• Trump and the New McCarthyism

    August 3, 2018

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Trump

    There was no explanation for what had happened, how certain victory had boiled off. Fear took over. An answer was needed, and one was created: the Russians. 1950s Cold War America? Or 2018 Trump America? Yes.

    WWII ended with the U.S. the planet’s predominant power. But instead of recognizing its strength, darker forces saw profit in creating new fears. The Soviet Union morphed from an ally decimated after losing 20 million soldiers fighting fascism to a powerful equal locked in a titanic struggle with America. How did they get so powerful so quickly? Nothing could explain this, except… traitors.

    Some realized fear was not a problem, but a tool — one could defeat political enemies simply by accusing them of being Russian sympathizers. There was no need for evidence, Americans were desperate to believe, and so assertions someone was in league with Russia were enough. Joseph McCarthy fired his first shot on February 9, 1950, proclaimed there were 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party working for the Department of State. The evidence? Nothing but McCarthy’s assertions, but they were enough.

    Pretending to be saving America while he tore at its democratic foundations, over the next four years McCarthy made careers for those who cooperated in his accusations, such as a young red-baiting Richard Nixon, the president of the screen actors guild, Ronald Reagan, who supported the blacklisting of many artists simply by pointing a finger at them and saying “Communist”, and Roy Cohn, a vicious young attorney who ironically would later work for Donald Trump. The power of accusation was used by others as well; the Lavender Scare was an off-shoot of McCarthyism that concluded the State Department was overrun with closeted homosexuals who were at risk of being blackmailed by Moscow. By 1951, 600 people were fired based solely on evidence-free “morals” charges. All across America, state legislatures and school boards mimicked McCarthy. Thousands of people lost their jobs. Books and movies were banned or boycotted based on the “hate speech” of the day, accusations they helped promote Communism. Libraries, for example, banned Robin Hood for suggesting stealing from the rich to give to the poor. The FBI embarked on campaigns of political repression, suspecting Martin Luther King was a Communist. Journalists and academics voluntarily narrowed their political thought and tamping down criticism and inquiry in the 1950’s and beyond.

    In 2018, watching sincere people succumb to paranoia is not something to relish. But having trained themselves to intellectualize away Hillary Clinton’s flaws, as they had with Obama, about half of America truly could not believe she lost to the antithesis of what she represented to them. She was strong (they called her the most qualified candidate in history.) Every poll (that they read) said she would win. Every article (that they read) said it too, as did every person (that they knew.) Lacking an explanation for the unexplainable, they tried out scenarios that would have failed high school civics, claiming only the popular vote mattered, or the archaic Emoluments Clause prevented Trump from taking office, or that he was clinically insane and had to be carted off under the 25th Amendment.

    After a few trial balloons during the primaries where Bernie Sanders’ visits to Russia and Jill Stein’s attendance at a banquet in Moscow were used to imply disloyalty, the fearful cry the Russians meddled in the election morphed into Trump had worked with the Russians and/or (fear is flexible filling in the gaps) the Russians had something on Trump, that new Russian word everyone learned, kompromat. History may not repeat, but it often rhymes, and Donald Trump became the Manchurian Candidate, the name itself taken from a 1959 novel made into a classic Cold War movie positing an American soldier had been brainwashed by communists as part of a plot to place someone under the thumb of the Kremlin in the Oval Office. The New York Times, Vanity Fair, the New York Daily News, Salon, The Hill, the Washington Post,a nd sure, why not, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti have all claimed Trump is 2018’s Manchurian Candidate. Cynical, or prescient?

    The birth moment of Trump as a Russian asset is traceable back to MI-6 intelligence officer turned Democratic opposition researcher turned FBI mole Christopher Steele, whose “dossier” claimed the existence of the pee tape. Somewhere deep in the Kremlin is supposedly a surveillance video made in 2013 of Trump in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, watching two prostitutes urinate on a bed the Obamas once slept in.

    No one, not even Steele’s alleged informants, has actually seen the tape. It exists in a land of assertion-is-fact-enough alongside the elevator tape. Reporters, as well as Z-list celebrity Tom Arnold, are actively seeking a tape of Trump doing something in an elevator so salacious the video has been called “Every Trump Reporter’s White Whale.” No one knows when the elevator video was made, but a dossier-length article in New York magazine posits Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987, controlled through a set of big money deals as carrots, whose disclosure would be the kompromat of a stick.

    This is the McCarthy playbook. Trump’s victory seems inexplicable, therefore it could not have happened without outside help. The Russians were certainly sniffing around the edges of the election process, so they must have done it. Trump has done business in Russia, and, a man like him certainly could not have made his money honestly (the tax documents!) The easiest way to bring him down is to offer what his detractors would accept as a plausible explanation — the Russians did it and Trump is in on it — and answer fear with the blind certainty of assertions. As McCarthy did with homosexuality, throw in a few hints of dirty sex to keep the rubes paying attention.

    Suddenly no real evidence is necessary, because it is in front of your face. China fell to the Communists in 1949. The State Department was in charge, therefore was responsible, and therefore must be riven with traitors because why else but on purpose would they fail America? McCarthy accussed Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower of being Communists or Communist stooges. Trump holds a bizarre press conference in Helsinki and the only answer is that he is a traitor. Hillary herself asked which side Trump was on. Nancy Pelosi (“President Trump’s weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the President, personally, financially or politically”) and Cory Booker (“Trump is acting like he’s guilty of something”) and Lindsey Graham and John Brennan and MSNBC and CNN said Trump is controlled by Russia, even as columnists in the New York Times called him a traitor. As the news did in 1954, when they provided live TV coverage of McCarthy’s dirty assertions against the Army, modern media used each new assertion as “proof” of an earlier one. If they all are saying it, it has to be true. Snowballs get bigger rolling downhill.

    When assertion is accepted as evidence it forces the other side to prove a negative to clear their name. So until Trump “proves” he is not a Russian stooge, he remains one in the eyes of his accusers, and his denials are seen as desperate attempts to wiggle out from under the evidence. Joe McCarthy’s victims faced similar challenges; once labeled a communist or a homosexual, the onus shifted to them to somehow prove they weren’t. Their failure to prove their innocence became more evidence of guilt. It all creates a sense of paranoia. The 1950’s version was well-illustrated in movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or a selection of classic Twilight Zone episodes highlighted by “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” which concludes with the chilling line “a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own.” As with McCarthy, the reaction to a threat outweighs in damage anything the threat may have ever posed.

    And so in 2018 a journalist thinks someone is sending agents disguised as Uber drivers to spy on him. Another on Twitter says she personally has hard info of Trump’s collusion with Russia and faces death threats. They hate Trump and wake up each morning hoping it is Judgment Day. When it is not, they project themselves into the center of global events hoping they personally can bring on Judgment. You could see this in earlier times in parts of the Sy Hersh story, and now so clearly with once sharp minds like Rachel Maddow (“We haven’t ever had to reckon with the possibility that someone had ascended to the presidency of the United States to serve the interests of another country rather than our own,”) and Lawrence Tribe. They struggle to resolve cognitive dissonance by imagining they will defeat Trump where Clinton failed. These same people 10 years later still mock Trump over the silly birth certificate conspiracy, yet find it perfectly normal to claim he is a Russian agent. Meanwhile, we are kept at DefCon levels with an obvious goofball like Carter Page mediaized into a linchpin while an improbable Russian student is arrested to put a sexy, red-haired face on everything.

    And yet… and yet there is no evidence of treason, of collusion, of the assertion the president of the United States, almost two years in control of America’s nuclear arsenal, is by choice or coercion acting on the orders, desires, and initiatives of Russia. None.

    The IRS and Treasury have had Trump’s tax documents for decades. If Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987, or 2013, he has done it behind the backs of the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Indictments against Russian uniformed military who will never see the inside of an American court are presented as evidence, when in fact they are simply Robert Mueller’s own uncontested assertions to sit alongside those of Anderson Cooper and Chris Matthews. With impeachment itself on the table, Mueller has done little more than issue the equivalent of a series of parking tickets against foreign nationals whom he has no jurisdiction over, that provide no link between Trump and Russia. Intelligence community summaries claim without detail the Russians meddled, but fall far short of accusing Trump of being involved. There is simply the assertion, the belief, that some outside explanation, and we seem to have settled on the Russians, is to blame for Trump.

    So we live in a state of constant tension. Fear is powerful. A sound triggers a memory that sets off involuntary, subconscious processes: the heart rate jumps, muscles twitch, higher brain functions switch to fight-or-flight. Live in this state long enough and you lose the ability to control your reaction to certain stimuli. Fear, hatred and venom are expressed through fevered calls for impeachment for not being sufficiently patriotic and for aiding the enemy. Reality is used to prove fantasy — we don’t know how Trump is helping Putin because they met in private! And anyone who questions this must themselves be at best a useful fool, if not an outright Russia collaborator (Wrote one pundit: “They are accessories, before and after the fact, to the hijacking of a democratic election. So, yes, goddamn them all.”) In the McCarthy era, the term was fellow traveler, anyone, witting or unwitting, who helped the Russians. Dissent is muddled with disloyalty.

    The burden of proof is always on the party making an accusation, yet the standing narrative in America is the Russia story must be assumed at least valid, if not true, until proven false. Joe Mccarthy was allowed to tear America apart for four years under just such standards, until finally public opinion turned against him, aided by a small handful of journalists, lead by Edward R. Murrow, brave enough to ask real questions about his factless assertions and demand answers McCarthy ultimately did not have. There is no Edward R. Murrow in 2018, simply journalists who see themselves serving as oppo researchers and adjuncts to the accusers.

    The process already 200 indictments underway — the Mueller investigation — is in Year Two. America faces a crucial set of midterms in November, and thus the need to know for the American people is established; if anyone has hard evidence, why are they waiting to show it with a Russian asset in the White House? At some point one has to account for why no one has found what they insist is there. They can cry “Just wait for Mueller!” for the same four years it took to shut down McCarthy but at some point we all have to admit no evidence has been found that pigs can fly, and thus conclude they can’t, and the collective purpose of Russiagate has shifted, as with McCarthy, from tamping down hysteria to stoking it.

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    Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      A real shame. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

      08/3/18 7:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      McCarthism and Trumpism are alike :

      “Joe Mccarthy was allowed to tear America apart for four years under just such standards, until finally public opinion turned against him.”

      Demented has not hurt enough families this summer by separating families physically. He wants to now separate more families from food they need…..

      “When the House and Senate meet on the very important Farm Bill – we love our farmers – hopefully they will be able to leave the WORK REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD STAMPS PROVISION that the House approved. Senate should go to 51 votes!”

      Oh, SNAP

      Yeah,

      08/3/18 8:06 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...

      3

      Rich, speaking of the family separations, dig this shit:

      Yesterday, the Trump administration argued to a judge that the ACLU should take responsibility for reuniting the families the Trump regime split apart:

      “The Trump administration on Thursday informed a federal judge that it isn’t responsible for locating deported parents separated forcibly from their children at the southern border.

      “DOJ said in a court filing that the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over family separations, should instead take the lead in reunifying deported parents with their children. […]”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/02/deported-parents-children-trump-administration-aclu-721151

      (Sorry for the off-topic, PVB.)

      08/3/18 12:00 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      4

      Informed consensus today is that McCarthy and Cohn were closeted gays. McCarthy was quasi outed and died in disgrace. Trump may have a tormented sexual pathology that might explain his angry and mean demeanor. Tens of millions of Americans today share Trump’s meanness and anger. I doubt Robert Mueller will be Trump’s Edward R. Murrow nemesis?

      08/3/18 1:03 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      Teri,

      Actually it IS on topic. Whether or not swinging dick Demented bent over for Putin played a role in swinging the election, Demented should go to jail for his real crimes like torturing refugee families and cutting off food stamps while giving the billionaires tax relief.

      08/3/18 1:33 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      JP,

      Demented will learn about tormented sexual pathology when he takes his first shower in the Big House.

      08/3/18 1:35 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      Bauer- Trump going to prison is an impossibility. I’ll stake my Ninja sports bike as a bet. What will you put up?

      08/3/18 8:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      A very grainy video of some guy with a prostitute in a Moscow hotel.

      08/3/18 9:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Hillary.

      “There was no explanation for what had happened, how certain victory had boiled off. ”

      Hillary the deplorable. Next question.

      The most blind are those who refuse to see.

      08/4/18 10:14 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      10

      MSM now says Putin’s goal is to destabilize America. Callahan had a cartoon years ago of a fellow walking past a psychiatric ward door with a sign reading- Please do not disturb any further!

      08/4/18 12:41 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      Putin fooling withUs is like the aliens on the Twilight Zone episode, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.

      “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill – and suspicion can destroy – and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children – and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is – that these things cannot be confined – to the Twilight Zone.”

      08/4/18 3:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      Trump: The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!

      I miss the old McCarthyism.

      08/5/18 8:33 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      13

      Give no thought to Trump, like Commie Joe, who will be relegated to the dustbin of history as his hatred consumes him. The historic problem of thought control posed by Google, which is trying to become the FOX News of China, is something we should all be concerned about.

      Peter, please write something about human rights abuse in China and see how long it takes for you and WMW to disappear into the dustbin of Google’s China history.

      08/5/18 9:22 AM | Comment Link

    • Hal Sear said...

      14

      whoa, what happened on Twitter today?!

      08/5/18 7:34 PM | Comment Link

    • chucknobomb said...

      15

      PVB binbanned by twits! Congrats!

      08/6/18 7:48 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      Chuck

      What is this twit ban you speak of? If Trumpie can spill his ick on the ilk, what then does it take to get banned from the twitterverse?

      08/6/18 9:35 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      Peter writes about the New McCarthyism and immediately gets on the Twitter Blacklist.

      Meanwhile, Demented tweets on and on…

      Twitter: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.

      08/6/18 10:37 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      18

      Twitter Hate, if it is from a government account, is okaaaaay:

      Demented tweets- Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

      08/6/18 10:49 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      19

      Or maybe Twitter suspects Peter’s account has been bought:

      Item: the Russian Internet Research Agency works across multiple platforms to bolster the credibility and prominence of their posts. Acquiring and repurposing real accounts — created by people who had forgotten or simply abandoned them — probably helped Russians evade detection by offering the illusion of authenticity, experts say.

      “These things get bought, sold and traded online,” said Tom Richards, the chief strategy officer for GroupSense, based in Arlington, Va. “An account with some age or historic activity or even indications that it belongs to a real person is more valuable because it looks more normal.”

      Writing about McCarthyism probably set off Twitter alarms.

      08/6/18 12:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      20

      See, this is what happens you harp endlessly about free speech. Subversive.

      I suspect it won’t be long before Peter’s blog joins Larry Johnson, Michael Scheuer and others on the disappeared list.

      08/6/18 12:29 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      21

      After Trump claimed the press is an enemy of the people, Glenn Greenwald started a discussion about how the press encourages people to war, Iraq and beyond. The MSM journalists rose up in self-righteousness, and I joined in explaining how, at the State Department, it was so easy to lie to reporters. They rarely knew much, questioned less, and in most cases just jotted down what they were told. I said I held 99% of them in contempt.

      I came under attack. People joined in, claiming my admission of lying as a government official was proof I was human garbage or something, and that because I admitted to lying then I cannot be trusted now. I was told I enabled the Iraq War myself. I explained what a whistleblower is, how I had a change of conscience, and stressed the need for journalists to be much, much more skeptical of what they are told by government officials. I said my lies in Iraq were tiny compared to what was said by people with “Ambassador” or “General” in front of their names. Never mind “President.”

      Sulome Anderson invoked her father’s (Terry Anderson, Beirut) sacrifice as a hostage decades ago as somehow connected to all this “shame” and the discussion became an emotional one.

      In the way Twitter works, this lead to me being accused of supporting Trump, being a misogynist, and all the rest. I was suspended for promoting violence when someone told the teacher I was the one who threw the spitball.

      Twitter won’t respond to me with details, or how long I am suspended. I am left depressed. This is an example of the mob spirit combining with the non-transparent, unaccountable corporate censorship I have seen stalking our freedoms to silence someone whose ideas – I’ll immodestly say, telling the truth about the media – offend. That is me in this case.

      08/6/18 2:09 PM | Comment Link

    • chucknobomb said...

      22

      The U.S. so called media/journalist are cartoonist’s of the state. Cheer up Peter. They don’t have your back, people do! Truth is good. TY PVB…

      08/7/18 5:46 AM | Comment Link

    • peter said...

      23

      Great commentary; a shame that nearly 70 percent of the reader comments are from a demented pyschobabble bot going by the name Rich Bauer.

      08/7/18 11:37 PM | Comment Link

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