Case Study Of A Story News That Media And Web Bias Makes Impossible To Check: Susan Rice’s “Unmasking”

I am not going to write about the ethics issues in the latest Susan Rice controversy, but I am going to write about why I can’t get an objective enough assessment of what the story is to write about it competently.

Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor,  sought to “unmask” the identities of members of President Trump’s campaign and transition team who were incidentally mentioned in foreign surveillance intelligence reports. This was first reported over the weekend by conservative conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, which meant that no commentators on the Left believed it, but then it was confirmed yesterday by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake.

Many conservatives treated this as confirmation of President Trump’s much-derided claim that the Obama administration “wiretapped” him. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board issued an op-ed this morning, saying,

All this is highly unusual — and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in anti-terror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

On Medium, Mike Doran wrote,

“In late December, the administration launched an information campaign designed to depict President-elect Trump as Moscow’s Manchurian candidate. Vladimir Putin had installed Trump in office by “hacking the election,” so the argument went; Hillary Clinton, therefore, was the rightful president.

The claim that Susan Rice was unmasking merely to arrive at the ground truth of Russian behavior would be easier to swallow if the information she gleaned from unmasking had not been used to perpetrate a fraud on the American public. The leak to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about General Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (which I discuss in this article) is the most egregious example of a senior administration official using material gathered from illicit unmasking in order to tell a very big and very pernicious lie.”

The New York Times, sadly predictable in its knee-jerk defense of Democrats rather than resolving to get at the truth,  immediately argued that there was nothing to the story at all: 

Former national security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the requests as normal and said they were justified by the need for the president’s top security adviser to understand the context of reports sent to her by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum mocked the story as pure conservative fantasy regarding a favorite villain:

But! Susan Rice is also a Republican bête noir, the villainess of Benghazi who LIED ON TV repeatedly and tried to get everyone to believe that the attacks were due to an INTERNET VIDEO when we knew all along they were really the work of RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS, a phrase that OBAMA WAS UNWILLING TO UTTER.Here’s what we can say about the Rice situation at this point.

Sarcasm is used by Drum here to hide the fact that Rice did lie about Benghazi, and was part of an Obama administration effort (that included Hillary Clinton) to blur the fact that it was a planned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous reaction to a video, which would have undermined Obama’s campaign assertions that he had “decimated” Al Qaeda. ( Mother Jones readers will not believe anything negative about Obama, Democrats, or progressives.)

The Federalist, meanwhile, called foul on CNN, which immediately moved to discredite the latest Rice story:

“A couple weeks ago, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee publicly stated that he’d seen dozens of reports that were disseminated widely in the intelligence agencies featuring unmasked information on people close to Trump. He stated that these reports were of little to no intelligence value, so that the unmasking was disconcerting. He also stated that these reports had nothing to do with Russia…Yesterday, the news broke at multiple outlets that the unmasking wasn’t done by a low-level official at an intelligence agency, but by Susan Rice herself. She was President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor. All of a sudden people began admitting that Nunes was right that information on political opponents had been collected, unmasked, and disseminated, but they turned to downplaying this as significant news….CNN, which formerly at least attempted to position itself as politically neutral, decided to declare the news story “fake” because of this report from former Obama political appointee Jim Sciutto (who was a colleague of Susan Rice at the Obama State Department), who now covers the Republican administration:

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Slow down here. A person close to Rice said she did nothing wrong? Well this changes … oh wow, this changes … nothing. …Of course Susan Rice’s family and friends will rush to her defense. That’s what friends are for. But that doesn’t “debunk” a story. The idea that you wouldn’t pursue this story and all of the interesting questions raised by it is an affront to journalism. But that seems to be the road CNN has chosen to go down. A few examples:

Jay Caruso adds this tantalizing detail regarding Sciutto’s sources:

The “person close to Rice” is likely somebody Sciutto knows – Before Sciutto worked at the White House, he worked at ABC. Do you know who he worked with at ABC? Ian Officer Cameron. Do you know who’s married to Cameron? Susan Rice.

Hmmm.

At the same time, the Daily Caller reported…

“Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice ordered U.S. spy agencies to produce “detailed spreadsheets” of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides when he was running for president, according to former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova.

“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” di Genova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.

“The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” di Genova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”

Other official sources with direct knowledge and who requested anonymity confirmed to The DCNF di Genova’s description of surveillance reports Rice ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election.”

Now the Washington Post: while noting that it hasn’t been shown that Rice did anything illegal or improper, since her motives are unknown, Aaron Blake points out…

Rice’s own comments about this matter do lead to some legitimate questions. During an appearance on PBS’s “NewsHour” two weeks ago, Rice was asked about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’s (R-Calif.) announcement that Trump and his associates had been swept up in incidental surveillance that wasn’t targeted at them.

Here was Rice’s response: “I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”

Here is what we can say with some confidence, then, and it isn’t enough:

1. Susan Rice did “unmask” (but didn’t leak) the names of Trump staffers caught up in security surveillance.

2. Conservative news sources, which believe that President Obama’s administration was covertly working to undermine the Trump campaign and later, the legitimacy of his election, regard this as evidence of serious wrongdoing.

3. Liberal news sources, which want to believe all Democrats are as pure as the driven snow, and who also would love to see Trump destroyed, are claiming that this proves nothing, and are not knocking themselves out to show otherwise.

4. CNN, as usual of late, has disgraced itself and not disclosed a serious conflict of interest.

5. Susan Rice lied. Of course, we knew she was a liar. But why this lie?

If you hate Trump, you just assume that the Left’s media reports are correct. If you distrust Obama, Rice, the news media, and would love for the Left’s Russian conspiracy theory to fall flat while President Trump’s conspiracy theory is revealed as having more substance and justification (which wouldn’t be hard), you assume the worst about Rice’s actions, as articulated by Roger Simon.

But what do you do if you just want to know WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON????

33 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

33 responses to “Case Study Of A Story News That Media And Web Bias Makes Impossible To Check: Susan Rice’s “Unmasking”

  1. Jack asked, “what do you do if you just want to know WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON????”

    You wait until the smoke clears, if it ever does.

  2. Wayne

    Does it matter what her motives were? She lied about the unmasking and it seems that would open her up at least to a civil suit. Your pictures of Lon Chaney Sr.’s classic movie are great! Is Susan Rice supposed to be the phantom?

  3. Neil Dorr

    I’ve seen it numerous times before but can’t now recall … from what is the image to the article culled?

    • Neil Dorr

      Never mind. I should have just read the comments first.

    • You have to see the film. Talk about the absence of wonder: the moment when the phantom was revealed so horrified audiences that some needed medical attention. Cheney’s make-up design for his Pahntom…he did his own…is still considered one of the greatest ever, and exactly how he got the effect is still not completely understood.

  4. What’s going on is that the collected Clinton campaign, DNC, and news media certainly “elevated” Donald Trump to a credible position in the Republican primaries, which laid the groundwork for Vladimir Putin to maybe help push Trump just over the line in November. The Democratic rank-and-file can’t be allowed to figure this out, or there will be blood in the streets.

  5. Chris

    You quote Mike Doran as saying this:

    The leak to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about General Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (which I discuss in this article) is the most egregious example of a senior administration official using material gathered from illicit unmasking in order to tell a very big and very pernicious lie.”

    What “very big and very pernicious lie” is Doran referring to? Is he saying Flynn did not contact Kislyak? Is he saying that we had no right to know that, and that reporting on this fact is a “lie?” Why does he not call Flynn’s previous denial of this a lie?

    Sarcasm is used by Drum here to hide the fact that Rice did lie about Benghazi,

    No, she did not.

    At the time Rice claimed that the “best available evidence” showed that the attack was spontaneous and motivated by the same video that motivated riots in many other Muslim cities, that was the conclusion of the CIA. It was later determined that the attack was pre-planned, but we still have no idea how long in advance it was planned. The claim that the attack was motivated by the video has never been disproven, and there is significant evidence that it was; attackers on the ground told journalists that the video was their motivation, and one of the attackers later cited the video as part of his motivation after he was arrested.

    All of these are facts.

    You owe Susan Rice an apology.

    • Chris

      As of this year, former CIA director Mike Morrell still maintained that the video was a motivating factor in the Benghazi attack:

      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/08/07/former_acting_cia_director_mike_morell_the_anti-islam_youtube_video_did_cause_benghazi_attack.html

      Again, contrary to the claims of conservatives, this has never been disproven, nor has significant evidence been produced to contradict this.

    • Chris,
      Your view on the events and information distribution regarding Benghazi and Susan Rice is partisan tunnel vision, that is a fact.

      • Chris

        Please show me which of my facts I got wrong, Zoltar.

        • Chris wrote, “Please show me which of my facts I got wrong, Zoltar.”

          You first genius; show me where I said your facts are wrong?

          How many times do I have to tell people not to read what’s not there.

          Try to use a moment of critical thinking and see if you can figure out what I meant when I wrote, “Your view on the events and information distribution regarding Benghazi and Susan Rice is partisan tunnel vision”.

          If that doesn’t work for you, here’s a little exercise to help you understand this partisan tunnel vision concept. Yes I’m completely serious.

          1. Pick up a roll of paper towels.
          2. Walk to a window in your home.
          3. Close one eye.
          4. Aim the center hole of the paper towel roll out the window.
          5. Now without moving the roll of paper towels, put your open eye up to the roll and say aloud the things you see through the center.
          6. Now pull your eye away from the roll, open the other eye, and look out the window at the same general area, there more to see without the limitations of the roll and an eye closed.
          7. Now ask yourself this question; did the additional things you saw in #6 actually exist in reality when you were looking through the “tunnel” of the paper towel roll in #5. Yes or No.

          Now apply what you have learned.

          It’s a very simple little exercise, it can be used to show how people blind themselves to all the available facts. I’ve used it a couple of times when tutoring some college students when trying to evaluate root cause.

          It’s remarkable what we as human beings can actually learn when we put aside our handy little partisan tunnel vision blocking tools and see all of the reality that is right there for us to see.

          You Chris are constantly blinding yourself to all the relevant facts, it seems as if you’re wearing an industrial-strength weapons-grade thickened ideological set of blinders (#Cornelius_Gotchberg) all the time; it’s one of your biggest weaknesses, others see it but you’re blind to.

          • Chris

            Thanks for clarifying, Zoltar. You do keep me on my toes.

            You are right that my comment did not include all the facts. Like I said, this was a complex situation, one in which new facts were coming out for years. I haven’t seen one single piece of analysis that included all relevant facts about what transpired that day; even the FactCheck timeline leaves out some things I think are important.

            I feel like Rice’s critics also leave out important facts about the Benghazi talking points when condemning her, so I made an effort to relay the ones that I often see neglected.

    • You can check my posts about Rice, Chris. When Rice was saying that there was no reason to believe it was anything but the video, the White House had redacted CIA assessments saying the opposite. I’m not rehashing this with you: the facts are plain. Only bitter-ender Hillary and Obama apologists maintain otherwise. You should show the character required to accept the ugly facts. I can google and find objective disproof of your talking points version in 5-4-3-2- HERE:

      http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/the-benghazi-timeline-clinton-edition/

      Rice was lying. Take this, for example,

      Sept. 14: A State Department public information official writes in an email: “[I]t is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence. It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well-planned attack by militant extremists.” (The email was released Oct. 31, 2015, by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and was contained in the Benghazi committee report issued June 28, 2016. The name of the person who sent the email and the person or persons who received the email were redacted. However, the person who wrote the email is identified in the committee report as a “public information officer from the Embassy in Tripoli,” and the email says it reflects “our view at Embassy Tripoli.” It also says, “I have discussed this with [name redacted] and he shares PAS’s view.” PAS stands for Public Affairs Section.)

      TWO DAYS later, Rice made the rounds using White House written talking points, and said: We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”

      The memo from tow days earlier was “information at present that leads” to that conclusion. She was spinning and engaging in deceit. Also from Factcheck:

      Sept. 17: Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, is asked about Rice’s comments on “Face the Nation” and four other Sunday talk shows. Nuland says, “The comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.” Nuland uses the phrase “initial assessment” three times when discussing Rice’s comments.

      Got that? Nuland is being deceitful to protect Rice. Rice’s statements may have been accurate regarding :initial assessments,” but they were well past initial assessment by the time she went on TV.

      The only one who owes Rice an apology is Obama, for sending her out to lie. Here’s what Jake Tapper, one of the people she lied to that day, said in an interview:

      “I was substituting for George Stephanopoulos that Sunday, as host of “This Week,” and we were trying to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All the shows were trying to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to talk about Benghazi. For whatever reason, she didn’t go out. They put out Dr. Susan Rice, the U.N. Ambassador. It’s very interesting that today President Obama says Susan Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, then I don’t know what she was doing on the show.She, I think, was a good soldier. She did what the administration told her to do. She read the talking points. I think that she was repeating the intelligence, and what the White House told her to say.”

      When you present yourself, in your position as a high ranking official, as knowing something and in fact don’t know it, and are actually dealing second hand smoke, you are dishonest, and lying.

      You and Rice’s defenders are dead wrong, Chris.

      • Chris

        Jack, I don’t think one e-mail from one State Department official is enough to prove that the government knew that official was correct. As I said, we still do not know how far in advance this attack was planned. Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for it at first, then a day later denied they had anything to do with it. This was a confusing situation.

        When you present yourself, in your position as a high ranking official, as knowing something and in fact don’t know it,

        But she never claimed she “knew” with certainty the circumstances behind Benghazi, and said several times that new information may come forward that would cause the administration to change their evaluation. And it did.

        Finally, the claim that the video had nothing to do with Benghazi has been demolished, and I wish you’d stop giving credence to it.

    • Wayne

      Sigh. . . Chris, you really should take a look at : *Thirteen Hour: The Inside Account Of What Happened At Benghazi* I suspect that you won’t though.

  6. Glenn Logan

    I don’t know what to think, because I don’t have enough information. What I think I know:

    1. Rice “unmasked” people close to Trump. How many, or who, we don’t know yet, and she may not have been the only one ordering it;

    2. Information about the unmasked people was disseminated to other people in the Obama administration, ostensibly those who had a need/right to know such information in general, if perhaps not in particular;

    3. Damaging leaks about people who were the subject of unmasking (Mike Flynn, at bare minimum) were provided to the press by somebody. Rice says it wasn’t her, but it had to be an administration foe, which places the entire Obama administration from the former president on down under some level of suspicion;

    4. Trump has reason to believe that he was spied on. Yes, his idiot tweets are just that, and I doubt anything he knows actually points to former president Obama, but it may point to people close to him. Whether that “vindicates” his reckless tweets is largely irrelevant — it would say nothing about him we don’t already know;

    5. There is some cause to fear that the national security apparatus of the United States may have been illegally “weaponized” against political enemies within the country;

    6. The media is apparently unable to honestly deal with this situation, no matter who is writing about it.

    I am not going to jump on the “Subpoena Rice!” bandwagon. Too many things are unclear. What I agree with is this: Jack Goldsmith and Benjamin Wittes, writing for Lawfare, are likely correct in this analysis:

    So even if everything the Obama team did in the collection and reporting and unmasking was lawful and legitimate, the combination of the unfortunate and unprecedented context in which officials acted and the bevy of leaks that followed permits whatever it did to be construed uncharitably. It permits lots of people to believe that what happened here was political surveillance or politically-motivated surveillance or surveillance of one’s political enemies. And this is, of course, exactly what Trump and Nunes are insinuating.

    Such insinuations, if true, would be a devastating blow to the intelligence community’s authority and credibility. But even assuming they are not true, the mere insinuation of politically motivated use of the intelligence services—particularly by the President, for whom the community works, and the House intelligence chairman, who is one of the four key congressional validators of the priority and legality of its conduct—harms the legitimacy of the community and its use of FISA. It muddles questions about legitimate surveillance with allegations of politically motivated surveillance, which is the great evil the post-1970s reforms sought to eradicate.

    The article is in-depth and interesting, treats all subjects with reasonable fairness, and sticks to the facts we know. I highly recommend you read the whole thing.

    It won’t shed any new light on what we know — that has to come from others. But it does analyze the potential consequences and raises near-dystopian specters. If the national security apparatus of the United States truly has been twisted into a partisan political spy machine, the damage to the country may not bear thinking on, no matter who controls it.

    We must get to the bottom of all of this. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but this may be a case where “at all costs” may actually not be unethical hyperbole. That includes any reasonable suspicion of Trump ties to alleged Russian election tampering, if anyone can ever provide actual evidence of it beyond guilt by association.

    Hat tip: Memeorandum

  7. Al Veerhoff

    Susan Rice’s public statements after the Benghazi attack and the particulars about what happened before and after the attack were examined in a report issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Nov. 21, 2014. Both the commmitte chairman Mike Rogers and the ranking minority member Dutch Ruppensberger signed off on it. Parts of it were redacted for secrecy reasons.
    I recommend reading it. I keep an electronic copy so I can address the blowhards left and right who criticize what U.S. offficials did and did not do during that period. After they’ve studied it, the motormouths can take a cold shower.

    • I assume you would be talking about this section (I have the report too):

      IV. After the attacks, the early intelligence assessments and the Administration’s initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate. HPSCI asked for the talking points, which Ambassador Rice ended up using for her talk show appearances on September 16, solely to aid the Members’ ability to communicate publicly using the best available intelligence at the time. The process and edits made to these talking points was flawed.

      Finding #11: Ambassador Rice’s September 16 public statements about the existence of a protest, as well as some of the underlying intelligence reports, proved to be inaccurate.

      After reviewing hundreds of pages of raw intelligence, as well as open source information, it was clear that between the time when the attacks occurred and when the Administration, through Ambassador Susan Rice, appeared on the Sunday talk shows, intelligence analysts and policymakers received a stream of piecemeal intelligence regarding the identities/affiliations and motivations of the attackers, as well as the level of planning and/or coordination. Much of the early intelligence was conflicting, and two years later, intelligence gaps remain.

      Various witnesses and senior military officials serving in the Obama Administration testified to this Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Armed Services Committee that they knew from the moment the attacks began that the attacks were deliberate terrorist acts against U.S. interests.125 No witness has reported believing at any point that the attacks were anything but terrorist
      acts.

      Along those lines, in the Rose Garden on September 12, 2012, President Obama said that four “extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi,” and said that: “[n]o acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

      However, it was not clear whether the terrorist attacks were committed by al-Qa’ida or by various groups of other bad actors, some of who may have been affiliated with al-Qa’ida. Early CIA, NCTC, DIA, and CJCS intelligence assessments on September 12th and 13th stated that members of AAS and various al-Qa’ida affiliates “likely,” “probably,” or “possibl[y]” participated in the attacks.
      ——

      In order to get Democrats to sign off, weasel words like “flawed” had to be used, rather than more direct terms, like “lied in the face of the American public.”

  8. I’m almost completely convinced that everything anyone says in politics is either a lie or designed to mislead. That, of course, includes all media. This frees me to believe the worst most self-serving motives in everyone involved. This is almost never too pessimistic.

  9. Other Bill

    From CNN:

    “In an interview Tuesday with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, former Obama administration national security advisor Susan Rice denies allegations from Fox News, Bloomberg, and other outlets that she used foreign intelligence intercepts to spy on members of the Trump campaign, including looking at documents whose subsequent leak ended the career of her successor, Gen. Mike Flynn.

    SUSAN RICE: I leaked nothing to nobody. And never have and never would.”

    Uh, Susan, that’s a double negative. What exactly are you saying?

  10. Mark Putnam

    “But what do you do if you just want to know WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON????”

    To answer your question: move to Canada!
    Maybe?

  11. Trump is the king of tit-for-tat. And what has he learned from the progressives? Using secret warrants to monitor political enemies, in an effort to influence elections, and to undermine a legitimately elected politician.

    The reason the Media had such a hard time with Trump during the election was that he used Democrat methods against the Democrats, a first for a nominal Republican. The Democrats have done this so long, Trump got away with it (normal Americans were ‘so what?’ when the press frothed at the mouth about this co-opting of nasty tactics) Now Trump is being taught the unwritten rules by watching his predecessor and the Democrats on the Hill. I think we know how Trump will use that knowledge.

    Not ethical, but we ARE talking about Trump. Progressives have now made their bed. Democrats have become what they have accused Republicans and conservatives all along: using big brother to oppress your political enemies.

  12. Al Veerhoff

    During his campaign Trump declared he would:
    * build a big wall to keep Mexicans from crossing the southern and he would block remittances from Mexican workers in the US (here legally or not) to their families unless Mexico paid for the wall:
    * force American corporations to “bring back” the jobs they had created overseas by burdening the companies with financial incentives that would be illegal or useless:
    * put coal miners back to work by weakening the Clean Air Act regulations, even though even in the absence of those regulations utilities would close their aging atomic and coal-burning plants to replace them with cheaper sources of energy that do not produce toxic-waste-cleanup problems;
    * arrest and export all the residents who entered illegally, a campaign that would involve years of effort and at least hundreds of thousands if not millions of enforcement personnel and swamp any conceivable transportation plan;
    * put new focus on Muslims entering and living in the US to make the country safer, even though the action would be unconstitutional and have no bearing on the country’s safety;
    * cut taxes and at the same time fund a massive public works effort to put more people back to work (and made no mention at all about retraining the jobless to fill positions that businesses wanted to fill).

    There was more, of course, But there was enough there to convince any voter knowledgeable in finance, law, business, government and/or technology that the proposals bordered on insanity. No way, they said, could that man enter the Oval Office because he would irreparably harm the federal government.

    Most of the rational media, left and right, realized what he was saying was preposterous, so they belittled his ideas. In his defense Trump buttressed his ideas with outrageous, unsubstantiated claims.

    Apparently the proportion of knowledgeable voters was a lot smaller than the voters who really believed Trump had the solutions. Especially after the alternate-facts crowd raised their voices.

    Now we’re finding out that these many of alternate facts came from offshore sources.

    What happened in 2016 was unlike anything the country has seen before, partly because of the speed with which a lie can circulate and then develop a life of its own.

    Getting out of this mess and keeping it from happening again will require less name-calling between the left-right factions and more consensus on how to monitor what is going on and expose it early for the folly it is.

    I’m thankful the daylight hours are now getting longer. More sunlight.

  13. Al Veerhoff

    I thought I was addressing the remarks you made above. People are arguing about how things were said/have been said in this and previous campaigns rather than what was being said. Content appeared to be irrelevant. Trump employed very, very magnificent sleight of (small) hand.

    Back to Susan Rice:
    The fourth paragraph of the Intel Committee report shows the committee was giving her the benefit of the doubt about whether the Benghazi attack was an extension of the demonstrations in Egypt about a video. It was not until two days after she appeared on TV that the FBI said there was no link.

    That was then; it’s obvious in the current brouhaha (still to merit the title of “scandal”) that she will have to testify under oath about why she wanted full information about the intelligence intercepts involving Trump campaign officials and then tried to fudge her activities when asked. It reminds me of one of the great sight gags, where Jimmy Durante asked, “What elephant?”

    • That is the origin of the EA “Jumbo” designation.

    • Al, since you WERE talking to me, I’ll address what you replied with 🙂
      I mistakenly thought your reply was to Jack’ article, though I don’t see what a lot of your reply had to do with my post, either. (Note there is a ‘reply’ link after each post you wish to address. I have made that mistake too, resulting in odd placement of my comments!)

      My points boil down to: a) Trump used progressive tactics against them; b) Progressives and the media (sorry for the redundant designation, the media IS progressive) did not know how to handle that; c) Secret warrants were used for political purposes, and; D) Trump can now do the same.

      You said:

      During his campaign Trump declared he would:
      * build a big wall to keep Mexicans from crossing the southern and he would block remittances from Mexican workers in the US (here legally or not) to their families unless Mexico paid for the wall:

      Building the wall is true: he said it. Can you cite a reference where he said he would block remittances from any Mexican citizen, regardless of immigration status? No quoting the Liberal Progressive Main Stream Media, unless they were actually quoting Trump…

      * force American corporations to “bring back” the jobs they had created overseas by burdening the companies with financial incentives that would be illegal or useless:

      I think what he said was “bring jobs back” by unburdening the companies from regulatory and tax disincentives, place there by the Democrats. It what way was what he proposes illegal? ‘Useless’ is too subjective to debate, but I will point out that jobs HAVE been saved and the economy is recovering under Trump.

      * put coal miners back to work by weakening the Clean Air Act regulations, even though even in the absence of those regulations utilities would close their aging atomic and coal-burning plants to replace them with cheaper sources of energy that do not produce toxic-waste-cleanup problems;

      The Clean Air Act is law, but the regulations you refer to are additional rules made up by progressives that seek to punish political enemies and appease the radicals on the left, not better care for the environment. Climate Change rules are based on unproven mathematical models that defy observation (not that so called proponents are above changing past observational data records to make their point. By the way, that last is lying about the science) Can you please enlighten me as to what sources of ‘cheaper’ energy you are referring to? Solar cell construction contributes “green house gasses” and toxic waste; windmill power kills wildlife. Neither is economically viable enough (yet, we still have hope) that “utilities would close… plants.”

      * arrest and export all the residents who entered illegally, a campaign that would involve years of effort and at least hundreds of thousands if not millions of enforcement personnel and swamp any conceivable transportation plan;

      No one said that we would have to move them out within a certain time period. After all, it took years for them to arrive illegally, so it will take years to legally remove them. Murder is illegal, and “involves years of effort and… hundreds of thousands of enforcement personnel…” to combat. Are you saying that, too, is a waste of time, effort, and money? This line of thought is intellectually dishonest, setting up a ridiculous scenario and using it to advance an agenda. This is known as the reverse slippery slope, and is documented as an unethical fallacy on this site.

      * put new focus on Muslims entering and living in the US to make the country safer, even though the action would be unconstitutional and have no bearing on the country’s safety;

      Can you support your contention that this action would be unconstitutional? If so, was it unconstitutional when Obama did it? How about FDR? As to ‘no bearing on the country’s safety, I beg to differ. How many terrorist attacks have played out in the past 8 years, by those who claim to be Muslim? Of those, how many got here as immigrants, either first or second generation? Hint: think ‘Boston Bombers,’ Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik; and Omar Mateen, to get you started…

      * cut taxes and at the same time fund a massive public works effort to put more people back to work (and made no mention at all about retraining the jobless to fill positions that businesses wanted to fill).

      Cutting the wasteful federal bureaucracy has already gone a long way to achieve funds available for both of these, but we shall see what comes from it. By the way, this same rhetoric was stoked by Obama (“shovel ready jobs”) and failed to materialize: how is Trump different?

      There was more, of course, But there was enough there to convince any voter knowledgeable in finance, law, business, government and/or technology that the proposals bordered on insanity. No way, they said, could that man enter the Oval Office because he would irreparably harm the federal government.

      Please! Besides smearing the voters, this is complete hyperbole. Trump was no different than ANY politician, and I doubt you held this standard to Hillary or Obama.

      Most of the rational media, left and right, realized what he was saying was preposterous, so they belittled his ideas. In his defense Trump buttressed his ideas with outrageous, unsubstantiated claims.

      “Rational media?!?” Did you giggle when you wrote that? What media outlets, pray tell, are the rational ones? Now I give you Trump’s claims… bees gotta sting, Trumps gonna be Trump 🙂

      Apparently the proportion of knowledgeable voters was a lot smaller than the voters who really believed Trump had the solutions.

      Just a basket of deplorable, aren’t we? Forgive me, Al, but this comes off as arrogance backed by willful ignorance. No one could have a problem ignoring Hillary’s issues, huh? ‘Wiped the server with a cloth?’ ‘Been under sniper fire?’ ‘lost millions from State Department budget?’ ‘Uranium sold to the Russians after massive Clinton Foundation donations?’ ‘I never had sex with that woman…’ (sorry, that last one was her husband, Slick Willy himself). Geez, Al, I could go all day

      Especially after the alternate-facts crowd raised their voices.

      You mean the Liberal Progressive Main Stream Media, who make up their ‘facts’ as they go? No?

      And how DARE the “alternate-facts crowd” use their first amendment rights to be heard! How DARE anyone question the progressive talking points?

      Now we’re finding out that these many of alternate facts came from offshore sources.

      Utter bullshit. You have NOT ONE shred of proof here, that ANYTHING Trump said comes from ‘offshore sources.’ Even IF (and this is not close to being substantiated) the Russians meddled in our election, they only exposed what the DNC really said. (Off topic: why are we so upset with a country workingto influence our elections? The USA has done this many, many times, most recently when Obama spent tax payer money to oust Netanyahu in Israel)

      Getting out of this mess and keeping it from happening again will require less name-calling between the left-right factions and more consensus on how to monitor what is going on and expose it early for the folly it is.

      We can agree on what you wrote here, but I suspect we do not mean the same thing. You think that people like me should not have a say in running our nation, and that our assertion of our rights to have that say is ‘folly.’

      I say that what we have been doing the past eight years is ‘folly.’ I am willing to agree to disagree.

      But the problem is, progressives are not willing to allow me to disagree. Progressives know better, are better educated, more sophisticated, and belong to the exclusive enlightened elite, whose right to rule is self apparent (just ask them!)

      Progressive’s attitude is what got Trump elected. Those who work to make this nation strong, who pay the majority of taxes, and just want to be left alone to live their lives have been awakened by progressive excess. American apathy due to the high standard of living in the USA caused the progressives to over reach, and some (not many, but enough, in the right states) voted for a change. That change was not ideal, but he is my President (God help me). Now progressives have abandoned any pretext to adherence to civil discourse, fair play, and anything but naked power just because of who they are.

      Lastly, a line from you second post:
      It was not until two days after she appeared on TV that the FBI said there was no link

      This is a lie. She was sent out knowing full well she was lying, as did Obama and Hillary, and the record supports this.

      Love you like a brother, Al, but please don’t bring talking points to EA.

      (Man, I feel like I have walked a mile in Zoltar’s shoes!)

      • Chris

        slickwilly:

        windmill power kills wildlife.

        This is a meaningless talking point. Compared to what? Coal kills more wildlife than wind turbines do:

        https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/08/22/pecking-order-energys-toll-on-birds

        The people who claim they oppose wind and solar because they kill birds are lying to you.

        The USA has done this many, many times, most recently when Obama spent tax payer money to oust Netanyahu in Israel)

        This is not true.

        http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/mar/25/blog-posting/blog-claims-us-funded-anti-netanyahu-election-effo/

        • Chris,

          All of that, and you only found TWO small objections? I am taking that as a virtual endorsement 🙂

          As usual, we tend to disagree on the validity of sources. I respect that you have a right to believe the source you want.

          The US News story gets numbers from a variety of (from my point of view) questionable sources, ranging from Obama’s BLM, to a Danish liberal think tank, to liberal journals. All have an agenda, as far as I have been able to tell.

          Politifact is as leftist as you can get, as has been documented in this blog before. Even they have to pick their way though parsing of the timeline to be able to say this is not true. In other words, they attack details in order to undermine the credibility of their chosen source, while ignoring others. This is a typical tactic and has been discussed on other threads of EA recently.

          But believe them if you wish. Thank you for a civil rebuttal.

          • Chris

            And thanks to you, slickwilly. To be honest I could have taken issue with more of your claims, but those were the two that jumped out at me, and the windpower thing is one of my major pet peeves.

            You don’t have to believe the numbers USNews reported, but I’d like to see evidence that wind does kill more wildlife than those other sources.

            I think calling Politifact “as leftist as you can get” is unfair, given that they have given the designation “Lie of the Year” to Democrats more than once. They may have a liberal bias, but if they were “as leftist as you can get” they wouldn’t do this.

  14. Al Veerhoff

    I have to work on my taxes, so I can’t respond at length.

    The plan about blocked remittances was on Trump’s campaign site.

    It is a mantra among the right wing that American companies leave the US because of the tax and regulatory burdens. In past years both PBS and the GAO invited companies to step forward and talk about their burdens; GAO asked the US Chamber of Commerce to help. Nobody showed up. The current system of taxing businesses is so full of holes and tax credits that any business paying the official 35% federal income tax rate has an incompetent accountant. I can’t address the complaint about regulations because the actual issue is protecting the common good. Such as protecting housedwellers from lead dust in paint. More so the hazard of leaded gasoline. Of course it’s a lot cheaper to put operate in countries that don’t care about such things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s