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The Gateway Pundit Presidency

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This winter, Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit was admitted to the official White House Press corps. This news received scant coverage or comment in the mainstream press.

There is a perfectly good reason for this: one of the biggest challenges in covering the new White House administration is that there’s just so much there to cover. The operative word for the First 100 Days of the Trump era has been ‘chaos.’ There are a plethora of reasons for this chaos, including senior staff in-fighting, an apparent lack of understanding by many of those same senior staff how the executive office actually works, a press that was built to cover an entirely different kind of White House, a lack of good faith by pretty much everyone about everything, and, of course, a fledgling POTUS who seems in equal measures uninformed and incurious about the trappings of his newest position. Every day seems to bring a new potential scandal being reported, and due to these alleged scandals’ outrageousness, fluid nature, and sheer number, it’s hard to keep track over time which are true and which are fanciful conspiracy theory dressed up in easy-to-swallow, Meet-The-Press-esque sound bites.

Still, the Gateway Pundit’s elevation in status to that of a legitimate news organization by the White House was a portent of a much bigger institutional change in our federal government. This change deserves more coverage and introspection than the press provided.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.23.59 AMFor those unaware, the Gateway Pundit is what might be described as a conservative political news blog, depending upon your definition of the word “news.” Hoft’s site seemingly reports any rumor forwarded to him as fact, provided that said rumor is potentially damaging to liberals or Democrats; there is no internal fact checking apparatus. Thus Gateway Pundit has credulously reported (badly) photoshopped images of Obama groping Melania Trump, that the Obamacare bill had a secret provision that allowed Obama officials to enter your home at any time for any reason and take whatever they wished, that in 2016 the Post Office was inspecting mail-in ballots and destroying any for Donald Trump, that white mass-murderers are in fact African Americans photoshopped by the government and news outlets to look white, that Obama had been uncovered as a sleeper agent of the Muslim Brotherhood, that John McCain works for the Russians, and — perhaps most importantly, at least for the purposes of this post — that Barack Obama illegally ordered Donald Trump’s phones to be tapped during the 2016 election.

For its part, the new administration was fairly quiet about credentialing Hoft. The initial revelation came not from White House officials, who remained largely mum about the seismic shift in generations-old policy, but from Hoft himself. He made the announcement the day prior to Trump’s inauguration, at the DeploraBall. (For those out of the loop, the DeploraBall was an event hosted and attended in part by noted White supremacists, anti-Semites, and — because hey, why not? — hedge fund manager and vilified AIDs drug villain Martin Shkreli. The purpose of the DeploraBall was to celebrate the alt-right’s impact on the Presidential election.) 1  As Hoft himself announced that evening,

During the election I had a million readers a day at the Gateway Pundit, thank you, and the reason was because I was telling the truth …. we’ve been in contact with the  Trump Administration and they’re going to do something different and we got their word that the Gateway Pundit is going to have a White House Correspondent this year!

As I said, this news received scant coverage, aside from a few hours of guffaws and scoffs by some on Twitter. However, in the wake of the President’s accusations of having his phones tapped by the preceding Barack Obama, I believe it is time the revisit the Gateway Pundit’s ascendancy. Because what at first blush appeared to be a trolling of the press might be a harbinger of something far more important and considerably more dangerous.

*     *     *

Friday, March 3, 2017 was not a very good day for President Donald Trump. The week had started out well enough. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, Trump delivered a speech to Congress that earned high praise even from people who traditionally were critics.  ((“Extraordinary!… He became President of the United States in that moment, period,” gushed CNN analyst and Trump critic Van Jones.))  The quality of Trump’s speech neutralized escalating criticism of Trump’s senior staff’s apparent involvement with Russian agents during the campaign. The post-speech honeymoon was short lived, however.

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had already been forced to resign. A mere twenty-four days after officially stepping into that role, Flynn was shown to have lied about his own dealings with Russian officials.

Shortly after Trump’s trip to Capitol Hill, it was revealed that Trump campaign surrogate and newly minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lied about his contact with Russian officials during his Senate confirmation hearings.

Additionally, the press was beginning to break stories about his personal attorney’s previously undisclosed connections to the Russian and Ukrainian oligarchy, and also a Trump senior business advisor’s pulp-novel-esque connections to both the Russian and the New York mafia.

Then Thursday afternoon, Trump advisor JD Gordon told CNN that the Trump campaign had indeed pushed the RNC to change its hardline stance on the Ukraine to one that favored Russia after the campaign met with the Russian ambassador in 2016— all of which the Trump administration had previously denied ever happened.

It was in the wake of this very bad day that the president sent out his now infamous texts at 4:00 am Saturday morning, accusing then-President Obama of wiretapping his phones during the 2016 election. 2

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It was an odd accusation, to say the least, not least because it betrayed a lack of understanding regarding how FISA warrants work. For a lay person this misunderstanding is quite understandable, but for the President it’s nothing short of shocking. More curious was the administration’s call for Congress to investigate the matter. As President, Trump could have simply picked up the phone and asked the FBI, NSA, or CIA to show him the warrant. In order for Congress to do the same, they would need to go through the Executive branch that Trump himself runs. So out of touch with reality were Trump’s tweets — on a procedural and structural level, regardless of your opinion of Messrs. Obama or Trump — that it begged the question: where on Earth was the administration getting its information?

The answer, as we now know, is that it came from a conspiracy theorist with a syndicated talk radio show.

levin_2Shortly after Michael Flynn’s ouster, shock jock Mark Levin began to promote the theory that Obama wiretapped Trump, and he did so without any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise. If you know anything about Levin, this is entirely unsurprising. In the past he has similarly “reported” that Obama was an agent for the Muslim Brotherhood, was planning on implementing martial law as part of Obamacare, and was plotting a coup in order to remain president after the 2016 election. 3  Breitbart News picked the story and ran with it (again, without any evidence) and soon after that it was reported to the President, who demanded a Congressional investigation into the matter. After the story was debunked by the US law enforcement and intelligence communities, the White house went on to claim that Obama had used the British government to spy on Trump, again without even circumstantial evidence. This time the scurrilous rumor came from Fox News’s Andrew Napolitano, a poor-man’s Judge Wapner, television pundit, and 9/11 Truther. The British-Obama theory was so bats**t crazy and baseless that Fox News actually pulled Napolitano from the air indefinitely.

In other words, the White House signaled new policy, requested allocation of government resources, and created an international incident with arguably the US’s closest ally — and they did so for no other reason than the White House’s willingness to believe baseless conspiracy theories on the simple basis that those who created them publicly praised Donald Trump.

The main take on this development by the mainstream press has been that the phony Obama wiretapping scandal was mere political theatre; “Trump [trolls] the White House press corps,” was the way the New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz put it. But this reading, I believe, is an error, likely born of the hope that things aren’t quite as off the rails as they might seem. The reality, I suspect, is far more terrifying: the executive branch of the United States of America is putting the country at risk because it cannot differentiate between actual data and exciting, far-fringe, cloak-and-dagger fictions proffered by sources that care more about ratings and sensationalism than patriotism.

maxresdefaultOne obvious example of this is Sebastian Gorka, perhaps Trump’s most visible national security advisor and member of the White House Strategic Initiative Group, who now appears to be a member of the Nazi-linked Order of Vitéz. Prior to his recent elevation, Gorka was seen as something of a crank by his peers. His ascendancy appears to be entirely related to his position as an editor for Breitbart and his willing to say outrageous things about ex-President Obama on talk radio and Fox News. In any other administration, Gorka’s mix of possible Nazi sympathies and lack of respect from national security experts would lead to a dismissal; in the Trump administration, largely because of the far-fringe media’s seal of approval, Gorka appears to have a strong voice in crafting US foreign policy.

There are other examples:  the Trump camp’s using the Bowling Green Massacre, or the specter of thousands of Muslims dancing on rooftops after 9/11, or the terror attack on Sweden — none of which ever happened but all three of which were reported on far right conspiracy sites — to justify what was meant to be largely be a faith-based ban on certain immigrants. The US State Department is shifting allegiances from NATO countries to Putin, based almost entirely on sites like Breitbart and Info Wars that praise the brutal Russian dictator and find Europe too sissified. The administration has broken with the decades-old non-partisan policy of allowing pool reporters to travel with the Secretary of State, so that the press can report on our dealings with foreign nations. 4  And remember Andrew Napolitano, the 9/11 Truther who started the rumor about the Obama spying with the British government? He’s been used by the Trump administration as an expert in legal matters and judge selections.

AlexThat the Trump administration is using content from right-wing blogs and talk radio shows as the primary basis for policy is, on its face, deeply troubling. But what’s truly disturbing is to which sources Trump himself seems to paying attention. Many of Trump’s claims — such as the mainstream media no longer covers terrorism, that same media being the “enemy of the people,” incorrect statistics of black crime, and evidence of millions of illegal immigrant voting for Hilary Clinton — all come directly and verbatim from Sandy Hook/Tornadoes Are Secret Government Weapons Made to Kill Heartlanders/Obama and Queen Elizabeth are Lizard People Truther Alex Jones. (Jones actually says that Trump calls him for policy advice, a claim the White House has not confirmed but won’t deny.) Fox News is certainly biased, but they do have real journalists like Chris Wallace working for them. Trump, however, has gone on the record to state that the two shows he trusts the most are the two least trustworthy shows on the conservative news channel: Sean Hannity and (God help us all) Fox & Friends.

This, I believe, is the prism through which we should view Hoft’s Gateway Pundit being allowed into the White House press corps. (Well, that and the fact that Hoft appears to have gone out of his way to find a correspondent who is a Milo Yiannopoulos doppelgänger.) And so you know, it’s not just Gateway Pundit. The White House has issued press corps passes to a number of talk radio shock jocks, who are allowed to Skype in to press conferences. This includes such journalistic gems as Alabama’s Dale Jackson and Portland’s own Lars Larson.

Four years ago, I wrote a series of researched posts that argued that the reliance on its sensational, ratings-able-all-else, conspiracy theory-driven media machine might result in the worst outcome possible: the death of the Republican Party and (perhaps) American conservatism. I really believed that at the time. Now, however, it’s clear that I wasn’t being pessimistic enough. Because it turns out that there is a far worse result than conspiracy theory-driven media killing conservatism: Conspiracy theory-driven media having the first say in US policy.

 

[All images via Youtube screenshot]Notes:

  1. It bears noting that one of the initial guests of honor, white supremacist and Nazi punching bag Richard Spencer, was dis-invited after video of Spencer giving a Nazi salute and shouting “Heil Trump!” at a pro-Trump conference surfaced. []
  2. For what it’s worth, he also tweeted some shade at Arnold Schwarzenegger, who replaced Trump on NBC’s The Apprentice. []
  3. And to be clear, Levin is not a tin-foil wearing nut so much as showman who knows his audience’s wants. By all indications, Levin created the narrative as a way to drive ratings for his red-meat conservative listeners. []
  4. The “pool” is now one reporter, chosen for her previous puff pieces on Trump. The reporter was also told she that was limited to writing only celebrity-like character pieces of Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, rather than reporting on what Tillerson was doing and who he was meeting with. []

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Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also executive producer and host of the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre. He is  a regular contributor for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter. ...more →

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121 thoughts on “The Gateway Pundit Presidency

  1. It’s a tangent, but the gushing praise for that speech shows not only how incredibly low the bar is for Trump — but the fact that the “liberal news media” is incredibly desperate to think this Presidency is normal.

    They latched onto Trump giving a speech that was, at best, “competently delivered” (he read it correctly, didn’t digress, made eye contact, etc) as if he were MLK come again, because the press for all their supposed liberal bias is really, really desperate for the ‘pivot’ where Trump stops being Trump and starts being a normal President, albeit very conservative.

    (I don’t think the press is constantly looking for the ‘pivot’, the twist away from all this crazy conspiracy in favor out of any conservative or liberal bias. They just literally don’t know how to deal with a President like Trump. How do you cover a guy like that? So they’ll jump on — and continue jumping on — any signs, however trivial or transitory, that he’s becoming ‘normal’).

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    • Good call on putting “liberal news media” in quotes.

      I think this goes one of the things Tod said above. Our media, especially 24 hour news-media, is ill-equipped to handle the Trump administration. They are not that used to investigative journalism and like being more about “access” than doing hard work and digging for the truth. This is not completely their fault. Despite what people on LGM think, most people, even most “news junkies”, don’t want hard-hitting news. That stuff is depressing. A lot of people like to watch politics as a form of competition or show business, not hear in-depth policy reports and thought pieces.

      The 24 hour news media is largely good for covering the horserace aspects of politics and not all the craziness going on with Trump.

      Luckily we are being saved by incompetence and in-fighting

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      • As you noted many journalists do not see themselves as hard hitting brave truth tellers but as upper middle class professionals that do journalism the way other upper middle class professionals practice law or medicine. That makes them even less inclined to do investigative journalism.

        Many non-political types have a different perception of politics than most people on this site. The two pictures posted on LGM, the one showing the major Republican presidents to George W. Bush playing cards and the other depicting the Democratic Presidents from Jackson to Obama having a grand time playing pool, is how many people perceive politics.

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        • Investigative journalism takes time and resources, both of which are in short supply among newsrooms.
          Corruption cases are rarely carried due to concerns of retaliation.
          As one reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explained, after her story on corruption in the judiciary was buried, “Our paper gets sued all the time. If we were to turn them against us, they would put us out of business.”

          There’s a lot more to it than market share.

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          • I agree that it takes time and money which is why I don’t get angry about Sunday Styles and fancy real estate ads because I realize they pay the bills for the investigative stuff.

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    • “Outrage jock” might be a more apt description, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue as well. He doesn’t say shocking things for laughs, his whole shtick is to keep the outrage constantly pegged at 11.

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  2. “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth” — Joseph Goebbels

    No matter how many times Levin is call a “conspiracy theorist”, it doesn’t make it true. Why can’t you leftists report the truth: that all Levin did on March 2 was research the NYT, McClatchey and other MSM sites, read what they reported and then connect the dots??

    Another example of repeating lies is using the term “majority-Muslim” countries, rather than calling them what they are: countries that support terrorists and/or have no functioning government that can vet their citizens — as defined under law by the Obama Administration.

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    • I’m not going to call Tod a leftist. And I have no idea if everything he said other than the stuff about Mark Levin is correct. I don’t even know if the stuff he said about Levin is correct. But I want to see some backing for it, that’s for sure, because it doesn’t sound like Levin.

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      • Those claims are, I presume:

        “Levin began to promote the theory that Obama wiretapped Trump, and he did so without any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise.”

        “[H]e has similarly “reported” that Obama was an agent for the Muslim Brotherhood,”

        “[He has similarly “reported” that Obama] was planning on implementing martial law as part of Obamacare,” and

        “[He has similarly “reported” that Obama] was plotting a coup in order to remain president after the 2016 election.”

        If Levin really did make these claims, I’d say that the OP’s characterization of him as a “shock jock” and a “conspiracy theorist” are fair. It seems to me that some research by someone could demonstrate whether these claims are objectively true or untrue would be possible. Rightwingwatch.org and Media Matters might be good starting points for such a research project. I lack the time to undertake that project myself today.

        See also footnote 3: “And to be clear, Levin is not a tin-foil wearing nut so much as showman who knows his audience’s wants. By all indications, Levin created the narrative as a way to drive ratings for his red-meat conservative listeners.” In a way, this is worse than, say, Alex Jones. Jones appears to have a degree of sincerity in the bizarre afactual pronouncements he makes. If it’s true that Levin is simply trolling for the sake of juicing up his ratings without actually believing anything he says, he’s not merely pissing in the punchbowl of our public knowledge base, he’s doing it intentionally and with disregard for the public consequences. I’m not sure, though, how this claim is susceptible of objective proof or disproof and instead is probably going to have to be understood as the author’s opinion.

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        • “Shock jock” is a term rarely applied to political talk radio. I don’t think it’s a fair label for Mark Levin. This is a guy who will spend segments reading Federalist Papers and legal rulings. Not a showman in the usual sense.

          I have poked around the net a little bit looking for support for Tod’s three “similarly reported” claims, but haven’t found it.

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        • http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/03/05/watch-mark-levin-absolutely-destroys-obama-over-allegations-that-he-wiretapped-trump/

          http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/01/31/mark_levin_the_muslim_brotherhood_has_infiltrated_our_government_its_called_barack_obama.html

          http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/emily-richards/mark-levin-weve-had-silent-coup-country

          That last one has both coup and martial law. Here’s a bonus one:

          http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/mark-levin-obama-and-democratic-party-have-become-fanatical-utopians

          “Look around in your house,” said Levin. “You can’t even decide what light bulb to put in your house or showerhead or toilet. Open your medicine cabinet. Everything in there is regulated. Look at your electronics. Every single electronic device you have has some government stamp of approval. Washing machines, dryers, toasters, the gypsum board that is used to build your home, the roofing tile that is on your house, whether you can actually build a house on a particular piece of property that you own, all of this is regulated and managed by government.”

          “Is this a constitutional republic?” asked Levin. “What is it? It’s an Ameritopia.”

          I looked at my toaster and the washer and dryer. They have stamps from the Underwriters Laboratory, which is not a government agency, and assures me that I’m unlikely to electrocute myself while using these appliances.

          That’s enough for me to dismiss Levin as a reliable source of information all by itself.

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          • Dismiss him if you feel like it. The last three links you provided didn’t support Tod’s “similarly reported” points.

            “[H]e has similarly “reported” that Obama was an agent for the Muslim Brotherhood,” – The article you linked to specifically said that he wasn’t.

            “[He has similarly “reported” that Obama] was planning on implementing martial law as part of Obamacare,” – The article you linked to said that several of Obama’s policies amounted to de facto martial law, not that he was planning on implementing martial law as part of Obamacare.

            “[He has similarly “reported” that Obama] was plotting a coup in order to remain president after the 2016 election.” – None of the articles you linked to even alluded to this.

            Why am I making these points? It may seem like I’m playing with words, but given the subject of Tod’s article, all three of Tod’s “similarly reported” accusations imply conspiracies. But there is no element of conspiracies in any of the links (except the first one, where the only conspiracy idea not taken from the mainstream press was that Senator Schumer may be supportive of the leaks).

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            • So, you think it matters that he said, “He’s not a formal member [of the Muslim Brotherhood] He’s a sympathizer”?

              This is like the “people are saying” construction. It is vile. You get that, right? I don’t have to explain to you how rotten it is?

              You think hairsplitting and weasel wording actually matter, that they make something that is vile into something truthful, rather than something that’s simply misleading, rather than an outright lie?

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              • I think it matters a lot when Tod said that Levin said that he was a member. This article is supposed to be about the virtue of truth-telling, isn’t it? As near as I can tell, Tod shaded the heck out of three statements in a row about Levin. And as I already noted, the thing that he injected into all three was the idea of conspiracy. Do you think that doesn’t matter? I’m as neutral a reader to this article as there’s ever going to be. I immediately saw three statements that seemed false, without links. I haven’t seen those claims supported yet. On what basis am I supposed to grant Tod the benefit of the doubt on any other claims he made? I mean, seriously? If he’s exempt from telling the truth because of the tribe he’s in, in an article calling out exemptions from telling the truth granted by tribes, then what’s the point?

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                • And I think you’re hairsplitting. If Levin said, “People are saying Obama is a goatfucker”, and Tod reports that as “Levin said Obama was a goatfucker”, you would object that Levin didn’t really say that, and that makes Tod just as bad as Levin?

                  I mean, to me, Levin’s statements are right up there with, “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” in the annals of malicious innuendo. You seem to be saying that malicious innuendo is fine with you as long as there’s a figleaf of indirection or disclaimer.

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                  • OK, then let me address this for the third time. This time I’ll point out that he didn’t do the “some people say” thing at all, at least in these four links. The closest he came was:
                    – The New York Times says, The Washington Post says, et cetera, in the interview, and
                    – some people say that Obama is preparing to declare martial law, but if they consider the state of things they’ll see that he’s acting as if he already has (which is completely different than “some people say” as you’re depicting it).

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                    • I have to agree with you, Pinky. I like Tod’s posts and I think Levin is a hateful, dangerous man, but if we’re going to accuse him of having made certain statements, then those accusations should be accurate.

                      Overstating the facts causes one to be seen as not credible. We need credible voices, because now no one trusts anyone else, so they’re free to accept only the news that fits their preconceived notions.

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            • Tod indicated:

              “This, I believe, is the prism through which we should view Hoft’s Gateway Pundit being allowed into the White House press corps.”

              There are enough different entities listed above that to support nearly a infinite amount of conspiracies theories. So even one pivot off Levin gets you to crazy in nearly any direction.

              Now what that means or does it give any traction is a different matter. Using the white house as a partisan nesting ground of power for two centuries is it’s own flavor of crazy.

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            • “[H]e has similarly “reported” that Obama was an agent for the Muslim Brotherhood,” – The article you linked to specifically said that he wasn’t.

              Except the Levin specifically says:

              Well, the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our government, it’s called Barack Obama.

              That certainly sounds like he’s calling Obama an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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              • So, you read the quote? It says,

                “Well, the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our government, it’s called Barack Obama. No, he’s not a formal member, he’s a sympathizer.”

                What is the distinction you’re drawing between being an agent and a formal member? On what basis do you draw it? It seems possible to me that a person could be a member of an organization without being an agent, but a person couldn’t be an agent for an organization without being a member (assuming a context-based definition of the word “agent”). So even if there’s a distinction, members would be a larger set than agents.

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                • I don’t think that follows.

                  For example, there could an agent for the USSR who is not a member of the communist party. Hell, we have paid foreign agents running all over DC, and I don’t think anyone would claim they are members of the Parties or governments that they lobby for. I think the pertinent question with regards to agency, is; are you (colloquially) carrying water for or intentionally advancing the interests of a particular group or organization.

                  Either way, Levin is claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our government. Now, setting aside how ridiculous that sounds, his claim is that the infiltrator, who is (kind of by definition) working in the MB’s interests, is Barack Obama. How is that not saying Obama is an agent of the Brotherhood?

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                  • Heck, Hillary’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, was a writer for the Muslim Brotherhood’s law journal and her mother sits on the board of a Dawa council chaired by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

                    She had free but illegal access to classified intelligence information.

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                    • Is this the new way we play this game?

                      A claim is made (The Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated our government via Obama; Obama tapped Trump’s phones), the claim is defended absent evidence, the claim is claimed to be something other than the initial claim, the claim is defended based on something else maybe-sorta fitting the claim if you squint hard enough.

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                      • Oh, Obama was meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood all the time. The White House confirmed he met with Azhar Azeez and Mohamed Majid, both officials of the Islamic Society of North America – which was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood. And of course Obama met with Egypt’s Muhammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who’s facing trail for conspiring with Hamas and Hezbollah, using violence and torture to crush political opponents, etc.

                        The Obama Administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a “moderate” Islamist group that could counter ISIS and al-Qaeda – which is itself a spin off of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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                        • None of which equates to the Brotherhood having infiltrated our government.

                          I repeat my earlier comment.

                          Words have meaning. If the claim is that they infiltrated and the best evidence you can offer is that there were meetings reported to the public, then the claim is not proven.

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                        • The Obama Administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a “moderate” Islamist group that could counter ISIS and al-Qaeda – which is itself a spin off of the Muslim Brotherhood.

                          It is worth mentioning that this claim is false.

                          The co-founder of al-Qaeda, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, had been an active member (Along with petty much *any* politically-active anti-imperialistic Muslim.) of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 50s.

                          30 years later, in 1984, he helped found the precursor to al-Qaeda. There is absolutely no evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood was involved with this in any way, or really any logical reason they would be!

                          I suspect that George Turner, and the rest of the conspiracy theory right that pretends the Muslim Brotherhood helped start al-Qaeda have forgotten that *al-Qaeda started on the side of the US* in the Afghanistan Soviet 80s stupidity!

                          So the actual argument here is that…the Muslim Brotherhood was supporting *US-backed guerrillas* in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan?

                          First, I doubt that’s true, but second, uh, what sort of damning information is that? Why is that something to *condemn* them for?

                          al-Qaeda didn’t turned against the US until August 1990, by which time Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, along with this hypothetical Muslim Brotherhood connection, was dead by car bomb.

                          In fact, in *actual real history*, the assassination of Abdullah Yusuf Azzam is what *lead to* the modern, anti-American al-Qaeda. What Azzam and bin Laden founded was an organization *legitimately dedicated to fighting for freedom*.

                          It only took a hard turn into fanaticism (And became the actual al-Qaeda) *after Azzam died* and bin Laden saw the US invade Kuwait. Which, in this lunatic conspiracy, means the Muslim Brotherhood was the *moderating influence* on al-Qaeda and it only turned bad after they could lost control of it. (Although in reality they had nothing to do with anything.)

                          EDIT: tl;dr – Before you start making random conspiracy claims that one organization was involved in the founding of a terrorist organization and thus is anti-American, you probably should check how much *America* was involved in the founding of that terrorist organization.

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                          • We didn’t help found al-Qaeda or the Taliban. In fact, the Taliban didn’t even exist until Bill Clinton was President. The Taliban eventually overthrew the Mujahideen, who we’d helped.in their fight against the Soviets, and then after 9/11 we allied again with those same Mujahideen to overthrow the Taliban to get at Al Qaeda – who had never worked with us during the Soviet occupation because the Mujahideen thought they were a handful of nuts. Very very few Arabs fought in Afghanistan, and those that did were self funded or funded by the Saudis and other Gulf states.

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                            • We didn’t help found al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

                              I like how you’ve tried to throw in the history of the Taliban to confuse everything. Neither I nor *you* said anything at all about the Taliban.

                              Meanwhile, the US was indeed involved in the founding of al-Qaeda. (I did not say we *founded* them, I said we were *involved* in the founding of them.)

                              Although, technically, we helped found the possible *precurser* to al-Qaeda, named Maktab al-Khadamat.

                              So, to carefully unpack your layers of wrongness because often you do not seem to understand the assumptions that others are making about your knowledge:

                              1984: Abdullah Yusuf Azzam (Who is vaguely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood) and Osama bin Laden founded MAK (Maktab al-Khadamat), which existed to supply Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan.

                              The MAK was *nominally* funded by the Pakistani and Saudi, but, in reality, *we* were the ones funding them via those countries. You are correct that MAK did not supply many fighters, but that is not actually the point here. The point is that we are responsible for MAK. (In fact, we are really sorta responsible for the entire Mujahideen situation. The US decided to fund a dumbass proxy war with the Soviets over a country no one cared about.)

                              1989: Abdullah Yusuf Azzam dies in a car bomb.

                              1990: al-Qaeda appears, solely run by bin Laden.

                              That is the timeline.

                              Now, it is *possible* to argue how much al-Qaeda has to do with MAK. Maybe it’s the same organization that bin Laden revamped and rebranded, maybe it’s completely unrelated and bin Laden just got a taste for funding jihad and made a new organization to do it against America.

                              Except *you* don’t get to take that second position, because *you* claimed that ‘al-Qaeda is itself a spin off of the Muslim Brotherhood’.

                              And the *only* way the Muslim Brotherhood could have ‘spun off’ into al-Qaeda is via Abdullah Yusuf Azzam…which makes you go through MAK. (Because he was *dead* when the actual al-Qaeda was created.)

                              So if you assert that the Muslim Brotherhood spun off into al-Qaeda, you’re actually saying they created MAK(1) (And implicitly saying that MAK is really the same organization as al-Qaeda.), which means you must admit the Muslim Brotherhood spun off into al-Qaeda/MAK *with American funding*.

                              Fun theory, that.

                              Conservatives always have a weird problem of conspiracy theories that prove things they don’t actually want proved. This is just one of the many stupider ones. I remember conspiracy theories, during the Iran negotiations, saying that Obama was negotiating with our enemy because we’d really been at war with Iran since the Iran hostage crisis. Which makes Ronald Reagan’s administration selling them weapons reeeeeally awwwwkward.

                              1) OF course, the Muslim Brotherhood *didn’t* create MAK, Azzam being a member of a political group and then 30 years later creating a freedom-fighter system against the Soviets does not mean anything…but, as I said, you are layers of wrongness.

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                              • Azzam was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980’s, when he was preaching jihad against Israel and their puppets, the United States. In the 1970’s he was hanging out with the family of the recently executed Sayyid Qutb, who was one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most important and revered figures. Azzam based his fiery speeches on the concepts and teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood, and he took those ideas further than Qutb by calling for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, something dropped as an attainable near-term goal by Al Qaeda but picked up by ISIS.

                                The establishment of the MEK was a work largely of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                And of course the other big influence on al Qaeda was Egyptian Ayman Al Zawahiri, who joined the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and, after the execution of Qutb, set up an underground cell to continue Qutb’s struggle. He became the emir of Egyptian Islamic Jihad when its previous emir Abbud al-Zumar was jailed for the plot to assassinate Sadat (for which Al Zawahiri was also jailed). Guess who freed al Zumar from prison. Yes, it was the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Zawahiri, oddly enough, is one of the chief suspects in the assassination of Azzam, who was a rival for Osama bin Laden’s money.

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                                • Azzam was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980’s, when he was preaching jihad against Israel and their puppets, the United States.

                                  I have no idea what you *think* we’re discussing, but you do realize that asserting that claiming Azzam was pro-violent-jihad doesn’t actually prove ‘The Muslim Brotherhood made al-Qaeda as a spin-off’, right?

                                  In the 1970’s he was hanging out with the family of the recently executed Sayyid Qutb, who was one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most important and revered figures.

                                  Sayyid Qutb was a very well-respected and influential Islamic thinker for, basically, *everyone* in that world.

                                  The problem with your nonsense is that this didn’t have anything to do with the Muslim Brotherhood *of the time*.

                                  Qutb’s writing helped created al-Qaeda *and* also eventually influenced the Muslim Brotherhood, but that doesn’t mean the Muslim Brotherhood had anything with al-Qaeda.

                                  Azzam based his fiery speeches on the concepts and teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood, and he took those ideas further than Qutb by calling for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, something dropped as an attainable near-term goal by Al Qaeda but picked up by ISIS.

                                  So now your ‘spin off’ claim has, basically, been reduced to ‘based on the concepts and teachings of’.

                                  And by that, you basically mean the ‘concept’ that the Muslim world should not be ruled by non-Muslim outsiders, or people installed by them.

                                  All you keep pointing out is that *some* of the people who created al-Qaeda had associated, at some point in the past, with the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                  This doesn’t come *anywhere near* close to demonstrating your claim that al-Qaeda a spin-off of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially since a) almost all politically active and freedom-wishing Muslims at that time would have joined the Muslim Brotherhood at *some* point (As I pointed out, Azzam joined it when he was a *child*.), and b) the *actual leader* and person who *really* created al-Qaeda is bin Laden, who had fuck-all to do with the Muslim Brotherhood!

                                  And of course the other big influence on al Qaeda was Egyptian Ayman Al Zawahiri, who joined the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and, after the execution of Qutb, set up an underground cell to continue Qutb’s struggle.

                                  It’s reeeeally hard to claim that Ayman Al Zawahiri could have been involved in creating al-Qaeda as a ‘spin-off’ of the Muslim Brotherhood when he was operating a *rival organization* for the first decade of al-Qaeda’s existence.

                                  And, Ayman Al Zawahiri didn’t really have anything to do with the Muslim Brotherhood either! He, like Azzam, joined it as a teenager…at which point he *completely* ignored it, and almost immediately (still as a teenager) founded an underground terrorist cell that eventually formed al-Jihad. (Which eventually merged with al-Qaeda.)

                                  Apparently, joining a political movement as a teenager, and then immediately decided to form your *own* terrorist cell instead of having anything to do with that, and operating that cell for *decades* (And eventually merge into another one.), means that you’re really operating on behalf of that political movement you were a member of for five minutes when you were 14, and everything you do can be blamed on them.

                                  He became the emir of Egyptian Islamic Jihad when its previous emir Abbud al-Zumar was jailed for the plot to assassinate Sadat (for which Al Zawahiri was also jailed). Guess who freed al Zumar from prison. Yes, it was the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                  No, it wasn’t. The Muslim Brotherhood *eventually* took power after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, but al Zumar was released well before they did that, almost immediately, under military rule, because *he had been considered a political prisoner for 30 years* by the public, and there was no way the new regime could get away with keeping him imprisoned.

                                  Unless you want to try to claim the military leadership that overthrew Mubarak, and released al Zumar, was part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                  What the hell this has to do with al-Qaeda I have no idea.

                                  The establishment of the MEK was a work largely of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                  I have no idea where that is even coming from. Please cite *anything* that says that.

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                                    • The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood do the work to found the MEK comes the Journal of Conflict Studies, The Jihad and the Rifle Alone: Abdullah Azzam and the Islamist Revolution.

                                      …which doesn’t seem to explain what the hell they mean by the line ‘The establishment of this office was in large part the work of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brothers, many of whom were originally from Palestine.’, or why the hell Azzam would be creating an office in *Peshawar* for the Jordanians.

                                      Just citing something that repeats exactly what you said, with no evidence or explanation of how the hell Azzam even *knew* anyone in Jordan, is not actually evidence.

                                      *No one else seems to think this*. It’s an assertions I’ve never seen anywhere else. As far as I can tell, Jordan had *absolutely* nothing to with any of the Mujahideen or the battle with the Soviets in Afghanistan in any manner at all, except that a few fighters were recruited from there.

                                      Additionally, saying ‘Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brothers, many of whom were originally from Palestine’ is implying wrong things. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was, indeed, originally started by Palestinians-in-exile…in the *1950s*.

                                      Claiming it consists of many people from Palestine *in the 1980s* when this was happening is somewhat idiotic. That simply isn’t true. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was Jordanian enough to have their *political party win the most seats in parliament* in 1989. It wasn’t some outside group being operated by Palestinians.

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                                      • Azzam knew everyone in Jordan because that’s where he ended up after the Six Day War along with tons of other Palestinian jihadists. The Palestinians still field the Abdullah Azzam brigades, named after him. He grew disenchanted with the secularism of the PLO and focused on Islamism and Qutb’s teachings. Without that underpinning, his former student Osama bin Laden probably would’ve gone on to be a rich Arab playboy.

                                        Keep Googling Azzam. The Middle East, and thus the Internet, are flooded with his teachings and writings by him and about him.

                                        The difference between ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t goals, it’s tactics. Al Qaeda focused on attacking the West, perhaps for generations, before they were at a point to establish the global caliphate. ISIS (whose leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, was also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood). The Muslim Brotherhood’s approach in Egypt was to sway enough people to win elections and then institute sharia, then expelling or killing all the apostates and non-believers.

                                        It’s not that the Brotherhood are moderates we can work with, it’s that they offer us a more indirect way to submit or die.

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                                        • Keep Googling Azzam. The Middle East, and thus the Internet, are flooded with his teachings and writings by him and about him

                                          Who. The. Fuck.Cares. About. Azzam?

                                          Do you even vaguely understand the point I’m making? The point is you claimed that al-Qaeda was a spinoff of the Muslim Brotherhood, and I pointed out that the only way that makes sense, the only Muslim Brotherhood people *anywhere near* ‘the founding’ of al-Qaeda, did not, in fact, found the actual al-Qaeda, but MAK. (And if you’re asserting *that* is the founding of al-Qaeda, America bears a fuckload of blame.)

                                          You appear to be *agreeing* that MAK is the start of al-Qaeda by continuing to focus on MAK. Good. Let’s operate under that hypothetical: Azzam, Al Zawahiri, and bin Laden started al-Qaeda, using US funding, as MAK.

                                          So we are, in theory, in agreement of that, and *you can stop trying to prove Azzam is a bad person*. I already knew that anyway.

                                          Now what you *actually* need to demonstrate is that Azzam (Or Al Zawahira) was operating as part of the Muslim Brotherhood when creating MAK, instead of that merely being a political movement they joined when they were teenagers.

                                          The Muslim Brotherhood’s approach in Egypt was to sway enough people to win elections and then institute sharia, then expelling or killing all the apostates and non-believers.

                                          Which makes it incredibly weird that they did not, in fact, attempt to expel or kill all the apostates and non-believers when they *did* have power in Egypt.

                                          The presidency of Morsi was not sane, but it didn’t even vaguely come close to that in any manner. It was mostly not sane, in fact, in the ways it attempted to hold on to power when the public started rejecting some Islamist laws it proposed.

                                          I.e., if that is the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it has failed *in totality*. Just utterly failed.

                                          Of course, it actually *did* fail, here in the real world. But the thing it failed at was ‘making the Egypt operate more under sharia law’.

                                          The Egyptian people seemed to *think* that was a good idea at first, by electing the Muslim Brotherhood..and then rejected them once they actually started doing it. (MBgrets?)

                                          And because Egypt did not really know how to operate democratically, this rejection resulted in a constitutional crisis when the government did not get its way and almost kinda a coup happened. This appeared to have less to do with any ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ aspect of anything and merely because, again, Egypt literally never had a democratic form of government before and the current government didn’t understand how to lose gracefully and step out of the picture,and wasn’t helped along by the fact they were still trying to *make* a constitution.

                                          The actual, real life goals of the Muslim Brotherhood are…to make it where Muslims in Arab countries live under Sharia law. (And, yes, just Arab countries. The Muslim Brotherhood, officially, has no position on Muslim-majority countries that are not Arab.) That’s it. That is really, in actual fact, their entire goal. You are free to dislike it, *I* dislike it, I do not think it is a good idea. They are trying to move the laws of countries in exactly the wrong direction, or, more generally, trying to convince people that the laws should be moved that way.

                                          But stop *making up* goals of them to turn them into supervillains. They don’t want to do anything ‘worldwide’, they don’t want to unite all nations, they are perfectly fine with non-Muslims living among them (As long as those non-Muslims follow the parts of sharia law that apply to non-Muslims.), they don’t care at all about the US except where the US backs Arab leaders that resist those things. They aren’t even, in the grand scheme of things, *extremists*…the version of sharia law they seem to put forward is less extreme than, for example, *Saudi Arabia’s* version.

                                          The Muslim Brotherhood is not, despite how you portray it, the political arm of al-Qaeda.

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                                          • You somehow achieved something unknown in the history of the Internet with

                                            Keep Googling Azzam. The Middle East, and thus the Internet, are flooded with his teachings and writings by him and about him

                                            Who. The. Fuck.Cares. About. Azzam?

                                            Who. The Fuck. Care. About. Hitler?

                                            Yes, you can make some kind of argument to that effect, but it will have no impact and disappear down the bowels of the Internet. We call these losing arguments

                                            But take heart. I’ve lost a lot of arguments on the Internet (okay, that’s a white lie to make the rest go down), but what I do is figure out why I could of hypothetically lost an argument, look at it like a lawyer, and frame a new argument that I can defend with more certainty.

                                            And I do this with both conservatives and liberals, because as I learned early on, the way to win an argument on the Internet is to examine all the facts by burrowing to the bottom, figuring out which side will win, and then picking that side. This tactic, which I call “clinging to truth”, drives people absolutely nuts. I gain great enjoyment from it. As a side effect, I know what went on in the most obscure places and can form a mental map of reality that has very low entropy.

                                            That low entropy makes arguing with people on the Internet something akin to cross stitch or tennis. There is a joy in it, and an important social benefit of correcting beliefs or narratives that are so hard to support that even I wouldn’t attempt it, because I love winning debates as much as you do, but I am such a monster that I’m willing to throw my preconceived beliefs aside, figure out the truth, and choose the side supported by actual facts, all just to win a pointless argument on the Internet..

                                            Some call this cheating, but my view is that it serves a larger social purpose of eliminating bad arguments that frame bad narratives that are unsupportable, leading to a thing that thought not true itself, is a heck of a lot closer to something that any party would recognize as truth.

                                            It’s not a conservative or liberal thing, it’s a tactic. Research a subject to its bones. Analyze it. Spend hours watching videos that no normal person would sit through. Develop fundamental insights into it. Turn it over in your mind. Re-examine it again. Dig for more data and more insight. Dig through the statements of proponents, opponents, and observers, make independent judgments, look at possible outcomes and consequences, and make a call.

                                            So, rounding back to the point, the Muslim Brotherhood’s connection to ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Jordanian Azzam Brigates, and the whole nasty pile of crap that is the Middle East, is that the Muslim Brotherhood gave them the goals. The first difference is over what goals should be primary and which should be secondary. Should you secure absolute Islam in Egypt before conquering Europe, or should you conquer Europe before establishing absolute Islam in Egypt? Then you get to the argument between them about tactics. Ballot box, bombs, or babies?

                                            But that leaves the West playing either long term or short term defense, when the West could win the whole conflict simply by destroying Islam by questioning its idiocy and errors, because Muhammed cribbed much of the Old Testament, without any way to know which of those stories would retain any reputation of truth and which were so ridiculously stupid that Christians would try to explain them away as an allegorical story to tell Sunday School classes to entertain small children. The Koran is full of those.

                                            Christianity is extremely flexible regarding the Old Testament, and we nearly rejected it entirely because Jews kept amending a editing it, saying that editing was their job, and our response was that the truth can’t change. They agreed to stop or slow down with the editing.

                                            The truth cannot change, but the perceived events of the Old Testament certainly can, because the deeper insight, the most parsimonious explanation, the one corroborated by entirely different approaches, is compelling.

                                            We’ve been doing this kind of reasoning for centuries while the Muslims have stayed in freak-out, head-sawing mode. Their religion is extremely brittle and cannot survive even cursory inquiry. But Christians and Atheists refuse to inquire because of our own histories and distorted views of those histories.

                                            We fought brutal series of religious wars until we agreed to stop religious wars. It’s like we formed a compact under which we will not question anybody’s interpretation of Christianity and will not try to kill them, as long as they afford us the same consideration.

                                            Muslims were never part of this pact, and do not recognize it. But they take full advantage of it. A Muslim imam couldn’t defeat a Belgian 12-year old in a debate, so he has to resort to threats and intimidation.

                                            And he has to resort to such tactics because Muslims can’t allow anyone to question their prophet, who by any Christian standards wouldn’t even be allowed into a house of God because he spent his life killing and raping and stealing, and stealing and killing and raping.

                                            Islam is the answer to the question of what good people do when they’re told to follow a very bad man who tries to twist the innate human sense of good and evil to advance his own power and prestige, just like many born-again Christians on cell block D come up with a version of Christianity in which stealing is a holy act.

                                            As one Kentucky judge said, “I’ve seen people who needed killing but I’ve never seen property that needed stealing.”

                                            Until the West finds its voice and speaks truth to evil, the problem will not stop.

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                                            • But take heart. I’ve lost a lot of arguments on the Internet (okay, that’s a white lie to make the rest go down), but what I do is figure out why I could of hypothetically lost an argument, look at it like a lawyer, and frame a new argument that I can defend with more certainty.

                                              For example, your dumbass claim that al-Qaeda was a spin-off of the Muslim Brotherhood, *the entire topic of discussion* and one you seem unwilling to defend *in any manner at all*.

                                              So, rounding back to the point, the Muslim Brotherhood’s connection to ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Jordanian Azzam Brigates, and the whole nasty pile of crap that is the Middle East, is that the Muslim Brotherhood gave them the goals. The first difference is over what goals should be primary and which should be secondary. Should you secure absolute Islam in Egypt before conquering Europe, or should you conquer Europe before establishing absolute Islam in Egypt? Then you get to the argument between them about tactics. Ballot box, bombs, or babies?

                                              And you have decided all those are bad tactics, whereas in reality we call a group of people convincing everyone to vote a specific way, or to have babies that outnumber everyone, and society deciding something, *DEMOCRACY*.

                                              The Muslim Brotherhood attempts to direct the path of nations by directly them *democratically* in a certain direction. (It’s worth pointing out that the the few times that violence has been used by their people, it’s been used specifically against *dictators*. Not against people, not against democratically elected leaders, but strong-arm dictators, and if they were anyone *besides* the Muslim Brotherhood, we’d be cheering for them and calling them freedom fighters.)

                                              So there are two problems with trying to claim the Muslim Brotherhood is unacceptable to work with and should not be allowed:

                                              1) that completely betrays the entire idea of liberal democracy…we can, and should, demand protections and rights for minorities, but we can’t say ‘You cannot be an officially Muslim nation’, especially since we *seem to have no problem* with much stricter Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia. (Which isn’t even *pretending* to be a democracy.)

                                              2) In any sort of free society, prohibiting a movement just drives it underground. To actually *destroy* a movement in any amount of time the government has to be *really fascist*. (You tried to use the KKK as an example earlier. You will notice that it actually took *hundreds of years* to move from slavery to civil rights.)

                                              This means the US either ends up supporting *authoritarian* governments (Which, in practice, is what we do.) or the Muslim Brotherhood continues to florish, persecuted (The easiest way to florish)…and at some point in society people start saying ‘Wait, how can we, as a free society, place certain topics off-limits?’. The only way this suppression works is if the middle east *remains unfree*…and this is not something we should want.

                                              In the modern, liberal, democratic work, the way we reject ideas is *by rejecting them at the ballot box*. (Much like the Egyptian people rejected the Muslim Brotherhood, in fact, although, again, their democracy was pretty new and brittle so the transition went poorly. Again, that’s more a problem of Egypt not doing democracy well than a Muslim Brotherhood problem.) We don’t try to stop ideas from *getting to* the ballot box.

                                              We fought brutal series of religious wars until we agreed to stop religious wars. It’s like we formed a compact under which we will not question anybody’s interpretation of Christianity and will not try to kill them, as long as they afford us the same consideration.

                                              The last religious war by Christianity ended in *1998* with the Good Friday Accords.

                                              If you don’t want to count that, the Yugoslav Wars in the 90s were almost entirely along religious lines. Yes, there were Muslims involved, but the war was *started* by Serbs, who are mostly Eastern Orthodox Christians.

                                              But the *drop* (Not total absense) of Christian religious wars is due to the fact that nationism became stronger than religion in the eyes of the public somewhere around 1650, right after a religious war *lasted thirty years and killed half of Europe*.

                                              But the Western world, what used to be Christendom, did not, in fact, magically just decide to stop religious wars. The Western world, instead, decided that *countries* were generally more important than *religions*, and *continued to fight a series of horrifically brutal wars for several hundred more years*, leading eventually to WWI and WWII. Scratching out the cross on their flag and drawing a king’s coat of arms on top of that and continuing the exact same wars is hardly some sort of *accomplishment*.

                                              Meanwhile, I have to question what you’re even talking about with the idea that Islam is fighting religous wars? Please point to some of these wars? The only entity fighting any sort of actual *religious* war is ISIS.

                                              That’s it. That’s your grand example. One entity. One entity pretty condemned by the entire Muslim world, and an entity that is mostly fighting with *Muslims* (Because all religious fanatics have more of a problem with people who agree with them 99% than people who don’t agree at all.) and is really their problem.

                                              Everyone *else* in the middle east is fighting what are clearly *cultural* wars, because England decided to *randomly* divide up the middle east 100 years ago and the boundaries have never been straightened out, and then foreign powers decided to meddle in it til this very day.

                                              None of those wars are *actually* religious in nature, anymore than The Troubles in Ireland were *actually* religious in nature.

                                              Christianity is extremely flexible regarding the Old Testament, and we nearly rejected it entirely because Jews kept amending a editing it, saying that editing was their job, and our response was that the truth can’t change. They agreed to stop or slow down with the editing.

                                              Why am I not suprised that your history of Christianity is just as dubious as anything else.

                                              Ignoring your total ahistoric ideas about the Old Testament, but you have no evidence at all the Christian is more flexible about their religious documents than Islam. (Much less your weird idea that it’s *always* been more flexible.)

                                              From what I can see, Islam varies just as much across different societies as Christianity.

                                              The difference is that Christianity exists mostly in *post-enlightenment* societies that value certain specific things, whereas Islam exists mostly in pre-enlightenment societies that do not value the same thing.

                                              Or, at least, *those are the things you hear about*. We don’t hear about the horrific pre-enlightenment behaviors of *Christians* in Africa, or the behavior of Muslims in Turkey or Morocco.

                                              Looking at the *actual world*, not just trying to figure out why ‘Muslims are bad’, informs us that the problem isn’t the religion at all…it’s that some parts of the world believe in modern, liberal, democracy, and some parts *don’t*.

                                              And the thing is, modern liberal democracy, with people democratically deciding on how their government operates, with protections for minorities of all sorts, with a system of laws…wins. It *always* wins. It is a weed that out-competes everyone.

                                              And that is the only way to stop fanaticism. Not trying to tell them they are wrong, or trying to forbid political movements.

                                              Again, I point out: The Muslim Brotherhood *failed* in Egypt. They were roundly rejected. Egypt *was already too westernized* for them.

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                                              • The Muslim Brotherhood attempts to direct the path of nations by directly them *democratically* in a certain direction. (It’s worth pointing out that the the few times that violence has been used by their people, it’s been used specifically against *dictators*. Not against people, not against democratically elected leaders, but strong-arm dictators, and if they were anyone *besides* the Muslim Brotherhood, we’d be cheering for them and calling them freedom fighters.)

                                                Communists have also tried and succeeded at winning at the ballot box. And like the Muslim Brotherhood, the first thing they did was to start granting themselves new powers and making sure there weren’t going to be subsequent fair elections.

                                                They view Democracy as but one way of seizing power, a path provided by the West, but which almost never works in the Middle East (they all get Presidents for Life). Like Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood never had any willingness to give up any power they attained, and worse than Mubarak, they wanted more and more and more power, powers not granted them in the Egyptian Constitution. It took a military coup to stop the Muslim Brotherhood’s transformation of Egypt into a Muslim theocracy. To us, Democracy is a system to keep the government obedient to the will of the people. In their playbook, based upon the Koran and Haddith, Allah’s servants struggle and win, establishing Allah’s justice, expanding the caliphate, and ruling over the non-Muslims. They do not lose because losing is not in the plan. Islamists are focused on their grand scheme, their divine scheme, so they don’t sit around worrying about getting voted out of office any more than Hitler worried about losing the next election. Both are using a completely different playbook, one which may include getting elected, but which doesn’t include an orderly transfer of power when the masses change their mind.

                                                The Muslim Brotherhood attempts to direct the path of nations by directly them *democratically* in a certain direction. (It’s worth pointing out that the the few times that violence has been used by their people, it’s been used specifically against *dictators*. Not against people, not against democratically elected leaders, but strong-arm dictators, and if they were anyone *besides* the Muslim Brotherhood, we’d be cheering for them and calling them freedom fighters.)

                                                You obviously didn’t pay a bit of attention to what happened in Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood. I was reading lots of Egyptian blogs back when Mubarak was in power and the Muslim Brotherhood was only a low level worry. One blogger, Big Pharaoh, despaired that perhaps every Muslim country has to elect a group like the Muslim Brotherhood so they can behold the horror of it first hand. Big Pharaoh decided to run for Parliament and found that sure enough, their political system is rigged, and the Muslim Brotherhood is a bunch of thugs who did anything to gain power.

                                                And sure enough, it took Morsi only six months to bypass the judiciary, grant himself unlimited powers, and try and push through an Islamist constitution. Egyptians turned on Morsi because the Muslim Brotherhood alienated just about everybody, from businesses to left wing social reformers, using office to monopolize power and try and establish an Islamic caliphate. The economy cratered.

                                                He also vowed for free the blind Sheikh convicted of the first World Trade Center bombing, because like all Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood is happy with political violence because Muhammed (PBUH) preached and used violence and terror.

                                                And indeed, after being ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood’s theologians issued a fatwa saying the execution of government officials brings one closer to Allah. Of course the MB had the support of Hillary and Obama, both of whom probably agree with the fatwa and would advocate it here, but how does that square with democracy?

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                                                • Like Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood never had any willingness to give up any power they attained, and worse than Mubarak, they wanted more and more and more power, powers not granted them in the Egyptian Constitution. It took a military coup to stop the Muslim Brotherhood’s transformation of Egypt into a Muslim theocracy.

                                                  The government of Egypt literally *never* has had a peaceful democratic transfer of power. The removal of Morsi saw 51 peaceful protesters shot!

                                                  And asserting that Mubarak didn’t claim powers not granted to him in the Egyptian Constitution is incorrect. He also did. And Morsi overstepped, but was forced back *by the courts* and abided by that. And not only that, but the *current* president is also overstepping his authority with emergency powers and is headed right down the path to be removed *again*.

                                                  Egypt is, has been, and will probably for the next decade or so, been ruled over by people who are democratically elected but constantly overstep their bounds, become authoritarian, and have to be removed. That’s just how it is when countries transition to democracy….they tend to keep electing people who immediately become problems.

                                                  Attempting to pretend the Muslim Brotherhood’s term in office is something unique is dumb.

                                                  the Muslim Brotherhood was only a low level worry. One blogger, Big Pharaoh, despaired that perhaps every Muslim country has to elect a group like the Muslim Brotherhood so they can behold the horror of it first hand.

                                                  Which, uh, is exactly the point I made.

                                                  *You’re* supposed to be running around screaming about the threat they pose. *I’m* the one saying ‘They are a group that *seems* popular, but in reality, *people do not actually want to be ruled by them*, so will quickly remove them from office if they end up in charge.’

                                                  They *are* like the communist party. Your analogy is correct. They might win in crapholes because they promise something better, but can only keep power by seizing so much power that there are no more elections.

                                                  But the problem there is….if any entity can seize that much power and keep it in a county, *that country is in trouble anyway*. They can be seized control of by *any* strongman.

                                                  *AND ALMOST ALL OF THEM HAVE BEEN*.

                                                  And *none* of those countries are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s right. The Middle East, despite being a *region* of strongman and undemocratic countries, has *literally no countries controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood*, so it seems *extremely* dubious to worry about *them* specifically.

                                                  Long before the Muslim Brotherhood existed, countries in the Middle East that overthrew their English masters would end up control by, you guessed, *the communists*. Or, alternately, the Taliban. *Neither* of which the people actually wanted. (And before that…the English!)

                                                  The only way to *fix* the situation is to *make sure these countries operate democratically*, which requires *not* attempting to suppress dissent or ban political movements. It requires a lot of work, and it requires allowing the Muslim Brotherhood, and *everyone else*, to present their ideas, and having actual votes and actual constitutions with orderly transitions of power.

                                                  It also requires the US working with the Muslim Brotherhood *when they are working within the system* and have gained some power. For one reason, us *interacting* with them weakens their own claims, and for another, it allows our culture to sneak into theirs, and for a third, it allows us to demand respect for religious minorities.

                                                  As I pointed out, the Muslim Brotherhood, when in control of Egypt, *didn’t* do most of the things you claim they want to do. Which is probably because *we were right there watching them*. The US is too important to Egypt to *ignore*. (Which, frankly, should be the goal of *all* our foreign policy…too important to their well-being to ignore.)

                                                  And indeed, after being ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood’s theologians issued a fatwa saying the execution of government officials brings one closer to Allah.

                                                  And once again you appear to just invent things.

                                                  The closest thing I can figure out to what you just said was Mahmoud Shaaban, which was a fatwa issued *while* Morsi was still in power, and who, uh, didn’t have anything to do with the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                                  This fatwa was immediately criticized by all political parties and by Morsi, and threatened with arrest by the prime minister.

                                                  Of course the MB had the support of Hillary and Obama, both of whom probably agree with the fatwa and would advocate it here, but how does that square with democracy?

                                                  Aaaand…it’s right there I remember you’re a lunatic.

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                          • The co-founder of al-Qaeda, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, had been an active member (Along with petty much *any* politically-active anti-imperialistic Muslim.) of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 50s.

                            Azzam wasn’t a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950’s. He was still in primary school and only got his bachelor’s degree in 1966. Then he kept getting more radicalized as he moved around, eventually ending up in Saudi Arabia because Jordan and Syria wouldn’t let him preach jihad. In 1979 he was still there, but then he moved his preaching to Pakistan, where he remained in the Muslim Brotherhood. Bin Laden joined him during the 80’s, after graduating college. Also in the 1980’s, and as late as 1988, Azzam traveled through America (all 50 states) telling Muslims here that they must wage jihad against the United States and the Jews and create lots of widows and orphans.

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                            • Azzam wasn’t a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950’s. He was still in primary school and only got his bachelor’s degree in 1966.

                              I have no idea why you think ‘still in primary school’ and ‘member of the Muslim Brotherhood’ are mutually exclusive. They are not. He joined in the mid-50s (The exact date is unknown.), when he was a teenager.

                              I find it exceptionally confusing you think those are mutually exclusive when you also *also* mentioned Ayman Al Zawahiri, who, as you say, ‘joined the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth’, specifically when *he* was 14.

                              Of course, *you* think this is weird because *you* seem to think the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization, when in *actuality* it’s a political movement that sometimes members take direct action in the name of.

                              And by ‘direct action’, I don’t mean terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood’s (Or, rather, people who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood) direct actions are always more directed at immediately removing people from power via…killing them. They don’t generally attempt to sway political opinion with violence. Nor have they ever tried to do *anything* outside of Muslim-majority nations.

                              The reason that various countries *classify* them as a terrorist organization is ‘they want to overthrow our government’ is not a recognized international classification.

                              The reason *you* think they’re a terrorist organization is that, basically, half of the politically active citizens in any Muslim country is going to have an association with them, so *pretending* they are terrorists makes it very easy to pretend that anyone who is very vaguely associated with the middle east is associating with terrorists.

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                              • Most of the terrorist groups, like al Qaeda, get their knowledge and goals from the political movements, of which the Muslim Brotherhood is the key. They use Muslim Brotherhood publications as recruiting literature, because they all have the same goal of advancing Islamism and setting up a world caliphate.

                                Heck, Muhammed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood, was recorded on lots of calls while he was President of Egypt, and some of those were congratulatory calls to Muhammed al Zawahiri, while in others he told Zawahiri that the Brotherhood supports the jihadists so the jihadists should support the Brotherhood.

                                Zawahiri served as al Qaeda’s tie to the Muslim Brotherhood, often meeting with Khairat al-Shater, second in charge after Morsi, to coordinate activities. Khairat al-Shater was also meeting with ambassador Anne Patterson, Lindsay Graham, and John McCain, so go figure.

                                Our enemy isn’t terrorism, which is a tactic. Our enemy is Islamism, which is an ideological political movement similar to Nazism. Islamic supremacy, strict sharia, global caliphate ruling the entire world.

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                                • They use Muslim Brotherhood publications as recruiting literature, because they all have the same goal of advancing Islamism and setting up a world caliphate.

                                  The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, does *not* want a world caliphate.

                                  The Muslim Brotherhood believes that Muslim nations should be governed by the Qu’ran, and if they are not governed by the Qu’ran it is the job of the Muslims there, and everywhere, to fight until they are.

                                  But they do *not* propose any sort of world caliphate. That wouldn’t even make sense, considering their members are in control of political parties in different countries.

                                  Heck, Muhammed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood, was recorded on lots of calls while he was President of Egypt, and some of those were congratulatory calls to Muhammed al Zawahiri, while in others he told Zawahiri that the Brotherhood supports the jihadists so the jihadists should support the Brotherhood.

                                  You think *Muhammed Morsi* is (Or, I guess, was?) the head of the Muslim Brotherhood?

                                  I can’t even figure out a response to that, it’s so absurd.

                                  Additionally, Muhammed al Zawahiri seems to have *actually reformed* and hasn’t been involved in any sort of actual terrorism since 1999, so it seem very weird that he somehow is seen as representing the jihadists.

                                  Our enemy is Islamism, which is an ideological political movement similar to Nazism. Islamic supremacy, strict sharia, global caliphate ruling the entire world.

                                  Just because you list three sets of believes there does not mean that any organization that you think promotes one of those promotes them all…and perhaps more important, the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t actually support *any* of those positions.

                                  The Muslim Brotherhood has, repeatedly, come out in favor of religious freedom for various groups. For example, Morsi, who you seem to think is in charge of it, has repeatedly said that Coptic Christians in Egypt should have the freedom to worship as they see fit.

                                  Likewise, while they do believe in sharia law, it tends to vary from place to place and isn’t usually what could be described as ‘strict’.

                                  And they certainly don’t believe there should be a global caliphate ruling the entire world, or even ruling all Muslim countries. They believe that Muslim countries should have Muslim governments, and absolutely should not be operated by outsiders, and should come to each other’s aid to free each other from entanglements. But there’s no demand to try to make them all under the same government, or to bring non-Muslims countries under it.

                                  I’m sure you’ll claim they are *lying*, but the problem is, they are a *political movement* and it’s fairly easy to see what beliefs they are actually propagating to their members. And those beliefs are….not the greatest beliefs, but not the beliefs *you* seem to think they are, and a lot of them are quite reasonable ‘Muslims should overthrow oppressive governments’, followed up by wrong-headed ‘…and install a Islam-based government’, which is dumb, but hardly some sort of *evil* idea.

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                                  • I guess you don’t think Obama was head of the Democratic Party, either. Yeah, the very notion is absurd.

                                    If they don’t believe in a worldwide caliphate, then they’re not Muslims. In Islam, everybody who isn’t in a Muslim territory is in Dar al-Harb, the zone of war, and will eventually be conquered because that’s what Allah wills. But they draw on their early history and have a wide variety of successful strategies to use.

                                    Their best known theologian said in 2007, “The conquest of Rome, the conquest of Italy and Europe means that Islam will return to Europe once again. Must this conquest necessarily be through war? No, it is not necessary. There is such a thing as a peaceful conquest. The peaceful conquest has foundations in this religion. So I imagine that Islam will conquer Europe without using violence. It will do so through predication and ideology.”

                                    That’s their moderate view. There’s a reason their logo is crossed swords.

                                    And again, the problem is Islamism. You’re trying to focus on terrorism. For a loose analogy, the problem in the segregationist South wasn’t the KKK, it was the segregationist and racist ideology of the Southern Democrats, which supported their whole culture of systemic and institutional racism. You sound like all the period Democrats who kept defending the Southern Democrats as good-hearted moderates that were just a little set in their ways, but who had no connection to heinous acts like lynching. But the KKK and the bombings and lynchings flowed from the Southern Democrat segregationist ideology. Once that ideology was upended, the KKK just dried up to a wacko fringe bunch of powerless, out-of-touch, toothless cranks.

                                    Cracking down on the KKK could have gone on for centuries and the lives of blacks wouldn’t have been improved. Just as defeating ISIS or al Qaeda will still leave the root problem, Islamism, unchecked, as it will continue with its oppression and continue spawning more terrorist groups, forever. The belief system requires it.

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                                    • Their best known theologian said in 2007, “The conquest of Rome, the conquest of Italy and Europe means that Islam will return to Europe once again. Must this conquest necessarily be through war? No, it is not necessary. There is such a thing as a peaceful conquest. The peaceful conquest has foundations in this religion. So I imagine that Islam will conquer Europe without using violence. It will do so through predication and ideology.”

                                      That’s a response to someone else quoting a *religious text* saying that Islam will conquer Rome.

                                      And the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘best known theologian’, according to you, responded with ‘Well, conquest can mean many thing. We will eventually convince the entire world of the rightness of our religion, so that’s probably how we’ll conquer Rome.’.

                                      You literally have pointed out *religious evangelicalism* and a *rejection of violence* as…a bad thing.

                                      That’s their moderate view.

                                      Yes, the *moderate* view within Islam is that (and I know this is a shocker) Islam, being the one true religion, will eventually *convince everyone on earth*.

                                      It believes it will win by being the Obvious Truth, like *literally all other religions that exist*.

                                      Oh noes!

                                      And again, the problem is Islamism. You’re trying to focus on terrorism. For a loose analogy, the problem in the segregationist South wasn’t the KKK, it was the segregationist and racist ideology of the Southern Democrats, which supported their whole culture of systemic and institutional racism. You sound like all the period Democrats who kept defending the Southern Democrats as good-hearted moderates that were just a little set in their ways, but who had no connection to heinous acts like lynching. But the KKK and the bombings and lynchings flowed from the Southern Democrat segregationist ideology. Once that ideology was upended, the KKK just dried up to a wacko fringe bunch of powerless, out-of-touch, toothless cranks.

                                      First, you appear to have no knowledge of the history of the KKK. Don’t worry, everyone seems to do that. We have some really poor history classes in this country, and everyone seems to keep assuming the history of the KKK is *literally the opposite* of what it is.

                                      The KKK existed to do lynching while southern states were under control of the US government. And they ‘dried up’ because the Federal government went away and the Southern Democrats were free to operate their voter suppression and campaigns of terror *within the law*, so had *no need* of extra-judicial secret organizations.

                                      During the times of highest level of black lynchings in the south, the KKK *did not exist*. At all. Because a lynch mob of white people could *openly* accuse a black man of a random crime and *openly* hang him from a tree, and the entire damn town would make a picnic from it. You don’t need a secret society to do things that are *legal*.

                                      Anyway, that aside, you are, in the vaguest possible sense, correct. The Muslim Brotherhood does have very stupid goals, and pursues them via politics…and *other people with the same goals* are, indeed, causing terrorism. And we’d be better off it those positions were held by less people

                                      What you have failed to notice is that, in the modern world we live in, we have realized that trying to declare political positions out of bounds is not helpful. That just drives them underground and into extra-legal methods. It’s actually much better to let people openly have them, and try to move them forward.

                                      As I pointed out in my other post, the Muslim Brotherhood, which had pretty good support in Egypt because they opposed a strongman, just *went down in flames* because the population *rejected what they tried to do*. The population said ‘Wait, you’re serious about the sharia stuff? Uh, we don’t want to.’ and tried to get rid of them. (And in a real stable democracy, that would have been the end of it…in Egypt, everything got stupid for a bit and the military had to step in again.)

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                                      • The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t renounce violence. They just didn’t advocate it for Egypt when the Egyptian army could wipe them off the face of the Earth. One of their first acts upon taking power was to call for the release of the Blind Sheikh who was convicted for the first World Trade Center bombing, and who issued the fatwa authorizing the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

                                        They’re only moderate in comparison to other Egyptian groups like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which had argued that everyone who registered to vote must be put to death for apostasy because voting rejects Allah’s sovereignty.

                                        The Brotherhood, in contrast, was willing to use democratic means to attain power, but then of course started ruling by decree – with the goal of the complete Islamization of Egypt. They were founded on that very goal, to de-Westernize Egypt and go back to Islam, a complete system for all aspects of life.

                                        It is our conviction that the rulings and precepts of Islam are comprehensive and organize the affairs of this life and the next. Whoever believes that those precepts are only concerned with worship and spirituality is mistaken. Islam is creed and worship, country and nationality, religion and government, action and spirituality, Book and sword.” – Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

                                        So they staged protests demanding the full implementation of sharia law. You know, the law that dictates stoning women, cutting hands off thieves, and killing gays, atheists, and apostates. And of course they created a unit to carry out violent attacks, and of course they started attacking Egyptian Jews, politicians, and others. Al-Banna tried to keep his hands clean, but ever since, the Muslim Brotherhood has been factional, with some advocating and carrying out violence, and others rejecting violence because they don’t think it’s necessary to achieve their aim establishing an Islamist government.

                                        And almost since their founding, they’ve churned out Islamist arguments that convince people throughout the Muslim world of the need to struggle to advance Islam and implement sharia. They are one of the key sources of radical thought, jihadist fatwas, and other nonsense that keeps the Middle East a hotbed.

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                                        • One of their first acts upon taking power was to call for the release of the Blind Sheikh who was convicted for the first World Trade Center bombing, and who issued the fatwa authorizing the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

                                          Uh, no.

                                          Morsi said, right before he took office, that he *would* work to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, which the Muslim Brotherhood clarified would be for humanitarian reasons and they would not attempt to vacate the criminal convictions. (Omar Abdel-Rahman was technically a wanted man in Egypt also.)

                                          Morsi *never actually did* that. At no point did the Morsi Egyptian government attempt to have him freed or even extradited, as far as anyone can tell.

                                          So they staged protests demanding the full implementation of sharia law. You know, the law that dictates stoning women, cutting hands off thieves, and killing gays, atheists, and apostates.

                                          Wow, they sound like they were trying to be almost as bad as Saudi Arabia. Or Iran.

                                          And of course they created a unit to carry out violent attacks, and of course they started attacking Egyptian Jews, politicians, and others.

                                          As opposed to the Egyptian government before them, which also attacked politicians and others, and the Egyptian government *after* them, which has *started* attacking politicians and others.

                                          So, basically, the only difference under Morsi was…anti-Semitism. I mean, that’s not *good*, but whatever.

                                          And I feel like I should point out that violent attacks, both under Mubarak and the current Egyptian government, *have been directed at the Muslim Brotherhood* and its supporters.

                                          Which is because, and I tire of repeating this, *Egypt has no history of democracy and free expression*, and a history of instead solving political differences with violence and coups.

                                          And thus condemning the Muslim Brotherhood for failing in that regard is completely nonsensical. *Everyone* there fails in that regard. Egypt is *currently being run by the general that overthrew the last government* and got elected in a dubious election that various political parties were barred from and thus boycotted!

                                          Al-Banna tried to keep his hands clean, but ever since, the Muslim Brotherhood has been factional, with some advocating and carrying out violence, and others rejecting violence because they don’t think it’s necessary to achieve their aim establishing an Islamist government.

                                          Much like all political movements.

                                          And almost since their founding, they’ve churned out Islamist arguments that convince people throughout the Muslim world of the need to struggle to advance Islam and implement sharia.

                                          Churning out arguments to convince people of things is what political movements do.

                                          They are one of the key sources of radical thought, jihadist fatwas, and other nonsense that keeps the Middle East a hotbed.

                                          What keeps the Middle East a hotbed is that it is completely undemocratic.

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                                          • By your standards, the Nazi party is fine, too. They advocated for things, and worked hard to convince people to support them, and shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of the German government during the big European dust up.

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                                            • By your standards, the Nazi party is fine, too. They advocated for things, and worked hard to convince people to support them, and shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of the German government during the big European dust up.

                                              No, by my standards the Nazi party *shouldn’t be barred from this, or any other country*. They should be allowed to stand for election, and run candidates.

                                              And they should be blamed for what happened in Germany, whatever you mean by ‘blamed’.(1)

                                              Just like the Muslim Brotherhood should be blamed for what happened in *Egypt*…except, as I pointed out, that was pretty standard Egyptian government, so whatever. Oh noes, the people who overthrew a government by force…started using force. That’s pretty much how that always works. (2)

                                              Feel free to call the Muslim Brotherhood anti-Semites if you want. That was something new to Egypt…well, new in recent history.

                                              What *I* was objecting to was you blaming them for *al-Qaeda and ISIS*, which are entirely different entities formed without any real connection to them in any manner. That’s akin to blaming the Nazis for the Italian fascist government.

                                              1) Well, actually, any current Nazi party is mostly a *recreation* of the German Nazi party at this time, so I’m not really sure they should be ‘blamed’ per se, but they’ve deliberately taken that name, they clearly see no problem with those actions.

                                              2) As I have pointed out, there are basically *no* times, in all of history, that a violent revolution that created a government didn’t create a *violent* government, because using force is hard to stop…and, no, the US revolutionary war does not count, as that was essentially a bunch of already existing governments having a secession war, and those existing government operated mostly disconnected for *decades* before making a real singular government.

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                                    • Now, there are lots of disagreements over what it takes to be a “true” Muslim. Like being a Scotsman, definitions differ.

                                      On one end of the spectrum, there’s the whole “you only have to say once, with full understanding of what you are saying, the affirmation.” (There is no blah blah blah and blah blah blah is His Prophet)

                                      On the other end is the idea found in some of the more fundy Southern Babtist churches is idea that you have to go to *THIS* church and if you go to the Methodist one, you’re going to Hell.

                                      While I understand that (not all) Southern Babtists themselves believe that the only *REAL* Christians are Southern Babtists and there are debates over whether Methodists get a trickle of the Water of Life left over from the firehose that they themselves are getting, there’s enough room for us to say “technically, Catholics might be Christians too”, if we stand back a bit.

                                      The Muslims who argue that they are the only true Muslims shouldn’t be taken at their word.

                                      That said, there are a huge chunk of Muslim terrorists who *ARE* Muslims and their actions seem to be tied rather intimately to their religious beliefs.

                                      Maybe the flying spaghetti monster will work on them.

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                    • George is an idiot!
                      Yeah, I ain’t got no proof for that assertion either.

                      What you so conveniently don’t bother to mention is that Huma Abedin is a spy. I’ll not say how much of what you can actually find evidence for is her working under cover.

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          • In that case, Levin obviously doesn’t understand the concepts behind modern regulation.
            The ASTM and the ISO exist for good reason, even if Levin doesn’t understand them, or hold them as valid.

            Not that there isn’t more to say, but it just became clear to me how valueless and unproductive discourse on the internet truly is, whether we talk past each other or agree entirely, and that I really don’t care one way or the other what anyone here, other than myself, might happen to think or believe.
            Such extreme inconsequentiality of action I find to be disturbing.
            You are welcome to whatever illusion you choose to maintain.
            I have other things to do.

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        • MediaMatters?? Why do we need a leftist website to interpret what Levin says. He has 4 years of audio files from his daily program. It bothers me to no end that he is constantly judged by people who probably never listened to him or read his books.

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    • and then connect the dots

      And that’s where the conspiracy theory comes in.

      It wasn’t “connecting the dots.” Levin’s claims (and the Breitbart article) misstated the relevant evidence, and then extrapolated from that based on their fevered imaginings of Obama’s latest plot.

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  3. If you have “real” media pushing crap like this, you should not be surprised when people choose crap that panders to their own priors than crap that panders to the priors of the various élite along the beltway.

    The “media bias” undid itself and the vacuum was filled accordingly.

    This is going to get even worse before it gets better.

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  4. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Trump is unable to distinguish. I think it’s more that he doesn’t care. If something works for him, drives ratings, or rebuts criticism, he uses it. The fringe media outlets are exactly the outlets that his core, most energetic supporters read. So he wants to keep energizing them. They are the tabloids of this era, and Trump has been playing to the tabloids his whole life.

    Take the “wiretap” business. Well, with what came out, it became clear that somebody had been listening to some of Flynn’s and Session’s conversations. So, by making some outlandish charge based on that, he gives his supporters something to rally around. The ‘tabloids’ and twitter are his main channel to them.

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  5. The right will never have good syndicate media. You only find a few individuals here and there that are good for awhile. Reporting and journalism in itself is widely a leftist/academic occupation nourished and coveted. The left builds it’s own bias, weaponizes the quality and attempts to capture/monopolize on social objectivity.

    The escalation of this will not lead to anywhere the nation needs to be. It also has nothing to do with what a individual republic would want. This is a particular weaponized authoritarian social engineering where there are few/no good guys in sight. You want Hobbes, you get Hobbes, welcome to the Leviathan.

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  6. Trump has always been associated with racism in one way or another since he entered the public eye in the early 1970s. His first media appearances were to defend his father’s company from a law suit claiming that their apartments did not allow black residents or renters. In the 1980s, he took out a notorious ad in papers arguing for the executions of the wrongfully accused Central Park 5. He still has not repented about this and claims he was right. There is also the fact that he was an early proponent of birtherism.

    A big issue with discussing racism and bigotry in the United States is that the left and the right have extremely different notions about what bigotry is and is not.

    Whenever we discuss whether Trump or Bannon is racist or not, the defenders always seem to give fig-leaf defenses like the presence of Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, Julia Hahn, and others in the Trump White House. But the left says racism as the power of determining who is in and who is out partially. Structural racism is always a thing that the left believes in and can seemingly not convince the right about.

    In my view Trump is surrounding himself with the fringe of the fringe and still courting far right sources for favorable coverage. There is enough circumstantial evidence to show he really believes in the stuff as well.

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    • I’m not sure if liberals are even in agreement with what is and is not racism based on LGM threads. There are the faction that really wants to push systematic racism arguments into the political debate and the faction that doesn’t want to call moving the suburbs for good schools or gentrification racist because it is not good strategically at least.

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  7. Since this is probably the best thread for this, I think the complete disaster that AHCA has been shows two things to the left.

    1.) How dangerous it is to have extremists in government who are OK with blowing things up if they don’t get exactly what you want.

    2.) How underrated Nancy Pelosi is and was as a leader for the Democrat’s. Let’s be clear here, BS like this would not be happening on her watch with her party. But then again, she actually worked to get her position unlike Ryan, who was basically handed it as a makeup for not becoming VP.

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    • (2) isn’t really accurate. Paul Ryan wasn’t given the job, so much as it was forced onto him. He didn’t want it. Nobody wanted it. It’s an awful job if you have any prospects of higher office (you can maybe wrangle into the Senate if you’re not stuck there to long) because like it or lump it, you’re point man on everything.

      Every vote you own. Every compromise you own. You are not one of the Congressmen that gets to cast a vote against a bill (whose passage is not in doubt) so you can sell yourself to your constituents or appears an interest group. You are not one of the Congressmen that gets to play “Not pure enough for me”.

      You own results and the lack thereof.

      Every day in that job is another nail in Ryan’s political future. Every compromise another person adding “RINO” to his name. It’s only a matter of time before he, like Boehner, either has to choose between winning his primary or keeping the lights on.

      Seriously, Ryan clearly never wanted the job. He much preferred being “ideologically pure”, drafting budgets and bills that would never go anywhere, playing the media positive role as “the up and coming GOP idea man”. THAT was positioning him for higher office.

      Now? Now he has to get results. He has to keep the lights on. And for the ACA repeal, that meant he had to get rid of the ACA, replace the ACA, spend no money whatsoever, pass a huge tax cut, and make sure everyone had better and cheaper insurance than they did before. Or else someone was gonna take it out of his hide.

      Somewhere, Boehner is laughing and drinking right now.

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  8. I’m also going to push back on the claim that Levin is a conspiracy theorist. He’s a different kind of wrong than either Alex Jones or Glenn Beck. Though the ecosystem he created along with those two, and Hannity and Limbaugh, and their internet counterparts, all serve to create an ideological space that is toxic to the body politic as a whole, as well as to some of very ideas they want to implement (not all of which are absolutely terrible)

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  9. As I sit here listening to Mark Levin rave on about how the Democrats have nothing to offer to fix the ACA, a law passed with no Republican votes, I wonder about his lack of curiosity about where the Republican solutions were in the 7 intervening years since passage. Republicans are rightly suffering the jabs of leftist America today.

    I’ve never listened to Mr. Levin’s show, at least knowingly. One of the great joys in my life is going on a minor league baseball trip every summer with my son. He’ll be 21 this year, and we’ve been doing it since he was 10. Driving around the Midwest it’s easy to find right wing talk radio, and oftentimes it’s the only somewhat palatable fare on the airwaves. We listen and are amazed that anyone takes these guys seriously. A lot of the time it sounds like they don’t even take themselves seriously. How can anyone be that outraged all the time?

    Anyway, on to my point, buried now that it is. I’m reminded of the scene near the end of The Incredibles where Syndrome has Mr. Incredible right where he wants him. Syndrome then starts going on about how he’s risen beyond Mr. Incredible, blah, blah. Mr. Incredible then attacks Syndrome, who easily fends it off, saying, “You caught me monologueing.” Here we are, arguing about whether Levin is a conspiracy monger or not, when all he is is another right wing crank, spouting his manufactured outrage to credulous listeners.

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    • I regret nothing!

      I brought up Mark Levin on this thread because he’s the one source referenced in the article with which I’m most familiar. I used to click on Beltway Pundit years ago, but none of it stories ever interested me, so it got left behind in one of my browser-favorites-upgrades. I don’t watch Fox News, so I’ve only seen Judge Napolitano a couple of times. I haven’t listened to much Mark Levin in the past year or so, but Tod’s description didn’t seem right to me, so I asked for sources. That was 24 hours ago. None were provided.

      This article isn’t about Mark Levin or whether he should be trusted. My concern is whether Tod’s analysis should be trusted. If Mark Levin’s being a conspiracy monger is key to the analysis, then it’s Tod who put it on the table.

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      • Well, Tod has a way of overstating his theses for dramatic effect. And in this post I think he’s overstating a new thesis as cover for mistakes in an overstated old thesis.

        Add: Which isn’t to say that I disagree with the whatyacall “main thrust” of either argument. I think he’s largely correct in both. Or at least pointing at something real and compelling anyway.

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      • Meh.

        I’d be more willing to engage in this (other than a quick chiming on now) if I felt it was a made in good faith argument — though perhaps you will convince me it is?

        Is it possible you and I have a different definition of “shock jock?” Probably. I’d put the whole kit and caboodle into that bucket, including Hannity, Limbaugh, Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz, Alan Colmes, Randi Rhodes, et al. You, obviously, would not.

        I see others have linked to the things I’ve said Levin has said, and that too looks like something we might not agree on. Is, for example, saying the MB has infiltrated the US govt and the face of that is Barack Obama the same as saying Obama is a MB agent? Arguably yes, arguably no, I guess. So I’m happy to concede both of those points, if that makes you happy.

        Now what?

        You’ve still got a talk show host who created and spread an actual, real life conspiracy theory about an ex-President having illegally wiretapped Trump’s home to spy on him to win an election. That conspiracy theory is, right now as we speak, being used to make White House policy and create a Congressional investigation — despite the fact that the people who actually know about these things appear to keep telling the White House it didn’t happen.

        If you do not believe that my overall analysis is correct, then by all means say so. Give me a reason to reconsider! God knows I’ve been wring about things on these pages before, so I’m pretty open to being trig here. Indeed, I really, really, really hope I’m wrong about this, because the thought that Alex Jones might influence foreign policy scares the living s**t out of me.

        But honestly, I have no interest in rules-lawyering my posts.

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        • If the Obama White House wasn’t involved in collecting and circulating all the illegal tapes and transcripts of Trump’s transition team to the press, then who was, as nobody else was in a position to coordinate it? Given that all the Democrats were running around saying they have to expose Trump’s ties to the Russians, and given that the press was cheerleading the effort, it doesn’t take much math to put two and two together.

          From the Daily Wire, 12 pieces of evidence the press knew Obama spied on Trump and lied to cover it up.

          I’d take the first Heat Street article with a grain of salt because I have a feeling the original reporter has early onset schizophrenia (she thinks Putin is listening to her from a New York flower truck) and is perhaps a big bucket of crazy.

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          • From the Daily Wire, 12 pieces of evidence the press knew Obama spied on Trump and lied to cover it up.

            I mean, this is just really stupid fucking nonsense here:

            Everyone is aware, in January and February, that there were recording of Flynn saying things he said he didn’t say. We knew that then. Flynn was forced to *resign* over those things, for God’s sake!

            In *March*, Trump claims there is evidence that Obama tapped his phone.

            Morons then try to defend this using *the stuff we learned earlier*, which cannot vaguely be described as ‘Obama tapping the phone of Trump’.

            But…if that *was* what Trump was talking about, you do realize you just made him sound like a *complete idiot*, right?

            In your universe, he doesn’t understand what happened, he can’t explain it rationally, and he’s literally *a month* late to the party…despite somehow demanding Flynn’s resignation over Flynn’s lies *a month earlier*.

            What sort of dumbness is this? Your defense of Trump makes him sound like a total imbecile.

            Wait. Huh. Actually…nevermind.

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            • How did the anyone outside of the NSA learn that Flynn had contacted the Russian ambassador? For that information to go anywhere, either Flynn was being monitored by the FBI with a warrant, or someone in the administration committed a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison.

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              • For that information to go anywhere, either Flynn was being monitored by the FBI with a warrant, or someone in the administration committed a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison.

                Due to your attempt at cleverness, I have no idea what you mean by ‘someone in the administration committed a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison’.

                No one in the administration, as in *the people appointed by Obama*, would be able to wiretap Flynn. That is simply not possible. The president cannot, in any manner at all, order wiretaps on anyone. Nor can anyone he appointed. We set up *very clear and specific* procedures on that after Nixon, and to violate them would require a bunch of non-political civil servants and dedicate professionals violating their oaths. It is simply *not possible* for that to have happened. (And would be *insanely idiotic* to leak about.)

                There are basically two options for where that information came from. (Assuming it’s not made up.)

                1) Either the FBI (or some other executive agency like the DEA) had an warrant, either for Flynn, or the person he was talking to. Leaking that information would not be *illegal*, per se, although it could count as interfering with an investigation, and it’s a violation of FBI protocol.

                Again, the president would have no idea this was happening.

                2) The CIA, in the course of monitoring foreign agents, stumbled across a conversation those agents were having with Flynn. It is, indeed, illegal to leak such information. Those conversations must be minimized.

                And Obama could not possibly have any knowledge of any conversations like that, exactly *because* those conversations would be minimized. (And also he wouldn’t even know about them anyway.)

                But that would, indeed, make the leaks be felonies.

                #2 is the conspiracy theory currently being passed around, claiming that some CIA agents committed a felony by listening to Flynn when they legally can only listen to the other side. (Well, it’s the *sane* conspiracy theory being passed around, as opposed to the *Obama*-directed conspiracy theory, which is stupid.)

                It’s…wrong, because it doesn’t understand how counterintelligence work.

                The FBI *has already said* there is an FBI counterintelligence investigation going on. Most counterintelligence operations *start* without warrants, and then *get them*.

                To summarize how most counterintelligence starts: The CIA spies on foreign agents, which it can do without a warrant, and it notices them making contact with US citizens, which it *can’t* spy on (At all. Not even with warrants…which it can’t get anyway, as it’s not law enforcement.)…but it *can* take the other side of the conversation, and evidence of the fact that someone is in contact with foreign agents to the FBI, which gets warrants and does investigations.

                I.e., if I call up the Russian embassy and offer to sell them secrets, the CIA can (And by ‘can’, I mean ‘does’.) tap the Russian side of the call, but they *cannot* record me…or they have to redact me without listening to me, or whatever. But if the Russians, in *their* audio, agree to meet me somewhere and give me money for secrets…well, the *Russians* said that, so the CIA legally has it. And hey, FBI, here’s some audio of the Russians offering to buy secrets from DavidTC, maybe take that to a judge on the FISA court, try to get a warrant for DavidTC’s phone, and follow him around a bit.

                And if the FBI listened to a conversation using a *warrant* in a counterintelligence operation, it is entirely *legal* for them to make public information from that. (After all, the *intent* is to use it in court, where it obviously would be public.) The only thing stopping them is FBI rules. (And laws about interfering with an investigation, I guess.)

                Note there is a different, weird way that the #2 conspiracy could be wrong. Maybe the CIA did listen to a phone call that Flynn was part of, and *correctly and legally* minimize his side of the conversation…but maybe *the other side* made it clear Flynn was talking about sanctions. They cannot legally listen to Flynn, or if they accidentally do, cannot make what he said public or use it in any way…but they *can*, as far as I can tell, comment on *what the other side* said.

                Aka, by ‘Flynn discussed sanctions on those calls’, they could mean ‘Flynn made a call and the other side kept talking about the sanctions and acting like he was talking about them and responding to their comments, even though *legally* we were not allowed to hear his side of the discussion and thus did not.’.

                I mean, that wouldn’t hold up in *court*, it’s textbook hearsay. But we’re talking anonymous leaks, not court.

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                • Here’s what Nunes said:

                  First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign-intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence-community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition-team members were unmasked. Fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.

                  That cannot happen by accident, anymore than a bunch of members of his transition team can get hit by stray bullets due to a malfunctioning weapons test.

                  Note that the details had little no foreign intelligence value. Thus any information shouldn’t have even gone anywhere within the NSA or CIA. Nor was it FBI, because he calls the collection “incidental”, meaning it was picked up during routine monitoring. Nor could the FBI have a valid FISA warrant as part of a look into leaks of Hillary’s e-mails because the FISA court is only focused on preventing military or terrorist attacks on the US. They don’t do hacking or leaking cases.

                  The information, which shouldn’t have even existed as it has no foreign intelligence value, was not only unmasked for just one member of Trump’s transition team, but for many of them. That requires a coordinated action. And then the information was widely disseminated across multiple US agencies, which is itself illegal because the information can’t legally exist. That also requires a high level of coordination. A screw up that epic doesn’t accidentally happen multiple times.

                  And who issued the order to drop the classification of intelligence so that that illegal information could be widely shared across multiple agencies? Why, that order was issued by Barrack Obama three days before he left office.

                  The only possible reason he’d have to do that is to sabotage the incoming administration, and the only reason such information existed to be disseminated had to be a prior set of actions on his part, otherwise there wouldn’t have been information on many members of Trump’s transition team to disseminate, and thus there wouldn’t have been any reason for Obama’s second order. In fact, Obama had to know that the information was being collected or he wouldn’t have known it existed and he wouldn’t have known to issue that second order to distribute it.

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                  • Please pay some actual attention to the details of current events. You have built your *entire case* on something Nune said that was *incorrect*.

                    Nunes has *since clarified* to Schiff that ‘most of the names’ were masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties. (Probably because, as has been pointed out, he was *possibly involved* in some of the conversations.)

                    That is…exactly how it is supposed to work. It is not the job of the intelligence community to *obfuscate* US identities by changing information. They are merely required to *mask* US names that do not have foreign intelligence value.

                    If the person is in a unique enough position, like, oh, a campaign manager for the current administration who has someone mention that, or someone employed by Turkey who has someone mention that (Or both!), it is often trivially easy to figure out who the person is anyway. Sucks for them.

                    Edit: Of course, this raises the question of why we would believe *anything* that Nune said now, considering he originally issued such a misleading statement to start with, one that he was forced to *almost completely* back down from the most obvious assertion of wrongdoing the second anyone merely *talked to him* about it. We have no evidence that *the rest of* his comment is true, and should not assume it is.

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                    • Oh, and it is also worth pointing out that improperly unmasking names *is not any sort of crime*, despite what you seem to be implying. That is a determination left up to the people in charge of the information.

                      It is not improbable that they occasionally decided that the fact that the communication was *with a person serving on a presidential transition team* had foreign intelligence value. That seems like an entire reasonable conclusion to reach if the discussion was *about how the US person would attempt to influence US policy*.

                      You may disagree with that interpretation, hell, Nune may disagree, but *there is absolutely no legal recourse* available there, nor any charges that can be brought.

                      The CIA is forbidden *by law* from *surveiling* US person and have to ignore their side of the conversation. The FBI and FISA warrants have other rules that aren’t important.

                      But the intelligence community is merely *supposed* to mask the names of the US persons that they legally collect that are not important.

                      *Supposed to*. Not ‘is legally required to’. It is a *policy*.

                      Of course, leaking the fact that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russia *was*, as far as anyone can tell, an illegal leak of classified information, but that’s not because it involved his name. It would have been exactly as illegal to leak it if the name had been masked or not, and if the leak revealed his name or not. (A leak without revealing his name doesn’t make any sense in that particular circumstance, but I mean in general.)

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                      • The “policy” exists so as not to violate US law. You see, much of the intelligence they gather is gathered in violation of the 4th Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches without a warrant.

                        To avoid that problem, any information involving an American gathered as part of their snooping must have the American’s identity blanked out unless that American is the one being investigated for acts detailed elsewhere in law.

                        It’s not a policy violation, it’s a felony.

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                        • There is absolutely no constitutional impairment that would bar the government from keeping information about Americans *gathered from non-protected people*. Like if the CIA spies on a conversations between two non-Americans outside the country (Which doesn’t need any sort of warrant.), and those two talk about an American.

                          That is not the *American* being subject to search or seizure. There is no legal theory that can possibly interfere with the US government remembering that information and even using it in legal proceedings.

                          As *policy*, the identity of that American will be masked *unless it is somehow relevant*, but that is entirely up to the people within the intelligence community that collect and deal with that information.

                          Same with information collected via FISA warrants. FISA warrants can only target foreign spies, which means if they collect communications with Americans under them, they are *required constitutionally* to delete that side of the conversation. (Except not really, see below.)

                          And, then, after that, with whatever legally remaining conversation they might have, they are supposed to *mask* it…but this is not *required by law*. It’s a policy, they are not required to do that to any specific level. There are no legal penalties for failing to *mask* to someone else’s standard, or even failing to mask at all.

                          You have confused the two things. One, not collecting information from US persons or in the US without a warrant, is required under the fourth amendment. The other, masking names of innocent bystanders that did get collected legally, is just a privacy policy.

                          In fact, throughout this conversation, I’ve sorta been playing along with some absolutes about information gathered *from* Americans that are, themselves, not even true!

                          The courts have held that *inadvertent* data is legal, so they *don’t* really have to delete the other side of the conversation, and specifically that information gathered about US citizen that does not have any foreign intelligence value *can be held for five years*. (And note when I say it the courts said it could be held that long, they were not putting any sort of upper value on it…they just said five years was not a problem.)

                          People do not like these rulings, I do not like them, but they are currently law.

                          But that’s dubious constitutional behavior about information collected, without warrants or with restricted warrants, *from* Americans. Information collected *from* Americans is subject to the 4th amendment, and I don’t like some of the rules the government uses to get around it.

                          But that’s not that relevant here, because there basically no *constitutional* bar to the government’s ability to collect, retain,and pass around information *about* Americans if gathered from unprotected people or from the legal targets of any sort of warrant. There are laws about *specific* behaviors of that sort, but none of them seem to apply to masking.

                          However, I will point out that, as I said, you aren’t making much sense at this point anyway, because Nune *changed his story* and now asserts that most of the names *were* masked!

                          He could often figure out who was being spoken about, but, again, it is not the policy of the intelligence community to *obfuscate* information, just to simply mask the names. If that masking results in ‘After he’s elected, will _________ soften his position toward Russia’s interaction with the Ukraine?’, it’s not their problem if everyone can figure out they’re referring to ‘Donald Trump’.

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          • No, not at all. He’s an honest guy, and I don’t think he’s being dishonest.

            I do think he’s taking two small things out of a 2500 word essay that he thinks are weak and trying to argue that the entire thesis is incorrect because of this. That’s not dishonest, but it’s a kind of we’re-arguing-for-points-not-understand kind of dialogue — often popular on this site — that I don’t have an interest in engaging in.

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            • Like I said, these were the three facts that caught my eye. All three are “arguable” you say, but that’s not credible if you’re willing to treat those links as confirmation of your statements. Thus I have to doubt your research, and every purported fact in your article. I’m sympathetic to your thesis, but I’m not willing to twist or create facts to support a narrative. Maybe I am falling victim to a forest-for-the-trees mentality, I don’t know. But I’m not willing to overlook your 0-for-3 run on Mark Levin’s “similarly reporting”, at least not without a correction or a link that’s more relevant than the ones we’ve seen so far. You’d be giving me a reason to believe that truth is important to you

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