On becoming a cheerleader for my country’s spies and federal cops

(Adapted from my posts in a discussion thread on TalkingPointsMemo‘s subscribers-only forum, directed primarily at Democrats and their allies.)

It might sound a little weird, but I can’t manage to actually care about politics in the ‘Democrats vs. Republicans, now fight!’ sense lately.

Republican figures know that demographics and societal tides are not on their side, and they’re living a desperate hustle until things collapse. At the end of the day, it’s a death rattle of the Southern Strategy, though one that currently directly threatens the survival of our nation as we know it, as well as threatening the survival of tens of millions of its own citizens and endangering the rest of the world.

Here’s what I can’t stop dealing with –

What about our damn election being intentionally compromised by the Trump campaign in coordination with efforts of Russian intelligence?

There’s no remaining way to plausibly defend Trump’s ‘weird’ pro-Russia campaign stuff and invitation for Russia to hack his political opponent and/or release classified information anymore. And Jared Kushner committed a meta-treasonous act in wanting to go off the federal grid, so we’re just basically at that point, right now, with everything that we currently know.

If we don’t repudiate the entirety of a presidential administration, among other 2016 election results, that can be accurately described as a coup by an enemy nation, does our nation even exist in the usual sense anymore?


 

The United States is a country whose identity is defined by its democracy.

Our values are good values because they fuel the democratic systems we worship; our democratic systems work because of our good values. Absent a formal religious ethos or foundational culture, we anxiously promote ourselves as a ‘city upon a hill‘ – we must know if you’ve heard the good news of humanity’s political deliverance, the blessing of our Founding Fathers. We have attained political nirvana; we are the end of history. If you take issue with our values and our democracy, or get in the way of our path to fulfillment of political Revelation, we’ll send the Marines as our missionaries, or leverage what’s termed ‘soft power’ until you are remade as we wish.

When our identity and our political self-concept are inseparable, what do we do when our politics were successfully compromised? If we can’t collectively accept our democracy having failed, how are we going to be able to develop the kind of collective cultural integrity that would be necessary to prevent any given person or organization with enough resources from directing or taking control of our political process?

Given our country’s colonial and politically revolutionary origins, which leaves us with no self-concept that is separable from our political system, what, exactly, are people going to be left to faithfully identify with as being the United States of America?

The domestically based political corruption has been terrible, but I’m pretty sure it’s got nothing on the stuff that is already happening at the hands of people intentionally sabotaging the country from the outside.

Assuming that we don’t get both Trump and Pence out before 2020, we’re going to need a truth and reconciliation commission someday to deal with this past election, even just with what is currently public information. But we’ve been ‘the city on a hill’ for coming up on 400 years – historical reckoning has always been for other people. Would we be capable of collectively recognizing that we need that kind of an intervention?

As a contrast: It’s been fascinating for me to watch a historically accurate Japanese children’s cartoon series, set less than 150 years ago, where the people who fought a war to re-install an emperor in a position of influence were ‘the good guys’. Because that’s actually a notion of government that has existed and still exists, including in the UK. Which would be a nice sort of authority figure to have right now.

Instead of our government functioning with the formal approval of a spiritual representative of the country, we have spies and federal law enforcement laying everything out and saying ‘trust us, we’re doing our jobs faithfully and well, and Trump and company are corrupt and traitorous’ to every flag-waving patriot, regardless of political view.

I’m not hopeless, but I feel like people underestimate how big a deal the myth (as in existential truth-statement) of electoral integrity is to our country’s conceptual coherence, and how important that conceptual coherence is to an unspeakable number of people staying on the right side of the notion that any functioning society is four missed meals away from violent anarchy.

In case you can imagine that scenario not being a negative outcome in your and others’ lives – please remember that our country has lots and lots of:

-guns,
-bombs,
-and nukes.


 

It’s important to think about Comey’s explanation for acting on the fake memo that was frequently pooh-poohed when it came out – he acted despite knowing it was fake.

Why would he do this? A relatively straightforward answer would be that otherwise, the FBI’s reputation would be endangered among Republicans when Russia propagated the ‘news’ itself via fake news on Facebook and the conservative fear-based grift ecosystem, which would be not-good in the face of determined adversaries at home and abroad.

Comey’s been playing this game a lot longer than we have. He’s presumably been facing this enemy since before it was a ‘paranoid’ twinkle in the eye of Josh Marshall, who’s been publicly wondering about the nature of the Trump-Russia relationship on TalkingPointsMemo since last summer at the very latest.

I’m not exactly a fan of them… but I have to throw in my lot with the top cops and the spooky spies on this one.

Because we’re dealing with a situation where the CIA, FBI, and whoever else wanted in are joining forces to publicly prosecute the president and his men.

It’s hard for me to call this performance ‘cloak and dagger’ when the whole point is to put on a show for the public eye for patriotic citizens of our country to actually believe them about how bad things are.

Right now, our intelligence agencies are asking to act as our nation’s voice of reason in repudiating the most fatal consequences of the corrupted national election of 2016.


 

A brief step back to Watergate:

Nixon’s fate wasn’t decided by the rule of law. It was decided by, for example, the Supreme Court agreeing to disagree and compromise on their judicial opinion in order to preserve the impact and precedence of a unanimous decision on the president not being above the law.

I’ve read that this was out of fear that Nixon’s response to a divided ruling would be, roughly:

“I respect the legal opinions of the dissenters. Now what?”

Apart from the damage to the judicial precedent and public perception that the president is not above the law, this would not have been a good thing, even if such a statement had resulted in Nixon’s impeachment and removal from office. He resigned with 24 percent of those polled approving of him.

That leaves a lot of angry people looking for excuses to feel like the victims of a political conspiracy, in a country for which widespread political conspiracy theories is an existential threat.

There isn’t any such thing as politics apart from those sorts of things. We, as a nation, have chosen to collectively pretend otherwise, because we’re the ‘city on a hill’, God damn it.


 

I’ve played a lot of poker in my lifetime.

And during the two days of the ‘I knew it was fake intel’ story followed by the Kushner back-channel story, my perceptions of Comey transformed at a startling pace. He began the first day by seeming to be a confusing, stooge-like figure making bizarre but oddly coherent choices, and he ended the second day by seeming to be a very knowing ‘card shark’, who’s playing to win in ways that I can’t hope to fully comprehend but that I can respect enough to get out of the way of.

And if he and the people behind and with him don’t win this second-order war, then things are going to get extremely ugly, and, in a historical sense, extremely fast.

Despite my fears of extending any goodwill to the organizations who were behind COINTELPRO, Manuel Noriega and the Contras – and, by way of Noriega and the Contras, the 1980s crack epidemic – I’d like him and his guys to win.

So pass me the pom-poms. In this pitched battle, I know who I’m rooting for.

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Author: The Blogger

Profile picture is Death, by Jacek Malczewski (1917)

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