Welcome to your deep-state future

In October, the FBI Director published a deliberately misleading report aimed at influencing the outcome of the election. It worked.

On Friday, the CIA released (through a leak from the Senate) its conclusion that Russian intelligence actively supported the Trump campaign with a covert operation. Unspoken, yet crystal-clear was an even more volatile accusation – that the FBI knew what the Russians were doing and misled the public about the danger. Today Republican Senators McCain and Graham joined their Democratic counterparts in demanding that the majority leader open hearings on the matter.

It has begun.

A previous post described Trump’s election as the collapse of the Third Republic. Our idiotic new leader hasn’t even taken office. In fact, he hasn’t even won the Presidency yet, and our most powerful secret institutions are already staking claim to chunks of the rubble.

America’s most powerful internal security organization decided to interfere in the political process to influence the outcome of the election. Our most powerful international security institution has now dropped its political neutrality to influence the outcome of the Electoral College. Regardless who we inaugurate in January, the new President will carry little if any political legitimacy. Congress is a clown-show. The Supreme Court is deadlocked- by Republican design. Our democratic institutions seem to have lost the capacity to constrain or govern our deep state institutions.

We are well-beyond any Trump vs. Clinton rivalry. We are beyond partisan rivalry. We are now in banana republic territory, in which our fates will turn on the outcome of a potentially lethal standoff between rival deep state bodies. President Trump has signaled his intention to strengthen his supporters in the FBI and police. He earned Russian support for his intention to weaken, if not destroy, our military and international intelligence apparatus. It seems unlikely that the CIA will stand by while an inept goofball in the White House tries to gut their power.

If the Electoral College performs its constitutional role and denies Trump the Presidency, the outcome will likely be little better. The FBI, the Fraternal Order of Police, and other internal security institutions will be bitter enemies of whoever and whatever takes Trump’s place. They will relentlessly harass the new President and hound his appointees.

The CIA’s move in publicizing Russian meddling prior to the Electoral College vote effectively delegitimizes Trump. Whatever action he attempts to take to weaken the intelligence services will be resisted. The services will find ample political support for any legal or illegal actions they take in self-preservation. In the short term this may be welcomed as a means by which to preserve our basic international military and intelligence capability. Over the longer term, this means we will lose the capacity to influence the actions of those agencies via the political system.

All of this meddling by security services could be shut down in a heartbeat by a healthy legislative branch. We no longer have one. Congress ceased to function after 2010. We cannot look to the legislative branch for help.

After 2010, our political system ground to a halt thanks to Republican obstruction. Congressional Republicans destroyed the remaining political norms that had previously allowed us to peacefully mediate rivalries within a legal framework. They replaced those norms with raw exercise of partisan, sectarian, religious, and even regional power. Having disregarded laws and legislative traditions in pursuit of obstruction, they now have no tools by which to build legislation or restrain the ambitions of powerful executive branch players. Their obstruction burned down the institutions they have inherited.

Leadership in the judicial branch could pilot us through this crisis, but Republicans have weakened and politicized our courts beyond effectiveness. Thanks again to Republican obstruction we have a Supreme Court with eight deadlocked members. Congressional Republicans built the monster that is preparing to eat us.

Clinton supporters may be tempted to cheer for the CIA. Trump supporters may line up behind Comey and the FBI. Both are mostly missing the point. This problem didn’t start with Trump and it won’t go away when Donald Trump goes to prison or slips away into exile in some Third World hellhole. In true banana republic fashion, our fates are sliding into the hands of unelected officials more powerful than our democratic institutions.

It is extremely difficult for democratic institutions to regain control over military or para-military institutions which have slipped their leash. The Japanese and Germans did it, but only by losing a war.

Thanks to a crumbling political culture, there seems to be no force in American public life with the power and legitimacy to lead. We are left to build a way forward with the weakest of tools and no roadmap.

129 Comments

  1. House races, too.

    “The intrusions in House races in states including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina can be traced to tens of thousands of pages of documents taken from the D.C.C.C., which shares a Capitol Hill office building with the Democratic National Committee.

    The document dump’s effectiveness was due in part to a de facto alliance that formed between the Russian hackers and political bloggers and newspapers across the United States. The hackers, working under the made-up name of Guccifer 2.0, used social media tools to invite individual reporters to request specific caches of documents, handing them out the way political operatives distribute scoops. It was an arrangement that proved irresistible to many news outlets — and amplified the consequences of the cyberattack.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/house-democrats-hacking-dccc.html

    1. Thank you for this gentle counsel, Archetrix. I need to reflect more on the lessons within.

      I want to share something simpler, but also helpful. The courage of everyday people who have experienced deep, personal hurt amazes and inspires me. Act on the link or not, but what a sweet, quiet reach-out to all who are suffering.

      Keep fighting, keep pushing, keep going.

      Everytown: “Like so many of you, I worked my heart out to elect Hillary Clinton. I’ve always said that Hillary reminded me of my mom because of her bravery and her intelligence. I really wanted a gun sense champion — and a mother — to sit in the White House.

      I was as disappointed as anybody when she lost, but this (is) a movement that’s no stranger to setbacks. After the NRA’s cronies in Congress failed to pass background checks when my mom was murdered, we didn’t give up. And last month, we kicked out Senator Kelly Ayotte, who shamefully voted with the NRA that day and consistently since then.

      My silver lining is that this movement has never been stronger. Not only did we kick out Sen. Ayotte; we also passed background checks in Nevada and paved the way for strong gun laws in the New Mexico legislature. And it’s all because volunteers like you made 1.4 million calls, sent over 300,000 texts recruiting your friends, and knocked on over 100,000 doors.

      We’re not going anywhere. Over the next four years, we’ll keep fighting, keep pushing, and keep going.

      Write yourself a quick message to remind yourself why this fight is so important and why you Keep Going, and we’ll send it back to you during key fights.

      Thank you for never giving up.

      Erica Lafferty
      Daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, shot and killed December 14, 2012
      Everytown Survivor Network

      http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/nonviolent-direct-action

    1. To answer your question, let’s recount what that article says. The woman in question, Debbie, had to pay $1,200 a month for health insurance before the ACA. At that time, one could easily argue that her most pressing priority was health insurance. It was bleeding her and her family dry and, in particular, her husband’s cirrhosis would’ve been an especially crippling blow had it happened just a while earlier.

      That said, what was her priority afterwards? She talks of her community and how coal miners have lost their jobs and how it’s affected her business, ergo where Dear Leader and his supposedly great business-esque rhetoric comes in. Whether you attribute it to privilege, aspiration or whatever else, Debbie’s priorities have shifted.

      Of course if Republicans in Congress repeal the ACA and Debbie loses her health insurance, then her priorities shift again. True, the woman’s an incorrigible idiot for not giving appropriate consideration to that, particularly where her family’s well-being was given, but that’s the reality.

      1. One lesson to take away from 2016 is to never, ever doubt the power of self-delusion. She didn’t think that the GOP would take away the ACA despite 50+ attempts by a GOP lead House (and later Senate) to repeal it, multiple lawsuits filed-some of which made a lot of news when they were heard by the SCOTUS, and Ted Cruz leading a government shutdown. I think the GOP will destroy it, even as they claim to be saving the popular parts. Nevermind that unpopular parts (like the requirement to carry insurance) are absolutely necessary if private companies are going to be the providers. The only thing that has a chance of opening the eyes of people like her is more people starting to die because they can’t afford healthcare. Sad but true.

      2. I’d like to offer an opinion about that, Bobo. People who make statements like this tend to not make the effort to study how the process works. And, yes, government doesn’t get everything done that it tries to (except watch the 2017 GOP get stuff done due to their majority status), but voters return time and again, the same politicians to office – the people who are actually in control of “making sure things get done.”

        Lazy intellectual study; personal prejudices; willful ignorance and an all too accommodating Congress.

      3. What bothers me, and maybe this was Rob’s point, is the shallowness of thinking and motivation. Poor people, struggling people have legitimate reasons for concern and fear, but any rational approach to making a decision as critical as POTUS is even more compelling a reason for them to ask their candidate: How and what precisely will you do to keep your promises?

        Trump has broken faith with people like this woman because his campaign was all empty rhetoric. If he really cared about his promises and the people to whom he pledged his support, his cabinet appointments wouldn’t be the same. His advisors wouldn’t be the same. The man is an empty shell filled with spite and shallowness. He never intended to help these people. He never cared about these people. And, these people who were voting their own interests, didn’t make good decisions.

      4. “Fly, do you think her point of view was influenced by what some people say about Washington, i.e., ‘they never do what they say anyhow.’ ”

        Bobo, I have no doubt all the Congressional resolutions were for show, but those lawsuits really meant it. Remember how pissed many righties were over Roberts being the swing vote? They thought they were going to win that one. The lady in the story probably heard all that news too. The data doesn’t support her conclusion IMO. Granted, nothing has happened yet. But they can’t just keep the popular parts. They try that, and the death spiral starts. I have zero reason to doubt that they will try

    2. I read that as an article about how much the ACA actually sucked for middle income Americans. Let’s face it – it was a failure. Yes, it extended Medicaid for a lot of people and yes it eliminated some terrible insurance rules, but as a means for achieving our coverage goals it was simply a failure.

      1. I think we can all agree it was an utter failure from a political point of view. All it did was turn a lot of people against the Dems, even the people it helped. Just another example of democrats trying to help people who either do not want the help or do not appreciate it!

      2. ACA, as an insurance scheme, was always going to screw a bunch of people in favor of a few people. That’s the nature of insurance. If your house doesn’t burn down you’re a loser in the insurance game. If ACA is repealed or crippled, most of the 20 million or so people who will lose coverage will be better off. Unfortunately, a significant minority who actually get sick will have their lives ruined. When you’re dealing with a bunch of short-term thinkers, you have to take this into consideration.

        ACA’s big fault was that the subsidies weren’t big enough. That is, it didn’t rely enough on general revenues or deficit funding. You’ll notice the Republicans didn’t make that mistake with the Medicare drug benefit.

      3. Also worth noting about the Medicare RX bill, the Dems fought it because they felt it was a give away to big pharma, but once it became clear the votes were there for it, to their credit, Dems worked with Repubs to make the bill better and ultimately supported its passage. That was when the two parties still made an effort to work across the aisle. Of course, there was no quid pro quo from Repubs when Dems tried to enlist their help to improve and pass the ACA bill.

        There is no doubt that the ACA could have benefited from bipartisan work. It simply didn’t happen by choice.

      4. OK, now ask yourself why that happened, Chris. Did Republicans try to help make the ACA a better plan or did they fight it tooth and nail. America needs universal health care yet what we are promised by Mr. Ryan is “A Better Way”. I’ve read his plan and Dr. Price’s plan and it is totally clear to me that even though the ACA was deeply flawed, at least Democrats tried. I don’t get that observation from your comment. And that bothers me.

  2. This hasn’t been posted but is important. The Trump transition team wants the names of all State Dept staff who have worked on climate change. I heard tonight that the official SD response is: no. There is so much concern by scientists that critical scientific data could be compromised (i.e., disappeared) that scientists are frantically working to document and copy all research. That’s link two. Do you feel like Big Brother is about to descend?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/09/trump-transition-team-for-energy-department-seeks-names-of-employees-involved-in-climate-meetings/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.8713c3c083ea

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/13/scientists-are-frantically-copying-u-s-climate-data-fearing-it-might-vanish-under-trump/?postshare=5921481667789919&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.f2cf03a3d028

  3. Per the quest for meaningful ways to participate in politics….You may recall hearing about the TX Ed Assn (TEA)’s denial of special education services to children beginning in 2004. Though the TEA vigorously denies it, quotas were essentially kept to keep a lid on cost of special education.

    The Houston Chronicle has stayed on the TEA and the TX Legislature et al on this matter in excruciating, detailed reporting by reporter Brian Rosenthal and posted here. (There were several indepth articles that followed.)
    https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.houstonchronicle.com_local_investigations_item_Promo-2DDenied-

    To their credit, the Chronicle didn’t stop. This Pulitzer worthy reporting culminated in the U.S. Dept of ED citing the TEA and ordering the system to provide services as needed without the artificial cap established by the state to limit participation. Then the US Dept of Ed took it a step further. They are conducting public hearings in several locations in TX to allow parents, students, teachers, administrators and others, to comment. Here’s a link to this story:

    http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Angry-parents-in-Houston-and-Dallas-turn-out-at-10792247.php?t=f373f5bc6f438d9cbb&cmpid=twitter-premium

    Our Governor says TX will comply. Finally. Where will the funds come from, I wonder? Cut another program in public education? Since this practice began in 2004 and is only now being addressed, does everyone here understand the power of persistent acitivism? This reporter cared. This newspaper cared. The US government cared. The public cared. The only ones who didn’t care “enough” were the TEA. Shame.on.them. They should be prosecuted.

    Does anyone believe this citation and these public forums would have come about without this effort to publicly report what has been going on for years? Dogged journalism at its best.

    Take heart and know that activism when motivated by honest circumstances and pursued properly IS EFFECTIVE. Don’t get despondent because things are going to get very bad, but as BoBo stated: we’re better than this. We got it.

    If you have time, thank the H.C. reporter (Brian.Rosenthal@chron.com) and the Houston Chronicle Editors. Government can and does do good, and it is sometimes the only force standing between the innocent and the corrupt.

    If you want to take action, you can complain to the Texas Education Agency or U.S. Department of Education or write to your lawmaker. Disability Rights Texas is also organizing an advocacy effort. You could contact Steve Aleman at saleman@disabilityrightstx.org

    Give it a try. The practice will be good for future activism cause I promise you, greedy, mean people are out there and we will need to not only be vigilant, we have to protest.

      1. If you’ve followed the reporting on this, it has been exhaustive. multi-page articles in the main section of the paper, appearing at least weekly. Highly detailed, many attributed quotes by a wide variety of parties. I really believe the reporting is what blew the lid off this despicable practice of denying children with special needs from help they are legally entitled to. Who could do such a thing and live with themselves?

    1. A couple of comments:

      1. Chris mentioned 2010 as the time when our political system ground to a halt. The political dysfunction actually actually began in 1995 when Newt Gingrich and his band of revolutionaries seized control of the the House and began the scorched earth policies. That was pointed out in the opinion piece by Dick Meyer that I linked to below.

      I really have not been able to fully understand why the modern Republican Party is so adamantly against any and all efforts to promote the common welfare. A number of ideas have merit. One of those is the concept of “White Nationalism.” That seems to me to have some role, particularly the concept of not helping “those people”. Another has been the orientation of our taxation and economic systems towards favoring the top first percentile ever since Reagan lowered the capital gains tax and the top income tax rates. It also includes Grover Norquist with his anti-tax pledges. This has in turn led to the stagnation of the lower skilled portions of our workforce, whether blue-collar, pink-collar or white-collar. There is also the Ayn-Randian orientation of much of the modern Republican Party. All of this has led to the current situation of gross economic inequity, which along with global warming, are the major issues facing the nation.

      2. Secondly the Republicans long ago politicized the FBI. I have not researched this so I do not have an opinion on when. However, the FBI has a long legacy of being politicized under Hoover, so it was relatively easy to re-politicize, if that was required. The CIA also has a legacy of being a political institution. A lot was done to de-politicize it following Vietnam during the Senator Church era. Also after the Iraq debacle, there was an internal effort to redirect the CIA. So far it may be holding, but the Republicans have launched a major effort to bring it under their control.

      3. The deep-state agencies must be controlled. Associated with this is the necessity of bringing some comity to the government. How is a subject for considerable debate, which may be beginning. The Political Orphans community is one the leading edge of this debate. These issues have been building for some time and hopefully will be resolved during the forthcoming crisis.

      As I stated in the first comment, I have confidence that the center will hold largely because I am aware of the considerable advantages the US has both geo-politically and chiefly in its people. Several others have mentioned THE PEOPLE. This is not jingoism or blind faith. I see it every day in what our people can and do accomplish. I see it every day when I work with the considerable number of immigrants in our office from India, The Philippines, Hispanic nations and other places. Go onto most construction projects and most of the workers and many of the trades are not whites. These people are hard working and are here to get ahead. It was the PEOPLE who saved the US’ rear end during the Depression and WWII. They were hardworking and resourceful. They only needed the opportunity. The US has so far always found a way. We can do it again. Do not forget “Rosie the Riveter”.

      1. That seems to be the huge question of the age. Just yesterday I had a conversation with a man in our office, who voted for Trump. He said that he couldn’t stand Hillary, without saying why. He said it didn’t matter anyway since WA is a true blue state and his vote and his wife’s vote cancelled out. Also he said Trump wouldn’t make much difference because he would just be a single term president. He further said that if Biden was the nominee or some other real politician, he would have voted D. This guy is a white male in his late 60’s.

        I find that casual an attitude incomprehensible. There is no doubt a considerable amount of misogyny in his thinking, i.e. no way can a woman be president. But unfortunately, that seems to be the way many people make their voting decisions. It gives a lot of room for politicians to be demagogues. Trump did a very good job of exploiting this.

      2. Since I am retired, I will pose my question to you, still working (some). When people like the man you described have such nonchalant attitudes about something as serious as POTUS, do you find yourself feeling less comfortable about them sharing your work place? IOW, does this attitude of casual dismissal cross over into work habits?

  4. I have a couple of “must post” articles as well. From today’s Houston Chronicle:

    Business Section (p.3) – “Wealth Is a Matter of Life, Death and Zip Codes, by Michael Taylor, former Goldman Sachs bond salesman and blogger – Bankers-Anonymous.com. He cites a study by Swedish data scientist, Hans Rosling, who has compiled massive amounts of data to illustrate change in life expectancy of people. Taylor is from San Antonio, and he shares “this past August, San Antonio released its own powerful map showing the relationship between health and money for specific places at a moment in time.” They found: There is a 15-year average lifespan difference between wealthy and poor San Antonio ZIP codes. 15 YEARS! That’s huge! There is a definitive intersection between health and wealth, about which he raises this central question – Are we (as Americans) OK with the fact that poverty results in a significantly shorter lifespan?” He segues to the ACA repeal debate and notes that the long-term solution to increased lifespans directly relates to health and wealth, which are attributable to health care.

    15 years difference. Wrap your mind and conscience around that number.

    The second article appeared in the Business section on p.4 and dealt with an AP story entitled: Iran Seals Deal with Boeing to Buy 80 Airplanes Worth $16.6 Billion. The Iran settlement returned a good deal of Iran’s money back to them that had been held in escrow giving them the means to begin modernizing their country. They ordered the Boeing planes.

    However, “in November of this year, the GOP-led House voted to bar commercial aircraft sales to Iran in a move that could block the Boeing deal. The House action must still pass the Senate where Democrats will likely oppose blocking the sale. President Obama has promised to veto the House bill forbidding the sale if it reaches his desk before Jan. 20th. Boeing made a point of saying it worked closely with the US Government throughout the deal-making process…which will support tens of thousands of US jobs…”

    Are Republicans so filled with spite and malice regarding the Iran Agreement that they would kill a $16.6 Billion dollar sale of American made aircraft that will employ thousands of American jobs?

    Evidently. Get on those phones.

    1. “Washington is one of 30 states with a mixture of penalties for electors who refuse to follow the election results. (The punishments range from North Carolina’s $500 fee to New Mexico’s felony-level charges, according to the National Archives and Records Administration.) The other 20 states do not have penalties, and the electors are essentially freed to vote their conscience.”

      Democracy…..I am becoming a fan of a simple popular vote for POTUS….

      http://www.vox.com/2016/11/6/13540504/electors-electoral-college-washington

    2. I understand the imperative, but needless to say, such a radical move would openly invite absolutely unmitigated f’ing chaos. Trump supporters would freak the f*** out, rioting in the streets and there wouldn’t be a damn thing anyone could do to stop it. You’d have mass arrests, breakouts of violence all over the country and who knows what else.

      None of that’s to say that it couldn’t happen, vanishingly small though that chance is. We all know the Founding Fathers didn’t trust the people to elect their own president, fearing what potential mob rule could elect. If they were alive today, they’d probably be in open support of such a thing.

      Honestly, it’s an era of chaos no matter which way we go. Let’s just get it on already.

      1. I don’t doubt that some of the worst Trumpkins would riot. If they did, then call out the various National Guards and smack them down, hard. An elector voting for Trump because of a fear of possible violence is someone basically giving in to domestic terrorism. Appeasement of such people is a bad call. I honestly don’t think enough electors will flip, but I’ll admit that I am rooting for it. This situation (grossly unfit candidate) is exactly why Hamilton justified the EC ITFP.

        We have no good options- it’s a pick your poison situation here.

      2. My overriding concern wouldn’t actually be what the Trumpites would do, but rather the shattering of the people’s confidence. It only takes one time for electors to go against the people’s wishes, however screwed up they are, for them to lose whatever meager confidence they have in a system that they already believe has abandoned them.

      3. I don’t think there’s a prayer of the electoral vote denying Trump the presidency. Wouldn’t our efforts and hopes be more realistically deployed in other areas? Like working to ensure Dems don’t lose any more Senate seats in mid terms, or fighting against specific congressional actions? We may be a part of the voting majority but we didn’t win the election, and few people are ever inspired to actually do something to bring about change.

  5. So we’re broken. Haven’t you ever moved forward from a position of brokenness? I know you have. This country is full of people who carry on after life-altering events, in pain.

    We can do this.

    We in the opposition are a nation of sweeties, hard-nosed sweeties. Really. We openly talk of inclusion and shared success and arcing toward justice. That’s not weakness, that’s strength.

    We don’t gloss over the hardships, but our broad vision is one of peace and prosperity. Most humans who have lived where there was no peace and there was no prosperity would direct all their energies to getting to our vision.

    The other side used division and anger. They counted on their voters’ failure of imagination. They used indifference to trust and how it supports our fragile system from election to election. They created a very shaky world that many may be eager to leave soon.

    Say no to actions that contradict our vision. In letters, in phone calls.

    Show up at a rally now and again so that the opposition has a visual component.

    A lot of damage can be done in four years so take your vitamins and don’t give up.

    Our history tells us that letters and political pushback can change things.

    If those historical trends don’t hold up, we’ll need a new plan.

    But that’s not now. Now, take your pain and your awareness of democratic fragility and put them to work.

      1. holey moley there, tutt!

        Imagine the worst, said the guest journalist.

        How about the music in the background? Tonally appropriate for our anxieties, I think.

        (Tomorrow Never Knows – Quartetto d’Archi Dell’ Orchestra Sinfonica de Milano Guiseppe Verdi)

    1. Atsa my girl! With you all the way, Bobo!

      Remember John Bolton? Trump is considering him for #2 pick under Tillerson for State. Sen. Rand Paul says he will oppose him. I am going to call his field office and thank him and then I am going to call my TX senator offices and let them know how I feel.

      One step at a time. Steady, unwavering. Fight.Back.

  6. I remember awhile ago you wanted a better explanation of why the End of History type thinking was wrong. I think I found it. Don’t blame yourself, blame Hegel.

    “…Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel has been responsible for more sheer political stupidity than any other thinker of modern times. Across the bloodsoaked mess that was the twentieth century, from revolutionary Marxism in its opening years to Francis Fukuyama’s risible fantasy of the End of History in its closing, where you found Hegelian political philosophy, you could be sure that someone was about to make a mistaken prediction.”

    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-fifth-side-of-triangle.html

    1. Great question, Antimule. The association of uber-Republican Rudy Giuliani, former NY DA and Mayor, with the NY FBI division (which leaked info on Clinton emails investigation) is known, but undoubtedly, there are other reasons. Hope some of our NY contributors will offer their thoughts.

    2. EJ

      I understood it to be an example of the ancient principle that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

      At the moment, one cannot be a friend to America’s police forces and also its Black citizens. This means that any person or agency who thinks of themselves as an ally to the police (as the FBI is) will find themselves shoulder to shoulder with white supremacists.

      I hope the alliance doesn’t last; I’d hate to see what happens if the FBI starts turning a blind eye to white supremacist militias as some local police forces have done.

      1. Two more articles regarding Russian hacking and lack of FBI response. Clinton’s lead at the time of the Comey letter was +7. It was downhill from there. Comey needs to be investigated and held accountable for his role. But, here’s the problem: who will do this from within the GOP? The cover-up continues, unabated. Sen. Reid told it like it is – the GOP “now” is going to investigate Russian interference? So, what will they do “if/when” the interference is confirmed? Have a General Election do-over !?

        http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/12/politics/harry-reid-james-comey-election/index.html

        http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/309871-nate-silver-clinton-almost-certainly-wouldve-won-if-election-were-before

      2. EJ, I’m a police officer in the South that reads this blog regularly. I’d like an explanation as to why you think that I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with white supremacists, especially considering my father’s side of the family is Melungeon. I’ll also ask on behalf of my black co-workers.

        Stereotyping is wrong from every angle. Please don’t conflate the FBI with the tens of thousands of separate local law enforcement agencies around the country. Most local cops have disdain for the FBI.

        Statements like this is what’s getting officers ambushed these days. Us-vs-Them rhetoric makes for a good Tea Party position. I expect the posters here to be of a higher quality of thinking than that.

      3. Rulezero-

        I won’t speak for EJ but you’re right: supporting the police doesn’t automatically mean you must support white supremacists or be against BLM. For example, the Dallas police force was recognized for its engagement with the community before tragedy struck.

        I think the better argument was made at the weeklysift.com where the author described a potential liberal critique of police brutality: the cops are increasingly being used as the front line troops of a government losing popular support and legitimacy by the day. If you don’t trust the government to do right by you, you will not cooperate with the police, the most visible emblem of their power.

        So the answer to improving police and civilian relations lies with the govt improving the public’s trust in government. That includes better accountability for police who shoot unarmed civilians, but it also includes regaining those civilians’ trust in the general society’s commitment to fairness and Justice *before* they’re stopped by an officer.

      4. EJ

        Hi rulezero,

        I’m happy to expound upon my point in great detail if needed; however I am not entirely sure what you’re asking me to explain.

        In your first paragraph, you suggest that there are no race issues affecting local police. In your second, you suggest that the FBI are not tarnished by such problems, even if they do exist. In your third you suggest that even if such problems do exist, and they do affect the FBI, it’s wrong of me to discuss them.

        Could you clarify your request, please?

  7. EJ

    The paradox of the security services has always been that secrecy fosters corruption, but security services require secrecy in order to operate at all. The CIA and FBI could be made to be perfectly honest if their every move were held up for scrutiny by every citizen, but that would make them useless. Unless you’re an anarchist, therefore, you must accept that they will be secretive and therefore will attract the sort of person who will misuse that power and secrecy.

    The solution to this paradox has traditionally been to subject the security services to extremely strong scrutiny by elected government officials. This works as long as elected government – in America, this means Congress – is functional. When this is no longer true, there are issues.

    From a European perspective, there’s a second problem here: the extent to which civilian government representatives are willing to criticise the uniformed military or security services. Americans have been more patriotic than us since the 1950s, and that often crosses over into militarism and an attitude of deference towards the uniformed services. When people feel that it is unpatriotic to call the uniformed services out on their misdeeds, or fear that the voters may see it as unpatriotic, then the system falls apart.

    Is this something that you think is fair, applied to an American standpoint?

    1. I agree with all you said, EJ. American adulation of defense (whether motivated by fear or our maniacal need to be exceptional!) creates the potential for abuse in a number of ways. Most important, of course, is the lack of accountability. I think most thinking people know that covert operations do some ugly but necessary things, but ostensibly, the “checks and balance” is supposed to be both internal chain of command oversight and external elected oversight. Clearly, there is historical evidence that this system breaks down but it has been within “acceptable” limits.

      Given some of the appointments Trump has made, especially that of Gen. Flynn, who requires no vetting due to his advisory role, the president’s intelligence briefing information will be filtered by a man who has an agenda and history of bad decisions. Thus, when secret operations go “bad”, who will pursue them? Look no further than the suppression of knowledge within our agencies of Russia’s hacking into American email and overtly using the information in a way to influence our election. Senator Mitch McConnell was part of a very high level, small cache of senior officials who were briefed on this in October but declined to take action. At present, only two Republican Senators, McCain and Grahm, are supporting Democrats calling for an investigation.

      I’m afraid we are in for some bad years in regards to deserved trust within our most secretive agencies and at the highest level of both the military operation and within the executive and legislative wings. As you note, there has to be an element of secrecy for some operations to be successful, but when secrecy dominates, then things have gone too far.

      That is my personal feeling in response to your question.

      1. What I anticipate is Trump using the office to win business concessions from world leaders, thus making himself and his family even more wealthy. Democrats will complain but republicans will not. And Trump’s loyal followers will just grin.

        We are in for a very long four years!

    2. Some current commentary on American security….

      http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/12/11/trump-in-denial-about-russian-hacks.cnn

      And, one area neither of us touched upon in regards to security oversight – media coverage –

      http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/donald-trumps-real-threat-to-the-press-214517

      Also, today Sen. McConnell reversed his earlier stand against pursuing intel on Russian hacking and now says he will address it through “regular order” (as opposed to special committe) and have McCain lead the effort.

      My take on this change of heart? McConnell deferred action until after the election when it wouldn’t harm Republican candidates, now wants to control the study so as to control the scope of the investigation. McConnell is not an unbiased party here.

      1. And one more well researched blog post. My point in posting these links is to illustrate why there is so little confidence in America’s system of checks and balance of those in the highest levels of security operation. This does not mean that ALL are flawed but speaks directly to the point that political power has become more important than process or personnel accountability. Is the fox guarding the hen house? I submit it is.

        http://lobelog.com/flynns-twitter-account-follows-racists-and-conspiracy-theorists/#more-37074

      2. There are many who feel the investigation about Russian hacking and election interference should be conducted through an independent, bi-partisan investigation – special counsel rather than keep the investigation in house via the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee. This committee coordinate with the bipartisan effort, but there is concern about the integrity of any investigation that could be critical of Republican action, FBI involvement (Comey) and Majority party assignment. If this matters to you, here’s how you can proceed and how you can contact your Senator:

        “Call your Senator and urge him or her to support a robust, bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections. Call: 202-224-3121 to be connected with your Senator.

    3. EJ, you mention that the US has been deferential towards the military since the 1950’s. That is partially true. When China fell to the Communist Party in the late 1940’s and then we caught flat footed in Korea in 1950, that was perfect grist for the red scare and McCarthyism at that time. I was very young at that time, i.e. less than 10, but I can remember the scare. That of course led to the height of the Cold War during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Yet during and following the Vietnam debacle, there was a very strong anti-military reaction. I was among the returning Vietnam veterans and though I was not specifically attacked or discriminated against, I was very aware that Vietnamese Veterans were not necessarily welcome. I generally tried to blend in to civilian society in so far as possible and I was attending a major state university to was a hotbed of anti-Vietnam War activity. I did participate in some of the Marches, etc.

      I believe that following that anti-military reaction, there was a counter-reaction overemphasizing that deference and patriotism. The patriotism has actually in many cases crossed the line to jingoism. That was particularly true during the run-up to the Iraq War. That was particularly true in mostly the more conservative parts of American society. As an example of that recall the campaign against the Dixie Chicks. I believe there was a concerted effort in the conservative media possibly orchestrated by the GWB administration. At present, things seem to have stabilized so there is a more healthy mix.

      In so far as I am concerned, I strongly respect service people and veterans. I also generally support the military and their professionalism. However, I strongly feel they need civilian oversight and that they can easily demand to many resources, to the detriment of other needs. The US does have a tendency to overuse the military and to attempt to solve all problems by using a military solution. I think Obama has generally used a good approach by off-shore balancing and attempting to get regional powers to take the lead. In the middle east that is particularly true, since the at root of many issues there is the Sunni-Shia split which has lasted over a millennia.

      Trump appears to be putting the emphasis on the Middle East and China and appears to be more willing to use force. I am more concerned regarding China and Russia.

    4. My cynicism leads me to believe that Comey was basically put under extreme partisan pressure to come down hard on Clinton. He may have been given a political “offer, he could not refuse.” The Repugs were very unhappy that he did not recommend indictment originally. Then when the emails were found on Weiner’s computer that was enough to justify writing the letter to Congress. By doing so, his future career path or a potentially lucrative think-tank job would be rescued with the Repugs, if Trump won. Of course, it was already dead with the Dems.

      We also now that there is a major partisan problem with the FBI office in New York and with Giulani. I’m afraid that this points to just one thing and that is extreme partisanship on the part of Comey.

      I also suspect that the Russian connection with Trump is far deeper than is yet fathomed in the public record. The reluctance of the Repugs to actually investigate the Russian connection is puzzling. My only rational explanation is that the Repugs are so hungry for total power that they are willing to ignore it.

      In any event the Repugs conducted an extreme and unethical effort to win this election. That appears to have been successful.

  8. I’m not sure what disturbs me more: Trump going after the CIA or Democrats cheering the CIA to “save” the Republic.

    As much as I loathe trump, I will take an elected leader purging the CIA any day over the opposite.

    To any Democrat siding with the CIA to win this battle, I ask you to read more about Pakistan and its intelligence agency the ISI. That is not the road we want to go down.

    (Note, I fully believe the CIA’s conclusions but IMHO maintaining civilian control over deep state institutions is far more important in the long term)

    1. After the FBI NY coup along with leaks and threats delivered by that paragon of virtue, Rudy Giuliani, accompanied by Comey’s duplicitous actions, who knows who to trust? I don’t have any personal experience that informs me but generally I agree that people who operate under the radar worry me more than people who are elected….Well, on second thought, that kinda depends…….I’m not trusting very many people at all these days….elected or otherwise.

    2. In the end Russia’s ‘influence’ is no more than the same character debate Americans were publicly having during the campaign: Hillary’s secrecy and internal finangling against Trump’s very public and outright fecklessness and dumbassery. Americans chose Trump’s public and outright fecklessness and dumbassery, because they’re tired of complex issues having complex solutions with complex side-effects (also known as ‘the establishment), and a large proportion of them, correlatively to their level of education, are racist.

      The wonk side of me wants to see the Electoral College undermine Trump, triggering a Constitutional crisis that ends up in the hamstringed Supreme Court, where some very grumpy Justices start laying down the law (whichever it turns out to be). But the practical side of me knows that will do more to destroy American’s faith in ‘the system’ than anything Trump has done thus far. The cynic side of me realizes that Trump can do more in four years to undermine American democracy than the Electoral College could do undermining Americans’ faith in it in a single go. There is no good solution there.

      The same thing is true of this CIA situation. I know of no real policy or procedure to do anything with the information of Russia’s involvement that would consequently result in ‘changing the results’, and even if those procedures exist, the mere act of executing a procedure would cause significant and irreparable damage to the system it’s trying to save.

      The fate of 320million people has been determined by a margin of 100k in only a handful of states: American democracy as we know it is no longer stable. The United States has to live under the same threat of illiberal demagogues with each election as most developing countries do. Halas.

      1. Yes, even knowing Russia hacked illegally and deliberately manipulated the information to help Trump – what can the US do about it? For that matter, the cynic in me wonders if this isn’t a little payback for all the hacking the US has done in other governments, not to mention outright coup assistance.

        Like I told WXWall – don’t know who to trust and inclined not to trust anyone of them. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t kind of thing……which you obviously understand.

        If you really want to tear your hair out tonight, read this:

        https://medium.com/@nick_sharp/what-i-saw-at-the-michigan-recount-7c46fdc87243#.q79skgsse

      2. I’m inclined to side with the wonk angle here. There is going to be damage sustained no matter which of the possibilities you mentioned come to pass. The SCOTUS has educated, level heads. I suspect that at the very least Roberts and Kennedy have to be appalled at all this dysfunction.

      3. You are correct that American’s are tired of complex issues, with complex solutions with complex side-effects. Americans want simple bumper-sticker type solutions and do not want to take the time to research or understand a problem.

        That no doubt explains why it takes Americans so long to come to grips with a problem. As Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else.” “Everything else” is always portrayed as a simple easy solution. That is what Trump did during the campaign. He portrayed the wage stagnation and poor employment opportunities for blue collar workers as a very simple and easy problem to fix. Just “jaw-jaw”, eliminate trade agreements, enact tariffs, do away with the ACA and presto paradise would appear. But only he could do it!

        That tendency to delay coming to grips with a problem no doubt also explains why a overwhelming Congressional majority has always been required to enact progressive reforms.

      4. “That tendency to delay coming to grips with a problem no doubt also explains why a overwhelming Congressional majority has always been required to enact progressive reforms.”

        That and an impenetrable moral reluctance to serve the least of us……

      5. The issue of politicizing intelligence may well be disastrous. Trump has shown that he views Islamic Terrorism as an existential threat to the US. Likewise he seems to view Iran as a major threat, if not existential. To combat these threats he is essentially willing to suspend the freedoms of free speech, religion and to create a Muslim registry. In reality, the instability in the Middle East while serious does not threaten the existence of the US. Rather most of it currently stems from the millennia old Sunni-Shiite conflict and to a lesser extent the conflict with Israel. The only real solution is for the Middle Eastern countries to reach a conclusion. The other issues such as modernization, authoritarianism, lack of opportunity, etc also contribute, but those are not the main show.

        Russia has suddenly become a friend, even though it is the only nation that possesses sufficient nuclear weapons to destroy the US and is threatening Europe. Could there be personal financial motives???

        Similarly, China is only an economic issue, not a geo-political issue. Only Trump can resolve this because he is so smart!

        Of course Trump is so smart so he does not need to listen to intelligence. That in itself shows how stupid he is.

        Bush 41 politicized intelligence, leading us into Iraq. That was bad enough, but what Trump is doing is far worse.

        But, Trump offers a simple solution and Americans love simple solutions!!!!!

      6. One point where we disagree is that China is an economic not geo-political issue. The actions they are taking to build floating island that can serve in number of military purposes, are also viewed by neighboring countries as politically threatening. Does this China-made island imply rights to the waterways surrounding it? Japan and S. Korea feel that it is threatening…

      7. Mary, I was being sarcastic and speaking from what I perceive Trump’s viewpoint to be. I was not careful in my choice of wording. I apologize.

        I definitely view China as a significant geo-political threat, as I have indicated numerous times in this blog.

  9. Hello, Chris. I have followed your blog since this summer, and very much appreciate your thoughtful analysis of conservatism, the rise of neo-Confederates in the Republican Party, and the state of America today. Your writing is insightful and inspiring.

    I am aware of the crisis facing our nation today and want to get involved in resisting the worst that is to come from the Trump administration and our federal government that has been wrecked by shameless, power-hungry Republicans. As a college student in California, I want to know what are the first things I can do to help in our ominous situation. I have already asked my parents to avoid giving me the usual material gifts this Christmas (excepting what I need for my post-college career) and to instead subscribe to the Washington Post and donate to the NRDC, the SPLC, and the Trevor Project. I also am finding the e-mail addresses and phone #’s of my local politicians, and plan to interview the mayor of my college town about how she got involved in political activism and what I can do to get involved in political activism against the Trump administration.

    There’s already many resources on this site alone for how to join the fight against our corrupt new regime, but are there any other first steps can I take before year’s end to get involved, especially given that I live in lily-liberal California? How, for instance, can I learn about how federal or state policies will affect my local community? As bleak as our current situation looks, if people like me – a quiet, mind-my-own-business student who never seriously considered serious political activity before – can stand up, I am sure America will survive.

    1. Bravo Solid Karma! And, welcome to Political Orphans…One suggestion – since you are in college, do you have a campus newspaper that students and faculty read? If so, that might offer a forum to offer constructive comments about the good things happening in CA and possibly list some concerns you may have about how CA’s progress may be impacted with different leadership in D.C.

      Chris will have ideas and Griff who posts here often is also a CA college student and he can offer some ideas as well. There may be some campus organizations who represent issues you are particularly interested in that you could join.

    2. Welcome. You mention trying to find a source of information on state and federal laws that affect you locally. I’m looking for the same thing.

      My local paper seems to publish things after the fact, which doesn’t help.

      Anyone know of a resource for this?

      I’m going to call my local paper today and see if they have anything. If they don’t, I am going to suggest that they start one. Perhaps newspapers in atates should band together and publish one insert that could be put in all of their papers.

      1. The problem is that’s too broad a request. Local and state policies are specific to certain situations. A simple google search on a specific area – say, OWI, should populate with links to rules/laws.

        Or, am I missing the intent of the question? If one is looking more broadly, say environmental laws, again, you would need to focus on the specific area of interest. Be advised that there is a difference between laws/regulations/ and customary practice…The latter being much more difficult to ferret out.

      2. “My local paper seems to publish things after the fact, which doesn’t help.”

        Plus there’s that (obnoxious as fuck) “While you were distracted, x y z happened’ posts on Facebook or the “slipped anti-abortion stuff into family leave bill” stuff and so on.

        Maybe we need a transparency law that all state and federal legislatures have to publish a statement about what bills they are voting on in any metropolitan area in their jurisdiction over 50k populace two days in advance of the vote, leaving time for people to call in and express their opinions on the vote.

    1. Stephen, that was an interesting read. So much to absorb. Here’s a corollary read that I think you’ll find equally interesting. What’s common to both articles is focus on how to share success. Let me know if you think the two articles sync well.
      It’s heartening to read that there are solutions for the income divide that is ripping our nation and our politics apart. Of course that assumes that political leadership “wish to share” not hoard.

      http://evonomics.com/fixing-markets-mariana-mazzucato-lynn-parramore/

      1. From your article.

        “Companies prefer to put money in the pockets of shareholders or to hoard cash rather than to raise wages or invest.”

        In one of my first jobs the boss a small businessman at Christmas time gave me a large bonus. I asked him why? His response was it was either invest it in his company, give it to his employees who helped him earn it or pay it in taxes. This was before Reagan’s conservative revolution of tax cuts and supply side economics. A good part of why workers have been short shifted over the last forty years is because of misguided tax policy. We badly need tax reform just not what Trump and GOP leaders are intending.

  10. Funny I heard the same type of gloom and doom among very conservative co-workers in 2008. That we would never hold another election and Obama would declare himself President for life. And some garbage about taking guns and internment camps.Somehow we muddled through. Power in the United States is very fragmented. We are a Republic and states hold the most power over our lives. They are for the most part not that screwed up. The military is composed of citizen soldiers and they take an oath to the Constitution not a individual. Every two years we hold elections for congress. Tom Feeney was my congressman until he got caught up in a scandal and was dumped for a Democrat. My district is very Republican. Obama won in 2008 because of the mess Bush left. And two years before congress went Democrat because people were unhappy. Congress is the people’s voice and we can turn it on a dime. during the Great Depression we came close to Fascism and Socialism. World War Two we fought two wars on two different fronts with powerful empires. And the Civil War we almost split into dozen of Banana Republics which would of been the outcome if the South had won. During the War of 1812 we had a major power Britain invading us on our home soil. Our capital was burned. I am not minimizing the danger we are in or the damage that can be done. Just saying to take heart we will get through this. In the end this is a war against enlightenment and about returning to Feudalism. I know Americans and we are not going back to that. We are a nation of immigrants who took a big chance and came here. The most adventuresome, toughest and aggressive among mankind. The oligarchies are not going to win. They may unleash something they wish they had not. We are at our best when our backs are against the wall. A time like that seems to be coming.

      1. Just to make it clear, when I say “ITS PEOPLE”, I mean all the people of the US from those whose forebears arrived prior to the American Revolution, including Native Americans, and including those whose forebears arrived in slave ships to the most recently arrived immigrant, whether documented or undocumented. They are all part of the concept of America and contribute to that vision.

    1. “Funny I heard the same type of gloom and doom among very conservative co-workers in 2008. That we would never hold another election and Obama would declare himself President for life. And some garbage about taking guns and internment camps.”

      Honestly I’m beginning to think the reason Republicans are so paranoid about power is that they fear that other people will do what they themselves intend to.

      I’ve never seen the Democrats threaten to shut down the government, refuse to even review a Supreme Court nominee, hold the entire US debt hostage, and when people complain start yelling about ‘patriotism’ and ‘rule of law’. These are Republican actions. We’ll see, over the next four years, if the Dems go so low. But the right now the party that seems to have the most illiberal reactionism to literally everything is the Republican party.

    2. I’m much more wary than you. No empire has outlasted the test of time. Every single one has failed. Perhaps our time has come too.

      Yes, America has survived the catastrophes you mentioned, but that’s called survivorship bias. Plenty of nations have failed for far less reason, and only in hindsight will we be able to know if America survives this latest assault.

      Personally, I view this as a slow boil. I look at how much we’ve already lost. Just think of where we were in the 90s: communism had fallen. Democracy and capitalism had won. Japan had tripped and we were again the dominant economy in the world. It was the apex of Pax Americana. I think history will judge the post-Cold War foreign policy achievements of Bush I and Clinton as rivaling our successes of the post-WWII era (a pacifist Germany and Japan, the Marshall Plan, etc.). And they were entirely due to our global respect and trust.

      Now look at us. Can you imagine anything like the original Gulf War coalition put together by Bush? Saudi Arabia promising to protect Israel against missiles launched by a fellow Sunni, Saddam? Or disarmament, where we convinced Ukraine to hand over their Soviet nuclear arsenal by convincing them that closer alignment with Western Europe was the better course? Heck, we convinced Russia to peacefully allow former Warsaw Pact nations to join NATO and the EU while simultaneously reassuring them about their own security.

      20 short years later, we’re staring at a needless war with Iran and a potential war with China, headed by a leader that, far from inspiring trust, we hope most countries will simply disregard.

      20 years ago, America served as an example to the rest of the world of what they could become. Now, we serve as a warning. Pretty soon, we’ll serve as a history lesson.

      1. WX,
        sadly you are probably right! i myself am very pessimistist about America’s future. Way too many people put carrying an AR-15 strapped to their backs more important than any other issue when they vote. Add to that a completely uninformed public and how could a democracy possibly thrive.
        Something no one ever mentions but how can a society thrive when 38-40% of children are illegitimate. i do not look at this as a moral issue but one of simple economics. Children born into poverty have a much less chance of getting a good education, which we all know one needs to succeed today!

      2. yes! I was never good at spelling. I am not saying that all children have to have two parents. things happen. But what i see is a trend away from marriage being needed to have children. a third of the Florida budget is medicaid. A lot of that for children born to unwed mothers. These children grow up in poverty, not much education. Their futures are not unlimited. Jobs scarce, certainly not high paying.
        I do not know what the answer is to this problem.

  11. You should just come out and say it, Chris. The Republic has failed and the Constitution itself is the catalyst that allowed it to murder itself.

    I’m not trying to be a prophet in the wilderness bringing portents of doom and gloom, but I honestly believe this. I actually had a conversation with one of my co-workers. I told him that we would be old men sitting on our porches, talking about the country that we used to live in.

    I’m not going to make any phone calls or send any emails. It does no good because I don’t have enough money or influence to change anyone’s mind.

    I’m going to try and move my family to Washington state soon, with any luck. I’m going to withdraw as far as I can and hopefully ride it out.

      1. I’m currently in the final stages of my background which is a very odd and esoteric ritual. I’ve passed all of the requirements apart from that. There’s a very good (not certain) chance that I’ll be up there by May of next year.

        I love the South. It’s my home, my people, my country. But, I have to go where I think my family will flourish the best.

        Maybe we’ll get to meet each other. You can make fun of my accent.

      2. Georgia, right? The “old south still lives in GA”! What a drawl….

        I think you are making a fine decision for the right reasons for yourself, your profession, and your family. Law enforcement practices in the south are fraught with self-inflicted problems and despite the good work of the SPLC, seem to be perpetual.

        You’re a good man and will make a great addition to whatever unit you join. Hopefully, they will appreciate you and reward you as deserved. Keep being a role model for excellence in the profession. I hope if we ever meet in WA, it’s not on the side of the road (-;

      3. rulezero, did you happen to catch this story about liberal comedians with deep southern accents?

        The article contains a link to a video.

        Yes, the comedian does have a wonderfully thick accent that make me love him.

  12. Chris, aren’t you getting a little paranoid here?

    Did the Russians convince Hillary to set up a private server?

    Was Putin actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign along with Debbie Wasserman Schultz?

    Was Donna Brazile feeding the Clinton campaign questions to be asked during the debates or was it the Kremlin?

    I suppose it was Putin who planted government related emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer. It couldn’t have been Huma …

    Then there is the matter of John Podesta’s gmail account. Those dastardly Russians must have planted all those embarrassing emails!

    While it is disturbing to think that a foreign government would try to influence an election, let’s not forget the carelessness and incompetence of members of the Hillary team who practically handed the Russians proof of their unfitness to lead the American people.

    1. Virtually everything you said misses the point, instead opting to dump on Clinton’s very real mistakes and somehow leapfrogging to the conclusion that aforementioned mistakes equate to being unfit to lead, notably ignoring the reality that Trump is, in virtually every conceivable way that matters, so much worse.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Objv. You said you cheerfully voted for Trump and you own him and everything that he does. No amount of diversionary Clinton bashing will save you from that.

      1. Ryan, I replied to you about my attitude toward Trump, but I’m not sure you read my comment since most commenters had already moved on to Chris’ next topic. I’ll find and copy my reply if you’d like.

        I don’t “own” Trump. Americans were given two candidates that the majority of people didn’t like. The election was like a person who hates vegetables choosing between broccoli and Brussel sprouts. I chose broccoli and broccoli won.

        Shame on the Democrats for putting Brussel sprouts on the menu in the first place. 🙂

      2. There’s nothing left to discuss about this, Objv. You voted for a candidate and you own him, like it or not. Feel free to make all the excuses you want. It reveals you as nothing but a coward trying to escape responsibility.

        Have a nice day.

      3. Ryan, Good evening. I would say that it’s the Democrats who are trying to escape responsibility for Trump.

        The Democrats ran a horrible, dishonest corrupt candidate. The DNC and Hillary campaign tried to influence the election through the media first against Bernie then against Trump.

        When they were caught, they blamed the Russians. They blamed Comey. They blamed racism. They blamed everyone besides themselves.

        Now, you blame me. Good grief. Democrats will continue to lose elections unless they start taking responsibility. Some introspection, maybe?

      4. You voted for a fascist.

        You could have voted for a boring technocrat with thirty years of baggage, but you didn’t like her. Okay fine.

        So you could have also voted for an unaffiliated billionaire who ISN’T a fascist, or a former governor libertarian whose Aleppo gaffe is still not as stupid as the fascist’s, or you could have voted for the down-ticket resistance to the boring technocrat you hate and not voted up ticket.

        But you voted for a fascist. Some introspection, maybe?

  13. What a mess! But we need to be honest here! The people who voted for Trump did it for reasons other than what is best for this nation. Whether it was because of racism, greed, hatred of democrats, or, like most of my family, because they are Republicans first, they voted for a man with flaws way beyond anything we have seen in a President possibly ever!

    And, while i am no shrink, I believe Trump has no sense of how flawed he is. He struts around not caring about the consequences of his actions,!

    Today i watched a clip of an interview where he said he didn’t need daily intelligence briefings because “I am a smart man!”

    This country lasted 240 years and had a great run! Trump has let the genie of racism, bigotry and greed out of the bottle! I do not see how you get any of that back in.

    Chris, thanks for the post!

  14. I don’t know how to respond in a hopeful way to this post. I agree with everything Chris has stated. The only dispirited addition I can offer is to note that 46% of eligible American voters chose NOT to vote. I have been convinced for a very long time that the Republican Party and those who support it for their own special interests (Koch, Norquist, NRA, etc), will not be satisfied until they have destroyed anyone and anything that doesn’t comply with their agenda. “Their” America doesn’t resemble “my” America, but they’re fighting with nuclear weapons compared to my sling shot.

    Yet, do we simply acknowledge and roll over in acceptance of this fate? I have to join with TMerritt in hoping that people will rise up even as I accept the horror that I know is coming. The next 4 years will see democracy gutted. So, again, what steps must we take to protest, fight, overcome the forces of evil? It begins within each of us making personal stands, doing what we can individually and collectively to fight back. Calls, letters, more calls, visits, staying current, knowing the issues, more calls, letters, visits.

    There really is no choice but to fight back, each of us in our own way. We have children, grandchildren and a shared environment to protect. Doing nothing is not an option. We’ve talked about action. The time is now.

    1. Mary,

      I do not see how “the people” can do anything to stop trump and his rag tag bunch of cabinet members. It would take a Republican party with leaders with ***** to stand up to Trump. And i do not see that happening. the Republican leaders, especially McConnell, have been instigators in all this. they have encouraged all the birther talk, allowed their people to call Obama names like liar, etc.
      The Republican party has turned from people who want to govern to people who want quick, immediate power! they seem to have no interest in the future of this country! all they care about is winning and not governing! and of course, what is best and most profitable for their backers, the rich, the billionaires!
      Add to that the fact that millions of people voted for Trump knowing his obvious outrageous, his penchant for lieing at will, etc. these people will never believe anything bad about him.

      1. Do not fall into despair. If Americans come together and engage in the political process, there is much we can do. As we are right now, all we are are people who come out to vote every two or four years. Those among us who actually get engaged and speak their voice on a regular, even weekly basis is pitifully small.

        This. Has. To. Change.

        And while it’s true that we can’t stop everything, ultimately the story of what damage Trump and his entourage brought on us and this country will be determined by what we do right here, right now. Don’t underestimate yourself. Even five or ten minutes of your time a week can make a difference if you use it right.

      2. What I believe each of us could do are three actions. They could be as simple as making a phone call to express your concern to your elected official, writing a letter to them, or visiting their field office if it is close by. This is within everyone’s reach – doesn’t require much money or influence – just an honest, direct, personal effort. As Ryan said, if each of us commits to an action or two or three each week, it adds up.

        If you call your US Congressman’s office, try to speak to the staff person who runs the office. Ask who that is and if they are available. It is highly unlikely you’ll ever get to speak to the elected official, but what’s important is that you talk to someone on their staff. Be specfic and brief. Tell them how you feel and what action you would like them to take on your behalf. Give them your name, tell them where you live so they will know you are their constituent and a voter.

        Letters are effective if they are timely, concise and most important, on point. You can submit them to the editor of your local paper, the major newspaper in your state, and directly to the elected official. If you do the latter, follow up with a phone call to discuss the letter with staff. If the office is close to you, make an appointment and go in for a visit.

        All Congressmen and women host public gatherings when they are not in session in Washington. Call their office and find out when they have a forum scheduled, where and when it is to located and if you can attend. There is usually no problem, but they’ll clarify that.

        If you learn of an associate or neighbor who is not registered to vote, offer to help them become registered. Find out what documentation they will need, where to go and offer to take them if they need assistance. More than likely, when elections come around, they will talk with you about their voting choices.

        Now, imagine if 100 people did 3 things each week or each month, whatever they have time to do. And they helped encourage more people to do three things…

        I rarely use FB but I have started posting links and stories that support my beliefs and my political views. If nothing else, it lets friends and family know what is important to me and provides an indirect way of communicating information that might be awkward in person.

        These are just a few ideas but hopefully it will encourage you to try to help. Anyone who follows this blog has an advantage – Chris Ladd offers up to date, well thought out posts that make us all better informed than the general public. The many fine contributions and links offered by other commentators here add to the wealth of information you get simply through following Political Orphans. Use the information to make a difference.

  15. I’ll be interested to see the various comments to this post.

    Somehow, I have confidence that the center will hold and that America will emerge stronger from this crisis. But, I cannot deny everything that Chris stated is true.

    I am reminded of a remark that Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary. made as Europe slipped into WWI, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

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