Webtacular World Issue # 218, February 4, 2018

Greetings Webtaculators! What a game, right? There were passes, and catches, and catches by passers! And concussions, and a lack of clarity on what the hell the rules of football are anyway, but yeah! America! The City of Brotherly Love beat the Patriots! That’s symbolic or something. And, as always, god and / or Jesus is / are the sole reason why one team beat another. On to the news.

STORY OF THE WEEK (long read)
What: A Rant Against Stupidity
Why: Because I am afraid of the the vast stupidity of people. I am not talking about the kind of stupidity where someone makes a mistake, is actively trying to work something out and does not have the solution yet, or has a disability that prevents them from being able to comprehend. I am talking about the type of malignant, prideful stupidity that gives someone the the gumption to make fun of someone for having received an education (a true fun thing that happened to me this week). I am talking about the kind of stupidity that makes wrote repetition of a falsehood by a talking head mean that millions of people will accept that fiction as truth. I am talking about the kind of stupid that is purposefully chosen because it is easier to do do nothing than to spend the time researching, learning, and thinking.

The State of the Union was riddled with the bad kind of stupidity. Exaggeration and taking partial credit is something that all Presidents have done. However, this is a question of degree, and the type of things he lied about. Trump did not create the largest tax cut in history, coal is still not clean, “chain migration” is not a thing, and keeping Guantanamo open will not make America safer. These are issues that have an actual impact on millions of Americans and other people around the world. By not accurately stating the issues, the causes, or legitimate solutions, Trump has further driven a divide between people who choose to try to understand what he was talking about, or people who gladly take his words at face value and leave it at that.

The Nunes Memo is another clear example that this type of stupidity has somehow found its way up into the higher echelons of government, because anyone with any training or understanding of what an argument is supposed to achieve should realize this memo completely fails in making any sort of case as to why the Trump investigation should not continue. I’m going to let my friend Kurt, someone who is much smarter and better at arguing than I am, explain why the Nunes Memo does not “totally vindate[] ‘Trump'”:

1. The Nunes Memo alleges that a 50-page FBI application for a counterintelligence warrant to monitor Carter Page’s communications with Russians, after he left Trump’s campaign, failed to disclose that FBI informant Christopher Steele’s dossier re: Trump-Russia campaign contacts was funded by the DNC.

2. But Steele did not know the source of his funding. He was retained by a consulting firm in DC to research candidate Trump. The firm (Fusion GPS) was initially paid by a GOP group for this research. After the GOP primaries, Fusion GPS was paid by the Clinton campaign to continue the research.

3. Plus, the Nunes Memo omits the key fact that the FISA application *did* notify the judge that Steele’s intelligence was “politically motivated” (ironically, in this way, it is the Memo authors who withheld critical information from their audience, not the FBI).

4. And the Memo conveniently ignores the other, non-Steele evidence of Russia-Page links in the 50-page warrant application.

5. There are only three pages in the Steele Dossier about Page.

6. The Memo also ignores that federal judges routinely authorize warrants that contain information from biased informants (if Donald Duck hates Mickey Mouse and tells the FBI that Mickey robbed a bank, and FBI found mouse droppings at the bank robbery scene and saw a giant mouse with yellow shoes on the security camera, a judge can constitutionally issue a warrant to search Mickey’s house for the stolen money regardless of Donald’s intent in giving the tip.)

7. Page traveled to Russia in 2016, had been caught on wiretaps speaking to Russian spies under surveillance, and was known to have been compromised by Russian spies in 2013.

8. The judges who review and authorize counterintelligence warrants are career lawyers appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts. They are not shadow people out to ‘get Trump’ or spy on you.

9. The Memo also ignores that the Page wiretap was reauthorized several times after the purportedly tainted warrant application, on grounds that it was producing information consistent with the Page-Russia evidence in the original application.

10. The Memo concedes that Republican, Trump-appointed officials Rod Rosenstein (Deputy AG) and Dana Boente (former Acting AG and Head of Nat’l Security Division) signed re-authorizations of the warrant.

11. Trump wants to fire his appointee Rosenstein, because Rosenstein has control of the Mueller investigation and could be replaced with someone who will cut Mueller’s funding, refuse to authorize subpoenas, limit the scope of who and what Mueller can investigate, and perhaps even fire him.

12. The Nunes Memo admits that the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s support for Russian election interference began in early 2016, *before* the Page warrant application, because another campaign aide told Australian officials that Russia had stolen Clinton campaign e-mails and might release them.

13. That campaign aide, George Papadopolous, later pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts, as did Trump’s former Nat’l Security Advisor (Mike Flynn).

14. Trump’s former campaign manager (Paul Manafort) and another campaign official (Rick Gates) have also been indicted for laundering dirty money from Russia and for secretly lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of Russian interests.

15. Devin Nunes “recused” himself from the Russia investigation last year after being caught funneling misleading and debunked allegations from the White House to the press that Obama officials secretly wiretapped Trump officials without a warrant (they did not).

16. Nunes admits he has not read the Page warrant application his memo is about.

17. Nunes will not state whether he developed the memo strategy in communication with Trump’s White House.

18. Nunes was on the Trump campaign presidential transition team.

19. The Memo’s primary author, Trey Gowdy, announced yesterday he is stepping down from Congress.

20. The FBI stated “we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

21. Republicans have blocked House Democrats from disclosing additional detail about the Page warrant application that will show the Nunes Memo omits material facts and is fundamentally misleading.

22. The Memo does not claim that a single allegation in the Steele Dossier is inaccurate, nor does it challenge the accuracy of any other evidence submitted in support of the Page warrant.

23. Trump’s DOJ (career attorneys) stated in a court filing this week that Mueller is operating properly and within his authority as Special Counsel.

24. Trump *personally* declassified the Nunes Memo in order to discredit an investigation into Trump. He did not appoint an independent lawyer or any person to review whether it was in the national interest—as opposed to his own—to brazenly publish classified information, and did so despite loud protests from his own DOJ.

25. Mueller’s investigation is rapidly closing in on Trump, Trump knows it, and he has his cronies in Congress scrambling to kick up dust to confuse and distract the public from the merits of the investigation: (a) Trump and his campaign knowingly abetted Russian active measures to sway the US election for Trump, (b) Trump has doggedly tried to obstruct the investigation into election interference by (for example) demanding the lead investigator’s loyalty, firing the investigator when he refused, admitting on TV that he fired the investigator to shut down the investigation, ordering the firing of the special counsel appointed to carry on the investigation, threatening to retaliate against witnesses to his crimes, and ordering cabinet officials to undermine the investigators using intentional disinformation, (c) Trump and his family helped Russian criminals and sanctioned persons launder money overseas by selling them Trump-branded real estate, and (d) god knows what else Mueller has found in the rats’ nest of bank records, tax returns, and e-mails he has subpoenaed; or the dozens of interviews of increasingly panicked and disgruntled Trump minions and ex-minions; or the testimony of cooperating witnesses, known and unknown.

I realize that was a lot of text. However, I am pretty sure anyone who actually reads this is a relatively smart person, and is not afraid to tackle something that requires time, patience, and skill. I am seriously terrified that there are too many people who either don’t care for logic, or, worse, actively think that spending time trying to understand and make sense of the world through learning is something that deserves derision. Stupidity is dangerous. Let’s try harder to not be stupid.

What: Fun With Stocks
Why: Because the fun looks like it may be over.

LAW THING OF THE WEEK (4 min. read)
What: Gerrymandering Part ∞
Why: Because it is especially rare that the government so blatantly doesn’t follow the law.

TECH THING OF THE WEEK (6 min. read)
What: Logging Off
Why: Because Facebook lost US users for the first time in its 14 year history.

Why: Because football can no longer be considered a sport due to Tom Brady’s inability to catch (sorry Pats fans).

What: Speaking Out Again
Why: Because there will never be enough space for all the stories that like this that exist.

What: Timber
Why: Because Justin Timberlake’s new album, Man In The Woods, kind of works, but mostly doesn’t – almost exactly like his halftime show performance.

What: More Things To Read
Why: Because you can never have enough books.

What: Remaking A Masterpiece
Why: Because the reboot of Shadow of the Colossus figured out how to update a classic in a way that keeps a game true to itself while embracing all the things that have changed due to technology and maturation over 13 years.

What: Tide; Tide; Tide; Tide; Tide; Tide; Tide; Tide.
Why: Because Super Bowl.

What: Tide.
Why: Because Brian deserves it.

Webtacularly yours,
Managing Editor, Webtacular World
The Internet You Didn’t Know You Needed™


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