What Sharks Are Left To Jump?

by John Holbo on July 17, 2017

On the one hand, we on the left are relieved that so much of the Trump administration so far has been reality TV-worthy bluster rather than something even worse. (This is not to deny that the Trump administration has accomplished some bad things, besides trolling us.) On the other hand, the bluster itself is sure to get worse and worse because that’s the nature of the media game. To keep everyone’s attention Trump needs to keep outraging expectations, so there’s a ratchet. Where does he have left to go? He can’t keep tweeting ‘fake news!’ for four years (assuming he does stick around that long.) That wouldn’t be real news. Then what?



nastywoman 07.17.17 at 8:39 pm

”Then what?”

1. Make US Comedians not only rule America but the world?
2. Help Great Britain to join the EU again?
3. Help Europe even more to be NOT like the US?
4. Give every American the chance to be NOT like Trump?


Peter K. 07.17.17 at 8:43 pm

The worst thing Trump could do is start some war of choice like Bush did or nominate a moron like Warsh to the Federal Reserve.

One of the more bizarre utterances besides “covfefe” was Trump’s insistence that the Wall be transparent so people on the American side could see the packages of drugs being thrown over and avoid being hit.

But yeah looks like a Muslim ban, Obamacare repeal, tax cuts for the rich and then what? Trade war? Not really a priority for Republicans.


Matt 07.17.17 at 9:19 pm

1. Get another pick on the Supreme Court (Kennedy retirement?).

2. Hobble coal’s competitors (try to get natural gas out of the country ASAP; other possible avenues are the Suniva ITC case and the forthcoming DOE “grid reliability” study).

3. Pile another war on the heap.

4. Support Jeff Sessions going after the devil weed.

5. Religious exemptions for all health/environmental/worker regulations. A minimum wage violates the freedom of conscience of members of the American Church of Objectivism, Chicago Synod.


Omega Centauri 07.17.17 at 10:22 pm

More than war of choice, I think war by blunder is the greatest threat. Ignore the advice of the experts and blunder in in where wisemen fear to tread, then not be smart enough to back out.

I am worried about the Suniva thing. The only thing that can stop the solar juggernaut, is if we manage to reverse the prices declines, and that one has real potential. Then all he needs to do is find a monkey wrench to throw into wind, and it will be a field day for fracking.


Moz of Yarramulla 07.17.17 at 10:47 pm

1. extend the Obama rules allowing punitive detention of suspected illegal immigrants, especially children

2. continue supplying military equipment to Police and take policy advice/legislation from the “Blue Lives Matter” movement

3. tax cuts. Implement the Libertarian dream of a government so poor it can be declared bankrupt and bought for a song.

4. further promote commercial electronic voting and counting, with the suppliers selected by partisan committees.

5. find an excuse to eliminate the “indian nation” stuff, they’re Americans they shouldn’t have special rights that real Americans don’t get.

6. better trade deals. Sign something with Russia that looks ok on paper until the secret provisions are revealed/it turns out that Russian oligarchs also own the “American” competition to Russian industries.

7. first US president to get a divorce while in office.


Moz of Yarramulla 07.17.17 at 10:50 pm

Oh, and extend the nepotism … next foreign trip he goes home early and leaves the baby Trumplet to attend all the official engagements for the rest of the tour. It would be funny if it was the UK or Australia or some other white “important ally” suckup country, but I don’t know if it would even be news if he did that to, say, Ukraine or Brazil.


Heliopause 07.17.17 at 11:16 pm

“He can’t keep tweeting ’fake news!’ for four years”

Why not? “Fake news” is just a variant of “liberal media,” and some on the right have made a living off of that one for decades on end.


Brent Meeker 07.17.17 at 11:34 pm

Trump will invite Kim Jon Un to the White House. At a joint press conference they’ll trade praise for one another. Then Trump will say S. Korea and Japan are rich countries and they’re ripping off the U.S. The U.S. shouldn’t have to defend them.


Alan White 07.17.17 at 11:54 pm

“From Stanford in the SF Bay to Trenton in the Atlantic, an ironic curtain has descended across the Continent.”

When will some Democrat actually notice that this Ironic Curtain is the totality of the Trump strategy, and ironically use the above to criticize US instead of some antsy THEM?

It’s not just a fawning blustering billionaire who champions the little guy and gal while riding on the wave of Obama recovery and looks to give yuuuge tax relief to those like him, who respects women as long as they are in “good shape”, who wants to give the best health care to a poor little boy while taking away essential care from millions, and who is now depending on the best health care available that can assist a senator who might deliver a crucial vote to take that care away, who trumps up (meta-irony) “fake news” while caught in any number of demonstrable contradictions, wh0. . .

As texts say, additional examples are left as an exercise for the reader.


Waiting for Godot 07.18.17 at 12:10 am

My God, for those on “the left” who have been taking solace in the reality TV bluster that characterizes the Trump administration up to this point I say: wake up and smell the burning books. For years I have been warning my “liberal” friends about the institutionalization of friendly fascism (thank you Bertram Gross) in our main stream political vocabulary and neo-liberal policy. Our focus and the focus of the resistance must be on the Republican Party and the neo-fascist structure now completely consolidated by the Koch brothers. Hitler came to power with but 35% of the voting population so he never had to play beyond that minority base and neither does Trump. We should first be focusing on the connections between elected Republican leadership and oligarch money both Russian and American. The ability of this oligarchy to control the majority of the elected national legislature and, through gerrymandering, the state legislatures and governors of the new Confederacy puts us in almost the same political situation as faced in 1858. The difference of course is that the oligarchic slavocracy is nationalized and the northern banks are part of it today. If the Democratic Party had tatooed Trump to every Republican candidate everywhere 2 years ago, we wouldn’t be facing what we are now. But the coup has taken place and the Democratic Party was part of it.


b9n10nt 07.18.17 at 12:54 am

Slight variation, but here’s my bit (in the spirit of US late-night TV veteran David Lettermen’s “top 10”:

America just elected Donald Trump President. That’s crazy! What’ll they do next?

10. American citizens will now require that all pre-sporting event national anthems will be replaced by dramatic readings of Shakespearean tragic soliloquies.

9. …


Andrew Hamilton 07.18.17 at 1:11 am

Yes, I think he might do well just tweeting fake news for four years. Some of the regular commenters on this sophisticated site think it’s fake news, a ploy to discredit Putin, who has been dogged by fake news about his various modest attempts to assert moderate Russian policy.

This here is a new world. Trump may be able to get away with anything. I think a lot of the people here don’t understand what is going on, how Fox News and Rush got their hands on the deal.

I think we have a rough beast slouching. The best are posting about Chapo Trap House on CT, and the worst are filled with passionate intensity, or at least they have the clicks figured out.


nastywoman 07.18.17 at 2:52 am

– and sometimes – when we see the crazy efforts of crazy Republicans collapse – we know how important the Destiny of Trump truly is – to prove to every human on earth – that by being against mainstream politics you should not – absolutely NOT!! erect a ”Trump”!


nastywoman 07.18.17 at 2:58 am

– but on the other hand -(or not?) the wish of every American who wanted ”to burn the whole thing down to the ground” has been granted -(or not?)

Which is another point to prove to every human on earth – that by being against mainstream politics you should not – absolutely NOT!! erect a ”Trump”!

Or NOT??!


John Quiggin 07.18.17 at 3:37 am

At least Obamacare repeal appears to be off the agenda for the moment.

And there’s no obvious sign that the Repubs can get their act together on the combination of tax reform (remembering that “reform” means “change, under present conditions mostly for the worse”) and the debt ceiling.

Trump has helped the Repub Congress deliver a lot of favors to business by reversing Obama’s regulations, but apparently the window for doing that easily has closed. And he nominated Gorsuch. But at this point, it’s not obvious that he can be of much further use to them.

The question is whether they can detach his base and push him out in favor of Pence or (better still, and assuming Pence can be linked to Russia) Ryan.


harry b 07.18.17 at 6:04 am

Require that the wall be built by dry stone wallers. Fantastic for the Yorkshire economy – might even counterbalance the effects of brexit.


bruce wilder 07.18.17 at 7:26 am

Via Naked Capitalism, I see long time Clintonista Paul Begala on CNN saying with reference to Russiagate that the U.S. is under attack by a hostile foreign power and ought to consider “massive retaliation” as a response. It sounds almost as if he thinks the disclosure of true information about the Clinton campaign justifies nuclear war. That is some shark jumping!


Katsue 07.18.17 at 12:52 pm


An alarming scenario for shareholders , employees and prospective employees (e.g. US general officers) of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, to be sure. I’m not sure why the rest of us would be alarmed by this basically scenario, especially given that the brass will do their level best to protect their access to the public trough and ensure that the colossal waste of resources that is the US defence budget is ringfenced.

Anyway, contra John Quiggin, I think Obamacare repeal is very much on the agenda. And even if it doesn’t happen, the fact that Trump has already, by executive fiat, told the IRS not to enforce the individual mandate means that Obamacare is already holed below the waterline – if a Republican is elected in 2020, Obamacare is done.

The major dangers posed by Trump, as opposed to McConnell, are probably in the area of foreign policy, where he can do whatever he likes and gain the plaudits of Congress and the mainstream media as long as whatever he’s doing is not too peaceful.

(For an example of Donald Trump receiving criticism for being too peaceful, see the US missile attack on Shayrat airbase.)


Tom Hurka 07.18.17 at 1:04 pm

Seriously: unilaterally withdraw from NAFTA, to show’s he done what he said he’d do at least on trade.


Glen Tomkins 07.18.17 at 1:40 pm

What we perceive as trolling us is perceived by Trump and supporters as defiance of conventional politics and the messaging it uses. My impression is that there is a chunk of swing voters who are frustrated by the stasis in US politics, and blame it on the insincerity of the conventional politicians, their use of messaging instead of taking frank, intelligible positions on public policy. They voted for Trump imagining that he would be some sort of Huey Long, with his white trash buffoon schtick, who, precisely because he was an outsider of the sort shunned by the conventional politicians, would get populist things done once put in power. This was not a vain hope in the case of Huey Long.

The buffoonery may not be an act with Trump. He probably really is too far gone into dementia to put any agenda across, and even too disorganized to let some handler use him as the figurehead to put an agenda across.

But if Trump or some set of handlers is able to take the next step, that step would be to come up with some dramatic wins. He can’t win the conventional way, carefully negotiating some shapeless compromise such as the ACA. He doesn’t have the inclination for the work of careful negotiation that would require, and that would, even if successful on its own terms, just look like more stasis. He would have to pivot to start winning in that fashion. He would become a sell-out.

The only way to get dramatic wins out of the system is to use a crisis. One may happen for him, something like 9/11. But that’s out of his hands. One sort of crisis he might be able to manufacture would be a Reichstag Fire sort of incident. But he’s got the Deep State against him, so might not be able to arrange that without getting caught.

If he and his make any sort of move from here, as opposed to the continued floundering of a demented person and his failed handlers, I would expect it to take the shape of a game of legislative chicken over the annual spending bills and/or the debt ceiling. That’s something he could win at, because he doesn’t care about the public policy consequences. The content of legislation that he gets passed by winning a shutdown or default crisis will be immaterial. The important thing will be to get something that obviously could not pass any other way, through Congress by beating Congress, making it back down in the game of chicken.


Adam Hammond 07.18.17 at 1:40 pm

I worry that Trump could begin demolishing monuments that he doesn’t like. He could promise to build a beautiful new ‘gold house’ that everyone will love. That would jump a bigger shark.


Jerry Vinokurov 07.18.17 at 1:52 pm

To add to what Tom Hurka said: he can also unilaterally scuttle the Iran deal, which could be catastrophic.


Underpaid_Propagandist 07.18.17 at 2:36 pm

10. “But the coup has taken place and the Democratic Party was part of it.”

Prove it.


Katsue 07.18.17 at 3:08 pm


Insert the word “impossible” after “basically” in line 2. If there is one thing Donald Trump is not going to do, it is making peace with North Korea.


Eszter Hargittai 07.18.17 at 3:29 pm

But her emails!

To see what could easily come of things, just look to Hungary for clues.


reason 07.18.17 at 3:48 pm

I think Trump is probably in poor health in a number of ways (every photo of I see of him recently looks like he is in pain). He could really shock everybody by deciding to abdicate.


bruce wilder 07.18.17 at 4:38 pm

Eszter Hargittai: “But her emails!”

Underneath the snark and scorn for Trump (all well-deserved as far as I am concerned), I detect a completely unfounded assumption that “our” guys are OK, that this craziness infecting the political world can be attributed to one anomalous personality.

That’s why I made my contribution @ 17 about a Democrat losing his marbles. And, lest anyone think this is isolated, consider this report from Glenn Greenwald.

The schizophrenia overtaking western politics is general and if you don’t recognize that, chances are you are part of it.

In American political news media, the daily drum beat of “revelations” about Trump-Russia collusion is as voluminous as it is completely without substance, 0r — and this is the important part, I suspect — much if any journalistic integrity. The American news media is in a feeding frenzy and reporters and commentators seem to know what narratives will sell, facts and perspective be damned. That is a dementia that that consumes and overtakes the commons of the collective mind and is far more serious than Trump’s age or psychological quirks.

The most organized part of the Loyal Opposition — the rump establishment of the Democratic Party — has been relentlessly attacking the legitimacy of Trump’s Presidency and doing so with scant regard to the consequences or precedents. Should the spooks of the Intelligence Community gain a veto over the President or his Administration? Sure, why not? What could go wrong? Should we gin up intense hostility to Russia, a nuclear power? Wot, me worry?

There’s both an unexamined complacency and an irresponsible recklessness behind the drivers of our political discourse that ought to be worrisome. These morons are not writing the scripts for Happy Days while high in a closet; they are running the world, or aspire to. And, to what end? Apparently, they have no friggin’ idea, on either side of the aisle.


b9n10nt 07.18.17 at 8:08 pm

bruce wilder @27:

The only act of political genius that i could imagine Trump and his gang could pull off would be to have intentionally created Russia-collusion “smoke” without “fire”. How devilishly creative would it be to create controversy that you could then absolve yourself from, all while misdirecting your opponents?


nastywoman 07.18.17 at 8:10 pm

– and @27
”What Sharks Are Left To Jump?”


And as I never had a chance to thank Glenn Greenwald personally for all he did for Trump and thus saving Europe from the Trumpists could you do this for me when you talk to him next time?
Tell him his most favorite ‘girl’ -(not ‘Mona’) says: ‘Nobody does it better!!
-(jumping them sharks)


Underpaid_Propagandist 07.18.17 at 8:13 pm

27. You’re hopelessly ill-informed.


mpowell 07.18.17 at 10:53 pm

Wilder @ 27: I’m sorry, but if you think there’s no substance to the Trump-Russia story you are badly mistaken. Unless you also think Watergate was overblown? What we already know for sure about Russia is arguably just as bad.


faustusnotes 07.19.17 at 1:23 am

He could still start a war with North Korea to distract from his growing list of failures, and as the Russia thing deepens. Although Bruce Wilder is showing that many of Trump’s supporters won’t believe the Russia thing even when presented with written evidence of direct collusion, so maybe Trump won’t have to distract from anything.


Yankee 07.19.17 at 1:28 am

If T were the populist he claimed to be, at this point the clans would be gathering in the rural northwest and probably other places I’m less familiar with. But he sold out to The Swamp without getting anything out of it that I can see, and in his usual fashion not delivering anything either. Really, the man’s just a clown. The only thing left is the faceplant and a curtain-closer by one of the dukes.


F. Foundling 07.19.17 at 1:56 am

@ 28, 30, 31

The recent Trump Jr email scandal reveals that he was, in principle, willing to obtain damaging information about HRC from literally anyone (in this case, information ultimately originating from the crown prosecutor of Russia, ‘which would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia’). This is broadly in line with the spirit of some of Trump Sr’s open statements at the time. Apart from the somewhat unflattering ‘optics’, it appears that the only more-or-less promising case for illegality here would be to argue that this constitutes the solicitation of a ‘contribution of a thing of value from a foreign national’. If so, that would look like another case of violating a little-known law due to ignorance, as with Flynn’s conversations. But, as usual in the various episodes of Russiagate, things crucially depend on the beholder’s choice to see it as being ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ or not. If anything, the overall picture of naiveté, amateurishness, confusion and miscommunication emerging from the emails as well as later accounts suggests that there wasn’t much of an iceberg (i.e. effective and systematic collaboration) to speak of.

Taking a bird’s eye view of this – were there pro-Russian elements in the Trump campaign? Yes. Did some of them have business or professional connections with Russia? Yes. Did Russia want Trump to win? Yes. Did Trump want to win, even if that victory would partly be the result of Russia’s activities? Yes, he said as much. Did ‘we’ know all of the above in advance? Yes. Have any serious crimes been committed? So far, the evidence for such a thing remains very scanty and iffy at best.


nastywoman 07.19.17 at 5:05 am

– but indeed – from all the shark-jumping the ”Russian Thing” is probably the weirdest and the most unusual one and I still think – being at Mar a Lago and Trump Hotels and houses of nouveau rich Russian Oligarchs – that it is mainly a problem of Interior Design? As there are this very troubling comparisons between – how the Interiors look alike.

There is NOT enough Gold there – and NOT enough HUGE Chandeliers.
And so what we for sure forgot and most important:

1. More… Chandeliers!
2. More golden toilets
3. More golden kitchen faucets!
5.-500. More Red Satin Bed Linens and polstered closets.
And apparently, Wilder has no friggin’ idea about that on either side of the aisle.


MFB 07.19.17 at 6:41 am

Mpowell, what exactly do you know about Russia, and how do you know it? No actual information has come out, to my knowledge, confirming any of the right wing of the Democratic Party’s propaganda around Russian email hacking, Russian election meddling, or any of the other things which extreme right-wing propagandists love to use to distract attention from real issues (which is Bruce Wilder’s entirely correct point).

Anyone who thinks that Glenn Greenwald is sympathetic to Trump has no credibility as a political debater, and is willing to abandon all truth and rationality in the service of an extremist political agenda.


reason 07.19.17 at 8:44 am

Me @26
I’m half expecting a heart attack at the tenth tee. (The first is too obvious, but the 10th is near enough to the clubhouse to ensure he gets whisked away quickly before too many questions are asked).


bruce wilder 07.19.17 at 9:14 am

mpowell @ 31

As edifying as it might be to have an exchange with you where you tell me I am mistaken and I deny it, I think I will pass.

With Watergate, we knew from the get-go that there had been a burglary; the burglars had been arrested. The FBI had Hunt’s name within hours of the burglary.

It has never been forensically established that the disclosure of DNC emails by Wikileaks was the result of a hack and not a leak, and the surmise that Russian intelligence agencies were the ultimate prime movers seems to consist mostly of speculation on the motives of Russian institutional actors. Moreover, if the disclosure of DNC emails by Wikileaks is the instrument of Russian interference, your argument has to overcome the fact that the DNC emails were damaging to the Democratic Campaign because they confirmed that important Democratic officials were behaving badly. If all the Russians did was disclose true facts about bad actors in American politics, it is hard to see what they allegedly did as an assault on the sacredness of unsullied American democracy. Unless of course, like Paul Begala, you are in the same club as those bad actors.

None of that is even relevant to the point I was making about the way “jumping the shark” has come to encompass more of the political class than one orange-haired teevee celebrity and his tiny faction of the Republican Party.

The continuing media furor over “Trump-Russia collusion” (a far more general and amorphous thesis than can be accounted for by the fact of the DNC email disclosure via Wikileaks) is fueled by journalists embracing the reckless techniques of propaganda: McCarthyite innuendo, endless repetition of often groundless speculation, an hysterical tone and so on. This often silly business, engaged in by journalists across American media from Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) to Judy Woodruff (PBS NewsHour) to the previously august New York Times and Washington Post doesn’t require much in the way of actual facts and when a fact is introduced it will be pummeled until it adds to the chosen narrative.

In recent days, we’ve learned Donald Trump Junior during the campaign last year attended a meeting in search of (negative) information about Candidate Clinton. (I know I’m shocked by this revelation; who knew such things happened.) Apparently, Don Jr was not actually given any dirt on Clinton. But, that’s not the story — I’m sorry, THE STORY. The Story is how the Trump Administration is supposedly being caught in a cover-up and your brave journalists are uncovering the truth, bit by tiny bit and every new revelation is all so terribly scary and important, tune in tomorrow for our next episode. Thus, we have had the identities of the attendees disclosed one at a time, day after day, often with wholly unsupported characterizations introduced to enhance the drama.

A couple of days ago, Anderson Cooper was asserting that Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, admittedly not the most articulate press secretary in history, had lied about the purpose of the meeting, denying that Junior was seeking negative information on Clinton. As far as I can tell, Spicer actually did note that that was the purpose, but Anderson could edit the (audio)tape to make it seem otherwise and did.

Eileen Sullivan, writing in the New York Times, helpfully introduced one of the attendees, Rinat Akhmetshin: “Mr. Akhmetshin, a naturalized American citizen who talks openly of his past in a K.G.B. counterintelligence unit focused on hunting spies in the Russian military, is well known in diplomatic and media circles in Washington, where he has worked for years on behalf of business and political interests in Russia and other former Soviet states.” Apparently, the lower-case truth is that Akhmetshin served a couple of years in the Soviet Army as a teenaged draftee — not exactly the impression Sullivan was working to convey. Not long after, Morning Joe was referring to Rinat as a former KGB agent in a rant against Trump. Rachel Maddow was referring to our teenaged Soviet Sergeant (his highest rank and at discharge) as “a former Soviet counterintelligence officer”.

Rachel Maddow, in her rendition of this artful dribble of who was at the meeting, which is utterly inconsequential information despite all the drama attached by journalists, rolled her eyes in her customary fashion: “So, we’re now basically waiting to find out if there were any Russians who were in New York that day who were not in that meeting. And if so, is that just because they wouldn”t fit in the elevator? Honestly, like anything else to declare on this?” (How many actual Russian citizens were at this meeting of 8 people? One. But you wouldn’t get that from Rachel, natch.)

(I have used the venerable Daily Howler blog as my reference for the above. He has much more. And, no he’s not at all sympathetic to Trump. He’s sympathetic to Al Gore, if you must know and he’s been writing about incompetent Dem-leaning journalists and pundits since the 2000 election campaign.)

In America, you can listen or read this stream of garbage reporting and, if you are credulous enough, think Trump alone has jumped the shark, but it is not true; the largest part of established media has jumped the shark, as well. They just do not feel any responsibility for verifying the truth of what they report or the importance of what they report. If the narrative demands it, they will just make stuff up. And have been doing so with surprising (to me) frequency.


Katsue 07.19.17 at 12:15 pm


What we know for sure about the Trump-Russia story, which is basically just the Donald Trump Jr meeting, is nowhere near as bad as what was known about Watergate the instant the scandal broke.

The perpetrators of the various hacks, leaks, etc., are not known for sure, and the main (only?) source for the claim that Putin hacked the DNC, Crowdstrike, has already managed to discredit itself with its apparently false claims about Russian hacking of Ukrainian artillery guidance software.


Katsue 07.19.17 at 12:54 pm

It occurs to me that by mentioning real issues, instead of Trump’s social media excesses, I am not acting in the spirit of the OP, but I lack imagination. I could never have come up with the orb, or even Trump describing his son (in hindsight quite predictably) as “high-quality”. So I’ll mention something relevant.

Donald Trump can decline to reappoint Janet Yellen and appoint an alumnus of Goldman Sachs to the position of Chair of the Federal Reserve.


Donald Johnson 07.19.17 at 1:35 pm

Sharks are being jumped when the US and British governments actively assist the Saudis in committing a crime against humanity in Yemen– tens of thousands of children and possibly more have died of starvation in the past two years– and this receives maybe one percent of the attention Russiagate gets.



Donald Johnson 07.19.17 at 1:54 pm

Of course this is business as usual in American ( and presumably British ) politics. Someone smarter than me should think of a clever descriptive name for the way the biggest scandals in politics never correspond with the biggest crimes. If you plotted it with the x axis being the moral seriousness and the y axis being the size of the scandal, the curve would rise up, reach a peak with something on the level of Watergate, and then shrink back down to zero with the bombing of Cambodia. So if you do a Watergate and cover it up, you quite properly get driven from office, but if you actively engage in mass murder, it’s actually too big a thing for the political culture to process in any sort of honest way. You are better off killing 100, 000 children than in meeting with a Russian to gather dirt on a political opponent. There was some blather about Bush war crimes by Democrats during the Iraq War, but it was partisan and once Bush was out the talk largely vanished.


Orange Watch 07.19.17 at 2:45 pm


Sadly, as has been said before, this is not newsworthy because it would require criticizing a bipartisan policy. The liberal portions of the media in particular would be loathe to attack an Obama legacy like this, especially since they can if need be use it for tough-guy foreign policy cred. It’s absolutely noxious, though, and should shock moral sensibilities.

I’d say Yemen would qualify as shark-jumping (rather than old-school nothing-to-see-here business-as-usual) if we went from logistical and operational support to actually flying missions/firing munitions. However, given the absolutely great, top-notch job the Kingdom’s coalition is doing, this is likely a shark that shan’t be jumped. Never say never, though. Alas.


mpowell 07.19.17 at 2:58 pm

In the case of Watergate, you had a burglary to gain information about the DNC. The burglary was definitely ordered by the Republicans, but it was never proved that Nixon ordered it. It was proved that he covered it up.

With Trump, you have a release of a huge quantity of private information. And I wouldn’t call it a leak: a leak is when an actor (usually high level) within an organization intentionally releases information through side-channels – nobody in charge of the DNC intended to post John Podesta’s whole email history. A malicious unauthorized release of information by an internal actor is really no different than a hack and I think you’re only calling it a leak to try to minimize what happened. This was actually worse than a burglary since, in addition to getting access to a lot of information, all of Podesta’s personal correspondence was posted online.

Now, in Trump’s case we haven’t yet seen conclusive proof that Russian actors did it or that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. At this moment, it looks like a preponderance of the evidence is pointing at Russian intervention. But it is actually a lot worse to solicit the assistance of a foreign power than having a few locals perform a burglary! This would leave the president of the United States vulnerable to blackmail or likely to form foreign policy on the basis of a quid pro quo as opposed to the national interest. So if Trump’s team did do this, it’s a lot worse than Watergate! And the circumstantial evidence in this case is already strongly indicating that Trump is behaving as an accessory after the fact to the crime since he is driving policy favorable to Russia even against the recommendation of his own advisors. And even though we don’t have conclusive proof of what Trump’s team did regarding the act, we do have conclusive proof that Trump fired Comey as part of an effort to obstruct the investigation since he admitted it on live TV! What we do know is that Trump Jr was invited to a meeting, with Russians, to discuss acquiring dirt on Clinton. So Trump’s team was certainly interested in the possibility of working with a foreign power and Trump himself famously and publicly requested Putin’s help in acquiring Clinton’s email during his campaign!

I’m not going to argue there are not huge problems with the way the media currently functions in the United States, but missing so badly on the significance of this particular scandal really undermines the credibility of the rest of your assessment.


mpowell 07.19.17 at 3:05 pm

And further to Wilder @ 27/32, you’re not just attacking the media in your original post. You’re also criticizing the Democratic party and US intelligent services. I don’t see how comments by Rachel Maddow or Eileen Sullivan are relevant to your claims in that penultimate paragraph. This scandal is certainly a valid reason to question the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. And our politics would almost certainly be healthier if this was exactly the sort of thing that would get a president impeached.


Yan 07.19.17 at 3:05 pm

Don(ald) Johnson@35 “this receives maybe one percent of the attention Russiagate gets.”

Please read the rules sir. It doesn’t count as shark jumping–or newsworthy shark jumping–if it originates with Obama and is enthusiastically supported by Hillary.

Otherwise, we’d have to consider it shark jumping when Democrats becoming (again, after JFK) the single greatest western threat for provoking global nuclear war by launching an enormous political and media campaign for a particularly warm Cold War and red scare, as well as by actively encouraging Trump to become a military tough guy in Syria and North Korea.

And that would just be crazy. Stick to the truly serious stuff, like embarrassing tweets and lack of decorum.

Mpowell @31 “if you think there’s no substance to the Trump-Russia story you are badly mistaken.”

Saw an interesting thread on Twitter where an indie journalist in good faith requested the best evidence that Russia hacked the election. Many replies calling him a Putin agent, but not a single one with evidence beyond unnamed sources say so and the long debunked claim that the DNC hack was demonstrably by a Russian, much less the Russian state.


marku52 07.19.17 at 3:05 pm

But “Seventeen Intelligence Agencies!” OMFG. And one of them was the Coast Guard, well versed in Russian hacking, I’m sure. Not one of the real ones (NSA, CIA) willing to put actual evidence out, and at least one of them (Clapper) proven to have lied to Congress in the past.

That’s some real smoking gun there. As the Moon of Alabama points out:
“A Hillary Clinton campaign cut-out hires the (former?) British intelligence agent Steele to pay money to (former?) Russian intelligence agents and high-level Kremlin employees for dirt about Donald Trump. They deliver some dirty fairy tales. The resulting dossier is peddled far and wide throughout Washington DC with the intent of damaging Trump.”

Or Saint McCain colluding with AQ in Syria, and fascists in Ukraine.

They all do this sh*t. There’s plenty of reason to rag on Trump. This is the wrong hill to die on.


nastywoman 07.19.17 at 3:48 pm

”In America, you can listen or read this stream of garbage reporting and, if you are credulous enough, think Trump alone has jumped the shark, but it is not true; the largest part of established media has jumped the shark, as well.”

That’s why I really should tell you: Do what every single ”NO Trumplander” does – watch US Comedy – the best ‘no garbage reporting’ – and if you are credulous enough that’s where you find all the serious ‘reporting’ – especially YOU need.

Did you know -(for example) – just for example – that this Russian that arranged this funny meeting with Trump junior has ”a relationship with bread”?

I betcha you don’t know that – as it was completely underreported by the our media.
And that’s why for example love this guy and think Trump -(and not Hillary!) – should have a relationship with him having a relationship with bread.
Like for example me РI always had a great relationship with bread Рand for years with French Croissants -(which has become kind of costly and so I changed to Milchbr̦tchen Рif you know what I mean?)

But what is it with you and this Hillary Lady -(and them ‘Democrats’) – the stuff you write always reads like you want to have some kind of a relationship with them – but it doesn’t work – or they don’t let you? -(”philosophical” spoken in honor of der Kritik der reinen Vernunft von Immanuel Kant) – if you know what I mean??!


nastywoman 07.19.17 at 3:59 pm

”So I’ll mention something relevant.”

Did it ever occur to you that in Trumps case all the irrelevant things are ”relevant”?!

For example that the dude has the same Interior Design taste than nouveau rich Russian Criminals – or he says the word ”beautiful” so often? and what he mean by that.
It’s like I once had a boyfriend who categorized car accidents into ”beautiful” and ”more beautiful” and ”most beautiful” – which always makes you wonder how such a person sees the world – and you know that you – me and the rest of the world – is in trouble if such a person -(who for sure has jumped the shark already a long time ago) is giving the chance to do it over and over again together with you…

Just think about it – do you want to wake up in an interior – environment – landscape – a Russian Oligarch has furnished – even if he is called Trump?!


nastywoman 07.19.17 at 4:47 pm

and @36
”Sharks are being jumped when the US and British governments actively assist the Saudis in committing a crime against humanity in Yemen”

Isn’t that fair more serious than ‘jumping sharks’??! –
as I always thought that ‘jumping sharks’ came from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. And thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.
And now – to compare ”a crime against humanity” as ”Jumping the Shark”?

You might be way of Mr. Johnson?
-(or did you do ‘a Greenwald’?)
A full ‘Greenwald’ – by comparing things which can’t be compared ”at all” or just a half Greenwald by pretending to write something about the topic of this blogpost -(”Trump jumping the shark”) – in order to criticize NOT Trump?


nastywoman 07.19.17 at 4:52 pm

– but on no comparison or connection to whatever – to moderate a threat about ”jumping the shark” isn’t that ”jumping the shark”?


Matt 07.19.17 at 6:39 pm

Of course this is business as usual in American ( and presumably British ) politics. Someone smarter than me should think of a clever descriptive name for the way the biggest scandals in politics never correspond with the biggest crimes. If you plotted it with the x axis being the moral seriousness and the y axis being the size of the scandal, the curve would rise up, reach a peak with something on the level of Watergate, and then shrink back down to zero with the bombing of Cambodia.


Dredging up one of my comments from a couple of years ago:

Americans are good at remembering to fight: we recall the Munich Agreement and (mis-)apply it to every situation that even vaguely suggests military action. We remember “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” We’re apparently not so good at identifying, remembering, or learning from times that escalating to armed conflict failed to solve the original problem and introduced more problems of its own.

It reminds me of how American English has no proper translation for the term “war criminal.” We have no term for the times you shouldn’t go to war against tyrants. Nor is there any term for powerful Americans who committed atrocities in wartime. In American English the very idea is inexpressible, like hot snow. The rare American who calls a President a war criminal is widely regarded as someone with a brain disorder, like someone who mistakes his wife for a hat. “American war criminal,” “stupid rebellion against tyranny” — things that we are (mostly) unable to even talk about. What a lousy way to find out that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is correct.


bruce wilder 07.19.17 at 8:42 pm

mpowell @ 43, 44

The DNC email release involving the email of seven key DNC figures and the Podesta email release were separate events. Podesta’s emails were pretty boring and mildly embarrassing but politically inconsequential, we learned that Clinton campaign operatives manipulate the media — wow; the DNC emails confirmed patterns of bad conduct, favoring Clinton over Sanders in the primary process and cooperating with Clinton in circumventing campaign finance rules in ways that critically injured National and State party fundraising and finance. How Podesta disclosed his password to a spear-phishing exploit is known, though the identity of the hacker and her possible sponsors is not known, only speculated about. We don’t really know how the DNC emails left the building so to speak or into whose hands before arriving at Wikileaks; there’s some evidence that they left in the hands of someone with inside access unrelated to allegedly Russian-sponsored remote hacks of the server. Except for those details, it seems to me that you have a pretty good grasp of the basic facts and maybe are just getting a little carried away stringing together subjunctives: there’s a critical “if” preceding each of your assertions regarding how serious “this” is.

For example: If Trump fired Comey to stop an investigation into his own wrongdoing, that’s obstruction of justice. Comey, in fact, told Trump the famous three times that Trump was not under investigation and firing Comey did not stop the investigation that Comey was not personally conducting; if Trump fired Comey because Comey is an irresponsible and unethical hack who will keep an open-ended fishing-expedition “investigation” going indefinitely just to embarrass more powerful officials at regular intervals (as Comey demonstrated in Clinton’s personal email server case), Trump and his Deputy Attorney General are doing their jobs. Trump is admirably honest about not wanting to be hobbled by an investigation that turns into a perpetual fishing expedition, hobbling his Presidency, possibly in the way Bill Clinton’s Presidency was hobbled and eventually severely damaged by the seven-year Whitewater investigation (driven not incidentally by the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife).

Anyway, it is not my job to tell you what to think about any of this. You don’t know. I don’t know. That I do not buy into your string of “if” regarding “the significance of this particular scandal ” does not mean I am ill-informed or mistaken. None of your “ifs” are facts that I should know, nor do your string of “ifs” add up to a “preponderance of evidence” circumstantial or otherwise. Maybe, it means I am not marching with your particular political tribe at this moment.

I do see a big problem with our political media abandoning the few scruples they ordinarily have in filling the fathomless void of “You don’t know . . . I don’t know” with titillating speculation and tribally pleasing snark. When Trump fired Comey, many Media figures questioned the line in Trump’s firing letter that mentioned Comey telling Trump three times that Trump was not under investigation. The Washington Post and New York Times carried front page stories, on Sunday as I recall, the only day many people read a paper, intimating that Comey was fired just as he was about to ask for more money for the investigation. It was all just made up. The two papers walked back their story during the course of the following week and Comey in his testimony eventually confirmed Trump’s assertion. But, the Media frenzy continued, with new speculations, new “if’s” to make this “scandal” significant.

After a while, woolly speculation on what we don’t know can congeal into counterfactuals that look like facts to us. It is a weakness of the human mind. I can say, “do not think of a pink elephant” and you cannot help but think of a pink elephant. It overwhelms our cognitive capacity to distinguish the significant from the insignificant, and the morally important from the trivial. The political media exists to inform the citizenry and the citizenry think all kinds of nonsense, and not just about Trump and Russia. This is how we ended up invading Iraq, folks.

Yesterday, digby @ Hullabaloo wrote this:

Like every other political writer, I’ve made the observation that the most likely reason for Trump’s oddly out-of-character approach to Russia is the fact that he’s likely in hock up to his ears to Russian mobsters and oligarchs. That’s not to say he doesn’t love him a handsome strongman too. And it’s also completely plausible that the Russian government has put the squeeze on him in any number of ways as well as helped him to win the election with his full knowledge. I’m prepared to believe any of that as the evidence emerges. Right now we have a whole lot of evidence of something . . . .

I would say we do not have much actual evidence of anything, but loads of mostly groundless speculation are filling the narrow window of attention and opening people’s minds to believing something. I think digby’s state of mind is alarming.

One thing that holds me back from going down the rabbit holes of your “ifs” is that I cannot find the mechanism of this nefarious Russian interference with the U.S. election.
If the Trump campaign was “colluding” with the Russians, what were they colluding to do? What did they do, with Russian help, to affect the election result?

If the sum total of what the Russians did was to instigate disclosures confirming Democratic Party wrong-doing and to sponsor dissident speech on an obscure cable news channel, I think we should say, “thank you” and go on about our business. Including relentlessly attacking Trump as an incompetent boob and billionaire reactionary out to corrupt and destroy all that is good and decent.

If the Russians did something, something more muscular and on a larger scale to move the vote, it really should not be that hard to find loads of evidence of it. We should scarcely have to look; it should be staring us in the face as the reason for the election result. I know some people have filled in the blanks, imagining that there is evidence that the Russians actually hacked the vote count; there is no such evidence. But, that’s where this frenzy of open-ended speculation takes people. This is the effect of propaganda in the age inverted totalitarianism.

What U.S. policy should be toward Russia ought to be a question open to debate, and not hostage to partisan conspiracy-mongering. It is not clear to me that arming Estonia in the suburbs of Leningrad or taking the side of crazy Ukrainian fascists or arming several opposing sides in the Syrian civil war while risking a shooting war with Russia, a nuclear power, are good foreign policy moves. ymmv

mpowell: You’re also criticizing the Democratic party and US intelligen[ce] services.

Yes, I am. It wasn’t that long ago that the Clintonistas were promoting the idea that members of the Electoral College should get a secret intelligence briefing designed to induce some of them to act as faithless electors. That was what I was referring to, when I wrote: “Should the spooks of the Intelligence Community gain a veto over the President or his Administration?” I noticed recently that some are calling for taking away Jared Kushner’s security clearance, which, in my opinion, would be to hand way too much authority to the secret state, which has too much authority already. But, that’s is a topic for another thread.

My most general takeaway on all of this is that the legitimacy crisis that has overtaken U.S. politics is not about the peculiar personality of Trump. If Clinton had won the toss of the dice on election day, she would have been embroiled in the same legitimacy crisis, just with different scripts being read over the feckless news Media. “Jumping the shark” is something the political system as a whole is doing with the political Media in the lead, as far as I can tell.


alfredlordbleep 07.19.17 at 8:53 pm


There is NOT enough Gold there – and NOT enough HUGE Chandeliers.
And so what we for sure forgot and most important:
1. More… Chandeliers!
2. More golden toilets
3. More golden kitchen faucets!
5.-500. More Red Satin Bed Linens and polstered closets.
And apparently, Wilder has no friggin’ idea about that on either side of the aisle.

Reading n****woman is enough to make one dizzy. Does any of us have an idea about either side of her red satin sheets?


Yan 07.19.17 at 9:21 pm

marku52 @46: “But ‘Seventeen Intelligence Agencies!'”

Not seventeen, it turns out, but only FOUR. Here’s the correction NYT ran:

“A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”



Donald Johnson 07.19.17 at 9:59 pm

“I’m not going to argue there are not huge problems with the way the media currently functions in the United States, but missing so badly on the significance of this particular scandal really undermines the credibility of the rest of your assessment.”

So if I underestimate the significance of Russiagate by comparing it to Watergate, that means one doesn’t have to consider the point I made about our complicity in mass murder in Yemen.

Got it.

All snark aside, I don’t have any strong opinion on the relative significance of Russia vs Watergate’s importance. But I am pretty sure mass murder is more important than Russiagate or Watergate or both put together and my point was that once a crime gets big enough, it stops being a scandal. It is a little more complicated than that, of course. If the Saudis were bombing people we cared about, it would matter. Since they aren’t, its political significance falls somewhere far below Russiagate.


Donald Johnson 07.19.17 at 10:25 pm


Anerican support for the Saudi war crimes began in 2015 and continues under Trump. In fact, Trump doubled down on it. The Obama Administration was embarrassed by the air strikes on the funeral in Sanaa last year, which received worldwide attention, and decided to stop selling the Saudis precision weapons, but Trump wants to go back to that practice.

So in fact Yemen does fit under the original topic if the topic is bad things Trump has done. You seem upset because you picked up on the fact that I think our whole political culture jumped the shark a long time ago.


Donald Johnson 07.19.17 at 10:36 pm

Sorry for another post. I won’t post any more for today. But I just saw this. The piecce from FAIR relies on an Amnesty International report and is about civilians killed in Mosul by our bombing. Again, to me at least this ought to get at least as much attention as Russiagate. And yes, this is about Trump, but it is also about our priorities.



hix 07.19.17 at 11:15 pm

My suggestion for Trump would be to build a replica of the Chinese wall at the Mexian border. There would be no entrance fee for US citicen that want to walk on that replica, while foreigners had to pay an entrance fee. Tada, wall paid by Mexicans. Maybe he could also add some replicas of Neuschwanstein with casionos located inside every 200 miles or so that only allow non citicens to gamble.

I also agree that the White house looks just to normal. Maybe Erdogan could be some inspiration.


Ebenezer Scrooge 07.19.17 at 11:36 pm

Maybe Trump will release his personal copy of the pee tape?


Alan White 07.20.17 at 1:20 am

Given John McCain’s diagnosis of malignant brain cancer, I wonder if the One-with-just-a-malignant brain might apologize to someone who he vilified for being captured in a war that the One avoided with multiple deferments. That would jump the shark’s shark, which is why the One won’t apologize.


n 07.20.17 at 1:25 am

The “right wing of the Democratic Party” now includes Sanders, apparently (“Of course we knew that they were trying to cause divisiveness within the Democratic Party”).
Fine, there was never any Russian hacking, it’s all a distraction, but can we at least agree on paper audit trails? Or is worrying about the Mercers maybe hacking the vote themselves too distracting from whatever it’s possible to do without secure voting?


Layman 07.20.17 at 1:36 am

bruce wilder: “In recent days, we’ve learned Donald Trump Junior during the campaign last year attended a meeting in search of (negative) information about Candidate Clinton…”

If this summary of what we’ve learned doesn’t serve to show that bruce wilder doesn’t have a shred of integrity on this subject, nothing will.


RD 07.20.17 at 1:55 am

“Jumping the shark” is a sign that the show is over and desperate to keep going by any means.
E.G.”Get Smart”
Have the protagonists get married. Then have a baby.Then get a funny robot.


Underpaid Propagandist 07.20.17 at 2:19 am

uno. Wilder, in all seriousness, everyone existing in reality is laughing at you. You’re too much in denial NOT to be a bot.

dos. n: right on!

tres. nasty woman: fighting against these insulated minds is futile. abstract fighting against these insulated minds is futile. this blog has become self-parody in a time it’s needed most.


Heliopause 07.20.17 at 3:41 am

“an indie journalist in good faith requested the best evidence that Russia hacked the election.”

It’s actually rather stunning how much of the whole Trump-Russia narrative rests on the word of a handful of individuals at the private firm Crowdstrike.


Name 07.20.17 at 8:25 am

After Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Pirro, Watters, et al whip up the cukshirts into random roving death squads…
Where does [Trump] have left to go?

MOAB bombing the blue coast of the west. If James Wood lives in Hollywood, he’ll be SOL.


Name 07.20.17 at 8:40 am

Omega Centauri 07.17.17 at 10:22 pm
find a monkey wrench to throw into wind

Redstate wrench flinging indicates that the Kochs have accumulated a grackle flock of wrenches for federal flinging.
Yet the EPA reversals, pollution sanctioning, and attacks on employees and business customers have been skimpy so far.

Why hasn’t the Koch Apparatus flung many wrenches?


nastywoman 07.20.17 at 11:56 am

”Reading n****woman is enough to make one dizzy.”

I try and try and try – very ”winning” but I never beat Von Clownstick?

Each time I think I have beaten our ”beautiful” President he tweets or gives an interview to the NYT and I look bigly sane. So to stay OT: What else could I write to jump better -(over them shark) than my beloved President -(or Bruce)

Any suggestions??!


bob mcmanus 07.20.17 at 12:43 pm

Unlike Wilder, I’ll provisionally grant stipulate the “facts” of Russiagate. But I don’t care. An America that nominates a Trump doesn’t deserve borders, an America that nominates Clinton has only illusory ones, abstractions that serve Empire, gradients that enable exploitation. The colonizer becomes colonized by their own propaganda for aggression and domination.

The nationalism, patriotism or chauvinism that the Democrats are expressing in their outrage over Russian interference seems to mesh so poorly with the cosmopolitanism, internationalism, and anti-nationalism that should be a foundational premise of a Left. I can only hope that this fevered invocation of American’s pure and inviolate national sovereignty is insincere and instrumental, but history leads me to understand that this kind of performance becomes a trap that is hard to escape. Thus Max Weber and the Pankhursts facilitated the deaths of millions.

I don’t care about US sovereignty or “electoral integrity.” Jesus what a joke. What shark-jumping. The only wars are class war, or war against racism, or against Patriarchy. Global wars with local battles.

I think we all know in our hearts that the US is probably going to be the only nation to use nuclear weapons, and we will use them again. The first strike plans are on the table. The US is the world-historical genocidal nation, not the Nazis, Japan, or USSR. The first moral imperative, before class struggle or equality or liberation should be the total destruction of the US as an international force. I welcome my Russian allies. I spit my treason at the Stars and Bars.


Katsue 07.20.17 at 12:50 pm


Pushing for American elections to be democratic and transparent is certainly something one would think the Democratic Party should be interested in. I haven’t seen much sign of any effort on their part, but perhaps it’s happening and I just haven’t seen it.

Electronic voting is certainly an absolutely preposterous idea, and the only explanations for its adoption that I can think of are a kind of naive technology-worship, a corrupt desire to hand out money to the manufacturers, or a corrupt desire to use the technology to rig elections. In any of those cases, however, the evil is not to be found in the Kremlin – it’s in the various statehouses.

I should add in relation to the reported hacks of electoral rolls that accessing an electoral roll doesn’t necessarily allow you to alter anything on a voting machine. One plausible motivation that I have seen advanced for those hacks is that they were purely criminal – an attempt to grab identity data for the sake of subsequently monetising it.


Dipper 07.20.17 at 3:07 pm

Well, Trump’s daughter sat on for him at the G20. How? what? why didn’t everyone else just walk out?

It’s the way Trump is normalising the completely unacceptable. Replacing democratic processes with a third world family dynasty. Years after he is gone from the White House you will still be trying to get rid of his legacy.

Over in the UK Corbyn is showing many Trump-like features. His son in an influential position in the organisation. A shady loyalty to old friends. A belief he should just be able to do what he pleases, send people to prison, take their houses, without any due process. An inability to make clear policy statements, so now his carefully costed programme is plus or minus £100,000,000,000.00.

Here in Europe the EU is leading an onslaught on national sovereignty. Nation states all over are having the democratic piping ripped out of them. Bad times.


bruce wilder 07.20.17 at 4:13 pm

Layman @ 63

What that summary shows is me being sarcastic.

My integrity is just fine. How is yours?


Jerry Vinokurov 07.21.17 at 1:55 am

If the sum total of what the Russians did was to instigate disclosures confirming Democratic Party wrong-doing and to sponsor dissident speech on an obscure cable news channel, I think we should say, “thank you” and go on about our business.

This is truly bizarre logic. Taken at face value, it would countenance international (and not just international) crimes if they revealed something that you think constitutes wrong-doing. “Instigate disclosures,” indeed, I do wonder how that “instigation” is supposed to have happened without, you know, someone hacking a private organization’s email and making the contents public. And it’s not enough to excuse this, we must also be grateful for it.

Oh, wait, I have an excellent idea for the opposition, sanctioned by Bruce Wilder himself. All we need to do is to find some other Eastern European hackers to infiltrate the White House, or perhaps the networks of the Trump Corporation and the RNC (or all of the above) and “instigate” some “disclosures.” After all, since we now have no laws to uphold, I suppose it’s high time for open cyber warfare of all against all. Very good, thanks for the suggestion, Bruce!


Katsue 07.21.17 at 9:55 am


Are you seriously trying to suggest that Donald Trump brought nepotism into American politics? That British politics was as pure as the driven snow before Jeremy Corbyn got a job for his son as John McDonnell’s Chief of Staff? That political appointments anywhere in the world are made solely on the basis of merit rather than loyalty or political expedience?


nastywoman 07.21.17 at 3:59 pm

”Here in Europe the EU is leading an onslaught on national sovereignty. Nation states all over are having the democratic piping ripped out of them. Bad times.”


That’s really… strange I#m also ”here in Europe” and I come to a completely different conclusion. ”Good Times” for Europe – especially since Trump saved us from insane nationalists!


bruce wilder 07.21.17 at 5:08 pm

Jerry Vinokurov @ 74

I do not know how to reply to you. I call for taking a reasonable and critical perspective, and you charge me via reductio ad absurdum with wanting anarchy.

I can and do look at the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC email and disclosure thru Wikileaks as something akin to a public service, and also of no discernible consequence independent of the judgment of the electorate in determining the outcome of the election. I do not think a reasonable person has to weigh conflicting values in exactly the way I do or come to exactly that same conclusion, but you seem to be arguing that conflicting values can be dismissed altogether and proportionality never considered, because the great crimes of email hacking and disclosure have been committed and nothing else needs to be considered. That is the view of an extreme authoritarian, not a reasonable person — I am surprised that you would take such a view.


Glen Tomkins 07.21.17 at 7:23 pm

“What sharks are left to jump?” you ask? Well today we have an answer. Trump has replaced Sean Spicer with Scaramouche.

I object to the appointment of Scaramouche to any position of trust under the United States.  We know from his long and extensive record in commedia dell’arte that he is a poltroon and a scoundrel, unworthy of any such honor.

Even more importantly, if the president must appoint such a person, he should be a character from good old English Punch and Judy, not some sophisticate left-wing cultural signifier like the commedia dell’arte.  USA #1, dammit!


SusanC 07.21.17 at 9:21 pm

He hasn’t yet appointed his horse as a senator. (cf. Suetonius on Caligula).

I’m looking forward to it.


nastywoman 07.22.17 at 10:23 am

”I call for taking a reasonable and critical perspective,”

I take it all back – that there is a humor deficit on Crooked Timber.
-(I mean ”the wood” – not ”Kant”)


SusanC 07.23.17 at 9:18 am

I am not a lawyer, but I suspect our learned friends could have a good argument on the extent to which “fruit of the poisonous tree” applies to:

a) A citizen’s decision to vote, as opposed to evidence admissible in court. (E.g. If the voter believes the candidate is a crook, but bases this belief on information that was obtained illegally).
B) when the illegal act was commited by a non-government actor, or a foreign government
C) where, exactly, NSA getting GCHQ to conduct illegal intercepts fits into this picture (yeah, I know, they’ve denied it….)
D) ditto, The democratic party paying British spies to pay Russian spies to illegally obtain information about the alleged Trump sex tape…

I think ” hackerocracy” is a terrible system of government. It’s characteristic seems to be: all candidates are criminals, but only the criminals who have the backing of spy agencies (whether domestic or foreign) can avoid the electorate finding out that they’re crooks.


Layman 07.23.17 at 2:01 pm

bruce wilder: “What that summary shows is me being sarcastic.”

…And being blatantly dishonest. As does this response. You summarize the situation by leaving out the key elements that make it unusual as a way of claiming it’s normal, even routine. I’d say you’re a poor judge of your own integrity.


bruce wilder 07.23.17 at 5:04 pm

Susan @ 81

The old saw has it that the lawyer wins his case who has the better story. It is not the demands of the law per se that matter so much as the demands of narrative.


bruce wilder 07.23.17 at 11:56 pm

Layman @ 82

You are free to identify those key elements and show me where my summary falls short with regard to known, material fact. Instead, you insult me personally.

My chief complaint is the way journalists have “jumped the shark” in their reporting, creating a narrative out of lurid speculation and a frequent disregard of fact or reasonable perspectives. Perhaps in my skepticism, I have overlooked some important established facts that you would like to bring to my attention. By all means do so.

I take no brief for Trump and company. My target is the reckless journalism, which makes it so difficult to feel confident one knows anything.


Jerry Vinokurov 07.24.17 at 2:03 am

I can and do look at the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC email and disclosure thru Wikileaks as something akin to a public service

And I ask you where this ends. Because, let me stipulate this: there is many a public service that is done by revealing information that our ruling classes would rather not be public. Chelsea Manning is one person who has done so, and Edward Snowden is another; I posit that they are in many ways heroic. But it is one thing to reveal the crimes of the state and quite another to steal and make public the internal communications of a private organization. That’s how things like the East Anglia climate science “scandal” (read: bullshit outrage ginned up by conservative media) happen. If you think that not only is such theft personally reasonable but that it’s also reasonable to countenance a foreign intelligence service to commit it, then I can’t see where this ends other than in the general acceptance that such theft is perfectly all right so long as you get away with it. It’s quite as SusanC has succinctly summed it up in her comment at #81; I agree with her and find such an outcome to be perfectly deranged. I think this because I feel very strongly about the general principle that people have a right to privacy and that degenerating into anarchic cyber-warfare, as your position would result in were it to be widely adopted (and regardless of whether or not you’re advocating for such a thing), is a horrible end that will only enable agencies like that NSA, and that’s the last thing I want.


Layman 07.24.17 at 12:17 pm

bruce wilder: “In recent days, we’ve learned Donald Trump Junior during the campaign last year attended a meeting in search of (negative) information about Candidate Clinton. (I know I’m shocked by this revelation; who knew such things happened.)”

This summary, from you, is a way of normalizing what occurred by saying it was common practice. But you can only claim it is normal by leaving out the important details that the meeting was offered as a meeting with someone who was claimed to be a representative of a foreign government (Trump Jr. was told this twice), and that the meeting was billed as part of a larger effort by that foreign government to help the Trump government win the election.

It seems certain that you know these facts, yet you omit them when characterizing the meeting as routine. I think my criticism is perfectly fair. If you don’t want people to doubt your integrity, don’t do this sort of thing.


bruce wilder 07.24.17 at 9:42 pm

Layman @ 86

In my view, I was not omitting facts, so much as I was omitting “facts”.

The importance and moral significance of Don Jr’s June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has been distorted by the imposition of narrative devices. The most conspicuous was the dribble of “news” identifying the participants, as if the journalists were digging deep into the story and uncovering its nefarious purposes. Names were reported on July 8, 9, 14 and 18, creating the repetition which is the common foundation for propaganda. A story given headlines on four separate days must be important!

All kinds of reports and stories were generated across the news media as the attendees at this portentous meeting were revealed. I referenced the misleading histrionics of Rachel Maddow and others in a previous comment. Attendee Rinat Akhmetshin’s ancient history as a teenage draftee in the Soviet Army was resurrected as a KGB counterintelligence agent, in one example.

Another narrative device is the use of vague abstractions in identifying these unfamiliar people. In more cautious journalism, Natalia Veselnitskaya is usually identified quite vaguely as having unspecified “connections” to the Russian government (“Kremlin-connected” like she periodically plugs into the wall of a building). She herself asserts she “never acted on behalf of the Russian government” and in the meeting in question, never discussed anything related to the presidential campaign. You made the leap to identifying her as “someone who was claimed to be a representative of a foreign government” — what happened to agency? — which I suppose may be a reference to the intimations of Ron Goldstone, a British music producer, whose email initiated the meeting. The most negative interpretations of Don Jr’s actions rest on what Goldstone wrote in hyping the importance of taking this meeting and then mind-reading what Don Jr credited in that hype. Goldstone invoked Aras and Emin Agalarov as wanting this meeting to take place; Aras Agalarov has denied thru his attorney a role in instigating the meeting thru Goldstone, for what that’s worth. Goldstone referred to Veselnitskaya rather imprecisely as “the Russian government attorney” and the information damaging to Hillary Clinton as involving official* documents pertaining to Clinton’s dealings with Russia. (*presumably Russian or diplomatic official documents, not products of Russian espionage in the U.S.) Veselnitskaya did leave some collateral with Don Jr, as lobbyists do, but I have never seen any indication that it was of any value or use to Trump’s campaign.

In your telling, Donald Trump Jr was given an opportunity to betray his country to the Russian state in return for information damaging to Hillary Clinton and he leapt at it. He didn’t get anything, but this proves he was open to collusion. (A little late in the game, June 9 2016, and he got nothing from this meeting, but never mind.)

I think a Russian lawyer found a way to lobby Donald Trump Jr on issues relating to the sanctions regime. The bait was a vague promise of information damaging to Hillary Clinton. The lawyer got help from some Russians and Russian-Americans who had had business dealings with the Trump Organization (in relation to a beauty pageant held in Moscow in 2013) to shore up her bona fides. You ask if this is “normal”. Yes, it is normal. Both foreign governments and foreign business organizations seek to influence Americans who seem to have access to power; they look to create opportunities to argue their case, often by using networks of social and business connections. This is ubiquitous and in important ways just an extension of the general practice of business lobbying. (I can tell you from my own brief personal experience as a government official that I was occasionally approached — Singapore was the most aggressive — and I wasn’t particularly important or powerful.)

If Don Jr was not a rank amateur, he wouldn’t have taken the meeting; he would have his own go-between for that. Not because it was especially nefarious, but because it was boring and a waste of his time and the time of Kushner and Manafort as well. He ended up hearing a pitch on the Magnitsky Act and (in Don Jr’s words) got “nothing meaningful” on Clinton or her campaign. The “nothing meaningful” is not in dispute, as far as I know. The involvement of the Russian state is supposition.

It takes time and cognitive resources to wade thru this thicket of supposition, frequent misreporting and histrionics to try to distill anything that can be relied on as objectively factual. I honestly don’t regard any of it as especially “unfair” to Trump and company, per se. Trump was happy enough to exploit the morass of American public discourse with his birther nonsense when it suited his purposes. But, that it is such a morass should worry us. And, maybe the people we most need to resist are not Trump and company.


Layman 07.25.17 at 9:32 pm

@bruce wilder

You’re just proving my point. It’s a fact, not a “fact”, that Trump Jr. was told both that he would be meeting with a representative of the Russian government and that the meeting was part of a larger effort by the Russian government to help the Trump campaign win the election. I get that you think that’s no big deal, that Trump Jr. was conned, that he was naive, etc, but that view doesn’t turn the facts into non-facts, and you omitted those facts deliberately so as to cast the meeting as routine. That’s a lie, I say, and you ought to retract it and correct it, it double down on it.

If you actually do think that sort of thing is normal in a campaign, then, by all means, point to some other presidential campaigns where senior team members (or candidate family members who are also campaign team members) accepted an invitation from a foreign government to meet and receive secret negative info on their opponent as part of an effort by that government to help swing the election their way. I’ll wait.


bruce wilder 07.26.17 at 8:46 pm

Layman @ 88

Your pose of righteous indignation is just bullying and trolling at this point. You could have explained which facts or “facts” you found dispositive in constructing your preferred narrative without this continued demand that I should bow before your Truth and confess my errors and sins, humbly begging forgiveness. I am not even a secondary source for any information about the June 9, 2016 meeting; so if, in a brief comment expressing my evaluation or interpretation, it should not be necessary to write an encyclopedia entry to avoid your charge of deceptive omission. I do not attach anything like the significance moral or factual to Goldstone’s email phrasing that you do, in the full context of the meeting and its outcomes, as I have now explained at greater length than can be interesting. We differ. You could point out how without gratuitous insults regarding my character.

What is allegedly normal has become a recurrent theme of narrative construction during the Russiagate hysteria, with many journalists abdicating their responsibility to provide a balanced perspective. I am not an encyclopedia of intrigues during political campaigns who can be interrogated for precedents, like a baseball color commentator who remembers details of the fourth inning of a playoff game in 1977. Clutching your pearls and demanding that other people do research for you should not pass as an argument.

I also do not have the memory of a mayfly, so I recall that Nixon may have intrigued a bit in 1968 to delay peace talks, some of Reagan’s spookier associates seem to have intrigued a bit with Iran over release of the hostages as well as the later illegal sale of weapons, both the Clinton campaign and Haley Barbour’s Republicans got caught with their hands in Chinese cookie jars, at a time of escalating Chinese espionage in 1996. The Clinton Foundation functioned to keep key members of the Clinton political machine together over an extended period, and openly solicited financial support from foreign governments, some of them arguably unsavory. People who follow Israeli politics or the activities of Israeli-American lobbying, which quite famously included espionage against the U.S., can probably tell some tales. Although Netanyahu, like Putin, was reasonably circumspect in his official statements during the campaign, he seems to have leaned toward the Republican, though Clinton was a staunch supporter of Israel. (Trump, I understand, make a campaign commercial for Netanyahu once upon a time.) Those are just some of the notorious highlights. I would love to see someone turn over the Pakistan rock and see what scurries out from under our great good ally, nuclear proliferator and protector of Bin Laden. (Ex-DNC chair Debbie’s it guy was just arrested trying to flee back to Pakistan after a financial fraud was uncovered; always security conscious our Debbie, a mini Willy Brandt for all we really know, I guess — yes, I am joking. ) As I indicated above, there is a constant dull roar of diplomatic and business lobbying, both official and unofficial, as well as low-key espionage going on all the time, involving all sorts of foreign business and national interests. As a nation of immigrants, the U.S. is open to people with diverse loyalties and interests that lend themselves to more than purely domestic intrigues.

There is also the flip side of vast and ruthless and violent American meddling abroad, meddling that frequently involves much more and much worse than revealing true information about the bad behavior of a political party. Clinton approved the overthrow of the government of Honduras, presumably had an early hand in the overthrow of the pro-Russian government in Ukraine that upset Putin so much, celebrated the overthrow of Libya’s Gaddafi and that country’s descent into anarchy. There was no line crossed in 2016 the U.S. has not rolled way past dozens of times across the globe. The FBI, NSA and CIA, who have assessed this and assessed that while proving nothing, have apparently spent your tax dollars deliberately weakening internet security and paying to create viruses and other means of subverting all manner of devices, some which have been repurposed as ransomware and clever ways to fleece old people, but hey they are pillars of the Republic.

And with that I jump my last shark and will say no more on this dead thread.


Peter T 07.26.17 at 11:32 pm

The cyber stuff is all he said, she said, from the outside. Yet what Bruce is missing is the omission of all these meetings from the security forms – for Kushner, Sessions, Trump Jr, Flynn. I’ve been through the security process a few times. If one has lots of meetings, one does not sit down and try to recollect them all. One asks one’s admin assistant to go through the diary and compile a list. One does not say “and leave out all the ones with Russians, will you”. Yet they all did. Strange, that.


Layman 07.27.17 at 1:07 pm

bruce wilder: “You could point out how without gratuitous insults regarding my character.”

If you offer an analysis that relies on the omission of facts; and then respond to criticism by claiming you haven’t omitted any facts; and then demand someone identify those omitted facts; and then declare that those omitted facts aren’t facts, they’re ‘facts’; and then respond to criticism of that by offering wounded pride and a declaration that you’re taking your toys and going home; then I’d say you rather invite what you’re decrying.


bruce wilder 07.27.17 at 5:03 pm

Peter T

I focused on the shark-jumping choices of the narrator in constructing a narrative interpretation loaded with moral meanings. Conventions of journalism and punditry that obscure the identity, motivations and primary documents of the “she” sources of information is whole ‘nother big whopping can of worms.

and, this thread is dead, dead, dead — please let it be so.

Comments on this entry are closed.