Godwin’s President

Godwin’s Law is a witty and powerful statement about our urge to replace meaningful argument with name-calling. Formulated by internet pioneer Mike Godwin, his law states, “As an online discussion continues, the probability of a reference or comparison to Hitler or Nazis approaches 1.”

In our civic religion, Hitler is Satan. Very few people understand who Hitler was, what the Nazis did, or the history behind their rise and fall. Everyone, however, knows this political equation: Hitler=evil. By the transitive property, anyone who displays a characteristic “like Hitler” is similarly evil, therefore they may be subjected to righteous scorn and their arguments disregarded. Godwin’s Law explains this habit as a logical flaw in which any comparison to the Nazis amounts to a confession of rhetorical bankruptcy. Resorting to a Nazi comparison is an escape valve by which I can I refuse to engage an idea I find challenging.

Hitler was extraordinary and the Nazis were an extreme social pathology. Godwin’s law is relevant because in the most literal sense, no one is Hitler but Hitler and no one is a Nazi except for a collection of dark historical figures who wore snappy uniforms with armbands.

What happens, then, when the unthinkable unfolds? We may need an amendment to Godwin’s Law. Call it the Plato’s Republic Corollary: As a democratic society continues, the probability of facing an existential threat from something like Fascism approaches 1. What do we do when the threat is real?

It would probably be helpful for us to have a better understanding of the meaning of Fascism in our history. What we must guard against is not so much Nazism or Fascism specifically. Nazism was a product of a specific historical context, one that will not be repeated elsewhere. Our contemporary danger is almost never literally Nazism or Fascism. We are threatened by our urge to unleash our culture’s dark side, whatever form that may take.

Sometimes a people decide to throw open a dank, basement closet full of surprises, releasing whatever lives there to emerge and wreak havoc. Germans who voted for the Nazis in 1933 were not voting to invade Poland. They didn’t vote to send Einstein into exile. They were not voting for Auschwitz. They were voting to make Germany great again at any cost to others, at any cost in moral or humane terms. They made a calloused, ignorant, lethal decision to deliver a blank political check to an evil force.

Germans in 1933 were not voting for the Hitler we know and revile today. They were making a desperate decision to unleash their nation’s darkest impulses. Nobody makes a contemporary decision to elect a Hitler. They make a decision to ignore warnings, set aside morality, devalue empathy, and discover what evil their culture can deploy.

When a nation makes this leap, sometimes they get a Franco. Sometimes they get a Hitler or a Mussolini. Sometimes they catch a lucky break and get someone no more harmless than a Berlusconi. They don’t get to choose what dragon emerges from that dark place. They don’t get to choose how long it will roam or what damage it may inflict. They don’t get decide how it will be tamed or destroyed. They only get to decide whether that unknown should be unleashed.

No one is Hitler except Hitler. What makes Trump like Hitler is what makes all of these situations similar, from Spain under Franco to Venezuela under Chavez. Trump and Chavez and Duterte and their kind are what happens when decency fails, when a people collectively fall under the sway of their most inhumane impulses.

For the Germans, darkness unleashed took the form of maniacal anti-Semitism and pointless, delusional, self-immolating wars. For the Spanish, their dragon was a fundamentalist Catholic Fascism that devastated basic human rights, strangling the country economically and culturally. While there may be some correlation between these scenarios from country to country and era to era, what happens when a country opens their box of horrors is as particular as each nation.

We are seeing what happens when America descends into darkness. Our uniquely ingrained racism is normalized and even celebrated. Violence against immigrants hardly warrants notice. Intimidation of minority groups becomes ordinary. Instead of the ruthless efficiency of the Nazi machine, we get a leadership class who can’t operate fancy light switches; people who gaze in awestruck wonder at the incomprehensible complexity of a health care system. America’s great political implosion looks less like Schindler’s List or 1984 and more like Idiocracy.

Trump is not Hitler. Hitler was someone else’s sin, someone else’s dragon unleashed. Trump is what Hitler represents, the embodiment of our nightmares, a living vision of a nation at her lowest, darkest, and most suicidally dangerous. Darkness that we once confined in our collective national basement we’ve now loosed on the world. Godwin’s Law has been trumped by Godwin’s President, toward an uncertain end.

77 Comments

  1. This is very true.

    Godwin’s Law is only true in a very specific application: the observance of an event.

    Godwin’s Law makes no assumption whether the statement is accurately based on observable, historical parallels between a series of modern events to a series of historical ones, or if it’s simply rhetoric.

    The application of Godwin’s Law is incorrect and fallacious when it is used to assume that the ‘comparison in question’ is, and can only be, rhetorical as a result of argumentative bankruptcy. This fallacy opens a vulnerability in which a demagogue, a purely fallacious and rhetorical entity, is allowed unwarranted and unchecked authority to propagate deliberately false information to incite support.

    We’ve seen demagogues exist in unchecked environments. Hitler was one of them, but we’re supposed to simply ‘back off’ and acknowledge that our country has a VERY serious problem because people think a modern-day comedian has greater moral authority than Plato, Socrates, or a high-school history book?

  2. Oh my, it appears as though Jeff Sessions has been caught in yet another lie. Remember that quaint little defense about his having met with the Russian Ambassador in his capacity as a Senator? Funny story, according to the WSJ, he actually used political funds to make the trip to Cleveland where he had one of his meetings.

    Awkward.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeff-sessions-used-political-funds-for-republican-convention-expenses-1488509301

  3. Many of us complained early in the presidential campaign and then later when potus became the nominee, that the media seemed to be hanging onto every word but not challenging him on points even when they were known to be at best distortions, at worst, outright lies.

    Media has stepped up their game – big media and small media. It seems we all are realizing how seriously bad this presidency and GOP are going to be for Democracy. Media is organizing within their own circles. They are fighting back, much like those of us who are engaged in local resistance efforts….baby steps matter. This document matters.

    http://ncac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Press-Freedom-Statement-FINAL.pdf

    1. Mary, what certain media outlets do or don’t do will be very pointless, very soon.

      From CCN today: “Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, called the net neutrality rules a “mistake” on Tuesday. It’s his strongest statement on the issue since being appointed to the top spot by President Trump last month.”

      Soon, sites that are anti-trump, or deemed to be potentially anti-trump, will find that the major carriers have throttled their bandwidth on the carrier’s routing equipment. I am a network engineer. Doing this is a relatively simple thing, and only require altering instructions on a handful of physical ports on a very small amount of routers.

      (CAVEAT, saving grace would be if these news sites were using Amazon or some other cloud service, which makes it more difficult to choke off bandwidth, as they utilize many more physical connections to the Net. It still would not be impossible to severely limit, or completely remove, access to some sites).

      Now, that means the carriers would have to agree to this censorship, but I can’t imagine big business worrying too much about the pesky 1st Amendment if it means they get much larger profits by controlling the internet more tightly.

      1. Then we will all have to go to the cloud. A new way around will develop. Truth finds a way out even if the way is small and difficult. All each of us can do is pay attention, support our media in whatever medium is not shut down, and resist. I refuse to give up even though I am deeply worried. Being aware has consequences – but I’d rather be alarmed because of what “is” happening, than shocked because I was ignoring reality. Reality today is that America has 48 Million people who are not just refusing to accept what is happening as terrible for our country, but they are reveling in the moment. Those who refuse to see….impact those who refuse to ignore.

      2. How about physical copies of newspapers and magazines, available at bookstores, grocery stores, drugstores, and by subscription, whether by home delivery or US mail?

        People need to be reminded those forms of journalism still exist and hopefully they won’t be restricted.

      3. The danger for media is that a great deal of their financial expansion has been digital. That’s what Dinsdale is talking about. I don’t know how print media survives without the ancillary revenue from the digital side. If that is stymied, I don’t know if print media would have the resources to staff and investigate the stories that now we depend upon to “out” what is happening behind closed doors.

      4. Mime, I guess there should be more reader participation, then. Donate to news outlets, buy issues at the store, subscribe, read, pass on what we have to read to others by word of mouth and by making and distributing copies.

        Send letters to the editor and news tidbits by regular mail to news outlets if we are in the know about a particular matter.

        Become our own personal media outlet and don’t be afraid to spread news and commentary to our loved ones, even though it means talking politics at the dinner table.

      5. Politico story on problems potus’ administration having filling cybersecurity positions.

        “A month into the Trump administration, numerous key cybersecurity positions remain unfilled and some outside specialists seem wary of taking the posts. The vacancies are decelerating efforts to protect federal networks and will make it difficult for the Trump team to implement its long-awaited cybersecurity executive order – not to mention increasing the risk of a security breach by hackers or other adversaries, report POLITICO’s Eric Geller and Tim Starks.
        The most important open positions are: A top federal IT official or a chief technology officer for the government; two top jobs at the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber wing, known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate (Obama-era holdovers are temporarily handling these gigs); DHS head John Kelly also lacks a deputy; and the agency’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications does not have a head.”

  4. While no doubt a horrific creature that will bring ruination to millions, perhaps billions, the puppet tyrant is not bright enough to fully understand the full ramifications of his actions. Just like bush had his cheney, trump has his bannon.

    But that is irrelevant to my main point. The real problem is that outside of a war and/or building an army of brownshirts to drag people from their homes onto buses headed to Mexico, nothing this regime does has truly immediate impact. That is a fact with virtually all governments, in the majority of situations.

    The impact of wiping out of the EPA won’t be felt immediately. It will take years before the water supply is truly ruined.
    How many years after Clinton and Bush unleashed Wall Street did we have the 2008/2009 crash?
    The educational system being ripped apart won’t be truly felt until all those kids hit hiring age.
    The puppet would be well into his 2nd term before a single ship, nuke, or jet he authorized building today would operational.
    His massive increase to the debt will be not fully understood or felt for years.
    And don’t even begin to calculate the impact, time-wise, on global warming of this regimes’ actions. That will be impossible to prove directly, and trump will be long dead before Miami and New York starting walling off the ocean. (Though having flown into Boston, I am REALLY interested in what the feds are planning for Logan. )

    Plus, as demonstrated by the puppet’s actions, and the willful blindness of his followers, the negative manifestations to the economy 2, 3 or 4 years from now will be blamed on outside forces, or that the bannon-rand-norquist-koch policies were not allowed to bloom because of still-restrictive regulations and a hostile bureaucracy.

    But bringing it back to Hitler and the puppet tyrant, I guess we know that traveling back in time is not possible, since no one killed either before they reached power.

  5. I have trouble seeing the election of Mr. Trump as a sign that we are giving in to “darkness and our inhumane impulses.” I tend to agree with Stephen’s more benign view:

    “Trump won because some people who voted the opposite political party previously, were desperate to change their sinking economic prospect so decided to give him a shot. When he does not deliver they will drop their support.”
    ***********
    That said, I do believe we should remain vigilant but calm, measured, and realistic.

    1. Granted, Chris does point out specifically that Trump is NOT Hitler, but he ascribes wildly sinister, malevolent motives to those voters who supported Mr. Trump. That strikes me as over the top.

      Who knows, maybe history will one day put me in with the deniers who refused to see the darkness that would soon befall our nation, which is why I think it’s always good to remain vigilant, but it’s important to remain reasonable as well.

      1. Speaking of impulse, very briefly back in October, for about 5 minutes, I did flirt with the idea of actually voting for Mr. Trump, and it was because I had the brief, wild impulse to take a gamble, to throw caution to the wind, just to see what would happen. It was not an evil impulse, just a crazy one.

        And then I came to my senses and decided I could not risk the fate of the nation and so I chose to play it safe like I always do and stick with the status quo and voted for Mrs. Clinton.

      2. And that was just to illustrate to what extent Mr. Trump’s election was due to chance and to the purely arbitrary motives of people who chose to vote for him, combined with the fact that millions of people arbitrarily decided not to vote at all (millions of people who we really can’t be sure which way they would have ended up voting had they turned out), and combined with an electoral college system which gave him the victory even though he lost the popular vote. I don’t see his election as a sign that our nation has taken an intentional, concerted turn toward evil and darkness.

      3. I interpreted Chris’s post a little differently Tutta.
        During his campaign, Trump made several inflammatory and/or flagrantly false statements. I find it hard to believe that people who voted for him were not aware of the things that he said, considering that these statements were very well-publicized. All politicians running for office express negativity about their opposition and its supporters, but Trump went far beyond the norms of anything we’ve seen in modern times.

        People who voted for Trump chose to disregard his ugly words, either because they agreed with them (probably a minority of his voters), or because they refused to consider the implications of his rhetoric. Maybe they just couldn’t bring themselves to admit that he actually meant what he said.

        I think that Chris is right in his assertion that this is how evil comes into power. After all, almost no one would vote to trash our country’s ideals and undermine its security. Evil isn’t actively chosen on its own, it requires people to close their eyes to it either through apathy (the non-voter), or denial (the Trump voters who overcame their discomfort to take a chance on him just because, or who rationalized their decision by claiming that they wanted to support the GOP agenda, they wanted a conservative Supreme Court justice etc.). Now that evil has a foothold, it has the opportunity to grow. I guess it’s less of an intention turn to darkness and more of a stumbling, clueless shamble into it, but it’s a turn to darkness all the same.

      4. Tutt,

        I’d ask you to go back and read this comment in a moral lens, as if the choice were important, as if it had potential to impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people:

        “Speaking of impulse, very briefly back in October, for about 5 minutes, I did flirt with the idea of actually voting for Mr. Trump, and it was because I had the brief, wild impulse to take a gamble, to throw caution to the wind, just to see what would happen. It was not an evil impulse, just a crazy one.

        And then I came to my senses and decided I could not risk the fate of the nation and so I chose to play it safe like I always do and stick with the status quo and voted for Mrs. Clinton.”

        Aren’t we both kind of saying the same thing?

        People who voted for Hitler or Chavez were, for the most part, pretty ordinary. They weren’t serial killers or sociopaths. They stood where you stood, facing exactly the same decision you describe, and they went in a different direction.

        That’s what morality is. That’s what ethics is. The difference between angels and monsters is simple, individual, mostly mundane choices. Those choices add up.

      5. And that is life. That is the landscape of moral choices, especially when those moral choices involve little personal cost to the chooser and great hardship to some faceless person on the other side of that choice.

      6. The darkness is already descending. Cleveland, OH offers a portrait for how hate and oppression spill into the open when people feel emboldened. Expect to see more of this when deportation raids ramp up and minorities, different ethnic and sexual gender groups, and women are open game for not just bad law enforcement personnel, but white nationalists and those who support this hateful behavior…..not quite openly. You don’t have to wonder any more how this is going to play out, watch.

        A career black policeman who has always tried to bridge the divide in Cleveland between the two races, is now deeply worried: “Now the detective fears that what progress there has been will be set back under a president who has suggested the police are victims of a witch-hunt and appointed an attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who calls federal investigations of law enforcement “a smear”. A White House webpage, Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community, promises to end “the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America”.

        America should be worried.

        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/03/cleveland-ohio-fault-line-race-police-trump-black-lives?

  6. Interesting post – I’m really not able to contribute much to the discussion of the rise of Fascism, Nazism and the other ideological “ism’s” of the first half of the 20th Century. However, I do know that the Western nations including the US, were in the grip of massive social change, which had considerable effect on the population.

    Also capital inequity was at or near its peak (in the US that was around 1929). The US financial system was essentially totally unregulated and was subject to regular panics. Then the financial crisis of 1929 occurred. There was no effective response in the US until 1933.

    Germany was caught in the strictures of the Versailles Treaty and the rest of Europe was slowly recovering from WWI. During the early 1920’s, the US was loaning significant sums of money to the European nations including Germany, but the securities boom developed and the US Banks pulled considerable sums out of Europe, which worsened the situation – particularly that of Germany. With the loss of all that capital, the stage was set for the massive inflation in Germany. And that was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler.

    With the US being in one of our periodic nativist moods, the US did not provide significant leadership and the stage was set for the global conflagration that subsequently occurred.

    To me the biggest lesson, I take from all this is the following:
    1. Financial inequity is a huge problem and can result in much social dislocation, particularly at times of high societal stress, such as heavy industrialization, or automation as at present.
    2. Unregulated financial markets are the perfect play pen of the devil. US financial markets became essentially deregulated by the 2008 crash and have not been effectively re-regulated since.
    3. While the US should not try to impose our systems on the rest of the world, we cannot afford to disengage from the global community either. We need to keep our financial systems in order, maintain a good civic dialogue internally and contribute where we can to the global dialogue. Right now we are in one of our periodic nativist, internally focused periods (or white nationalistic periods) similar to the 1920’s and 1930’s, and have departed from a healthy internal civic dialogue.

    I know this post may not be very coherent or well structured, but these are my thoughts. I am striving for understanding as we all are. I do not know the answers, but history teaches me that the direction Trump is taking us will result in disaster. I will fight it however, I am able.

  7. Some thoughts on Trump being Hitler:

    https://regiehammblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/this-hitler-nonsense/

    “There’s a difference between an abrasive leader who makes you uncomfortable …and a despot.

    Now, people are comparing Donald Trump to Hitler. And the countdown has officially begun, to …well …I don’t know …but something really bad. I get that someone who is combative with the press and who wants to vet refugees and shut down open immigration fits the bill some are always looking for when it comes to finally getting their “Hitler” villain.

    But if you study enough about it, you realize the guy vetting and banning refugees is probably not Hitler …the guy CREATING refugees probably is.”

      1. MassDem, yes ma’am, I read what Chris posts. My intention here was merely to present a viewpoint of another blogger writing on the same subject of Trump not being Hitler. If you have time, read the entire blog post. It’s interesting.

        Well, I’m off to meet with my camping group for coffee at Starbucks. Looking forward to reading the new posts later. 🙂

  8. A quote for Reddit making the rounds:

    “The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”

    I think we need to convince the non-voters that these people will drag us all (minus that 1%) down. They could have been out voted last year, and that’s the most frustrating thing of all about our current mess.

      1. Profile photo of EJ EJ

        I’m coming around to the position that it might be for the best if we let them carry on not voting. If someone is ill-informed enough to not understand how important voting is, unprincipled enough to be okay with whomever wins, and lacking in citizenship enough to not want to do their democratic duty, then that person is probably not going to vote in a sensible way.

        Low-information voters and disinterested easily-swayed voters are not good for a democracy. They should certainly be allowed to vote if they wish – nobody should ever be deprived of their right to perform that most sacred of duties of the citizen – but if they choose not to, then perhaps that’s for the best.

      2. There’s wisdom in that approach, EJ, but what of those who faced voting difficulties…in America, there are many ways to make it difficult for people to vote. Not allowing mail in ballots, adopting onerous voter ID requirements, setting major elections during the week, reducing polling precincts to so few people have to travel long distances to vote which takes transportation, time and makes for very long waits.

        Those who didn’t vote for other reasons are more suspect, but until we make voting easier, more convenient and less restricted, we’ll never know what percentage of this 90 M were simply discouraged. If the criteria includes casting informed votes, a great number of potus’ followers would be disqualified. Gets back to the basics as to should only educated, landed persons have the right to vote? I think not, but neither can I excuse those who had no reasonable excuse for not doing so.

  9. I’m slow in appreciating all the dark recesses of my fellow countrymen. I am a middle aged queer man who survived the Reagan years and comparatively speaking buried only a handful of friends and my brother during the AIDS crisis all while raising my child now grown.

    My disconnect is, this guy lost the popular vote. A single party rules the roost through gerrymandered districts and States with a population outnumbered by my neighborhood in NYC…let alone my borough (you can fit 2 Wyomings into Manhattan). The 2016 election is mired in what appears to be a hostile foreign power’s interference in our electoral process. Why would anyone sitting in Congress or awaiting an appointment to this administration think they had any kind of a mandate on anything?

    I think the only thing to investigate and invest energy into would be getting to the bottom of what the Russians did/did not do and how we can prevent it from happening again. If 3 million more votes aren’t important or states with more cows than people can run rough shod over the Senate and we won’t defend our elections…when do we let go of this absurd notion of representative democracy?

    1. It won’t happen until we elect the right people to Congress. The rules of the game are tied to the E.C. Nothing else matters until that changes, and for that to change, we have to have either a bi-partisan effort or a controlling party that is willing to sacrifice dominance for democracy. Democrats haven’t been effective in elections (except the presidency up until this year), and Republicans don’t give a shit. Dems therefore have to get to work, regain their state level footing so they can ensure fairly drawn election districts.

      1. People at the state level are working on fair districts. Florida passed a state constitutional amendment demanding fair districts not gerrymandered. Even after that it took a court battle to get districts fairly drawn. And I have read California changed the way they run primary and general elections to dilute gerrymandering. They hold open primaries where the two highest vote getters run against each other in the general unless one candidate won the majority in the primary. If enough large states simply make a rule that their votes go to the one who won the popular vote the Electoral College is made ineffective. They are ways around the shenanigans that the ruling party pulls. The bigots will vote for someone sympathetic to their bigotry regardless. Trump won because some people who voted the opposite political party previously, were desperate to change their sinking economic prospect so decided to give him a shot. When he does not deliver they will drop their support. The people really do have the power if they exercise it. If Paul Ryan gets his agenda done he will cause the majority major pain and they will throw him and his party out of power. That has been the history when the radicals in the Republican party overreach they get their knuckles rapped. They never seem to learn.

    2. Koctya:

      They know they don’t have a mandate. They do not care because they recognize they have a once in a generation (maybe lifetime) chance to remake the US government in ways that are not popular with voters. Think repeal of (but not replacement of) ACA, cutting or outright eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and tax cuts that only the top 1% benefit from. Plus, appointing judges and judges and more judges to the federal bench top to bottom who will rule in their favor. Why investigate Sessions’ perjury and potential espionage when Paul Ryan is this close to getting his live’s dream into reality?

      1. Koctya is correct – they know their policies are unpopular and they have no mandate.

        My hope is they actually do pass some of their wishlist, and that creates the wave needed to sweep the gerrymandered house in 2020 (or even 2018, with control of the Senate and the White House in 2020). Then we re-do what they undid, only better, increasing SocSec benefits, ACA+public option, etc. all paid for with taxes on the 1%.

        A guy can dream, right?

    1. The light won’t go on until their insurance benefits are reduced and their deductibles rise, or they are denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. That’s for those for whom health is key. For the ones who are xenophobics and homophobics, nothing will change their minds. They simply have to be outnumbered. For those who think every immigrant, most especially undocumented immigrants are leeches on the US economy – some will learn when their businesses lose their cheap labor pool, others when they see families that serve them in their communities and homes ripped apart and have to find replacement helpers, and many will never learn. As for those who want a “business man” to lead our country into prosperity? Wait til they see what $54B in cuts looks like to programs they use or support.

      IOW, it’s all personal and we will never reach many. After all, the DJT we saw in the campaign is pretty much the DJT we see as POTUS. Only thing is, now it is real.

      1. Chris, did you read Sessions announcement of his recusal into the Russian investigation? He leads with stating he has been consulting with authorities for several weeks about what he should do…which tells me that this revelation via WaPo was no surprise to him…his protestations notwithstanding….

        Which begs the question – how can Kushner continue in his role with top secret clearance and advisory immunity? Who else? And, how should we – the American people – expect this investigation to have integrity?

        http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/02/politics/democrats-sessions-russia-resignation-call/index.html

      2. ***which tells me that this revelation via WaPo was no surprise to him***

        Oh, that’s just a fraction of what I’m reading into that comment. The leak came from the Justice Department. Why would an Asst. AG have this information? Because the FBI is already submitting information to prosecutors to be assembled into a case. We haven’t even heard whatever it is that inspired the Asst AG’s to tell Sessions he would have to recuse himself.

      3. Yet, this is the official position now that the dust has settled. From the NYT:

        “Initially, the fallout seemed to spawn fissures among Republicans: Several, including Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Susan Collins of Maine, were quick to call for Mr. Sessions’s recusal, defying party leaders — including President Trump — who had said earlier on Thursday that they saw no reason for it.

        But by day’s end, consensus appeared to have been restored: Mr. Sessions would step aside in any investigation. And that, Republicans suggested, would be enough, at least for now.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/us/politics/pelosi-schumer-ryan-sessions.html?

      4. I’m looking for percentages. Certainly Trump has plenty of all 3. I wouldn’t have expected Flynn to screw up so obviously, and now Sessions has stepped in it. How badly still TBD, but you’d think he’d know better.

      5. >] “Oh, that’s just a fraction of what I’m reading into that comment. The leak came from the Justice Department. Why would an Asst. AG have this information? Because the FBI is already submitting information to prosecutors to be assembled into a case. We haven’t even heard whatever it is that inspired the Asst AG’s to tell Sessions he would have to recuse himself.

        Assuming that’s the case though, that begs the overbearing elephant in the room as to exactly what in the hell does the FBI know that they’re not telling us. Even House intelligence committee members are at a loss when it comes to getting answers out of Comey these days. He’s tight-lipped like a drum.

        We can presume a few things. If they’re going after Trump, that means they believe they have a credible case in that he’s violated his duties as president, enough to overcome any potential presidential immunity defense that would almost certainly make its way to the Supreme Court. If that holds true, hold onto your butts.

        Secondly, given that the FBI has been investigating Sessions for several months now, was this leak part of a coordinated effort to oust him so as to prevent him from using the DOJ to subvert any investigation? Knowing this for as long as they have, they choose not to inform the Senate before his confirmation vote, which just reflects the broader importance here. Sessions was a small fry that had been on a short leash right from the start.

        That being said, is it fair to assume that another bomb is about to drop and soon? I don’t mean to overhype this, but it really does feel like this whole sordid farce is starting to snowball.

      6. “If they’re going after Trump, that means they believe they have a credible case in that he’s violated his duties as president,”

        A super fast case of buyer’s remorse? The rumor was that they wanted Trump, or at least the NY branch did, so Comey dragged the e-mail issue back into the spotlight. A fight between the DC and NY branches? Yikes!

      7. > “A super fast case of buyer’s remorse? The rumor was that they wanted Trump, or at least the NY branch did, so Comey dragged the e-mail issue back into the spotlight. A fight between the DC and NY branches? Yikes!

        We can play guessing games until we’re blue in the face, but until we know specifically what the FBI knows and when they knew it, it’s impossible to say for sure. All that’s assured right now is that the IC is actively working to undermine Trump, with or without Comey.

        That aside, now that Sessions is out of the way, keep your eyes on whether the investigation works on acquiring Trump’s tax returns. No one’s saying there’s a silver bullet in there, but there’s assuredly some pretty damning stuff to be seen. Depending on what happens next, we may see them sooner than you think.

    2. Profile photo of EJ EJ

      Armchair Philosopher:
      I am not a historian, but this is my understanding of it.

      In the 1920s and 1930s, there was an ideology that most Germans were terrified of, and that ideology was Communism. An armed Communist group had attempted a coup in 1919; it failed, but everyone could see the chaos in the Soviet Union and imagine it happening here, had the coup succeeded. Many people believed that democracy was unable to defeat Communism. In 1919 the coup had been put down largely by extreme-Right militias acting independently of government control. The Nazi party was later to grow out of those militias.

      As a result, when we elected Hitler in 1933, it wasn’t because people liked him. Even then, the Nazi party was widely despised. He was elected because many people believed that it was a choice between the far Right or the far Left, and they chose the ideology which (thus far) hadn’t killed millions of people. This turned out to be a terrible choice, and led to the worst thing that ever happened in history; but at the time very few people could see that far forward.

      You know Martin Niemöller, the priest who said that famous “first they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist” line? He was one of the people who actively campaigned on behalf of the Nazis because of his fear of Communism. He was to turn against them later, but to limited success.

      Sadly, a lot of people still believe that it was a choice between Nazis and Communists. Even more sadly, when they see the damage that the Red Army did to Germany, and the years of humiliation and barbed wire under the East German puppet state, their dislike of Communism leads them to feel that Nazism couldn’t have been that bad. Anyone who believes this is someone that I’m ashamed to call my fellow citizen, but there are lots of them and they have votes.

      1. Nice insights EJ. I would also add that it’s not coincidence that we see a resurgence in right-wing nativist extremism at the time when there are very few people left who experienced first-hand the horrors the Nazis inflicted. The WWII generation is rapidly dying out and people forget or even deliberately deny how bad it was. Yes, you can read history, but books aren’t as compelling as hearing it first hand for many people. Americans have a similar relationship to one of our society’s major sins, slavery, and the war that ended it. Lots of White people want to deny how horrible that “peculiar institution” was and no one personally remembers the pain and the horror of brother fighting brother. Very easy to sweep the ugly bits of a receded past under the rug, but it doesn’t stay there.

    1. At the risk of sounding like some conspiracy nut job…what if its something simple? Quote from December 2016 Forbes magazine article…”But of most concern is likely to be Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin. Exxon has a $720 million joint venture with Rosneft, run by Putin’s friend Igor Sechin. That deal has been put on ice since the White House sanctioned Russian oil and gas companies in July 2014.” What if its just lift the sanctions…we help with the elections and Trump gets a % of the deal? Link to the whole Forbes article below…its simple, stupid to believe you won’t get caught but then again maybe Trump is stupid as well as greedy.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2016/12/15/trump-russia-exxon-tillerson/#71e3aa461239

      1. The links to Russia continue to emerge….I was listening tonight to MSNBC where Tillerson was the subject of discussion. Apparently, it is traditional for the SOS’s office to conduct daily briefings which the media can attend. Tillerson hasn’t conducted one. He also does not appear to be functioning in any traditional role as SOS….he’s not conducting foreign affairs, he’s not in attendance at meetings between potus and heads of state, etc. There is, indeed, a great deal of intrigue as to just what his role is within the Trump administration.

      2. Rachel Maddow did a 20 minute story this week on Russian connections of the Trump inner circle, culminating with Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross’ involvement with international finance and Russia. It was an extraordinary 20 segment. The links between the main players in potus’ circle with Russia is intricate but very real, from Tillerson to Manfort, Trump’s real estate gains (a Russian oligarch paid him $100M for a FL property potus bought for $40M…why?) The stakes in this election were extraordinarily high and Russia went all in and boy are they “in”. Here’s a link. I highly recommend viewing if you haven’t seen it – then share your thoughts. We ordinary people can hardly relate to finance on this level – but Maddow lays it out clearly. The question is, as she posed last night to CA Senator Schiff – assuming the FBI was monitoring all of this, WHY did he remain mum before the election on something of this import while going after Clinton on emails! This is big.

        http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/new-commerce-secretary-at-nexus-of-lucrative-trump-russian-deal-886220355575

    2. Story in the Wall Street Journal late tonight regarding the claim that Sessions met with Russian ambassador in Cleveland…he didn’t use his legislative account for the trip or hotel but rather his campaign funds. Other members of the National Security Committee also in Cleveland used their legislative accounts. No expenses were reimbursed from Trump campaign…just his own Senatorial re-election funds.

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeff-sessions-used-political-funds-for-republican-convention-expenses-1488509301

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