The REAL Devil’s Triangle: Moscow, the Alt-Right, and GOP Congressional Staffers
Here’s a story we’ve seen before: “Alt-Right” figures announce an event. A rally, let’s say; perhaps a protest for “free speech.” The location is at some “liberal” university campus. Social media lights up. The event is all over Facebook, all over Twitter, all over Gab (the goose-steppers’ version of Twitter). The mainstream media becomes aware of the event, reporting on it droolingly. Based on the lurid coverage, counter-protests are planned. Stories are written about the titillating potential for violence. Then the event goes down, and maybe a dozen hateful troglodytes show up dressed like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, far outnumbered by the always-peaceful counter-protesters, who then take to Twitter and gloat.
Did the Alt-Right dudes cower in their basements and not go? Are they too scattered? Or are there actually, like, you know, not that many of these assholes to begin with? In realtime, the forces of good — clearly, time and again — overwhelm the forces of evil. But it doesn’t look that way online. Online, these trolls are legion. What gives?
As the researcher known as Lincoln’s Bible explains: “The Alt-Right is an Active Measure — funded by Russia/Russian-backed sources, and amplified by Russian troll farms.” This amplification makes it seem like there are many more Alt-Right enthusiasts than there actually are. The point is to sow division, stoke fear and anger (and also exhaustion and apathy), and by so doing, advance the oligarchical “conservative” agenda.
Troll farm and bot are cryptic terms, but the process works like this: actual human beings in Russia and other former Soviet republics are paid to go online and follow their bosses’ orders. Sometimes, it’s to seek out and harass Twitter accounts that promote the truth. Other times, it’s to tweet incessantly about key topics, to drive up the numbers and get certain key phrases trending. This is how the Alt-Right generates so much juice online. (It’s also how Bernie Bros on Twitter far outnumber actual flesh-and-blood Bernie Bros. And if you don’t believe me, try doing a thread about this and watch the Russian bots show up like avatar-less moths to a flame).
This manipulation of social media doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is a coordinated attack, no different than the bombardment of a hostile city would be coordinated. There are likewise people in this country, American citizens, who aid and abet these enemy forces — some willingly and knowingly, some obliviously — and spread Putinist propaganda. Steve Bannon is a big part of this, connected as he is to both Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica. Sean Hannity, too. Tucker Carlson, same deal, via his show and also The Daily Caller, which he founded. The messaging is the same.
The big names are bolstered by figures who are not so familiar, folks like conservative think tank leader Ed Whelan and his go-to PR firm, Creative Response Concepts Public Relations, whose president, Greg Mueller — who despite his excellent first and last names is a villain in this story — worked on the Orwellian-named Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign that smeared John Kerry. These folks work in the shadows, anonymous to you and me, manipulating the messaging to make you believe what they and their well-heeled clients want. PR firms with political clients liaise daily with the media relations folks at various Congressional offices, who in turn often serve as sources in news articles. This is how the messaging ultimately gets out in the mainstream press. By virtue of their location on the Hill, the Congressional staffers give it legitimacy.
“That’s the news loop,” Lincoln’s Bible explains. “That’s how they control the narratives.” And it’s not by accident. “EVERYONE in that looped chain is aware of what they’re doing and a part of.”
This cozy little messaging arrangement, which operates happily in the dark most of the time, is now being exposed because of the fatally flawed candidate Donald Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court: Brett Kavanaugh.
(Let’s ignore, for the purposes of this piece, the fact that Kavanaugh is a hard-right jurist who may well overturn Roe v. Wade and lurch the country back to the 19th century. Too, his close work with Ken Starr on the impeachment of Bill Clinton and with the Bush II Administration on the use of torture, while sleazy, can also be discarded for now. The way the system works, or worked until Mitch McConnell spoiled it with the Merrick Garland business, is that the president nominates a candidate, and if the nominee is qualified, he or she gets in, regardless of political leanings. I disagree with Neil Gorsuch on almost everything, but there was no good non-political reason not to confirm him.)
The problem with Kavanaugh is manifold: first, that he had six-figure credit card debts paid off by creditors whose identity we still don’t know; second, that he lied during his initial testimony; third, that he has been credibly accused of sexual assault, and all available evidence appears to bolster the charge (I’m not counting his denials as evidence, however vehement, or however much he swears to God); and, fourth, that he lied repeatedly about almost everything about the accusation, under oath, as he angrily snapped at the (mostly female) senators who dared to question him. If Kavanaugh were a leftist progressive, I would still be opposed to his appointment to such a prestigious and important position, based on these reasons. Plenty of rational outfits, including the American Bar Association and the Jesuits, neither to be confused with tree-huggery, seem to agree.
But let’s review, so we can see just how this media feedback loop works:
When Justice Anthony Kennedy unexpectedly decided to retire, we learned that his son, Justin Kennedy, was global head of Deutsche Bank’s real-estate capital markets division when that division was literally the only financial institution in the Western world that would lend money to Donald Trump after Trump’s numerous bankruptcies. This was a shock. While the Justin Kennedy-Trump relationship wasn’t quite as egregious as some have claimed, it still rightly raised eyebrows.
Brett Kavanaugh, for years a GOP legal operative, once clerked for Justice Kennedy, and reportedly it was Kennedy who suggested, if not insisted, that he succeed him. For Kavanaugh was not on the original list of nominees Trump had been given, the astute reader may recall. But his record, and experience toeing the far-right party line, suggests that he, alone among the potential nominees, would rule in Trump’s favor, should questions reach the Court concerning, say, whether a president can pardon himself. Sometime between last year and his nomination, all of his debts were paid off.
Kavanaugh was introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a manner that was odd at the time and now seems positively creepy. Members of the girls basketball team he coaches were brought in, to create a “first impression” of him as a fatherly, kind man who therefore couldn’t possibly hate women. (While this was going on, the former Trump staffer Zina Bash, who was sitting directly behind Kavanaugh, ostensibly to make him seem softer, may or may not have been making “white power” hand gestures behind him — perhaps spoiling the wholesome tableau just a tad).
Then we found out about the sexual assault claim. No sooner did this happen then Chuck Grassley, the bumbling chair of the Judiciary Committee, produced a letter, signed by 65 former classmates and friends, all women, attesting to Kavanaugh’s good-guy-ness. It was almost like Grassley had that letter ready, waiting for unseemly news he knew might leak out. There was GOP insistence that the vote process was accelerated — as if they knew what was coming and wanted to get Kavanaugh seated before the shit hit the fan.
The accuser was revealed as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Her allegations were highly credible. To defend himself, Kavanaugh produced, to great fanfare, his calendar from 1982, which contains entries that support Dr. Ford’s claim. (Even the prosecutor brought in to question Dr. Ford was benched as soon as she started asking about a July 1 party he noted.) The notion of Kavanaugh as a heavy drinker was also bolstered by the calendar and his high school yearbook, as well as subsequent sworn statements by his contemporaries. All but two of the 65 letter-signers recanted support.
This is when the propaganda machine sprung into action. Because Kavanaugh was clearly at the drinking night in question, rather than in Europe or whatever, a theory was concocted to pin the sexual assault on someone else — Kavanaugh’s high school drinking buddy Chris Garrett, aka “Squi.” Ed Whelan, then head of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, and amplified by his buddies at the CRC PR firm, almost certainly pitched this little fantasy to his media contacts, none of whom bit at the obvious grasping of straws. So Whelan posted the theory to his own Twitter feed — explicitly accusing Garrett of sexual assault. The researcher Navel Warfare explains this in detail. (Garrett has yet to file suit against Whelan, or to comment publicly at all.) Never mind that this is defamation, or that Garrett and Dr. Ford were dating in high school, and thus she was unlikely to confuse Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge with her own boyfriend. Whelan’s “mistaken rapist” theory has won the day. When the GOP Senators say that they believe both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh, they are tacitly endorsing this Loony Tunes conspiracy theory.
These propaganda forces are also in play this week, albeit more invisibly, in the GOP’s deployment of the toothless “innocent until proven guilty” argument, which would apply if Kavanaugh were on trial for sexual assault, rather than a lifetime appointment to one of the nine most important jobs on earth. But when repeated indignantly over and over by ostensibly respectable old white men, the messaging is effective.
If the objective were to seat an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice, the savvy move now would be to withdraw the Kavanaugh nomination and replace him with someone else — someone equally conservative but who has not been accused of sexual assault, who does not lie about his drinking, who is not in hock to unknown creditors. Instead, the GOP has doubled, and now tripled, down on Kavanaugh.
Why is this the hill they want to die on?
As horrible as the sexual assault allegations are, and as despicable the response by Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and the other non-Jeff Flake Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh’s financials, to me, are the more ominous development in the long term. This has been largely ignored by both the media and, curiously, the Democrats on the Committee.
The math simply doesn’t add up, and Kavanaugh’s cover story about baseball tickets is as believable as his claims that the Devil’s Triangle is a drinking game. As Spicy Files explains:
Whatever happens with Dr. Ford and the sexual assault claim, whoever paid off those debts owns Judge Kavanaugh. I have stated many times that he will not withdraw his nomination because his creditors will not allow it. Nothing we’ve learned in the last week has changed that opinion. Kavanaugh exactly fits the profile of a guy the FSB targets to turn. We already have a Russian asset in the White House, and a bunch more in Congress. We cannot risk having the Supreme Court contaminated as well.
The FBI is now conducting its investigation. The press no doubt is investing major resources into digging into Kavanaugh’s past (like the song by Asia: “And now you find yourself in ‘82…”). Perhaps a silver lining of this ugliness is that the curtain will be pulled back, and the American people can see, once and for all, how the propaganda machine really works.
“There is a lot of money flowing,” Lincoln’s Bible says. “As the money, and operatives, are getting pulled at by researchers and law enforcement, the PROPAGANDA machine will unravel. Grasping this now will help temper the shock, when some very big names drop — both individuals & corporations.”
Let’s hope this happens while there is still a republic, and the press is still free. Because one thing seems clear: the GOP don’t want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because he’s conservative. They want him on the Supreme Court because he’s compromised.