Trump is Trump, but his Congressional enablers are what will prove genuinely ruinous.
I don’t know if I ever really appreciated what it took for a society to change, but I know I didn’t think it could happen so quickly. For all the idiot talk on the right about how Obama wanted to fundamentally change the country into something unrecognizable (instead of simply make it more just), and how he was a lawless dictator, it is amazing to see what that kind of transformation actually looks like.
It doesn’t look like evil. It looks like overwhelming ego rampaging alongside spineless, grasping careerists and ideologues.
Let’s start with the incoming President. One of the weirdest parts of his deeply disturbing news conference was his staffers in the back applauding his applause lines, laughing at his laugh lines, and cheering menacingly when he called out news organizations.
I’ve read several times that this was unprecedented, and I believe that inasmuch as I’ve never seen it before. It was disturbing for two reasons. One, it showed the endless need to sate the boss’s ego. Trump needs people to see and hear him being applauded. He needs to hear that. It is a good demonstration of how he demands not just fealty, but a sort of love. If you aren’t applauding his genius, then you are the enemy.
That leads to the second reason: it was clear that he wanted to create a sense in the viewer that there were two groups: the media and the non-media. By watching it on TV, you were essentially in the non-media. And that made you, essentially, in the group that was off camera, applauding and yelling. The journalists were made to seem pinned between the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world calling them disgusting and dishonest, and his Greek chorus, which wasn’t meant to be seen as an extension of him, but a stand-in for us.
That’s the plan they have for the press: isolate and intimidate, until they self-censor everything that doesn’t come with photos of money changing hands. The President is going to say “dishonest media” and “fake news” for every story he doesn’t like, his followers will do the same, and the media is either going to quail, or find a backbone. Honestly, there have been some good signs so far, but who knows what is coming on down the road?
But there are more matters in this horrible authoritarianism. We talked in the last post about the FBI and how it used its leverage to stay powerful, particularly when run by J. Edgar Hoover. I don’t want to say that James Comey is Hoover, but he clearly tried to throw the race to Trump (successfully) and now seems to be deliberately obfuscating any investigations into the Russian connection. He met today with congressional leaders, in private (since he amazingly said he wouldn’t comment on ongoing investigations in public), and the Democrats are furious about what transpired. He won’t talk about it in private, either.
So, the head of the FBI is either:
- An out-and-out Trumpist
- A complete careerist
- Fatally compromised in a way that doesn’t allow him to go against Trump
It is worth noting that the three are not exclusive. In any and all cases, he seems willing to be a footstool for the Fake King, which is deeply dangerous.
But the most blatantly unprincipled one of them all is Jason Chaffetz, who during the campaign was already talking about nullification investigating Hillary on emails or Benghazi or really anything the moment she won, but now is taking a step back on Trump’s absurd ethical violations.
Not even a step back. He’s closing the door on them. One has to be a willing idiot to think that Trump is removing himself from his business in any real way. Turning it over to his sons doesn’t cut it. They are barely even pretending that this isn’t inherent corruption which will intermingle with state affairs. Indeed, the state is Trump Inc right now.
Water Shaub, director of government ethics, isn’t one of those willing idiots. He publicly commented that Trump’s phony divestiture scheme is clearly phony. This caused Jason Chaffetz, tasked with checking and balancing the Executive Branch, to leap into action.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the head of the House Oversight Committee, criticized the director of the federal Office of Government Ethics on Thursday over his criticism of Donald Trump’s plan to address conflicts of interest. And he threatened to subpoena the official, Walter Shaub, if he refuses to participate in an official interview.
“He seems to be acting prematurely at best, without doing investigations or thorough looks,” Chaffetz said in an interview. “He’s rendering opinions publicly that really cause you to scratch your head. We need the Office of Government Ethics to act ethically. Ironically, that’s not what they’re doing.”
Chaffetz wants the GOP agenda to pass. Part of that means placating Trump, who might Tweet something or veto something else out of spite. He’s also a cultural warrior of the first order, which in this case means hating liberalism and good governance. So it’s nice to be able to smack down the Ethics guy, acting so partisanly by calling out nakedly unethical practices by the President-Elect.
This is how it happens. You have craven opportunists, scared careerists, true believers, and venal sycophants helping along an entirely criminal Presidency. The right has long hated actual democracy, what with the whole “more voters equals less wins” and the “people demand economic rights instead of being grateful to be ground into dust for the capitalists”. Trump is going to enable that. And they’ll enable his criminal greed, and turning the state into his own family account.
It’s more than just corruption. We easily see that this is how a democracy dies. It isn’t with jackboots. It’s with acquiescence and intimidation.
When you think of authoritarian evil, you don’t think of a thirsty weasel like Chaffetz or a hyperactive sybaritic child like Trump, but that’s more often the case. Greed and greased paths. I’m reminded of a short poem-y comment by Leonard Cohen.
All There is to Know About Adolph Eichmann
NUMBER OF FINGERS:………..Ten
NUMBER OF TOES………………Ten
What did you expect?
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