New game in town

What got me started on this? Glad you asked:

For first time the failing will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!

Yes, that’s the Snowflake-in-Chief, whining about the fake media. The man who pushed the notion that President Obama was not a U.S. citizen, who told everybody that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, who now tells us that President Obama ordered his phones in Trump Tower be tapped, yes, that person. He’s now complaining about the rough ride he’s getting from The New York Times. While we’re keeping score, let’s add to that the Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune, and The Washington  Post. All right, add CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Miami Herald. That doesn’t cover them all, but they all have it wrong, according to President Trump.

So, who has it right? Forget for a while Fox News. When the Snowflake wants the straight skinny, he goes where all patriotic Americans go, Breitbart News:

Birth of a conspiracy theory: How Trump’s wiretap claim got started

 @brianstelterMarch 6, 2017: 11:20 AM ET

An incendiary idea first put forward by right-wing radio host Mark Levin is now burning across Washington, fanned by President Trump’s tweets and a huge number of supportive commentators and websites — even though the facts don’t back up the conclusion.

Breitbart News has given the conspiracy theory a name: “DeepStateGate.” Others are going with “ObamaGate.” And Fox News host Sean Hannity is asking: “What did OBAMA know and when did he know it???”

What is coming out, and what has been coming out since Saturday is a lot of confirmation of what CNN‘s Brian Stelter put into the above analysis. You can start with the Mark Levin story, but he’s a radio jock, and you would need to read a transcript. Your best bet to get the Levin story is to go to Breitbart from  last Friday from Joel Pollak, which seems to be this:

Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ vs. Trump

by JOEL B. POLLAK3 Mar 2017

Radio host Mark Levin used his Thursday evening show tooutline the known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.

Levin called Obama’s effort “police state” tactics, and suggested that Obama’s actions, rather than conspiracy theories about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election to help Trump, should be the target of congressional investigation.

Drawing on sources including the New York Times and the Washington Post, Levin described the case against Obama so far, based on what is already publicly known. The following is an expanded version of that case, including events that Levin did not mention specifically but are important to the overall timeline.

1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.

3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.

4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.

 5. January 2017: Buzzfeed/CNN dossier. Buzzfeed releases, and CNN reports, a supposed intelligence “dossier” compiled by a foreign former spy. It purports to show continuous contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, and says that the Russians have compromising information about Trump. None of the allegations can be verified and some are proven false. Several media outlets claim that they had been aware of the dossier for months and that it had been circulating in Washington.

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

7. January: Times report. The New York Times reports, on the eve of Inauguration Day, that several agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Treasury Department are monitoring several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties. Other news outlets also report the exisentence of “a multiagency working group to coordinate investigations across the government,” though it is unclear how they found out, since the investigations would have been secret and involved classified information.

8. February: Mike Flynn scandal. Reports emerge that the FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — then a private citizen — and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intercept supposedly was part of routine spying on the ambassador, not monitoring of the Trump campaign. The FBI transcripts reportedly show the two discussing Obama’s newly-imposed sanctions on Russia, though Flynn earlier denied discussing them. Sally Yates, whom Trump would later fire as acting Attorney General for insubordination, is involved in the investigation. In the end, Flynn resigns over having misled Vice President Mike Pence (perhaps inadvertently) about the content of the conversation.

9. February: Times claims extensive Russian contacts. The New York Times cites “four current and former American officials” in reporting that the Trump campaign had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials. The Trump campaign denies the claims — and the Times admits that there is “no evidence” of coordination between the campaign and the Russians. The White House and some congressional Republicans begin to raise questions about illegal intelligence leaks.

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Postreports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign — once at a Heritage Foundation event and once at a meeting in Sessions’s Senate office. The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’s testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate, and that he was responding to claims in the “dossier” of ongoing contacts. The New York Times, in covering the story, adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

In summary: the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.

Levin called the effort a “silent coup” by the Obama administration and demanded that it be investigated.

In addition, Levin castigated Republicans in Congress for focusing their attention on Trump and Attorney General Sessions rather than Obama.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Apologies for reprinting the entire Joel Pollak piece in violation of a handful of copyright laws, but my idea is that Breitbart exists as a mouthpiece for right-wing America and will appreciate any venue for getting their ideas out.

Stelter’s analysis is lengthy, and I will not reprint it. He makes these points:

  • Levin put forth on Thursday last the notion of an Obama-orchestrated “silent coup” attempt, i.e., eaves dropping Trump phones.
  • Levin drew from original sources and did not perform any investigation. He used reports that supported his hypothesis and ignored any counter evidence from parallel sources.
  • On Friday last right wing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh piled on, repeating Levin’s descriptions.
  • Pollak published the item reprinted above. No original reporting was involved in any of the Levin-Limbaugh-Pollak narrative.
  • President Trump picked up on the Pollak piece, and the shit hit the fan.

This began to unroll Saturday morning, at which time this came out:

The tweet storm is a wonder to behold, and it may still be up for all to read. In case it ever gets taken down, here is a copy from my Twitter feed:

15h15 hours ago

15h15 hours ago

15h15 hours ago

How low, indeed! A sitting president instigating a criminal action against a rival candidate. What is this country coming to?

What this country appears to be coming to, in fact what the country has already come to, is a sitting  president who pulls rumors off Internet tabloid and employs them as a base for thunderous government action.  We are at the point now that the sitting president wants Congress to investigate and for subpoenas to be issued. This in the face of every intelligent mind inside and outside of government saying this is the height of foolishness. Lesser minds, not so much. The Gateway Pundit predictably ran with the story:

Incompetent AND Criminal: Obama’s Wiretapping of President Trump Icing on the Cake of Worst President Ever

With President Obama’s actions disclosed over the weekend by President Donald Trump, there is no longer any argument that Obama was the Worst President Ever.

President Donald Trump shared in a series of tweets yesterday that President Barack Obama had him wire tapped during the election.

This story will play for awhile, and it might be a lot of fun to follow. In the meantime, let’s get back to Donald Trump’s tweet concerning The New York Times. “For first time the failing [New York Times] will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation.” Really? From Fox News:

The New York Times took out a television ad in response to President Donald Trump’s labeling the news organization as “failing.”

The 30-second ad, titled “The Truth Is Hard,” is set to air during tonight’s Academy Awards, which are expected to have plenty of political undertones.

The ad concludes with the statement, “The truth is more important now than ever.”

That leads to this:

New York Times touts subscriber growth with a jab at Trump

I can vouch for that last part in a small way. In response to the president’s attack on honest media outlets, I decided to put my money on the winning horse. I entered a paid subscription to the digital edition of The Times, and I now receive access to all news items dating back  to 1851. That’s where I obtained the news clip pictured at the top of this post. It’s the final paragraph of a story that ran in The Times on 10 November 1954. To make it accessible to search engines,  I’m including a transcription:

“I haven’t the slightest doubt that one day,” said Senator McCarthy, “and perhaps soon, the American people will rise up in righteous fury and, once and for all, extinguish the Communist menace. As for me, I will be around for some time, and I will continue to serve the cause to which I have dedicated my life.”

To be sure, that was Senator Joseph McCarthy, a politician from 60 years ago, who at the time held the patent on phony conspiracies and fake news. Of course, McCarthy was not “around for some time.” He was exposed as a fraud, humiliated, shunted to the fringes of American politics, dying in obscurity. Appearances are that history is about to execute a reboot.

There will be more. Keep reading.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.


One thought on “Snowflake-in-Chief

  1. Pingback: Snowflake-in-Chief | Skeptical Analysis

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