Trying to have it both ways. At the same time.

George Neumayr: Yes, Obama Did Investigate Trump – “After all the parsing at the Comey hearing, that remains the bottom line.”

Straining at the tweet and swallowing the camel has become Washington’s favorite pursuit, and it was on tiresome display at Monday’s Congressional hearing with Jim Comey. Out of it came two clashing headlines: “Comey Denies Obama Ordered Wiretapping on Trump,” “The FBI is Investigating Trump’s Links to Russia.”

In other words, the core claim underlying Trump’s tweets is true: people acting on the authority of Obama opened an investigation into Trump’s campaign, then criminally leaked mention of it to friendly news outlets in an attempt to derail his election. When is Obama going to apologize for that?
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Notice that even the shorthand of the media’s headlines bears out the shorthand of Trump’s tweets. Some of them say that the FBI is investigating “campaign associates,” but others say that the FBI is investigating “Trump.” For all the partisan angling, blather, and word games, Trump and these newspapers finally agree: Obama was investigating him.

Roger Kimball: The Nothing Burger Gets Flipped – “I did learn something about the possibilities for political grandstanding that such meetings afford.”

Democratic representative after Democratic representative used his or her time not so much to ask questions but to deliver little sermons on the perfidy of Donald Trump and various people associated with his campaign or administration …

It wasn’t quite “Are you now or have you ever been . . .” but it was close. …
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My own feeling is that the Dems must be very, very worried to go down that street. And what did it all add up to? Nada. Which is to say, rien. Nichts. Zilch. Nothing.
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There actually was one bit of news. If you are looking for a crime in this whole scenario, the one crime we know was committed was when someone “unmasked” Mike Flynn’s name and leaked it to the press in connection with a couple of exchanges he had with the Russian ambassador. That, as was stressed by Republican interlocutors as well as by James Comey, was a felony punishable by up to 10 years in the slammer.

Joel B. Pollak finds a different nugget in the hearings.

The mainstream media have been doing a victory lap since the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) confirmed on Monday in testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that President Barack Obama did not wiretap Trump Tower. But that was already known.

There was only one new revelation at the hearing, and it was a bombshell: senior Obama administration officials could have known the identities of surveillance targets.
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Monday’s hearing “debunked” Trump’s wiretapping tweets, but left his underlying claim intact: that there was surveillance of the Trump campaign; that the results were shared throughout the government — even possibly reaching the Obama White House; and that intelligence was leaked, illegally, to the mainstream media.

John Sexton notes a Putin critic to Democrats: Don’t let the Russia story become a ‘crutch’ – “Democrats have already posed a whole string of unworkable solutions to undo this election—from recounts to Russia.”

Politico Magazine published an interview with Masha Gessen Monday. Gessen is a journalist who has written a book critical of Vladmir Putin, but today she warns that Democrats seem to be heading down a dangerous political path in their attempts to resist the Trump administration. Interviewer Susan Glasser asked Gessen about falling into “the conspiracy trap.”

On misdirected debates, consider NEA funding (now that the Meals on Wheels Fake News is fading). Jazz Shaw says The Left remains confused about why there is opposition to NEA funding – confused it may be but it is definitely trying to argue a debate by changing the subject.

The arts, like everything else in society, can rise and fall on their own merit. The reason that we don’t have tremendous federal funding supporting the creation of blockbuster Hollywood movies is that such offerings tend to be popular and the business of making them is profitable. Creating paintings, sculpture, poetry or theatrical performances may not be as profitable, but if it has value to sufficient people, patrons may be found to support the work. If no such patronage is forthcoming then perhaps the “art” is better left to the lonely artist toiling away in their studio.

If we are going to have to have this debate all over again perhaps we could leave Robert Mapplethorpe out of it this time. It’s really not about him or the “piss Christ” or Andy Warhol’s paintings of soup cans. It’s about the government’s responsibility to handle taxpayer dollars with care and in an appropriate fashion.

It also looks as if the ‘Anita Hill” gambit is being pursued on the Gorsuch hearings. Ed Morrissey says Of course: “Former student” attacking Gorsuch also former Udall aide – “Margaret Hartmann’s article neglects some important context — as do the quotes themselves.”

This has become part of the tradition in Senate confirmations generally, and in judicial confirmations in particular — finding any remark that can be twisted out of context into making a nominee look bigoted or biased. Perhaps that propensity in judicial nominations comes from the heavy reliance on colloquy using hypotheticals in legal education, but it also appears in other confirmations as well. It’s part of a disturbing trend since Robert Bork that requires presidential nominees to be as bland and opinionless as possible, rather than focus on achievement and perspective in a healthier manner. The unending “gotcha” games have turned the confirmation process into a character-assassination endurance arena that leaves everyone damaged in the end, not the least of which is the American public.

The contradictions in what is in plain view are incredible.

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