Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Nothing Is True Everything Is Possible

Well, first, everything would be a bit more true if Trump would release his tax returns, but that's not the main point of this post.

"Nothing is true and everything is possible" seems to be the tweeter-in-chief's ruling strategy, fuelled by Mark Levin and cheered on by everyone's favourite Fox News cheerleader for Trump. (It's also the title of a book by Peter Pomerantsev, whose written some good articles in the London Review of Books, including Putin's Rasputin, very relevant to all of this. But that gets a bit too off my clear preference to discuss Fox News).

I know it's a stupid question, but how the fuck does Hannity get away with this...again and again. Raving and ranting with no check or concern for presenting the enormous shadow of a doubt surrounding all of these issues.

"Russia is bullshit", or so I've heard many times over recent weeks from social media. A story invented out of thin air to deflect from an embarrassing loss by the Democrats.

Now, I am going to admit, there is no way to be sure that Obama did not illegally tap phones in Trump Tower. I cannot prove that Ted Cruz's father didn't kill Kennedy. I can't prove that something bad did not happen in Sweden last night. I will also admit that I cannot prove that 3-5 million people did not vote in the election, handing Clinton the popular vote. If pressed,  I also couldn't really prove that Obama was born in Hawaii, especially if trying to speak to someone who watches Infowars (Don't watch the video, just know that it exists -- Can you imagine that the POTUS calls the NYT "fake news" and tells Alex Jones "Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down"?)

And I will admit that if you look long enough and close enough, as it appears Stephen Hayes has done in The Weekly Standard, you can find some reasonable questions that deserve an answer.

But, let's focus on why Hayes thinks "March 4, 2017, will end up being a rather consequential day in the presidency of Donald Trump".

He points out that either:
  1. The president used thinly sourced media reports to float a conspiracy theory about his predecessor and he was wrong; or 
  2. Citing thinly sourced media reports, he overstated the details of an actual investigation into his activities or the activities of those around him, alleging presidential involvement without evidence; or
  3. Citing thinly sourced media reports, he accurately accused the former president of doing something highly illegal and accidentally uncovered what would surely be one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history. 
I think the two critical points are the repetition of the phrase "thinly sourced media reports" and that this is all in the "context" of a person who has, to put it as mildly as humanly possible, often states and tweets things that are untrue.

And, going back to everyone's favourite Fox News cheerleader for Trump, he seems to assume, like the President, that there are facts when there are none. The fact is there are questions. Which leads back to the really galling thing about this, Trump's tweet: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

It now appears, watching the rhetorical gymnastics of of the WH Press Secretary, that he didn't "just find out" anything. He read some thinly source media reports and accused Obama of McCarthyism. That's the only fact I can see verified in all this.

It's hard to pick a quote from this column, The Vertigo Presidency, in the Wall Street Journal, but here's a sample on the outcome of presidential tweet dumps:
Repeat these convulsions at the current rate of two or three a month, and the result could be a Seinfeld presidency—a show about nothing, only this time devoid of wit and sweetness.
If this is their take in that left wing rag, I ask again, how the fuck does Hannity get away with raving and ranting with no check or concern for facts, which he doesn't have.

I think Max Boot got at the heart of the issue in Foreign Policy, Trump Knows the Feds Are Closing In on Him:
It’s possible that Trump aides were wiretapped as part of a broader FBI probe into the connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin or were simply recorded, as had been the case with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, during the routine monitoring of Russian officials. But there is no reason to think that Trump himself had been a target of the wiretapping, nor that Obama interfered in the lawful workings of the FBI.
There is a good reason why Trump and his partisans are so apoplectic about the prospect of a special counsel, and it is precisely why it is imperative to appoint one: because otherwise we will never know the full story of the Kremlin’s tampering with our elections and of the Kremlin’s connections with the president of the United States. As evidenced by his desperate attempts to change the subject, Trump appears petrified of what such a probe would reveal. Wonder why?
John Dean, Richard Nixon’s White House counsel in a The New Yorker podcast had some interesting comparisons with other scandals:
“If there’s any lesson from Watergate, or from Iran-Contra, or the Lewinsky affair,” he says, “it is that if you don’t have a problem, what you truly do is you say to the F.B.I. or whomever, ‘Come in and talk to my staff.’ ” He says that this is not how Trump officials are currently behaving. “Rather, they’re trying to knock down press reports that are getting the various whiffs of these investigations and putting them out there. That’s just not the way innocent people deal with these issues. I’m sorry!”
Let's all agree. I need to stop watching Hannity. Hayes is right that March 4, 2017 is a pretty consequential day. And only those who think Rafael Cruz killed Kennedy would put their money on the scenario that Trump accidentally uncovered one of the biggest scandals in US history.

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