Keep Gloating!

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By Scott Ross

My previous essay on this topic, from 2018:
https://scottross79.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/crucible/

At a rather woefully under-attended press conference at Duke University a few years ago, for a starry staged reading of Gore Vidal’s Civil War play On the March to the Sea, I asked Vidal how it felt to be nearly always correct about world events and to be consistently either ignored or traduced by what is laughingly called our free press. Vidal purred back, “The four most beautiful words in the English language are, ‘I told you so.'”

Although I have since become aware that this serene aperçu was one Vidal had used before, the wit and the truth of the remark are no less apt for repetition. Indeed, I have thought of it often in the last couple of weeks, since the odious Robert Mueller — predictably now beloved of the Clinton crowd, but only so long as he appears to be “going after” Donald Trump — announced that, after two years of costly investigation, there was no evidence the President had “colluded” (a word these types had never heard of before 2016) with a foreign government in the late, un-lamented, American election.

“Gloating” is a word much maligned in the language, and not without reason, as it typically denotes a sneering ugliness and self-regard unattractive at best and insufferably narcissistic at worst. There are, however, exceptions, and it seems to me that people such as Michael Tracey, Elizabeth Vos, Jimmy Dore, Matt Taibbi, Caitlin Johnstone, Jesse Ventura, Glenn Greenwald and Aaron Maté, who have from the very beginnings of this false, sordid and militantly partisan saga spoken or written about the subject with admirable skepticism and those rarest now of American journalistic virtues, thoughtfulness and reason, have more than earned the right to say, “I told you so.” That their voices were, and are, marginalized when not actively maligned, merely adds to their entitlement.

Naturally, and on cue, the very men and women who have been the loudest and most egregiously culpable in running a three-year scam against reason and perspicacity are now screaming that the Traceys and Matés of the world are “victimizing” the likes of Rachel Maddow merely by pointing out how knowingly duplicitous she has been. Maddow a victim? If so, she has certainly been well-compensated for her victimhood, unless you consider $30,000 a day scant recompense for self-induced martyrdom.

When I use the word “scam,” I am not being hyperbolic, merely realistic. As Dore is fond of pointing out, even a “jagoff nightclub comedian working out of his garage” was not fooled by the accusation, cobbled up by the cabal surrounding a Democratic candidate who was so disastrous she could not prevail against a self-regarding television game-show host to account for her eminently predictable (indeed, predicted) loss, even after taking control of her party’s operational arm and disenfranchising millions of voters in what looks to be the most monumentally fixed (and, predictably, un-punished) campaign in modern American history. A candidate, I might add, whose own machinations while Secretary of State, to sell uranium to the Russian Federation in exchange for a half-million dollars given to her equally corrupt husband, inspired her to employ the oldest trick in the political book: Deflection. “Don’t look at my dealings with Russia — look at him!” Anyone with a modicum of unaligned intelligence could see how transparently phony the whole business was. And indeed, as Jonathan Allen and Amy Parnes write in their book Shattered:

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument. [Emphasis mine.]

The very word “hacking” is key. For well over three years, we have been treated to the absolute lie that John Podesta’s emails were “hacked” by WikiLeaks… or by Russian actors… when, as Ray McGovern and Bill Binney of VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) have proven, the information was not “hacked,” but rather downloaded internally — possibly, if unverifiably, by the now conveniently dead Seth Rich at the Democratic National Committee. That WikiLeaks does not “hack” information from anywhere but merely publishes documents provided to them by third parties is conveniently left out of the narrative of those I call the Professionally Piqued… all too often, I’m afraid, women over 50, so desperate to see a person with a vagina elected to the office of President in their lifetimes they were willing to back any woman, even one as demonstrably corrupt and right-wing as Hillary Rodham Clinton, for the position.

That Clinton herself, like her erstwhile boss, the appalling Barack Obama, is so beloved of the supposed “Left” simply proves how neoliberal, or perhaps merely unthinking and reactive, most of these people really are. In fact, I would categorize the brunch-missing Pussyhat Brigade as worse than neoliberal; their words and deeds during the last three years have revealed them as deeply, and dangerously, reactionary. Their incessant Red-baiting, when the Soviet Union has long been a distant memory for many, and a non-existent one for anyone under the age of 30, reveals not merely an ugly and insupportable strain of naked xenophobia (Keith Olbermann: “Scum! Russian scum!”) but a willingness to push America toward an armed confrontation with another nation that would endanger not merely the U.S., or Russia, but the entire planet, and no one more vociferously or blindly as the now seemingly irreparably and permanently deranged Rachel “Victim” Maddow. The alleged “Left” has shown itself, in the main, to be worthy of that worst of all epithets in a sane society: Reactively pro-war.

Nearly as bad — indeed, insupportable — has been the avidity with which these same pique-maddened types, busy with demonstrations in support of, first, James Comey (after they vilified him) and then Mueller, and their cohorts in the corporate media have ignored, when not actively supported, their own nation’s current drive to overthrow the elected president of Venezuela. That they do not organize marches in support of the heroic Chelsea Manning, pardoned by Obama yet currently languishing in prison for a second time or in support of the besieged Julian Assange is equally telling, although explicable: Manning’s revelations involved the Administration of their beloved Obama. And it was Assange, of course, their one-time darling (always providing he limited his exposés to Republicans) who published the damning evidence of Hillary Clinton hypocritically assuring Wall Street that she had a public face and a private one. This last sin of Assange’s is the one which is of course wholly unforgivable.

That their allies in the corporate press are, collectively, sanguine about the perhaps imminent rendition of Assange to almost certain imprisonment in America, likely for the remainder of his life, should surprise no one. It was, after all, the enactment of Bill Clinton’s hideous, proto-fascist Telecommunications Act of 1996 that heralded the end of a free press in America, the fruits of which are now visible in every corner of our lives in what we are permitted, in the land of the free, to see and hear about events both at home and abroad. Were there still a free press in the United States, beyond the pockets of genuine (as opposed to in-name-only) resistance on outlets such as RT America, The Real News, Johnstone’s Rogue Journal and Vos’ Disobedient Media, journalists everywhere — including in Europe generally and in the United Kingdom specifically — would be daily, if not hourly, decrying the forced exile and probable arrest of a publisher.

That they do not, and that we have surrounded Russia with our bases and missiles, and make daily incursions into its air-space, while reflexively accusing that nation’s every attempt to defend itself and its territories as “aggressive,” and that none of the voices in corporate media ever call out this insane and dangerous hypocrisy, is indicative of the ways in which the American news media are still very much the employees of the CIA. Anyone who seriously imagines that the exposed and reviled “Operation Mockingbird” ended decades ago is living in a dream. The rest of us, who get it, are alas living the nightmare. And I hereby, and with no courage whatsoever, predict that the very voices stilled in possible protest at our government’s persecution of a publisher will be squealing in dismay when they are under indictment by that same, anti-democratic, entity ere long. It only takes one case to establish precedent.

In brief, then, I say to Michael Tracey, Elizabeth Vos, Jimmy Dore, Matt Taibbi, Caitlin Johnstone, Jesse Ventura, Glenn Greenwald, Aaron Maté, and all the others who “got it right” three years ago when they said and wrote that the so-called “Russiagate” investigation was an edifice built on the finest sand: If you feel like gloating, gloat. If only to remind the members of a Fourth Estate largely now turned into a Fifth Column of the sentiments of the late Sage of Ravello.

We told you so.

Text copyright 2019 by Scott Ross

Related
https://scottross79.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/the-politics-of-pique/
https://scottross79.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/why-i-am-not-a-liberal/

The Leaping Sort-Of

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By Scott Ross

Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, the critic John Simon wrote a piece decrying the increasing incidence in American speech of what he called “the Creeping ‘You-Know’.” That it is back, and with a vengeance, can be affirmed to one’s sorrow if one spends any amount of time near, or at least in earshot of, Millennials. I suspect generalities… er, generally… but it seems, sadly, to be a truism that those under 30 sprinkle enough “you know”s into their conversation, casual and formal, to send the heartiest of seasoned grammarians into cardiac arrest. Where this lazy reliance on conversative filler — for that is what all those “you know”s represent — came from, or why it lay dormant for a generation or two before resurfacing to re-pollute the sea of communication I do not know.

Those of us who came of age in the 1970s have, as a generation, more than our share of faults, among them a deplorable social and political complacency that, at its worst, not only ushered in the era of Reagan but buoyed up the appalling ignorance with which his putatively liberal Democrat successors have fed the ravening beast of uncompromising neoliberalism and which, thanks to the Clintons and Mr. Obama, have helped render America’s middle class poor, its poor destitute, and its rich wealthier than at any time since what Mark Twain with exquisite irony called The Gilded Age. And while the rape of the language runs a poor second to these excesses, I do not recall the brightest of us groping so aggressively, and helplessly, when putting our thoughts into words. That’s the thing: In my experience it is the brightest, and best educated among Millennials, whose throats are most commonly throttled by the Creeping You-Know.

Among the British — and, I must admit with sorrow, increasingly here — the Creeping You-Know has been superseded by what I call The Leaping Sort-Of. In a recent interview on the Real News network — one of the very few genuinely reliable sources currently operating in this our post-Telecommunications Act of 1996 world with its attendant vilification (when not outright crushing) of such actual journalism as still exists — the redoubtable Aaron Maté engaged in colloquy with the Oxford historian Eskandar Sadeghi concerning the house-of-mirrors belligerence of the Trump Administration toward Iran. As if the clips Maté includes in his twin segments of Mike Pompeo’s hilarious deflection (Iran, not the United States, is “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism”) and the withering specter of an American Secretary of State threatening another sovereign nation like a schoolyard bully drunk on confiscated Juicy-Juice were not risible enough, Sadeghi’s commentary is littered with enough meaningless “sort of”s to offer succor to those among us, if such there be, who habitually complain that the educated speak too clearly for comprehension.

The Leaping Sort-Of (along with its twin, The Pouncing Kind-Of) as it is currently constituted is a beast almost beyond comprehension. The people interviewed on television and video, and indeed those conducting the interviews, are supposed to be (even if they rarely are) aside from knowledgeable, intelligent and articulate… or at least as articulate as their viewers. While Maté is unusually poised and articulate, as indeed are a number of less celebrated (and, correspondingly, compensated) young voices on the progressive left such as the British Gordon Dimmack and the Canadian David Doel — his guest on this segment is, seemingly, incapable of making a simple declarative statement without muddying the linguistic waters by adding “sort of” to every noun or verb he utters. Sadeghi, in common with so many under the sway of The Leaping Sort-Of, has absolutely no awareness that he habitually undercuts his own otherwise cogent political analysis by his adamant refusal to come down conclusively on any point. There are, indeed, segments of his conversation with Maté in which he, dizzyingly, clusters as many as a half-dozen “sort of”s into a single sentence.

I don’t mean to pillory Sadeghi exclusively; he just happens to be the last victim of The Leaping Sort-Of I heard today. But the “selective part of an Arabic document” (he means of course selected; it was he who excerpted it who was selective) is not made any more concrete in its citation by being a “sort of selective part,” especially when it is used to “sort of imply that Iran had a long-established relationship with Al-Qaeda.” No. It either was a part of a document or it was not. It was either used to draw that inference or it wasn’t. There is no limbo area here.

Uttering “sort of” in this way, and doing so with such stuttering habitualness, does not bespeak nuance or care. It suggests that you are somehow terrified of making a simple declarative statement. And one is left to wonder why. Especially since very few of these types would ever write or publish a sentence as slovenly or ill-considered as the inconclusive rubbish they speak. Perhaps they have simply never spent a moment listening to themselves, or reflecting on how they sound to others.

And if they haven’t, then why in Hell should we listen to them?


Text copyright 2018 by Scott Ross