The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Comment Moderation Is Now ON

Moderation is now on. All comments will go through me before being posted. This will last for at least a couple weeks.

Do not email me if comment approval takes a while, I’ll try to check at least once a day, but it may be somewhat longer depending on the events of my life.

No comments with ad-homs will be approved. In some cases, I may edit them, to show how to make an argument without using ad-homs, in other cases I may just delete them. I will also not approve comments which, in my opinion add nothing to the discussion, or which include lies. This will not be up for debate, it is at my discretion.

I have tried to avoid this, but it is as it is. Play nice for a couple weeks and I’ll take the moderation off, as it’s extra work and I’m not interested in doing it.



Mueller’s Russian Indictments


How to Comment Productively


  1. realitychecker

    Very sorry it came to this, Ian. I’m quite sure you have better things to do with your time.

    I will repeat my offer from the prior thread–if you would like to choose between having me disappear forever, or having the ones who have dedicated themselves to stalking and harassing me so relentlessly and for so long disappear forever, please just indicate that preference and I will abide by it.

    You deserve a better commentariat than you have been getting.

  2. Ian Welsh

    What is needed is for people to learn how to talk to each other without ad-homs. It is not hard, it is just a matter of controlling your temper.

    We will do this for a couple weeks and see if people can learn. If so, we will try it without the training wheels. If that fails, I will ask people to leave.

  3. Webstir

    Thank you, Ian.
    I know I did my fair share of ad hom attacks at certain individuals (who shall not be named but know who they are) early on when I found your blog. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of cleaning it up since then b/c I found it entirely unproductive. Having made that decision, I found myself doing more stalking and less commenting simply due to the commenting chaos.
    So, yeah. Thanks again Ian. Much appreciated. I’m pretty sure it was driving people away.

  4. Webstir

    In another vein … (Open thread???)

    If your ears are burning it’s b/c I’ve been talking about you over on NakedCapitalism. A new commenter was asking about the FDL/Shadowproof connection. Arizona Slim and I were both of the opinion that Shadowproof sub-par compared to FDL. My biggest issue is the page design. It seems they’re trying to take too much on and losing the readers. Feels like trying to navigate a federal agency webpage. I thought it could use your managing editor skills and was wondering what happened. When Jane left for health reasons why didn’t you take the reigns? Yves suggested union support withdrew funds after the Dem establishment told her boyfriend Andy Stern to dump her as bad for his career.

    Inquiring minds would love to know …

  5. Jeff Wegerson

    After all these years of blogging (in general not just you) with comments and still it becomes a pain at some point.

    I usually end up being embarrassed by my comments here because there are so many good thinkers and writers creating better ones.

    It sure would be nice if commenters I like, like Hugh and Emma for instance, could get white-listed and get automatic acceptance. And then if the white-listed commenters could then add to the list.

    Perhaps there is a block-chain app for that.

    Anyway sorry to hear it has come to this. Good luck. (Now I feel bad adding to your burden by writing a comment. Oh well.)

  6. Ian Welsh

    I haven’t been managing editor at FDL/Shadowproof since 2009. I can’t imagine Jane handing it over to me, when there are people who were loyal to her to the end.

    FDL’s decline is something I probably shouldn’t go into at length, and indeed, I don’t know all the details, I didn’t keep up after I left. I would say that when Pachacutec was ousted, the writing was on the wall.

    The bottom line on blogs is that advertising pays badly. The real long term murderers of the vibrant left wing blogosphere were Google, Facebook and Obama.

    Obama, in 2008, was able to bypass the gatekeepers. He just flooded the comments and the bloggers (like Markos), let him do it, or in some cases did it for him. (Americablog.)

    Once bloggers were no longer gatekeepers for netroots types, why pay them?

    Meanwhile Google and Facebook have taken the majority of the value of advertising, something that is destroying newspapers and so on.

    Anyway, long post if I really went into, and no reason to dig up old bones with reference to the specifics of FDL.

    (You could also see the writing on the wall, a little later, when name verticals like Marcy Wheeler and TBogg (whatever you think of his politics, a good writers who was a draw) left.)

  7. Ian Welsh

    It’s not a huge burden to approve comments, I simply can’t guarantee fast turnaround. It’s only a burden if it’s borderline, oddly… if it’s clearly ok, great. If it’s clearly bad, just delete. It’s the ones that I decide to edit which will be irritating.

    So just keep it clean and productive and I’ll appreciate it.

  8. Webstir

    Ok, last annoying question. You closed the last thread. Now that the brakes are on the ad-homs, can we use this thread to continue discussing the “Mueller’s Russia Indictments” post. There is certainly still room to explore some outstanding comments from Heliopause, Wendy Davis, Davidly, different clue, and others.

    And different clue, I saw you hanging out over at Sic Semper. I’ve been following the links you posted there also. I agree that Col. Lang is definitely all over this.

  9. Ian Welsh

    Explore politely. Do not bring over fights from that thread to here.

  10. Hvd

    In continuing on indictments may I recommend the perspective offered at moon of Alabama.

  11. nihil obstet

    Ian, thank you. I find a good, relatively focused comment section valuable, but maintaining it requires time and effort beyond all reasonable expectations. I’ve seen comment sections ruined by trolls and comment sections effectively made useless by excessive moderation, since that always loses value by cutting out dissenters. This seems like an eminently reasonable test for whether an online discussion can work without unreasonable demands on a policeman.

  12. Mike

    Not before time. Reading this blog with the comments used to be a pleasure and had in recent weeks become more of a chore. I look forward to comments becoming much more interesting again.

  13. realitychecker

    Ian, may I suggest that you flesh out what you consider to be the boundaries of ‘ad hominem’ comments. I do believe there is some confusion about that.

    IOW, many have perfected the art of deliberate mis-paraphrasing or misquoting to make others look bad in a dishonest way. Many have great skill at making snarky insinuations that they never fully spell out, but which carry a clear ad hominem flavor. These tactics create a false and dishonest impression, which will pass for truth if not responded to.

    I think it is fair to disapprove somebody’s comment, but not in these ways. If I might make a suggestion, maybe require or strongly suggest that disapproving comments should not rely solely on such lazy and dishonest tactics, but rather make the additional effort of specifying a rebuttal or counter-argument. That would much better facilitate a quality discussion than just sending an “I hate you” message.

  14. Peter

    Thanks for allowing the Russian inditements post to continue, it’s an important one. I mentioned Marcy’s strange behavior about this topic and wonder if anyone else has read her posts?

    At other sites I’m seeing the usual TDS along with an incredable amount of hair splitting trying to prove that Rosenstein didn’t actually verify that there was no Russian collusion by the Trump team. I think this is just more denial because this indictment seems to be the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt not a step to more fantasies.

  15. Tom

    I still don’t understand what real crimes were committed here.

    If identity thefts did occur, ok that is clearly a crime. But, campaigning for a candidate, donating money, and what not that PACs do is not a crime last I checked.

    This smells more like a Deep State soft coup where Donald is a semi-controllable figurehead, but Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly are the real powers as evidenced by their running secret bases and operations without Congressional knowledge. All three screwed up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now have even more power to screw up even more.

    It also doesn’t help that no-one in the Administration is on the same page.

  16. S Brennan

    I don’t like the new policy….but, after that last thread, I don’t have a better answer.

    I also didn’t like it when Barry R deleted comments, but I did understand…who needs the abuse when delivering a public service. And I really hated it when NC brought Lambert on and he started banning folks such as myself he didn’t like from his then failing blog. And finally, I do miss some of the better regular commenters who have left [many of who I had disagreements with].

    I do feel that over the years, I have been able to convince many, that rather than trying to destroy everything and start anew, we’d be better off returning to the FDRist policies and that falling into the corporate/secret-state-media’s sea of propaganda and hating our fellow American’s we’d be better off finding compromise, or tabling divisive issues altogether. We should spend time on working out a platform we all [vast majority] agree on.

  17. Willy

    I went to an astronomy seminar once and whenever the expert speaker was asked a basic or foolish question he became so enraged that he’d hurl vulgar personal insults at the attendee.

    Actually that never happened. I can’t even imagine such a thing, outside of a comedy club. I’d think an astronomer behaving like that would be determined to be insane, and be quickly escorted off the stage.

    One reason for posting is to give ideas a test drive. It’s gratifying when anybody can correct, refine or refute another in ways that makes sense. Any doubly so when they can do it quickly and elegantly. Both people, possibly many more lurking, now have more they can work with. Even if the guy is a newbie and the idea has been presented and shot down many times previous, there’s still some kind of cultural advancement in repeating yet again why that idea was no good.

    With namecalling I don’t think anything advances, except for maybe chaos.

  18. different clue

    Colonel Lang and the Guest Posters have kept the threads at Sic Semper Tyrannis high-quality by keeping pre-moderation as a permanent feature.

  19. NR


    “But, campaigning for a candidate, donating money, and what not that PACs do is not a crime last I checked.”

    When U.S. citizens do this, it’s fine.

    When foreign agents impersonate U.S. citizens to do this, it’s fraud, and illegal under U.S. law.

  20. Hvd


    Could you please cite the statute or statutes that say this.

  21. A1

    Comment moderation is a great idea. You have a very important post about Chinese money swamping London real estate and the comments are a continuation of previous feuds instead of addressing the very important point. FYI the Globe and Mail had a long investigative journalism article on the Chinese money laundering and the issues it has cased in Vancouver.

  22. Webstir


    “You want secure elections? Try mail-in paper ballots, like Oregon does. They’re countable and verifiable and next to impossible to fake or manipulate.”

    Let’s extend this to Ian’s entire post. Would we be having this discussion at all if paper ballots were still the universal standard. It all boils down to this — it is an easy an obvious fix to this entire dumpster fire. But, are you hearing anything about this easy and obvious fix coming from the establishment parties? No. Why? Well now, isn’t that the question of the hour?

    The answer? Why doesn’t any human behavior change when the behavior is identified as maladaptive? Because the person (or parties in this case) are benefiting from the status quo. How could both parties be benefitting from the status quo? They’re both dirty as a dollar bill and don’t want accountability. That would compromise their ability to employ plausible denial when their bullshit leaks out … like it’s slowly drip drip dripping right now.

    Who are the real dirty player in all this? I honestly don’t think we’ll ever find out, which is exactly the way the establishment parties want it. Someone will win the war of subterfuge, but it won’t be establishment democrats or republicans. It will be the 1%, of which the players in both establishment parties figure prominently.

  23. NR


    U.S. Code Title 18, section 371. It’s listed in the indictment.

  24. wendy davis

    re: your theme that nations could agree not to interfere in elections, the US would be the last to agree to that, imo, given history. and i’d include interfering in the bidness of sovereign governments as well, again…give the long history of the US in doing just that, from mossadegh to pinochet to the color revolutions, and most recently in VZ, where the imperial drums of war are beating loudly. three links, as you’re needing to approve comments, in hopes they won’t trip your moderation software. assange’s tweet features biden on ukraine at the the cfr.

    ‘Ex-CIA operative says US has long meddled in elections, but it’s OK since they are ‘good cops’’

    @JSCCounterPunch reminded us a few hours ago: “When Obama’s CIA used bots and false personas to try to instigate a Cuban “spring”….” (from 2014):

    ‘US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest and undermine government
    USAid started ZunZuneo, a social network built on texts, in hope it could be used to organize ‘smart mobs’ to trigger Cuban spring’

    and of course both NED and USAID exist as quasi-covers for CIA spooks.

  25. Webstir

    Well, the hits just keep on coming:
    Manafort lawyer pleads guilty to false statements to special prosecutor.
    I think this answers what one of the remaining 6 prosecutors are up to. Still 5 shoes to drop?
    Marcy Wheeler has been hypothesizing on exactly that question:
    Although, I think Marcy has been drinking the establishment Kool-Aid.

  26. Webstir

    Well, here’s my first shot across the LGM blog’s bow:

    To wit:
    Just want to put this out there —

    This is an outstanding blog post Paul, which is the reason I used to occasionally frequent this site. That, and Scott. Scott was the shit. Miss that guy (may you forever have old man cats in heaven, amigo).

    However, and this is a big however, the commentariat is stupefying. They’re like Zero Hedge for establishment liberals who all think they’re comedians. What gets me most is that you put up with it. You’re drawing significant clicks every day, and as such, have the power to make a lasting political impact upon this country in a time when an impact is desperately needed. The ability to bring together a remarkable array of thinkers to not only expand upon and source material for you, but to act on it as well. Bounce on over to NakedCapitalsm, Ian Welsh, NSFWCorp, or the GhionJournal to name a few and see what’s going on in the comment sections. Not this banal crap I assure you. Why don’t you maintain the integrity of your body of comments. It seems people would just rather get zingers in than discuss and generate solutions to the absolute peril this country is in — and I’m not specifically talking about Trump. We lefties need to get control of this country post haste, or the opportunity may well slip from our grasp forever. You’re allowing that. Can you tone up the comments to get people like me back?

  27. NR

    And looking at my last comment, I think I spoke too hastily.

    There is a good case to be made that the Russian troll activity constitutes fraud, however.

  28. realitychecker

    Um, there were zero contentious comments on the real estate post.

    Just sayin’ . . .

  29. Willy

    Within 18 U.S. Code 911 – Citizen of the United States:
    Whoever falsely and willfully represents himself to be a citizen of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    I’m guessing this may apply to Russians, but not those of Hispanic origin.

  30. escher

    I’ve come to believe strong moderation (as in pre-approval) is necessary to cultivate a comments section worth reading. I suppose that’s partly just my own taste.

    May I make a suggestion? It might make things easier and more acceptable to all involved simply to moderate for tone (e.g., ad-homs) and clearly off-topic/unproductive comments, but to leave calling out “lies” to the commentariat via open (and civil) debate.

    I put “lies” in scare quotes because there’s enough wiggle room between disprovable statements of fact on the one hand, and subjective, unfalsifiable interpretations of events on the other, to make adjudicating lies a daunting task, and one rather likely to alienate at least a few good-faith commenters.

    Thanks for your work, Ian.

  31. Doesn’t seem to be working. Sucks. Turned comments off at my place ten years ago. Kinda’ miss it, certainly miss the interaction we once had here, but … it’s a sewer man, a one stop shop for NAZI propaganda. Turn it off.

  32. Tom W Harris

    One aspect of the old moderation regime which I hope does not come back is the automatic moderation which was evidently triggered by taboo phrases. I made reference to the “White-Guy Socialist Web Site” and my comment was intercepted by a “Hold on a minute” message, and my comment never went through. Truly a tragedy for posterity, or at least, a damn nuisance.

  33. Hvd


    “If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.
    (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 701; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)”

    I think also that it would require a novel interpretation of fraud for the acts of the Russians or any other foreign nationals to constitute fraud under this statute for stating opinions about American politics. By the way the quoted section would apply to Americans as well. Perhaps you meant to cite another section of statute?

  34. Hugh

    11 CFR § 110.20 Prohibition on contributions, donations, expenditures, independent expenditures, and disbursements by foreign nationals ( 52 U.S.C. 30121, 36 U.S.C. 510)

    (b) Contributions and donations by foreign nationals in connection with elections. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.

    (c) Contributions and donations by foreign nationals to political committees and organizations of political parties. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or donation to:

    (1) A political committee of a political party, including a national party committee, a national congressional campaign committee, or a State, district, or local party committee, including a non-Federal account of a State, district, or local party committee, or

    (2) An organization of a political party whether or not the organization is a political committee under 11 CFR 100.5.

    (d) Contributions and donations by foreign nationals for office buildings. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party for the purchase or construction of an office building. See 11 CFR 300.10 and 300.35.

    (e) Disbursements by foreign nationals for electioneering communications. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make any disbursement for an electioneering communication as defined in 11 CFR 100.29.

    (f) Expenditures, independent expenditures, or disbursements by foreign nationals in connection with elections. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make any expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.

    (g) Solicitation, acceptance, or receipt of contributions and donations from foreign nationals. No person shall knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section.

    (h) Providing substantial assistance.

    (1) No person shall knowingly provide substantial assistance in the solicitation, making, acceptance, or receipt of a contribution or donation prohibited by paragraphs (b) through (d), and (g) of this section.

    (2) No person shall knowingly provide substantial assistance in the making of an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement prohibited by paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section.

    (i) Participation by foreign nationals in decisions involving election-related activities. A foreign national shall not direct, dictate, control, or directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of any person, such as a corporation, labor organization, political committee, or political organization with regard to such person’s Federal or non-Federal election-related activities, such as decisions concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with elections for any Federal, State, or local office or decisions concerning the administration of a political committee.

    (j) Donations by foreign nationals to inaugural committees. A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a donation to an inaugural committee, as defined in 11 CFR 104.21(a)(1). No person shall knowingly accept from a foreign national any donation to an inaugural committee.

    BTW USC 18 § 371 is conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the US.

  35. realitychecker

    You know, I had a bad night thinking about all this.

    The essence seems to be that folks can’t stand to deal with anything but nicey-niceness, and they would rather coddle stupidity and ignorance than see anyone fight for some truth and clarity.

    Consider the fates of some of history’s greatest thinkers–they are NEVER welcomed in their time. Instead, their fates demonstrate some of the ugliest tendencies of human beings. Tendencies that I see playing out today.

    I don’t see anyone considering how to control or dispel ignorance or stand up for learning.

    Anti-intellectual, anti-free speech, anti-logic, antti-self-defense is no way to go through life, people.

    Can anyone tell me an effective way to deal with all the ignorance and dishonesty that comes up in these comment sections, aside from ignoring them or saying “I disagree”? That passive approach does zero to advance truth or understanding.

    Maybe some are online to get a free tabloid experience, but for those like me who are about sharpening up our thought process so we can be more effective, this picture is totally disheartening. And unacceptable.

    Saying someone is being stupid is worse than someone being consistently disingenuous, determinedly ignorant, passive-aggressive, or even just ganging up on a person because they did not like a past intereaction? Really? Is that the world we are tryoing to shape, while we displace the Empire?

    Misplaced priorities? Should child-proofing the world really be what we stand for?

    Will there be any serious response to this from anyone?

  36. scruff

    By “ad-homs” do you mean namecalling and insults, or the actual ad-hominem fallacy? The latter has been rare in your comments, although some people get close to it suggesting that, for example, a white person’s perception of a social situation regarding racial problems cannot be correct if a non-white person disagrees with them about it.

  37. nihil obstet

    On illegality of expenditures by foreign nationals related to U.S. elections — U.S. elites have no problem declaring that they’re the only ones who can buy elections. Money is speech, you know. If a foreign national declared during the election, “I think the Republicans would be better for world peace”, could she be arrested for providing something of value to a political party? Or is that different from speech?

    I don’t doubt that our elites don’t give a rat’s rear end about coherent, legitimate law, but neither should we grant legitimacy to them. If money is speech for the Koch brothers, it’s speech for everybody.

  38. Willy

    Nobody discusses the volume of the speech (money) and the unfortunately large percentage of the population which is susceptible to it. But maybe if we all had the time we’d each be doing our own psycho-social-manipulation studies and our arguments would be that much more influential. And maybe if we had the money.

    Did somebody say dealing with ignorance and dishonesty?

    Right here, NR presented a basic idea. Then another commenter adds nothing. After few other comments, Hugh, serious, precise and detailed, adds some serious meat to the discussion, and now things might be rolling. Thankfully, nobody ad hominem’d him into a silent resignation, to shake his head as petty slap fights ensued.

    Edited for minor ad-hom — Ian

  39. Saying someone is being stupid is worse than someone being consistently disingenuous, determinedly ignorant, passive-aggressive, or even just ganging up on a person because they did not like a past intereaction? Really? Is that the world we are tryoing to shape, while we displace the Empire?

    Misplaced priorities? Should child-proofing the world really be what we stand for?

    Will there be any serious response to this from anyone?

    All I can say is that for once a usually trite cliché is actually on point: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

  40. realitychecker

    @ Mandos

    Right, saying is doing./s Your personal religious belief, it seems.

    Do you know any other way of doing something?

    Ideals are great, but sometimes what you think is ideal is simply not on the menu at the time you want to order it. Treating the present world like it was already your idealized personal world is a very foolish life strategy. Bad guys might be killing you while you envision a world without nastiness, ya know?

    In fairness, Mandos, you have a lot of folks on the modern left who make the same mistake.

    That’s what reality checks are for. 🙂

  41. Hvd


    You seem to be doing Citizens United in reverse. Where that opinion claimed that money equals speech you seem to be saying that via 11 CFR 110.20 speech equals money.

  42. NR


    The Russian trolls were not simply stating opinions about American politics, they were doing so fraudulently by impersonating American citizens. There are many cases in law where fraudulent speech does not fall under the umbrella of protected free speech and can be subject to civil or even criminal penalties. Whether this is one of those times would be decided by the courts of course, but as I said, there is a strong case that it qualifies.

  43. MojaveWolf

    On the Russian thing:

    There are sort three entirely different arguments here. One is can you make a legal case that anyone violated anything? (My answer: sure) Two: Can you make a case that anyone in the US did anything wrong because some Russian people did something that theoretically might have benefitted them? (my answer: no, not without twisting the law into a something worthless and evil) Three: SHOULD anyone be even trying to make any sort of case based on anything we’ve seen so far, and/or does this entire mess pass the laugh test (my answer: HELL NO, and no)

    In further detail:

    I’m very happy for HVD’s commentary above, because I’m looking at the statutes Hugh & NR quoted, and I’m not saying how you get anywhere from there based on the facts in question. As HVD said, it’s a reach, and by reach I’m talking about the ant holding a twig trying to use it to bridge the Mississippi. To put this in perspective, before I ever went to law school, I was working in a small plaintiff firm part time while an undergrad, and after I finished went to work for them full time just doing various stuff to save money to move to LA. They had a case where, basically, if it gets to the jury it’s close to a slam dunk because of sympathy issues but sovereign immunity and precedent both made it basically impossible to get to the jury based on previous decisions and just plain reading of the words. They gave it to me to do the research when I’d never done anything like that before just in case a fresh perspective would see something they missed. On the one hand, no, on the other hand, well, yes, sort of, if you look at things just right. So I ran with that look as if it was gospel when doing the first draft of the brief (which looked nothing like the final draft cause I had minimal idea what briefs were supposed to look like; yes I worked at a law firm but this wasn’t my passion and I kinda only half paid attention most of the time). We set a new precedent and made many millions of dollars (or, rather, the plaintiff & the firm’s partners did; I made my hourly wage plus, eventually, a nice but relatively tiny bonus).

    This? Sure, you could do something creative with your interpretation of the wording, and now that I’ve put myself in the right mindset I’m already starting to have vague pathways, but it would be waaaaaaaay more of a reach than the previous precedent changer. I mean way more. That other thing was a real path, that just required judges to change their mind and overturn–or, more delicately phrased, see how this case was different from the other cases in a way that would allow it and potential future cases to be decided differently than those past cases that really weren’t that different. This? You gotta completely ignore the actual facts or pretend they’re something they’re just plain not for any kind of collusion.

    Could you make a technical legal case that some individuals violated something? Sure. As a cop once told me at traffic school when discussing all the arcane laws out there, “if we want to we can arrest you for being born and dying.” (given the audience here, I feel the need to point out he was a good and very funny guy, and made traffic school an actual fun experience, and was not literally saying they do or should do such) But the idea that this is the sort of thing any reasonable prosecutor should be going after, or that the campaigns were working in synch with it?

    Hugh, I love most of your posts, and respect that you are someone who doesn’t blindly follow dogma (or at least, not any mainstream dogma I’m aware of), but I’m not seeing how you get here (other than you don’t like Putin, which is fair enough; Gary Kasparov hates Putin and he’s in a much better position than me to know about him and I have mega respect for Gary Kasparov, but barring personal dislike–including dislike of his policies/actions–that rises to the level of just wanting to nail him for something) tell me what I’m missing here.

    The only good I can see coming out of this is what someone earlier said about making people aware of the ways government and corporate agencies (or anyone with an agenda) can use social media to manipulate. That is something to make people aware of. But otherwise, I’m genuinely stunned anyone is not treating this as the equivalent of “Where was Obama born?”

  44. Hvd


    That seems to me to be a pretty thin reed. It is hard to understand how merely claiming to be a u.s. citizen while merely offering political opinions is sufficient to create the type of reliance that could lead to the type of damages usually needed for either criminal or civil fraud. The only statute I can find making impersonating citizenship a crime is for immigration and/or receiving services or goods or other benefits limited to u.s. citizens. I don’t see how it applies to speech. So far I haven’t seen an actual statute that criminalizes or creates civil penalties or actions for this sort of behavior.

  45. Willy

    As always, I need to be more clear. It’s not the laws. It’s the enforcement.

    If enough money pays for turned blind eyes, what can one do?

  46. Webstir

    Wow. You guys are burning a ton of words without all the evidence. Truth is, we don’t know wtf Meuller knows. I’m just popping the corn and trying to absorb the different perspectives.

    The irony is, you should know this as a lawyer MojaveWolf. Often a criminal defendant doesn’t even know what charges are going to brought against them by prosecution — even after indictment — when they are the ones that did the behavior.

    And, as to the best lesson to come of all this? As my Dad used to tell me, believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.

  47. Hugh

    “A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, … with any Federal, State, or local election”

    The key phrase here is “other thing of value”. It doesn’t have to be about money. Russians creating lots of bots to discredit one candidate in favor of another constitutes a contribution of a thing of value, and is prohibited. I kind also see how it amounts to an attempt to perpetrate a fraud upon the American people. All of this is very different from hiring a foreign national to do something campaign related. Put simply, the candidate must pay. The foreign national can not give.

  48. NR


    There are a lot of circumstances under which pretending to be something you’re not will land you in a lot of legal trouble. The amount of trouble you get in could be minor or very serious indeed depending on the circumstances of your impersonation. It’s not so simple as to just say it’s covered under free speech.

    It’s also not accurate to claim that the Russian trolls were just innocently offering political opinions. They ran an extensive operation with the intent to deceive. See this interview with one of them, for example:

    “How did the trolling work?

    You got a list of topics to write about. Every piece of news was taken care of by three trolls each, and the three of us would make up an act. We had to make it look like we were not trolls but real people. One of the three trolls would write something negative about the news, the other two would respond, “You are wrong,” and post links and such. And the negative one would eventually act convinced. Those are the kinds of plays we had to act out.”

    While the legality will be sorted out by the courts, I think it’s noteworthy that the former troll interviewed said that he left for moral reasons and he was ashamed to work there.

  49. Mojave Wolf

    @Hugh– Thank you. That makes sense, and in a technical sense I can’t argue with it as a reasonable interpretation (which doesn’t sound like much but it’s a million times better than I was expecting anybody to come up with). I would differ as to an actual real world sense, but I at least see where you’re coming from (if not why. We are going to just have to respectfully disagree on this because again my take is pure astonishment. I can’t think of any way to characterize this from my point of view that wouldn’t look denigrating and again I respect you a great deal has a poster so I’m just going to say agree to disagree and drop it).

    @webstir–I’m missing the irony (also you probably missed this from a previous thread but not a practicing attorney; bailed on this entire area a long long time ago) Do I think that over the course of their lives Trump and probably everyone remotely associated with him has violated some law, and many of these are still within the statute of limitations and can be prosecuted, and many of these are really serious crimes that probably deserve to be prosecuted? Hell yes. But the actual case they’re publicly going after? This is a joke. Supporting it in the hopes that something else will turn up is rather like the Whitewater prosecution except without anywhere near as much substance and I wasn’t a fan of that one either (and count me as one of the people who think it’s ridiculous to have made a perjury charge against Clinton for lying about something completely unrelated to what the actual investigation was supposed to be and about something that wasn’t a crime; at least in my view using the full force of the special Prosecutors office in the court system to score political points and go on fishing Expeditions in hopes of turning up something is far far worse then anything they are yet alleging; not that I think anything they are yet alleging is actually worth a moment’s thought). Have you Deuces genuinely evil when it was done in the 90s & I view it as evil now.

    In this particular instance, it’s pure McCarthyism couched in different terms, imnsho, and has no purpose other than punishing or marginalizing anybody who bucks the mainstream corporate approved political world even for a millisecond. Okay, I misspoke. It also wishes to help make a new cold or possibly hot war with Russia the new war on terror and War on Drugs. And to convince people that mainstream politicians who don’t get out of line are the ONLY way to go.

    No, I don’t think they have something really important they’re holding back to spring on us later while going after 13 people who had zero influence on anything and who they have no realistic hope of ever prosecuting. Nor do I for one second take seriously anybody who says they care about this but isn’t also outraged about things like correct the record and the mainstream media coverage if this and other elections. I include the entire or prosecutorial team and everyone who is pushing this prosecution with any power. Likewise if you’re worried about hacking the elections and aren’t pushing for hand marked hand-counted paper ballots publicly counted then I’m pretty much one hundred percent certain you’re not really worried about anyone hacking the election. Again I’m pretty sure this includes every single person with any political power who is pushing this prosecution and everyone in the mainstream media.

    Trump is awful–there are plenty of things to attack him for. That they’re attacking him for this pretty much proves that they’re greater enemies to anything I care about than he is. This prosecution scares me far more than Trump does and I’m completely baffled yet again that the rest of you don’t find this really disturbing.

  50. Mojave Wolf

    One final query: to all of you who think this is a legit line of inquiry regarding Trump & Russia, how many of you also think it’s a legit line of inquiry towards Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein? I still remember several months ago seeing some complete and utter craziness retweeted into my timeline where some “national security analyst” named Eric Garland posting Twitter stuff about how Bernie Sanders was an agent of Russia and was owned by Putin. Similar comments were made then and now about similar comments were made then and now about Jill Stein by various people. Do you really take any of this seriously for a second? Do you believe along with Joe Scarborough that this is the greatest attack on America since 9/11?

    Even for those of you who disagree with me about whether there’s a legit charge in here somewhere, do you really not see how this is a massive propaganda effort that is far scarier and more dangerous than anything it is alleging about anyone else?

    (And just in case someone pops up with “the law is the law and if it is broken the law Breakers must be punished”, would you really be okay with anyone prosecuting everyone who went 1 mile an hour over the speed limit to the fullest extent of the law? IMO even if you assume there’s a legit theory of the case here, this investigation/prosecution is rather like charging someone with reckless endangerment for going 57 in a 55 zone with a pair of technically illegal fuzzy dice hanging from their mirror)

  51. Webstir


    “Even for those of you who disagree with me about whether there’s a legit charge in here somewhere, do you really not see how this is a massive propaganda effort that is far scarier and more dangerous than anything it is alleging about anyone else?”

    Oh, there’s plenty of legit charges. And yeah, I think the ED’s (establishment democrats, not to be confused with erectile dysfunction — well, I admit, maybe they can be confused) are gaslighting this country right now. Seriously, I’m agape at the whole thing. Never in my 47 years have a seen such dysfunction in this country.

    I think it’s a product of the fact that the E.D.’s were so convinced Hillary was going to win that they had no credible back-up plan if they lost. They latched on to the Russia narrative early, realized the country really didn’t actually ever like Hillary or their neoliberal agenda, and now are just frozen like deer in headlights. It’s gotten away from them and they don’t know how to control it. Absent a better plan, it’s the only one they have and they’re going with it. The same thing happened with the republicans when they lost to black man. Seriously … I’m positive that was every bit as unthinkable to them as Trump beating Hillary was to the EDs. So they spent 8 years running against Obama rather than for an agenda just like the EDs are doing now. What happened? Trump. So basically, the sheer ineptitude of both establishment parties has us here today. Which, as democratic socialist, is why I’m just popping the corn and watching the circular firing squad take one another out. It’s funny … I bet when Trump began his talk about draining the swamp he didn’t envision that the two establishment parties would do it for him. But here we are.

    Finally, I concur with Hugh. I’m a practicing plaintiff’s attorney. He’s echoing 90% of the analysis I’m reading which also jibes with my personal legal knowledge. The best analysis I’m finding right now is coming from Marcy Wheeler over at the emptywheel blog if you want to read about it from a “Mueller’s going to find more and they’re all dirty angle.” Here’s a good starting point:
    On the other side of the fence, it seems different clue and I both agree that Col. Lang over at Sic Semper Tyrannis is doing a great job of covering it all from the “there is nothing here it’s all just gaslighting” perspective.

  52. That’s what reality checks are for. 🙂

    Actually, I am politely suggesting that while you may be checking something, it is not reality.

  53. Like MojaveWolf says (and the Moon of Alabama site as well), the real goal of this indictment most likely is the subsequent criminalization of anti-corporate dissent as such.

    As for all the microscopic parsing of the statuary language in this thread, jeez, a visitor from another planet would think there’s such a thing as a “rule of law” here. But in reality there’s nothing but might makes right with the law being nothing but a weapon to be deployed however power wants to deploy it.

    All one needs to know about US concepts of “citizenry”, “foreignness”, who is and isn’t “alien” etc., is that in the US/globalization system corporations are considered legal persons as well as given priority over all nominal “law” at globalization tribunals, and that both in principle and practice big money is the only real right. The most direct legalistic application of this to elections is Buckley v. Valeo and its appendix Citizens United. These are just logical extensions of the Mammon ideology as such, which believes money is a real thing and that all human interactions among themselves and with the Earth should be reduced to money relations.

    So it’s easy to see that law exists nowhere but in the minds of idle progressives. Money equally doesn’t “really” exist, but unlike with law, the rule of money is enforced aggressively enough that it has become the real power.

    So all one needs to know about these Russian allegations is what a piddling amount of money is involved, even according to the indictment. That says it all about the real effect, and how much attention any sentient person should pay to it, except insofar as the indictment promises to criminalize American dissent as well.

  54. realitychecker

    @ MW

    I want to applaud and endorse the flavor and essential substance of your last two comments.

    How rare to see such carefully considered nuance in an online venue. 🙂

  55. wendy davis

    @ Mojave Wolf

    you may be interested in Stephen Cohen’s (often dubbed ‘putin apologist’ and worse) ‘Russiagate or Intelgate?’ The publication of the Republican House Committee memo and reports of other documents increasingly suggest not only a “Russiagate” without Russia but also something darker: The “collusion” may not have been in the White House or the Kremlin.

    if the nation’s behind a paywall for you (first 5 hits are free!’ or something, RT also has it. he’s long said that the ‘blame russia for everything’ risks turning the new iteration of the cold war into a hot war. i saw a headline yesterday that blames the florida shooting spree…on russia.

  56. wendy davis

    @ Mojave Wolf

    also, ‘The Gaping Holes of Russia-gate’; Between Russia-gate and President Trump’s potential impeachment, Washington is blending the thrill of McCarthyism and the excitement of Watergate, as ex-U.S. intelligence officials Ray McGovern and William Binney explain, May 20, 2017

    “But what about the “Russian hacking,” the centerpiece of the accusations about Kremlin “interference” to help Trump? Surely, we know that happened. Or do we?

    On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents — almost completely ignored by the mainstream media — showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs (like Cyrillic markings, for example). The capabilities shown in what WikiLeaks calls the “Vault 7” trove of CIA documents required the creation of hundreds of millions of lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines. But the Deep State has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for “proving” the Russians hacked into Democratic Party emails.

    In other words, it is altogether possible that the hacking attributed to Russia was actually one of several “active measures” undertaken by a cabal consisting of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Clapper — the same agencies responsible for the lame, evidence-free report of Jan. 6.”

    and oh, my, pompeo is after assange’s head even more stridently now.

  57. NR


    “Like MojaveWolf says (and the Moon of Alabama site as well), the real goal of this indictment most likely is the subsequent criminalization of anti-corporate dissent as such.”

    Slippery slope fallacy if I’ve ever seen one.

    I mean, the trolls were supporting Trump, who is 100% pro-corporate, so I really don’t see how you get there from here.

  58. Willy


    I don’t quite get the propaganda effort of which you speak. Metaphorically, the rich and powerful have been allowed to go 85 just because they’re driving a Ferrari. I like that it’s becoming more commonly known that many of them didn’t necessarily earn that Ferrari the way working folks earned their Hyundai’s. I like that their game is being explored and discussed.

  59. realitychecker

    Trump should be seen as an outsider, and therefore a threat, to the Establishment duopoly system that has had us all imprisoned for our entire lives.

    Yes, he is a billionaire now heading the Republican Party, and they have no choice now but to rally behind him, but remember how virulently that party joined in with every single other Establishment-oriented player during the primaries, and often even since, for the proof that they all considered him to be illegitimate for being an outsider to their club.

    And yes, he is totally pro-corporate, which is why the stock market has skyrocketed under him, but BOTH of the Establishment duopoly parties are ALSO totally pro-corporate. So that disappears as a choice point, IMO.

    So yes, he is not a perfect messenger to those who want a country not owned by corporations, and expect instant transformation, but the first step had to be breaking the duopoly grip down, so that people could at least envision the possibility of an outsider having a chance, perhaps even as a third party candidate.

    We were never going to get a perfect messenger, who could come out of the blue and be BOTH anti-corporate and anti-duopoly. How could we? We all see how rigged the system is, on both sides of the duopoly. It had to be someone with enough independent money to crash that party.

    Now, my personal bottom line is to be anti-corporate, for a million very good reasons. And pro-regular people. And I know that we regular folks, whether on the left or the right, have had ZERO success in dislodging the duopoly parties who have perfected their good cop-bad cop routine against regular folks, all in ultimate service to the corporatocracy that owns them both.

    It hurts to see so many continue to regard this as a binary Dem vs. Rethug situation. It’s more complicated than that, but not really too complicated to understand.

    I see a lot of Establishment players breaking themselves on Trump, especially the corporate media, and that can only be a good thing.

    Maybe by 2020, enough people will see the moral bankruptcy of both Establishment parties to give a better outsider a real chance.

    Face it, folks, we had/have no other plan that might do better than all our old plans did lol.

    Trump is best seen as a means to an end, a distasteful means, but to a very worthy end. Without any guarantees that the process will continue to move in the right direction, but when did we ever get a guarantee of anything that held up?

    Gotta have some faith, keep supporting decent regular folks any way we can, and hope to see both parties go down. And remember that fucking transnational corporations aren’t persons, they are Terminators. Resist that.

  60. Webstir

    I think that may the best comment you’ve ever made RC. \

    Persona non grata no more.

    That’s exactly what I was intimating with my circular firing squad comment. It could have been any non-establishment candidate. But the result, I think, would have been the same. Having no answer as to how an illigitimate non-establishment candidate got into office, both establishment parties are in the process of totally de-legitimizing themselves.
    I’m loving it …

  61. realitychecker

    I’m loving it, too. And don’t mind being on the same page with you at all.

    And I’ve agreed with a bunch of other stuff you’ve said recently, when I was too pissed to tell you.

    Better this way. 🙂

  62. Webstir

    @RC: Indeed.

    As to the indictments, reading through the latest empty wheel post has me thinking a little differently. It really is about following the money, and the theory is the money leads to Trump wrong-doing.

    Why Trump is hung up on the whole collusion thing is beyond me, but my comment above to MojaveWolf regarding defendants not knowing what they are defending against even though they were the ones who committed the crime seems more accurate. It’s never been about collusion. It’s only been about destroying Trump. The “collusion” was just misdirection. The Manafort/Gates money trail, as the theory goes, will lead back to Trump’s financial wrongdoing.

    Don’t want to release your taxes Mr. Trump? That’s ok. We’ll gin up a Russia conspiracy and once we find some dirt on your partners, we’ll subpoena every damn financial record you’ve ever produced. Now, is anyone here really willing to bet that Donald doesn’t have some really nasty financial skeletons in his closet. Once those are out … he’s done. Mueller says, “Well, I did my best on the conspiracy thing with Trump, but didn’t get anywhere. But oh, by the way, here Mr. Schneiderman, you might be interested all this financial fraud that’s been committed.

    He’s prosecuted on State charges and then impeached. And as for all those who will howl about the fact that we’d be even worse off with Pence? I say Realpolitik. The EDs can then make a stink about how the entire republican party just got done supporting a financial felon. Tar, meet feathers. November, meet landslide.

    Anyone want to take any bets that this whole investigation is wrapping up about three months before the mid-terms? Pence, minus the house and senate is no threat at all to the EDs.

    Just a thought. Like I said … I’m just watching the scenarios play out and cheering on the circular establishment firing squad.

  63. Webstir

    The more I think on it, the more correct the aforementioned scenario seems. While the details widely differ, the substance is the same as the republicans attempt to impeach WJ Clinton. And why not? She who laughs last, laughs best (and we all know who she is). I wouldn’t put this past the Clintons for a second.

  64. NR:

    “I mean, the trolls were supporting Trump, who is 100% pro-corporate, so I really don’t see how you get there from here.”

    Leaving aside whether the trolls you and the indictment are alleging ever existed in the form you’re claiming (since I couldn’t care less), I get there quite simply:

    Trump and the Republican Party are 100% pro-corporate, Hillary and the Democrat Party are 100% pro-corporate, US elections are nothing but a sham, and so it’s absurd to waste a calorie’s worth of energy fretting about such an absurd distraction as alleged Russian doings.

    If the election is a stupid spectacle in the first place (and it is), Russiagate is a pathetically lame and stupid one.

  65. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    As you indicated in earlier comments I saw, there is too much uncertainty over what the true facts are for me to bother getting too involved. My way is to start with some facts I know are reliable, and reason from there. We both know, as lawyers, that uncertainties abound in our work, same with my work in markets.

    The trick, IMO, is not to get too speculative based on facts which are not really reliably solid. It means I live with a lot of uncertainty all the time, but at least it keeps me from making a lot of mistakes. A very intellectual judge I used to work for at a high level appeals court in NY counseled me once to never take the “quantum leap” of making conclusions beyond the solid facts, because that was how most lawyers get on trouble. I’ve tried to live in accord with that.

    Having said that, I see a lot of very savvy political jiu-jitsu in Trump’s behavior, and my radar is starting to make me feel there may be a big counter-attack coming against the Clinton machine.

    We’ll see. My position is that everyone who breaks the law should be held accountable, no favorites, because the rule of law is in sad shape and need to be reinstated as our highest value.

    Me and my lady are fighting with a lot of physical/medical issues now from a rear end collision at a red light back in July, and our lives have been shit since then. Doctors, physical therapy, blah, blah. Meeting with lawyers today, but we both have lots of pre-existings, so probably not going to be a happy experience for us. Anyway, not able to focus on the daily political stuff as much as usual.

    Have a good one–I like being your friend rather than your adversary. I know I was overly harsh with you on past occasions, I felt badly about it at the time, and want to apologize to you for it now. Sincerely. 🙂

  66. Webstir

    Apology accepted. It went both ways and I extend my apologies to you as well.

  67. NR


    I still don’t understand why you think an indictment of pro-corporate trolls would lead to a criminalization of anti-corporate speech. If anything, it would be the opposite.

  68. Mojave Wolf

    @RC — agreed with your comment about Trump. I I’m less optimistic than I used to be about this breaking any kind of Stranglehold given the nature of the left-wing counter-attack Trump’s move since then and most of all the extent to which people seem to be buying the left-wing narrative much as I’m a lefty this is just let me say one more time incredibly wrongheaded. But we shall see. (Also much sympathy to your ongoing problems believe me I can relate with the ongoing family health issues; best wishes to you)

    And thanks to Wendy, Russ, and all others who replied to my comments. I was speaking those into my phone and I tried to edit them afterwards but I missed a few things plus they came out a bit longer than I meant to so thank you for putting up with and reading. Too physically & mentally exhausted to reply the way I’d like to everyone, but your reading suggestions were all appreciated and going to try. (Speaking of I was too exhausted even to say thank you to S Brennan and Herman from a previous thread he said really nice things about one of my comments so thank you guys) Some of these were places I used to look at when I had more time and energy but right now it is the only place I read everything and naked capitalism I try to read a lot but miss more than get to and everything else is just an occasional glance at this point but I definitely will look at your links.

    @Webstir– given the level of our disagreement on this topic I’m really surprised that we seem to completely agree about the substance of what is being done. Let’s just say in general while you seem like a really good guy and are practicing the part of law I would most likely be practicing if I had stayed in it, what you were looking at it and thinking yay I’m looking at the same thing reading it the same way as far as I can tell and am utterly horrified and appalled (appalled that it is being done horrified that people are okay with it and equally horrified that many other people are actually buying the narrative as presented. I hope you are right that this is delegitimizing the major parties but I fear that it is actually having the opposite effect on a really huge amount of people and successfully convincing them especially on the left and I don’t really want to go with the anti establishment Tops on the right but it’s specially on the left convincing people that only The Establishment politicians can save us. I’ve seen really bright creative people who used to hate bush and who think of themselves as unconventional free-thinking contrarians talk about how they wish that we had him back and how he was still America but Trump isn’t. And I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen a ledge all sorts of crap about Jill Stein and Bernie. Let me also add that I’m absolutely horrified that Bernie is now running with this narrative even though it is being used against him by some of the same people. I can see the rationale and I hope he knows what he’s doing but not happy here.

    Quick query–when you said 90% of the legal analysis you seen agreed with what Hugh said up thread, did you mean they agree that this was the way the prosecution was going to go or that they actually agreed with what was being done? If the former okay if the ladder at let me be really really happy Financial consequences be damned that I’m far away from these people.

  69. realitychecker

    Thanks, Webstir. Never again, I promise.

  70. NR:

    No legal notion or precedent, whatever its origin, will ever really be used against the power structure and its tools, but always ends up used against the people. Anyone aware of reality knows that.

    Therefore the real use, if any, of the legal theory behind this indictment, whatever the indictment’s proximate conscious goal, will be the subsequent criminalization of anti-corporate dissent as such. The key part isn’t the allegations about “foreigners”, but about what kind of speech they engaged in which allegedly is criminal: Regular, run-of-the-mill political speech. The kind you want criminalized for so-called “foreigners”. (Ironic, since I bet one of the reasons you hate Trump is his xenophobia, which of course in action is no worse than Obama’s. Indeed Trump still has a ways to go to catch up to Obama’s persecution of “illegal” immigrants.)

    But of course those determined to blame all their self-caused problems on the Russkies, or who are motivated by irrational fear and hatred of the Russians when of course the infinitely worse enemy is the US corporate state, will never understand facts.

  71. realitychecker

    @ MW

    Thanks for your kind words, amigo, I love your good heart.

    As to the Trump dynamic, he matters not a whit to me as a person (he can take care of himself! lol), but the dynamic of him as an outsider matters to me very much, as I think we have no other hope of dislodging the corrupt Establishment players. Certainly, there’s little in our history to encourage the belief that we on the left can do it by ourselves.

    So, in regard to that outsider dynamic, I think it would be very unrealistic to think that he will, by himself, undo the whole corrupt system, or even to believe that that is his truest intent, or even his intent at all.

    But the EFFECT of him may start a snowball rolling, creating the first visible and serious chinks in the Establishment regime, and others can then have opportunities to build on that. Given how much time and resources the system has had to entrench itself on so many levels, there can be no magical or quick undoing, IMO.

    Generally speaking, I have always been on the left, but human history moves like a pendulum swings, and when the pendulum of one’s own group has swung too far in either direction, it is an act of love, in my view, to encourage a return to the reasonable zone. Even though those you are trying to encourage to do that will reflexively think you are being their enemy.

    Good faith is the most important ingredient in all we do, IMO.

  72. Webstir

    “did you mean they agree that this was the way the prosecution was going to go or that they actually agreed with what was being done?”

    The former. I just meant that a lot of non-lawyers are going around saying that there is nothing there simply b/c the charges against Gates and Manafort don’t seem to establish a conspiracy with Russia on Trumps behalf. But those charges are very real and it most people agree the evidence is there to back it up.

    My theory up thread which I’m not seeing a lot of press about is that these initial charges against ManaGates are only to establish the “relevance” necessary to begin discovery on all Trump’s financials. And as you know, if some piece of evidence has any tendency to prove the case … it’s relevant for the purposes of discovery even if it won’t see the light of day in court due to the rules of evidence.

  73. NR


    “The key part isn’t the allegations about “foreigners”, but about what kind of speech they engaged in which allegedly is criminal: Regular, run-of-the-mill political speech.”

    It wasn’t regular, run-of-the-mill political speech. Read the article I linked where one of the actual trolls was interviewed. What they did went far beyond political speech.

    So I think your fears that this indictment will lead to sweeping bans on all sorts of political speech are unfounded. Certainly there is currently no evidence to indicate that this will happen.

  74. Mojave Wolf

    @Webstir — yeah, the theory up thread is part of what’s bothering me. While we disagree on the legitimacy of the charges (except to the extent you have “legitimate” reasons to pull someone over for an ornament hanging from a mirror, because someone wants to be in a position to “hear a noise” coming from their trunk so they can find the white powder they think is under the spare tire), where I think we half agree and mostly really disagree is on whether it’s okay to use the court system as a political weapon to get your political opponents. I don’t really think that’s ever a good idea and because the Republicans did it back in the nineties is not a good reason for the Democrats to do it now. My horror at the abuse of process (and I am using horror advisedly) would still be there even if I agreed with you on the immediate likely effect of this particular case (which I don’t, though I hope you’re right). Seriously nearly every one (or more likely actually everyone, including the people who don’t think they’re included in this) is guilty of something if you want to stretch the concept of guilt far enough. Gotta use some common sense & have some hint of a conscience in how you approach things or no justice system can work and have some other people have said you might as well just scrap the rule of law completely or the whole concept of a justice system and just have might makes right set of competing factions are going at it. Which may be where we’re at now but I’m kind of hoping we’re still not quite that far gone.

  75. Mojave Wolf

    @ RC — agreed on the importance of good faith.

    And as I hope I am totally wrong and Webster is right about the ultimate outcome of this prosecution (re: societal effect), I hope you are right about the Snowball Effect. I certainly initially agreed with you and that was one of the reasons why I wanted Hillary to lose more than I wanted Trump to lose (I cannot say I wanted either to win).

    Sadly, the establishment Dems have responded much more poorly and stupidly to their loss than I expected and apparently were much more holy bought and on subsidiaries of our corporate overlords that I had ever realized. Which would have had the effect that Webster was hoping for and just completely delegitimize them and got rid of them accept far more people than I would like seem to be buying their idiot propaganda. Fingers crossed for something worthwhile to come out of this.

  76. Webstir

    Mojave Wolf:
    Oh, I’m not endorsing my theory of Mueller using the court to leverage Trump’s financials. Just spitballing. But I think if anything does come from all this it will be from following the financial paper trail.

    And every damn day my opinion changes:

    Emptywheel has me leaning more and more toward “there is some there,” there.

  77. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    Low key, so as not to stoke anything anywhere else, I think you are showing yourself to be a class act, and I really admire you for it, and want you to know I do.

  78. NR:

    I saw your quote. IOW they acted exactly as every corporate front group does. Assuming US elections have any integrity to corrode, as evidently you do, such corporate manipulation is infinitely more corrosive than ten million Russias put together.

    So whether one regards the elections as a neoliberal sham in the first place, as I do, or whether one thinks there’s any there there, as you seem to, either way the focus has to be on corporate power, while any infinitesimal Russkie trolls, and Russiagate in general, is nothing but an absurd distraction which no serious person would engage for a second. (Using the term serious in its regular English definition, not the MSM sense of course.)

  79. Webstir

    I should probably go check out the MoA post that has you going down this line of thinking before I shoot off my pixels, but from the comment thread, I’m not seeing it either. The courts are already (particularly SCOTUS) so far in the bag for the corporations that if they went any farther in the bottom would rip out. I honestly don’t see much more room for expansion. I speak from experience (in Idaho anyway). I recently had a case where my LLC clients were unlawfully evicted from a space they were renting from another LLC. It was ugly and they lost a ton of money and materials in the process. I wound up settling with the bad actor LLC after trying to pierce his corporate veil because the court basically laughed at me on summary judgment.

    RC: I appreciate that. And back at you. It seems when we’re not shouting over the top of one another, virtually everyone who comes around Ian’s blog has their own valuable insights.

  80. realitychecker

    FWIW, a propos of my (hopeful) analysis of the ‘Trump Effect,’ I see reported on Drudge that Kasich is predicting a third party or multi-party future for America.

    First crack in the Establishment/duopoly dike? Let us hope so. 🙂

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