Cold War

There are presently two diametrically-opposed explanations of what’s going on in Washington today. One explanation is that President Trump won the election through collusion with the Russians and is a traitorous, incompetent criminal. That explanation is epitomized by E. J. Dionne’s column in the Washington Post today:

NEW YORK — Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?

The Michael Flynn fiasco was the entirely predictable product of the indiscipline, deceit, incompetence and moral indifference that characterize Donald Trump’s approach to leadership.

Even worse, Trump’s loyalties are now in doubt. Questions about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia will not go away, even if congressional Republicans try to slow-walk a transparent investigation into what ties Trump has with Putin’s Russia — and who on his campaign did what, and when, with Russian intelligence officials and diplomats.

According to this view Trump’s chickens are coming home to roost and he should resign or be impeached sooner rather than later.

The opposing view is that Trump is being subjected to a relentless campaign of disinformation, opposition, and subversion by Democrats, journalists, and employees of federal agencies (including the intelligence agencies). That view is exemplified in this article by Richard Pollock at The Daily Caller:

The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.

“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.

Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”

Former intelligence officials who understand spy craft say Flynn’s resignation had everything to do with a “disinformation campaign” and little to do with the December phone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

They charge officials from America’s top spy counsels leaked classified government intercepts of Flynn and President Trump’s conversations with world leaders and had “cutouts” — friendly civilians not associated with the agency — to distribute them to reporters in a coordinated fashion.

Can these views be reconciled? I don’t see how. What I believe we’re seeing is a low-level civil war—a cold war, played out domestically. Something that needs to be recognized is that ordinary Americans don’t see things quite the same as activists, news junkies, and politicians do. Based on the RealClearPolitics composite index of polls, President Trump’s approval rating is actually better than it was on election day. That may explain why he’s reaching out so supporters.

I recognize that my view is distinctly a minority view (possibly a minority of one) but I support the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the emerging allegations against President Trump with the charter of making as much public as it can as quickly as it can. That’s based on the rubric of more light and less heat.

My concern is that heat could turn a cold war into a hot one.

41 comments… add one
  • michael reynolds

    100% of everyone on the Left will support your call for an independent commission. 90% of everyone on the Right will reject it. That tells you everything you need to know. We do not fear the facts, they do.

    Trump just claimed the biggest EV margin since Ronald Reagan. When the reporters point out he’s completely wrong, he counters with, “I heard it somewhere.” Will he correct himself and not repeat the same lies again? Of course not.

  • Steve

    If they are going to do a bipartisan investigation they need to include Trump’s tax returns. Not having those leaves so much open to doubt.

    Steve

  • CStanley

    Can these views be reconciled?

    It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping, maybe?

    I think it’s likely that some of the concerns about the administration itself are accurate (and I agree with calls for investigation, but the problem is that no one trusts anyone else to be impartial) but the sudden Red Scare hysteria is outlandish. And the gratuitous fearmongering over the Russian contacts IMO makes it seem more likely that the opposing view is correct- that Deep State basically rejects this president and is using its propaganda tools to delegitimization his administration.

    I’m not sure what the intended end game is though.

  • Modulo Myself

    DC leaks all the time. If there’s a civil war coming it’s because one side is basically totalitarian and can not handle any disobedience.

    That said, I don’t think Trump is a Russian spy. But I might be wrong. There won’t be a real investigation, because nobody knows what crazy stuff Trump and his advisors were saying to their Russian bros.

  • Modulo Myself

    . And the gratuitous fearmongering over the Russian contacts IMO makes it seem more likely that the opposing view is correct- that Deep State basically rejects this president and is using its propaganda tools to delegitimization his administration.

    Oh god, not the propaganda tools of the Deep State! Except when its the FBI regarding Hillary Clinton. That was a public service!

  • CStanley

    Leakers are criminals when they are harmful to your own side, but heroic whistleblowers when they’re against the other guys. Nothing new there, MM.

  • Modulo Myself

    Big difference between these leaks being illegal and part of partisan politics and them being part of a deep-state psyop coup.

    Again, if we go to civil war it’s going to be because the GOP base when threatened with facts they don’t want to hear about Trump decides to start shooting. You guys are already treating criticism and leaks about Trump in terms of assassinations and killing, and it’s been three weeks.

  • michael reynolds

    I’m not sure what the intended end game is though.

    Saving the United States from the consequences of the recklessness of the 46%.

  • CStanley

    How does that work, Michael? You really think he’ll be impeached, and 60 Senators will vote to remove him? You really do live in a fantasy world.

  • CStanley

    @MM-I’m not one of the “you guys” you reference. I’m horrified at the prospect of violence from either side, and there’s plenty of people inciting it on both left and right.

    Coup is too strong of a word (i didnt use it) but I do think this is orchestrated (more so than the FBI with HRC.)

  • Modulo Myself

    Sorry no–it’s the right who did this. It’s the right who elected the crazy man rambling about shooting Russian ships. It’s the right who let neo-Nazis like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller crawl out of the gutter. It’s the right who takes someone mocks transgendered people and women wearing hijabs and treats them like a provocateur rather than a pathetic asshole.

    The left’s violence, right now, is in response to how empty and nihilistic and cruel the right is. I don’t condone violence, but punching a neo-Nazi or Milo is no different to me than punching someone who calls your mother a bitch on the day of her funeral. I mean, you shouldn’t do it, but it’s clear why it’s happening.

  • Andy

    “Saving the United States from the consequences of the recklessness of the 46%.”

    Sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.

  • CStanley

    Well now you’ve moved on from saying that the right is going to fire the first shots to saying that the left is justified in doing so.

    Right and left are all batshit crazy as far as I’m concerned. My political views are conservative but that I don’t support anyone now. I just want people to calm down.

  • Modulo Myself

    Right, some people think Donald Trump is a senile idiot. Nuts, I tell you. We should calm down and understand his rantings in a sensible moderate fashion.

  • TastyBits

    … We should calm down …

    Please, please, NO. You are so close. President Trump will be gone in days or a week at best. More marches, more self-immolation by fires, more broken windows, more, more, more, …

  • Modulo Myself

    Sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.

    If 46% of the country ended up voting in a freak black power candidate whose advisors had ties to Cuba or Venezuela, who appointed members of the Nation of Islam to his cabinet and who gave rambling insane pres conferences where he talked about whitey and freeing Mumia and how the black race came from another planet not only would he be impeached quickly and thoroughly, but the 46% of the public who voted for him would he treated like lepers. There would be massive and total rearrangement of country political arrangement if this occurred.

    That’s Trump–he’s Alex Jones wearing Depends.

  • CStanley

    MM that is exaggerated as a mirror image of Trump but of course I’d agree that the right would go ballistic in that scenario. But if 46% had voted that person in, then no way do I believe that the Democratic Party would take him down.

  • TastyBits

    That’s Trump–he’s Alex Jones wearing Depends.

    So, he is a poopie-head.

    Do not forget meanie, has cooties and girl-germs, pisses standing-up, and most likely has no pajamas.

  • CStanley

    Also MM, in your hypothetical as we’ll as now, when candidates like this get elected, the fault lies with both parties for failing so spectacularly over decades to address the needs and concerns of the masses.

  • Ken Hoop

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/more-about-russia-and-less-about-flynn/

    Phil Giraldi exposes the Russophobe imperialists behind the movement to destroy Trump. I have a problem with these 1950 cold warriors who did not for selfish reasons and insular, join Pat Buchanan in coming to terms with reality. The problem is that
    they would like to believe they are defending the 1950s West
    against the semi-barbarian Slav. The reality is, the US is no longer
    “West” in orientation. The Russian Red Choir is more Western than
    the US. So was the Soviet Red Choir for that matter.

    Unless you are talking about Kanye West which exemplifies more nearly modern America.

  • michael reynolds

    Read through this: http://www.people-press.org/2017/02/16/in-first-month-views-of-trump-are-already-strongly-felt-deeply-polarized/

    The intensity of the public’s early views of Trump is striking: Fully 75% either approve or disapprove of Trump strongly, compared with just 17% who feel less strongly. Nearly half (46%) strongly disapprove of his job performance, while 29% strongly approve.

    This level of strong disapproval already surpasses strong disapproval for Barack Obama at any point during the eight years of his presidency. The only occasion when strong disapproval of George W. Bush was higher than for Trump currently was in December 2008, near the end of his presidency.

    The number of people who strongly disapprove is nearly half the population, and 17 points above the strong approvers.

    Flynn lied to the FBI. Trump’s choice of replacement refuses to serve, thus proving that at least he has a brain. Trump gave a press conference which was unhinged, bizarre, embarrassing, full of pathetic lies like claiming he had the biggest EV margin since Reagan. Just crazy. He’s crazy. Absolutely crazy. Not as in “he has different ideas than me,” but like he needs professional help.

    This regime is disintegrating. The POTUS is unfit. This ain’t working, folks. He needs to go.

  • michael reynolds

    Oops, missed some code there.

  • Roy Lofquist

    I must say, MM is better with the crazies than most trolls.

  • CStanley

    The 46% who strongly disapprove can (and probably will) get stronger and stronger in their disapproval, Michael, but that still doesn’t get Trump out of office. I’m also trying to wrap my mind around how they would feel about President Pence even if their fantasy came true, but that’s a discussion for another day.

  • bob sykes

    It seems the US actually needs. bloody civil war. Will 100 million dead be enough, or do we need more?

    Anyway, I’m getting some more .223.

  • Guarneri

    Nice job, Dave. I read this and said this will be good for 20+ comments. Not bad for GE.

    As for the substance, I’d be fine with an investigation as it won’t turn up bupkus. But the notion that it will illuminate? None. Just grandstanding. Id have Sessions convene a grand jury and subpoena everything in sight. You’d at least find your leakers.

  • The only people who benefit from civil war are those who are so rich and powerful they’re untouchable and those who have nothing left to lose. I don’t fit into either category so I strongly disapprove of civil war.

    Justifying violence other than in response to previous or imminent violence is just a formula for civil war.

  • TastyBits

    This regime is disintegrating. The POTUS is unfit. This ain’t working, folks. He needs to go.

    The Master has never spoken truer words. Repent, foul Trump supporters, repent. When The Master gets mad, he gets very mad, and he can hold his breath longer than any Trumpista could ever imagine.

    Please, please, don’t stop. Pretty please with sugar on top, keep going. You are almost there. I have not had this much fun in a long time.

  • michael reynolds

    It will take six months or so before the more rational fringe of Trumpies really begins to accept what’s happened. They’ll blame the media, Obama, aliens, whatever bullshit they need to tell themselves to avoid taking the blame they deserve. I’ve come to accept the minimum six month gap between the moment that something becomes blindingly obvious and the moment the slow class catches on.

    Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million votes. Trump has no mandate, and he is so profoundly incompetent that he’d never have been able to carry out a mandate if he’d had one. The other 46%, the unprecedented 46% that is ‘strongly opposed’ hobbles him. The marginals – the suburbanite Republicans who voted for him because Hillary was a woman and had a ‘D’ after her name – will be forced to begin dealing with Trump as Trump. Hillary is gone. Obama is gone. And there stands the stark naked emperor.

    Up next: more heartbreaking stories about Trump breaking up immigrant families; more chaos and disorder, more incompetence; stories about the inability to get the wall going; stories about foreign leaders snickering and out-playing our rube; more corruption. And there’s a simmering story about just why Trump rolled over on the one China policy, and if it’s true, the orange one will be wearing orange.

    Sometimes just look at the body language. One month in and the GOP is hiding from reporters while Democrats can’t wait to get to a mike. One month in and Trump has an empty White House, a leaderless national security team, a string of resignations, refusals and firings, and his reaction is to hold a rally to feed his pathetic ego.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    …. And there’s a simmering story about just why Trump rolled over on the one China policy, and if it’s true, the orange one will be wearing orange.

    So, Progressive hysteria over Russia was just a ruse to distract everybody until they were ready to reveal the real scandal which is about China. This is another example of their superior brain power at work.

    I guess the Left is holding back on the really scandalous material. Trump was in bed with the boogeyman or was it Bigfoot or the Headless Horseman.

    Forget “worse than Hitler”, he is worse than the boogieman, Bigfoot, and the Headless Horseman combined.

  • michael reynolds

    Here you go, Tasty, straight from the right-wing Washington Times:

    SHANGHAI (AP) — China has awarded President Donald Trump a valuable new trademark. The win comes after a 10-year dispute and raises a host of ethical questions about the president’s foreign intellectual property.

    China’s Trademark Office posted the registration of Trump’s new mark, which became official Feb. 14, to its website Wednesday. It gives Trump the right to use his name for building construction services in China through 2027.

    This may be the first foreign trademark Trump has received as president, but it’s unlikely to be the last. He has 49 pending trademark applications in China alone.

    One China policy bad!

    Bribe delivered.

    One China policy good!

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/15/china-awards-donald-trump-valuable-new-trademark/

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    You finally got that wascally wabbit. Soon the Headless Bigfoot Boogieman will be in a federal prison getting anally and orally raped by a Mexican and/or black prison gang.

    Any minute now millions of Americans will get a clue, and they will realize how good they had it living under the thumb of the Left. I am sure that if you hold your breath a little longer you can convince everybody.

    If I understand correctly, the Left is trying to keep President Trump from burning the place down, or they are burning the place down to keep him from destroying it. If so, I am missing the downside. In an anarcho-world, I can take care of myself, but under the Leftist utopia, I must sit down and shut the fuck up.

    What exactly am I supposed to be getting my panties in a twist over?

    I will pass along a suggestion. Whenever the Left gets back in control, they can expect the same strategies and tactics to be used. The Rubicon has been crossed, and it ain’t ever goin’ back the way it was. The world that you knew is gone, and each day you all keep it up is just more of that world slipping away.

    Again, what is the downside for me?

  • michael reynolds

    Tasty:

    I’m not quite bored enough to spend any more time baiting you into displaying your lack of intellectual heft, your lack of seriousness, your dishonesty. Rational readers have already reached conclusions about you. Go watch some Alex Jones. Nut bag.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    Kinda like how you schooled me on Syria. You were an idiot then, and you are an idiot now. Obama was punked by Putin contrary to all the political pundits you believe, but I am sure they are right this time.

    As to “intellectual heft”, we went through this on foreign policy, and the results of your superior “intellectual heft” were rather lacking.

    For the past year or more, I have been saying I do not care if Trump burns the place down. I was quite serious then, and I am quite serious now. It is your world that is burning, and I am roasting marshmallows.

    So, f*ck you, the Left, the far Left, the neocons, the liberal interventionists the Trump hating libertarians, the establishment Republicans, the Trump hating conservatives, the Trump hating Right, the Trump hating far Right, the Military Industrial Complex, the government bureaucracy, the Trump hating Press, and anybody else I have missed.

    Welcome to the real 21st Century, and I mean that seriously.

  • Ken Hoop

    Obama was bailed out by Putin on Syria, not punked.
    But why did Trump roll over on the Russian policy?

    http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.ca/2017/02/a-bakers-dozen-of-neglected-russian_17.html
    “‘Crimea is Ours; Trump isn’t.’ Given the tougher line Washington has taken about Russian aggression in Ukraine over the last week, many in Moscow are upset, complaining openly that Donald Trump hasn’t lived up to his campaign promises (newsru.com/russia/15feb2017/volodin.html) and blaming the shift on the power of “Russophobic” attitudes among the liberal elite in the United States (versia.ru/sovfed-opasaetsya-rusofobskix-nastroenij-v-administracii-trampa). Russian nationalists have protested against what they denounce as overly positive coverage of the US administration (rufabula.com/photo/2017/02/15/trump), and the Kremlin has seconded that, reportedly ordering Moscow media outlets to cut back on positive stories about Trump and the US (republic.ru/posts/79774). That appears to be working, and Kremlin-controlled media have not only been making fun of Trump himself but also playing up a story about how members of the US Congress fell for reports about a non-existent Russian threat to a non-existent country ”

    One hopes Trump is playing multi-dimensional chess, for the sake of world peace and Eurasia.

  • CuriousOnlooker

    I am skeptical of the value of a commission if it cannot declassify the relevant intelligence (because no one will trust a report without actual sigint, or testimony from sources). On the other hand, if the relevant intelligence is declassified, it will be clear if there was collusion or if this a new edition of WMD, so a commission will not add any value. As to the value of the sources — what’s more important, keeping the sources or resolving the issue at hand?

    A word of caution for those who dream of a Democratic Restoration. 46% of the country (and a significant share of Obama voters) voted for Trump in spite of the Democrats and media talking about Russian interference for months in 2016, why? They ought to read this
    https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/our-miserable-21st-century/ . Its depressing and spot on, in fact my only quibble is it says there is no crime wave — there clearly is the beginnings of one in many parts of the country.

    People keep comparing now to the 1930’s or if Trump is some Peter III. Actually, the far more probing question is a comparison to the USSR of the mid 1980’s. If those trends in the article do not reverse, the demand for a leader to fix things by any means necessary will produce outcomes Democrats will find far more unacceptable then Trump.

  • Andy

    Just as a point of fact and something that annoys me:

    Trump got 46% of the votes cast, which is not the same thing as Michael, MM and a few others have said in this thread. Some “facts”:

    – Trump got 61,898,584 total votes
    – Which is 19% of the total US population (~319 million)
    – Or 28% of the total voting-eligible population (~218 Million)
    – Or 42% of those registered to vote (~146 Million)

  • Modulo Myself

    Andy–

    How is that annoying? All I can think is that because you refused to vote for Hillary–who was terrible but not this–you might be feeling a bit guilty and so are pointing to the huge majority of people who didn’t vote. Right–Clinton messed up in not actually trying to inspire any human soul. There’s no argument there. And I’m not convinced that Trump will be anything worse than Hogan’s Heroes, as far as the fascism and disaster goes. But it’s week four and there’ve been leaks and some questions and now the press is the ‘enemy of the people’. Best case is Corporal Klink.

    Michael and I may be assholes who annoy you, but that is completely irrelevant. If you find this situation appalling, then you should have voted for Clinton. You and whomever else held back their votes, or who voted for Trump because he was a) going to lose and b) not Hillary Clinton, screwed up. It’s not even a huge admission–‘I screwed up.’ I can easily see voting for Trump because Clinton was awful but going to win and then waking up and saying holy shit. But that doesn’t mean you have to ride this to end. But I get the sense that you will ride this to the end, angry that the Democrats didn’t provide a better candidate for you to vote for. That’s fine, if you stand by it. But how can you stand by this buffoon?

  • Andy

    MM,

    My point is quite narrow. People who say something along the lines that “46% of the country” voted for Trump (for good or ill) are factually incorrect. It’s a very common mistake, even in “news” articles. If you’re talking about “the country” then only 19% voted for Trump (20% for Clinton).

    Oh, and I don’t regret my vote for Johnson one bit.

  • Janis Gore

    Here’s a New Yorker profile on Flynn recommended by Andrew Exum of the Atlantic.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/michael-flynn-general-chaos

  • Ken Hoop

    The part in that piece where Flynn “tweaked” Russia about its alliance with Syria and Iran when with Putin shows an arrogance and incompetence in that juncture of Flynn’s history. Incompetence because it implies Flynn actually might have believed he could talk Russia out of standing with both. Is this the “pro-Russian” aspect of Flynn and kindred? Pro-Russian but only if Russia, and unlikely in the extreme, acts against its own best interests?

    I also say incompetent because what military officer deep in the war when no WMDs were found, allows himself to harbor the extreme anger and grudge against Iran which had more right to be in Iraq than did the US which Flynn should have realized was snookered into an unwinnable immoral war?

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