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Russiagate shill utterly fails to prove Trump colluded

Luke Harding, as self-proclaimed expert on Russian collusion, has produced a book which hardly merits taking seriously

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(CounterPunch) – In a recent interview, journalist Luke Harding failed to substantiate the central thesis – indeed, the title – of his bestselling book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. That Putin “helped Trump win” is prima facie plausible, but what is the empirical evidence? Aaron Maté subjected Harding’s lurid argument – that the Kremlin began cultivating Trump decades ago in order to “hack” an election – to incisive scrutiny. The result, as Harding’s reddening cheeks revealed, was embarrassing.

It would be unfair to single Harding out for asserting without much evidence that Russia catapulted a Putin stooge into the White House. Maté is, in fact, an outlier for maintaining a healthy skepticism about this story (a “collusion rejectionist,” in Harding’s phrase). Indeed, the specter of collusion has been so consuming a journalistic obsession it has distracted from the GOP’s assaults on the environment, the working poor, and global peace.

The Democratic Party too has become captivated by the fantasy that collusion will someday be not only proven but somehow sufficient to oust the President from the Oval Office. It is not obvious how this Russian cloud – increasingly black, but persistently insubstantial – might produce enough rain to wash the Trump era away, nor whether President Pence is a ray of sunshine worth hoping for. Journalists, Democrats, and concerned Americans would be prudent to reconsider not only the evidence, but the politics of such wishful thinking.

Try, if you can, to enter into the perspective of an ordinary Michigander who voted for Trump, but is persuadable that he should not do so again. Voters of this sort are relatively rare – but decisive. Joe Michigan likely worries deeply about ballooning health care costs and stagnant wages, but very little about Vladimir Putin. Joe is understandably unlikely to be convinced that foreign agents clandestinely caused him to vote for Trump. Nevertheless, suppose he is open to the collusion narrative, and that a latent patriotism gives him pause when he ponders it. Though sporadically attentive to politics, he can plainly sense that the Democrats and media hold Trump in palpable disdain, that they are confidently issuing disturbing accusations against the President, and that they expect this story will finally – and gloriously – bring down our Twitter Tyrant.

Now consider this: What if Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation concludes that Trump was not directly implicated in misconduct? What if Mueller announces that collusion never occurred? What will Joe from Michigan – and millions like him – think then?

If that is how things play out, Trump will not only appear vindicated, but victorious over partisan opponents and “Fake News.” It will inflate his brand as a populist strongman defying liberal elites who do not respect the will of Red America. Many will view him as a fearless leader weathering a tempest conjured by “globalist” forces to sink him and his movement.

He will seem what he desperately wishes to be: a winner. His ego and reelection chances will swell. Blindsided Democrats will be left directionless. The news industry’s credibility will collapse, perhaps irreversibly. And should Trump commit impeachable offenses later, it will be profoundly challenging to persuade conservatives and moderates that this time the case against him is real.

It is not merely strategically ill-advised – it is politically harrowing – for Democrats to put all their eggs in one Russian basket. Fortunately, there are many better baskets to choose from.

Donald Trump is deeply unpopular. Congressional Republicans are even more widely loathed. On important issues – taxation, entitlements, the minimum wage, climate change – progressive policies are vastly more popular than conservative ones. The GOP is utterly dominant at all levels of politics, but in many ways it is weak. If the Democratic Party is remotely competent, it should be able to take power easily in this environment. But competence requires keeping it together under pressure.

In 2016, the Democrats lost to the guy from The Apprentice. To the extent that the collusion narrative displaces blame for that embarrassment to a foreign adversary, it also inhibits the left’s ability to correct past mistakes and seize present opportunities. Fortunately, the resistance need not make its political fortunes dependent on the findings of an unpredictable investigation, nor on the claims of hyperventilating reporters.

We must wait to see what Mueller’s team comes up with. In the meantime, Democrats should present a bold, progressive vision to the American people that addresses the working class’s material concerns and offers an optimistic alternative to the GOP’s dark politics.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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