Pundits continue brave fight against dirt!

MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2019

BREAKING! Russkie lawyer Veselnitskaya blows whistle on Cohen-in-Prague!
Over the weekend, American pundits continued their lonely group battle concerning foreign dirt.

That said, what exactly are these freedom fighters actually trying to outlaw? We still don't think we've seen a single coherent discussion of this general topic. Nor have we seen any two pundits seem to define their lonely battle in the same way.

Against whom do these freedom fighters stand guard? We've seen different pundits define the enemy thusly:
Those against whom we stand guard:
Foreign nationals
Foreign persons, AKA foreigners
Foreign agents
Foreign countries
Foreign adversaries
Those foreign entities aren't all the same—but, in truth, they're all foreign! Maybe Trump should build a bigger wall, a wall around the whole country!

Against whom do we stand guard? No two pundits seem to explain it the same way. Nor is it entirely clear what we're standing guard against.

We've seen different accounts of what we're trying to avoid from foreign entities, including "help" and "information." Mainly, though, these intrepid, childish warriors keep saying they're on guard against "dirt."

Last Friday, we were struck by the way Jennifer Rodgers explained the guild's lonely stand. The former federal prosecutor—on so-called cable news, who isn't?—spoke with CNN's routinely unhelpful Don Lemon:
RODGERS (6/14/19): Don. I mean, it's clearly illegal to take any help at all from any foreigner, not just a foreign government but a foreign person, right? The founding fathers didn't want foreigners to interfere in our elections. Congress doesn't want that. Nobody wants that, except for the president.

LEMON: And that includes our president.

RODGERS: It should include our president.


RODGERS: So you know, he knows it's illegal. He knows, if he looked at the Mueller Report, that Don Jr. came pretty close to being indicted for taking help, or trying to take help, from Russians for the election. So he knows that it's wrong.
According to Rodgers, we're standing guard against foreigners, meaning foreign persons. It's illegal—no, it's clearly illegal—for a campaign to accept any "help" from any such person! The founding fathers didn't want that!

In some ways, Rodgers is right, of course. It is clearly illegal for a campaign to accept a financial contribution from a foreign person. Everyone understands that.

It's also clearly illegal for a campaign to take an "in-kind contribution" from a foreign person:

A foreign person can't donate a fleet of jets to a White House campaign. A foreign person can't send a fleet of volunteer bookkeepers over here to do a campaign's bookkeeping for it.

A campaign can't take money, or its equivalent, from a foreign person. But what about information? Is it clearly illegal to take something like that from, let's say, a Norwegian?

As an aside, information seems to be the entity from which our celebrity press corps most reliably seems to recoil. Our press corps flees from information in much the way the fictional Dracula recoiled from the sight of the crucifix.

Our press corps runs on narrative and script, not on information! For today, though, let's imagine a counterfactual. It will involve the famous Russkie lawyer—Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Back in 2016, Veselnitskaya met in secret with Donald Trump Junior and a cast of thousands, including a British music promoter and three guys found on the street. She was bearing information so utterly pointless that the Mueller Report seems to say that it was maybe worth less than $2000.

(See the Mueller Report, Volume I, page 188.)

Now, let's imagine a different role for Veselnitskaya. (According to the Mueller Report, she "had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time," whatever we think that means.)

Let's suppose that Veselnitskaya had developed a revulsion for certain conduct by the Russian government of which she'd become aware.

Let's imagine that she had learned that Michael Cohen had journeyed to Prague to coordinate with Russkie plans to disseminate material stolen from Candidate Clinton and the DNC.

Let's suppose that Veselnitskaya had documentary proof of this (criminal) conduct by Cohen—conduct we're only imagining. Let's suppose she called the Clinton campaign and told them she wanted to transmit that information and give those documents to them.

Veselnitskaya was a foreigner, a foreign national and a foreign person! Are we saying that, in such a situation, the Clinton campaign should have refused to accept the information she wanted to provide?

Isn't this exactly the sort of information Christopher Steele, himself a foreign national, was trying to elicit at that very time? And by the way, Steele wasn't interviewing the Boise City Council in his quest for such information.

Presumably, Steele was trying to elicit information from various "foreign nationals." Nor is there any obvious reason why he shouldn't have done that!

If Veselnitskaya had flipped on (the imaginary) Cohen in the (imaginary) manner described, why on earth should the Clinton campaign have refused to be so informed? Is Rodgers saying that they should have screeched, "Eek, a mouse!" then telephoned Comey the God to tell him what had happened?

As of July 5, 2016, Comey the God had already thrown Candidate Clinton under the bus in a highly irregular manner. Meanwhile, he was withholding information about the FBI's ongoing probe of the Trump campaign.

If Veselnitskaya (or some suitably-placed Norwegian) had approached the Clinton campaign with the kind of information we have described, are we really saying that they should have passed it on to Comey the God, then said and done nothing further? Why on earth would any sane person come to any such conclusion? Yet there was Rodgers, the former prosecutor, offering such wisdom as this:
RODGERS (6/14/19): I mean, it's clearly illegal to take any help at all from any foreigner, not just a foreign government but a foreign person, right? The founding fathers didn't want foreigners to interfere in our elections. Congress doesn't want that. Nobody wants that, except for the president.
Do you see why we say it? By some peculiar instinct, these people flee from information ahead of anything else!

Just for the record, it isn't clear that Mueller's team thought that any such conduct is clearly illegal. But on the fairly obvious merits, why is Rodgers' sweeping idea not insane? Why should a campaign refuse to accept accurate, highly relevant information just because it comes to them from a foreign person? Should they cover their ears and make lots of noise when such people start making accurate statements in their presence?

We leave you with one more counterfactual question. It will be easy to answer:

Rodgers seems like the nicest person on earth. Currently, she serves as a "CNN legal analyst." Having established those points, we offer our question:

If some foreign person had approached CNN with the type of information we've described, would CNN have turned it over to Comey the God, then kept quiet about what they had learned?

Of course they wouldn't have done that! Our big news orgs gamboled and played all summer long with the trivial stolen information they were getting from Julian Assange, an Australian foreign person. Why should a presidential candidate behave in a different way with respect to accurate information which is highly relevant?

One last pitiful question:

Would the offer of that accurate information have been an offer of "dirt?" Would the fact that it was "dirt" mean that good little boys and girls like us shouldn't ever touch it?

On cable, the children keep referring to "dirt" as if that naughty, naughty word settles all possible questions and ends all further discussion. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our species just isn't especially "rational"—or at least, so top anthropologists continue to tell us, shaking their heads as they do.


  1. "That said, what exactly are these freedom fighters actually trying to outlaw? We still don't think we've seen a single coherent discussion of this general topic."

    I cannot speak for the pundits, obviously, but I believe liberals and people who care about democracy are fighting against foreign intervention and manipulation of our electoral process.

    Somerby needs to drop his narrow focus on whether dirt is dirt (or whatever nitpick he is concerned with) and look at the bigger picture. Russia hacked our last election putting a manifestly unqualified man into office. That was the direct result of intervention by Russia working with the right. It cannot happen again. That is the heart of all of the specific concerns about who met with whom on what date.

    1. "People who care are gighting against foreign intervention and manipulation"

      GTFO! We all know Democrats love to quote foreign leaders trash America whenever they have the chance.

      They do love to control thoughts and speech so will try to crackdown on the wrong manipulation coming from the wrong people and being heard by the wrong people who might think the wrong thoughts and vote the wrong way.

    2. "Russia hacked our last election putting a manifestly unqualified man into office."

      That statement is false. There is no evidence the hacking had any effect on the election whatsoever. If you have any, please provide.


    3. "Russia hacked our last election" = Seth Rich leaked the content of DNC communications, revealing the utter corruption of the liberal zombie cult.

    4. "Seth Rich leaked the content of DNC communications" - as bad as dems are on this
      Russian thing, and it's bad. Mao you're worse. Is that all you got is being a troll?

  2. "Our press corps runs on narrative and script, not on information!"

    Meh. Why don't you just cut to the chase, Bob.

    Establishment dembots do their establishment dembot job, which is vilifying American president Donald The Spectacular.

    And that's all there is to it.

    1. Donald the Spectacular!
      A little understated, but serviceable.

    2. "That's all there is to it" - you sound like an idiotic simpleton

    3. "Donald the Spectacular!"

      Face it. Any Kindergartner who wears a toupee is Spectacular.

  3. "If some foreign person had approached CNN with the type of information we've described, would CNN have turned it over to Comey the God, then kept quiet about what they had learned?"

    Somerby seriously asks why the rules should be different for presidential candidates than for the press!!

    What is wrong with him?

  4. Who will sign my petition to impeach Somerby, since media people are the same as politicians in his world?

  5. Somerby has dropped all pretense of being a liberal now. He is blatantly regurgitating the arguments found at conservative websites. He apparently has no shame and has stopped trying to make sense. It might be fair to ask whether it is time to apply Article 25 to him. If anyone had any doubts about the purpose of this blog, today's post should make it clear. Somerby is a tool of the right.

    1. anon 11:16, ok, how do we excommunicate him from being a liberal? Can we enlist the pope for the job?

    2. Article 25? Of the Constitution? It doesn’t exist. You must mean the 25th Amendment.

      And since Bob isn’t President, then obviously it could never apply. Donate to the ACLU, they’ll send you a pocket edition of the Constitution. I find it quite helpful. Dolt.


    3. "He has stopped trying to make sense."

      Look who's talkin'!

  6. Ignorant Democrat talking heads and politicians are this close to calling them FURRNERS.

  7. Bob's tirades about logicians are, well, off target but he's dead on right here.

    The Paper of Record has the best reader comments by far of any online media I look at. But when it comes to Russia (and its predecessor, the former Soviet Union), our 100 year war against them has indeed poisoned the discussion. Somehow these astute readers are able to discern Putin's very dreams. How they got into bed with him is a mystery, given there can't be much space with the Donald and the golden shower girls already with him.

    This reminds me of the multitude of Cold War misrepresentations. Anyone remember the bomber gap, the missile gap, etc.? Or, moving forward and away from Moscow, the lies from Vietnam to Saddam's "mushroom cloud"?

    1. "our 100 year war against them"

      What I find curious is that if the cold war did have at least some meaningful rationale (competition of two different socioeconomic models), the recent warmongering actives demonstrate their total contempt for the public.

      Now it's all dumbed-down into demonizing individuals: Saddam, bin Laden, Qaddafi, Assad, Putin. And now Trump.

      The liberal-globalist cabal makes no attempts whatsoever to analyze national or class or geopolitical interests of their targets. Just pure hatred.

    2. Mao, Who is demonizing Iran? Edging toward a war there - I hope that won't be the upshot, but is going in that direction. Ever try being objective?

  8. Somerby's criticism of liberals means he supports Trump.

  9. Somerby complains that Jennifer Rodgers states that a campaign taking freely offered dirt from a foreign national is “clearly illegal”. He might have a (debatable) point, inasmuch as “information” has not specifically been adjudicated as a thing of value by the courts in relation to campaign finance law. Rodgers, a former prosecutor, obviously feels that the case is clear and would be so decided.

    But Somerby takes it much further than this. He argues that it should clearly *not* be illegal for a campaign to accept information as a contribution. He seems to feel that the information itself is sacred, and it shouldn’t matter how it’s obtained.

    If a foreign national wishes to make some sort of dirt about a candidate public, there are many ways he/she can do that. Freely offering it secretly to a specific campaign shouldn’t be one of those ways. The campaign, when offered info in such fashion, ought to worry about its accuracy and whether the provider of the information might not be working for a foreign intelligence service or on behalf of a foreign government. The obvious concern is the possibility that the foreign person is operating with corrupt intent, and the campaign runs the risk of being itself corrupted, which leads to the corruption of our election.

    And if Somerby wishes to research what the “founding fathers” thought about foreign influence and the unique danger that a republic faces in this regard, he could check out the many things Alexander Hamilton had to say on this topic. He would do well to do this and refrain from his flippant dismissal of Rodgers’ assertions about this point.

    1. “The obvious concern is the possibility that the foreign person is operating with corrupt intent, and the campaign runs the risk of being itself corrupted, which leads to the corruption of our election.”

      True. But from this report, we learn that it was our own intelligence services that may have played a role in trying to entice the Trump campaign into accepting “dirt.”

      “The evidence is plain — there was a broad, coordinated effort by the Obama Administration, with the help of foreign governments, to target Donald Trump and paint him as a Russian stooge, writes Larry Johnson.”

      I’ve posted this before, and I am NOT a Trump supporter, on the contrary. But this article is extensively linked to other sources so… Make of it what you will.

      How US and Foreign Intel Agencies Interfered in a US Election


    2. Welcome to Leroy's Cartoonland

    3. That report is garbage, it comes from Larry Johnson, a known con and fraud. One example out of many, he started the hoax that Obama ordered British intelligence to wiretap Trump, a complete falsehood. Obama did not issue such an order, and Trump was not wiretapped.

      Trump has benefited from his relationship with Russia, through help with his campaign and through financial deals, there was no enticing, he was a willing and eager participant. Trump has returned the favor by, among other things, not enforcing sanctions against Russia.

    4. 6:34, it would be nice if you contributed some links of your own to back up your claims. So far (and I’ve been reading for many years), I find Consortium News to be unimpeachable in terms of excellent reporting.

      I wrote, “make of it what you will.” If you can add important and contrary information regarding Larry Johnson’s report, please do so. I’ll be all eyes.

      As far as not enforcing sanctions against Russia, it would be difficult to establish a quid pro quo regarding Trump’s businesses. As much as I loathe the guy, any attempt to de-escalate tensions with Russia makes perfect sense. For the record, I don’t even know why we have sanctions against them, but I suspect it has to do with Ukraine, and the fact that Putin decided not to allow our interference in that fiasco to stand, with his annexation of said state.


    5. 8:52 Links on nutty fraud Larry Johnson:

      Larry Johnson not credible

      Larry Johnson's Strange Trip

      Trump's entanglement with Russia, google will show you hundreds of sourced articles, unlike the Larry Johnson one, which only sources himself and generic news reports that do not support his ridiculous claims.

      Quid pro quo is always difficult to prove (I suppose one could just give up when facing difficulties), yet the situation is that Republicans passed sanctions against Russia that Trump is not enforcing. This is not part of diplomacy, Trump is demonstrably clueless when it comes to diplomacy. He has bungled every interaction with foreign affairs. If you are unfamiliar with our sanctions against Russia, read almost any news source, it has been reported by every media organization.

      I think struggle as a concept is overrated but you seem to be willfully ignorant.

      Just for starters, Larry Johnson supposes that Felix Sater is acting for the FBI to entrap Trump. This is ridiculous if you are the least bit informed about Felix Sater - a criminal member of a Russian mob family with ties to attempting deals with Trump going back for years.
      Larry Johnson provides no evidence of his silly claim, it is mere supposition on his part.

      The rest of the article is equally ridiculous, all supposition.

    6. Leroy,
      I read the nonsense you post here. You finding Consortium News to be excellent reporting doesn't surprise me in the least. It's written for suckers, too dumb to know they're the mark.

    7. Thanks for the links 1:29. CN has never let me down, but it seems they may have in this case. I'm gonna have to dig deeper. I don't consider myself credulous but when a the masthead of CN seems to include the spirit of Robert Parry, I tend to believe what I'm reading. Perhaps I need to revisit that assumption.


  10. The government of ancient Rome used bread and circuses to distract the citizens from the corruption and endless wars. Today’s bread and circuses may be easy credit and action movies. But while you’re mindlessly watching Mile 22 (propaganda paid for with American Tax dollars) remember choosing distraction didn’t work out so well for the Romans.

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