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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Sound and Fury over “Fire and Fury”

Uploaded: Jan 5, 2018

This drama of potentially Shakespearean scope is moving pretty fast, but here’s where we seem to stand as of this writing:

o A sensational book that widely disparages the President’s fitness-for-office has been authored by a man who had access within the White House;

o The author claims to have interviewed Mr. Trump, and to have audio tapes to back-up many of his statements and descriptions;

o Pre-publication promotion included incendiary remarks from Steve Bannon, when he was Chief Strategist of the Trump administration, notably describing a campaign meeting among top campaign officials and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous,” and specifically belittling two of Trump’s progeny;

o Mr. Trump has reacted by questioning Mr. Bannon’s sanity, minimizing his influence at the White House (was there a Super-chief Strategist?) as well as his contribution to the election, and criticizing his support for evangelical pedophile Roy Moore (whom the President also loudly endorsed);

o Mr. Trump then commissioned letters from an attorney, threatening legal process for libel if the book gets published, and a breach of a campaign NDA if Mr. Bannon persists;

o the publisher responded by accelerating the book’s publication date to today.

So, we don’t yet know whether Macbeth’s strutting idiot is the Prez, Mr. Bannon, the author or some combination – but we do know the following:

1 – the book, whose ‘Fire’ has been stoked by Trump’s bellows, will be a massive best-seller.

2 – its ‘fitness’ claims are not inconsistent with numerous prior statements attributed to high-ranking officials, including the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor.

3 – Trump is bluffing, yet again. He cannot seem to recognize the difference between threatening to tie-up defenseless building contractors in protracted payment litigation, and actually suing those who can fight back. We know he’s bluffing because:

4 – his libel threats are ludicrous, as his quite-capable counsel must have advised him. Actually filing such a suit would subject him to the pre-trial discovery process – imagine the glee with which defense counsel would pursue evidence – in his current residence and the one in New York. Headlines forever, and a devastating loss at the end. We know this because:

5 – Libel requires factual claims that damage the plaintiff’s reputation; truth is a defense. Many of the most damaging claims are ‘opinion,’ not ‘fact’ – even that “treasonous” meeting characterization was rendered as opinion, rather than some legal conclusion coming, as it did, from a non-lawyer. Other claims may be shown to be factually accurate.

And because Trump is the world’s single Most Public Official, he’d have to prove that any surviving false and factual claims were rendered with knowledge they were false, or at least a ‘reckless disregard for the truth.’ That's a nearly impossible standard to meet. It has been settled law for more than a half-century; based on the primacy given by the First Amendment to open discourse, versus any tender sensibilities of elected officials.

‘Many people are saying’ that such a suit is a huge loser; those people are experts in libel law and they are right.

So, what do you think, or predict? Will this case reach critical mass with all those other, similar critiques, starting a chain reaction of further consequences? Has his hour upon the stage nearly expired? Or will these new revelations evaporate like a Scottish mist - another proof of Trump’s boast that he could shoot somebody publicly in Birnam Wood, with impunity?

What about this new battle in the civil war between the insurgent Bannonite populists and the establishment GOP? Significant, or has Bannon been exposed – to be relegated back to the fringey netherlands from which he sprang?

Who will be the “poor player on this stage?’’ Does this all just 'signify nothing?'

Fire away, furiously - and on-topics!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:10 am

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

Here are your first three comments, in reverse order, transferred from the Poll blog where they do not belong:

@Resident Yes, the author says that he can't be 100% sure of all of the stories told to him not because he was careless or not thorough about his investigation but because so many people associated with Trump were obviously lying and contradicting each other in “Trumpian fashion", including Donald Trump himself.
by Sam 32 minutes ago

Sam, Headline from business insider: The author of the explosive new Trump book says he can't be sure if parts of it are true. Web Link You obviously have learned nothing from Trumps election
by Resident 1 hour ago

Well, while we've been bickering over relative trivia, there have been no comments about the biggest political story of these days: The claim by Steve Bannon that the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton was “treasonous", AND the resulting meltdown in the relationship between Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. That's a political earthquake.
by Sam 1 hour ago

Posted by Scott Hale, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:51 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

It's too bad parts of the book are untrue, that kinda wrecked the credibility of the portions that are totally true and confirmed by people in the room(s) at the time, and possibly by recordings of said.

Oh well. I vote for a Trump free news day. Wanna bet his head would explode if CNN and others didn't mention him his family or his inept staff for an entire day? Boom!

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:03 pm

The fact that an author doing an investigative piece on some current or historical subject may not be 100% certain of the veracity of all of the sources is nothing new. The author does the best that he or she can in trying to piece together an accurate version of the events.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks,
on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:50 pm

As I mentioned and linked before, the author himself as said not all was true in the book. He doesn't say what, exactly, so one can assume it's all just another hit piece that will die down by Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

Funny how all this comes just as the DoJ has announced 1.) a re-opening of the Clinton email case 2.) opening an investigation regarding political influence of the Clinton foundation 3.) congressional investigation of top management of DoJ and FBI wrt the phone Russian Dossier 4.) Fusion GPS just being ordered by a federal judge to hand over all bank statements from 2015 to date. 5.) a suspicious fire at the Clintons home. 6.) the report from the DoJ inspector general regarding politicization of said agency.

I can go on and on but you get the picture.

My uneducated guess: Steve Bannon set this “author" up with this phone baloney story to keep the circus going so that the media will focus on it, instead of everything I mentioned above.

The boom on Russia will be lowered very very soon and you might not like the outcome.

Posted by Reed L. Abbowdit, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 5, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Reed L. Abbowdit is a registered user.

"Mr. Wolff, who declined to be interviewed for this article, stands by his reporting. And his publisher is apparently undaunted by the president's threats. “We see ‘Fire and Fury' as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book," Henry Holt said in a statement on Thursday.

Mr. Bannon has not disputed his quotes in the book, even as the material has damaged him politically and perhaps professionally .... In a telephone interview on Thursday, his magazine editor added, “People sometimes don't like what he says, but I think one of the things that's unnerving about Michael is he's loyal only to the story." Of her own collaborations with Mr. Wolff, she added, “nobody ever disputed the facts that were included on a piece."

Mr. Wolff also became friendly with Mr. Trump, making a cameo in a pilot that never aired for a Trump-branded reality-TV project, “Trump Town Girls," which involved beauty contestants selling real estate. After the election, he secured Mr. Trump's trust, in part, by relentlessly criticizing other reporters' coverage of the president-elect.

Soon, Mr. Wolff was spending days at the Hay-Adams hotel in Washington, a block from the White House, where he was routinely spotted walking into the West Wing. He dined with Trump aides at the nearby Bombay Club. His book, he writes in an author's note, is based on about 200 interviews, including at least one conversation with the president.

Graydon Carter, Mr. Wolff's former editor at Vanity Fair, wrote in an email that he was not surprised Mr. Wolff “would write an entertaining book. The mystery," Mr. Carter added, “is why the White House allowed him in the door." From the New York Times: Web Link

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jan 7, 2018 at 12:28 pm

@Malcolm Hex :"From Steve Bannon - courtesy of CNN...."

That"s nice, Malcolm. But as you must already know, not even people commenting in conservative circles believe in the sincerity and truthfulness of Steve Bannon"s apology and explanation.

Downloaded the book from Amazon yesterday and reading through it now.

Posted by Scott Hale, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 7, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

There is only one person who matters here and that is Mueller. I'll wager he knew most of the items in the book previously.

End of day it is a book filled with made up stuff and very accurate quotes. Too bad author made stuff up; still, tho he'll make a bundle off the book itself.

I'm sure Trump is very worried and quite scared since Mueller and his team have no leaks as to what they are doing or about to do.....

Posted by Tom Cushing, a blogger,
on Jan 7, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

Malcolm - you are not banned, but you're heading that way because you're wasting my time. Personal attacks simply aren't acceptable. Direct your energy to the topic, not the posters with whom you disagree.

Happy to discuss via confidential email, if necessary.

Posted by NorthernLights, a resident of another community,
on Jan 8, 2018 at 5:04 am

I think its just more news. Trump will maintain his 30%, nothing new in their minds. Just more fake news attacks. Trump's lawyers will not pursue and will try to quietly dismiss the lawsuit. And the book will sell much more than it would have otherwise, and the 70% will become that much more certain that the buffoon should be ousted in 2020

Posted by Jerry, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 8, 2018 at 9:38 am

There are very few things in the book we don't already know, this just confirmed those speculations. I truly hope Trump sues and have to be in court explaining his position, but I doubt he will. He will be like Alex Jones "playing a character on TV" He is as dumb as they come, just like his voters.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 8, 2018 at 7:13 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Trumps boast to publicly shoot someone with impunity may have precedence.

Andrew Jackson before he was elected president, publicly shot and killed Charles Dickinson, Logan Kentucky May 30, 1806. Jackson was never prosecuted.

As president, Jackson begin the purge of American Indians with rounding them up and sequestering them on "reservations".

Posted by Ralph Kramden, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 9, 2018 at 8:52 am

If Wolff had written a fictional book like this about Hillary, he would have been suicided within days...

Posted by Robert, a resident of Highland Oaks,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 9:53 am

Interesting Live Meeting on Immigration between Trump, Republicans and Democrats.

Web Link

Posted by Tired, a resident of Birdland,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 10:47 am

Why don't both sides of the PW intelligentsia give it a rest. It will all play out eventually with or without the PW comments. Tired of the BS.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 11:23 am

Tired - your comment probably fits better in the previous blog that solicited your kind of feedback, but I'll leave it here because I just have to ask: if you're vexed by this manner of OpEd commentary and response, isn't there an excellent alternative to reading them?

RalphK: Hillary is so 2016. Time to move on, my friend.

Posted by Tired, a resident of Birdland,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 11:46 am

You are right Cushing, should stop reading. However this kind of BS is rampant on every type of media available. It is unavoidable. What would you do without the attention. I will follow your suggestion though, and stop reading drivel.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 11:52 am

Good luck, T. BTW, when I want attention, I can seek it from my Beloved, my daughters and my dogs. They are excellent company. :-)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 1:24 pm

How does one square this sentence from your last screed: “There might also be room for a greater civility“

With the snarkiness exhibited in your last responses to commenter ‘Tired': “I just have to ask: if you're vexed by this manner of OpEd commentary and response, isn't there an excellent alternative to reading them?“

Or this gem: “when I want attention, I can seek it from my Beloved, my daughters and my dogs.“

It seems that you either don't understand what civility means, or you mean the only ones who have to be civil are your readers who have differing opinions, because neither of your responses classify as “civil", in my mind.

And nobody believes you don't want attention.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Uncivil? Huh - I am genuinely surprised. I'll set aside a vague suspicion that I could recite the 23rd Psalm and some folks might find it uncivil because I had it last.

Instead, I'll just say that I've always been intrigued by occasional commenters who dislike a blog/thread so much that they ask me - and you - to stop writing in it. That approach feels like blaming a carpenter for building that wall where you just keep beating your head. There are better options and uses of your time, istm. I thought I asked about it nicely.

Frankly, It might work better to criticize me for not deleting this series as off-topic. I guess I was just craving the attention.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 2:59 pm

So no one wants to defend Trump anymore?

Posted by Robert, a resident of Highland Oaks,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Trump doesn't need defending.

He can hold his own.

Watch this

Web Link

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Your previous blog indicated desire to clean up your posters commentary.
I understood that desire would also include posters that tend to antagonize, entice with their commentary. Rather than post debatable commentary, they challenge and encourage hostile response with their short burst.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 7:44 pm

Amusing article by Ann Coulter on Breitbart (at least the first part of the article) about the situation with Trump and Steve Bannon now. Don't often agree with Ann Coulter, but I think she sees the present situation with Trump pretty clearly. Without Bannon, Trump is adrift:

"Coulter: It Turns Out Bannon Was Trump's Brain"
In order to prove he doesn't have dementia, as alleged in a recent book, President Trump called a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday �" and requested that it be televised.
Ivanka: Show them at your best, Daddy!

He then proceeded to completely sell out the base and actually added to his problems by appearing senile.

In a half-dozen exchanges �" which, again, he wanted televised �" Trump responded to remarks as if he had no clue what the person was saying. One senator would talk �" he'd agree. Someone else would say the exact opposite �" he'd agree with that, too.

Actual exchange:

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: “What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure? ..."

TRUMP: “... I have no problem. ... We're going to come up with DACA. We're going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive."

SEN. FEINSTEIN: “Would you be agreeable to that?"

TRUMP: “I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first."

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: “Mr. President, you need to be clear though. I think what Sen. Feinstein is asking here: When we talk about just DACA, we don't want to be back here two years later. You have to have security, as the secretary would tell you."

TRUMP: “But I think that's what she's saying."

REP. MCCARTHY: “No, no, I think she's saying something different. ..."

TRUMP: “I do believe that. Because once we get DACA done �" if it's done properly �" with, you know, security and everything else ..."

Trump was more than willing to sell out the base to solve a personal problem of his �" the Michael Wolff book �" but managed to not convince a single American that he's articulate, bright, or a good leader.

On MSNBC, the hosts didn't say, “You know, we saw a new side of Trump today ..." Instead, they could barely suppress their giggles over the great negotiator being rolled.....

(Breitbart: Web Link )

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 11, 2018 at 8:58 am

I believe that Tom loves his partner, his daughters, and his dogs! If that's not cool I don't know what is.

I don't have daughters but I do have 2 dogs and they are the love of my life. They are well trained, funny, wonderful companions, and I take one along whenever I go fishing...the quiet one.

What exactly does "civility" mean to you Resident?

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