Open Thread: Caveats on Trump’s “Tapping” Accusations

Because it’s never as easy as Now we’ve got him cornered, the vile miscreant!”… Two (IMO) important posts, one from Marcy Wheeler (EmptyWheel) and another from what I understand to be a respected security blog, on the limits and the dangers of what “we” know about Trump’s Waterbedgate so far.

If it were true that President Obama had ordered the intelligence community to “tapp” Trump’s phones for political reasons, that would of course be a serious scandal—and crime—of Nixonian proportions. Yet there’s nothing in the published reports—vague though they are—to support such a dramatic allegation…

…[C]ontrary to what many on social media—and even a few reporters for reputable outlets—have asserted, the issuance of a FISA order does not imply that the FBI established probable cause to believe that any Trump associate was acting as an “agent of a foreign power” or engaged in criminal wrongdoing. That would be necessary only if the court had authorized direct electronic surveillance of a United States person, which (if we credit the BBC report) the FISC apparently declined to do. Assuming the initial applications were indeed for full-blown electronic surveillance orders, then the fact that the FBI supposedly did name the Trump associates at first would suggest they may have thought they had such evidence, but one would expect the FISC to apply particularly exacting scrutiny to an application naming persons associated with an ongoing presidential campaign. An application targeting only foreign corporate entities—especially entities openly controlled or directed by the Russian government—would require no such showing, even if the FBI’s ultimate interest were in communications concerning those U.S. persons…

In short, both Breitbart and Trump have advanced claims far more dramatic than anything the public evidence can support. That said, intelligence monitoring—whether direct or indirect—of persons connected with a presidential campaign inherently carries a high risk of abuse, and as Congress moves to launch its own inquiries into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, it would be entirely appropriate to further scrutinize both the FBI’s initial surveillance and applications and the surveillance that was ultimately conducted for any signs of impropriety. In the meantime, it might behoove the Commander in Chief to refrain from issuing serious and inflammatory accusations based wholly on “intelligence” gleaned from Breitbart News.

And Marcy Wheeler, at Emptywheel, lays out “The Conspiratorial Game of Telephone in Bannon’s Rag that Made Left, Right, and POTUS Go Crazy“:

The story starts with this Louise Mensch story. For those who don’t know, Mensch is a former Tory Member of Parliament turned American rock promoter wife. Since quitting Parliament to spend more time with her family, she has become a pundit known for taking reasonable observations, injecting just a bit of whack, and turning them into fairly unhinged theories… At a time when Hillary’s team was furious that the FBI had been publicly discussing her emails rather than Trump’s Russian ties, Mensch reported that the FBI got a FISA order in October, after having been denied a more broadly drawn order earlier in the year.

The timing of the October FISA order has been backed in subsequent reporting. It is Mensch’s explanation for the basis of the order that is the problem, as it relied on the dodgy Alfa Bank story

Amid a treatment of the Mike Flynn resignation, the release of the dossier (Breitbart sort of tweaks the timeline of these two, though I get that capturing the timeline is tough), and the Sessions’ disclosures, Breitbart discusses the expansion of information sharing and preservation of evidence…

But Breitbart relies on a PJ Media piece instead, which falsely claims Flynn was targeted in the wiretaps of Kislyak and describes it as an expansion of NSA powers rather than an expansion of FBI and CIA access. Breitbart then concludes that “new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.” …

All this is noteworthy because Trump was apparently already lashing out because Sessions recused himself…

In spite of the fact that Trump’s information can be pretty clearly attributed to the Breitbart piece, and the allegations about Trump Tower in it can be pretty clearly shown to be unsubstantiated, both the right and the left took Trump’s tirade to be some kind of confirmation, as if he just got briefed by the spooks that they’ve been listening in on this calls.

Trump hasn’t been bugged. It’s quite likely a number of Trump’s close associates are, after incriminating information showed up about or involving them on other wiretaps. There’s zero reason to believe Obama ordered them, not least because everyone involved believed Obama was responding too nonchalantly to the Russian accusations.

Trump’s associates are bugged, to the extent one or more of them are directly targeted rather than being collected incidentally, because they’re suspected of being Russian assets. That’s one of the key points of FISA, to use it to investigate possible spies working for foreign governments.

But because of the frenzy caused by Trump’s response to the Breitbart story, people are taking as true Trump’s claim he has been bugged, with Democrats claiming this is proof that Trump himself is in the crosshairs and normally surveillance loving Republicans suggesting using FISA to do what FISA is supposed to do is an abuse.

Remember, at least according to Sessions, he had decided to recuse before the WaPo disclosures on his ties with Kislyak. Whether or not that’s true, Trump is furious that Sessions recused even after a clear conflict became known.

And in response he tried — with a great deal of success — to discredit the very notion of this investigation…

ETA: From CNN, just now —

The FBI asked the Justice Department on Saturday to refute President Donald Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s phones last year, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

The FBI made the request because such wiretapping would be illegal, since the President cannot just order the eavesdropping of a U.S. citizen’s phones, the sources said. The sources would not say who was involved in the conversations between the FBI and DOJ…

So, the security services in question are taking Trump’s rant seriously enough to push back, at least.






174 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    I put Mensch and Schindler in the same arm’s length burn bag because I do not trust them not to fucking viper me in the neck if I slip up and turn my head. I think Rick Wilson is just a notch outside that circle.
    YMMV

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    Danielle Pletka needs to never be invited on TV ever again.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m feeling that way about most people these days.

  4. 4
    amk says:

    And in response he tried – with a great deal of success – to discredit the very notion of this investigation…

    So, his gishgallop worked? Again?

  5. 5
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Baud: You can trust us, though.

  6. 6

    Even more photos from yesterday’s Anti-Trump march in Kansas City:

    Anti-Trump March in Kansas City – March 4, 2017 – part 3

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @Gin & Tonic: With my life.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: You poor, trusting fool. Or do you just set a very low value on your life?

  9. 9
    SFAW says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You poor, trusting fool.

    No, that would be if he trusted ME with his life.

  10. 10
    Mary G says:

    @Corner Stone: I started following Louise a while back and she has more than a touch of whack. For one thing, she idolizes Margaret Thatcher. But some people credit her with good work with airplane tail numbers. I can never follow it myself. I wish that she and Adam Khan would report somewhere besides Twitter. Also, she went ballistic on emptywheel yesterday or Friday, then took it back.

  11. 11
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @amk:

    So, his gishgallop worked? Again?

    Certainly with his base, gave them a reason to refuse to believe any of the reports.

    This certainly seems like a lot of reporters citing each other almost no primary sources, doesn’t it?

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    There is no peak-Trump.

  13. 13
    Starfish says:

    @Michael Bersin: Great pictures!

  14. 14
    Fermion T. Clown says:

    Julian Sanchez coined the term “epistemic closure”.

    He is a libertarian and a fellow at Cato (or was until recently).

    One of the credible libertarians IMO.

    He wrote one of the best analyses of Hillary’s e-mail server and why the accusations against her were not actionable.

  15. 15
    debbie says:

    Comey turns yet again.

  16. 16

    @Baud: You can trust me Baud, believe me.

  17. 17
    JMG says:

    People who cover the covert world get like the people inside it, just a bit twitchy. This was just Trump ranting without cause yet again. Don’t bother saying “but his base will fall for it.” He IS his base, as ignorant, nasty, bigoted and self-centered as they are. The important thing to do is to maintain our own balance while fighting him. Going into the bad acid trips of professional conspiracy mongers ain’t how to do that.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: What could go wrong?

  19. 19
    amk says:

    So, is comey in or out? Does he have the guts to stand up to twitler & co?

  20. 20
    Fermion T. Clown says:

    Reposting a comment which doesn’t seem to have taken (so if this comment appears twice, I apologize):

    Julian Sanchez is a fellow at libertarian (aka Koch-funded) Cato.

    He coined the term “epistemic closure.”

    He wrote one of the best (IMO) analyses of HRC’s e-mail server and why allegations against HRC were not actionable.

    He is credible IMO.

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I didn’t until you said “believe me.”

  22. 22
    Aleta says:

    @Baud: No one can predict that.

  23. 23
    amk says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: All tangled webs in ‘homeland security’. 24×7 BREAKING NEWS culture doesn’t help.

  24. 24

    @JMG: Thanks, I am so not interested in what his base will and will not do.

  25. 25
    Fermion the Clown says:

    Third time reposting a comment which doesn’t seem to have taken (so if this comment appears two or even three times, I apologize):

    Julian Sanchez is a fellow at libertarian (aka Koch-funded) Cato.

    He coined the term “epistemic closure.”

    He wrote one of the best (IMO) analyses of HRC’s e-mail server and why allegations against HRC were not actionable.

    He is credible IMO.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: I tried to make that happen in 2004. It got as far as the retired Green Beret Senior NCO who was CNN’s National Security Analyst. He agreed with me. No one else did.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mary G: Louise is a horrible human being. She goes nutso on someone every once in a while and it’s always hard to follow why she thinks Martians have invaded the body snatchers of the twitter accounts of the people she is attacking.

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: She’s a wee bit tightly wound.

  29. 29
    efgoldman says:

    @amk:

    Does he have the guts to stand up to twitler & co?

    Magic eight ball says this weei, yes; next week, who knows.

  30. 30
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud: Trust us. Trrruuusssttt ussss

  31. 31
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: She should trust Balloon Juice more. It’s calming.

  32. 32
    Corner Stone says:

    @amk:

    So, is comey in or out? Does he have the guts to stand up to twitler & co?

    Comey goes in, Comey goes out. You can’t explain that.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: @amk: Right now he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing, and what he, unfortunately, thought he was doing in October: trying to protect the integrity of whatever investigations – criminal and/or counterintelligence – are ongoing and the integrity of the FBI and DOJ. You can rely on Director Comey to do these things. Which is how the NY Field Office and Congressman Chaffetz managed to manipulate him into the October Surprise.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: You turn your Comey around, that’s what its all about!

  35. 35

    @Starfish:

    With a digital camera you can’t waste film. I just keep taking pictures.

  36. 36
    JPL says:

    @efgoldman: He’s a man of integrity. Of course, it depends on his meaning of integrity, so who knows. I’m going to repost this from Bruce Bartlett as long as he is around though.

    If FBI director Comey torpedoed Hillary knowing that it would benefit someone potentially involved in treason, I don’t know what to say.

  37. 37
    Mary G says:

    @Michael Bersin: I haven’t said so before, but I love your protest photos.

  38. 38
    chris says:

    Test.

    Barack Obama's master plan:1) Wiretap the opposition 2) Gather damaging info 3) Say nothing4) Let him win 5) Ride off into the sunset— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) 5 March 2017

    ETA: so that’s how…

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’m not relying on Comey for anything. At best, he is weak and easily manipulated.

  40. 40
    HeleninEire says:

    @Corner Stone: What time is it?

  41. 41
    Mickee says:

    @Mary G: She (Louise Mensch) is a bit out there, but has been right on several big stories that others missed. EmptyWheel has so far been, well empty. Who knows what to believe in this crazy situation? Agree with poster who suggested Mensch and Khan should use venue other than Twitter. Lots of stuff–too hard to follow in 140 characters and tiny pictures.

  42. 42

    @Mary G:

    Aw shucks, thanks. Jerry Schmidt (another denizen of Show Me Progress) and I are in discussions to produce a very large print gallery show of our protest work. We have protest stills going back to the Occupy period. The show could take place in September.

  43. 43
    Corner Stone says:

    @HeleninEire: It’s time to get ill!

  44. 44
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mickee:

    She (Louise Mensch) is a bit out there, but has been right on several big stories that others missed.

    Not really missed, but decided to not publish. You can castigate those reporters for not putting the stories forward, but LM certainly did not break them in original reporting.

  45. 45
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Gin & Tonic: No he can’t! Speak for yourself.

  46. 46
    amk says:

    h/t to whoever that said twitler regime is basically youtube comments section achieving sentience.

  47. 47
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Baud: And after what he did to Secretary Clinton just before the election, he can go kick rocks.

  48. 48

    @amk: I thought it was the chain emails that your elderly relatives forward to you.

  49. 49
    Jean says:

    @Corner Stone: Yeah, he parachutes in and he parachutes out. I can make no sense of it.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @amk: Sentience? Are you sure?

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: I’m not saying you should. I’m just providing my take on him and his actions.

  52. 52
    Mickee says:

    8th (at least) death of a Russian diplomat or person implicated in Trump world. Most recent, Alex Oronov, was related by marriage to Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, and person who worked with Andrii V. Artemenko (who is in Vienna fighting extradition to the US and no doubt majorly freaking out right about now) on the Cohen/Trump Ukranian ‘Peace Plan.’

    Russians and Ukranians have very unique causes of death. Several diplomats managed to put themselves in their trunks after killing themselves. One guy had a fatal ‘blunt force’ heart attack. Churkin’s autopsy just revealed poison in the kidneys, which will no doubt be attributed to severe ‘natural causes.’ The FBI better get a move on before all their witnesses are dead.

  53. 53
    Baud says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Right. And remember his totally gratuitous and unprofessional exposition on email practices when he first concluded the investigation.

  54. 54
    Smedley the uncertain says:

    @Adam L Silverman: In my head…

  55. 55
    PPCLI says:

    @Mickee: Dmitry Firtash is the guy fighting extradition to the US. Artemenko is free, as far as I know. Though I dare say you are right that he is majorly freaking out.

  56. 56
    SFAW says:

    @Mickee:

    The FBI better get a move on before all their witnesses are dead.

    The New York Office will get right on that.

  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @Patricia Kayden: haha time to post Bartlett’s tweet again

    If FBI director Comey torpedoed Hillary knowing that it would benefit someone potentially involved in treason, I don’t know what to say.

    I think that tweet will come in handy. IMO, Comey has been compromised, and he is trying to save what integrity he has left. Of course, that means, he knows the definition of integrity.

  58. 58
    TenguPhule says:

    @Baud: Tempting fate.

  59. 59
    HeleninEire says:

    @Corner Stone: So a little birdie told me that you are planning a trip with your son (who apparently kicks his grandparents logic to the curb) oh wait – the trip is in Europe). Is it?

  60. 60
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @GrandJury: Thank the Lord that you are here to set us straight.

  61. 61
    dm says:

    I think Anne presented Josh Marshall’s “Innocent explanation #1” the other day (BJ-unfriendly summary: ‘You lie down with the dogs, you get up with fleas’ + ‘Trump thinks that what is good for Trump is good, period, the Russian involvement was good for Trump, therefore, there’s no problem’). Here’s “innocent explanation #2”, which introduces the “Mailer defense” (see the article for the origin of this term): the Russian-involvement web is so tangled, the Trumpsheviks don’t actually know whether or not there really is a smoking gun in there, so they oppose all investigation because they don’t know what it might find.

    In a way, I care less about Marshall’s reasoning in this case than I do about “the Mailer defense” as an analytic tool. File it next to “Never attribute to malice that which is explainable by stupidity”.

    I think he’s mentioned it before — perhaps talking about Trump’s tax-returns (who knows, there might be nothing there, but Trump is involved in so much sleaze, he can’t be confident there isn’t).

  62. 62
    amk says:

    This just about says it all.

  63. 63
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Can we trust it?

  64. 64
    Lizzy L says:

    @GrandJury: We know. It is also meant to distract from the new immigration EO coming tomorrow or soon after, and the death of the ACA which the Republicans are frantically working on. We all know this too. You really don’t get how this place works, do you?

  65. 65
    Brachiator says:

    The moment for the #GOP to announce, “Hey, um, Trump is insane — we can’t do this” was a year ago. Now they have nothing but awful choices.

    Yes! Trump has again shown himself to be a vicious counter puncher when he is criticized. But like the cowardly punk that he is, he originally had his inheritance and the New York entertainment media to give him faux legitimacy.

    Now that he has been elected president, he has the power of the Oval office behind him. It is noteworthy that the FBI has appeared to back away from Trump’s claim, which will only further infuriate him.

    There is no point considering these claims, which are as stupid as birtherism. But Trump knows that his accusations will thrill his supporters, and stoke a new and dangerous level of hatred toward Obama.

    Which leaves the Republican Congress. If they let themselves be drawn in to supporting Trump’s conspiracy laced insanity, will they have taken us closer to killing democracy?

    ETA. Trump is a sick genius in referencing Obama’s open mike comment. I wonder if he had any help digging this up?

    Also, looks like the leader of North Korea refuses to yield any ground to Trump as Head Crazy. So now we have to deal with the consequences of their missile launcher. Cue the Trump Twitter Machine.

  66. 66
    Chet Murthy says:

    @GrandJury: GJ, I recall you weren’t the most helpful person, back in the day, but the last two comments I’ve seen from you were rational, so I’ll answer:

    Many people can walk and chew gum at the same time. Some can walk, chew gum, and read a funny paper, all while avoiding getting run over (we even stop at intersections, look both ways, and don’t read until we get to the other side).

    Yep, we need to call our reps about Sessions, Gorsuch, and the ACA. And the only real answer is voter registration in swing districts (and red ‘uns) for 2018. And nobody trusts Fat Termite, ZEGS, Yertle or any of those greasy cretins as far as we can throw ’em. [and I’m not even going to address the horrors descending upon the undocumented, who need our support right now.]

    But we -can- read the funny papers, while not getting run over. And just maybe, there’s a punchline in the next issue. Probably not. Probably, it’s horrors until (cross fingers) 2018. Maybe longer.

    What do you do in the morning? Start crying, until it’s time for bed?

  67. 67
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @JPL: That would be a reason he’d want the DOJ to quash the idea. It would put him in a very nasty position.

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @GrandJury: We get free cat calendars? When did this start?

  69. 69
    JPL says:

    @Gelfling 545: Yup and the DOJ didn’t quash it, which is why it was leaked .

  70. 70
    efgoldman says:

    @GrandJury:

    They need to fill their quota so they can get their free cat calendar or whatever. What’s your excuse?

    Yup, same poster who kept calling us a bunch of pants-wetters. Time for pie.

  71. 71
    SFAW says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    Fat Termite

    Bannon? If not, then who? Color me dim on this.

  72. 72
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Brachiator:

    Trump is a sick genius in referencing Obama’s open mike comment. I wonder if he had any help digging this up?

    Wait, what open mic comment? Did I miss something?

  73. 73
    Lizzy L says:

    @GrandJury: Because — oh, fuggedaboutit. As I said, you don’t get this place. You don’t have to stay. We’ll survive your absence. The door’s over there.

  74. 74
    SFAW says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    “I’ll have more flexibility after the [2012] election” said to Putin

  75. 75
    trollhattan says:

    @amk:
    Couple months ago “On the Media” had an intelligence analyst on who maintained Comey was now (ironically) the most important barrier between Trump and the country. Waved it off at the time but now I’m not so sure, especially recalling Jack Ashcroft in the hospital.

  76. 76
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @GrandJury: You don’t read so good.

  77. 77
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @SFAW: Ah. Thanks.

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: I’ve said it here several times. Would you prefer FBI Director Kris Kobach? Or FBI Director David Clarke?

  79. 79
    SFAW says:

    @efgoldman:

    same poster who kept calling us a bunch of pants-wetters.

    I knew there was something I didn’t miss, due to its absence.

  80. 80
    efgoldman says:

    @Brachiator:

    Trump is a sick genius

    Sick for sure. Genius not so much. Stupid, ignorant, unwilling and unable to learn. “Ability to strike” is reflexive, like certain non-sentient poisonous animals. A Portuguese Man O’War can strike fatally too. Just reflex.

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:

    @GrandJury:

    This is to distract from Sessions and the Russian allegations in general.

    So Trump is trying to distract us from the Russian allegations by ranting about the Russian allegations on Twitter?

  82. 82
    Ohio Mom says:

    I hate spy movies, I can never follow all the plots and subplots and double-crossings and secret identities. I like a nice romantic comedy or a quirky slice-of-life French film.

    So part of my horror at all this news is that I am now being forced to watch, in real time, whatever it is that is unfurling (or not) in front of us. And I am not any better at following along than I am at the movies.

    It is yet another thing I hate about Trump.

  83. 83
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Would you prefer FBI Director Kris Kobach? Or FBI Director David Clarke?

    The feeb bureaucracy would eat either one of them alive, which doesn’t mean things would be better, and also doesn’t mean Cheetoh Caligula wouldn’t appoint one of them.
    Requires senate confirmation, yes?

  84. 84
    Chet Murthy says:

    @SFAW: Fat Termite is Pence. I forget the deicious nick for Chaffetz. Sigh.

  85. 85
    jl says:

    To those concerned that the Trump allegations against Obama are a distraction, I think everyone understands that. But, if the attempted distraction lands the morons in the Trump camp into more trouble, Hey, let’s not get in their way. As Democratic Vietnamese-American Congressman Lieu said (paraphrase) ‘Yeah, sure, if a FISA judge issued some kind of warrant, let’s look into that. Means Donny is in deep shit.” And I heard on news that Clapper and Comey are flatly denying Obama interfered with normal judicial process in any way, and I expect more people who would know to say the same thing soon. So, except that, by Bannon’s standards, Clapper and Comey are race traitors, everything is good.

    @dm: I don’t take what Marshall wrote as a defense of Trump. Just an attempt at one angle that may lead to the real truth. It’s so easy to get Trump into a blind panic and rage attack, it is hard to impute motives to his ravings. But it is possible that Trump is just so oblivious and dense and ignorant and incurious that his flunkies who have been trying to tap into to Russian mob and oligarch money through their Ukrainian/Russian connections are the ones who committed actual crimes (like getting foreign cash, or paying foreign agents) to influence an election. And it is interesting that they, including the con artist Roger Stone, seem to be in a blind panic.

    If they go, Trump will be lost at sea trying to get his idiotic New Bannon/Trump World Order project going. Bannon will be all that’s left, assuming he is clean. Can he round up another posse of dimwit scoundrels whose main chance at mega-wealth is tapping into dirty Russian money and pleasing Putin? Trump might have to deal with sane people with some sense of public interest. Though there is a danger he might have to turn to a group of pure neocons (Bolton). But they would be arguing against Trump’s natural self-interest, since apparently Russian mob and oligarch money has kept many of big real estate ventures going.

  86. 86
    amk says:

    @Smiling Mortician: forget it jake. it’s a twitler fluffer.

  87. 87
    Schlemazel says:

    SNL produced a movie trailer for the film about the Republican who had balls enough to oppose Trump
    http://www.vanityfair.com/holl.....eo-trailer

    A man by the name of . . . TBD

  88. 88

    According to the Washington Post, Dolt 45 spent the weekend pissed off; let’s keep the pressure up.

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @amk: You are awfully quick to call a longtime commenter a Trumpie.

  90. 90
    efgoldman says:

    @jl:

    It’s so easy to get Trump into a blind panic and rage attack, it is hard to impute motives to his ravings. But it is possible that Trump is just so oblivious and dense and ignorant and incurious….

    Occam says bingo.

  91. 91
    debbie says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    Heathcliff and Cathy on the moor is as much drama as I’m in the mood for.

  92. 92
    amk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: you saying comey is totally on the up and up?

  93. 93
    SFAW says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    I forget the deicious nick for Chaffetz.

    I call him Pigface, because that’s what he looks like. I can’t see “Fat Termite” for Dence, but I’ll take your word for it.

  94. 94
    dm says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I hate spy movies, I can never follow all the plots and subplots and double-crossings and secret identities. I like a nice romantic comedy or a quirky slice-of-life French film.

    Then you have Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, with all their plots and subplots and secret (or mistaken) identities….

    Probably you’d hate Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood which does his usual too-clever-by-the-spade-full thing of combining the double-and-triple identies of espionage stories with the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t of quantum physics.

  95. 95
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: Yes it requires confirmation. Both of them would sail through the GOP majority Senate.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    @efgoldman:

    Sick for sure. Genius not so much. Stupid, ignorant, unwilling and unable to learn. “Ability to strike” is reflexive, like certain non-sentient poisonous animals. A Portuguese Man O’War can strike fatally too. Just reflex.

    Perhaps a bit of hyperbole on my part in calling it genius. But it is not stupid and more than a reflex. Trump knows how to deliver a rhetorical counter punch to gain the maximum amount of distraction and which will generate the maximum of ire among his supporters. This takes a degree of talent and Trump has obviously honed his skills at this.

  97. 97
    PPCLI says:

    @Brachiator: I’m sure that Trump saw the “flexible after the election” comment on his twitter feed or in Breitbart many times. It is on constant rotation these days in the RWNJ hit parade. Even though it is irrelevant because: a) Obama was actually president at the time, so he could legally have conversations like that and b) The remark isn’t promising to do anything at all. It’s just saying he isn’t going to do anything until later.

    But when you are desperate to distract, you reach for what you’ve got.

    Also, the “Tell Vladimir that” bit was Trump’s invention, though Medvedev did then say that he would tell Putin.

  98. 98
    efgoldman says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    Dolt 45 spent the weekend pissed off; let’s keep the pressure up.

    I still can’t believe that he’s not in a foaming rage about the Obamas’ book deal. I thought for sure there would be a twittlergasm forthcoming.

    Hmmmm… Adolf Twittler… has a certain ring to it….

  99. 99
    jl says:

    @Schlemazel: That was hilarious, and also sad.

  100. 100
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Take your pick:
    Kate Bush

    Pat Benatar

  101. 101
    Chet Murthy says:

    @SFAW: I’m no comic genius — I just adopted ’em b/c I saw ’em elsewhere and thought they were good. A recent one I’m liking is Benedict Donald.

    And then there’s Waterbedgate.

    Poor GJ doesn’t get it, that it’s important to laugh (and spread the laughter) at petty tyrants, too.

  102. 102
    Brachiator says:

    Trump is so weird. A little something from the Economist on this recent Twitter storm…

    Some observers felt that Mr Trump himself seemed to tire of his own outburst, tweeting his thoughts about a casting change on a reality-television show some 30 minutes after accusing his predecessor of something close to treason. Others see sincere rage, even paranoia. A conservative media boss and old friend of Mr Trump’s, Chris Ruddy, claims that the president believes his own allegations about wire-tapping with a fierce rage, telling him this weekend: “I will be proven right”.

    It is amazing to think that Trump might believe his own bullshit.

    It is also amazing to think that Trump has any real friends.

  103. 103
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Kate Bush. Every time.

  104. 104
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I did not know of the existence of the second one until now.

  105. 105
    jl says:

    @Brachiator: Remember the Larry Wilmore crack about Trump, (paraphrase since been a while), so arrogant and childish that he believes something has to be true because he just heard himself say it.

    And in a recent post, I think the recent ‘defense’ of Trump part 1 post, Josh Marshall agreed, except Marshall used three or four longish sentences.

  106. 106
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @amk: I’m saying, as I’ve said all along, that Director Comey is predictable. He believes that he is, indeed, the last upright and honest man in the Federal government. And that the FBI must also be perceived as being upright and honest. Because he believes this, which makes him predictable, it was easy to manipulate him in October regarding Secretary Clinton’s emails. You can trust Director Comey to do what he thinks is the upright and honest thing, as well as to try to safeguard the integrity and reputation of the Bureau. That’s it and it is based on observing his publicly known actions over the past 20 years or so.

  107. 107
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Nice, but sometimes, only the original will do.

  108. 108
    kindness says:

    The Alfa Bank/Trump server thing has never been really explained to my satisfaction, really.

  109. 109
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I hate spy movies, I can never follow all the plots and subplots and double-crossings and secret identities. I like a nice romantic comedy or a quirky slice-of-life French film.

    So part of my horror at all this news is that I am now being forced to watch, in real time, whatever it is that is unfurling (or not) in front of us. And I am not any better at following along than I am at the movies.

    It is yet another thing I hate about Trump.

    Similar reason for yet another thing I hated about W. As much as I wanted to know everything about everything when I was younger, i knew that was impossible so I chose certain areas to ignore, allowing me to focus on important things such as grammar nits, baseball statistics, and 80’s alternative music.

    Anyhoo, one area I chose to ignore was the Middle East, figuring that it would never be solved so no reason to get sucked in. W and his army of neocon morons totally ruined my ignorance of that effed up part of the world, much as they ruined the economy and the Supreme Court.

    tl; dr: I feel your pain.

  110. 110
    SFAW says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Kate for singing, but her vids are too weird.
    But Benatar was better than I thought she’d be.

  111. 111
    dm says:

    @jl:

    I don’t take what Marshall wrote as a defense of Trump. Just an attempt at one angle that may lead to the real truth. It’s so easy to get Trump into a blind panic and rage attack, it is hard to impute motives to his ravings. But it is possible that Trump is just so oblivious and dense and ignorant and incurious that his flunkies who have been trying to tap into to Russian mob and oligarch money through their Ukrainian/Russian connections are the ones who committed actual crimes (like getting foreign cash, or paying foreign agents) to influence an election. And it is interesting that they, including the con artist Roger Stone, seem to be in a blind panic.

    I don’t view what Marshall is doing as a defense, either — more an exploration of the possible boundaries of “the problem”/”the situation”. Trying to figure out possible parameters for what’s happening.

    The rest of your paragraph is, I think, part of what Marshall is saying in his first article: Trump’s flunkies were working to Trump’s benefit; to Trump what is good for Trump is good by definition; therefore, Trump thinks what his flunkies did is okay, and people should stop picking on him. The flunkies know better.

    The Mailer analysis in the second article takes this a bit further: even the flunkies don’t know how far over the line one or more of their number may have gone, so part of their panic comes from not knowing what landmines they may have set for themselves to step on.

  112. 112
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    That’s it and it is based on observing his publicly known actions over the past 20 years or so.

    The very Gibraltar of Integritytude!

  113. 113
    efgoldman says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    I chose certain areas to ignore, allowing me to focus on important things such as grammar nits, baseball statistics, and 80’s alternative music.

    Are you a seamhead?

  114. 114
    SFAW says:

    @debbie:

    Nice, but sometimes, only the original will do.

    Maybe, but the semaphore version is pretty good, too.
    Followed closely by “Julius Caesar” on an Aldis lamp.

  115. 115
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Benatar covered it a long time ago. On the Crimes of Passion album.

  116. 116
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Here’s Kate Bush’s other official video for the song:

  117. 117
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Benatarology is not one of my areas of expertise.

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: That’s what he seems to believe of himself.

  119. 119
    dm says:

    @kindness: I thought I would accept the explanation (DNS lookup in response to spam pings, or something like that, even though DNS architect Paul Vixie thought otherwise) until I found out about the Session/Alfa Bank connection.

  120. 120
    amk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Predictable or pliable? Looks to me the latter. Despite his righteous self-delusions.

  121. 121
    jl says:

    @dm: I am more skeptical of the ‘Mailer theory’ in Marshall’s part 2. Stone, for example, seemed to be in on some advance notice of supposed bombshells (which were not all that interesting, in a sane world) developments. Stone seems to have been actively plugged into some operation, and I read he has been acting in overdrive totally batshit insane panic mode over last couple of days. I’m not going to waste my time or wreck my appetite to go look and see for myself what that sleazebag is saying, though.

  122. 122
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @efgoldman:

    Are you a seamhead?

    I was, and having a partially semi sort of eidetic memory helped. Lost a lot of my taste for it when (1) we had kids and they apparently required a great deal of attention, and (2) I worked for a data company where the seamheads therein scared me with their unquenchable (and frankly unhealthy) need to have all the data.

    But if you want to discuss the details of Cubs teams from 1974-1989, I still remember most of them.

  123. 123
    SFAW says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thanks, I guess.
    But I would have been OK with one of those lyrics-scrolling-with-the-recording-playing vids. I love her singing this (and various others of hers, and Peter Gabriel, etc.), but her theatrics are a little much.

    And, yes, I know you didn’t post it for my benefit.

  124. 124
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Benatarology is not one of my areas of expertise.

    This is why you are an A-list poster.

  125. 125
    PPCLI says:

    @jl: I agree – that is how I read Marshall’s pieces too. It’s good intellectual hygiene to always look for alternative explanations, to keep yourself from losing perspective. Then when you do arrive at a settled point of view, it will have been subject to informed critical self-scrutiny.

  126. 126
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @amk: I don’t know the man. But my take is predictable, which makes him manipulatable under the right conditions.

  127. 127
    Ohio Mom says:

    @dm: The thing about Shakespeare is, I know the story and how it’s going to end before I take my seat. But yes, the Stoppard sounds like something I would avoid.

  128. 128
    dm says:

    @jl: Sure. Like I said, I think the “Mailer Analysis” is a good mental tool to file away for use in future scandals.

    Or maybe it isn’t: it’s not too hard to imagine it being used against Hillary Clinton (e.g., during the reluctance to release speeches to Goldman-Sachs (which, when they were finally released proved to be completely banal, causing me to wonder if she opposed releasing them so long merely from embarassment)). I’m sure schroedingers_cat could find a way to wield it against the Tribune of all things Liberal, as well.

  129. 129
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Dear god.

  130. 130
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SFAW: Both the audio and visual portions of the Kate Bush audio-visual extravaganza are acquired tastes.

  131. 131
    SFAW says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    we had kids and they apparently required a great deal of attention,

    Trade ’em for ones that don’t, or let them be Free Agents.

    But if you want to discuss the details of Cubs teams from 1974-1989, I still remember most of them.

    A valuable skill in … Hyde Park? Not many other places, thank FSM.

  132. 132
    amk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: gud gawd dood. officialese lingo?

  133. 133
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: She’s purdy.

  134. 134
    efgoldman says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    we had kids and they apparently required a great deal of attention

    You could always let them learn on their own why touching a hot stove or playing in traffic are bad ideas.

  135. 135
    SFAW says:

    @dm:

    the Tribune of all things Liberal,

    And that is who/what?

  136. 136
    dm says:

    @efgoldman:

    Are you a seamhead?

    I had to google to find out that “seam” wasn’t a strain of 80s alternative music I had missed. After SFAW’s first response about how it required lots of attention, I figured it was an early form of trance….

  137. 137
    debbie says:

    @Ohio Mom: @Ohio Mom:

    If you haven’t seen it, Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is brilliant.

  138. 138
    efgoldman says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I know the story and how it’s going to end before I take my seat.

    SPOILER ALERT! Everybody dies!
    [Except in some 19th century French opera versions of Hamlet and R&J. The Paris Opera audiences insisted on happy endings]

  139. 139
    pk says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I hate spy movies, I can never follow all the plots and subplots and double-crossings and secret identities. I like a nice romantic comedy or a quirky slice-of-life French film.

    So part of my horror at all this news is that I am now being forced to watch, in real time, whatever it is that is unfurling (or not) in front of us. And I am not any better at following along than I am at the movies.

    And the worst part of this terrible spy movie like scenario is that there are no good looking Russians or American agents or interesting women. It’s all balding middle aged men with bad skin and comb overs or scarecrow blonds. Melania is somewhat interesting, but her heart’s not in it. I’d have liked her to have been Putin’s moll who marries the aging billionaire for the sake of the motherland.

  140. 140
    dm says:

    @SFAW: Ssh. We don’t mention his name here without risking relitigating the primary.

  141. 141
    SFAW says:

    @dm:

    No, it was the kids that required attention.

    I assumed “seamhead” relates to baseball, but probably worng about that, too.

  142. 142
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @efgoldman:

    Occam says bingo.

    Seconded. Eleven-dimension chess is Obama’s game.

  143. 143
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @SFAW:

    A valuable skill in … Hyde Park? Not many other places, thank FSM.

    Winnetka!

  144. 144
    efgoldman says:

    @dm:

    I figured it was an early form of trance….

    If you find yourself talking to one about baseball, you’ll find it is, actually.

  145. 145
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    Fat Termite is Pence.

    Huh. I thought it was Steve Bannon!

    (And Jason ‘Beaver Scout’ Chaffetz.)

  146. 146
    SFAW says:

    @dm:

    Oh.

    I guess my memory’s even worse than I thought.

  147. 147
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Lincoln Park.

  148. 148
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @efgoldman:

    You could always let them learn on their own why touching a hot stove or playing in traffic are bad ideas.

    Or where pepper games are and are not allowed

  149. 149
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @amk: Because of what he believes about himself, his behavior can be predicted. Because his behavior can be predicted, under the right conditions he can be manipulated as a result.

  150. 150
    ding7777 says:

    Why would Ivanka Jared and the kids fly to Mar-a-Lago to observe shabbat?

  151. 151
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: IIRC correctly, you are a man of exquisite taste, to wit: a fan of “Archer.” Have you been watching “The Detour” starring Samantha Bee’s husband and some smokin’ woman I remember only as having played a smokin’ woman on “Californication”? It is hi-larious.

    ETA: also “Angie Tribeca”

  152. 152
    Jay Noble says:

    @debbie: LOL! I visualized the comic strips “Heathcliff” and “Cathy” and so the “on the moor” threw me for a second!

  153. 153
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ding7777: The Zayde Kushner cholent on the Mar a Lago menu is to die for!

  154. 154
    Anne Laurie says:

    @efgoldman:

    I still can’t believe that he’s not in a foaming rage about the Obamas’ book deal. I thought for sure there would be a twittlergasm forthcoming.

    I suspect Fox News hasn’t mentioned it, nor Breitbart. Jason & Ivanka might even be trying to keep that tidbit away from Big Daddy, at least until he needs to be distracted from trying to nuke North Korea, or Iran, or Balmoral Castle. (Remember, Trump thought Obama “tapping” him and Arnie negging Celebrity Apprentice were equivalently terrible news.)

  155. 155
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve in the ATL: It is on my list to watch. It is not on my live watch list.

  156. 156
    efgoldman says:

    @ding7777:

    Why would Ivanka Jared and the kids fly to Mar-a-Lago to observe shabbat?

    The WH doesn’t have a kosher kitchen?

  157. 157
    SFAW says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    Winnetka!

    Why would anyone in Nebraska care about the Cubbies?

    [Ducks, waits for Incoming!]

  158. 158
  159. 159
    SFAW says:

    @efgoldman:

    The WH doesn’t have a kosher kitchen?

    No kidding! Especially since the current WH occupant is the “least anti-Semitic person ever-ever-ever on the face of the Earth.”

  160. 160
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: it was made for binge watching

  161. 161
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @amk: I’m not trying to be difficult. I am trying to honestly answer your question.

  162. 162
    Anne Laurie says:

    @debbie:

    If you haven’t seen it, Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is brilliant.

    I quite like Arcadia, and India Ink is promising (only seen that as a student production, so one hates to judge), but mostly I find Stoppard entirely too pleased with his own cleverness. The Spousal Unit, on the other hand, adores him — which is the only reason I’ve seen his work beyond R&GAD (meh) and Shakespeare in Love (ugh).

  163. 163
    Jay Noble says:

    @SFAW: Our governor makes us . . .

  164. 164
    amk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ok, that does it. No more q’s for you. Go back to your room.

  165. 165
    Anne Laurie says:

    @ding7777:

    Why would Ivanka Jared and the kids fly to Mar-a-Lago to observe shabbat?

    They’re afraid — not implausibly — that Big Daddy will stroke out if his very favorite princess isn’t around to soothe his ruffled temper.

    And they’re sure not going to let that cheap gold-digger Melania be the one to find the body, worse comes to worst.

  166. 166
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Doesn’t chulin mean something rude in Spanish?

  167. 167
    dm says:

    @Anne Laurie: He did the screenplay for Terry Gilliam’s 1984, too. ETA: I mean, Brazil.

    I loved Dogg’s Hamlet/Cahoot’s Macbeth, despite being a student production. Oh, and Travesties (Joyce, Lenin, and Tzara in Zurich at the same time).

  168. 168
    catclub says:

    @chris: A similar master plan to avoid Trump getting elected is throwing the 2012 election to Romney.

  169. 169
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Anne Laurie: That’s a typo on my part, should be cholent. Still ewww!

  170. 170
    SFAW says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m not trying to be difficult. I am trying to honestly answer your question.

    Your answer was perfectly reasonable and logical.

    Of course, my judgment has been considered suspect by some.

  171. 171
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @efgoldman: also, the original version of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet (for the Christian Scientist Prokofiev, LOVE transmutes poison into the elixir of life, or something like that.)

  172. 172
    J R in WV says:

    @GrandJury:

    So what is your excuse for being a full-blown jackass? If you don’t have any benefit to provide we would all prefer you to go away and be with all the other trolls who have come and gone away.

    And it’s “Thank you sir! Please, may I have another?” as if you didn’t know that.

  173. 173
    fuckwit says:

    @GrandJury: It’s not landmines, it’s a squid cloud of butthurt.

  174. 174
    ChrisGrrr says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yesssssss!

    Another gigantic reminder of why I lurk here…

Comments are closed.