Fear and Loathing in D.C.

The bludgeoning of our Republic continues.

For the sake of argument, consider this: suppose the Republicans are right, and the Russian collusion narrative is, in the words of Victor Davis Hanson, “an incoherent effort to destroy Donald Trump’s candidacy beyond the bounds of normal politics and later a renewed and unprecedented endeavor to abort his presidency”.

Suppose the collusion narrative actually is manufactured out of circumstantial evidence, combined with a wildly visceral hatred of Donald Trump.

Suppose the thought of Trump in the White House so horrified Democrats that the collusion narrative was invented by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the DNC, Perkins-Coie, Fusion GPS, Russian agents via Richard Steele, and with the complicity of biased and/or incompetent agents in the FBI.

Suppose it was all rubber-stamped by corrupt attorneys in the Department of Justice. And, importantly, suppose all of that was done in an attempt to influence the election outcome in favor of Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party.

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But what if none of that is true and the Democrats are right? Suppose Donald Trump actually is a sexually deviant racist and a proto-mafioso fascist charlatan.

Suppose he really did collude with Russian agents by way of elaborate, quid-pro-quo money-laundering schemes carried out by a cadre of shady campaign aides and managers—Paul Manafort, Carter Page, General Flynn, et. al., with the ultimate aim of securing Russian assistance to influence the election in his own favor.

Suppose that unbiased and professional investigations into the Big Truth are now jeopardized by acts of obfuscation and obstruction from the Trump administration.

Suppose the unprecedented dismissal of Director Comey, the leave of Deputy Director McCabe, the implicit threat to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the possible collapse of the Mueller investigation are the harbingers of a dictatorial overhaul of Federal law enforcement.

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But maybe, finally, for the sake of argument, consider a third alternative: suppose that both sides in the equation are sitting on elements of truth in their respective narratives, and that both sides—enormously powerful entities driven by fear and whose only real purpose is to secure more power–engaged in illegal and/or underhanded tactics to influence the outcome of a free election.

And then consider that while both candidates, their parties, and the caterpillars of their campaigns were engaged in these murky, Deep State operations to influence votes the only real loser was actually you, and your faith in the integrity of due process in our elections and our judiciary.

At the end of the day–after all of the committee meetings, dossiers, FBI texts, partisan media bashings, the carousel ride of prosecutors and directors and deputy directors of this or that, the tweets, the recusals, and the accusations of treason, it is really only Larry and Mary Lunchbucket—that’s you and me—who pay the price for arrogance and corruption in our politics.

We lose because under any honest analysis the continuing dysfunction in Washington has raised serious questions about the integrity of our entire electoral process. Worse, it continues to batter confidence in our ability to honestly investigate powerful politicians and their organizations, of any persuasion.

And when we lose the honesty and transparency of due process in this country, when party affiliation is finally more important than justice, we will have lost that thing which distinguishes us from the average narco-terror state or tinpot banana republic.

There is an argument to be made that only a healthy republic would be having this kind of shouting match to begin with. Only in a country whose institutions are essentially sound, the thinking goes, would any of these high-stakes political skirmishes be happening without car bombs, kidnappings, and wholesale political jailings.

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We can be grateful that it isn’t, yet, but in a nation rapidly transitioning from can-do optimists into miserable, media-saturated cynics, one wonders how far away from that sort of thing we might actually be.

And no serious observer of this partisan war of accusation and counter-accusation, of investigations into investigations, should ignore what writer Gavin De Becker calls “The Gift of Fear,” that evolutionary gift of intuition and apprehension that allows us to interpret the presence of danger.

And there is terrific danger in the wild polarization of our politics, and the partisan temptation to settle for a result no matter how it was achieved.

You might despise Cliven Bundy, for instance, find nothing compelling in his beliefs, and wish ardently for him to be imprisoned. But a wiser person celebrates the system of due process that declared a mistrial when government prosecutors were found to have repeatedly lied and to have withheld material evidence in his case.

The triumph of due process over politics and pandering is a win for us all.

In the meantime, we can all hope that whatever the truth in the big collusion extravaganza may be, it will eventually shine through.

But we aren’t there yet, and it will only happen if our elected representatives—and the 4th estate–vigorously insist on the victory of transparency and due process over individual politicians and political power.

And their behavior thus far in that regard—where both sides of the aisle, elements of the major media, and maybe even the FBI, are still carrying water for their respective champions–leaves much to be desired.

  1. Your “3rd option” seems very plausible to me. Tnx Craig.

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    1. Thanks Steve. It seems important to remember the truth is generally found somewhere in the middle.

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  2. Three categories of supposition laid out here, and certainly each side will push to their advantage, but am inclined strongly towards the first.set of suppositions. That’s because they all point towards an abuse of power by those who have had it for the past 8 years, and if it’s one thing our founders were keenly aware of (and we should be ever mindful of), it is that power corrupts. I’m also strongly inclined to believe the vast majory of Americans see it this way, too. What seems to be different now is the comlicity of the media. I live amongst actual Americans, like you know, real working people who raise families and struggle, and pretty much everyone I know sees right thru the media smoke and mirrors.

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  3. And you may very well be correct in your assumptions. My concern isn’t with who is wrong or right, because I don’t have a political home. My concern overarches political affiliation and is focused intently on transparency and due process over Machiavellian notions of justice. Because in the end, that is what matters to “real working people who raise families and struggle…”. Without transparency and due process we are merely subjects of an unaccountable empire. Time will tell whether or not there is still justice–and let us hope so.

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  4. Via Saddle Tramp, somewhere on the road…

    Craig,
    You have most certainly strung together a forceful, prosecutorial and insightful diatribe and description of our political failings either left handed or right handed. It is most definitely an ambidextrous failure. You nailed it there. Surprisingly, I have come to the point of almost seeing Trump and his cohorts as sympathetic characters. The basis is that I just can’t seem to accept such a failure of our country (or a human being). The damage is very real however. I will address all others soon enough. My sympathy really lies in embarrassment, for me and for our country. It is so blatant of a failure of any semblance of common efforts and results that I have ever seen before in my lifetime. I ask myself if I had missed something along the way. Even Nixon had a competence and many redeemable qualities. I say that as one coming from a generation that witnessed it all. Nixon was Enemy No. 1 and J. Edgar Hoover an example of long entrenched omnipotence was even worse.
    A sympathetic example for today is when I see the First Lady in always impeccable appearance and (almost always pleasant) however piercing her gaze. It is her time most notably with children that moves me most. Happily engaged and I want to believe sincerely so. I cannot denigrate it to a mere PR stunt. Yes, I could be harsh or even cynical, however I want to allow a moment of goodness fanciful or not. The children are real. They deserve it. This then goes up and down the line respectively. The human condition. Flawed. Nobody is above reproach. Nobody walks on water. Someone who comes off as perfect scares me even more and makes me even more uneasy and suspicious. Puritans come to mind.
    Alright, now back to the real subject at hand. Corruption in the highest offices. Craig, you have delineated this well in your usual fine fashion. I too was heartened by Judge Navarro’s call for a mistrial and severe chastisement to the prosecution’s malfeasance, or at a minimum the bungling of the case against Bundy for whatever reasons good or bad. In your RIR post you did present the false basis for Bundy’s delusional and unconstitutional reasonings for rebelling against the Federal Government that he does not recognize as having jurisdiction over him and the land. I find it ironic in the photos and the holding of the American Flag mounted as if they were the U.S. Army Cavalry. The Federal Government has always held sway as a matter of constitutional powers (but with checks and balances). I know you are aware of this. Constitutional lawyers and courts argue these matters daily. It is a continuum that never ends and hopefully never will. You also said many other ranchers do pay their grazing fees responsibly and do not support him. However two wrongs (Federal abuses) do not make a right to simplify it here. Which carries more weight? Bundy in my opinion is delusional and his rationales and basis for his stance appear to be obviously flawed and just plain wrong and even falsely attributed. However, I expect much more from our Federal government and hold them to a much higher standard and accountability. There is more than enough disappointments to go around. The attempts at tainting (whole cloth) the FBI and the alleged political collusions are taking center stage. Many have already made up their minds. Mueller might hold the answers but it must wend itself through a difficult process. I hope the hell he does get it done and soon. He just might be the one I trust most in the government today. There are others of course deserving of our trust as well. I do not think that we have a J. Edgar Hoover situation on our hands. Not even close. This may be more insidious in it’s nature and more isolated. Bungling and bad actors come with the territory and are endemic institutional realities. Reactions today are instant. The time lag is almost nonexistent. The media blanket is out of control. We have a systemic crisis from top to bottom and our citizenry is as much to blame as our leaders, but our leaders have the distinct responsibility to lead. We are being force fed (for our own supposed good) nutritionally deficient crap. Conflict is in our nature. Craig, you spent a lifetime embroiled in the middle of it and intellectually stood apart from most of it and as it appears to me, on an entirely different level. Admirable indeed. In my 30 years of management (prior to hitting the road) I always approached a situation by ascertaining the good, the bad and the ugly, so to speak. Find and support the good. Correct the bad. Strengthen both. Identify the ugly and give them a chance by running them out of excuses of the excuses they made for themselves. If they could not or would not make the effort it was dealt with accordingly. I want to hold out that our system is salvageable but not in a naive way or with a misguided expectation. I see it coming from non traditional means. I see it coming from outside our country. I see it coming from immigrants here now and yet to arrive. I actually see many immigrants (not all
    of course) that have more dedication to our country and work harder than a hell of a lot of our native born. It irks me to see what is abused and taken for granted. As always, I take it where I find it. That includes here. Craig, I look forward to your continued postings of always incisive, far reaching and deep thoughts on both troubling and inspiring topics.
    I always (even in rare instances of disagreement) maintain a respect for your positions or opinions and always coming away better informed than before.

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  5. Thanks, ST. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received during a brief teaching career was “Teach to the Middle of the Class.” The brainiacs can be helped during office hours. The kids who don’t want to learn won’t anyway. That has remained in my mind for a long time and has application all over the place. Most of our polarized arguments will find a confluence of truth between the poles–just like a domestic call in law enforcement. We too often forget that. Henry Adams wrote very well on that subject.

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  6. Bravo!

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  7. Another Henry worth the time as well.
    Henry George. Very relevant to current times and the risk of devolving even worse…
    Progress and Poverty.

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