But here we have another problem of plausibility

Who Believes in Russiagate? By Lee Smith – “Knowledgeable reporters on the left and right are frightened by the spread of an elite conspiracy theory among American media.” The author has a problem: “No doubt that’s one reason why whatever is thrown at him seems to stick.” That ‘observation’ doesn’t appear to be well founded. Otherwise …

“there is a growing consensus among reporters and thinkers on the left and right—especially those who know anything about Russia, the surveillance apparatus, and intelligence bureaucracy—that the Russiagate-collusion theory that was supposed to end Trump’s presidency within six months has sprung more than a few holes. Worse, it has proved to be a cover for U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement bureaucracies to break the law, with what’s left of the press gleefully going along for the ride. Where Watergate was a story about a crime that came to define an entire generation’s oppositional attitude toward politicians and the country’s elite, Russiagate, they argue, has proved itself to be the reverse: It is a device that the American elite is using to define itself against its enemies—the rest of the country.

Yet for its advocates, the questionable veracity of the Russiagate story seems much less important than what has become its real purpose—elite virtue-signaling.

In other words, there’s the truth, and then there’s what’s even more important—sticking it to Trump. Choose wrong, even inadvertently, Chen explained, no matter how many times you deplore Trump, and you’ll be labeled a Trumpkin.

From the beginning, Gessen saw the collusion story as dangerous, not because she supported Trump but because it fed into a fantasy that convinced Trump’s opponents that they need not bother with the difficult and boring work of procedural politics.

Yes, the left hates Trump. I didn’t vote for him, either. But what Gessen, Greenwald, Lears, and Cohen all understand is that Russiagate isn’t about Trump. He’s just a convenient proxy for the real target.

A Doozy of a Dossier by Eric Felten – “What we can learn rereading it.”

“The dossier is a series of memos written from June to December 2016 by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, alleging a Trump/Kremlin conspiracy. Paying for Steele’s work was the opposition research company Fusion GPS; paying Fusion GPS was the law firm Perkins Coie; paying Perkins Coie was the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Given that Steele presents largely uncheckable allegations from anonymous sources, the reliability and credibility of the dossier has rested on the reliability and credibility that has been claimed for Steele himself.

In all the scuffling over whether Clinton’s funding of the enterprise calls Steele’s credibility into question, little attention has been devoted to a more basic and obvious question posed by the dossier: How could a former spy in the U.K., in a matter of months, squeeze the highest ranks of the Russian government like a sponge and expose one of its most consequential and closely guarded schemes? Why do we pay CIA agents if a freelancer like Steele so easily runs circles around them?

On the first page of the dossier, Steele claims to have gotten senior Russian officials and their trusted friends to chit-chat about a secret plan crafted for five years by no less than Putin himself. Given the relative trivialities that can get one beaten to death in a Russian prison, these senior officials would seem to have exhibited an extraordinarily cavalier attitude toward their own health and well-being.

Aside from the difficulty of clearing basic-believability hurdles, the dossier also appears to be padded.

There are glaring inconsistencies.

Time and again the dossier attributes to Trump feats of political trickeration that would be astonishing if performed by a disciplined and experienced organization. Nothing we have learned of the Trump campaign suggests either the discipline or the competence.

The dossier has launched investigations and lawsuits and thousands of arguments since its original publication. Rereading it now, in light of all that has subsequently come to pass, shows that the best summary of its contents is still the one BuzzFeed began with: The allegations remain unverified, and the report contains errors. And how.

Stormy Daniels? Seriously? By John Hinderaker – “The Democratic Party New York Times headlines: “The Stormy Daniels Scandal Gets Serious.” If you wonder where Smith (above) gets the idea that things seem to stick to Trump, this story is an illustration of the source. Keep slinging mud and keep sticking stories to that mud and one can thinks there is something permanent and not just persistently re-applied.

“Let’s just pause on that. President Trump’s alleged dalliance with Ms. Daniels occurred, if it occurred at all, 12 years ago. Long before he was a presidential candidate, let alone president. How much interest has the Democratic Party New York Times shown in sexual relationships entered into by John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, or any other Democrat more than a decade before entering public life? Nevertheless, the Times argues that this is somehow a big deal

The left-wing press is working overtime today to make the 12-year-old Stormy Daniels story into news. Why? I don’t think the answer is hard to find. President Trump’s administration, so far, has been remarkably successful. At home, the rate of economic growth has doubled, millions more are employed, wages are rising, the stock market is soaring, moribund industries are coming back to life. Abroad, American interests are being asserted; NATO allies have increased their contributions to mutual defense; the administration is standing up to Russia and China; after many years of inaction, the menace of North Korea is being confronted; and so on. The Democratic Party is trying to distract voters from these accomplishments with irrelevant stories about a former porn star.

Desperation is showing. The effort to make reality what it isn’t is creating ever more implausible rationalizations and fantasies.

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