out so well!

Feb. 10, 2017: Flynn apologizes to vice-president Pence for misleading him in the matter of sanctions. The Washington Post, which apparently bugged Pence’s office, reports that Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, [during his discussions with the Russian ambassador] he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.” Three days later, Flynn resigns under withering media fire, ending the shortest term for any national security adviser in history—which is to say, since Richard Nixon invented the position in 1968 at the behest of Henry Kissinger, who proceeded to occupy it.

Liberal conspiracy theorists were again rendered apoplectic when, on March 30th,  General Flynn offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees on condition of immunity. The offer was not accepted, (which is the clearest imaginable indication that nobody honestly thought Flynn had anything to say that might incriminate Trump) but the media framed it as proof that Flynn was prepared to spill the beans about Russia’s involvement in whatever they currently suspected Russia was involved in. Less benighted analysts saw the offer as a sign that Flynn, rather sensibly, had obtained a lawyer.  His pertinence to the entire Russia kerfuffle seemed to evanesce thereafter.

James Comey ascendant, descendant, repeat and fade….

In one of those rare instances of objective journalism still glimpsed occasionally amid the diatribes and dis-informational blustering that typify mainstream news in the 21st Century, CNN reported the FBI’s conclusion that Flynn did not intentionally mislead them regarding his meetings with Kislyak, but this bijou was swept from notice by panicked reports (leaked by James Comey), that Trump himself had attempted to subvert the FBI. Indeed, Comey recalled that Trump, during a conversation with him in the Oval Office, had insisted that Flynn was “a good guy,” and told Comey he “hoped” the director could “let this go,” meaning the Flynn investigation. Upon learning of this, the New York Times raved, “President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February,” adding that “Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.”

Comey, clearly contemplating making a break for the drapes.

Comey kicked off the New Year by informing the New York Times that during a private dinner, Trump also asked Comey “to pledge his loyalty,” which struck editors at the Times as nothing less than Hitlerian. Aside from the obvious fact that Trump’s request that Comey pledge loyalty to his boss signaled a Constitutional crisis—or rather, another in a series of such crises inasmuch as two or three were declared each week by liberal commentators during the height of the Russian panic—Trump’s request was also viewed as further evidence of his obeisance to Moscow—why else would he attempt to undermine the Bureau?

On second thought, Comey decides he was witness to yet another constitutional crisis.

Comey next appeared before the Senate Investigations Committee where he resurrected his Oval Office exchange with the president during which Trump expressed hope that Comey would be able to clear Flynn. But whereas he had formerly assessed Trump’s remark as a mere expression of legitimate concern, Comey (who must read the Times)  informed the committee he had reflected further and now recalled feeling intimidated and pressured to drop the investigation altogether. In fact, Comey now recalled being set entirely on tenterhooks by the president; so much so, he testified, that he considered hiding in the White House drapes to avoid further obtrusions upon his rectitude. WOOF is not making this up. Comey received fulsome bipartisan praise and applause for his resoluteness in this matter. Clearly, he was once again ascendant, despite being relegated to infamy on several previous occasions when Democrats found his performances unhelpful.

“Frankly, Senator, I’ve had my ups and downs!”

To review, Comey entered the nascent Russian Scare with his findings in the matter of Hillary’s email scandal and was lionized by liberals when, after detailing an impressive number of criminal offenses committed by Mrs. Clinton–he good-naturedly and unilaterally declined to pursue them. In fact, subsequent revelations make plain that Director Comey, in a flash of forensic prescience beggaring the work of Peter Hurkos or Jeanne Dixon, composed his absolution of Mrs. Clinton over a month before the FBI’s investigation concluded. But no sooner had the establishment registered its full-throated appreciation of the Director’s comportment in the matter, than he suddenly announced that Hillary was once again under investigation owing to the discovery of new evidence, whereupon the left wing establishment (demonstrating its uncanny agility in such matters), switched overnight to the view that no public official in American history rivaled the detestable Comey in matters of incompetence and deceitfulness. Orotund demands for Comey’s firing issued from such keepers of the liberal flame as Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, John Podesta, Harry Reid, Bernie Sanders, the DNC, the Congressional Black Caucus, and, of course, Keith Olbermann, as the Beaver.

Deplorable again!

Sensible that his star was in free fall, Comey announced his new investigation had failed even more resoundingly than his initial investigation to produce any details inculpatory of Mrs. Clinton, at which point he was once again the toast of the town, lauded for his gutsiness and unshakable integrity by the same politicians and journalists who had only days before demanded his unceremonious ousting.

Then came the election, and Hillary, confronting the incomprehensible phenomenon of a Trump victory on November 8, sought—as did most liberals—to assign blame. Calling the American voter stupid is not a politically utile strategy, so Hillary denounced Director Comey for torpedoing her candidacy in the final hours of the campaign. Although Comey had regained his standing with liberals by waiving this evidence, like all the previous evidence against Secretary Clinton, word now went around that Comey was obviously in league with Trump the whole time—rendering him once again–well–deplorable.

You’re fired!

But the Director’s final rehabilitation occurred so suddenly that the rank and file lost track of the narrative—as best demonstrated by the fact that Stephen Colbert’s audience burst into raucous cheers when their host announced Comey’s firing by Trump. This annoying failure to keep step with the Party line obliged Colbert to intercede sternly, chastising his audience for its reaction and explaining, in so many words, that whereas Comey had been good before being bad, before being good and again becoming bad, he was once again good, and so firing him was bad. The audience, to its credit, did its best to adjust.

So…when the phone doesn’t ring, that must be the mainstream media?

Comey’s firing by Donald Trump may fairly be regarded as the apex of the Russian Scare—especially since it offered progressive opinionists everywhere an opportunity to summon the holy ghost of Watergate.  President Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox was roundly held identical to Trump’s dismissal of Comey, notwithstanding the episode’s almost total dissimilarity and the fact that Trump had every legal right to can the FBI Director for any reason he liked, as liberal constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz continued to explain to anchors on CNN and MSNBC until he found himself persona non- gratis.

James Comey, Spy Smasher

“Duty to correct–? Never heard of it!”

His removal made Comey a media god, and he felt his position deeply. He now regaled the Senate Committee with remembrances of Trump’s gaucheries, sometimes even waxing self-enamored to the point of self-incrimination. Yes, he admitted thrice assuring Trump  he was not a target of the FBI’s investigation, but he now characterized his bizarre refusal to say so publicly as an ethical necessity. Publicly confirming that Trump was not a target, Comey explained, might have placed him, Comey, afoul of “the duty to correct, should that change.” While Democrats and Rhinos nodded approvingly, as though the “duty to correct” were some inviolable cannon of due process familiar to anyone who was not a total dunderhead, Americans wondered why no such “duty” restrained Comey from unilaterally clearing Hillary Clinton of all charges—even the ones he acknowledged she was guilty of–not once, but twice.

Maine’s Senator Susan Collins, always happy to chat with a fellow idealist.

Meanwhile, Comey confided, he grew so persuaded personally that the whole Trump/Russia connection required additional probing, he took it upon himself to leak his notes to the New York Times. Comey achieved this by recruiting his friend, Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor, as his designated leaker—a service for which Comey repaid Richman by cheerfully throwing him under the proverbial bus—openly naming him during the hearings.  Comey told Susan Collins (R-Me) he leaked the material “because I thought that might prompt the appointment of the special counsel.” He justified the leak as the best way to “get the truth out” in the wake of Trump’s tweeted hint that tapes existed of their Oval Office conversations. But Comey’s testimony didn’t wash in several respects. First, of course, it is an unauthorized and consequently unlawful misuse of FBI information to leak it to the press on a personal whim. Second, if Comey thought tapes existed, why not let the tapes become public? Assuming he truthfully recounted the conversation, wouldn’t tapes provide verification? Third, it is in no respect the prerogative of an FBI Director to decide when a special prosecutor should be appointed, and finally–as a matter of strict chronology–Trump’s tweets rejoined Comey’s leaked information, not the other way around. Perhaps his psychic gifts distract Mr. Comey, at least occasionally, from linear exactitude.

From Russia with Lies?     

Natalia Veselnitskaya, getting her fifteen minutes…well, actually, twenty!

Americans next awoke to discover that back in June, during the campaign, Donald Trump, Jr., met with people known to be Russian, including the suddenly infamous Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary, but didn’t–shortening the meeting to a scant 20 minutes. Nevertheless, the fact that Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort all met with Russians at the same time in the same room, during the campaign, made the media orgasmic. Talking heads set about jubilantly enumerating the dozens upon dozens of ways in which this latest revelation irrefutably proved treason. Caught up in the emotional surge, even Glenn Beck opined that Donald Jr., at least, was “going to prison”—an assertion readily acceptable to millions of listeners who were by then sufficiently overdosed on Russo-phobia to suppose talking with any Russian anywhere at any time a treasonable offense, punishable by God or Beck knew what.

On September 7, the Senate set aside such seemingly unattainable objectives as repealing Obamacare, lowering taxes, accepting responsibility for deporting illegal DACA residents, helping hurricane victims without substantially hiking the debt ceiling, or building a border wall, and turned its attention to hauling Donald Jr. before the Senate Investigations Committee in a laughable pretense of searching out further evidence of Russia’s complicity in robbing Hillary of the presidency…and all in just 20 minutes! Notably, all such sessions to date have convened behind closed doors. When Joe McCarthy’s Senate Subcommittee on Investigations interviewed witnesses, the proceedings were public—but not nowadays. One could be forgiven for supposing the absurdity inherent in a chamber of highly-salaried adults affecting to ferret out evidence everyone knows doesn’t exist of crimes nobody can precisely describe, might otherwise embarrass the participants.


It’s Mueller time!

So eager were the power brokers inside the beltway to “get to the bottom” of the issue,  that they took the unprecedented step of establishing Robert Mueller’s office of special counsel without bothering to say what, exactly, he was expected to investigate. Thus, Mueller became the first special counsel in the history of that office appointed to investigate a crime nobody had specified, that might or might not have been committed by Donald Trump, or by any of dozens of individuals currently serving his administration or by any of dozens of others who previously served it, or who served Trump prior to his election, or who knew Trump well enough that it might be regarded as suspicious if they were also be shown to know anybody Russian.  To make matters even murkier, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein proceeded to authorize Mueller (whom WOOF KNOWS was recommended to Rosenstein by James Comey) to investigate all of the above matters, plus “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”  The mandate is absurdly carte blanche–authorizing Mueller to proceed in any direction and on any premise Mueller prefers; to engage, in other words, in exactly the kind of free-ranging snipe hunt that occurs when a prosecutor is hired before a crime is discovered.

Stop the presses!

Further evidence of the special council’s desperation, not to mention the media’s, is descriable in stories such as a recent piece in the New York Times, revealing that “Mr. Mueller is investigating whether Mr. Trump committed obstruction of justice in pressing for an end to the Flynn inquiry.” So, if the Times is to be believed, the best case for obstruction Mueller can thus far assemble, depends on a back-formulated memo-to-self scribbled by Mueller’s longtime friend Comey, which even if exactly accurate documents nothing more than a presidential velliety. It is at times like these that special counsels worthy of their hire (and unfettered by anything resembling a coherent mandate) proceed to plan B. This is when the hunt begins for anything of a criminal or embarrassing nature regarding anyone in their target’s broader span of acquaintances. Once unearthed, such details are shown to whichever party they serve to intimidate. The intimidated party is then assured that none of his sordid involvements or potentially criminal entanglements need be revealed if said party will supply testimony sufficiently damaging to the investigation’s real targets.

A Manafort in Full

The wonderful fact about Paul Manafort from Mueller’s perspective is that he conspicuously has Russian connections, if largely unrelated to Trump’s presidency. His (known and legal) ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine seven years ago ostensibly drew Comey’s attention at the time, prompting the erstwhile Director’s revelation to congress that Manafort was caught up in the bureau’s investigation of corruption charges involving ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. It is a matter of record that Manafort advised Yanukovych on political matters in 2010, back when Donald Trump was still liberal and the Russians were of no concern whatever. Comey never paused to explain the FBI’s previously unknown interest in former Ukrainian presidents—nor did he adduce a shred of evidence that Manafort’s duties for the Yanukovych campaign (where he served as a professional lobbyist and political adviser, as is his wont), led somehow to his subornment by Russian intelligence. Surely, if the CIA had obtained incriminating evidence of Manafort’s involvement with Moscow, Director Brennan would have passed it to Comey and Manafort would, by now, be steam-pressing laundry at Leavenworth.

Mueller, evidently, felt differently. The day after Manafort voluntarily testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, (July 25) the FBI conducted a pre-dawn raid on his home, following which all manner of records, computers, files, and miscellaneous additional materials were carted off in boxes, making for some terrific optics, and complicating Manafort’s good-faith effort to produce records requested by the Senate Committee. Obviously, the items seized could as easily be subpoenaed as pounced upon, making the raid’s true object—the imposition of dramatic levels of pressure on Manafort—crystalline.

Honey–are we moving? Oh, wait–it’s the FBI!

Manafort’s future darkened further when NBC News scooped its competitors with news that his subpoenaed notes contained the word “donations” juxtaposed to the words “Republican National Committee,” and this in conjunction with his already-malodorous Russian dealings. To emphasize what level of perfidy this implied, NBC explained, “It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections. The meeting happened just as Trump had secured the Republican nomination for president, and…Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time.” Those parts of the story were factual. Fortunately for NBC, hurricane Irma diverted national attention from the abjectness of their retraction. In fact, the network sullenly acknowledged, “the notes did not include the word ‘donation.’” Apparently, even when armed with two anonymous sources, NBC can still get it wrong.

Did the Russians get Rachel?

When MSNBC’s ratings leader, Rachel Maddow, vanished from her program for two weeks, rumors spread on Twitter that Putin had silenced her in retribution for her dogged reporting about Russia’s election tampering. Maddow soon disappointed her fans by returning, however, polonium free. But Maddow had not been idle. Her latest scoop laid bare the Russian in filtration of Facebook during the primaries, when, Maddow explained, Moscow had infested that social medium with “malicious [i.e., anti-Clinton] ads, emanating from “fake accounts” spreading disinformation detrimental to Clinton’s image during the campaign. Frantic to corroborate these details, CNN went to the unusual length of consulting the source, petitioning Facebook for the lurid details. A Facebook spokesman replied on July 2017, declaring, “we have seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with the election.” A more recently issued report corroborates the absence of Russian involvement. Adding that “of the 201 websites subsequently banned from Facebook in the months following the election for spreading fake news, not a single one originates from a Russian IP.”  Even The Nation—liberalism’s surviving house organ, sighed that “from accusations of Trump campaign collusion to Russian Facebook ad buys, the media has substituted hype for evidence.”

A bonfire of the inanities…

Yale’s Rangappa–not just another pretty face. Are those bull horns?

As of now, it appears that every reported instance of Russian wrongdoing, from the earliest notions of hacking (with or without the nefarious intercalation of floppy discs) through to the alleged subornment of current or former functionaries of the administration, is unmitigated flapdoodle. The stories, no matter how solemnly recounted or widely circulated when fresh, faded into inanity as emerging details proved them banal.

As editorial desperation set in, even clashes between neo-Nazi dullards and Antifa thugs in Charlottesville prompted novel interpretations. Yale’s Asha Rangappa appeared on CNN insisting the violence “highlighted again the problem of Russia.” In an apparent acknowledgment of her own psychosis, Rangappa readily admitted finding “no evidence to date that Russia is directly supporting extreme right groups in the United States,” while insisting that Charlottesville, “viewed through the lens of Trump’s response…suggests an opening for Russian intelligence to use domestic hate groups as a vehicle for escalating their active measures inside the United States.” But Rangappa’s inspired amphigories aside, Russia-gate’s ramshackle scaffolding was collapsing beneath the weight of a thousand diaphanous canards disguised too thinly as – “the news!”

Good thing we don’t have to worry about any Russian connection with ANTIFA; nope–not a trace!

“Why no Russian meddling?”

New York Times headlines complaining that “Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny,” finally drew sufficient scrutiny to dispel the idea that Russian hackers caused any voting irregularities whatsoever in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, or Arizona, despite original claims. Election monitor Susan Greenhalgh, who initially told reporters the incidents “felt like tampering, or some kind of cyber attack,” admitted on further reflection that, “There are plenty of other reasons for such breakdowns–local officials and human error and software malfunctions–and no clear-cut evidence of digital sabotage has emerged, much less any Russian role in it.” For that matter, reports that France’s elections fell prey to Russian hackers gave way to admissions that “no trace” of evidence existed. Similar stories that Germany’s elections had been manipulated by Putin’s cybernauts also proved groundless. Loath to abandon the matter, the New York Times waxed rhetorical, running the spectacularly amusing headline: “German Election Mystery: Why No Russian Meddling?”

Susan Greenhalgh,: “Oops! Never mind!”

The Washington Post’s nationally incendiary story about Russians hacking and shutting down Vermont’s power grid also turned out to be bull dejecta. Investigators discovered the incident resulted from malware contained on one power-company employee’s laptop. Reviewing a January collection of intelligence agency reports alleging Russian encroachments on the American electoral process, The Atlantic lamented “it does not or cannot provide evidence for its assertions.” Suddenly umbrageous, the New York Times saw fit to remark the “absence of any proof” or “hard evidence to back up the…claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack,” and complained that the intelligence community had replaced solid details with anecdotage, offered on terms that “essentially amount to ‘trust us.’” A cynic might be forgiven for noting similarities to the editorial policies at the Times.  

Meanwhile, back at the Swamp….

Mueller’s team, meanwhile, is completing “interviews” with the annoyingly-mercurial Reince Priebus, not to mention such relative bystanders as Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, and the president’s chief counsel, Don McGahn.  Surely, Steve Bannon will follow shortly—if Mueller’s assemblage of post-Obaman apparatchiks can muster the nerve. Mueller was recently reported combing yet again through the fine points of the infamous golden-shower dossier, the ridiculosity of which is so concretely established that desperation must be inferred.  All of this must now be seen in light of the fact that America’s silly season of paranoiac Russo-lunacy is ending. The fever gripping what tatters remain of a once-proud televised journalistic profession is breaking, leaving a bewildered group of news readers mopping their brows in embarrassment. The entire matter–seen in perspective–appears utterly absurd.  If Mueller remains in business, he must confront the dawning realization that Hillary, Bill, the DNC, and the media were the real Russians all along–and very naughty Russians, to boot. So the special counsel’s options are four. He can fold his tent and steal away, declaring an absence of findings; he can charge some second-stringer with something-or-other —a la Scooter Libby–and save a small amount of face;  or he can begin to investigate Democrats, conceivably including himself.  His fourth and worst option is to shrug off reality and plow gamely ahead for the team.

Hell to pay?

If Mueller intends to retain his status as an establishment darling by challenging Trump’s presidency on such thin premises as seem available to him, he will shortly learn what the NFL, the Boy Scouts, Flake, Corker, and “Jeb” discovered to their regret– namely that a nation of vocal and resolute American patriots exists between the parentheses that are the Left and East Coasts—and they don’t care what the buzz is in Georgetown or Balboa Terrace.  It won’t matter much if Mueller’s posse railroads the likes of Manafort or Flynn—Trump will pardon the victims.  But if Mueller proceeds against Trump himself, there will be—as Hillary Clinton once said in dramatically distinct circumstances, Hell to pay.  That kind of thunder, once called down, will not easily be re-bottled.