Journal During the Trump Regime

Continuing from the last thread. 

GOP Getting More Conspiratorial and It’s Kinda Scary

Sen Ron Johnson claims "informant" who has news about the FBI "Secret Society" working to overthrow President Trump. pic.twitter.com/QzGhXBEUYD

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 24, 2018

Good Lord. Latest from Fox/GOP is claims there's an FBI "Secret Society" working to overthrow President Trump. pic.twitter.com/62Lh62xtjP

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 24, 2018

These are some serious charges, and if they have good evidence then we should know, but it’s hard not to be skeptical given the track record from the GOP (e.g., Devin Nunes taking information from the WH and claiming there was improper unmasking of Trump officials.) and Trump himself (e.g., Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower).

Besides the lengths the GOP is going through to protect Trump, what bothers me here is that there doesn’t seem to be any consequence, no loss of social censure or loss of credibility for the individuals who make irresponsible claims.

31 thoughts on “Journal During the Trump Regime

  1. There Should Be Consequences for Making Irresponsible Accusations

    Three government conspiracies the GOP have been pushing relating to the Mueller investigation:

    Here’s Sen. Johnson talking about the “secret society:”

    What bugs me is that there doesn’t seem to appropriate consequences for the people making these irresponsible accusation, not only are they either baseless or nutty, but they undermine the public trust in the FBI. If a person did something equivalent in another sphere, like the workplace or a personal relationship, I would expect them to become pariahs. But that doesn’t seem to be happening to these politicians and pundits. There’s something wrong, something broken about our politics.

    Edit

    I think this is going too far, but I sympathize with the sentiment behind this proposal (which I’d guess Scarborough meant facetiously):

    Edit: Johnson now admitting that the “secret society” could have been said in jest

    Not to state the obvious, but he shouldn’t have been so emphatic about this claim initially; it was reckless and irresponsible.

    Edit

    Edit (1/31/2018)

    Here’s a snippet about the seriousness of Nunes’s memo–not in a good way, but in terms of the damage it will do. If the memo turns out to be baseless, then it will look like Trump just approved of this in order to undermine the investigation, regardless if this released classified information or damages the trust between Congress and the intelligence community and the public’s trust of the latter.

    Edit (2/1/2018)

    Clint Watts, former FBI agent, describing how the memo could have deleterious effects on national security in the future:

    Edit (2/7/2018)

    Essay from a former FBI Agent, Frank Montoya Jr., who apparently has first hand knowledge of Clinton email and Russia-Trump investigations.

  2. Are Congressional Republicans Really Doing Nothing to Protect the Upcoming Elections?

    I saw the first tweet below, in response to the tweet I posted after it:

    Can Eoyang be right? It’s one of the many things that leaves me flabbergasted these days. I’m hoping they’re not acting yet because there’s really a lot of time, or there really isn’t much that can be done (and I just don’t realize that). Because if there is something that can be done, and they’re not doing it, wouldn’t be reasonable to conclude that they’re failing to protect our country? And why are they failing? Are they doing this so as not to offend Trump, which would be putting their political party and personal careers over protecting the country?

  3. Speaker Ryan Going All In

    If there isn’t substance to back up saying this, Ryan is being incredibly irresponsible and reckless. If there is, the Democrats should be condemned. That is, if people in DOJ/FBI behaved so improperly that a purge should occur, and the Democrats weren’t forthcoming about this, then that is damning of them.

    (This is where the scorecard thing would come in handy. It would help to show who is more credible at this point. Personally, I think the Democrats are way more credible, but I’m more sympathetic to them.)

  4. “I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity.”

    That quote comes from Trump in a PBS Newshour report . It’s a ridiculous statement that has zero credibility in my opinion. A person selecting Steve Bannon as his chief strategist is really serious about uniting the country. And I’m not even mentioning the racially controversial things he’s said. One who really cares about uniting the country wouldn’t do any of this. They’d apologize at the very least.

    And there’s something else that he said that is noteworthy:

    “Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.”

    Before this Trump also said that Americans usually come together during times of suffering. I can’t help but read this as he’s itching for some bad thing to happen, and not to unite the country, but to consolidate power. (It reminds me of several comments that made it sound like he was pleading for Chicago to ask him to solve the crime problem.)

  5. These Anti-DACA People Seem Cruel

    I’m kinda ambivalent about the set-up, here–as it seems a bit unfair and manipulative. On the other hand, if Kimmel found really hard-core anti-immigration people, and gave them a sense of what they were about to face, (e.g., “We’re going to introduce you to a DACA family, are you up for that?”) then I think this is fair.

    But I honestly do have some difficulty why these individuals are so hardline, and rigidly so. I do not buy the simple explanation that opposition is based on the fact that they have violated the law….Well, I guess there are people who actually have this kind of position, but I tend to think they are a small minority, especially with regard to sending back DACA people, telling them they should reapply. To me, I can’t see how this is not unreasonable and cruel.

  6. Trump Supporters Who Think Everyone’s Out to Get Trump Need to Ask Themselves One Question

    Has Trump done anything to warrant really negative coverage by the press, opposition by federal employees, and American citizens? To put it another way, would a reasonable person have to struggle and strain to find evidence that suggests the negative reaction to Trump is reasonable and justified? I think any reasonable, fair-minded person could come up with a long list. Indeed, the amount is so large that one can feel overwhelmed and even paralyzed when making a list. Where should one start? His bragging about being able to kiss women and grab them by p***y? Using what Speaker Ryan deemed “textbook racism” when speaking about Trump’s remarks about Judge Curiel; verbally going after two(!) Gold Star families; saying he would release his tax forms, not doing so, giving bogus reason; saying he would divest his business, but failing to do so; giving away highly classified intelligence, originating from Israel, to the Russians; calling the press “the enemy of the people;” appointing Steve Bannon, self-professed online promoter of the alt-right, to chief strategist; referring to the U.S intelligence community to Nazis; asking FBI director, DAG for loyalty; making baseless accusations that Obama wiretapped Trump tower. There’s a lot more, some of them over-the-top bad.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but many things Trump says and does can be labeled racist, autocratic, and kleptocratic. If this is accurate, all of this would justify really negative coverage from the press. It would be reasonable to expect mistruct and pushback from federal employees, especially those in the DOJ/FBI and IC because they all swear an oath to the Constitution, and Trump seems to think they owe their loyalty to him first. This is about as un-American as you can get for a POTUS.

    From The Atlantic: American Carnage

    In his inaugural address, Donald Trump declared, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” He knew it would not. We know it did not.

    “I’ll be able to make sure that when you walk down the street in your inner city, or wherever you are, you’re not going to be shot,” he declared during the campaign. “Your child isn’t going to be shot.”

  7. Trump is Giving the Country the Highest Examples of Tragi-Comedy

    I couldn’t help myself, and cracked up reading the tweet, but it’s also worth clicking on the tweet it references.

    I seriously think that moments like this are about the highest levels of tragi-comedy I’ve seen. Looking at it primarily from an artistic vantage point, it’s amazing. At the same time, it’s scary too–but I think that’s what makes it terrific (in an artistic/entertainment sort of way). It reminds of something that I attribute to Sid Caesar, who I believe said that the apex of comedy occurred when one evoked laughter and crying at the same time.

  8. Gullibility Isn’t the Biggest Problem

    Partisanship is really a big problem. To wit, people who will either believe or reject Nunes’s claims based on party (tribal) affiliation. If that’s what Sargent means, then OK.

    But a bigger problem might point back to information glut and a lack of effective filters. I say this because I suspect if asked ten people that weren’t partisan, six out of the ten wouldn’t know what to think. That is, they’re consuming enough news or getting the right information to be confident about their opinion. Therefore, either too many people are too apathetic and lazy, or our democracy is failing in terms of getting the key information that citizens need. To be fair, I guess one could argue that Nunes’s credibility isn’t a critical question to answer. In any event, I still don’t think gullibility is the problem. Confusion and uncertainty is a bigger problem in my view.

    Edit

    Actually, I think Nunes’s credibility fits into a larger issue that is important–namely, the credibility of Trump supporters and Trump opponents. Who is more credible? Are they equally credible? If one group is far more credible then the other, that’s really important in my view–more important than the credibility of Nunes (although he does chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence).

  9. Rachel Brand, No. 3 Official at DOJ, Resigns

    From the New York Times. I feel a little nervous about this. (In case others didn’t know, if Trump fires Rosenstein, Brand would have been the one in charge of the Mueller investigation. Who fills this role is going to be potentially crucial. I believe a permanent person needs Senate confirmation. Will Trump try to put in a loyal person and then try to fire Rosenstein?

  10. Mueller Won’t Save Us

    I think this is good advice–and likely to be the case. The welfare of the country depends on the 2018 election, wiping out Republicans, or “fumigating” the party as Tom Nichols writes here. If this doesn’t happen, I think Trumpism will take root in the party, and GOP will protect Trump, almost no matter what.

  11. Another School Shooting

    Edit

    Edit (2/15/2018)

    (Made in 2015)

    (Made in 2016)

    Some describe this as Trump blaming students. I don’t think he’s doing that–or he means to do that, but I can see why people think that. He’s mishandling, mispeaking, bungling the situation. Speaking as a political leader requires skill and deftness, and he really doesn’t have it–especially in situations like this.

    Correction re: number of shootings:

    Lead on, children!

  12. Let’s Track Trump’s Actions to Unify and Push Back Against Russian Interference

    These tweets acknowledge, at least tacitly, that a) unifying the country is important; b) Russian is trying to sow discord. If true, then we should watch the Trump’s actions and words–with regard to his attempts to unify the country, and avoid doing things to divide us. (So far, in my opinion, he’s been diving the country.)

    Edit

    White House spokesperson being tweeted by Russian propaganda outlet.

  13. How do you feel about Romney’s response to Trump’s endorsement?

    Trump tweeted this:

    Romney’s response:

    Even though Romney said some really bad things about Trump, I didn’t really react too negatively to this response. In the age of Trump, Romney seemed like a Republican the country could use. But that feeling started evaporating when I saw this tweet:

    If I read or re-watched Romney’s speech attacking Trump–saying things that I thought were accurate–I’d probably feel even more disturbed, maybe even disgusted. It was naked political expediency–and in one swift move wiped out a lot of his moral authority and trustworthiness for me.

    For whatever reason I thought of Hillary Clinton. I’m not sure if she do exactly the same thing, but I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. Still, does this make Romney or Clinton a bad politician? My first inclination is to say no, but in the case with Romney, I’m a my confidence is a little more shaken. The flip-flop and compromise for him just seems too jarring.

  14. I’m a little confused about what’s disturbing you. I know you were on board with the 2016 tweet. Is it the change in tone between 2016 and 2018? I read the 2018 tweet as being cautiously diplomatic, something he’ll likely be in the Senate when (not if) he gets elected. Do you see it as foretelling a Paul Ryan type of selling his soul?

    I like Romney for Utah. He should win his party’s nomination in a landslide.

  15. Brazen, naked political expediency–that’s probably what’s bothering me. In 2016, he’s saying he would never have accepted Trump’s endorsement (in 2012) had Trump said and done things during the 2016 campaign. Now, in 2018, he seems to be accepting Trump’s endorsement. It negates the authenticity and moral force of the 2016 claim, as well as Romney’s harsh denunciation of Trump.

    I understand that politicians have to be diplomatic, and they have to do and say things that are hypocritical. Generally, I accept this. I think Hillary and Bill Clinton have been like this. But this just seems to be worse. Actually, with both Clintons and Romney, I have serious questions about their fitness for office. I’m wondering if I’m wrong to accept politicians like this, if I should expect something more.

    In the end, I think Romney would be acceptable politician, maybe even better than that. But the flip-flop exposed a level of hypocrisy and political expediency that jarred me. Does Romney deserve the public’s trust?

  16. Okay, thanks for clarifying. I disagree with the “brazen, naked political expediencey” thing, and I don’t see a flip-flop, but I don’t blame you for reading it that way. It would probably have been better for him not to say anything in response, but ah well.

    Hillary Clinton not being fit for office is kind of an outrageous suspicion. She’s one of the most qualified and fittest candidates we’ve had.

  17. Are you mostly disagreeing with the “brazen, naked” part, or do you also disagree that Romney’s recent tweet reveal a distasteful and objectionable hypocrisy?

    Hillary Clinton not being fit for office is kind of an outrageous suspicion. She’s one of the most qualified and fittest candidates we’ve had.

    In terms of experience, I agree, but what about in terms of character–being honest, disciplined, using sound judgment. Same with her husband.

  18. I don’t know. If someone compliments me on some work that I think is terrible, I say thank you. I don’t stand there and argue what was wrong with it. Saying thank you doesn’t mean agreement. It’s a social nicety.

  19. no, but we effectively have david duke in the white house, and maybe if the president of the country says something directly to you, you have to respond politely.

  20. I don’t understand what you’re saying.

    a.) If you wouldn’t thank David Duke for supporting your campaign, and
    b.) You equate Trump with Duke, then;

    c.) why you don’t see a problem with Romney thanking Trump for his support?

    (You do at least see the difference between the example you gave and the situation between Romney and Trump, right?)

  21. Romney likely has to work with the White House. Saying thank you isn’t the same thing as saying “I accept your endorsement of me.” I understand why you see it the way you do; why is it hard for you to understand my seeing it the way I do?

    He’s going to be a United States Senator, which means he’s going to have to work with others. You can say a professional thank you without lining yourself up with the person you’re thanking. I say thank you all the time for professional courtesies I don’t agree with.

    When John Edwards and Dick Cheney were debating on TV several years ago, and the question of same-sex marriage came up, Edwards said nice things about Cheney because he understood that it was a tricky question for him to answer, as the parent of a lesbian. I don’t remember the exact words, but Cheney recognized that even in their differences, Edwards was offering a kind word. He just said thank you and the question ended right there. It’s just professionals being professional.

  22. I didn’t answer your question because I see how convoluted my response was. So I’ll answer it now: if David Duke were president and if I were running for Senate and if Duke endorsed me, I would just ignore him, which is what I wish Romney had done. But ignoring him wouldn’t be the only way not to accept an endorsement. I could also mutter a terse thank-you and let it drop there. I wouldn’t, but then I’m not a career politician who has to find a way to work not only with him, but with the other leaders of his party.

  23. I understand that you have to work with someone you disagree with–and thanking them for someone for their support is a way to do this. But isn’t this a blatant example of political expediency, given Romney’s 2016 tweet and speech? If so, that’s the main problem I have with this.

  24. if David Duke were president and if I were running for Senate and if Duke endorsed me, I would just ignore him, which is what I wish Romney had done.

    I wish he did that, too.

  25. Some thoughts supporting Mitchell’s position:

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