March 25th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Decentralisation: an undeveloped country

CANBERRA OBSERVED Millennials feel they've been left out in the cold

EDITORIAL Gas, power crises are due to renewables obsession by Peter Westmore

WESTERN AUSTRALIA Barnett election wipe-out delivers WA to Labor

MULTICULTURALISM First among equals or an also-ran culture?

WEST AUSTRALIAN LAW Domestic-violence laws disregard basic rights

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS Fair Work Commission's disastrous penalty-rates decision

OPINION Trump-Russia allegations are smoke and mirrors

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Don't laugh: this is serious. Revival of Maoist play is a propaganda coup in Victoria

RURAL AFFAIRS Without new dams in the Basin, we're up the creek

CULTURAL HISTORY Pascal without pressure

OPINION Scope for regeneration as Me Generation shuffles off

MUSIC Dying for exposure

CINEMA Kong: Skull Island: Ape-ocalypse Now

BOOK REVIEW How maritime England lost America

ENERGY Hazelwood is vital to Australia's power supply

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Trump-Russia allegations are smoke and mirrors

by Hal G.P. Colebatch

News Weekly, March 25, 2017

For generations, the left has screamed “McCarthyism” at any questioning of their activities or any question of communist or Soviet associations (I was accused of McCarthyism by a senior public servant when, at a university convocation meeting, I raised the question of student union funds being used for left-wing causes).

The term, of course, derives from the activities of U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy and the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (of which Senator McCarthy, of course, was not a member). These investigated the alleged pro-Soviet leanings of various prominent and influential people.

It emerge that many of those investigated really were Soviet agents or agents of influence. The action of McCarthy and the HUAC probably prevented Hollywood and the entertainment industry turning out pro-communist films for the Korean War (unlike what happened with Vietnam), and indeed from giving a sort of pro-Soviet framing to the whole of American culture.

The activities of McCarthy and the HUAC were a considerable setback to the left’s program of capturing the “commanding heights” of culture, as well as to the flow of nuclear and other secrets to the Soviet Union by traitors.

It is more than ironic that today’s left is accusing President Donald Trump, and the result of the U.S. presidential election, of being somehow influenced by Russia – that is, the Russia led by ex-Soviet KGB officer Vladimir Putin (he who you wouldn’t want to find if you answered a 3am door-knock). It is apparently unaware of the mirror image of McCarthyism it presents, with the important difference that many of McCarthy’s accusations were accurate.

Any serious investigator knows that the crucial points to consider when trying to establish the guilt of an accused person are means, motive and opportunity. So far, the accusations against President Trump and his people fail every one of these tests. They look like smoke and mirrors.

Means: How exactly could Russia have influenced American voters? By sending agents into polling booths to intimidate electors? It would have taken an awful lot of agents to infiltrate thousands of polling booths.

As for allegations of electronic and computer hacking, there is no clarity as to its effect on the election, or how it could have affected the election results. There is only a cloud of accusations without facts, which in this case so far look like an instance of smoke without fire.

Motive: Why should Putin, the former KGB officer, who considers the fall of communism to have been a catastrophe and who may probably be planning to re-establish the old Soviet Empire, want to see an outspoken anti-communist and in many (not all) ways right-winger like Trump in the White House in place of the hen-brained Hilary Clinton?

Clinton, the “heroine of Bengazi”, seemed certain, if elected, to have continued Obama’s policies of U.S. weakness, retreat and decline, including further slashing of the U.S. defence budget, nuclear arsenal and space program.

She would probably have at least implicitly endorsed, or at least not opposed and denounced, things like the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which has helped divide and weaken America internally, and also endorsed a more generous, if not actually open-ended, immigration program from the developing world.

Trump will increase America’s defence spending greatly, as Ronald Reagan did, and is an outspoken foe of the left both domestically and internationally. Whatever else may be said about Trump, he projects toughness. Why on Earth should Putin prefer him to Clinton as an adversary?

The unprecedented fury of the left at Trump’s victory shows how much it has set the left’s program back, and even threatens some of its cultural strongholds.

Why on Earth should Putin not have welcomed, and perhaps if possible supported, a presidential candidate who seemed unperturbed by America’s weakening and decline, and gave every appearance of readiness for that decline to continue?

Opportunity: In this case, opportunity ties in with means. What opportunity did Putin have to influence the U.S. election? When, where and how?

Kipling once wrote of investigative journalism: “I kept six honest serving men/ Who taught me all I knew/ Their names were What? and Why? and When?/ And How? and Where? and Who?” None of these “honest serving men” seem to have been employed by a fanatical and increasingly naked anti-Trump media.

In previous days, when journalism was actually taught on newspapers instead of at tertiary institutions, a first-year cadet would have noticed the absence of answers to these very basic questions.

I believe that the HUAC, which was staffed by patriots, would have hesitated to convict anyone in the face of such an absence of factual evidence.

The activities of George Soros, bankrolling much of the rage-filled, quasi-violent American left, seem more obviously worthy of investigation.

It may be that what I am writing is completely wrong, and hard evidence of a Trump-Russian connection such as to endanger the electoral process or even national security will emerge. At present, though, there is nothing but rumour, innuendo and smears.

If there was any real evidence of a Russian connection, Trump’s many enemies would have broadcast it long ago.

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