Breaking the Cycle

A quick timeline of quotes from the recent U.S. presidential election:

Republican nominee Donald Trump, October 2016
“Remember, we’re competing in a rigged election folks. The media is an extension of the Clinton campaign, as WikiLeaks has proven…They even want to rig the election at the voting booths.”

Democrat nominee, Hilary Clinton, October 2016
“It’s appalling that a presidential nominee of a major party is undermining the pillar of our democracy—just because he hates losing.

President Obama, October 2016
“…there is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even — you could even rig America’s elections, in part, because they are so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved. There is no evidence that that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time.”

Republican nominee, Donald Trump, November 8, 2016
“Of course I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result. I will follow and abide by all the rules and traditions of all of the many candidates who came before me, always.”

Obama administration, November 26, 2016
“The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian Government-directed compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the President-elect. Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

Marc Elias, Clinton campaign general counsel, November 26, 2016
“Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”

John Podesta, Clinton campaign official, December 12, 2016
“Each day that month, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump. Despite our protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media in the campaign. We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American.”

President Obama, December 16, 2016
“And so when I receive a final report, you know, we’ll be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations. But that does not in any way, I think, detract from the basic point that everyone during the election perceived accurately — that in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign. There’s no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC.”

Robert Gates, Former Defense Secretary, December 18, 2016
“I would characterize it as a thinly disguised covert operation to discredit the American election and to basically allow the Russians to say to the rest of the world that our elections are corrupt, incompetent, rigged, whatever and therefore no more honest than anyone else’s in the world including theirs, and thus the U.S. ought to get off it’s high horse in telling other countries how to run their elections.”

Former President Bill Clinton, December 2016

“[Donald Trump] doesn’t know much. One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.”

“[FBI Director] James Comey cost her the election,”



I recently spoke to a close friend about why they were still posting daily complaints on Facebook about Trump’s election. I asked, “Why not wait until Trump is in office and then start critiquing his policy decisions?” His reply was that Republicans attacked President Obama from the day he was elected. I retorted that Democrats did the same to President Bush. It starts to feel like a chicken or egg scenario. I suggested that sooner or later someone has to have the courage to break the cycle (easy for me to say, when I’m a conservative and a Republican is about to take office). Another friend also told me last week that the Electoral College is a tool that conservatives use to oppress minorities.

I might also remind readers that the same President Obama who is now complaining about negative publicity for his chosen successor (as if there is any other kind) said this in October when he thought Clinton would have the White House:

“And if he [Donald Trump] got the most votes, then it would be my expectation of Hillary Clinton to offer a gracious concession speech and pledge to work with him in order to make sure that the American people benefit from an effective government.

And it would be my job to welcome Mr. Trump, regardless of what he’s said about me or my differences with him on my opinions, and escort him over to the Capitol, in which there would be a peaceful transfer of power.

That’s what Americans do. That’s why America is already great. One way of weakening America, making it less great, is if you start betraying those basic American traditions that have been bipartisan, and have helped to hold together this democracy now for well over two centuries.”

While we can say a lot about the future of the country and Ordinary Times has invited you to share the worst of it in January, this is what I will volunteer today: The participants on both sides of the election this year have done significant harm to the institutions that many of us hold dear. The Republican candidate spent months telling us the election was rigged and then shocked us all by winning anyway. The Democrat candidate spent months telling us to respect the process and then when she suffered a surprise loss, her surrogates told us that something foul was afoot.

Attacks on the Electoral College may have validity (any system devised over 200 years ago needs occasional review) but to immediately discredit it in the aftermath of a loss is the kind of stuff that makes me wish civics was required in every school. Everyone agreed to the same rules beforehand, but it seems that some people had their fingers crossed behind their backs.

Where I land is that a Trump presidency seems awful on paper, but Presidents rarely ever turn out to be what we thought they would. Trump’s Cabinet picks alone signal that something different is happening, and quite frankly this is exactly what his supporters asked for, good or bad. Loading those offices with executives and not career politicians is scary for some but also reflects that this will not be business as usual. What that means for you and I remains to be seen.

I’m going to make a plea here which is likely to be ignored but in the spirit of the season I’ll still try. In the coming months, try your best to evaluate the new President and his appointees based on policy, not on how you feel about them as people. Stop picturing them as the Bad Guys and instead think of them as People I Simply Disagree With. When they do things that upset you, let’s hear about it, and maybe even suggest an alternative. When they do things you can live with, be adult enough to admit it. I can tell you from experience that the first time President Obama did something I liked, I begrudgingly praised him, even if it felt like I needed a shower afterwards. Today it comes a bit easier, even though my old partisan loyalties sometimes make me choke on the words. If any of you are brave enough to do the same, we’ll have the metaphorical soap waiting for you.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Associate Editor
Home Page Public Email Facebook YouTube Instagram 

Mike Dwyer is a writer in Louisville, KY. He writes about culture and the outdoors for Ordinary Times. He is also one of several Kentucky authors featured in the book This I Believe: Kentucky. Mike is active on Facebook and Instagram. He lives with his wife and daughters in the distant suburbs, at the place where neighborhoods give way to farms and forest.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.

446 thoughts on “Breaking the Cycle

  1. Various points:

    Comey/ stolen e-mails were major issues in the election that had a significant,very likely game changing affect on the election. Those aren’t things that should be forgotten for very obvious reasons regarding national security and the ethics of federal law enforcement.

    People seem really confused by the use of the word “hacking” in the election. It wasn’t tampering with voting boxes or anything like that. It was stolen and leaked e-mails. We all watched it happen and most people were just fine with it. It was mentioned at all the debates. There is no doubt it happened, the only question is who. It happened right in front of us. It wasn’t some hidden plot, which is what some of the quotes were talking about re: hacking. Let me repeat the only thing we don’t know about the stolen e-mail issue was who and the intell community says it was the russians.

    Obama has talked with Trump and Trump said it went well. There is no evidence the gov isn’t being turned over peacefully. Which shows epic magnanimity by Obama given trump was a birther.

    I sincerely hope Trump isn’t as bad as i think he will be. It is always good to try to offer people some good faith.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours.


    • “magnanimity”

      He’s the people’s servant and it’s HIS JOB to ensure a smooth orderly transition. Or do you expect newly replaced CEOs to burn all their records and throw the keys to the exec washroom out the window too?


    • greg,
      You pissed at Israel for stealing e-mails now?
      Bibi didn’t do squat other than make sure that Clinton wasn’t planning to stab Israel in the back.
      (Israel had the e-mails ages ago).


    • greg,
      The intel community that is steadfastly refusing to investigate a targeted assassination of a DNC analyst, who leaked the e-mails?
      That community?

      American hackers are better than Russian hackers, and when the russians get in after someone else leaves the barn door open, well, it’s not exactly clear that it was the Russians that leaked it to wikileaks (particularly when Wikileaks strongly denies it).

      And who the hell are you to say that it wasn’t tampering with voting boxes? (Note Well: this did not actually affect the election. This time around).

      AlsoNote: If your choice is between someone likely to start a limited nuclear war with you (Nicknamed The Mad Bomber, even), and The Crazy Guy — well, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that realpolitik says that you ought to involve yourself in the election.


  2. I don’t know what “surrogates” means there. First of all, I don’t know of any sane people on the Democratic side claiming that the election was rigged, as opposed to the the usual sorts of complaints that the press coverage was biased, or this year that the FBI overstepped its bounds. Second, I don’t see that the people making these complaints are speaking for or claiming to speak for Hillary. She, in fact, conceded graciously to Trump and has stayed out of the limelight since, precisely as the president predicted. And the president himself has behaved entirely correctly, meeting with and not criticizing his successor. (As did Bush before him, and Clinton before him, and the other Bush before him.)


    • Hillary, conceded gracefully? She couldn’t even concede the night of the damn election. She broke an entire penthouse suite, with secret service assistance, before she conceded.

      This is not graceful. This is clumsy and kinda stupid. Also — did you listen to her speech?


    • “First of all, I don’t know of any sane people on the Democratic side claiming that the election was rigged, as opposed to the the usual sorts of complaints that the press coverage was biased, or this year that the FBI overstepped its bounds.”

      Could you define the term “rigged” in this context? I’ve heard strong accusations made against Russia and Comey.


        • Trump used the term far more broadly than that, broadly enough to include bias in the mainstream press. The other side responded as if he meant a narrow definition. This was just another case of two sides talking past each other.

          Maybe the broadest definition of rigging is if any of the neutral parties overseeing it are steering the results. That could include the press and the official structure (from the FEC to the voting machines). I’d call anything else tampering. Either way, we should stop throwing around words, and pretending that we’re all using them to mean the same thing.


          • Trump used the term far more broadly than that, broadly enough to include bias in the mainstream press. The other side responded as if he meant a narrow definition.

            To interpret Trump this way, we have to a) ignore how the people he was talking to interpreted it, and b) ignore some pretty specific statements he made, like his nonsensical statements about how people, if they had voted absentee, should go and revote in person?

            That sure doesn’t *sound* like complaining about the RNC establishment or the media being against him. It *sounds* like he’s talking about vote tampering being done against him.

            If we lived in some universe where the media deliberately interpreted ‘rigged’ in a way that no one else did, that would be one thing. But we live in a universe where the Republican party has been making up accusations of voted fraud for decades, and the ‘rigged’ was very clearly part of that.


            • If you’re implying that Trump used words without maybe thinking them fully through, well that’s just crazy talk.

              The only question is whether we are going to be more coherent.


              • This is… weird.

                “Trump said this really bad thing but didn’t mean it. Obama didn’t say a really bad thing but because he’s barking up a tree in the same grove that Trump’s really bad tree is in, he’s equally guilty. Also, ignore that Obama’s statements are based on evidence and Trump’s were not.”


                  • Close,

                    “Democrats have attempted to cast doubt on the election process by complaining about specific real action they consider unfair, while Trump more responsibly made only vague baseless accusations.”


                  • Democrats have attempted to cast doubt on the election process by complaining about specific action they consider unfair, while Trump more responsibly made only vague accusations.

                    A lot of the problem here, including the original article, is people are co-mingling the *election* process with the *voting* process.

                    It is perfectly fine to assert the media behaved in a biased manner. It is perfectly fine to argue who did, or did not, get their support of their party. It is fine to point out the behavior of other actors (Like the FBI, and Russia.) and how they influenced how people voted, especially when those actors *aren’t* supposed to be doing that.

                    It’s even fine, as Trump did, to complain about non-partisan actors behaving in a partisan manner. (Well, he nonsensically did it about the debates being on a Sunday, which a *dumb* complaint, but there was nothing *wrong* with it. It didn’t damage anything.)

                    Casting doubt on the ballots being fairly counted, or doubt on whether millions of non-citizens are voting, is something else entirely. That is damaging to democratic norms.

                    The Democrats did the *former*, and, moreover, did it about *real things*. (We can debate if they really influenced anything, or if said influence was ‘fair’, but they did really exist.)

                    Trump did the latter, and he did it about vague made-up things, half-remembered conspiracies from the internet.


              • If you’re implying that Trump used words without maybe thinking them fully through, well that’s just crazy talk.

                I do not think ‘Trump is so incoherent that no one can ever know what he means when he uses a word, not even himself’ is a particularly *useful* defense of what he said. Even if true.

                But, anyway, Trump said a lot of things that indicated he thought *illegal* things were happen, or going to happen, to the actual voting process. Hell, he even said that *after* he was elected, in an attempt to claim his popular vote loss was invalid. He often said those things *in very close proximity* to his assertions of the election being ‘rigged’.

                Yes, at no point did he say ‘By rigged, I am asserting illegal behavior’, but that’s a weird goalpost to have, when you think about it.

                Trump harmed democratic norms by asserting that secret, imaginary, illegal actions were altering the outcome of votes. Whether or not that’s the ‘rigging’ he talked about or not is kinda pointless…he *did* talk about conspiratorial secret alteration of votes, and he did talk about conspiratorial secret voting by non-citizens, and he even threw some mud on the Democratic primary voting process, alleging vote alteration there. None of those things happened, and asserting they happened without evidence *does* harm people trusting the voting, and attempts to make the actual voting and vote counting a partisan affair, which it *cannot* be allowed to become.

                Meanwhile, no one on the Democratic side has asserted anything of the sort. They have asserted that *existing and well-known* things that really did happen (And are well-reported in the news) have probably altered *how* people voted, and if those things hadn’t happened, they would have won. Likewise, they are pointing out that laws made it harder for some people to vote. This is not harming democratic norms at all. Those two things aren’t the same at all. (The closest the Democrats are did to that is joining a recount, but a) they didn’t start that, and b) a recount is *part of the process*, and they accepted the outcome of the recount.)

                Hell, even if the Democrats were making stuff up, if there wasn’t any evidence that the stuff that happened changed how people voted…their claim is basically just ‘Stuff happened that made people vote against us’. Aka, they are complaining about *how they think people voted for the wrong candidate*, which is a perfectly valid thing to complain about and isn’t going to cause people to mistrust the system. (Oh no! Hillary supporters think more people should have voted for Hillary!)

                Whereas what *Trump* is complaining about *does* cause people to mistrust the system, it is claiming *the voting system doesn’t work correctly*, which is a problem when those complaints are completely made up.


  3. I have judged the incoming President and his team on policy. The fact they’re also terrible people who are set on destroying political norms and will get away with it because Democrats get hectored anytime they’ve had a spine since 1968 is just a bonus.


  4. There’s no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC

    Really, Obama? Anyone else remember an atmosphere in which much of the focus for the whole campaign was Trump’s latest antics? Anyone else remember the “grab ’em by the [hoo-ha]” saturation-bombing for the entire last month of the campaign? Only focus my hoo-ha.

    Phished DNC emails: As long as the government can read any of yours or mine on demand, and we all know they can and do, I’m not going to get concerned about exposed emails of operatives campaigning to run the government. Either we respect the privacy of emails or we don’t, and it seems the latter is the case.

    Comey: The private email server was always a partisan issue. Powell and Rice both used private servers to get around the many limitations of the government’s secure system, as Powell advised Clinton to do when she took the office. This issue seems to me much more likely to reinforce already existing preferences than convince undecided independents.

    Clinton Foundation: Moot. The Trump Foundation has way worse problems and everyone knows it.

    Lame excuses all, and completely unproductive at this juncture. Time to MoveOn to whatever the future holds, as it seems we’ll likely have much to deal with requiring our attention. The government Trump is assembling makes me nervous in many ways, but I’m with Mike on the wait-and-see attitude and especially the “think of them as People I Simply Disagree With” view. I’m reminded of a favorite saying of an old friend: Things are never as good or as bad as they seem.


    • Since Podesta was stupid enough to click on a link about changing his mail password, you have to start the blame with him. There have been enough fishing exploits over the years that he should have known better before having to ask the person who mistyped the reply about it. Of course the line I heard about Email 20 years ago that you should not put anything in an email you would not mind appearing on the front page of the New York Times does apply also. It is amazing how many folks don’t honor this. (Given the number of times emails have come back to bite someone on the behind over the years). Anyway the email companies should run a only change you password this way (using their preferred method with a hand entered url starting it off) campaign to educate folks.


  5. Move on? LOL. Not based upon personal experienced. Do you know how many dating profiles I’ve read where women has specrticially stated that political views opposite of theirs were “deal breakers” and they woudn’t even consider dating the guy? It’s skyrocked in the last 6 months.

    And some parts of the media aren’t letting go either…

    Trump is set to undermine the things you take for granted in government and public life.

    Donald Trump Is Surrounding Himself With Budget-Shredding Tea Partiers

    The Case for Donald Trump’s Impeachability

    How Trump’s Apparatchiks Are Erasing Russia’s Role in the Election

    How Liberals Got the Electoral College Wrong

    This Time, Obama’s Calm in a Crisis Isn’t Helping
    He has his dignity and his faith in civic norms. Republicans have the government.

    2 Minutes of looking at the top page of Slate.

    Sorry Mike, your wish is already stillborn. But take heart, with China ascendant, perhaps America will fade gracefully into a second or third tier power….self absorbed with internal bickering over keeping the electoral college and whether to drill in the Artic.


    • Exactly. Trump preemptively trying to delegitimize our electoral process because he thinks he is going to lose is not equivalent to the quotes from Obama, Clinton, Podesta, and Gates. They all acknowledge that Trump won the election and will be our next President, but bring up the fact that a foreign power actively interfered in our election. Are we supposed to just ignore it because Trump (and his supporters) would prefer it wasn’t true?

      Not to say Republicans are always worse, but can you imagine Trump (and Republicans) reaction if they won the PV, but lost the EC, all while Russia leaked Trump and Republican emails in order to help elect Clinton? I doubt they would have been so magnanimous.

      I might also remind readers that the same President Obama who is now complaining about negative publicity for his chosen successor (as if there is any other kind) said this in October when he thought Clinton would have the White House:

      Clinton did concede, and Obama has is doing exactly what he said he would do. Finally, Obama isn’t complaining about negative publicity, he’s complaining that the press unquestioningly went along with a foreign governments attempts to influence our election.


          • Nu. Do you really think wikileaks would point to a dead guy, and say “he was the one who leaked us stuff” without evidence to back it up? It’s one thing to say “we had a source in the DNC” (it could be anyone, after all). It’s a far harder line to toe to say that it was a particular person, now dead.

            At this point, you’re calling them liars, and saying that they are deliberately and intentionally passing on false information.


            • Yes, I do think they have lied. They have hinted (never said) it was the murdered DNC staffer. They have also claimed explosive revelations were coming numerous times. Those revelations never came.


              • Gaelen,
                Clinton’s campaign claimed that Wikileaks would have “some whoppers” right before the election.
                Did they lie too?
                Yes, they did. It’s called preinnoculating yourself.

                If you think wikileaks has lied, well, go ahead and throw out everything they say. And then burn your Bluerays, and unsubscribe from netflix, and go tell everyone exactly how much global warming has been made up.

                Because if you’re gonna call someone a liar, you better say that everything he’s attested to is questionable. And I don’t think you got the chops to do the math on x265, let alone the stuff that isn’t open source.


    • You’re not cynical enough.

      BSDI is about not having to change you mind based on things like this. Whether it’s because you like to play “above the fray” or “objective observer” or whether you’re a one (or two or three) issue voter who doesn’t want to wrestle with the knotty problems of how much those issues weight against the actual problems, BSDI is a valuable tool.

      Because whatever might otherwise be a real problem with a candidate — a problem that might force an honest man off the fence, or to withhold you vote even those that candidate might be “right” on the few issues you care about — you can handwave it away. If the other candidate is just as bad, you can feel morally safe remaining on the fence or voting.

      Because that bad problem has been neutralized!

      Although I do find the OP somewhat amusing, after all the lecturing about how liberals need to learn to listen. Apparently nobody needs to even bother to listen to liberals. Clearly they just hate Trump with an unreasoning partisan hatred, and can’t possibly object to anything about his policies, appointments, or actions in the last month.

      After all, he’s done nothing Clinton wouldn’t have done, right?


  6. While I agree with and applaud the sentiment Mike I do have to echo the complaints of the rest of the lefties. Has HRC not conceded, gracefully, and kept out of the limelight? Has Obama not been cordial and cooperative to the President Elect?


    • Conceding gracefully isn’t what I’d call that speech, delivered the next day.

      It’s not like Mitt Romney didn’t expect to win. He didnt have a “what if I lose” speech either. But he got one written the night of, because that’s just what you do.


        • North,
          She should have known after Florida (different from conceding). She should have conceded that night, in a speech.

          Clinton’s goes way off into “Here, I can still give a campaign speech” territory. I mean, I know i said she was kinda out to lunch, but this seemed really out of touch. You Lost. You concede, you thank people, you head home.

          (Gore’s speech ought to be judged on a different level than the above, of course. He had more time to write it, and more to heal).


            • North,
              I’m not saying she was ungracious. I’m saying it was clumsy and awkward, and said things that a concession speech generally doesn’t. Hence, ungraceful. These are actually two different words.


              • Well I think it was a graceful AND gracious concession, enormously more than Trump deserved and certainly adequate to meet the needs of the country and all reasonable demands of propriety.


                • I hardly consider roaming gangs and attempts to dissuade the electoral college from voting as they’re supposed to, to be “gracious in defeat”
                  (I have no fucking clue why she continued to implement plans that might have stood a chance if it was really close, when Trump won the election at a walk).

                  Paying people to attempt to wrest the election away from the rightful victor is one thing if you gotta chance. It’s just stupid, otherwise. But whatcha gonna do if your life is on the line? Anything possible, huh?


                    • I’m googling around and all I can find is stuff saying “Clinton’s team and the Democratic National Committee have steadfastly refused to endorse the efforts spearheaded by a group of electors in Colorado and Washington state.” So as far as I can tell they’re doing everything except denouncing these stunts, which – it bears noting- amounted to absolutely nothing when the electors voted.


                      • Clinton must be as bad as Trump, or else some people have made a horrible mistake

                        Which, clearly, cannot have happened.

                        Therefore, since Trump was questioning the legitimacy of the election, so must Clinton. Otherwise, goodness, we’d have to deal with Trump’s issues without ready make excuses.

                        And wouldn’t that be depressing. Better to pretend that Clinton would have been the same, and take refuge in the fact that things could not have really been any better and that it’s all just partisan bickering with no basis in reality.

                        Or better yet, pretend reality starts now. I’m sure Trump won’t blow another fresh start.


        • This is way out of date, but the problem here, , is that she made the call on the night. Not even that late (like, more like 1 or 2 am than 5 am).

          So I think it really is a breach of precedent not to give the speech until, what, nearly noon the next day?

          It’s not the end of the world, but it was not a good look.

          Everything from her from that point onward has been good, though. But Clintonworld doesn’t always operate primarily through the principals. The “surrogate” question really does matter. But I don’t really know what all they’ve been saying, and even if I did, it would be hard to know how to assess all of it.

          Obama and the administration has been exemplary, though.


    • As a rightie, I have to say that HRC and President Obama have acted properly both officially and personally (granting some wiggle room for hurt feelings). The main exception to this statement is her failure to make a concession speech the night of the election, but that was a slight to her own people. Many of the louder voices on the left haven’t been so reasonable.


  7. Let me preface this by saying that I very much appreciate you as a writer and a poster on this site, Mike, so I don’t want you to feel too ganged up upon. This kind of appeal comes from a good place and is a good impulse to have. But here, in this case, it’s dead wrong. These quotes and actions you’re highlighting are all from people that are accepting the results of the election. Trump’s election, and Bush’s before him, are both far more suspect than either of Obama’s victories. And as much as you would like to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, he’s not waiting to be elected to trigger a potential diplomatic crises, to convert the presidency into a massive pay-for-play operation, or to empower hacks and conspiracy theories. Giving him the benefit of the doubt is a luxury only available to those confident that they habe little or nothing to lose here.


  8. I have given Trump a chance, and he has demonstrated to me very clearly what he is, and what he stands for.

    His entire campaign is about revanchism, revenge, resentment. I notice how seemingly petty cultural tics loom very large in his supporters minds.
    Things like “Dial 1 for English”, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer in schools, “Merry Christmas” traansgender bathroom…these are fighting words, red lines for Trump and his followers.

    But that’s what elevates from from petty to deplorable. The underlying message is clear. Trump and his followers don’t like what America is changing into The multicultural, multi ethnic, tolerant society is horrifying to them.

    This is a rejection, not of policy or issues, but of people. Trump and his followers really don’t accept the legitimacy of their fellow Americans.
    Their enemies are enemies not because of what they do, but who they are. They are enemies of the Trumpists simply because they exist.

    This is what Trump has demonstrated to me, what his followers have demonstrated in their rallies, memes, proclamations, statements and actions. This movement is built on rage and vengeance, of wanting tp punish someone and make them pay.


  9. All,

    Let me try to expand on the Op a little bit (though it’s pretty clear from the comments that my friends on the Left have already sharpened their swords for the next 4 years). Yes, HC was gracious with her concession speech (as tradition dictates) and yes, President Obama invited the Trumps to the WH and pledged to work together (as tradition dictates). Kudos to them both for following protocol.

    Since the election Clinton’s surrogates (and yes I do consider her husband and closest campaign staff to be surrogates) have insinuated and bluntly stated that she lost the election due to a combination of A) Russians revealing how shady her campaign was and B) The FBI Director directly costed her the election. And the list of people who are suggesting that the President only won due to these factors include a former and sitting president.

    That last detail is most important. As two men who have gone through the process and should understand that we need our elections to have legitimacy, why make excuses? It’s one thing for the President to be concerned about Russia and want to retaliate for their involvement, but it’s quite another to imply that the results are somehow tainted (and despite claims to the contrary above, that’s exactly what he has done).

    Now, as for Trump…he has been the very definition of Poor Loser since the election, with the one exception of saying very nice things about the President and First Lady since their meeting. He has made policy promises which can be taken at face value and no doubt strike fear into liberal hearts. But he also has a Congress that will have to cosign for much of his agenda and how willing they are to cooperate remains to be seen. I’m personally also inspired by his business-advisory group, which includes some very smart people who like to innovate. And he is very interested in infrastructure investment, which I consider a liberal idea and one I fully support.

    So there’s a lot of different ways we can look at this and maybe i’m just as guilty of being partisan because liberals are pissing me off a lot more than conservatives right now…but we have to start somewhere. I can say with certainty that I kept an open mind for 8 years of President Obama and was often surprised. I just hope some of you can do the same.


    • Probably the only major way I have differences with your post is that Trump has already done things in the leadup to his assuming office that merit comment. Some of these things are common to all incoming administrations: people have every right to critique or praise prospective cabinet choices and policy declarations. Some of these things seem peculiar to Trump, such as his (apparent) transgression against protocol by accepting a call from the president of Taiwan.

      Another–less “major”–way I see it differently is that many people are very afraid of what Trump might do or what his victory might inspire others to do. On a visceral, emotional level, I share those fears even if I’m not of the demographic to be endangered. I believe these fears are (mostly) sincerely held and beyond the type of disingenuous hyperbole we always get from true believers no matter who’s elected. By saying these beliefs are sincere, I’m not saying they’re necessarily correct. I hope they’re not. But I am saying that these beliefs frame the way I and many others are looking at the transition and that they create the type of environment you’re urging us to resist.

      On the rest of your OP and your comment here, I haven’t much to disagree with, however. I, too, am willing to sign with Tod on the “blank slate” he wrote about shortly after the election. I don’t know if you’re a Trump supporter or not (I assumed you weren’t, but I don’t recall if/when you took a position), but I do hope they are as thoughtful as you are.

      Happy holidays!


        • Thanks for clarifying. For the record, while I’m not wholly with you in your argument (for the reasons I stated in my comment), I’m mostly with you.

          Maybe mine is a weasel’s, sits on both sides of the fence, position. But that’s where I am now.


    • Mike, just what attitude would you expect me to take towards Comey’s behavior? Seriously, he jumped into a political race in an unprecedented way with a complete nothing, but made it look scary. It’s possible that he was averting something even more nasty that was about to be leaked from the NY Field Office. Nevertheless, what sort of response do you expect from me?

      Our country is in a horrible place right now. We agree on that. The amount of distrust and bad faith and relativism is precisely what the Russian cyber-ops team tries to inspire. How do you feel about that?

      Both of these are threats to the democratic process itself. And it alarms me that so many people are brushing it off.

      Results like this, where the popular vote contradicts the electoral vote, also damage trust, and damage norms.

      In spite of this, I did not support faithless electors, because that would further damage us. Trump is as legitimately elected as any president could have been this cycle. He is the winner. Clinton conceded. And there are a bunch of problems that really need to be addressed.


      • “Our country is in a horrible place right now. We agree on that.”

        I don’t think we do. I actually think we’re not doing too bad.

        “The amount of distrust and bad faith and relativism is precisely what the Russian cyber-ops team tries to inspire. How do you feel about that?”

        I think the best thing we can do is not play along by telling the story that they cost Hillary the election.

        “Results like this, where the popular vote contradicts the electoral vote, also damage trust, and damage norms.”

        The system functioned exactly as it was designed. If the electorate doesn’t understand how the EC works and they thought this was a popular vote, that represents a need for better civics lessons…not a failure of our government. We are about to transfer power, peacefully, for the 44th time. That should be celebrated.


            • If we get to that level of divergence between rural/urban, the EC is more likely to start reinforcing it as EC landslides in favor of urban rather than continuing on the popular/EC vote divergence path it’s on now. I think we’re in a strange window where that’s going to be common for a while. In the long run, the parties will either stop the rural/urban split or the rural party will stop having any chance at all at the White House.


              • I think you make a good point here. The EC checks the power of big cities right now, but of course that means conservatives ignore those areas, the same as liberals ignore middle America (broadly-speaking). As minority populations continue to grow, the question is how long that dynamic will last, unless those same minorities move out of urban centers, which they are doing in some places. I could see Republican-controlled states trying to figure out how to create mini-ECs to apportion their votes along favorable lines.

                The cultural shift and the eventual minority status of whites is going to have much broader political implications than anything else we are talking about right now. Ironically though, I have 7 immigrant employees on my team and almost all of them have told proudly told me they voted for Trump. They all basically say it’s because they came here legally and they don’t like all the perks that illegal immigrants get. I find it fascinating and probably the same logic my ancestors would have used.


              • Actually, it doesn’t weight rural areas more heavily than the rest of us. Rather, it weights small-pop states more heavily than the rest of us. New York has rural Areas. Pennsylvania. California. Texas. The issue isn’t rural areas. It is small-pop states whose voters are disproportionately represented in the Electoral College.


                  • And my point is that they *don’t* work to the advantage of rural voters. How does the EC help rural New Yorkers? I mean, the only way we could say that it does is if we assume that the interests of rural New Yorkers are aligned with those of rural Montanans and so the outsized influence of Montanans is a win for rural New Yorkers.

                    And if we assume that, what we’re really saying is that the EC is good because it outweighs the influence of that shared ideology (i.e., Republicanism). So let’s call a spade a spade. Defending the EC is not… can not… be about attending to the voice of rural Americans.


                    • I agree wholeheartedly. I’d add that the Founders certainly didn’t mean for the EC to protect the interests of rural voters because the urban population at the founding was so tiny as to be politically insignificant. The 95% of Americans living in rural areas hardly needed the help, and it certainly didn’t provide anybody with motivation for setting up the EC the way it was set up.


                • So then there’s no moral theory for why some voters are more equal than others, just the brute fact that doing so was a necessary part of a political compromise reached centuries ago?


                      • “People that live in close proximity tend to be more homogeneous in thought.”


                        I won’t pull it up for you but re: homogeneity in political thought, the voting patterns of precincts across the country amply bear out that people voted based on some sorta urban/rural, bigtown/smalltown divide. Eg., smaller towns/ruralia vote overwhelmingly R. Big cities (etc) vote overwhelmingly D. I don’t think that’s a function of density myself, but rather that political orientation (contemporarily defined) is a function of geographical location.

                        So it cuts both ways: being open minded constitutes “homogeneity” while rejecting that sort of open-mindedness does too.


                        • The bigtown/smalltown split is pretty obvious, but I think that there are some practical reasons to believe that some of the political split between them is practical rather than simply cultural. Densely populated areas really do need different government from sparsely populated areas. Broadly, they need more government. There are more pieces of shared infrastructure shared by more people, and things that any citizen does are more likely to affect his neighbors.

                          That’s not to say that there isn’t a huge cultural / historical component, but I really do think a lot of it is a perfectly rational response to differences in proximity and how we relate to one another.


              • The rural/urban split seems as arbitrary as anything else. We could argue that we should have an electoral college of races or by income bracket. Everybody has their interest groups, and the EC happened to encode a set that was important when the Constitution was written.

                I mean, looking at where people campaign, it objectively doesn’t protect “small” states. It takes the “handful of states dominate the election” problem and moves it from one set of states to a different set of states. Unless there’s something particularly awful about states with large populations specifically being the dominant ones, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of justification.

                I’ve been wondering if the rural/urban split in the parties is more of an artifact of the EC than anything else–specializing in one set of interests that are easily mapped onto an EC map seems like a valid strategy. In the absence of the EC, I wonder if we’d end up with two parties with a totally different set of coalitions underpinning them.


                • Precisely.

                  In some alternate timeline, people are arguing that the Electoral College of the Faiths should be replaced with a popular vote. Others are countering that if you did that, then the candidates would only have to appeal to Protestants plus Mormons, neutralizing the influence of smaller religious groups, whereas at the present, Hindus, Muslims, and atheists each get that 2-vote bonus, ensuring their interests won’t be ignored.


        • I think the best thing we can do is not play along by telling the story that they cost Hillary the election.

          What if it’s true that they did cost Hillary the election? On a related note, I’ve seen pretty compelling argument that Comey’s announcement cost Hillary around 2% points, which again, really might have cost her a few of the swing states she lost. If those are even colorably true, why can’t members of her campaign discuss them?

          If they didn’t cost Hillary the election, why not?*

          *Remembering that there can be many causes for an close outcome like this, each one of them probably sufficient.


          • Gaelen,
            This lady didn’t campaign for half of October — and there were reasons for that.
            She fired the people who said she was going to lose if she didn’t campaign in Wisconsin.
            Her trump card — that hoo-ha crap on Trump? Even an October Surprise didn’t work!
            Holy shit, you think the e-mails had much to do with anything?

            Next, you’ll be blaming the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy, who is not only DEAD, but Slick willie gave the eulogy at his funeral!


          • Root cause was HC…not the Russians or Conley. She made the mistakes and her supporters are simply upset that the public heard about it so much right before the election (nevermind that Trump’s ‘grab them by the p*ssy’ line came out around the same time). They both got horrible publicity, which as David Brooks puts it, is the price for being king. One could argue that if the mainstream media had not crucified Trump for 18 months he would have been way ahead in the polls. So wasn’t this really just a level-set?


            • Saying it was HC, as a person, is not an answer to the question.

              As I have said on many other threads over the last few weeks, Hillary made a number of mistakes, some of which, either individually or in combination, cost her the election.

              The above can be true, and the Russia hack (coupled with wikileaks releasing them to garner maximum attention), and the Comey letter to Congress can effect the outcome. If they didn’t, why didn’t those two things have an effect on individual voting decisions?


              • Indirect effect. Wikileaks massively trolled the clinton operation, which wanted to run like hell away from their massively vengeful leader, and spent a lot of October reading the newspaper to learn about stupid shit that no one really cared about.

                There were really bad e-mails. They didn’t get released.

                Distracted Clinton team bought into their own inevitability and October Surprise lines.


            • If you think the Comey letter mattered because it made public true things about Hillary Clinton, I think that explains why you may have a hard time understanding the liberals you talk to and vice versa.


            • — You’re smart. I’d suggest this book:

              Anyway, causality is best modeled as an acyclic graph, where each node (“event”) has multiple incoming arcs, which collectively affect the outcome at that node. In any event, trying to say “X was the root cause” is almost always a motivated statement rather than an unvarnished statement about the world, since reality a complex network of cause/effect, and each little bit has its role to play. To focus on one aspect over another is your lens.

              This is obvious, if you think about it.


            • I’ll blame Newt Gingrich and the Republicans of the 90s. Try to imagine (suddenly I hear that deep-voiced movie trailer guy) a world where the 20-year non-stop investigations of the Clintons hadn’t happened. Whitewater, Foster, Benghazi, emails, etc., etc. Non-stop headline-making and very largely fruitless investigations. Millions (tens of millions? Hundreds of millions?) of dollars spent going after the Clintons. Nothing of real import was found, but years of headlines made a tremendous impact. Even Democrats were saying “I’ll vote for her, but I have to hold my nose.”

              Imagine that instead of that, the Clintons were just regular ole politicians. You know, you agree with some stuff, you disagree with other stuff, but there is no scent of brimstone hovering around them at all times. Think: John Kerrey or Mitt Romney — hey, you like or dislike, agree or disagree, but they aren’t *evil*.

              Without the non-stop conservative smear machine working against the Clintons (and again, let’s emphasize the lack of any particular scandalous discoveries of those decades of attacks), how would Ms. Clinton have done in this election?

              It’s hard to imagine a world without that constant attack strategy. (Not to mention imagining a world where anyone would say “20 years and no proof of any crimes? Then obviously they must be pretty clean. Who could stand up to that scrutiny unless they are pretty darn straight!” Did you feel the shiver go down your spine? Even I know they can’t be straight, not after 20 years in the Republican cross-hairs. Cripes!)

              So I take it back to the good old Impeachment days. Imagine (again) the Republican chagrin back then when the slam-dunk of investigating every facet of a Demo gov of Arkansas (Arkansas?!?!) turned out to reveal not much more than (maybe) Paula Jones. They must have freaked. But then they realized, “Hey, even though we found nothing, we’re on to something here. We don’t have to prove anything — let’s just keep hammering. If we don’t, that other Clinton might get elected someday!”)

              Can’t blame Gingrich and his cronies too much for continuing their strategy. It worked. As a strategy, it did its job. This election was close, but think what might have happened if we all weren’t so sure of the evils the Clintons have gotten away with, even though no one seems to be able to actually find them. A different world indeed.


              • Hillary’s vast rightwing conspiracy was one guy.
                I treated all that dross like the lies that it was.
                Clinton didn’t go corrupt until after they finished the Presidency (well, in a “We made alliances with seriously powerful people” sort of way).

                And, I’ll note, I didn’t mind clinton’s corruption enough to cast my vote for Trump.


          • Hillary lost the election by the width of our fingernails in a handful of states. This is infuriating simple because that means every single one of her errors and of the things that befell her campaign cost her the election. She suffered precisely enough misfortunes and made enough mistakes to lose the election and pretty much not much more. So yeah, Comey cost her the election. So did not campaigning in the Midwest as much, so did the deplorables gaffe.. any one of them, had she avoided them, or had they not been unleashed upon her would have meant she’d have won rather than losing.

            So, Hillary foes like to focus on the mistakes that were strictly within Clinton’s control because they can say “Hillary’s mistakes cost her the election” and saying so is strictly true. Hillary’s sympathizers, meanwhile, like to focus on the things that were mainly outside of Hillary’s control (the hacks, Comey’s partisan adventure) because they can say “Outsiders violating the norms or interfering cost her the election” and saying so is also strictly true.


            • I totally agree. On other threads I’ve detailed the many ways in which I think Clinton made unforced errors which probably cost her the election. But, just because those things are true doesn’t mean the Russians and Comey didn’t have an effect of the outcome.

              I think it is important that liberals take responsibility for the things in their control, and so a focus on Russia and Comey to the exclusion of all else is not particularly helpful, but to be told that we can’t/shouldn’t talk about it as a reason for the loss is just a little too much. Why? because it’s divisive (read some conservatives don’t want to hear it)?


            • “Comey’s partisan adventure” could have been avoided if his boss had actually, done, like you know, her job….and not had a private chit chat with HRC’s hubby.


              • It’s always a special day when the super limited government folks go all in for supporting what was, at best, very sketchy and , at worst, deliberate and unethical conduct by the head of the FBI.

                The feds law enforcement has rules and guidelines about discussing or even taking certain action within 60 days of an election out of fear of having an influence.


              • Or if Comey hadn’t had a partisan adventure, or if the AG had told the people leaping up and down about the meeting on that plane to go shove it or, granted, if Bill had known better than to stop by for a chat.


            • I don’t understand the eagerness to assign blame, when there are so many things that could be blamed. This isn’t an exact science. The situation will never be duplicated. You can learn lessons from the mistakes on both sides, whether you win or lose. But coming up with a formula that allocates blame correctly? Why bother?


              • Well assigning blame impacts the “therefore:”; the right says “And therefore the left should move more in our direction on policy; the left says “and therefore if we swap out for a better candidate and the intervening actors are punished/denounced then we don’t have to move right on policy.”

                It’s pointless mainly because it’s so simple; every error and the handful of unprecedented interventions were all at fault for HRC’s loss. Had her margin of loss been wider maybe trying to apportion blame accurately would be important but the loss was razor thin so each individual error and each intervention most likely contains within their body the margin of victory.
                Left wingers want to focus on the unprecedented interventions because focusing on team HRC’s own errors recognizes that the she and her team made a number of significant mistakes and those cost them the election.
                Right wingers want to focus on team HRC’s errors because focusing on the unprecedented interventions (primarily Comey) would recognize that outside actors stuck their oars in and those interventions won the right the election (and that the right would be absolutely livid had those interventions occurred impacting in the other direction).

                Both sides are correct though. The left is correct- the interventions were wrong and threw the election to Trump. The right is correct- HRC’s made a laundry list of errors and they cost the left the election and will need to be considered and adjusted for in future contests.


                • Why should the left de-emphasize the specific mistakes she made? Her mistakes don’t necessarily reflect badly on the ideology. Most of her mistakes were specific to this year, this candidate, this strategy.

                  Do Democrats not destroy their own at the first flicker of failure? That’s a very different environment than I’m used to.


                  • Err.. psychology? If anyone, anywhere suffers a failure due to a combination of their own errors and also outside events beyond or partially beyond their control they invariably emphasize the later over the former.

                    I grant that I’m only younger/middle age when it comes to American politics (basically my awareness of it dates back to, like, 98 or so) but a Democratic Party that devours its own at the first flicker of failure is not familiar to me. From whence did you get that impression?


                    • reply to first paragraph – But it’s not just the campaign staff that’s focusing on the external factors. A lot of the left is focusing on Comey and Russia rather than Clinton’s mistakes.

                      reply to the second paragraph – Sorry for being confusing. My point was that Republicans tend to savage their own people after a loss, but maybe Democrats defend theirs and blame their opponents.


        • I said that “we agree” because your complaint, at the top, was about the state of discourse, and our inability to talk to each other.

          But now you say “everything’s fine”. Which is it? If everything’s fine, what is it you’re complaining about? You seem to be trying to have it both ways. Yes, we are going to have the 44th peaceful transition of power. We agree on that. So what was the point of your complaint?


            • Which brings me back to my questions: How do you feel about Comey’s intervention? How do you expect me to feel about it?

              And how do you feel about the Russian hacking? How would you expect me to feel about it?

              Bear in mind that the point of Russia’s cyberops is to sow discord, and make it harder for anyone to reach any consensus about what’s true. And that’s exactly what’s happening. It’s what you’re complaining about in the OP, as best I can tell.


              • Comey shouldn’t have been in that position, however a visit by Bill Clinton on someone’s plane put him there. I’m honestly still shocked she was indicted given what happened to Petraeus. In a perfect world she would have been indicted, dropped out, Bernie wins the primary and maybe even beats Trump.

                The hacking only revealed things I already knew. Do I think Russia should be punished for interfering? Yes. Do I think they cost her the election? No.


                    • Erm, except depraved indifference still requires someone to *die*.

                      If Clinton’s email server had resulted in classified information being leaked, that would be one thing. It didn’t.

                      This is the difference between homicide and…we don’t even have a legal term that means ‘some negligence that didn’t harm any one’. There’s no such thing as *attempted negligence*.

                      We don’t *normally* prosecute people for that sort of thing, because it’s not normally illegal. And isn’t here.

                      Additionally, the ‘classified’ information was bullshit.

                      A good deal of it was talking about how to respond to reports *in the newspapers* about drone strikes, something State *literally knew no classified information about*. So how was the conversation classified? Because the US government claims that their entire existence of the drone program is classified, and thus *talking about a public news report* somehow is classified.

                      We do not send people to prison for mentioning the existence of newspaper articles to each other. It is dubious that the government can even *convict* someone of that…even pretending she had *deliberately* mentioned them to someone without clearance, or even that her conversation had leaked. It did not.

                      Another was a discussion of what she talked about with a Head of State, which was technically classified…but the fact is, the classification, being originated in State, could have been altered at any time by Clinton. It’s rather idiotic to claim someone committed a crime by talking about something over insecure channels that they could have declassified and announced publicly.

                      tl;dr – There is absolutely no possible way that she could have conceivable been convicted, based on what we know of her behavior. For *three* major reasons…one, the information *did not actually get out*, two, the information *was not intended to get out*, and three, the information was not truly classified, even if the government asserts it is.


                      • I get that everyone deserves a robust defense in the court of public opinion. But in my view, Ms. Clinton deserves no such special treatment any more. Which is why I just don’t understand all the effort expended to defend her.

                        She lost. Spectacularly. Each of those “thousand cuts” could (and has been) litigated ad nauseum without changing that one basic fact. If it was just one big gash that did her in, I’d be more sympathetic with your argument here, but it wasn’t. Which indicates, to me, that pre-election she was a weak candidate, and post-election showed that to be true.


                      • Did the FBI lie on the search warrant for Weiner’s phone? If they did, that’s a crime. If they didn’t, then “The FBI’s investigation has established that emails containing classified information were transmitted and stored on multiple forms of electronic media”. I haven’t seen the emails in question, so I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible she couldn’t declassify them if they were from another agency.


                        “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
                        Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”



                        • *Sigh*


                          It doesn’t matter what the law says. The court has said ‘relating to the national defense’ *requires* intent.


                          Additionally, at no point does Hillary Clinton appeared to have ‘removed from its proper place of custody’ anything. Removed is currently interpreted to also mean ‘copy’ in the case of electronic documents, but there’s not any evidence she did that *either*. No one was emailing around classified documents.

                          WRT to the drone thing, she got information *from public sources*, not classified sources. She neither ‘removed’ the classified documents (Or even accessed the classified documents! She didn’t have access to information about drone attacks!) or gave it to someone unauthorized to have it. Likewise, her discussing her own conversation with a head of state isn’t her copying any documents. It’s stuff she personally knows.

                          So, as far as I can tell, to be convicted under this law, even *misreading* it as not requiring intent, it requires *either* classified information (In whatever form) being put in uncleared hands, *or* actual copies of classified information being moved around insecurely. Those are the two ways to break the law, and Hillary did neither.

                          There is nothing in the law that covers writing down classified information *you already know*, not as any sort of copy of a classified thing, but you know because you read it in the paper or it personally happened to you, and trading it insecurely, *as long as* no non-cleared person gets it.

                          This is because *that* interpretation, the one people are trying to get Hillary with, would make it illegal to talk about classified information almost *anywhere*. If two people are cleared for the same information, and they want to look at a classified document, they have to do that in a secure location, yes,and removing that document without permission is illegal. But if they just want to *discuss* that information, they just need to make sure where they discuss it is *mostly* secure. They do not need to trek to some classified discussion room, and their discussion is not somehow ‘removing classified information’, *and the law reflects this fact*.

                          Which brings us to the next problem: You, along with half the damn internet at the time, seems to think this has something to do with a private email server.

                          But *no* public email server on the internet is a ‘proper place of custody’ for classified information, even the state department server! No computer *with access to the internet* is a proper place of custody! If you think there was classified documents being exchanged via normal email, you need to go after *the entire State Department*.

                          Of course, the problem is, there *weren’t* classified documents being exchanged.

                          What *actually* happened is that sometimes discussions over unsecured channels ended up being things that are at the very bounds of classification, hypothetically, if someone carefully pours over every single document looking for that. This has happened in all governments, at all times, in all ways.

                          This entire thing is functionally having the police take hundreds of hours of watching Hillary drive, watching her tires occasionally touch the lines when turning a corner, and then being completely outraged the police didn’t arrest her for vehicular homicide. It’s utter nonsense.


                      • David,
                        Classified information was leaked because of clinton’s private e-mail server. We know the spy that did it too — and who got all the e-mails.
                        Was this a big deal? No, not really.

                        But if you’re going to go on a jihad about “who did what and why”, well, some people got curious about what the hell was on Clinton’s private e-mail servers.

                        This has not materially affected geopolitics in any way shape or form, and I’d be inclined to classify it as a relatively minor incident.

                        But, I do say but, someone got classified material because Clinton had a private e-mail server. (read that last line again. It’s important).


                        • Was it Mittens who provided proof Clinton’s email server was hacked? Because it certainly wasn’t the FBI, who couldn’t say that definitively, and most definitely didn’t give us the spy who did it.

                          It’s also worth noting that we do know the State Department was hacked because we have seen those emails.


                              • *shrugs* I hardly buy into the paranoid musings of the right (which will be why I’m not citing public sources on some of the spies in Clinton’s camp.)
                                I don’t really care that some nebby spy agency wanted to look at the e-mails.
                                But, really — the FBI looked at them afterwards.


              • What to make of Comey? There were two controversial moments: in July, when he decided not to indict; and in October, when he went public with the re-opening of the investigation.

                Non-partisans have considered Comey above reproach. Partisans who know him and/or the law believe that he acted entirely correctly except for that moment either in July or October, depending on which partisan you’re talking to. Partisans who don’t know anything consider him bought and paid for either in July or October, but say that he was right on the other occasion.

                Personally, I don’t understand how he could have decided against pursuing Clinton. But I’m willing to grant that the decisions he made in July and October may have been the right moves, both legally and ethically, without any regard to how the moves were seen politically.


                • Pinky,
                  It’s easy to understand Comey. No one should take seriously the thought that he was not under the thumb of exactly the same people that Obama is under. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gotten the post.

                  The bit in October was self-preservation, dealing with an unprecedented rebellion by a near majority of FBI agents ready to tender their resignations.


                • I haven’t wanted to chime in on this, partly because I haven’t put a lot of time into researching it and partly because I’m skeptical that anything productive would result from it, but I was wryly amused at how quickly Comey transmogrified from angel to devil or vice versa.


                  • An honest person put in a tough spot would experience the same things that Comey did this campaign season. That’s not proof that he’s an honest person in a tough spot, but it’s suggestive. It fits better than the angel/devil theories.


                    • It fits better than the angel/devil theories.

                      What fits even better than that is that Hillary’s behavior *was not indictable*, and Comey knew that, so he decided to take credit for his ‘decision’ not to indict her, instead of just passing it one rung up the chain and having the DoJ’s *prosecutors* refuse to indict her.

                      EDIT: BTW, thinking the left thought of Comey as an angel for that is wrong. That entire thing looked like a *political favor* that Comey was doing to get her out of trouble, infuriating people because it *avoided the non-partisan system set up to look at this stuff* that probably would have chosen not to indict her.

                      It is entirely possible to *harm* someone by making an obvious and deliberate show of ‘saving’ them from things *they would not have gotten in trouble for if it actually reached a court of law*, or even if it had reached actual Federal prosecutors.


                      • Why exactly does that fit even better, other than it proves the point that you want to make? Do you have reason to view Comey as some kind of opportunist looking for the spotlight?

                        This is a serious question. I’ve not seen anything like this, but I may have missed it.


                        • Do you have reason to view Comey as some kind of opportunist looking for the spotlight?

                          I’m not sure the *spotlight* is exactly the right word. As far as I can tell, it’s not the *public* that he wants lauding him as the perfect politically-neutral hero, it’s the DC establishment.

                          And I just mention this on my other post, in response you talking about the supposed ‘noble Comey stops evil Bush administration from taking advantage of John Ashcroft’ (And then leaks that he did that.)

                          …and then a month later, Comey *signs off on the same program*, with possibly a few minor variations. Wow. It’s almost as if his objection was over some trivial nonsense. And it is weird, that for such a minor disagreement, we got this heroic story of him saying the day from…uh…him.

                          But the left fell for it. Hell, *I* fell for it.

                          There was also that rather odd time he held a press conference supposedly to say the FBI was not going to ask for an indictment of someone, but spent half the time berating that person’s behavior instead. I forget her name, rhymes with Millary Minton.

                          And here’s a fun article from 2013 (Although note it repeated the ‘Bush insurrection mythos’ uncritically):

                          “If past is prologue,” says one former Justice Department official who worked with Comey and knows him well, “something will happen in the context of a legal, policy, or operational disagreement where Jim may get on the high horse and threaten to resign or take some other action unless things go the way he believes they should.”

                          There is also the fun quote ‘a streak of self-righteousness and a flair for melodrama that has at times clouded his judgment’


                • Ughhh. The October move was deeply unethical. The DOJ has strong guidelines saying don’t do anything that might interfere with an election within 60 days of the election. He plopped down a memo a week out. There was nothing to it, the FBI had no idea is there was any incriminating material. Really and truly, the warrant has been released a couple days ago. They had no clue if there was anything new. Yes they threw that out there a week out!!!!!

                  It’s amazing that people are okay with this.


                  • If you comment begins with Ughh, there is a pretty good chance that is is highly emotionally driven. As points out, those of us who don’t have a dog in this fight questioned slightly the decision not to go further with any prosecutions and questioned slightly the decision to publicly announce the new investigation. Both seem a little off, but at the end of the day it’s pretty clear that Comey was in a situation where no matter what he did, someone could come along and claim that he was trying to influence the election. As far as I know, Comey is a stand up guy. This is the same guy who rushed to John Ashcroft’s hospital bedside to stop Alberto Gonzalez from getting Ashcroft to sign off on Bush’s illegal spying program.

                    By the way, the only reason that Comey was running this investigation is because Bill Clinton thought it would be a good idea to have that conversation with Loretta Lynch. If you guys want to keep explaining away all the Clinton campaign’s unforced errors, that’s cool. It’s not very productive, though.

                    This thread makes something clearer to me. In the mind of many Clinton supporters, there is no such thing as an independent. You’re either a supporter or you’re part of or victim to the vast rightwing conspiracy to smear her.


                    • Sure, you don’t give the appearance of interfering with an investigation. You also don’t push (at a minimum) the boundaries of security with sensitive information. You also keep a distance from the staffer whose husband has a problem with sex and lying.

                      Any good coach will tell you that you shouldn’t lose a game due to bad calls. You hate to get them, but if you’ve done your job, the game won’t be decided on the margins. When the second-in-command makes an unexpected decision about a possible information leak to a campaign staffer’s suspected pedophile husband, you can’t blame the ref.


                      • Pinky,
                        Huma Abedin is from Saudi Arabia. Tony Weiner leaked the information to another country. (about a year before the FBI got involved).
                        You can laugh all you want about the idea of hiring Tony Weiner as a spy, but someone did it.


                    • questioned slightly the decision to publicly announce the new investigation.

                      That was not a *new* investigation. At all. There was no need to announce it. There are, in fact, special rules against announcing it.

                      As far as I know, Comey is a stand up guy. This is the same guy who rushed to John Ashcroft’s hospital bedside to stop Alberto Gonzalez from getting Ashcroft to sign off on Bush’s illegal spying program.

                      You need to read more about what actually happened there. Comey’s objection to Stellar Wind vanished a month later, and he *authorized the program* after very very minor changes were made.

                      In fact, looking back, that specific grandstanding behavior of Comey is actually part of the goddamn pattern of his behavior, where he very publicly and loudly rides to the rescue of things in a blatantly self-promoting manner.

                      He also, for all his moral high ground, signed off on waterboarding.

                      By the way, the only reason that Comey was running this investigation is because Bill Clinton thought it would be a good idea to have that conversation with Loretta Lynch

                      No, it’s *not*. That is clearly just an excuse.

                      There is a process for these sorts of things, a process that did not involve Loretta Lynch. It instead involves a special non-partisan committee of career prosecutors at the DoJ. There is a specific committee set up to make determinations about processing with the prosecution of political actors.

                      Yes, Lynch would, at the very end, have to sign on off their decision to prosecute, but she had already said she would do that if they came to that conclusion.

                      But Comey is always the most important, politically-neutral, and correct person in the room. He made that very clear at the press conference where *he*, magnanimously, decided not to prosecute, despite him making clear that he did not approve of her behavior at all, scold scold.

                      You know, normal FBI director stuff where they berate someone for non-criminal behavior.

                      To put it another way: The thing you think is a sign of Comey *helping* Hillary…isn’t. Declining to ask for an indictment *sounds* like it helped Hillary…except a lot of people have pointed out it didn’t, because *she wouldn’t have been prosecuted* for that, and the DoJ would have come to the same conclusion!

                      If anything, Comey made it look *worse* for her, because he a) made it look political, and b) said a lot of things about her behavior.

                      It’s not ‘One thing helped Hillary, one thing hurt her’. Everything Comey has done, from the very start, has hurt Hillary. Every. Single. Thing. Telling people about the investigation. Closing it in a political-looking manner instead of having career prosecutors at the DoJ decline. Holding a press conference to trash her *while* declining to prosecute. Releasing information about another device when there was absolutely no evidence it had anything on it.

                      The closest he came to do something that *didn’t* hurt her was announcing, right before the election, that the additional search did not find anything. That’s it. And I suspect we got that only because the Democrats were, at that point, breathing down his neck for that to finish, and he couldn’t stall it. (In fact, someone should check when that *did* finish internally.)


                        • So, David, just to be clear, you’d have been just as okay with the FBI running Clinton out of the race exactly how they did Walker, because that would have happened earlier??

                          I am not sure what your assertions is? That people running for public office should be *immune* to prosecution?

                          Scott Walker was handled, as far as I can tell, the correct way. The FBI didn’t do anything immediately before an election, and, just as relevantly, they actually had a sound legal basis and the indictments moved forwards.

                          Admittedly, it then was completely squashed by some really questionable court decision, but even if people want to argue it was a *correct* decision, it was not how the courts had interpreted things before (And a pretty odd interpretation.), so the FBI was justified in their theory of a crime until that point.

                          Meanwhile, the Hillary investigation, from top to bottom, was entirely bogus. As I’ve said repeatedly, but no one seems to notice, sending classified documents over *any* public email system is not suppose to be done. The entire supposed justification of the cause of the investigation, aka ‘she had her own email server’, is not actually any part of the supposed crime!

                          Same with the new warrant. It’s been released, and it’s insane. Apparently, you can get a search warrant because you have a theory that *emails from Hillary Clinton* might be on a device. Nevermind that there’s no evidence she’s ever emailed actual classified documents. Apparently ’emails from Hillary’ is now all the justification you need for a damn search warrant.

                          Quick, Hillary! Email Donald Trump! It will be lots of fun!


                      • I don’t know. I guess that I just have a different reading of those links. I’ve never thought that the Ashcroft story painted Comey as some kind of principled defender of constitutional freedoms, but as someone preoccupied with maintaining a semblance of sound legal reasoning. Maybe that’s just him being pedantic. And maybe he’s a boy scout prone to getting on his high horse at inopportune moments, but that’s about what I would expect from a DOJ lawyer/FBI manager. And honestly, those are probably the kind of folks that you want in those roles: someone honest enough to stand up to those more powerful, but politically savvy enough not to get steamrolled.

                        I think of it this way. To prove HRC guilty of any crimes around the email server, the government would have to prove certain facts about her intentions and state of mind regardless of whatever they could prove about the contents of the email server. That would have been nearly impossible, so the decision not to prosecute was the right one.

                        Likewise, to call Comey’s behavior inappropriate or to prove him guilty of violating the Hatch Act or whatever other federal policies about actions around elections, you’d have to demonstrate something about his intent. We can guess his intent all we want, but I haven’t seen anything that remotely comes close to proving that he willfully injected himself in the election. Rather, I just see a guy with a set of equally perilous decisions to make and a bunch of partisans pouncing on the ones that they disliked.

                        Anyway, I’ll just keep saying the same thing that I’ve been saying. If you need to turn Comey into a black hat to justify Hilary’s poor decision to run State Department business on her personal server, that’s fine. It doesn’t change the outcome of the election.


                    • By the way, the only reason that Comey was running this investigation is because Bill Clinton thought it would be a good idea to have that conversation with Loretta Lynch.

                      Oh, and BTW, someone is going to have to explain to me how the husband of someone under investigation talking to the AG is some sort of horrible thing.

                      Lynch was not a witness or an opposing party in a civil suit that the other side has to stay away from. She is functionally the District Attorney of the entire United States.

                      I’ve never heard of any sort of rule that says DAs cannot talk to people under investigation (Or their spouses). At all. That is not any sort of ethics rules.

                      Now, as Lynch was someone who could, in theory, stop prosecution of Hillary, and if she did so over the recommendations of her non-partisan panel, that would be a problem, and people would rightfully ask questions. (Of course, Comey decided that *he* was in charge of all that and didn’t let it go to the DoJ.)

                      But I’m finding it very baffling she was completely trustworthy in every possible regard *until* Bill Clinton talked to her, thus rendering her judgement completely tainted. What the hell? She is the goddamn Attorney General, I don’t think she’s going to give up all her principles over a ten minute conversation.

                      Do people think Bill Clinton *literally* has some sort of mind control power over women?

                      This seems like an issue invented out of thin air.


                      • Here’s what Loretta Lynch herself had to say about that.

                        The entire link is good but here’s the opener to get you to read the whole thing (pretty much only three paragraphs and a youtube of an interview with her):

                        Remember, if not for the tarmac meeting, it would have fallen to Lynch to make the final decision on whether to prosecute Clinton. Because the meeting happened, though, she quasi-recused herself by promising publicly to accept whatever the FBI recommended in terms of charges.


                        • That article makes a fundamental misunderstanding that a lot of people do that completely ignores what Comey actually did to break the process.

                          Lorette Lynch never said she’d accept the recommendations of ‘the FBI’.

                          She said she’d accept the recommendations of the FBI *and the prosecutors at the DoJ*.

                          Which in practice means that the FBI hands over the information to the prosecutors, and the prosecutors decide. (Aka, it’s a linear process.)

                          Everyone keeps misreporting this, asserting she handed over complete control over to Comey. Not only did she not, she *couldn’t*…she has to sign off on the prosecution of Clinton, yes, but additionally an *actual prosecutor* at the DoJ has to move forward on that also. (Individual prosecutors decide what they move forward on. Lynch is just in the loop solely because she has to personally okay prosecutions of politicians.)

                          It is *normally* acceptable for the FBI not to pass their evidence along if they think the case is way too weak to even try anything. But in political cases, or if it’s anywhere near possible a real case, the FBI *should* pass it along, pretty much always (At least if it’s reached public attention.), and let the the prosecutors at the DoJ decide.

                          To simplify, the people Lynch *actually* was intending to hand the decision over to *prosecutors at the DoJ*, not the FBI. The assumption was the FBI would pass it along, and prosecutors would look at it. The media decided to pretend she meant the FBI, which she did not…and then the FBI went ahead and decided it anyway, without giving the prosecutors a chance to weigh in.

                          Of course, this wasn’t the *actual* problem. The case was, in fact, *incredibly* weak, and sorta stupid to start with and shouldn’t have happened in the first place! The FBI director saying ‘This is stupid, stop wasting FBI resources on this’ and not passing it along to the DoJ is entirely reasonable, in a world where Hillary Clinton was not a presidential candidate or there had not been stupid Congressional hearings about this

                          In this world, not only did he *not* say the entire premise of the case was stupid, and *not* say it early enough to matter, he chose to berate Clinton for her behavior, which is *completely out of bounds* for law enforcement to do, especially at a press conference, towards a political candidate. And then later he chose to pretend the case *wasn’t* stupid and there was some new evidence in it. (Which, when he made his announcement about, he didn’t even have a search warrant for or any grounds to get one…although somehow he got one anyway. One wonders what sort of meltdown would have happened if that warrant *hadn’t* been issued.)

                          And, more to the point of this post, in this world, the place to judge something that had become a *political question* was in front of career non-partisan prosecutors at the DoJ, not the leaky-as-a-sieve and totally-compromised-by-politics FBI.


                  • I found the 2012 memo online. This seems to be the relevant part:

                    “Simply put, politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. Such a purpose is inconsistent with the Department’s mission and with the Principles of Federal Prosecution.”

                    Did Comey violate it? I don’t see how.


                    • Did Comey violate it? I don’t see how.

                      That is just one of the many guidelines. There are others. Comey actually *asked* the DoJ whether he should make this public or not…and the DoJ said, quite clearly, no.

                      I think ‘asking your boss if you should do something and they say no’ trumps any memos your boss may or may not have written in the past.

                      Also, slightly-relevant fun fact: FBI agents knew about that laptop, and knew *it had Humi email on it*, at least a month and half before they reported it upward….right before the election.

                      I.e., the anti-Hillary cabal operating inside the FBI *withheld* knowledge of that laptop from the higher-ups until exactly the point where knowledge of more emails would become public before the election, but close enough that the search through the emails couldn’t be finished in time. (They thought. And really, were right, even if the search technically finished a few days before.)


    • I’m trying to be sympathetic Mike but I’m struggling on this. Yeah Clinton’s peeps have said that the Russian hacking (whether or not her campaign was shady) and Comey’s unprecedented intervention were causes of her loss. That’s to be expected since it has the virtue of being true. Comey’s intervention and the Russian hacks were causes of her loss and they were causes mainly (though in the latter’s case ultimately partially HRC’s own fault) outside of HRC’s control so of course they would be blaming those elements rather than the elements that HRC did control which also contributed to her defeat. That is what people do: blame the things they couldn’t control rather than the things they could. Had she not made the deplorables’ gaffe, for instance, or had Bill’s concerns about white working class voters been given serious air time and acted on then Comey or the Hackers would have merely hurt her rather than sinking her.

      Do we need to go back as far as who, Jefferson? Every losing candidates blames stuff for and rationalizes their loss. Everyone tries to emphasize the most unusual and uncontrollable elements and tries to downplay the elements that they could have controlled. That’s not partisan, that’s human.

      I mean what the heck more could conservatives want? All actions and official pronouncements have been studiously proper and cooperative. I understand the right o sphere’s media apparatus takes the fringe lefty screeching and whackadoodle nonsense schemes, splashes them up on the big screen and blames the entire left for it but where is it written that we need to sign onto that crap? If we start googling what the fringe right is advocating for and talking about does that define the entire right? Does Stormfront speak for you?


      • Russian hacking revealed real emails that the Clinton team sent. The subject of those emails is your root cause. Comney’s actions were suspect I agree…but again, he was investigating something that actually did happen. So at the end of the day, folks can complain about who revealed things or the timing of an investigation, but if the bad things hadn’t been done, there wouldn’t be a story.


        • The subject of the emails and the spin, yes, and had the GOP been hacked and the emails spun you could have had the exact same results. And yes Comey was investigating something that actually happened, sure.
          The point is grumbling about those things is normal. It is not corrosive to democracy and it’s certainly not bad sportsmanship or ungraciousness in defeat.


          • North,
            No, you really couldn’t. Not since the FBI got walker out of the race, at any rate.


            … shyeah. Didn’t it seem awful odd that Mr. Walker dropped out before a single person voted?

            FBI does this all the time. “Either quit or we come down on you like a ton of bricks.”

            Rubio had to fasttalk to get out of the same sort of shit that happened to Walker too.


          • The subject of the emails and the spin, yes, and had the GOP been hacked and the emails spun you could have had the exact same results.

            Out of curiosity, what do you think could be in hacked RNC emails that could have made Trump look bad? My guess is those emails would say something like “how do we stop this effin’ guy from continuing to win primaries and making a mockery of our party?” or later during the general, “how do we stopp this effin’ guy’s campaign from costing us the Senate and a bunch of seats in the House?”

            That’s the problem with the Russians/Comey/Mercury being in retrograde cost HRC the election: people just as much dirt about Trump as they did about Clinton. And about as many people – more people in the places that mattered – showed up to vote for Clinton over Trump. If there is about as much smear on both sides of the equation, then you cancel it out and solve for what’s left.


            • There was generally nothing in the DNC emails that made them look particularly bad either. Some darts thrown at a picture of Bernie on a wall and some unacted on bad ideas for fighting him. It was the fact of the hack and then the subsequent spin that made anything of consequence of them.


              • This is why I get so touchy about the casual assertions of “Clinton corruption” and “emails”.
                These are always presented as proven and unchallenged, the assumed starting point of every discussion.

                In fact, these are empty allegations, and have virtually no substantiation*.

                But it is critical to Trump supporters that they be accepted uncritically, and inflated to absurd proportions so as to balance out his own monstrous corruption and lack of character.

                *OK, we DID take Kim’s microwave.


                • This gets at a question I’ve asked several times…

                  If Hillary is so crooked, so corrupt, so untrustworthy… why do we have so few substantiated reports/instances of crookedness, corruption, or broken trust for someone who has been in the public eye for over 30 years now? If she was the monster we are supposed to believe she so OBVIOUSLY is, why wasn’t there a line of former colleagues or employees or victims waiting to say as much on stage or in campaign ads?


                  • Kazzy,
                    Too big to fail. She got a lot of people on her side by armtwisting.
                    (This is why no criminal investigation from Trump. too embarrassing to too many people).
                    And yes, we do really have people who are willing to say how corrupt she is. They talked with wikileaks. (Hell, my friend worked for Clinton.)
                    But, I say again, but, I wasn’t so terribly upset at her corruption or her rigging of the primary.

                    I don’t really recall much about her being untrustworthy coming up, though. She pays her bets, even when she bets wrong.


              • So, which is it? Are the DNC emails nothing or did the Russians steal the election for Trump? You can try to claim both, but the contradiction there undoes the claim.

                By the way, the whole idea that Russia would intervene in an election on behalf of Trump is a little bizarre. Hasn’t anyone ever watched RT? Their strategy is simply to criticize America and its allies right, left and center. There is no ideology behind it and generally no expressed preference. There’s just a desire to cast aspersions and make us look bad, which yeah, I can see how that is working.


                • The motive for Russia to prefer Trump over Clinton has been discussed many times.
                  Mostly it is that Russia (meaning Putin) profits both politically and financially from a weakened America, and a divided NATO.

                  Notice how important it is for Trump to criticize NATO nations, and remember that Paul Manafort was a lobbyist for Russia and Eastern European countries.
                  Notice also how Russia is intervening in European elections in a similar fashion, and remember that Europe’s main supply of natural gas is Russia itself.

                  I’m sure there are other reasons, but Russia has a very clear motive.


                • The DNC’s emails, plus the spin on them -together- amounted to political damage. The emails alone were pretty bland tea- it took the spin to turn them into anything of consequence. The spin alone would be dismissed as normal noise- it took the hack of the emails to provide them a mote of fact to stand on. How much of a movement in the polls they amounted to I plead ignorance of.

                  I’d say that Comey’s antics were by far the more substantive and problematic grey swan event.


                  • Yeah. you go ahead and plead ignorance.
                    You want to listen to pollsters?
                    They’d rather talk about Obama’s executive order on bathrooms swinging the election rather than the e-mails directly doing bubkus.


                  • The DNC’s emails, plus the spin on them -together- amounted to political damage. The emails alone were pretty bland tea…

                    Apparently not to Bernie supporters. But if you want to blame it on spin, that’s fine. Personally, I can see that the DNC emails might not have mattered so much if the Clinton campaign and it’s extended supporters hadn’t spent so much time banging on the “misoygynist BernieBros” drum.

                    Hillary Clinton was the second least liked presidential candidate in the history of polls about who is liked and disliked. You want to blame that on Clinton Rules or the vast rightwing conspiracy or misogyny or whatever? Fine. But then you’re going to have to explain how she got beat by THE least liked presidential candidate in history.


                • By the way, the whole idea that Russia would intervene in an election on behalf of Trump is a little bizarre.

                  The alternative is that they intervened in our election without any purpose whatsoever. Which makes even less sense.

                  My own best guess is that Putin recognized an opportunity to shift the balance of power in Eurasia by keeping Clinton and her hawkish anti-Russianism outa office given the alternative. Eg., if the Clinton alternative was someone similarly hawkishly anti-Russian/pro-projection of US power, then we’da seen no hacking, in my estimation.


                  • “The alternative is that they intervened in our election without any purpose whatsoever. Which makes even less sense.”

                    I see a thread of logic wherein Russia’s primary goal was to say, “We’ll fuck your shit up. Doubt it? Just watch.”

                    Maybe they cared who won. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they cared about showing they could impact who won (or, at least, giving the impression they could impact who won).

                    Does anyone know what the general internal response in Russia has been to the election and the accusations of Russian meddling? Are they offended at being accused? Or is there a sense of, “Just wait until we’re *really* motivated”?


                      • Maybe? Maybe they did hack the GOP and simply chose not to release it. A flood of leaks on both sides might not get the same attention that a (seeming) targeted attack did. They wanted to show they could put their thumb on the scale and it seems they did exactly that.

                        This is just a theory, mind you.


                        • Maybe they did hack the GOP and simply chose not to release it.

                          Maybe they meant to hack the GOP server while inadvertently hacking the DNC and shipped the contents to Wikileaks before realizing they made a mistake.



                          • Let’s leave the sarcasm aside. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that Russia wanted to flex its muscles and show that they could fuck with a US election without much concern for which way they fucked with it?

                            If they leak RNC docs and Trump loses, do we think, “The Russians!” or do we think, “Well, Trump…”?

                            If they leak DNC docs and Hillary loses, do we think, “The Russians!” or do we think, “Well, Hillary…”?

                            One line of thinking is that the Russians picked Trump.
                            Another line of thinking is that the Russians picked “Choosing a winner”.


                            • I don’t know how to respond to this without being sarcastic, kazzy. You took away my only tool here!

                              If you want me to say “I agree that it’s POSSIBLE”, then I will. It’s certainly not inconsistent with the evidence.


                                    • I think Don pretty clearly answered your question below. Why you seemed to intentionally misrepresent his position, I don’t know.

                                      Wait, hold on… we’re supposed to “break the cycle”.

                                      Jay, you did nothing wrong. Nothing at all. Nothing to see here.

                                      Anyone have a sword I can fall on?


                                      • Yes, he pretty clearly answered it by saying “well, both sides ought to have done it”.

                                        (Though, indeed, he doesn’t think that the RNC’s emails should have been brought to our attention given that they’d have been taken out of context.)


                                          • To be clear, Don’s point seems to have been, “The RNC deleted their emails which means they probably contained more than what you allege in your hypothetical.” No more, no less.

                                            From there, you jumped to him wishing that the RNC’s emails were hacked by Americans.

                                            He denied that.

                                            Now you’re reframing his position as, well, what exactly are you reframing his position as?


                                            • From there, you jumped to him wishing that the RNC’s emails were hacked by Americans.

                                              I would like to apologize fulsomely for implying that Don wished that the RNC’s emails were hacked by Americans.

                                              I regret it.


                                            • He didn’t say they ought to have done it, he said they probably did based on his understanding that much of what made Clinton’s emails look bad was not the content itself but the lack of context in which that content was viewed.

                                              You could probably make all sorts of arguments about why it was the content and not the context or why Clinton/the DNC’s emails were somehow unique in how bad they look.

                                              Instead… you did what you did here.



                                • Look, If you went through the RNC’s emails and couldn’t find a half dozen staffers saying things that sound really bad out of context, I’d wonder if any work was actually being done over there. One would think that anybody with a work email account would realize that lots of stuff gets thrown back and forth that will look awful if a malicious third party publishes a cherry-picked, curated version of those emails, but then we’re playing with Clinton Rules here, so i suppose that’s not the case.

                                  So just to make myself as abundantly clear as possible, I don’t think the RNC should get hacked, and if they were to get hacked I would hope that the media would report the hacks with a bit more critical eye than they approached the DNC hacks, because it would be trivially easy to manipulate even innocuous material to create some terrible headlines.


                                    • The comfort is that I don’t think anything that came out of the DNC hacks was actually bad, or even particularly newsworthy. Probably the same would be true of a hypothetical RNC hack, although one never knows for sure.


                                      • Well, the stuff that was particularly bad was stuff that everybody already knew.

                                        The primary had a lot of smoke-filled room stuff going on. Did this get a *SINGLE* Republican who was not inclined to turn out for Trump to say “that’s a bridge too far!”? I can’t imagine. I can only imagine it getting Berniebros to say “I KNEW IT!” and then to forget to vote on election day.

                                        The Donna Brasile thing? I can’t imagine a single person changing their mind based on that. Now, I can believe that someone might have revisited her answers to those questions and said something like “I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT HER TEAM SPENT HOURS ON THAT ANSWER!” but that’s another complaint.

                                        These were examples of things that made Berniebros say “I made the right decision” when they forgot to canvas for Hillary or Trumpkins say “I made the right decision” when they replaced the sign on their yard for the third time.

                                        Hillary supporters? It’s a deflating thing.

                                        When I imagine Trump emails coming to light, I can see them working their special Trumpian magic of *ENRAGING* Democrats and *INVIGORATING* Trumpkins.

                                        The worst thing that I could imagine coming to light would be emails discussing which neighborhoods in Ohio need billboards on the outskirts and which Wisconsin cities would be best poised to hold a rally.


                  • Well, no, I agree with here another alternative is that they hacked Hillary because in addition to about half the American electorate, Putin himself couldn’t stand her.

                    It is possible to say he was helping Trump.
                    It is also possible to say that he was tanking Clinton.

                    The acid test might be something like this: Could you for a moment entertain the idea that he still tanks Hillary if John-Unleash Southern Ossetia-Arm Ukraine-Shoot down Russian planes in Syria-Push NATO to St.Petersburg-McCain were running against her.

                    I think he does.

                    Getting the Trump wildcard was just a bonus.

                    We’re asserting conjecture about Russian motives that contradict the initial assessments/assumptions of the Clinton team.


                    • another alternative is that they hacked Hillary because in addition to about half the American electorate, Putin himself couldn’t stand her.

                      Heh. I won’t discount that possibility.

                      {{As a general theory, it accounts for so much about this election already…))

                      Add: tho the “Trump wild card is just a bonus” part seems a little thin to me given what even we know about Trump.


                    • But aren’t they also intervening in European elections, where Hillary isn’t an issue?

                      And didn’t they already have deep ties to Trump, which would make it really really implausible that they just didn’t care who won?

                      There is a lot we know, but the only theory that fits all the known facts is that they really wanted Trump to win.


                      • Aren’t we? Sometimes we pick who we want to win, sometimes we pick who we want to lose.

                        Also, I am informed on these very pages that running very large sums of money from foreign entities through audited and regulated structures is exactly how politicians are supposed to do it.

                        And, isn’t there an old adage that goes something like this: If Trump owes Russian Oligarchs $1M that’s his problem, but if he owes them $1B, that’s their problem. Seriously, we have no idea what we’re talking about… you don’t think its possible that some number of Russians who thought they had Trump by the balls (turnabout is fair play, and all that…) never thought in their wildest dreams that the son of a bitch would become president, and how that fishes their leverage?

                        The idea that Trump might have become president is so preposterous that there’s no way he was groomed by the Russians (and if they did see it, then they deserve to win anyway). And, achieving the presidency basically frees him to deal however he wants with his business associates… he’s the opposite of a puppet. He basically drew the inside straight.

                        Now, corruption, side dealing, self aggrandizement… of course… he’ll probably even charge outrageous sums to his friends at Goldman-Sachs for speaking engagements once he leaves office. I also expect his foundation will get better legal advice, a makeover, and a slew of very worthy projects that need supporting globally.


                        • Seriously, we have no idea what we’re talking about… you don’t think its possible that some number of Russians who thought they had Trump by the balls (turnabout is fair play, and all that…) never thought in their wildest dreams that the son of a bitch would become president, and how that fishes their leverage?

                          How does it do that?

                          It certainly *curtails* some of their actions, he’s not going to have people with baseball bats showing up at his door. But I don’t think that’s how billion dollar loan sharks work anyway.

                          And it curtails some of his actions, also.

                          And it adds a few new actions they have, like threatening to reveal all this to the American people. Trump made financial disclosure statements, and if he lied on any of them, that’s not going to go well for him.

                          Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem to add *any* new actions to Trump, except that he can perhaps pay them off in other ways, like by removing sanctions.


                          • Sure, good points. Its a dance of leverage and counter leverage.

                            Trump the over-leveraged Hotel guy had X many cards to play, where X was a pretty well known sum. As president he now has X + President cards to play. Russian oligarchs have varied interests that Hotel guys can’t really pull into the pot. The President? He can change the stakes.

                            I think baseline corruption is positively something that will be a part of the Trump presidency… In someways he won’t be able to help it… that’s what he does, he trades favors… and those favors are expensive. He’s completely unschooled (I’m assuming – though, maybe not, he claims to understand how to buy politicians…so?) in the art of influence peddling under the written and un-written rules of government. I fully expect him to get tripped up between the two worlds. It suspect it depends on how well he works through experienced hands who can translate his wishes into the proper forms.

                            On the Russian side, who knows what “fun” they all had celebrating the closing of big Hotel deals… and what videos of which hookers and what blow (although I guess he’s something of a teetotaler?) he was doing to celebrate. Trump the Hotel guy out with hookers in Russia is probably expected. But at this point, I’m not 100% sure that Trump the president out with Hookers does much either. But that’s the point, its all conjecture.

                            On a lighter note… who knows, maybe we’ll like the Russian puppet strings better; goodness knows the Saudi ones kinda suck.


                            • I think baseline corruption is positively something that will be a part of the Trump presidency… In someways he won’t be able to help it… that’s what he does, he trades favors… and those favors are expensive.

                              It is extremely weird to hear people say things like this. Not because I disagree, but because people saying them seem to be operating in a universe where he has not already done that.

                              We just got some news about the Trump organization pressuring a Kuwait celebration of their National Day to move to Trump’s hotel. This is the sort of shit going on *without* the power of presidency.

                              He might, might, *might*, actually be approaching the presidency *honestly*, intent on doing the best for the country. (Instead of just how much he can rip it off.) I can, perhaps, entertain that idea.

                              The problem is, again, he has no boundaries or regard for use of power, *and* absolutely no skill at the job, so is going to make disasters *even if* he’s decided to (For the first time in his life) attempt to accomplish something beside personal wealth and self promotion.

                              Attempting to define ‘corruption’ to Trump is like attempting to define ‘moist’ to fish. That is *how he thinks the world works*. That is the entirety of his worldview.

                              He *might* attempt to do that ‘for the country’, hypothetically, but that’s not how politics works!(1) (And I think it’s more likely he’s going to use politics to *accrue* favors he can personally cash later.)

                              He’s completely unschooled (I’m assuming – though, maybe not, he claims to understand how to buy politicians…so?) in the art of influence peddling under the written and un-written rules of government. I fully expect him to get tripped up between the two worlds. It suspect it depends on how well he works through experienced hands who can translate his wishes into the proper forms.

                              HAHAHAHAAHA. Oh, man. The idea of Trump actually listening to an expert in something telling him he needs to do things differently. Funny.

                              Trump doesn’t need other people’s advice. He’s made that pretty clear.

                              And Trump’s idea of how to buy politicians are so incredibly clever and subtle that he blatantly gave one of them a campaign contribution from a non-profit. He managed to take a form of influence peddling that (for some reason) we’ve decided is legal, and do it in one of the few ways it is completely illegal. Smooth.

                              1) The real joke is that, somehow, Trump manages to avoid having any of the actual skills that the business world *could* translate to the presidency. Namely, he doesn’t have stockholders to placate, he doesn’t have dissenting board members, he doesn’t have to deal with a large corporate structure with various divisions competing for resources. All the corporate-head stuff that *could* translate into Presidential experience, and he doesn’t do any of it.


                    • Also, March, an election between two candidates is a zero sum game. So, going back to j r’s, comment, actively preventing candidate A from winning is equivalent to acting to ensure candidate B wins.


                      • No argument; if you pick a loser you pick a winner.

                        So, if the analysis is simply the outcome of the election, then tanking Hillary contributes to Trump winning.

                        I’m just trying to tamp down some of the frothy assertions that we know exactly what all this means from the Russian perspective, from Trump’s business perspective, and the near certitude that Putin is some sort of puppet master. We don’t really know shit.

                        If Trump is a puppet, he’s just a likely to be Chucky as he is Howdy Doody.

                        Honestly folks, give Kimmi her cats back, they’ve done enough for one day.


                      • You know, that might have been a really good way to handle the episode…

                        Though honestly, I’m not sure how much of a political winner the bi-partisan Russia hate is outside the Foreign Policy Blob. So possibly her folks told her that was a political loser. I don’t know.


                    • Well, no, I agree with r here another alternative is that they hacked Hillary because in addition to about half the American electorate, Putin himself couldn’t stand her.

                      Everyone here seems to have forgotten that Hillary Clinton has been *extremely* critical of Russia and Putin’s behavior since she let office. And Putin has responded in kind.

                      So I don’t know why we’re *guessing* at whether or not Putin likes her. He very clearly doesn’t. He’s said so repeatedly. He’s been about as clear as can be. This is not some sort of puzzle we have to piece together to reach the truth. We can just read their damn tweets and newspapers interviews!

                      This election was between someone Putin loathes, and someone who admires Putin and is possibly a ‘friend’.

                      Trying to figure out ‘which’ of those is the reason for the manipulation is silly. In fact, I suspect that Russia wouldn’t have done anything if *only one* of those was true. But as the sides were so clearly defined, one being a mortal enemy and one being a sycophant that owes Russia lots of money, this was obviously the election to start with. (Or, at least, the election where they did it so much they got *caught*. Here’s today’s nightmare fuel: Would we have noticed *smaller* efforts in past elections?)


            • Out of curiosity, what do you think could be in hacked RNC emails that could have made Trump look bad? My guess is those emails would say something like “how do we stop this effin’ guy from continuing to win primaries and making a mockery of our party?” or later during the general, “how do we stopp this effin’ guy’s campaign from costing us the Senate and a bunch of seats in the House?”

              I agree. I am completely baffled as to what people think releasing the RNC hacks could have done to hurt Trump. As we’re pretty clearly seen, it would hurt the RNC and other elected officials, not Trump.

              Incidentally, this doesn’t mean we don’t need to worry about the hack.

              Let’s assume that, Russia is, at this moment, sitting on (Let’s say) five pieces of email that can cause Trump to fly into a rage at five different Republican Congressentities.

              There’s no way that could have influenced the election, at least not of Trump. But now it’s a *really useful* blackmail tool against those Congressentities, especially when they’re trying to get a bill through Trump.

              Russia goes ‘Be a shame if I revealed these now and got him mad, wouldn’t it? There’s no way he’d pass your bill now, the bill you spent three years trying to get passed. And totally off the subject, but the Russian sanctions are up for renewal…wonder if you’re going to vote for them again this time…’

              Of course, I’m not sure how much Republican Congressentities and the RNC talk privately in email. Or how many of the RNC *are* Congressentities. Someone with a lot more knowledge of the RNC than I have is going to have to look at that. Maybe I’m worried for nothing.

              But you know who I bet *is* in those emails?

              Reince Priebus. (Duh.) I’m *sure* he said some stuff in private at the RNC, especially at the start of the race, that he doesn’t want waved in front of Trump’s face now that he’s chief of staff. Whether or not he committed those thoughts to *email* is unknown, but if he did, he has to be sweating right now.


    • OK, let’s talk surrogates.

      Newt Gingrich, who’s been advising Trump for months, on conflicts of interest:

      It is a totally open power, and he could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers. I pardon them if anyone finds them to have behaved against the rules. Period.’ Technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority.”

      Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, in his own words made Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right”, that is, for white supremacists and anti-semites.

      To ignore this, my mind wouldn’t be open, it would be empty.


    • So how about this: we have a blue-ribbon committee investigate the Russian cyberespionage, chaired by former President George W. Bush. I’d prefer George H.W. Bush (the Elder) but his health recently suggests he doesn’t have the stamina to do things like this. Bush the Younger is a) a former President himself, b) unimpeachably a conservative Republican, c) not particularly trustful of Russia or Vladimir Putin, and d) blessed with a personal track record of keeping his opinions about his successor’s activities to himself (as tradition dictates) as well as no public record of opinion about the DNC cyberespionage.

      Also on the committee should be General Keith B. Alexander, the former director of the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command under both Presidents Bush and Obama. Add some former officeholders from both parties with experience in technology and foreign relations issues, and have them produce a report similar to the 9/11 commission report.

      Critical to the success of this independent commission would be President Bush’s participation. This will make the formation of the commission as well as any adverse finding palatable to Republicans, and Democrats publicly accepting his leadership of the committee will go a long way towards rebuilding something like comity in our body politic.


      • I’m fine with looking into what Russia did, and responding accordingly. That still doesn’t mean they changed the outcome of our election and I think that’s the key point. No one on the Left is really disputing what was in those emails. They just don’t like the timing of it and who was responsible.

        And of course, when we open this can of worms, lots of third World countries are going to want to talk about how many of their elections we were involved with.


      • I’m pretty sure that Trump and his followers despise Bush, considering him another member of the globalist elite just like they see the Clintons. Hence Democrats accepting him as leader of anything wouldn’t increase unity but decrease it.


  10. I’m going to make a plea here which is likely to be ignored but in the spirit of the season I’ll still try. In the coming months, try your best to evaluate the new President and his appointees based on policy, not on how you feel about them as people.

    My opinion is that while it’s correct to assess that many in the Trump senior circle are bad people, unqualified for the task before them, it’s a tactical and strategic mistake to pursue that line of attack.

    I think I’ve said this before, but ordinarily, the process story is something a Presidential administration tries to squash in order for the press to talk about the agenda. Trump’s agenda, is, though, himself.

    So the paradox of the Trump administration is that the more he tweets (and the media focuses on that), and the more blatantly his family and company try to flout conflict of interests laws (and the media should cover that, but…), the better the ability for the quiet operators, in the executive branch and the legislative, to pass whatever policies they want.

    So, in summary, I agree on your prescription, but not based on magnanimous, ‘stop the cycle’ motives, but on pure effectiveness.


    • There’s no reason to repudiate magnanimity, I think. We ought to be talking about what’s best for us, and what’s best for the country. We ought to be talking about what people do, rather than who they are. That’s how accountability works. This is a win-win.


    • I look at Cabinet secretaries as mostly just figureheads. How many decisions they make actually affect the people at the bottom (I really don’t know). I work for a company of over 400,000 employees and I can tell you that our CEO is basically just a PR guy. His VPs and the Board make most of the decisions and even most of that doesn’t trickle down to me as lower-tier management. So…. if we’re just expecting them to head an agency, to delegate work, to manage…wouldn’t CEOs be good choices?

      Of course, don’t get me started on Ben Carson at HUD. That one was upsetting.


      • Romney seemed like a really shitty CEO, at least judging by his campaign.
        I dunno whether Trump is making good picks or bad ones, other than his Treasury Secretary was Clinton’s Pick too.

        So, for me, it’s wait and see.

        I think Cabinet Secretaries jobs are to “point and click” (“Hey NASA, let’s do a manned mission to Mars!” or “Let’s downsize defense. What can we cut?”)


      • I look at Cabinet secretaries as mostly just figureheads.

        Really? So who do you think at DOJ will make the call on marijuana prosecution in states that have legalized it? Who will make the call at DHHS when states ask for waivers on traditional Medicaid that pushes more of the costs onto the poor? At the FCC on whether to continue supporting the net neutrality rule in the courts, or to drop the whole thing? Some GS-13 no one’s ever heard of?


          • This is an interesting question. The knock on the Obama administration was that he surrounded himself with a bunch of close advisers at the White House and marginalized the Secretaries from a good portion of the policymaking.

            My best guess is that Trump will be the opposite. He’ll have a few areas in which he meddles and micromanages, but the rest will be one big bureaucratic battle royal with lots of entrepreneurial appointees out there trying to make stuff happen in their respective lanes. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is likely dependent on who these Under/Assistant Secretary level appointees are.

            This is all still a big question mark, which is part of what makes all the left’s wailing and gnashing of teeth so counter-productive. There is a chance that everything will go to pot (well, except for actual pot which may be prosecuted out of existence) and you can feel vindicated. On the other hand, the administration and congressional Republicans just may be able to cobble enough of a policy agenda to fix some of the very real problems that we have. If that is the case, then the only thing that goes to pot is your credibility.


  11. I like it that Trump won.
    It gives us the opportunity (and not the guarantee, I concede) for something different.
    I am not upset by the prospective mass departure of career civil servants.
    In fact, I believe a vast purge of governmental agencies is long overdue.
    At the state level, the express purpose of governmental employment is to permit one to act in excess of lawful authority.
    Upwards of 10% of all governmental employees would be better off in prison than in continued employment.


    • That’s just like, your opinion man.

      But be sure to share that venom with every gov employee you meet. It will surely win you friends and influence enemies to focus elsewhere.

      Or you house gets burnt down while pd and fd roast hot dogs on a stick and drink to your health. Cuz hell, everybody has a nobby knobbs in the company, just too necessary for life and entertainment to fire/kill. And nobody likes to think about old nobby doing time, dont ya know.


  12. I’m going to make a plea here which is likely to be ignored but in the spirit of the season I’ll still try. In the coming months, try your best to evaluate the new President and his appointees based on policy, not on how you feel about them as people.

    I’ll certainly evaluate the actual policies as they come, but my disgust with Trump has a lot less to do with his policy positions than who he appears to be as a person. If another more honorable but conservative person had been elected, I’d just recognize that people have different policy preferences than I do and leave it at that. But Trump seems like a unique problem in that more than any other politician I’ve ever been aware of, he seems pretty clearly to be a transparent con man without any guiding ideological principles or moral center.

    The fact that he has articulated policies that I disagree with is barely the problem at all, partially because I don’t think he cares about most of those promises. Much of his “policy” was clearly made up on the spot with zero thought because somebody asked him about it on camera. What he said was simply what he thought would sound good rather than any articulation of deer principles that I might find off-putting. If I am right, his reasons for running had very little to do with a vision for America that he wanted to see enacted and more to do with self aggrandizement and enrichment. If he could be the boss by eliminating Obamacare, he’d do that. If it took enacting universal health care, he’d probably do that instead as long as he got the power, respect, and opportunities for personal gain he was looking for.

    I’m certainly not wedded to dumping on everything he does like a lot of partisans are. If he starts to kick ass at policy making, I’m happy to acknowledge his wins. I also think that spinning everything he does as nefarious is unseemly. But much of what he has said and done post-election has reinforced my view of the type of person he is and the type of leader he’ll be.


      • For all his faults, I believe that Nixon had ideas about where the country should be going and wanted to see those visions enacted, just like most politicians. Even among the politicians I find the most distasteful, that always seemed to be a common thread until now. I have a strong dislike for Paul Ryan’s policy preferences and his behavior in service to those preferences, but I have no doubt that he sincerely believes they’re good for the country and is driven by an intellectual/ideological framework to enact those policies and make the world a better place.

        That’s pretty much the minimum you can grant to most politicians you dislike, and I find myself unable to grant even that much to Trump.


          • There are two very distinct reasons to be appalled by Trump’s victory. The first is the likelihood that his win means the GOP will get their way on a number of policy fights where you disagree with them. This is certainly a good reason to be appalled if you’re a liberal, but probably doesn’t justify the depth of dismay that is emanating from my side of the aisle.

            The second, though, is mostly specific to Trump: the affection for dictators, the authoritarian tendencies, the sheer personal sleaziness, the sexual assault, the corruption, the explicit racism, and the general lack of knowledge, expertise, or self-control. These things are more disturbing, and they justify a much less trusting or measured response, because they imply tail risks that are just enormously bad. It seems like Mike’s post largely depends upon pretending that the first set of reasons is what matters while ignoring or minimizing the second.


              • Ha! That last one was a liberal bonanza! Ca-ching!
                (you didn’t actually buy ammo from the “jackbooted obama thugs are going to take your guns” commercials, did you? I fucking hope not.)


                • I think you and Mike are in accord here, and that his point was to say “Obama will take your guns!” was the breathless hyperbole equivalent to every worry about Trump. Since Obama didn’t and was never going to take your guns, Trump won’t ever [fill in the blank with worst fears about Trump]. And since Obama’s presidency didn’t demonstrate massive inexperience-based incompetency despite his inexperience, the Trump presidency will also be basically competent.

                  Of course, the parallel would make more sense if Obama’s rallies always featured him chanting “Take their guns! Take their guns!” in unison with the crowd. Or if the argument for Trump’s incompetency was derived totally from his inexperience.


              • , he hasn’t been inaugurated and he’s already started a potential diplomatic crisis with China. He’s inviting foreign governments to curry favor with him by doing business in his properties. How much does he have to do between now and inauguration day for us to stop treating him like a child who’s just blowing off steam instead of somebody about to become the most powerful person on the world?


                  • Listen to what the man says, Mike. That’s a long wait for a train that won’t come. And as a resident of North Carolina, where the GOP is helpfully illustrating what being a sore loser really looks like, my store of benefit of the doubt juice is running dangerously low.


                  • I’m not troubled by the China thing at all.

                    If you aren’t troubled by the China thing, you don’t understand what happened there.

                    There are certainly *grounds* for *possibly* changing how we deal with Taiwan, as long as we understand the harm it will due to our relationship with China, and that China cannot do much about that. (The Chinese’s people belief that Taiwan is part of China is basically a fundamental religious belief, and *even if* the China government wanted to give up on Taiwan ownership, they couldn’t, at least not without years of prep.)

                    But it is *possible* to argue that our relationship should change, the careful balancing act we’ve set up with China ad Taiwan should change. Okay, fine. I’m not going to argue any specific relationship should never change.

                    But it almost certainly shouldn’t change because some advisers of Trump who don’t like China decided to randomly change it via a diplomatic gesture that China *literally doesn’t understand*. Was this a sudden shift in US policy? Was it some idiot taking a phone call? NO ONE KNOWS.

                    This is why China did that drone theft thing. That theft was completely silly and pointless on their part, it accomplished nothing at all. The only reason they did it was they wanted to see what the hell Trump would do. (They always ‘test’ new US presidents, but they normally wait until they’re *in office*.)

                    Trump, of course, behaved like a lunatic.

                    And China are, basically, completely baffled as to what is going on:

                    Note that article isn’t some attempt to undermine the president. China hasn’t told *outsiders* anything. The editorial they wrote appeared in *their own* newspapers and is basically them *warning their own citizens* that Trump is Trump, so expect craziness from the US for a bit.

                    It’s not in that article, but there is a hilarious theory that, as Twitter is blocked in China, and China leadership doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the US media, that they *literally* didn’t realize how Trumpy Trump was until that phone call and have sorta been scrambling around in disbelief since then that such an idiot is going to be in charge of America. That the Chinese leadership, the last week, has been sitting there late at night reading the last few years of Trump’s twitter feed, and repeatedly exclaiming the Chinese version of ‘WTF?!’.

                    China, lest we forget, is set up where, before someone gets anywhere near the wheels of power, they have spent *decades* training for that. They wouldn’t let someone like Trump anywhere near power. They probably sorta assumed that was the way it worked here, that we wouldn’t let such a person be president. (And to be fair to China, a lot of *us* were assuming that also.)

                    And, on top of that…uh, Trump gets to change the diplomatic position of the US *when he is in office*. Even assuming that phone call *was* a sane thing to do, and was a sane way to change US/Chinese relations…he still has to wait until he’s actually in power for that. Signaling is one thing, but taking diplomatic phone calls from a country and government that officially does not exist is another.


                • Don,
                  Do you know any Chinese diplomats? The whole world hates the arrogance of those Middle Earth folks. And that was actually a planned thing, not a dipshit fucking things just for the ruddy hell of it.

                  I dunno, maybe eat some broccoli?
                  *Bush-Sama! Bush-Sama!*
                  (That is a ReallyBad Diplomatic incident.)


              • Wait wait wait… WHAT?

                Obama never promised to take guns. His opponents invented fears that proved unfounded.

                Trump has promised many scary things. His opponents are afraid of those things happening. Maybe they won’t happen.

                You are seriously making me feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

                You have demonstrated no interest in breaking the cycle. Quite the opposite, actually.


                • This kind of thing is all too common and genuinely depressing. Mike’s a smart guy, conscientious, and a good writer. But on this thread it feels like talking to a space alien or somebody who has been paid to carry water for Trump. People are so invested in cramming Trump into the contours of normal politics and despising HRC that it’s incredibly difficult to have a productive discussion.


                  • It becomes really easy to conclude he’s not arguing in good faith, because his statements feel so bizarre.

                    Or possibly in a coma, and just woke up and said “Really? Trump’s gonna be President? Seems odd, but I’ll see how he does”.

                    In the same thread that he’s arguing that Trump should get every benefit of the doubt, have his slate wiped clean of everything he’s done and said since throwing his hat in the right, he ALSO talks about how he really wants to believe Clinton trashed her hotel room. He just likes the image.

                    And calls it “breaking the cycle”.

                    I think the actual title should be “Complete liberal capitulation”. Not on losing the election, which they did, but to the point where they literally wipe their minds of everything Trump has done and said AND agree that all the claims against Clinton (or possibly any Democrats) are just and true. Except maybe the pedophile ring — that might be a bridge too far.

                    Gotta stay at least a little in touch with reality, right?


                • Obama never promised to take guns. His opponents invented fears that proved unfounded.

                  Yeah, that is what happened.

                  Obama was caught in an uncharacteristic moment of loose language. Referring to working-class voters in old industrial towns decimated by job losses, the presidential hopeful said: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

                  The comments were seized on by his rival for the Democratic party candidacy, Hillary Clinton, who saw in them the hope of reviving her flagging campaign by turning voters in the important Pennsylvania primary on April 22 against what she classed as Obama’s revealed “elitism”.

                  “I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America,” she said on Saturday. “His remarks are elitist and out of touch.” Clinton campaigners in North Carolina handed out stickers saying: “I’m not bitter.”


                  • So Obama wanted to ban their religion too, right? Because if that statement expresses intent to take away guns, which it doesn’t, it’s also a promise to take away the rest of that parallel construction, isnt it?


                    • Obama is on record, multiple times, about making the AWB permanent. There were other quotes attributed to him before he was elected where he talked about a handgun ban or a ban on semi-automatic weapons. This was a large part of why I voted against him in 2008.

                      Those fears proved unfounded…or he never saw the political leverage to do it. Either way, my opinion changed. Likewise, he has done other things I like that I never saw coming, like all of the people he has pardoned. Absolutely love it.

                      Trump has some things in his 100 Day Plan that even liberals should like. Take a look and then keep an open mind.


                      • I went looking for what exactly Obama’s campaign positions on gun control were and realized for the first time that the bitter clinger thing came during the primary and that it was HRC who first deployed it against Obama.

                        That is relevant for this conversation about why HRC just lost this election. (Hint: It wasn’t Comey or the Russians. As a candidate, Clinton has no discernible core other than a commitment to opportunism. Loters of voters tend not to like that so much.)


                          • Yes, Hillary Clinton got about 4 million more votes in California than Trump did and another 3 or so million in New York and New Jersey. She also beat Rick Lazio (after Guliani dropped out) with 55% of the vote in the 2000 NY Senatorial election and soundly beat… hang on, I have to look this up… John Spencer (not of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, different spelling) with two-thirds of the vote. And she almost beat Obama in the 2008 primary before losing to President Elect Trump (yes, I still laugh uncomfortably whenever I say that out loud).

                            You’re right. How could I ever question Hillary Clinton’s track record as a candidate for political office?


                            • If the point you want to make here is that you don’t like Hillary Clinton, that’s fine, but I don’t think it has a damn thing to do with Mike’s original post or the question of how Democrats should handle Comey, the DNC hack, or the fact that the Electoral College has once more delivered the Presidency to a Republican who lost the popular vote.


                              • If the point you want to make here is that you don’t like Hillary Clinton, that’s fine, but I don’t think it has a damn thing to do…

                                This is a pretty good comment to illustrate what I’m talking about. I listed a series of facts in support of the idea that maybe Clinton isn’t such a great campaigner. What does that have to do with whether I like her or not?

                                As for all the other stuff, I don’t really know what to say. If you are intent on finding everything to blame but the candidate and the campaign, there is no short supply of reasons. You can fail to learn the lesson all you like. It has nothing to do with me. All I say is don’t be surprised when it happens again. I mean, it will happen again and you will be surprised and you will find a narrative to deflect blame, because this is politics and politics does all it can to resist honest self-reflection.

                                As a matter of fact, it seems like ever Democratic presidential loss since Carter in ’80 has come with an asterisk, some unfair thing that stole victory from the rightful candidate. Maybe that’s the case, but you’d think if it keeps happening you’d want to try doing something different.

                                Or not. Like I said, this has not much to do with me.


                  • Mike responded to expressed concerns about Trump by sarcastically stating that Obama never took his guns. The implication is that the concern Obama’s opponents had about him coming to take their guns was equivalent to the concerns that Trump’s opponents have about him. But they are not equivalent. Because Obama didn’t run a campaign predicated on taking away people’s guns. That fear was unfounded. That it was never realized in no way delegitimizes the fears people have expressed that are rooted in Trump’s actual actions, worse, promises, etc.


                    • The fact that Obama had a bunch of things on his record that seemed contrary to what he said while running for President is exactly why so many of us were worried. It all seemed like he was a stealth Far Leftie. Hillary implied that very thing about him in 2008.

                      Trump said a lot of ‘scary’ things that I don’t believe he will attempt to do. Many of us believe he’;s basically a Reagan Democrat that used a nationalist/populist message to get elected. So, it becomes a matter of thinking one candidate is actually worse than he sounds and another candidate is not as bad as he sounds.


                    • As I said above, my comment was about HRC and in the context of the larger conversation on this post. Perhaps I should have broke it out into a different thread.

                      That said, the whole reason that I started looking for Obama’s positions is that I wanted to see what he campaigned on. It seems that he has been supportive of an assault weapons ban, which could entail any number of policies. But it’s certainly fair to ask if an assault weapons ban would result in taking away some people’s guns. That’s not a criticism, just a description.

                      As for actual actions, between Obama and Trump, only one of them has actually been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians and the deportation of millions of people. I’m sure Trump will do his best when he gets his chance, but at this point I find Trump Derangement Syndrome every bit as bizarre as I found Obama Derangement Syndrome and Bush Derangement Syndrome and Clinton… so on and so forth.


                  • Clinton really should have done a better job of heeding Obama’s words:

                    But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.


                  • Banning Muslim immigration, a massive trade war with China and Mexico, libel suits against journalists that displease him, unambiguous war crimes, and abandoning the postwar alliance system to start. Should I add the ones that are basically GOP dogma or that require me to do any googling?


                • Let’s cool it down a bit (this isn’t directed at anyone in particular) and try and keep the heat to a minimum and light to the maximum. Granted one can feel like a lot of grey, at most, stuff is being called black but the OP is coming from a more right of center viewpoint and while that does not require that it be agreed with it’s advisable that it be disagreed with in a temperate or even good humored manner. In this Trump era we liberals shouldn’t indulge in the luxury of getting publicly angry.


                  • I’m not the one who said I wished unflattering reports about Hillary’s election night response were true because of how much I despised her. That was Mike. You know, the guy calling for “breaking the cycle”.

                    Mike is responding to pushback by pointing at Obama. How is that breaking the cycle?


                      • I hear you, .

                        The thing, I agree with Mike’s general call to “break the cycle”. A few weeks back, I got into a weird exchange with Damon wherein I said I hoped the Dems engaged in principled opposition to Trump without resorting to knee-jerk obstructionism. From what I recall, I was essentially told that there is no difference between the two and that my calls for principled opposition made me just as bad as the congressional GOPers over the last 8 years. Huh?

                        We *do* need to break the cycle. But I don’t think we get there by having Republicans (even relatively non-partisan/non-ideologues as I do trust to be) lecture Democrats on just how naughty we’re being.


                        • “From what I recall, I was essentially told that there is no difference between the two and that my calls for principled opposition made me just as bad as the congressional GOPers over the last 8 years. ”

                          Who told you that? And what did they (and you) actually say?


                  • I’m inclined to agree, North. I do believe Mike Dwyer has made some mistakes in the comment thread here, as Kazzy has pointed out.

                    What I really disagree with are the statements that Mike is calling for “complete capitulation” when by my reading he’s calling for a more reasoned and therefore more constructive opposition. Maybe Trump is indeed so bad that such an opposition is too little, too late, but I’m not sure he’s quite wrong.


            • There are a lot of reasons to think a guy is going to be an OK president, and I haven’t really seen any of them from Trump.

              You could say that he has relevant experience and a good knowledge of foreign an domestic affairs / policy. Trump has neither, but a lot of successful people go into jobs for which they have little experience. They succeed for other reasons. So maybe we give him a pass.

              You could say, “Well, he doesn’t have much experience, but he has a good philosophical framework that will drive him to make decisions that are good and that agree with my preferences.” That’s reasonable. It’s a good reason to vote for a Gary Johnson or a Jill Stein. But Trump doesn’t seem to have that. He seems to say whatever pops into his head that seems like it will sell. There’s no obvious set of bedrock principles beyond, “I’m a winner.”

              You could say, “Well, he has no experience and his decision making framework is arbitrary, but he’s a fundamentally good person who will act in good faith and can be trusted to use power wisely.” I don’t think I’m projecting my own paranoia too much when I say that he does not appear to be a good, well-meaning person. Donald Trump started a fake university to scam his followers out of large sums of cash. And that doesn’t seem to be a particularly isolated incident–just the most obvious and unambiguously sleazy one. If anybody I knew did anything like that, I would have nothing to do with them. It says far too much about character, and I will forgive *a lot* of bad stuff that a politician does.

              Obama had a good command of the materials and came off as a principled, well-meaning centrist Democrat. GW Bush wasn’t a trivia guy, but he had been a governor and came across as a guy with a consistent philosophy with his heart in the right place. And so on. You can pick and choose what’s important, but up until now I could make a good case for each President Elect in recent memory having some obvious combination of those qualities. This time really does feel different.


            • Don,
              the sexual assault would have been worse under clinton. The corruption would have been worse under clinton. the racewar would have been worse under clinton (not saying she’s racist, saying that the Powers that Be want a racewar and she’s beholden to them).
              Clinton has some very real authoritarian tendencies too.

              Trump is not Kucinich, he is unlikely to be allowed to press the nuclear button without the military signing off on it. (The problem with hillary is that the military would cosign what she wanted).



    I’m just a godless coastal liberal elitist, but denying John Bolton a stop in your administration seems like a sign that just maybe, Donald Trump might not be qualified for POTUS. But, I guess we need to “break the cycle” and just give ole’ Donny a chance.


  14. Jesse Ewiak:
    I’m just a godless coastal liberal elitist, but denying John Bolton a stop in your administration seems like a sign that just maybe, Donald Trump might not be qualified for POTUS. But, I guess we need to “break the cycle” and just give ole’ Donny a chance.

    Keeping John Bolton out of your administration is a great sign. Keeping him out for this reason is basically the only way it could bode poorly.


  15. For a fine “both sides did it” that I think will have to be worked on before a real and honest opposition can be attained (and real and honest support can be built), is the whole “Eff off, we don’t need you!” attitude that, yes, both sides leaned on pretty heavily at different times in the election cycle.

    On the Republican side, the “we don’t need you” went from Team Trump to the #NeverTrump kinda folks. Now, come the election time, this turned into “HEY GET IN LINE” “Nah. You don’t need me” conversations and, wouldn’t you know it, “we don’t need you” kinda turned out to be true. Kinda. It hit the Jonah Goldbergs, the Bill Kristols, and the right in the kisser and now the question is to what extent the Republicans feel like they have to make up with each other.

    I mean, we see who was #NeverTrump because they thought he would lose the election (in a landslide!) and those who were #NeverTrump because they cared more about their own principles than their own influence.

    On the Democratic side, I’m looking at the mini-movement to categorize Bernie supporters as “Berniebros” who chose Bernie because of misogyny and thinking “oh my god… that was criminally dumb. Holy crap was that dumb. Who in the hell came up with that crap because that person should never be affiliated with political opinionmaking ever again unless the person who came up with that was on Team Trump.”

    I mean, seriously. That was magnificently stupid.

    The democrats, particularly the activist side, probably wants to go back and see whether they implied stuff like this or this and say “you know what? We should have seen your enthusiasm as something praiseworthy.”

    Holy crap, was that dumb.

    In retrospect, anyway. If Hillary won, they could treat the Berniebros like the Trumpists are treating Kristol. If Hillary won.


    • But Jaybird, you don’t understand. It was her turn. After finally showing that America was Not Racist by electing The First Black President, it was her turn to show us that America was Not Sexist by electing The First Woman President. It was her turn, Jaybird. Her turn. And if you didn’t wholeheartedly support that, if you refused to accept that it was her turn, well, obviously you weren’t as progressive as we all thought, and everybody knows what non-progressives are like.


      • We’re moving (have moved?) from a society that is saying “we all need to work together” to one that says “we don’t need you!”

        The society that says “we don’t need you!” might be okay if we told the people that we didn’t need that they were allowed to go their own way… but we don’t believe that they ought to be able to do that.

        Which means that winning is really, really, really, really, really freaking important.


        • Your belief that we used to be a society where we said ” we all have to work together” and actually meant “all” people is not entirely historically accurate. You know that right?


                • But if we are moving in a direction that’s worse, then presumably we are moving from a place that was better. He’s just asking when that was. The 1950’s? 1990’s? Last Tuesday?


                  • A place that was better?

                    Well, in the context of political parties yelling “WE DON’T NEED YOU” vs. “Hey, let’s work together despite our differences”, I can point to stuff like Dan Rostenkowski, Tip O’Neill, and Ronald Reagan were all able to work together to pass, for example, the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

                    That was reaching across the aisle and bipartisan as heck.

                    I also don’t have too much memory of the primaries but, by my recollection, the acrimony between Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, and Jesse Jackson was less intense than that between the Berniebros and the Hillbots.

                    “Where’s the beef?”, while it stung, could have been overcome and it was.


                    • Oh, well seems straight forward enough, the high point then was 1990 when Bush Pere and his opponents hashed out the 1990 budget deal and it’s been generally downhill since then.

                      Speaking personally as a gay man about turning the clock back to 1990 I’d have to say “yeah we’d probably rather die thanks.”


                    • But, , that wasn’t because people trusted each other more in general. That was because it was harder for crazy people to know that their representatives were being squish cuck RINOs and making deals with the Demoncrats.

                      Your average conservative voter in 1986 was just as reactionary as they are now, they just has no knowledge of what their Congressperson was doing, as compared to 2016, when you know your Congressperson is doing primary worthy things like actually talking to a Democrat.

                      There are multiple stories about Obama making a deal I personally wouldn’t like with Boehner, but said deal failing apart not because the Republican’s in Congress opposed the deal in practice, but because they were scared of the millions of dollars in primary attack ads they’d have to face.

                      When it comes to the American constitutional system, too much knowledge by partisans is a terrible thing.


                      • Oh, so now we are finally approaching a truly representative level of representation in Government and prior to 2016, we were just fooling ourselves and/or ignorant?

                        We never should have put the Democrats in charge of education!


            • Of course, as has been noted, you always think everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Lots of groups who weren’t part of the “all” are now part of the larger society which is good. But if you want to hang everything on , i’m sort of guessing what the heck you are talking about here, some D’s harshing on the WWC then i agree that is wrong. Of course there are plenty of D’s disagreeing with that just as loudly so it’s not like there is just the one voice out there.


              • Things are going to hell in a handbasket.
                Just a little more slowly, and a LOT MORE THOROUGHLY than most of the idiots think.

                1.2 billion refugees, with their parent country having nuclear weapons.
                How you like the sound of that?
                Got a year, too: 2040.

                Doomsday (by which I mostly mean end of current civilization) is getting closer by the minute.


          • Hold it, Jaybird. You need to clarify what you mean by “we all need to work together”. Are you talking about politically, each party should unite behind its candidate? Because that’s what your thread-starting comment indicates. Or are you talking about societally, we should all work together across the aisle and across every other division? I think that’s what Jesse is thinking about. Or are you saying that our current political inability to unite even within our own sides reflects a broader societal disease? Or do you mean that we should be uniting across the aisle politically, and I’m overthinking the whole societal angle?


            • Are you talking about politically, each party should unite behind its candidate? Because that’s what your thread-starting comment indicates.


              The acrimony between the Berniebros and the Hillbots has only the palest of reflections in the “PUMAs” in 2008 and I’m not sure that we can find meaningful examples prior.

              The #nevertrump thing strikes me as being somewhat unprecedented, though I guess the whole McCain/Bush/Rove thing from 2000 might have a flash of a precursor to it.

              Or are you talking about societally, we should all work together across the aisle and across every other division? I think that’s what Jesse is thinking about.

              I wasn’t really talking about societally… but I suspect that, at some point in the future, I will be.

              At that point, however, the question “are you *REALLY* saying that things were *BETTER* in 2014/2009/2005/2000?” will be absurd on its face.

              Or are you saying that our current political inability to unite even within our own sides reflects a broader societal disease?

              Oooh, that’s good.

              Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

              Or do you mean that we should be uniting across the aisle politically, and I’m overthinking the whole societal angle?

              I’m thinking that that is a lagging indicator, if it’s an indicator at all.


        • Jay, your being optimistic again. It’s not only that we don’t need you, it’s also, ‘this thing is not yours’. I have started calling this the ‘nacho’ syndrome:

          nacho democracy
          nacho country
          nacho truth

          This works fine if the case were divorce, but there is not going to be divorce.


  16. Analogy: a man stands outside my window, tells me he’s gonna rape me, jokes about it, spits in my friend’s face, etc. The cops arrive. The cops insist — for reasons beyond insanity — that I let this man into my house, that I let him sleep there.

    Someone demands I show good faith. After all, he might not rape me.

    Fuck this shit. Trump is a monster. Zero good faith. Fuck it to hell.

    Trying to draw a symmetry between DONALD-FUCKING-TRUMP and literally any other president, Bush, Obama, Clinton, Reagan, even fucking Nixon — doesn’t matter. DONALD-FUCKING-TRUMP.


    This is different, the way a kick in the teeth is different from a smile.

    We elected a sick narcissistic freak. What the fuck! The system might survive (probably not), inasmuch as it’s a system. But seriously, no business as usual.