It’s nothing personal

I love Sean Spicer:

White House spokesman Sean Spicer tried to clarify Trump’s comments Monday, saying the president wasn’t using the word wiretapping literally, noting that Trump had put the term in quotation marks.

“The president used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities,” Spicer said. He also suggested Trump wasn’t accusing former President Barack Obama specifically, but instead referring to the actions of the Obama administration.

Only an unhinged Trump critic could have thought that Trump was specifically referring to President Obama:

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 9.09.07 PMClearly when he said “Obama” he was referring to the entire administration:

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 9.11.25 PMNotice he says “a sitting President” which could refer to anyone, including the President of the local chess club.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 9.14.14 PMThe bad (or sick) guy might seem like an attack on Obama, but it you look closely it directly follows his reference to Nixon, who was indeed a bad or sick guy.  And in any case, Trump said “tapp my phones” which has a completely different meaning from “tap my phones”  Trump was sending a subtle signal of support for an organization that promotes online commerce in emerging markets.  People are reading way too much into these tweets.  Scott Adams showed that Trump’s tweets are actually a form of esoteric writing that only real Americans can understand.




29 Responses to “It’s nothing personal”

  1. Gravatar of Ben J Ben J
    13. March 2017 at 18:34

    I can’t wait to see the thirty YouTube video links Major Freedom vomits up in this thread. And I wonder which he will tell us is fake news – Spicer’s press conference, or Trump’s twitter? Strap in folks!

  2. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    13. March 2017 at 18:40


    Have you ever treated literally and dissected the words of another politician the way you do with Trump? The easy answer is to say you have never encountered a politician like Trump. That may be true but it is also likely you have never before given so much attention to what a politician has said. If you did you would understand that politicians, even presidents, say things that are best to interpret politically rather than literally.

  3. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    13. March 2017 at 18:46

    I love it how Sumner never even addressed the core issue of illegal IC wiretapping

    More fake news

  4. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    13. March 2017 at 19:35

    ‘Until recently, most academic critics have been quite severe in their judgments of Eisenhower and have accepted the popular image of a war hero whose winning manner hardly substituted for vigorous leadership in international relations. According to such wisdom, John Foster Dulles ran foreign policy while Eisenhower passed an inordinate amount of time on the greens of the Augusta National. In his second term, Eisenhower appeared to practice all the habits of a caretaker president. Diplomacy drifted, and, on those occasions when the president to speak on foreign political issues, his garbled syntax seem to reflect a muddled mind.’

  5. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    13. March 2017 at 19:46

    After four decades of newspapering, including covering the “dumb” Ronald Reagan and the “smart” Jimmy Carter, I am not unsympathetic to the problems of trying to inform the public on this touchiest of competency issues. Big news organizations are captives of our own rules of fairness. Voters are doubly disadvantaged, by both a paucity of information in campaign coverage and by the elusive nature of the evidence about the kinds of intelligence that matter in our leaders.

    My generation of White House correspondents was accused of covering up Ronald Reagan’s supposed stupidity and his reliance on fictional “facts” derived from Errol Flynn movies and the John Birch Society. In 1981 Clark Clifford, the Democratic “wise man,” entertained Georgetown dinner parties with the killer line that Reagan was “an amiable dunce.” Twenty years later we know that Clark Clifford was charged in a banking scandal and the dunce ended the Cold War.

    I really love this;

    ‘Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I’m sure the candidates’ SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead. Yet, at this point in the campaign, Bush deserves an A or a high B — instead of a gentleman’s C — when it comes to neutralizing Kerry’s knowledge advantage.’

    Kerry had a ‘knowledge advantage!’

  6. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    13. March 2017 at 20:36

    Ben J., I think MF told you to go to sleep. What are you doing writing comments? Or was it wake up the breakfast bell is ringing? I forget, it gets confusing.

    In any event, I am bored and apparently there was a deep state plot to have a snowstorm tomorrow. So I am looking forward to some more laughable links.

  7. Gravatar of rob rob
    14. March 2017 at 04:12

    I think you sometimes go a little bit too far with the Trump thing (when I was in America for a month the same could have been said about me). But this post was perfect, I find it ironic that the Anti-PC movement is all about “people being frustrated because you can’t acknowledge reality without getting yelled at”.
    The anti-pc crowd now turns reality into knots to justify Trump’s buffoonery and attack with anger and vitriol anyone pointing out things that are obvious to anyone who has not drunk the tribal kool aid. Leading people to get frustrated having to shut their mouths about obvious in fear of emotional reprisal… The opposite of a movement is rarely the opposite.

  8. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    14. March 2017 at 05:12

    How do you say it in French;

    Once consigned mainly to the shadows, young National Front supporters have come out into the open, as voters their age have lined up behind Le Pen. Daily polls by firm Ifop consistently show her earning nearly a third of the youth vote in the first round, easily beating any of her opponents, although she is still forecast to lose in a second-round run-off in May.

    She fares better among voters under 25 than she does among the population at large, often by a margin as high as 7 percentage points. That is a big reversal from her first bid for the presidency five years ago, when her 15 percent share of the youth vote was around 3 points below her overall tally.

    …. Unlike their Anglo-Saxon cousins, continental populist politicians like Le Pen, the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders and Italy’s Beppe Grillo have turned young voters into their key constituencies. They feed on the resentment of a generation with little seeming hope of matching its parents’ standard of living.

    In France, nearly a quarter of workers under 25 are unemployed, compared to a national jobless rate of about 10 percent, according to last year’s official statistics.

    And those young people lucky enough to find jobs often work under far less generous conditions than previous generations. More than half of workers 24 and under have only temporary contracts or agency positions which come with few guarantees or rights, compared to 85 percent of French workers who enjoy full time contracts with strong worker protections.

    While Le Pen’s theme of dramatic change appeals to many young voters, their grandparents benefit from the generous pensions of the status quo and worry that her plan to abandon the EU and its euro common currency would hurt their savings.

    Poulets rentrer à la maison pour se reposer.

  9. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    14. March 2017 at 06:41

    Trump is a lulu, but no one raises an eyebrow that national security agencies were wiretapping Trump Tower during the election?

    This is boring now, this business of federal spies eavesdropping on national candidates and their HQ’s?

    Was it only wiretapping, or other surveillance? I don’t know. People laughed at the microwave jokes, but in fact office conversations can be recorded by a laser beam bouncing off a window, and other technologies. Even guys with binoculars can yield information. Why the sudden urge to not find out if guys with binoculars had Trump Tower under surveillance?

    The federal spies had FISA authorization, which is a court I never knew existed until this story broke. I am certain no spy ever exceeded their authorization.

    FISA is evidently considered the “Court Of Ye Large Rubber Stamp, Pre-Stamping On Special Order”

    I am 100% sure no information from the spying operation ever got back to the White House, or the Clinton campaign, and I am 100% sure Obama knew nothing about the wiretapping. I would be shocked—shocked!—to find out proper procedures were short-circuited.

    According to the book “America At Night,” by Larry Kolb, U.S. intelligence agencies tried to help the re-election of the first Bush. Maybe a special case; Bush sr. had been CIA director. A one-off? Who knows?

    Still, at the time the U.S. spies were snooping on Trump, it looked like Hillary had a lock on the election, and she was a perfect little warmonger. Why not pass some juice on to the winning side, get in good with the future Mrs. White House?

    Trump is blowing it through his shorts, but the “no story there” crowd is not convincing either.

    Why suddenly are the Hill CIA fans calling for a short, not long, House investigation into the matter?

    But as I said earlier, the problem with military and intelligence stories is these guys report on themselves in a monopoly.

    If they exceeded FISA authorization in their surveillance of Trump, how will anyone ever know?

    Can Trump just call up the CIA and demand an explanation? What if they lie?

  10. Gravatar of Patrick Sullivan Patrick Sullivan
    14. March 2017 at 08:29

    The New York Times, which has castigated Trump for not providing any evidence in his tweet that he was spied on by Obama, ironically reported back in January that Trump was indeed being wiretapped.

    On Jan. 20, the newspaper reported, “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.”

    The “intercepted communications” mean that Trump and his associates were bugged even as he was the president-elect and Obama was still in the White House.

    Was this a rogue operation or did Obama know about it?

    What is also interesting about the case is Obama’s muted reaction to Trump’s highly unusual Twitter tempest accusing Obama of having him wiretapped. One would think that a former president just out of office being called a “bad or (sick) guy” by his successor would have come up with a more spirited response than having a press aide read a statement.

    The recent dump of Wikileaks CIA documents shows that the intelligence agency has a stunning number of ways of spying on Americans, including hacking into smartphones, computers, televisions and so on.

    Long gone are the days of breaking into an office to set up listening devices as in Watergate.

    Lest anyone forget, Obama was not above surveilling Washington reporters. Federal prosecutors under Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder secretly obtained records of 20 Washington Associated Press phones over a two-month period in an effort to track down a leak.

    Holder also went after Fox News reporter James Rosen by naming him as a co-conspirator and a flight risk over another leaks investigation. Holder also obtained a court order to rifle through Rosen’s emails and gain access to his phone calls.

    Also, it should be recalled, that the Obama administration was caught bugging the mobile phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and had begun doing so back in 2002 when Merkel was still the opposition leader and not chancellor. Obama approved the continuing of the practice in 2010, according to Der Spiegel, the German magazine.

    Apparently, it is routine for the U.S to bug its allies as well as its own citizens, as it has similar “listening posts” in 19 European cities.

    When that story broke, Bernard Kouchner, a former French foreign minister, said, “The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us. Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”

  11. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    14. March 2017 at 15:37

    Do theses threads prove that no matter how great a Trump flip flop…that Trumps followers will submit themselves, their wills and their minds to any whim of their master ?

    I believe so…( The True cuckservatives are trump apologists )

    If Trump wanted to go down as a truly successful president…it’s in his hands to do so…

    He can Flip flop back to one of his positions on health care… Trump can demand universal coverage and single payer…

    He can say he promised America a better plan…He can say if republicans can’t deliver…he’ll veto it…

    He can say he’ll give the repubs til the midterm to put something on his desk that will let him keep his promise. Or, if they can’t satisfy hm… he’ll turn to the DEMS… He can make it THE issue in 2020… and he can put himself in the place of decider…with everyone who runs for congress trying to please him… The Donald..!

    even if you think that single payer is bad economics…(If you do you are willfully ignorant of insurance econ )… you’d have to admit…it’d go down as one of the most daring…and effective leadership acts ever pulled off by a president…

    His place in history would unique and …uuuuge…biggly so..

    Imagine…Trump the father of single payer… and poor white people lionizing him for it…

  12. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    14. March 2017 at 16:32

    Judge Napolitano offers just the sort of rational explanation for how Obama probably spied on Trump one would expect from a Fox News guest.

    In fairness to Fox, while many there are Trump shills, Wallace, Shep Smith, and Brett Baier have vociferously called out Trump and Republicans on recent lies, attacks on the media, hypocrisy, and logical contradictions.

  13. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    14. March 2017 at 16:39

    Bill Ellis, Trump is certainly not beholden to the party establishment of either the Republicans or the Democrats. So there is, or was, a chance he would flip flop around on all sorts of issues. Unfortunately, (from my perspective), his cabinet nominations and behaviors since inauguration have disabused me of the notion that he will do anything good, not that I had a whole lot of hope in the first place.

    I agree with you that Trump establishing a single payer health care system would be yuge. I just don’t see the people he listens to recommending it. What is Brietbart’s position on health care?

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. March 2017 at 17:19

    Dan, I don’t recall other presidents accusing their predecessors of being criminals, maybe that’s why I didn’t pay so much attention.

    You said:

    “If you did you would understand that politicians, even presidents, say things that are best to interpret politically rather than literally.”

    What a lovely way of describing lying.

    Patrick, Not sure what any of this has to do with my post. Did Reagan accuse Carter of being a criminal?

    Rob, You said:

    “I find it ironic that the Anti-PC movement is all about “people being frustrated because you can’t acknowledge reality without getting yelled at”.”

    Good point.

    Patrick, Le Pen is basically a socialist. Is that why Bannon likes her so much?

    Conservatives told us we had to support Trump because Hillary was so bad on economics. So why would anyone support Le Pen, who is worse than Bernie Sanders on economic issues?

    As far as the NYT claiming Trump was spied on, that fact doesn’t help Trump at all, even if true. He’s still a liar, but also a criminal suspect liar.

    Scott, Check out this post on Napolitano:

  15. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    14. March 2017 at 17:40

    Sumner is virtue signalling so hard one wonders if he is aiming to be hired as a hack left propagandist for the hack left media HuffPo

    “As far as the NYT claiming Trump was spied on, that fact doesn’t help Trump at all, even if true.”

    This is not only Trump derangement syndrome, it’s literally apologizing for POLICE STATE activity

    This blog is an insane asylum

  16. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    14. March 2017 at 18:07

    Major-Freedom- “This blog is an insane asylum”

    First-hand knowledge??? Thanks for sharing it. One more question- were you able to get the men in the white suits to call you Major?

  17. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    14. March 2017 at 18:48


    I’m not the one apologizing for a police state, wake up

    First hand knowledge? Sure, like Clarice Starling visiting the Baltimore correctional facility.

  18. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    14. March 2017 at 18:51

    If you really want to know corruption, money laundering and likely tax fraud:

    Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is around $200M.

    On a $193,400 annual salary.

    As Harry S. Truman once said “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”

  19. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    14. March 2017 at 19:04

    looks like I’m not the only one thinking along these lines… News MAx and me…HA!

    “Clearly, Trump has been acting in good faith, but he shouldn’t trust House Republicans.

    The president should be sticking to his guns on healthcare reform. He did so in the campaign, helping him win Democratic states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

    Here is a game plan for Trump to regain the initiative:

    Ditch the Freedom Caucus and the handful of Senate Republicans who want a complete repeal of Obamacare. They don’t agree with universal coverage and will never be placated.
    Find a few parts of Ryan Care II that can win passage in the House and Senate with either GOP support or bipartisan support. Declare victory.
    Rekindle the bipartisanship in Congress that Obama destroyed. Empanel a bipartisan committee to report back by year’s end with a feasible plan to fix Obamacare.
    Reject the phony private health insurance market as the panacea. Look to an upgraded Medicaid system to become the country’s blanket insurer for the uninsured.”….

  20. Gravatar of Kevin A Kevin A
    14. March 2017 at 19:15

    Ah, so it looks like I am put in the unfortunate position of defending Trump. I will take the contrarian position though: I prefer Trump to Hillary.

    First, the tweets you mention in your post, as well as the slew of other oddball things trumps says: You’re right, but its immaterial. It does nothing to persecute his enemies or advance a legislative agenda and, as a result, it has as much effect as if he had never tweeted at all. The overall effect is negligible and should be disregarded, they don’t weigh against him one way or the other, expect for his moral character, perhaps.

    Second, the signature pieces of Trumps legislative agenda are poor, but the amount of damage that can be done on these fronts is limit.

    The wall is, to even the person with the meanest intelligence, a stupid idea. Mexican criminals have already employed ingenious ways to get into the united states, from drones, to tunnels and even submarines. Building a gigantic wall would not only not work, but waste billions in materials in human effort that could be put to better use. Fortunately, I do not believe Trump can pass his wall idea in congress, so I worry about it only slightly.

    The scariest part about the Trump presidency, for me, is that the executive branch does have enough unilateral power to seriously damage global commerce. If taken too far, trump has the ability to seriously set back economic progress for years, and I simply don’t have a great retort for why this is not worrisome.

    In terms of most other things, Trump can be harmful, but only so much so. Presidential power is overrated, and there is only so much he can do without an appropriate check on his power.

    Now lets move to the upsides.

    First, we scored a really, really good supreme court justice. As justices influence policy for years, I could argue that this by itself makes trump worth it.

    Second, Trump does have control over all elements of the executive branch. The regulatory creep in the last two decades, and the brashness of regulators, needs desperately to be reeled in.

    For instance, in recent years, the EPA began arguing that insignificant bodies of waters were “wetlands” and, therefore, under their jurisdiction. Obama’s lawyer, a few year back, argued that the US could strike under “a broader concept of imminence.”

    Regulation and the civil service need to be pushed down a notch, and I believe trump has elected the sorts of people who carry that intention.

    All in all, Trump might be crazy and a terrible administrator, but if we get a stab at the US fourth branch of government, its perpetual civil service, I say, lets roll those dice.

  21. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    14. March 2017 at 19:52

    ‘Patrick, Not sure what any of this has to do with my post. Did Reagan accuse Carter of being a criminal?’

    Trump didn’t accuse Obama of being a criminal, that’s his ‘garbled syntax’. It’s going to be a long four years for you if you don’t realize that Trump is neither a politician nor a scholar. I.e., he doesn’t speak precisely. He speaks like a salesman.

    Both Eisenhower and Reagan were underestimated by their political adversaries. As is Trump–who is relentlessly moving the football downfield on his.

  22. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    14. March 2017 at 19:54

    ‘Patrick, Le Pen is basically a socialist. Is that why Bannon likes her so much?’

    There are no non-socialist politicians in France. At least not any who can get significant amounts of votes. I don’t know if Bannon likes her or not, but she is a force for radical change, as is he.

  23. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    14. March 2017 at 20:42

    Patrick Sullivan, so we all have to adjust our understanding of the language before we hold Trump accountable for his words? That’s just ridiculous. Trump accused Obama of ordering his wiretapping. Presumably illegally. In a very public manner. In fairly understandable English, despite some misspellings. And has provided no evidence of it. And he is the President of the United States and could presumably provide evidence easily if he had it. But we are supposed to take that as some kind of garbled syntax salesman speak??? Really?

  24. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    15. March 2017 at 09:05

    Funny post Scott!

    O/T: You might get a kick out of this:

  25. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    15. March 2017 at 09:37

    People defending the disaster of trump against the ghost of… a specter of… the popular right wing image of….. Hillary….
    … is very pathic…

    It’s Like….” HEY I know I am an asshole for voting for trump…and he is Fucking everything up…. but trust me…Hillary…who was hardly any different than Obama on policy or anything…. would have been worse !”

    Really…? …so that implies a question… Is trump doing a better job than Obama?

    Is America better off now ?

  26. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    15. March 2017 at 09:49

    When I call all trumpsters* and alt right wing nuts… cuckservative submissives who are impotent…and pedophiles…

    That’s not what I mean… Gee…All the alt right trump worshiping masochists take everything so literally theses days !!!…

    PC gone amok I tell ya… The dainty little hearts of the conservatives can’t take it…

    * trumpsetr…like a dumpster… But….A container who propose for being is to be wide open to receive and be filled by any filth Trump spews …

  27. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    15. March 2017 at 09:50

    Matthew Y.. takes notice too…

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    16. March 2017 at 05:49

    Patrick, He doesn’t speak like a salesman, my dad was a salesman. And he was the complete opposite of Trump. Trump speaks like a moron. Like a vindictive, thin-skinned, bigoted, misogynist moron. We should expect more from a president.

    OK, so the French are all socialist. But Fillon is actually running on a Thatcherite platform. And he’s also pro-Russian. So why do the Trump people like Le Pen? Because Fillon’s not quite bigoted enough for their taste? Or because Bannon is the kind of guy who likes FDR’s New Deal?

    (Even Macron is clearly to the right of LePen on economic policy.)

  29. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    17. March 2017 at 07:12


    Yes, I read that econlog post you wrote about Napolitano at the time. Good post.

    Did you see the latest today about that Napolitano claim? Obviously, Spicer ran with it, and this angered the UK. So, the Trump administration promised not to repeat the claim.

    The White House is full of idiots and sycophants. Some of Trump’s cabinet choices are good, McMaster might be fine on NSC, but otherwise the staffing situation is a total nightmare.

    And now reports are emerging that Trump supported the House ACA replacement bill blindly, having no idea what was in it and now wants to blame Ryan. I wonder if he has much of an idea what’s in his own budget.

    Will Trumpistas continue to claim there’s hidden genius behind Trump’s actions, excuse away his stupidity and almost total disinterest in policy, or finally start to come around to the fact that “there’s no there there”?

    Even many Bush supporters eventually, after several years, came to the conclusion he’d not done a great job.

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