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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 12:45 pm | Mostly Cloudy 63º


Letter to the Editor: Democrats and the New McCarthyism

When I was starting my career in New York in the 1950s, I saw all around me the effects of the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, who during speeches waved around papers that he said included the names of Communists in government but who never allowed anyone actually to see the list.

As is is now well known, this dishonorable man wildly exploited the cold war fear Americans had of the Soviet Union and the possibility of nuclear war. Teachers, scientists, union workers, government employees, artists and many in the entertainment industries who were thought to have progressive opinions or to have had any previous membership in the Communist Party or to have opinions similar to those, were branded as “Commies,” “Pinkos,” “Fellow-Travelers,” etc. and were fired from jobs, denied employment and/or were called before congressional investigating committees.

Large numbers of people were placed, usually by persons unknown – but sometimes by a self-published grocer from upstate NY - on a “blacklist.”

A friend of mine Will Hare, whose name was similar to well-known actor Will Geer who had been blacklisted, found that the similarity had put his name on some mysterious list and he could not find work. He took to moving furniture to be able to live. Once, when his regular partner was not available, I helped him carry stuff across town.

This domestic terrorism lasted for years. Finally one respected television commentator, Edward R. Murrow, publicly blasted McCarthy for his shameful irresponsibility; this combined with many Americans' view of McCarthy's behavior on a televised “Army-McCarthy Hearing” finally began a recession of McCarthyism.

During this reign of terror, many Republican politicians enthusiastically joined the witch-hunt, or, like Dwight Eisenhower, stayed silent in the face of it. Richard Nixon, of course, fervently exploited the wave, employing during his California Senate race a company to telephone voters, asking if they knew opponent Helen Gahagen Douglas was a communist; and who spent the rest of his political life attempting to frame those on his own “Enemies” list.

Today, however, it is Democrats who are launching a witch-hunt and who are symbolically waving documents purporting to show Russian influence on US elections, but who, like Joseph McCarthy, give no evidence that independent observers can verify.

On Dec. 9, 2016 the Washington Post published a story that secret sources in the CIA had concluded that Russia had acted to influence the US presidential election by providing hacked emails to WikiLeaks.

No evidence was provided in the article for that assertion.

“... the CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.” wrote the Post. And [anonymous officials claim that] “... intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails”.

None of the actual evidence for these claims is disclosed. Even the CIA's “secret assessment” is not made available.

So Washington Post editor Marty Baron who - at least in the film portraying The Boston Globe's exposé under his leadership of Catholic Priests' sexual molestation of youngsters – editor Baron who in a Catholic-dominated city demanded that verifiable proof of dozens of priest misconduct instances be unimpeachably proved before his paper would publish any of them, has now uncritically published leaks from a government agency for which he does not require a similar standard.

Apparently, though, his conscience was operative to a minor degree. Way below the headline-grabbing first paragraphs, this appears: “...there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.”

What questions? Whose definition of “minor?”

And: “ … intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin ‘directing’ the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.”

In other words, some irascible independent like me could have decided to have fun with Americans, and hacked emails THAT WERE AUTHENTIC and sent them to WikiLeaks in hope of disclosure.

The same CIA guys or gals, whom we all know are, like NSA director James Clapper, scrupulously honest, who have no track record of blatant lying to us, to Congress, or to anyone else, also sent a beautifully timed leak to the New York Times that quotes other unidentified persons that “'.... “the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.'”

So Jeez, their intent was obvious, wasn't it? Help The Donald establish another empire.

However, The Times, now not quoting a leaker, added “ … it is also far from clear that Russia’s original intent was to support Mr. Trump, and many intelligence officials — and former officials in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign — believe that the primary motive of the Russians was to simply disrupt the campaign and undercut confidence in the integrity of the vote.”

As Rupert Pupnick, the surprise TV host in “The King of Comedy” said when disclosing he was born in Hackensack, NJ, “This was not at the time a federal offense.” Even former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wants to “undercut confidence in the integrity of the vote.” And if you listen to their moans, Democrats, in this particular case, do too.

But please consider:

The NY Times may have come closest to the truth in saying it's not absolutely clear that Putin and the Russians especially wanted Donald Trump to be US president. It is clear that they did not want Hillary Clinton in that office. Her roles in Syria, Libya, the Ukraine, etc. have made her anathema to them.

However, IF it is substantiated that the Russian government had a direct role hacking into Democratic/Republican committee files and passing on to WikiLeaks for disclosure those especially unfavorable to Clinton, it may well not have been because they believed they could, by discrediting Clinton, convince Americans to elect Donald Trump. (After all, Putin did not understand, as most US media did not understand, the degree to which Americans already distrusted their system and government.)

My conclusion is that Putin and the Russians, like many here, BELIEVED THE POLLS!. They believed Trump was going to lose. So their effort was simply to discredit the winner as much as possible, and do what they could to “disrupt the campaign” and demean the system by which he went down.

This is the scenario reached by both the Obama administration, former Clinton campaign officials and others. (See above.)

But Democrats, many of whom feverishly wish to explain their presidential election loss on anything but themselves, have joyously embraced as obviously truthful these “waved” papers, flourished this time not by a Republican Senator, but by Trump-opposing news journals whose CIA-leaked material cannot, mysteriously, be verified.

And, in fact, Democrats have in this electoral season taken to the nasty road of McCarthyism, calling anyone who wished to see verifiable evidence of the serious matters discussed above – or in fact anyone criticizing Clinton's campaign or her behavior – as Kremlin stooges or Putin agents. In August, Democrats smeared Jill Stein as a “Putin stooge.” Trump, Sanders, The Intercept, WikiLeaks are branded stooges, sympathizers, agents of Russia.

This is reincarnation of the contemptible filth I saw and lived through sixty years ago, promoted and executed now by a different group of politicos.

When Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI, Democrats indignantly demanded that only verifiable, “smoking gun” evidence that she had knowingly and with criminal intent breached government policies or that she had knowingly traded influence for Clinton Foundation contributions, could be believed and accepted.

Now they don't care about any such standard. In classical McCarthy tradition, they label those who want to see and judge actual evidence as foreign agents, stooges, Russian sympathizers.

It should go without saying that an investigation should be held to assess any attempt by a foreign nation to influence an American election. It should also go without saying that conclusions drawn from any such investigation should be based solely on verifiable evidence.

But decent, ethical Americans don't want to stop there.

Further congressional investigations should be held to determine attempts by our own states to influence elections by suppressing the ability of some citizens to vote.

And finally, for the sake of an accurate portrayal of history, there should be a congressional investigation of US attempts via murder, bribery and/or military force to influence the elections in, or the controlling nature of, other nations.

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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