March 6th, 2017

FISAgate: if you stop and think about it, this is kind of funny

We take our humor wherever we can get it these days.

From the Telegraph:

…[Trump] claimed his predecessor ordered a wiretap of the phones at Trump Tower in New York, Mr Trump’s campaign headquarters.

James Comey, the FBI director, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject Mr Trump’s assertion, unnamed senior American officials told the New York Times on Sunday.

Those “unnamed officials” really get around these days. They spend so much time talking to the press, it’s a wonder they get any work done.

Comey is presently still the head of the FBI. I don’t know how long he’ll remain in that post, but why wouldn’t he issue a public disclaimer that the FBI did anything of the sort, if the FBI didn’t do anything of the sort? So what’s this business with begging a spokesperson to do it?

Then we have this:

A spokesman for the FBI and the spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment, the Times reported. The department has so far not released any public statement.

Hmmm. Next:

Mr Obama has said the allegations were “simply false”. His former intelligence chief also “absolutely denied” the claims. But Mr Trump told a friend: “This will be investigated, it will all come out. I will be proven right.”

I’m not sure who I’d put my money on, but I wouldn’t bet a whole lot of dough against Trump.

Finally, we have the punchline, the part that made me laugh:

Mr Trump offered no evidence and is believed to have based the claims, made in a series of tweets on Sunday, on press reports.

And we all know how much press reports are worth.

That last point is the subject of several pieces today (see this, for example). Here’s one that features a reporter at my favorite rag, The NY Times:

On January 19th and 20th 2017, The NY Times reported that wiretaps of people on the Trump team were passed along to the Obama White House, one of the story’s authors was Michael S. Schmidt. On Saturday that same Michael S. Schmidt was one of the reporters who wrote the story, “Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones.” That’s right, the same NY Times reporter who was one of the sources for the President’s claim, said that there was no evidence for the claim.

Ah, but there’s a flaw there, too. Did you catch it? Jeff Dunetz, the author of the paragraph I just quoted, is ignoring how clever the Times can be with this sort of thing. That Times headline doesn’t say there is no evidence; it says that Trump didn’t offer any. That’s the meme that all the Trump critics are using, and as far as I can see it’s absolutely correct that Trump offered no evidence.

Of course, a lot of people will read it as meaning there was is no evidence. But that’s the goal.

It’s not the only meme out there, either. Another is to focus on the word “ordered,” as Ann Althouse points out:

From what I’ve read, “ordered” is the weasel word that allows anti-Trumpsters to make flat statements portraying Trump as out of his mind. But the notorious Trump tweets do not say that Obama “ordered” a wiretapping. They ask if it is “legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?” and refer to what a court had done. Though Trump didn’t precisely say this, any “order” came from the court. He then said “President Obama was tapping my phones,” which isn’t to say that he “ordered” it. I think the story Trump is relying on is that the FISA court granted a warrant (after some funny business to get around a previous denial), not that Obama just “ordered” it. Then, Trump tweeted that Obama had gone “low… to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process.” Trump portrays Obama as doing something, not “ordering” it.

Another word to pick apart is wiretap. You may note that, in his original tweets, Trump put the term in scare quotes. There may or may not have been a reason for that (with Trump it’s hard to be sure), but my guess is that he meant to do it and that his purpose was to use the word in a generic, colloquial sense of “listening to the communications of” rather than the legal sense of a literal wiretap.

If you look at all of this back-and-forth in a certain way, it becomes absurdist. That’s my mood today, anyway.

55 Responses to “FISAgate: if you stop and think about it, this is kind of funny”

  1. Yancey Ward Says:

    When the reports of the FISA requests were first made, I immediately discounted them as something else the media and their “sources” had simply made up- a flat out lie told to give weight to the innuendo, and that is all it has been to this point, that Trump was in bed with the Russian government.

    After the Trumps tweets, and especially after the various non-denial denials from Obama and his WH staff, I think it quite likely the original story about the FISA applications was, indeed true. I even pointed out yesterday at Althouse that it was hilarious watching the NYTimes and WaPo deliberately undercutting their own freaking articles from January.

    I also noticed, starting yesterday, that a new meme is being pushed by the Obamaites- that if there was a FISA surveillance order, then it shows Trump is guilty. Add to this Chuck Schumer’s call for an investigation into inference with the Russian investigation tells me pretty conclusively that Trump was monitored electronically and otherwise before the election, and I strongly suspect it has continued after the election (and may well be what set Trump off on Saturday). The fall back defense is being set up.

    Congress can get to the bottom of this if it wants to- it can subpoena Loretta Lynch and all of her subordinates, including James Comey. It can subpoena James Clapper, John Brennan, and Mike Rogers. It can put all of these people under oath and ask them directly and publicly about the FISA applications and the results of those applications. With Trump as president, there is no way to avoid answering these questions either.

    If Congress does its freaking job, we can get an answer to this quite quickly.

  2. Cornhead Says:

    The “tap” could have been directional microphones, email breaches or metadata.

    Kellyanne Conway said today POTUS has access to info now.

    There are also tenants in Trump Tower and they could have been the target.

    And Hillary sent out a tweet in which she knew that a Russian bank had been communicating with Trump Tower.

    I hope this destroys Obama and the Dems.

  3. Susanamantha Says:

    Regarding potential congressional investigations into the Russia-Trumpgate, or Obamagate, however it will be known in the future: If Trey Gowdy, et al. do as well as they have in the past, this will be a big nothing burger. Lois Lerner, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, all the Benghazi people…. I’ve forgotten who else.

    We know that Angela Merkel’s communication
    was tapped and others as well. I see no reason not to suspect and investigate whether Obama and/or his minions ordered and carried out surveillance on Trump’s communications.

  4. Sam L. Says:

    So, all those media reports of monitoring of Trump are LIES?

  5. Yancey Ward Says:

    Susanamantha,

    There is one big difference now as opposed to then- Congress depends to a great extent on the DoJ to enforce its subpoenas. When Obama was president, his minions could lie outright and by omission without fear. That would not be the case here, and if Lynch and her subordinates try to hide behind the fifth amendment, then that alone would be reason to open a broad criminal investigation. I think they would have to testify openly and truthfully, and I think any lawyer would know this.

  6. Yancey Ward Says:

    Andrew McCarthy at NR lays out the predicament that Trump has put the media in:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445522/russian-election-hacking-fbi-not-investigating-trump-campaign

    I noted above that Schumer is trying the pre-emptive strike at a real investigation into this manner. It appears to me that Schumer is trying to head off a real Congressional investigation. His ploy only works if Trump was outright wrong on Saturday, or the Republicans in Congress are total idiots.

  7. Frog Says:

    There is absolutely nothing “absurdist” about what is going on. It is grave.
    As Rush said today, the Deep State (the tenured Democratic bureaucracy) does not need to be told what to do by Hussein. And in the face of the multiple occurrences of Obama Administration (including Hillary) criminality, we should doubt that they must be innocent now?
    C’mon, people.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Frog:

    What makes you think that “absurdist” and “grave” are mutually exclusive? They most definitely are not. They often go together—such as with some elements of WWI and WWII (just read Catch-22 for some of the latter).

    Franz Kafka knew a lot about it, too.

    I’ve spent enough time on this subject to make it clear I think it’s very grave. I also think at this point it’s absurdist.

  9. huxley Says:

    If Trey Gowdy, et al. do as well as they have in the past, this will be a big nothing burger.

    Susanamantha: I share your frustration Trey Gowdy couldn’t have done more, but note it was Gowdy’s Benghazi investigation which started the ball rolling on Hillary’s email server scandal. That became the slow, steady credibility leak, I would argue, which deflated her campaign and allowed Trump to win.

    That’s a pretty tasty nothingburger.

  10. Griffin Says:

    Beyond the intensity of the attacks it seems to me the only difference between some of this and what happened with the GWB administration is that Trump hits back at the media and Democrats while too often Bush just took it.

    Being classy and above the fray doesn’t work anymore.

  11. Juli Says:

    “If you look at all of this back-and-forth in a certain way, it becomes absurdist. That’s my mood today, anyway. ”

    Yes, but it can all be traced back to what the definition of “is” is. It’s a 10 year old’s way of winning an argument – focusing on the exact phrasing. Tough for me, since I’m a straight shooter – I could never make it in politics.

    I hate to sound like I’m 9, but they started it, and while I’d like for it to end, it won’t. Why? Because it works for them.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Griffin:

    Those are 2 extremes. There’s a great deal of room in-between.

    “Being classy and above the fray” is something I don’t ask for. I have always been upset at the lack of fight against his political opponents that was shown (for example) by George W. Bush. Some of Trump’s attacks are effective. But empty attacks are not; we just don’t yet know how full or empty this one is. The accusation hinges on whether it’s true or not—and/or how many people believe him. I’m not an “ends justify the means” person.

  13. The Other Gary Says:

    Lately, Neo has done a great job of pointing out the subtle ways in which the left and MSM distort stories to fit their agenda. Here we have:

    1) “Unnamed officials”: makes it easy to appear that any assertion is backed up by statements from “those in the know.”

    2) Deceptive wording: as Neo points out, the following headline leads you to believe Trump has no evidence: Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones. But all it says is that Trump has not yet offered any.

    3) More deceptive wording: technically speaking, the Obama administration could only have requested a wire tap from the FISA court, not ordered one. This is supposed to lead everyone to believe the talk about the Obama administration “ordering” wire taps is just malarky.

    4) Word Nitpicking: was there an actual “wiretap” or were some other means used to eavesdrop on Trump’s campaign? The MSM will hammer away that there was no “wiretapping” if various places were “bugged” — which, IMHO, is actually worse.

    And a couple days ago there was a post showing how the MSM omitted key facts to slant a story to their advantage, another subtle, yet powerful technique deployed by the MSM to get you to think about things “in the right way.”
    ———–

    I’d love to see more of this, Neo. I’ve written “ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE MSM” a number of times here. By this I mean that so much of what goes awry in this country begins with a distorted or downright false picture of reality painted by the MSM and then impressed upon the minds of too many Americans.

    Painting the deformed picture is usually accomplished in subtle ways, not by the crude means of spreading outright lies or making stuff up — though they sometimes do that, too. Exposing the ways in which this is done can only help erode the power of the MSM to implant distorted ideas in peoples’ minds and set the agenda.

  14. Griffin Says:

    Neo,

    Yeah I agree. Some of Trump’s fight back is disconcerting but a lot of it knocks the MSM off their stride or forces them to totally contradict themselves like this time. It gets tiring but apparently that is the world we live in.

  15. physicsguy Says:

    comment to see comments

  16. ScottJ Says:

    As someone pointed out on another blog today, Trump is a very successful business owner who ran, among other things, Casinos. Lots of money flowing through and lots and lots of security required, both physical and cyber. Trump (and the smart people he surrounds himself with) are probably state of the art in their knowledge of how to protect against business espionage and cyber security attacks. The security people around Trump have worked for him for a long time, and earned deep levels of trust and loyalty. (Remember the flap about Trump not wanting to replace all his security team with Secret Service). These talented people can play offense as well in the cyber world, and probably have over the years to protect Trumps financial interests.

    To think that Trump’s team has been completely oblivious to cyber intrusion into Trump affairs is simply naive, but that is what the MSM and Obama lackeys are positing.

    Rather, it is probably true that Trump knows considerably more about the players in the Obama administration and their plotting than THEY realize. He is selling them the rope to hang themselves. The more they circle the wagons the more guilty they will look.

    I am not sure what the end game will be, but I am convinced there are many more layers to this than we are seeing. Trump did not become a billionaire in NYC Real Estate by letting anyone bully him around.

    Looking forward to more winning. I don’t see how we can get tired of it.

  17. Susanamantha Says:

    Huxley:

    Tasty nothing burgers aside, I was referring to my wish that legal ramifications would have occurred.
    I agree that it all may have lead to Hillary’s defeat, but she remains legally free of any punishment for her misdeeds. Same for the rest of the motley crew.

  18. huxley Says:

    Trump is a very successful business owner who ran, among other things, Casinos.

    ScottJ: Casinos are a wonderful example of Trump’s business success.

    Trump is not playing 3-D chess anymore than Obama was.

    ———————
    For 10 years between 1995 and 2005, Donald Trump ran Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts — and he did it so badly and incompetently that it collapsed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. His stockholders were almost entirely wiped out, losing a staggering 89% of their money. The company actually lost money every single year. In total it racked up more than $600 million in net losses over that period.

    Trump was chairman of the board throughout the entire time, and CEO as well for about half of it…

    While Trump was running Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts into the ground, the Dow Jones index of gambling stocks — the index that Trump himself cited in public filings as his best benchmark — soared 160%. Investors in Harrah’s saw their stake go up by nearly 150%. MGM MGM, -0.26% quintupled. These people were making out like bandits.

    Donald Trump ran the worst performing casino company on the stock market. This isn’t a matter of “opinion.” This isn’t speculation or politics. It’s a matter of plain fact.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/its-worse-than-you-think-trumps-business-disaster-2016-03-04

  19. Cornhead Says:

    Regarding Trump’s use of scare quotes, one thing I noted during the campaign was his imprecise use of language and how he could be very ambiguous. I think the same thing is going on here with the use of the term “wiretapping.”

  20. n.n Says:

    FISAgate is important to Americans, but Catastrophic Anthropogenic Immigration Reform forced by social justice adventures from Libya to Syria to Ukraine has global consequences.

  21. Frog Says:

    Neo: here is a def of absurd that I think of when I think “absurd”:
    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/absurd
    1. irrational, silly, ludicrous, nonsensical. Absurd, ridiculous, preposterous all mean inconsistent with reason or common sense. Absurd means utterly opposed to truth or reason: an absurd claim. Ridiculous implies that something is fit only to be laughed at, perhaps contemptuously: a ridiculous suggestion.

    Yes, an absurd situation can be grave. But nothing presently transpiring is absurd. Unless you deem Trump absurd, which I do not.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Frog:

    But I never used the word “absurd.” That’s a different word.

    I purposely used the word “absurdist,” which means bizarre, surreal, and chaotic (it also refers to a type of philosophy and art, but I wasn’t trying to be that technical). I meant it in particular in the “surreal and chaotic” sense.

  23. charles Says:

    hehe! Those “unnamed officials” and they way you describe them remind me of that comic strip Family Circus and their famous (or is it infamous?) “Ida know” and “Not Me.”

    Anytime the parents ask their kids something like “who broke this plate” or “who tracked mud into the house” the answer is always “Ida Know” or “Not Me.”

    What a great way to pass the buck! Perhaps, the news media is taking ideas from the comic strip?

  24. huxley Says:

    Being classy and above the fray doesn’t work anymore.

    Disagree. In terms of available votes Trump did not do as well as Romney 2012, even though Romney ran against a far more dangerous and fresher opponent.

    As to the converse, it remains to be seen whether Trump’s smash-mouth tweeting will work in the long-run or even the short-term.

    There is plenty of room for Trump’s presidency to end in utter disaster for the GOP and the country.

  25. Roy Lofquist Says:

    Absurdist? Absolutely. That’s Trump’s game. He’s rather good at it.

  26. chuck Says:

    it becomes absurdist

    I’ve reached the point where I don’t even care what is true. This isn’t a fight about truth, it is a fight about narrative, and I’m glad Trump knows how to fight that fight. If a bit of truth should happen to emerge in the end, so much the better, but it will be a side effect. I’m reminded of these.

  27. Frog Says:

    I routinely go to the root of the word, Neo, not to exotic derivatives thereof.
    An absurdist is one who believes (practices?) absurdism, which I now learn is
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absurdism
    Definition of absurdism. : a philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe — compare existentialism.

    There are no absurdists that I can see in our halls of power, or in the media. Dishonesty is not absurdist, because dishonesty cannot exist without honesty, and honesty is rational.

    There is lots of rationality in the seditious conduct we see in the Deep State presently. There is no irrationality, not that I perceive anyways. There is a deadly serious and very rational game afoot.

    The situation is grave.

  28. J.J. Says:

    A thought occurred to me tonight as I was watching Tucker Carlson debate a Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. It was the usual go around about the fact that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russians yada, yada, but there is more evidence that Trump may have been surveilled yada, yada. The Congressman stood his ground. Of course, he has his orders.

    Whoever hacked the DNC/Podesta e-mails and put them on WikiLeaks may have had a motivation to destabilize our political system. Would Putin like to do that? Most definitely. Could he have known that such rather simple acts would create a country that is so deeply divided that the Federal Government is barely operating? I don’t think so, but that has been the result of those e-mail reveals. We are basically dead in the water. A serious national challenge like another major terrorist attack might bring things back to ground. But even that might divide us further as the left blames Trump and refuses to help him and the government defend us.

    It reminds me of what Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

    It is very grave.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Frog:

    English is a language with many words, and words and their roots mean different (although somewhat related) things. You need to deal with the word a person uses and react to that, not to its root that the person didn’t use.

    Nor did I write that the people involved were absurdist, or had absurdist motives. I was not talking about the people at all; I was not using the word as a noun, as in “He is an absurdist.” I was using it as an adjective, to describe the situation as chaotic and surreal, looking at it from the outside. I wrote:

    If you look at all of this back-and-forth in a certain way, it becomes absurdist. That’s my mood today, anyway.

    “Absurdist: “Intentionally ridiculous or bizarre; surreal. It’s the “or”—the “bizarre, surreal” part, that was the meaning I was using.

    I repeat: a situation can be bizarre and surreal at the same time it is grave.

  30. T Says:

    H/T Instapundit, read Richard Fernandez’s essay about stepping into the arc of the attack and going “for the throat” so to speak.

    https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2017/03/06/long-knives/

    The more I watch Trump in action, the more convinced I am that much of what is dismissed as chaotic or blustering reaction is intentionally designed to force his opponents to underestimate him. This is also implied in another Instapundit post in which the presidential debates were reenacted with a male playing Hillary Clinton and a female playing Donald Trump.

    Both of these are well-worth a read (how on earth does he find this stuff?).

    https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/march/trump-clinton-debates-gender-reversal.html

  31. huxley Says:

    Whoever hacked the DNC/Podesta e-mails and put them on WikiLeaks may have had a motivation to destabilize our political system.

    J.J.: As the Magic Eight-Ball would say, “Most likely.”

    For those folks who trace this back to Putin and argue it proves Putin was trying to elect Trump, I say, not necessarily so.

    There is no question of the long-term Soviet/Russian project to weaken the US. However, I doubt Putin and his advisors were any better at forecasting a Trump win than our pundits.

    Nonetheless, damaging Hillary and the Democratic Party — the presumptive winners in 2016 — would have been all to the good as far as Putin was concerned.

    Given that the Russians undoubtedly hacked Hillary’s server, who knows how much more material they had to blackmail Hillary with. The wikileaks stuff may have only been appetizers.

    I would be pleased to argue Putin preferred Hillary as POTUS.

  32. T Says:

    And on the lighter side, I saw a Tweet today which summed up the imbroglio as follows (I paraphrase):

    Progressive: Trump was colluding with the Russians to win the election.

    Conservative: How do you know that?

    Prog: From the transcripts of the conversations.

    Conserv: There are transcripts? That means that candidate Trump really was wiretapped and “bugged.”

    Prog: Transcripts? What transcripts?

  33. huxley Says:

    The more I watch Trump in action, the more convinced I am that much of what is dismissed as chaotic or blustering reaction is intentionally designed to force his opponents to underestimate him.

    T: Maybe, but that strikes me as another 3-D chess claim.

    The blustery chaotic thing is Trump’s shtick. It’s what he’s been doing most of his public life. It’s largely worked for him — like Obama’s “I’m a blank screen for voters to project their own views” — but that doesn’t mean it reflects deep thought or that it will keep working.

    FISAgate looks serious to me and it deserves a serious hearing. But how many Americans dismiss it as more “Ted Cruz’s father help kill JFK” chaotic bluster?

  34. David Says:

    Putin going all in trying to get Trump elected may sound logical in retrospect now that Trump has won, but what if Trump didn’t win? with most polls showing Trump was at such an seemingly insurmountable disadvantage at one point to actively sabotage Hillary’s campaign on Putin’s part seems like an extremely risky move to make with little rewards but came with extraordinary consequences and a possibly grave retaliation if Hillary had won.

    In America no one seems to think about these political issues with a logical approach. Obama having all Russian diplomats stationed in America wiretapped and spied on was an open secret, especially with Snowden in Russia Putin should knew about it all along, if the Russia ambassador was colluding with Flynn and Sessions, would they be that stupid to discuss it in their offices instead of some secret meetup places like a subway stations know Obama is listening to them 24/7. If nothing damning were discussed in those meetings, why did Flynn or Sessions need to lie about it. Seems to me those were just silly mistakes considering they are men in their late 60s probably not with a great memory. Not saying Trump campaign wasn’t colluding with Putin, just trying to say that even if they did they wouldn’t be stupid enough to have been tapped by Obama’s men. Sorry my thoughts are all over the place, English is not my first language I tried to express my thought as well as i could. I have been a regular reader of this great site for months.

  35. David Says:

    Of course for those who hate Trump you can also argue that if Putin was willing to take such a great great to help Trump win the reward must be great, which is a tell that Trump is Putin’s puppet. The question is, does it even matter now? The reason why so few people who voted for Trump cared at this point weather Trump colluded with Russia is bc everyone with an ounce of intelligence knows very well that every politician in Washington is owned by people who don’t have Americans’ interest in their minds, may the puppet masters be Chinese, Iranian, Russian makes no difference. No one politician in Washington became a politician to do good for the people, they might be originally but Washington corrupts.

  36. Sergey Says:

    The absurd of the situation is rooted in a simple but hardly changeable fact: the country founded on Judeo-Christian moral and values has plunged during last 50 years into nihilistic, immoral paganism. This collision is unsolvable without full-scale society collapse. The last really conservative politician campaigning for presidency was Barry Goldwater, and he lost. So conservative revival is possible only after Progressives and so-called liberals drive the country into the gutter and leave it to conservatives to pull it out from there.

  37. J.J. Says:

    Not many people remember that Putin has a deep dislike of both Obama and Hillary. Hillary because of several factors.
    1. She and Bill were enthusiastic military supporters of the Muslims against the Serbs in the Kosovo. He hasn’t forgotten.
    2. While SoS Hillary angered him by lecturing down to him about his human rights abuses, especially the prohibition on gay marriage. Our Olympic delegation and media reporters to the Sochi Winter Olympics harped on the gay marriage prohibition endlessly.

    Putin hated Obama because he was a black man (Putin is a racist) that repeatedly treated Putin like a poor country cousin – talking down to him and dismissing Russia as a minor player in world affairs. He openly insulted him by not attending the opening of Sochi when he was expressly invited. Obama’s dislike of the gay marriage prohibition was cited as one reason for dissing Putin. Shortly after Sochi, Russia moved in to Crimea.

    Early on Putin began to realize that this haughty, self-important black man was not very principled when it came to standing for the interests of the U.S. Obama’s failure to enforce the red line in Syria and his inept handling of the Arab Spring

  38. Frog Says:

    Segey:
    Please consider that a country driven into the gutter by Democrats will be ruled by Democrats in a total totalitarian fashion. How long did it take the Poles to get out from under the Soviet yoke? The better part of twenty years, if memory serves. The Polish people were united via Catholicism, and St John Paul the Great was able to be a force for good in that context.
    There is no unity in America under any umbrella. Conservatives are not going to “pull it out” to save Progressive hoi polloi in the bargain.

  39. T Says:

    ” Maybe, but that strikes me as another 3-D chess claim.” [huxley @12:41]

    I understand the skepticism. It’s just that I keep thinking about that sage philosopher Auric Goldfinger:

    Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

    This happens too consistently and Trump has been doing it throughout the campaign. If the press, as a collective, had any sense at all they would have learned by now not to fall for it. IMO, however, Trump understands that 1) the MSM hates him and he accepts that (unlike McCain, who thinks the media loves him as a maverick), and 2) I think he also understands that this stuff is like chum in the water to sharks. The media just can’t help themselves but to be drawn to it. The events of the last six months evince that point.

    One last point, I offer that “smart” and “brilliant” are loaded terms. Most people are conditioned to accept people who know lots of facts and information as smart/brilliant. In truth, that just makes them data storage units and no one would call a computer “smart”. It’s what one does with/how one uses that data that is the real test of intelligence, at least IMO. So far I think Trump has proven himself a master at exactly that.

  40. J.J. Says:

    Oops, my post went up before I was through.

    ……Arab Spring brought Putin to the conclusion that with Obama at the helm the U.S was a true paper tiger.

    So, knowing this, why would Putin help the Republicans against Hillary? Since the FBI found evidence that whoever hacked the DNC/Podesta also tried to hack the RNC but failed. What would they have done had they succeeded in getting into the RNC e-mails? So, maybe whoever did the hacking was only trying to sow chaos into the campaign not necessarily putting a thumb on the scale for Hillary.

    The Democrats, by seizing on the e-mail revelations and the high confidence of the intel community that it was done by a Russian government associated entity. have created far more chaos than Putin or whoever did the hacking could have ever hoped for.

  41. Big Maq Says:

    @huxley – Mar 6, 6:08pm, 8:11pm; Mar 7, 12:15am – agree, and well said.

    Mar 7, 12:41am – agree on the potential seriousness, but trump needs to come to the table, rather than just leave it hanging without something to show it is not of thin air.

    He’s had way too many claims that prove false and for which he had flimsy evidence, if not nothing at all (or lies), to back his assertions up.

    As school children we all learned the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!”.

    Credibility is critical for leadership and this is how one goes about losing both.

  42. huxley Says:

    It’s what one does with/how one uses that data that is the real test of intelligence, at least IMO. So far I think Trump has proven himself a master at exactly that.

    T: I don’t doubt there is an element of canniness in Trump’s twittering just as there is in Don Rickles’s caustic barbs.

    However, Trump practically nuked his campaign twice by throwing such chum out into the water. He got a media reaction, all right, but it didn’t play to his advantage.

    I continue to believe that Trump would have lost the election if there hadn’t been that last gasp of the email scandal involving Comey and Anthony Weiner to deter just enough Democratic voters from the polls and thereby elect Trump or if Trump had tweeted another something stupid the week of the election.

  43. DNW Says:

    “Frog Says:
    March 7th, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Segey:
    Please consider that a country driven into the gutter by Democrats will be ruled by Democrats in a total totalitarian fashion. …
    There is no unity in America under any umbrella. Conservatives are not going to “pull it out” to save Progressive hoi polloi in the bargain.”

    Right. There is no we. I cannot tell you why any non-masochist would so much as lift a finger personally to pull a committed leftist out of a ditch. You show solidarity with a leftist (to use a term they love) and they return the favor by slicing the wrist of the hand that reached out.

    Conservatives could not seem to help themselves though; destined always to play the sap.

    But that’s changed apparently.

    It now looks as though some of that slightly premature, but totally uninhibited, triumphalist crowing of the left during the Obama years, finally woke some people up to the fact that their life-ways and even lives were on the line.

    That, or it was the fact that they had already lost their jobs, and were in the actual process of being economically and socially dispossessed, when they belatedly recognized that the establishment left thought that their looming destruction was a good thing and never intended to do anything about it but accelerate it.

    Bitter clingers, bitterly clinging to life, elected Trump.

    Why could they not see that their lives were a small price to pay for a more just and equally distributed world?

  44. Sergey Says:

    No totalitarian rule is possible in situation of total society collapse. Only self-organizing communities have a chance to successfully defend themselves from random street violence and marauding mobs. I remember one striking photo from mass riots of blacks in Los Angeles, when Korean shop-owners rose to the roofs of their shops in Korean neighborhood with shotguns and simply stop black mobs from entry into this neighborhood by warning shots. The situation will return to what it was during the Revolution. This will be a rebooting of constitutional order, led by oath keepers and like concerned citizen committee. Who owns most guns in the country and morally prepared for any sudden disaster?

  45. huxley Says:

    agree on the potential seriousness, but trump needs to come to the table, rather than just leave it hanging without something to show it is not of thin air.

    Big Maq: I agree in principle. But I note Trump’s disruptive pattern-breaking has been effective, and I can’t blame him, pragmatically speaking, for going to that well as often as he does.

    At this point I confess a clinical curiosity how far Trump can push his rope-a-dope tweeting.

  46. AesopFan Says:

    huxley Says:
    March 7th, 2017 at 5:27 pm…I note Trump’s disruptive pattern-breaking has been effective, and I can’t blame him, pragmatically speaking, for going to that well as often as he does.

    At this point I confess a clinical curiosity how far Trump can push his rope-a-dope tweeting.
    * * *
    “In case you have been missing Robots Read News, here’s a new one.” – it’s at the end of the post.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157989057151/am-i-predicting-or-influencing

  47. AesopFan Says:

    T Says:
    March 7th, 2017 at 12:22 am
    And on the lighter side, I saw a Tweet today which summed up the imbroglio as follows (I paraphrase):..
    Conserv: There are transcripts? That means that candidate Trump really was wiretapped and “bugged.”

    Prog: Transcripts? What transcripts?
    * * *
    Addressed at length by McCarthy here:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445522/russian-election-hacking-fbi-not-investigating-trump-campaign
    “That supposed FBI investigation of collusion with the Russians? Never mind . . . They’re in retreat now. You may have missed it amid President Trump’s startling Saturday tweet storm, the recriminations over president-on-candidate spying, and the Jeff Sessions recusal — a whirlwind weekend. But while you weren’t looking, an elaborate narrative died.”

  48. AesopFan Says:

    T Says:
    March 7th, 2017 at 12:10 am
    .

    https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/march/trump-clinton-debates-gender-reversal.html
    * * *
    That one deserves a neo post of it’s own.
    Amazingness indeed, especially the reactions of the people who conceived of the idea and implemented it — and didn’t get the result they thought they would.

  49. AesopFan Says:

    I got to it through this HotAir post, which summarizes and comments, with a short clip.
    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/03/07/academics-swapped-gender-of-trump-clinton-for-restaged-presidential-debate-and-the-results-surprised-them/

  50. AesopFan Says:

    The Other Gary Says:
    March 6th, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    Lately, Neo has done a great job of pointing out the subtle ways in which the left and MSM distort stories to fit their agenda. Here we have:

    1) “Unnamed officials”: makes it easy to appear that any assertion is backed up by statements from “those in the know.”
    * *
    On this specifically see:
    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/03/06/revenge-of-the-anonymous-sources/

    “At what point do we simply stop blindly accepting reports which provide no sourcing other than these anonymous sources? I feel kind of sad saying that because in the past it really wasn’t ever an issue. Reporters were supposed to be diligent in ensuring that their sources had the goods, and in return they could offer them anonymity so they wouldn’t get into any trouble with their bosses. But the case Jim highlighted is just one more data point which makes us question these age-old assumptions. Somebody was feeding the reporters a bunch of baloney and the news consuming public still really has no idea which is which.”

    (talking about this situation)
    “Jim Geraghty of National Review writes on the subject in the Morning Jolt today and highlights some recent incidents where “anonymous sources” directly contradict each other in the mainstream media.(Emphasis added)

    “Last week, we noticed that “U.S. officials” could tell NBC News that the Yemen raid yielded no significant intelligence and “American officials” could tell the New York Times that computers and cellphones seized offered “insights into new types of hidden explosives the group is making and new training tactics for militants.” A difference in assessments that stark is hard to chalk that (sic) up to a mundane difference of opinion on the value of the intelligence. It’s hard to shake the feeling that some officials are leaking a false version of events and hiding behind anonymity in an effort to influence public perceptions.

    So far, the story of alleged Russian collusion with Trump has relied just about entirely on anonymous sources.”

  51. AesopFan Says:

    Juli Says:
    March 6th, 2017 at 4:00 pm
    “If you look at all of this back-and-forth in a certain way, it becomes absurdist. That’s my mood today, anyway. ”

    Yes, but it can all be traced back to what the definition of “is” is. It’s a 10 year old’s way of winning an argument –focusing on the exact phrasing. Tough for me, since I’m a straight shooter – I could never make it in politics.

    I hate to sound like I’m 9, but they started it, and while I’d like for it to end, it won’t. Why? Because it works for them.
    * * *
    http://theweek.com/articles/679867/just-found-essay-wrote-when-10-sounds-exactly-like-president-trump

    Millman draws the conclusion that Trump sounds just like an ignorant 10-year-old.
    Reading the essay portions he quotes, I think it is more the case that he was smarter at 10 than he is now.

  52. Big Maq Says:

    “But I note Trump’s disruptive pattern-breaking has been effective, and I can’t blame him, pragmatically speaking, for going to that well as often as he does.” – huxley

    This is where we part company.

    There is a huge difference between being assertive and what trump is doing.

    The key is, EVENTUALLY, he has to have BROAD support.

    He won’t get that with lies, exaggerations, lack of focus, obsessed with petty issues, public emotional reactions, etc, etc.

    He has to make the case and to gain that support.

    In this, he is entirely ineffective at the bigger goal we ought to have (won’t go into the veracity of the polls here, but they do overall show trump down from the election, as one indicator).

    What all his supporters of his current behavior are betting is that the results will prove him out.

    Will the results actually be what they all imagine?

    Will they think it worth all this daily angst?

    Will folks, not already part of trump’s core, agree?

    Enough for the GOP to maintain majorities in 2018 and 2020?

    We’ll see.

  53. Ymarsakar Says:

    Trum is already accomplishing the moderate “fight them at DC so Americans won’t have to fight the Left at home” bit that doomsdayers or extreme moderate non reformers had thought up in 2015.

    Of course in the longer scheme of things, people will have to fight the Left and by extension their Islamic Jihadist allies at home. Trum cannot distract them forever from DC. Even if he actually survives in DC.

    By making everything about Trum, Trum connects it to the power of the Throne in DC, which connects it to the American people who voted the Throne its power.

    It is a physical manifestation of the principle even if it is not a logical argument. For most of America, rhetoric and manifested symbols are easier to understand then pure logic.

  54. Ymarsakar Says:

    Feeding the media disinformation so as to manipulate political games has been the case in America since at least Deep Throat + Richard Nixon’s problems.

    It even goes back to the Civil War I. It isn’t all that new. What makes it new is all these humans that think they know everything a human civilization can do, while they do not.

  55. Big Maq Says:

    “It is a physical manifestation of the principle even if it is not a logical argument. For most of America, rhetoric and manifested symbols are easier to understand then pure logic. -Ym

    I always have a problem with arguments that are founded on how smart one is at observing how “dumb” most everyone else is.
    .

    Agree that symbolism is powerful, and that herd instinct (something you don’t directly mention is the case, but seems to be what you are indicating) can seem downright illogical, if taken in isolation.

    In a general sense there is truth to this (e.g. “irrational exuberance” in the markets), but usually one can break it down to understand that individuals are behaving in what they may “see” as their own interest, where they have limited access (for one reason or another) to a broad set of relevant information.

    We may believe they are wrong in their assessment, without assuming some defect in their intellect or other inability to process logic.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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