Now The Press Is Finally Getting Around To Highlighting The Most Frightening Story In 54 Years.

On October 28, 1962, Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced he was pulling from Cuba the nuclear missiles he had deployed there. Here’s how The Week summarized the entire event:

Modern day historians note that the standoff nearly turned into a global calamity. With bombers in the air and nearly 3000 American nuclear weapons alone in a state of readiness, the Cuban Missile Crisis could have led to the end of the world in mere minutes.

Now it seems quite plausible, as Khrushchev’s son, Sergei, insisted, that the perceptions of this crisis were different in America than they were in Russia. The history of Europe has been a history of “enemies at the gates,” and as such the government and people of Russia didn’t panic when, say, “Americans placed missile bases in Turkey or any other European country.” They just tended to deal with it as a part of their reality as Europeans, wars and more wars and more wars.

The American public, though, historically protected by two large oceans and with no contemporary enemies on their borders, saw the threat of nuclear missiles in Cuba as an extraordinary threat. “This created a panic,” Sergei Khrushchev said, which made Americans “anxious to remove missiles from Cuba,” which of course eventually happened. “But,” Khrushchev went on, “nothing really changed.” Why?  For the very simple reason that “the Soviets had their missiles on their mainland [with] only 20 minutes difference in their delivery. . .” Did it really matter if we were annihilated in 10 minutes as opposed to 30? Khrushchev said it did matter to us: “It was an American psychological crisis.” And that psychological crisis made the deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba a “very, very dangerous” situation.

The lesson here is that we Americans, whether it makes logical sense or not, don’t like to have our well-being so directly threatened. Putting nuclear missiles so close to our border was unacceptable. Today we face another crisis engineered by Russian behavior. This one doesn’t involve the deployment of nuclear arms in Cuba. But it does involve a direct threat to our well-being, to our free, democratic society.

We’ve known since the summer that the Russians were trying to get Donald Trump elected. On July 22 WikiLeaks published 20,000 stolen emails from the DNC and immediately American intelligence agencies suggested very strongly—with “high confidence”—that the Russians were behind it.  On July 27 we had Trump chime in. Here’s the lede from a Times article:

DORAL, Fla. — Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he hoped Russian intelligence services had successfully hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, and encouraged them to publish whatever they may have stolen, essentially urging a foreign adversary to conduct cyberespionage against a former secretary of state.

This extraordinary position taken by a major party presidential candidate should have been the end of his campaign. It should have branded him as unpatriotic, a threat to the country. Republicans, especially, should have condemned him, should have demanded he drop out. The press should have never let this go. Journalists should have dogged him day after day, grilled his spokesman interview after interview. None of that happened, of course. Republicans were mostly silent. The press moved on to focus on the content of the stolen property, and more “questions” about the Clinton Foundation, and you know how that all ended.

Now, after it is too late—unless the Founders’ Electoral College saves us from the Founders’ distrust of democracy—we have a frightening confirmation of what we already knew:

A shocking secret CIA assessment has concluded that Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election expressly to help Donald Trump win, according to an exclusive report Friday by The Washington Post.

Until now, intelligence sources have indicated that Russian hacking throughout the campaign that repeatedly exposed information overwhelmingly embarrassing for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was an effort to undermine Americans’ faith in their government.

Now the intelligence community has concluded that Russia was clearly after a Trump victory and manipulated information to that end, according to sources who spoke to the newspaper.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” a senior U.S. official briefed on the CIA assessment told The Washington Post. “That’s the consensus view.”

The New York Times did add some new reporting to this months-old story, saying the Republican National Committee was also hacked during the campaign but, of course, no documents were released, which is partly why intelligence officials concluded that the hacking was deliberately done to hurt Clinton and help Trump.

Trump’s response to the latest revelation continued to confirm just how thoroughly corrupt he is and just how unpatriotic are his reflexes. Instead of expressing concern about Russian involvement, he blamed the messenger, the CIA, and insisted that “It’s time to move on.” Well, it appears from what I am finally seeing from the press, no one will just move on because Trump said so or because Trump will stir up another ridiculous controversy to deflect.

This is, and always has been, the biggest story since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Russians have essentially not only threatened us with anti-democratic and anti-Democrat Party missiles, they actually launched them at us in the form of stolen emails and other material. Those Wiki-warheads landed right in the middle of an existential election and they have left a lot of toxic fallout, including a loss of faith in our democracy and, the most toxic fallout of all, a president-elect named Donald Trump.

Trump has gone out of his way time and again to defend the ex-KGB thug who now runs Russia; he has aligned himself with Putin’s view of NATO and the annexation of Crimea and the fight with Ukraine; and he has surrounded himself with people connected to Russia, one of whom will soon become his National Security Advisor—fake news promoter
and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—and another who may become Trump’s Secretary of State—ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, described by The Washington Post as having “extensive business dealings and ties to Russia.” Tillerson, who has known Putin since 1999, is opposed to interImage result for tillerson and putinnational sanctions against Russia. To show its appreciation for Tillerson and a mutually beneficial business deal in 2011, the Russian Federation decorated him with the Order of Friendship in 2012. A former aide to John McCain said Tillerson would sell out NATO” for oil and for “his pal, Vlad.”

That’s all horrifically bad. But Trump and his family have their own financial ties to Russia, if we are to believe his son, Donald Jr., who said “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” and “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” And if we are to believe Michael Crowley, Politico’s senior foreign affairs correspondent, who wrote, “Trump has repeatedly explored business ventures in Russia, partnered with Russians on projects elsewhere, and benefited from Russian largesse in his business ventures.”

We don’t know the extent of Trump’s involvement with Russia, or other adversaries of the United States. Does he owe a lot of money to banks in lands hostile to the U.S.? We don’t know because Trump won’t tell us, and that has caused smart people, people like Richard Painter—a former ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House—to argue that the Electoral College should reject Trump if he doesn’t completely strip himself of his business interests. ThinkProgress quoted Painter’s appearance on CNN:

I don’t think the electoral college can vote for someone to become president if he’s going to be in violation of the Constitution on day one and hasn’t assured us he’s not in violation.

The Electoral College, if it is worth anything at all besides devaluing the vote of people who live in big cities, should divest Trump of the presidency if he refuses to divest himself of his life-long need to make a buck. But, come on. That won’t happen.

What will happen is that, upon the orders of President Obama, intelligence agencies in our government will “conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process” and report back before January 20. I’m guessing the agencies conducting the review won’t include the FBI, whose director, James Comey, was accused today by outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of “deliberately” keeping from the public information about Russia’s involvement in the election. Comparing Comey to the controversial J. Edgar Hoover, who abused his power while directing the same agency, Reid said Comey had “let the country down for partisan purposes.” It’s hard to know if partisanship was the reason for Comey’s strange behavior, but we have reason to be suspicious, since Comey injected himself in the election by publicly howling about Secretary Clinton’s email situation not once but twice, and by clamming up about Putin’s widely-acknowledged assault on the Clinton campaign. We still don’t know if the FBI is investigating the matter or not.

In any case, we now know for sure that members of Congress, of both parties, were briefed in September on what the CIA knew about Russian interference (according to Reuters, as early as last year “top congressional leaders” were told “that Russian hackers were attacking the Democratic Party”; that’s apparently why, God bless her, Nancy Pelosi spoke up in August, to no avail). Vox summarized just why that September intervention by our intelligence agencies did no good. Hint: Republicans were involved:

The Washington Post also reports that doubts from Republican leaders in Congress dissuaded the Obama administration from responding more forcefully to the alleged Russian attacks. In mid-September, intelligence officials organized a classified briefing with senior congressional leaders and laid out the evidence of Russian hacking and the danger that Russia could try to interfere with voting systems on election day itself. They hoped the meeting would lead to a bipartisan statement condemning Russian interference with US elections.

But according to the Post, not all Republican leaders were convinced. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics,” the Post reports. “Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election.”

All this has led some people to, gently and not so gently, criticize President Obama for not speaking up anyway, for not informing the public of what our government knew with, again, “high confidence.” The great Charles Pierce is on the gentle side:

This president has been a good one, probably the most progressive politician we’ve seen in that office since LBJ was kicking ass in 1965. But he has made mistakes, and every single serious mistake he’s made has been because he assumed good faith on the part of his political opposition, misjudged the depth and virulence of his political opposition, or both. It’s 2016. Why would he still believe Mitch McConnell would act with dispassionate patriotism instead of partisan obstruction on anything? Why would he believe it of anyone in the congressional Republican leadership? Hell, he even admitted as much in an interview on NPR last July. I respect the president’s confidence in the better angels of our nature, but those angels have been deathly quiet since 2009.

While I tend to agree with this analysis, and it is part of the larger story, I don’t want to get distracted by throwing rocks, even tiny ones, at a man who has done everything he can, before the election and after, to preserve what’s left of public confidence in our democratic system. Sure, we can look back now and see that it wouldn’t have hurt a thing, since Trump won anyway, for Obama to rat out the Russians in a forceful way. But he didn’t. And we are where we are.

We shouldn’t take our eyes off the fact that we now have a man heading to the Oval Office who was the beneficiary of a hostile government’s interference in our election, but refuses to either acknowledge it or condemn it. We have a president-elect who pleaded for more Russian espionage against the United States, against the Democratic Party presidential nominee. He has praised Putin repeatedly. He has surrounded himself with advisers and potential cabinet members who side with Putin and Russia on important international matters, including sanctions for invading Crimea. His campaign successfully watered down a provision in the GOP platform related to military assistance to Ukraine, which is fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement. Trump has expressed doubt about NATO, the only force that can prevent the establishment of a new Russian Empire.

The decades-old Cuban missile crisis represented only a threat to our national well-being. There was no attack and the matter was settled peacefully. What Putin’s Russia did this election cycle was much more than a threat. It was a successful attack on our democracy. And the fact that our soon-to-be president has directed his hostility toward the CIA who revealed the attack and not the Russians who executed it, tells us all we need to know about his loyalties. And this issue should dominate the news from now until Trump leaves office, whether that be before or after his term expires.

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  1. “…Well, it appears from what I am finally seeing from the press, no one will just move on because Trump said so…”
    Really, you think the press is going to give Trump the scrutiny they should have all year? I think our only hope now is for the electoral college to vote for Clinton, and I see little reason to hope for that. Even those pushing the electors to not vote Trump are suggesting they write in other names – but if they deprive Trump of the 270 votes w/o giving those to the candidate who won the people’s vote, that will not accomplish anything good. The press is hardly even mentioning this.
    Well written, by the way – don’t mean to sound down on your writing, just down on feeling that we’re tied across the railroad tracks, and the train is coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen,

      Thanks very much. I understand your skepticism about the press. Believe me I tend to share it. This seems different, though. I watched CNN this morning for the first time since before the election and a lot of time was spent on the Russian issue and Trump’s response to it. While this is just one day, and we have reason to believe (18 months of reasons) other events will crowd out this story, we do have that intelligence report coming out some time in January. That will serve to keep this in the news for a couple of months, and given Trump’s nature, he will inevitably say something else revealing about this Russian connection, which may perpetuate the story well into next year. Thus, hoping against hope, I think this one will have legs that others didn’t have.

      Added to all that, I get the feeling that many in the press themselves sense that they mucked up this story, especially the television press. I don’t know if that will translate into more aggressive coverage of it, since the bosses are ultimately in control and the bosses worry about making money over everything else, but it does give me hope I haven’t had for more than a year now. I am, of course, prepared to be let down yet again, though. Sadly.



  2. Oh, yes, yes, I see. And I do agree. I thought you were saying we might yet be saved. But we have only eight more days. Yes the ghosts of our free press will indeed cover, should I say uncover, the story, but it will be post-mortem. It will be after we have a militarization of the cabinet. It will be after we have a climate-change denier at the EPA and the CEO of Exxon as Sec. of State and Ben Carson — well, you see what I mean. And why is Trump engaging in Thank-You Tours? As Masha Gessen puts it, The country is at war abroad and has been in a state of mobilization for fifteen years. This means not only that Trump will be able to move fast but also that he will become accustomed to an unusually high level of political support. He will want to maintain and increase it—his ideal is the totalitarian-level popularity numbers of Vladimir Putin. Unless someone stops that train within the next eight days, I think the post-mortem on American will be merely interesting, not useful.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  December 12, 2016


    That last 54 years covers the years approximatel of my adult lifetime. I was sophomore in college during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I read the WaPo each morning, went to classes, played intramural sports, shined my shoes and life went on. Big story, of course, but…….?

    1963- Kennedy death, 1965 – Gulf of Tonkin, 1968 – take your pick of violence, 1973- American nuclear forces went to DefCon 3 with every submarine at sea spinning up all missiles in preparation for ……. (bet you didn’t know that one), 1974 – A President resigns in disgrace, 1979- Iranian Crisis, and of course, the real whopper, 9/11. I could go on,

    We try to live in a free and open society. People all over the world try hard to take advantage of such. If Russian hacking of Dem Party is bad, think of what NSA does every day, in America and elsewhere.

    Politics is a blood sport. The grave error made is writing emails that when exposed will cause ………. Does it really surprise you that Dems got caught. Forget for the moment who caught them, just that they got caught doing ………Snowden laid bare the NSA and some consider him a hero. Is he?

    DOD launches a major study and the end result was probably a scathing indictment of bureaucratic bungling therein. Report is “buried”. Did Russia expose that little hat trick?

    I keep asking myself why Russia wants Trump as our President. Does Putin really want America to be Great, again? Does Putin really want our resurgence of American military power? Think Trump and “Mad Dog” might well put a “missile shield” in “Poland” now? Obama has let Putin roam wherever he likes over the last 8 years. Why support a man that “might” stand up to Russian hegemony, again, like Reagan and even long past Dem Presidents in the past?

    Know who really wanted Trump in the WH? Try Israel. Think it is possible for some really smart geeks therein to channel hacking through Russia to get into Dem nickers? Think you or anyone else will be able to “prove” that one?

    Are you “shooting the messenger” and ignoring the message of political dirty tricks by Dems? Does it surprise you that dems even try to play dirty politics, politically incorrect dirty politics but certainly politics as usual?

    This whole “Russian hacking us” issue reads, to me, like a spy novel. I am just surprised they were able to pull it off, if in fact “they”, meaning anyone, pulled it off, just like I was surprised Snowden did the same.

    Think cyber-security is now REALLY important and just how vulnerable America is to that threat today, from almost anyone. Who is worse, China or Russia, or Israel, or Iran (look what we did the them and their centrifuges), or hundreds, many thousands, of other brilliant minds that can “get into just about anything” using computer technology. My guess is most of those “minds” are not government employees either. They are collectively “lone wolves” that do it to make tons of money and raise all the hell they can possibly raise.

    Sad story is whomever “they” might be, we in America, in this case the Dem Party, let them do it. For damn sure no Russian wrote the emails thus exposed. Or did they? Another spy novel, right.



    • Anson,

      (Excuse me for being a little heated, as I look back at what I wrote. But what the hell. It will probably only get worse as time goes on.)

      First, you said “Dems got caught.” Got caught doing what? Being normal politicos involved in a campaign? Come on. There wasn’t a damn thing in any of those hacked emails (none were from the candidate, by the way) that was scandalous. Not one thing. Just a bunch of typical back-and-forth, speculation, sarcasm, etc., that I can assure you goes on in any human endeavor, especially one as large and complicated as a presidential campaign. We can only imagine what went on behind the scenes in the Trump campaign. What happened with the Democrats was the press made a mountain out of rather mundane business and suggested there was much more there than there was. That’s the way the whole thing went against Clinton. All the time. Every day.

      Second, as I have stated several times, Snowden is no hero. He can rot in Russia till he passes away, as far as I  am concerned. I am not someone who has any sympathy for him, which, of course, to some people destroys my left-leaning credentials. I don’t care. The man has done a lot of damage to our country, for reasons I went into a long time ago. The cynicism he helped create has now infected both political parties and their bases. I am a fiercely pro-national security liberal. Noam Chomsky types can kiss my ass, when it comes to this stuff. Our country has made many mistakes, some horrible mistakes. The CIA has been a part of that deplorable history and deserves a lot of criticism. But we have to deal with the mistakes made without undermining the integrity of the whole intelligence-gathering apparatus. Now, I’m afraid we are in trouble. People on your side, the base of the GOP, refuse to believe anything that comes from the government. It’s much the same on my side. That’s damaging beyond words.

      Third, and most important, you’ve got to be kidding about why Putin would want Trump, right? You must be joking. But let me help you in case you aren’t joking: Putin wants to move back into the Baltics and other formerly held territory. He wants to undermine NATO, the only force who can stop him. And Trump, from what we have seen, will help him do that, wittingly or unwittingly.

      For all we know, Trump is compromised already by the Russians. Maybe they have something on him, maybe Putin, a corrupt man who has made billions since he became involved in politics, has Trump by the short hairs on some shady business deals or other forms of corruption (doing business in Russia, in case you don’t know, is all about “commissions”; the place is thoroughly corrupt). Maybe Trump owes Putin money. We don’t know, Anson. And we don’t know because Trump won’t let us see into his financial affairs. Don’t you think that is the least a man, aspiring to lead this country, should do?

      What the fuck is Trump hiding? Come on. If this were a Democratic leader, say, Hillary Clinton, who was this opaque, you would be screaming from your rooftop. You’d have an editorial every two days in the paper. Come on, man. The reason Hillary Clinton did not win the election was because she was so damned transparent. She paid a price for that transparency. That’s all the press fed on for months. Meanwhile, we know almost nothing about Trump’s financial ties around the world, some of them necessarily involving corruption in, as I said, places like Russia.

      Fourth, invoking Israel as the source of the leaking is implausible to say the least. I guess you must think, then, that the CIA and other intel agencies were in on this scheme, too? Because they clearly believe, and think they can prove, it was Russia. And nothing happens at that level in Russia without Putin’s blessing.

      Finally, you end, again, with some reference to those Democratic “exposed” emails. Goddammit. Please provide me with a list of all the scandalous things you found out by those emails. And then compare what you think is a scandal–there was no real scandal–to what we saw every day with Donald Trump.

      You’re better than this, Anson.


      • Ben Field

         /  December 13, 2016


        Anson’s sources apparently include a Newsweek article cited below. It was written by Guliani’s top cop, Kierek. You remember Kierek, he committed eight felonies, resigned in disgrace, and spent four years in prison. Yeah, that’s who a responsible person quotes.


        • Oh, I remember him well. Used to see him on TV all the time. Thanks for that link because these are the sorts of people who will populate some higher, but many lower, positions in the Trump administration. As the years pass, we will be treated to a number of stories on corrupt officials, which, weirdly, will distract from the bigger damage Trump will do to the country and, God forbid, to the world.


  4. Ben Field

     /  December 13, 2016

    Hell, I said Newsweek, wtf?, it was Newsmax the icon of independent journalism.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  December 14, 2016


    I can accept and understand “heated”. But I will try to counter it from time to time.

    If a nuclear weapon was exploded somewhere I could follow, to a degree, a discussion by say Los Alamos as to where the nuclear material originated. I was educated and trained in matters nuclear. But computer science, I have no idea how it “works”. I just know the science is very difficult to follow and state of the art science does not have nearly the exactitude as read in spy novels. My guess is human intelligence is involved with the “hacking” thing and we all know the pitfalls of that. Look at how “sources close to the government (“theirs” or “ours”) handled WMD in Iraq.

    Check out Rachel Marsden’s column in today’s Globe. She quotes a “former British Ambassador” indicating the whole Wikileaks issue was the result of a LEAK, not outside hacking. He even claims to have met the leaker and is positive he “was not Russian”!!! But really, so what. The information “got out”.

    And you are absolutely correct that what was written in those emails was business as usual in big time politics. I am certain the same kind of “discussions” were held in GOP circles as well. But who really howled the loudest over Dem “dirty politics”. Try Bernie!!! Trump supporters would never vote for Hillary. But Bernie supporters, well when dirty politics was revealed to them……? Bet Hillary may have lost a few “tons of voters” from “them”.

    The reality in today’s world is “hackers will hack”. Do you really think the state of the art of computer science can nail each one when he gets on his keyboard? Not yet, for sure. Think we can “forensically track” his trial left behind with certainty. Not yet, for sure. As indicated by Marsden we can’t even determine, maybe, whether it was a “hack” or a “leak”, like the copies of Trumps tax return pages. Why is the country not in an outrage over that hat trick against Trump? In one case “we have a right to know”, but in the other, well you and yours get “heated”?

    Far be it from me to try to defend Trump’s every move (or tweet). I also know that many in this country would love nothing better to pull some strings and uncover another Watergate against Trump, a third rate burglary turning into a Constitutional crisis. I know you will try hard to find such matters for the next four or eight years. I hope you see that your writings about Trump sound very similar to a local Globe columnist’s rants against Obama for now 8 long years, as well.

    As mentioned before, I remain very uncertain why Russia wants Trump as President, other than the simple view that Trump seems to want to “work with Russia”. Does that sound very similar to the hopes of a “reset” coming out of the Obama administration a few years ago? Will Trump pull it off? I have no idea but …….. I have to wait and see for now.

    My bottom line, Duane, is I want to see conservative government work today. For that reason alone I am taking a wait and see position politically. You are determined to show why it will not work, period. I can accept that on your part, but will continue to try to counter you antagonism against Trump and all other matters conservative.



    • Anson,

      I note that, after making a big deal out of all the supposedly bad stuff in the hacked emails, that you couldn’t give me one example of how the distorted coverage of them by the press was merited. There simply wasn’t anything there, beyond the normal banter between strategists and partisans.

      Secondly, comparing me to an asshole like Geoff Caldwell is ridiculous (as well as personally insulting). Suggesting such a false equivalency ignores all of our history. Besides being a third-rate troll for years, if you remember correctly, Geoff came out of the gate in late 2008 pretending to give Obama a chance. That was bullshit of course, but it is much different than what I am doing now for the simple reason that Trump is much different from Obama. I will repeat this once again: I am not taking my present position against Trump because of his ideology, which is what motivated dickheads like Caldwell to mercilessly attack Obama. I will, of course, object to Trump’s cabinet picks and agenda, but that’s not the biggest worry about him. He is a thoroughly corrupt person, Anson. Thoroughly. I have read a lot about his personal history. It’s all out there from liberal sources and from conservative ones (try that entire issue of National Review dedicated to thwarting Trump, for instance).

      Couple his corruption with his lack of transparency and you have a domestic disaster in the making. And then add to all that his friendliness to Putin and Russian interests and you have a potential world-changing disaster. Imagine if Obama came into office with all this surrounding him. Imagine how your old Navy pals would be out of their minds with outrage, and well they should be. This is unacceptable.

      If you have Netflix, I suggest you watch the French documentary on there about Putin and all the corruption in the Russian government and how Putin has used his office as a way to enrich himself. Putin, in my opionion, offers Trump a model for governance. Attack the press and discredit it so that Trump’s followers won’t believe any of the stories of corruption that come out. Try to control the press as best you can in an American system. Because starting on January 20, there will be such stories of corruption and potential corruption because if Trump keeps his businesses, with their foreign entanglements, there will be a constitutional problem and many, many lawsuits.

      Trump is no Obama. He’s no Romney. He’s no Bush. He is the most dangerous demagogue in American history, Anson. And this has absolutely nothing to do with his ideology or policy proposals, which are a separate matter that deserve scrutiny as well. But ideological or policy scrutiny is, as you suggest, a partisan exercise. The larger and most important point is that all of us, you and me and all Americans who care about a fascist-free world, including especially here at home, should demand that Trump divest himself and his family of all businesses. If he gave a damn about the country he would do that much as a minimum, as well as disclose his tax returns in full. He says he has plenty of money. He can make more of a fortune by selling his businesses. Set it up to do so now, before the inauguration, and he will at least go some small distance in trying to assure us that he won’t be making decisions based on his own self interest.

      But we both know he won’t do that. And that should tell you something. This man is dangerous. And he is particularly dangerous because he is corrupt, a pathological liar, and in possession of a mind that is troubled with personality disorders. Who knows what he will do to the country economically and in terms of civil rights and press freedoms, but if he doesn’t get us involved in a regional war with China, we will be lucky. If he does’t get us involved in a war with Iran we will be doubly lucky. And if he doesn’t permit Russia to advance into Eastern Europe and destabilize the Continent again (maybe the price for Russian acquiescence in an aggressive stance against Iran?), we will all be shocked.

      All of that is a real possibility. Who knows how probable one or all of them are. But they are much more probable under Trump than anyone you or I could name. And that is why I remain bewildered as to why you can’t see even the probabilities and the danger ahead.



  6. All this is insufferably weak. The mainstream press — remarkably enabling of neo-cons and other snakeoil salesmen — is no longer real news oriented. Less than a handful of independent-minded journalists still remain on the main stage. Trump will likely throw these in jail. Be careful what you wish for, Anson — although my spies tell me you’d actually like to chow down on some real, honest to goodness facism. And Trump, enabled by corporate Democrats’ weak candidate, Hillary Clinton, will — like the bull-in-the-china-shop dolt he is, trash what’s left of American democracy in favor of full on the full-on oligarchy supported by every president since 1980 — including Bill and Barack. The last chance for actual “real” Americans was Bernie. The Democratic “leadership” botched that in favor of the need to anoint a another damned Clinton and a woman. The GOP hand fed the “crooked Hillary” story to the cowardly press. The cowardly press did what they were told. Cowardly and predictably stupid, FOX News Republicans voted only as cowardly KoolAid drinkers can. Cowardly Democrat insiders sealed the deal for Trump and sealed the doom for the American people by having the same remarkable lack of vision that gave us an uninspiring (save for 12-year old girls who are president of their 7th grade class), disconnected, arrogant Clinton 2.0. The press will never serve or save us again. The electors are just higher profile cowards. We may be done, but I will not go gentle into that good night. Bienvenue a la resistance!


    • I’m writing this under suboptimal circumstances, so forgive the fragmented response.

      Good to hear from you again. I suspected your disappearance had something to do with your lack of enthusiasm for my refusal to join in the “Hillary is a corporate Democrat” narrative and other insults against her (and Obama, as you leveled; I don’t buy into such an expansive definition of oligarchy that includes the President because it cheapens the word and makes it impossible to use it for the real thing). I am sorry that the two of us, who generally want many of the same things and will be in the resistance together, cannot see our way to agreement on the dynamics of the election on our side. I have thought this thing over in a lot of different ways; I have read as much as one person probably should about the theories of why she lost those votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. I have concluded one thing. While the failure to win had many causes, there is one thing that stands out: Democrats in those three states and elsewhere, like NC, did not obviously vote in the numbers necessary and there is no excuse why they didn’t (outside of voter suppression laws that surely had some effect). Was it Comey? Was it the constant distraction of the phony server scandal, stolen emails, etc.(some of it coming from the left)? Was it overconfidence based on polling late in the process? There is some evidence that Comey’s actions late in the game changed enough minds and depressed enough voters to make a difference. Whatever, though, Democrats, or those inclined toward liberal policies, should not have chosen the moment to either protest Clinton by staying home or voting third party. The existential danger to the country that Trump presented was very clear. So, too, was the danger of a reactionary government that has fascistic impulses. And to choose to help elect him for whatever reason is unacceptable to me. And it will always be, despite now having to join forces with all those who will, I hope, mount a successful campaign of resistance against what we will inevitably see.

      You could have guessed that I have no sympathy for the David Sirota/Glenn Greenwald types who patted themselves on the back throughout the election for posting story after story about Clinton’s “corruption” and so on, all in the name of what they consider “real” journalism. This damaging anti-Clinton reporting, while rooted in some of the more troubling aspects of the Clinton Personality, seems so goddamned ridiculous now, doesn’t it? And, to me, so does blaming her, or those of us who supported her over Bernie, for the loss because she was so “uninspiring” or part of the “oligarchy.” She was turned into, by too many back-patting journalists and pundits on the left (I don’t even want to get into the mainstream press), into a dishonest grifter herself, all while the most corrupt person in the modern history of politics was wooing away some working class voters.

      Clinton wasn’t a charismatic candidate. Her campaign made some crucial mistakes that seem obvious in hindsight. But she got more votes than the psychopath and that shouldn’t get lost in all this, even though I detect some frustration now with those of us who continue to bring up her popular vote victory. All of a sudden, some folks on our side want to tear down the Democratic Party and start over, ignoring the fact that her policy positions were thoroughly progressive and approved by Bernie Sanders himself and ultimately approved by more than 48% of the voters. I disagree with those who think the party itself was the problem. It isn’t oligarchical. It isn’t what Jill Stein says it is. The party defended, Hillary defended, those values that liberals have championed since the 1960s. Even though the party does have it problems, we don’t need a wholesale ideological makeover or takeover, even though we do need a focus on down ballot candidates. What we need are leaders, young and old, who will continue to stand up in every way for our values as Democrats, which means opposing Trumpism in every form in every way. And what we need, more than anything, are progressive people willing to join the party instead of throwing rocks at it from their purist perches.

      Again, my apologies for the disjointed nature of this response. I’m not on my computer and don’t have enough time to organize my thoughts the way I should.



      • Anonymous

         /  December 23, 2016

        Thanks, Duane, for your thorough and thoughtful response. More than I deserve. One of the successful aspects of your commentary is that you are patient — even with the likes of me.
        I want to make clear that I don’t think Hillary is a hack or a third rate candidate. She is smart and prepared. But she also brought along the wrong baggage for this populist election. She does not resonate with the average Joe. While it is true she was savaged by the horserace-needy corporate press, she did enough goofy things to give them the kernals of “truth” data required to justify their false prosecution. In the post-truth society where we now reside, you need don’t much if you’re making shit up. The trick to the best lie is to season it with just enough fact to make the product rise.
        I believe Bernie would have won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, ALL of Maine and maybe North Carolina and Arizona. There would have been no populist fall-off vs Trump. Some of Bernie’s populists stayed home, some voted for Trump, some voted for Hillary, Some for Jill. A lot of these would have been first-time voters — of many ages. Finally, in Bernie, they had someone to watch over them. It wouldn’t ave taken much to tip those key states. Stein might even have dropped out of the race if Sanders had been the candidate. The thing about Sanders is the only baggage he had — voter ignorance about democratic Socialism — he was dealing with effectively by explaining it —— to people who needed to embrace it.
        It’s a moot point now. Trump will be President and everyone reading this blog is screwed — even Burlingame. We are a stupid people. Hate and ignorance and fear make people stupid.
        Time for a re-reading of Sinclair Lewis’ “It can’t Happen Here”.
        I fear the hole dug by lazy “voters” in this election may be too deep to climb out of — no checks and balances for an incompetent, disgusting, vindictive madman — as to be not just a hole, but a grave for the American experiment. In the meantime, do not believe for one second that this fool, Trump, will do anything but try to dismantle the structure — informed democracy — that so roundly snubbed him.


        • This was a Liberal Generalist response. Don’t know what happened.


          • Thanks for the kind words and thanks for offering, as usual, food for thought.

            When you wrote that Hillary “brought along the wrong baggage for this populist election,” I first had trouble with that. Mainly because it is so hard to believe that someone who won the popular vote so decisively can be said to have lost because of a populist revolt of some kind. But the more I thought about it, I do think, given the goddamned electoral college, that the alienation and cynicism in certain parts of the country did tend to hurt her because of her real, and imagined, elitism. And that alienation and cynicism was largely, but not wholely, a product of deliberate Republican political tactics and strategy. I need to give ths subject more thought.

            I won’t argue whether Bernie would have won. I don’t think so, given what I know about GOP ruthlessness. I think they would have mounted a two-pronged attack against him both as a socialist and as a nut. Imagine how the Trump handle, “Crazy Bernie,” would have been seared into the consciousness of people, especially when attached to his tax-raising plans, which the GOP would have exploited and distorted endlessly. But you may be right that he could have overcome all that in the states you mentioned.

            I do want to say one thing, though. Jill Stein would never have dropped out if Bernie had been the nominee. Words fail me in describing what I think of her and her phony campaign, which appeared designed to make young voters as cynical as possible about the Democratic Party, the only vehicle we have that can fight the forces of reaction, and, this year, the only vehicle we had that could have stopped a disordered grifter from, if we are lucky, only mucking up our democracy and not getting us all incinerated.

            Best wishes (hope is dead) this coming new year,


            • Happy New Year, Duane.
              It’s definitely time to move on from this topic. I do not need to have the last word on the Sanders option, but I do need to end on a couple of notes. No point leaving anything on the table now.
              Jill stein’s ego may be the only one in recent memory larger and more deluded than Ralph Nader’s. I do think at least half of her votes came from Bernie supporters. Even if she’d stayed in, more votes would have gone to Bernie.
              Disenfranchised union workers would have voted for Bernie in the Rust Belt where they were either conned by Trump or revulsed by Clinton. This would have also delivered Katie McGinty and maybe even Russ Feingold to the Senate.
              These are my opinions. ‘Nuff said. I know you don’t agree.
              Spilt milk. We blew it.


              • You make a good case, my friend. And by the way, I still can’t believe Feingold lost. Ron Johnson is one of the worst teapartiers of the whole sorry bunch. A real asshole. Wisconsin voters are a strange lot.



  7. ansonburlingame

     /  December 20, 2016

    Duane and “Generalist”,

    Both of you reveal something not espoused by the Left during the campaign. Hillary was in fact a “weak candidate” and you now seem to agree. A much better candidate would have been Bernie, at least such seems to be your views now.

    “General’s” spies confirm to him “my spies tell me you’d actually like to chow down on some real, honest to goodness facism”. My spell checker suggests “fascism” instead, but so what, again. Do I want a Hitler like President seems to be the point. Short answer is No, of course. But you can bet your bippy I will never vote of a socialist, either.

    Obama tried hard to go as far Left as any president that I can recall. He personified the old “tax and spend” liberalism that has failed America in many ways over the last 75 years. The America public resisted that trend to the Left, after all was said and done. Hillary’s weakness was that she wanted to simply become an “Obama third term”. Bernie of course would not have done so. Instead he advocated going even farther Left on the American political spectrum.

    Like many Americans today, I did not like, at all, the choices presented on ballots for our next president. After a lot of reading and thinking I was able to vote my own conscience however by writing in a “blue dog Democrat”, Jim Webb, as my own choice for that office. I do not regret that vote in any way.

    Trump is going to cut taxes in hopes that GDP growth will reignite. Will it work? Who knows. Assad has won his civil war. What next in Syria? Who knows. What is going to happen in the South China Sea? Who knows for now. I just know that without a few nuclear submarines lurking in that ocean we will be swimming against a very big tide, a power grab by China never seen before outside its own territory. Will terror attacks seen in Europe now move west and happen in America? Who knows again.

    It is a very complicated world and I have very few ideas how to resolve such complexity. But having seen left leaning American federal government make little progress in many areas of concern, I am glad to see a conservative approach have a chance to make a better difference than we have seen for the last 8 years, simple as that.

    I also am glad to note that the attempt by you and the Left to thwart the will of the Electoral College resulted in Hillary losing more electoral votes (about 5 it seems) than Trump (2 it seems). I will now await your (Duane’s) call for impeachment of Trump which is sure to come from the Left during the next four years. When that happens (not if) I will support impeachment if Trump lies under oath when he tries to “screw someone”.



    • Thanks so much for the spell check help, Anson. I am forever in your debt. I supported Bernie during the primary. I support him now, but I voted for Hillary in the General. I think she would have been a competent-if-unremarkable President — unlike the lying thug, Trump. I do not think Hillary would have changed the system much for the better. She would have been a caretaker President, but a safer alternative to Trump. You don’t know much about Scandinavian Democratic Socialism — you’re more of a skim-the-surface, FOX “News” ditto head. I get that. You’re an unimaginative, typical, thumb-up-your-ass Republican. Hell, Putin could have been running on the GOP ticket and you’d have supported him. Oh wait — that happened.


    • Anson,

      Don’t have time now for a long response, but I do not believe Bernie could have won this election. I don’t have time to go into the reasons why. And I don’t think Hillary was a weak candidate, except no one could have predicted that the focus, in terms of the press’s reporting on corruption, would have been almost exclusively on her email server, foundation, and stolen emails provided by the Russians. Point me to someone who could have forecasted those developments, in the light of what we knew about the Orange Grifter and his long, long trail of corruption, not to mention his loud call for Russia to commit espionage against Hillary Clinton on July 27. The press made her a weak candidate. She was smart, experienced, and had a strong progressive agenda. None of that mattered. The press treated her like she was the criminal Trump said she was, all the while ignoring just how unstable and disordered his mind was and is (unless you think it is sane to judge someone’s qualifications for a cabinet job based on facial hair).



  8. ansonburlingame

     /  December 20, 2016


    After all these years I still have not learned the lesson to just leave some of your ardent supporters alone. Above I made the mistake of addressing “General” and look what I got in return. “You don’t know much about Scandinavian Democratic Socialism — you’re more of a skim-the-surface, FOX “News” ditto head. I get that. You’re an unimaginative, typical, thumb-up-your-ass Republican. Hell, Putin could have been running on the GOP ticket and you’d have supported him. Oh wait — that happened”

    So much for discourse of any sort with that sort!!



    • Anson. When you’re right, you’re right. I’m an angry — often undisciplined — liberal. Your POV makes me crazy. Hell, Duane makes me crazy sometimes. I walk away from this blog for months and invariably, when I come back I wade into what seems to me like bullshit. In fairness, you nearly always maintain your cool. You annoy me to distraction, but you’re much classier about it (as is Duane) than I. I wish I were better at employing to my own commentary the very reason I find so lacking in conservative “thought”. I will try to behave.


    • Ah, Anson. If you think thgeneralist is bad, you should get on Twitter and challenge a Trumpbot. But he promises to behave, which means he will challenge you in ways you will have to defend. Good luck. He’s tough.


  9. ansonburlingame

     /  December 24, 2016

    Happy holidays to all, including “the general”. Will be back for sure to rejoin the fray as we navigate, yet again, another very controversial presidency, etc.



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