Friday, March 31, 2017

Russian mystery

Properly discounting the Truth Quotient of this owing to its Twitter origin, its over-heatedness, and its self-evident conviction that this proves anything, this is still interesting.

I have been amazed at the continuing Russia brouhaha when there appears to be virtually nothing there. It is all hypothesis, supposition, speculation, and innuendo with no substance.

I am not saying there couldn't be some substance, and desperate politicians/political parties will do or say anything to retain power so Obama/Clinton/DNC wielding the Russia bat is not in itself surprising.

What has surprised me is that this is the particular bat that they are choosing to wield.

A New York real estate developer operating in New York from the 1970s on would, one would think, be the potential source for an immense volume of speculation about corruption, bribery, Mafia ties, etc. It is possible that Trump is a deeply ethical person and indeed that there is absolutely nothing in his past to taint him. But if you were in the mud pit, mud will get thrown, even if none of it sticks. So why are there so few allegations against him at the nexus of his past which should be so ripe for plausible, even if untrue, accusations?

That is what has surprised me the most. New York is the center of the news media cosmos. Is it that Trump has so long been in the media eye that they have been tracking him all along and therefore he has indeed stayed clean and they know that it would be difficult to tar him with that brush? Is it that he does indeed have skeletons in his closet but that the discovery of those at this late stage would reflect poorly on the very media with whom he has been dancing so long? Is it that any wrong-doing by Trump as a developer and businessman would almost certainly have involved Democrats, New York being a bastion of wealthy Democrats?

I simply don't know the reason but the absence of much noise from his professional history in New York has seemed like the dog who did not bark in the night. A non-event that, by its existence, seems to have some significance.

Contrast the absence of New York dirt with the choice of wielding a Russia bat. For the past five years the DNC, led by Obama in the 2012 election, has been mocking anyone who had concerns about Russia's continued relevance. They painted Russia as a spent power lacking any significance. And now, all of sudden, Russia is back, it is evil, it has a deep mastery of Machiavellian control, its technological mastery of hacking is world-class, and it's relational influence on all Republicans is deep, extensive and comprehensive. Or that is the story we are now supposed to believe.

That's the story they are running with? Really? And we are supposed to immediately forget the Russian reset, the abandonment of our commitments to our Baltic and Polish allies for better ties with Russia, the Russian purchase of Uranium One occurring while Russian money flowed into the Clinton Foundation, the hot-mike moment when Russia is asked to provide more diplomatic space because "After My Election, I'll Have More Flexibility"? We are supposed to forget all that?

I am left with these three mysteries which I find it hard to understand or reconcile.
Why is there no dirt on a New York real estate developer?

Why have the Democrats chosen Russia as the cudgel with which to beat Republicans when there seems so little substance to that cudgel?

Why did Democrats choose Russia as the cudgel to beat Republicans when Russia seems a much more substantive cudgel against them than against Republicans?
And actually, there is another mystery. Why has the pressed played along? Sure, it sells papers and feeds the left-leaning readership base of the NYT and WaPo but still. These are brands at the center of technological change that is fragmenting the information and media monopolies. Media monopolies whose brands are in the basement in terms of trust. Why would they be trading in conspiratorial speculations at the behest of one party against the other?

It is hard for me to understand. Perhaps it is simply a function of partisan homogeneity within the legacy media compounded by epistemic closure and bubble environments. I am sure that is some part of the equation. But that still seems inadequate as an explanation.

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