Summary: I was writing about the latest chapter in America’s descent into political chaos when Matt Taibbi did it for me. We are crossing the line from evolution to revolution.
“We’re in a permanent coup“
By Matt Taibbi at his website, today.
“Americans might soon wish they just waited to vote their way out of the Trump era.”
I’ve lived through a few coups. They’re insane, random, and terrifying, like watching sports, except your political future depends on the score. …We have long been spared this madness in America. Our head-counting ceremony was Election Day. We did it once every four years. That’s all over, in the Trump era.
On Thursday, news broke that two businessmen said to have “peddled supposedly explosive information about corruption involving Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden” were arrested at Dulles airport on “campaign finance violations.” The two figures are alleged to be bagmen bearing “dirt” on Democrats, solicited by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will be asked to give depositions to impeachment investigators. They’re reportedly going to refuse. Their lawyer John Dowd also says they will “refuse to appear before House Committees investigating President Donald Trump.” Fruman and Parnas meanwhile claim they had real derogatory information about Biden and other politicians, but “the U.S. government had shown little interest in receiving it through official channels.”
For Americans not familiar with the language of the Third World, that’s two contrasting denials of political legitimacy. The men who are the proxies for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani in this story are asserting that “official channels” have been corrupted. The forces backing impeachment, meanwhile, are telling us those same defendants are obstructing a lawful impeachment inquiry.
This latest incident, set against the impeachment mania and the reportedly “expanding” Russiagate investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham, accelerates our timeline to chaos. We are speeding toward a situation when someone in one of these camps refuses to obey a major decree, arrest order, or court decision, at which point Americans will get to experience the joys of their political futures being decided by phone calls to generals and police chiefs.
My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.
The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump’s inauguration, commencing a public war of leaks that has not stopped. The first big shot was fired in early January, 2017, via a CNN.com headline, “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.” …
———————— Read the full article! ————————
Putting this in a larger context
It has long been obvious to anyone paying attention and not wearing tribal blinders that this was a naked struggle for power between the Trump administration and the Deep State – with senior elements of the Democratic Party taking the final step to breaking their long opposition to the Deep State, and allying with it. Democrats now have a more favorable opinion of the CIA than Republicans or Independents (see question 38), putting regard for the CIA at a high of 60% (highest since Gallup first asked in 2003). This is another step in the radical revision of America’s political alliances. In 1964, the GOP became home to Southern racists. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton fully allied the Democrats with Wall Street.
As it does with political campaigns, most of the press has presented this story in the most simplistic fashion: a series of revelations, with no memory of previous headlines that would contradict the latest “news” or make people aware of the overall process. Keep people excited and ignorant! Making this even more noxious, the majority of news media have presented this with a ruthless partisan spin.
For a decade I have said that something like this would happen. This is the equivalent of the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. Then, as now, citizens had disengaged from politics as they no longer wished to bear the burdens of self-government. Inevitably, powerful groups in Rome began to seek power. Ever more boldly and openly they clashed as the old norms were eroded away. The Roman Republic was the model used by the Founders; this is how it fell. This is America today.
I first cited this passage in 2010, warning of the approaching turmoil. I cited it in January 2016, when Trump moved ahead and in March 2017 after Trump built his house of cards administration.
“Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.”
— From The Histories by Cornelius Tacitus (~56 – 117 A.D.).
First, we had the conspiracy to depose Trump, called RussiaGate. When that failed, now we have the equally bogus UkraineGate. When that failed, we have yet another and increasingly desperate attempt. Neither I nor you understand who is at work, let alone why. These events are like the passage of the giant sandworms in Frank Herbert’s Dune. We see only the swell on the surface, not the great beast beneath – and the resulting devastation.
If we will not run America, others will do so – for their benefit. Either begin the long trek to retake control of America, or accept new rulers. If we choose to be subjects, let’s not whine about it.
For More Information
Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.
The best summary I have seen of UkraineGate: “A Weak Whistleblower, a Ridiculous Impeachment” by Peter van Buren at The American Conservative – “This isn’t about the law; it’s about circumventing another vote by the deplorables in 2020.”
If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform America, about Russiagate, and especially these…
- Why do Democrats want to impeach Trump?
- The amazing Trump-Ukraine-Whistleblower story in a nutshell.
- The best analysis of RussiaGate: its effects & results – By Emmet T. Flood, special counsel to the President.
- Reviewing “Ball of Collusion”, the big book of 2019 about RussiaGate.
- The amazing Trump-Ukraine-Whistleblower story in a nutshell.
- See behind the impeachment stories to learn about America.
New books to help us better understand these events
Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency by Andrew McCarthy (published on 13 August 2019).
Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another by Matt Taibbi (published 8 October 2019).
24 thoughts on “Welcome to Third World America. Stand by for a coup.”
Your thoughts are similar to mine.
I was a Never Trumper up until 2018, I am planning to vote for the delusional, lying idiot just to prove that the electoral process can beat the bureaucrats.
In the 1800s through the Jacksonian Era spoils system everyone turned in their resignations with a new administration.
What we really need is someone outside the establishment who has character and competence like Ross Perot. If he had won in the 1990’s, we would be in a much better place today.
I enjoy your book recommendations and have purchased several and just finished Goldsworfhy’s Caesar. I would like to recommend a pair of books to you:
Thank you for the feedback, and for the book recommendations!
Found this: “What Economists (Including Me) Got Wrong About Globalization” by Paul Krugman at Bloomberg — “The models that scholars used to measure the impact of exports from developing countries in the 1990s underestimated the effect on jobs and inequality.”
This has a lot of testicular fortitude. To admit that one is wrong then shrug and say oh well is the height of arrogance.
Maybe I’m being too hasty, but this looks like he came so close to a realization moment, then said, Double down.
“Maybe I’m being too hasty, but this looks like he came so close to a realization moment, then said, Double down.”
I suggest you re-read it. He said nothing remotely like that.
“The Real Cover-Up: Putting Donald Trump’s Impeachment in Context” By Andrew J. Bacevich at TomDispatch.
Andrew Bacevich is president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book, The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory, will be published in January.
An interesting analysis, like everything by Bacevich. Thanks for posting it!
You are correct. I probably expressed myself poorly. What I probably should have said is that krugman appears to be of the impression that the shocks of globalization are behind us, and that there is little reason to turn back the proverbial clock. This is in his final paragraph. I would quote it but I am typing on a phone.
The issue here is that we, assisted by economists such as krugman, have created A horrifying globilized world that does not work for very many people.
I’ve been kicking around the idea of trying to help start a political party drawing on the economic populism of the left and the social conservativism of the right. Might work, might not. Could help break deadlock. Distinct possibility that there are some people in the new waves of the parties that might be persuaded to defect.
“The issue here is that we, assisted by economists such as krugman, have created A horrifying globilized world that does not work for very many people.”
Among the 66 thousand comments here, many of which range from false to delusional, that’s among the most wrong. The material progress of humanity in the past generation has been the fastest since the ancient days, with the invention of fire and such. I don’t know who you are reading, but they are lying to you.
Sorry, but I think such a simplistically bullish perception of the ostensible “benefits” of the latest round of globalization ignores too many costs than I have the energy to itemize here and now.
So suffice it to say that to view what has happened over the past 40+ years as an unqualified universal “good for all” is under-informed in the extreme, IMO.
The advance of people out of poverty, and from sustenance to middle-class status is accomplishment with few parallels in history.
That you don’t know this is sad, but probably untreatable. As I said, you are listening to people who lie to you.
Its the succession problem, isn’t it? At the start of the English evolution of parliamentary democracy, the only mechanism for bringing about the change of regime which a radical change of policy required was impeachment or revolution. Gradually the current mechanism evolved so that in the UK a government fell if it lacked the confidence of the House of Commons. The US Founders took a different line, with a fixed and renewable term, carefully structured in checks and balances of several sorts.
They were brilliant and insightful designers, and their work lasted through a civil war, huge population growth, the industrial revolution and two world wars. But no matter how well designed, the system only works if everyone accepts the legitimacy of the regime changes it produces.
In the US, and to a lesser but considerable extent in the UK, where the catalyst is Brexit, this condition is failing. The mechanisms are different. Maybe the UK is an isntructive contrast. You can distinguish some stages:
— The dismay and incredulity of the liberal media when confronted with Cameron’s election victory. Story after story with the underlying assumption that this was abnormal, pathological, inexplicable, disastrous.
— Same with the Brexit referendum vote. A refusal to accept, followed by systematic attempts to deny its legitimacy and prevent its implementation.
— Politicized court decisions. The latest by the Supreme Court required them to argue that the prorogation of Parliament, which happens in joint session of Crown, Lords and Commons, is not a proceeding in Parliament and so is exempt from the protections of the Bill of Rights, and is therefore justiciable. Contrary to the practice and doctrine of the last 300 years. And unlike the giving of Royal Assent to a bill, which happens similarly, and which the SC has, with ridiculous inconsistency, ruled to be a proceeding in Parliament and thus protected.
— Procedural innovations. These have enabled the opposition in the Commons to seize the agenda, and then introduce legislation which can be rushed through the approval process and instruct the government of the day to do very specific things. To send letters whose text is pre-defined, to accept offers which come back from foreign governments.
All this takes place against a background of culture wars with many echoes of the US situation – controversies on gender including issues with sex education for young children in the state school system, issues about climate policy, issues about offensive or discriminatory speech and publications.
Its a curious thing that is happening. If you know someone lives in London and favours Apple phones or computers, you also have a good chance of knowing how they feel about abortion, LGBT, Brexit, Islam, immigration, welfare, fiscal and monetary policy, housing policy, the role of private schools in national education policy, Israel and Palestine, Trump….
As in the US, there is an underlying polarization and the spread of the view that those differing from you on any of the issues, which will imply all, is of corrupt mind and not to be engaged with. It seems to be a pathology which is confined to the Anglo Saxon countries, strongest in the US and UK, but its also found in Australia and New Zealand. Continental Europe and Japan have their own issues, but so far don’t show much sign of this. Very worrying.
Imo, Matt Taibb’s article reflects the hazards of watching left-wing cable news channels.
Talking head panels of four…Doom and gloom, the end is near. Trump, the evil no good doer. Russian operative…Communist.
It’s sicking to watch (I watch little of it), too many commercials.
Trump will handle it, no worries, enjoy the show.
What I saw this past week, without watching the tube, was Trump pulling out of Syria, ending the cold war with China and good news for US farmers.
The impeachment BS is nothing more than noise. The Dimms will move on to tax evasion.
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Maybe a good solution is open primaries in every state to break the deadlock of the D & R Parties. Petitions are circulating here in Florida.
As usual, good post.
The truth is that the Left vs. Right political “war”, of the last 50 years, went totally sideways with the 2008 campaign and election of Obama, a radical activist “Manchurian Candidate”. He was basically the embodiment of the anti-American Black racist and Muslim strain — the Black Muslims — that overwhelmed, among too many angry Blacks and sycophantic Whites, the Christian movement of Martin Luther King. The Democrat party in 2008 became what I quickly recognized, and named, as “The Insane Left”, and all of their (Obama’s) efforts (supposedly at “transformation”, but actually REVENGE) “The War of the Insane Left”, against traditional America, with its ideals of individual freedom and constitutional guarantees of same. The Dems are all-hysteria, all the time, since 2008. And misdirected and wrong-headed (if they wanted to really “fix things”) on every issue.
The Democrat party is no longer a legitimate political force. It is hell-bent(!) upon coercing America into its own image, denying the vote of the people for Donald Trump, and making criminals out of any who disagree with its open tyranny. Its insanity is party-wide, and on open display in the likes of Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, etc.. This, and the phenomenon of NeverTrumper Republicans (alias globalist multinational corporation investors), shows that both major parties have passed their “sale date”, and need to be dismantled — especially, first and foremost, the insane Democrats.
LK: the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump.
You got my vote. The ones pushing hardest I know discount any evidence that Trump is right, or the facts support Trump, just make them madder. No matter that I point lying is second nature to all pols, they have a special seat in Hell already prepared for Trump. And most of them don’t believe in the afterlife. Somehow, Trump gets to make it into Hell anyway.
The strange thing about the anti-Trump plotters is that they are not willing to sit out his four or eight years in office. Why not? It is not as if there is an obvious successor (a man with popular, anti-Establishment views, who is sufficiently wealthy to finance his own campaign).
Trump has increased defense spending, and does no favors to enemies of the USA; so the military-industrial complex, CIA and FBI have no pressing reason to want him gone.
Reductions in immigration will be good for American wages, and bad for corporate profits; but in 2024 at the latest, a more typical “pro-business” President will be elected, and business’s “Trump Problem” will be a blip in history.
The Neocons are livid because Trump refuses to start any more wars for Israel; but he has made more concessions than his supporters expected, especially by opposing Iran. Some Jewish Americans are genuinely affronted by the idea of putting Americans first, ahead of Mexicans and Guatemalans; and the whiff of ethnocentrism awakens old fears. A number of previously smart people have written books proclaiming that Trump’s election signals the end of democracy – a foolish belief that has been described as “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.
Of course I do not know whether this is the reason for the repeated coup attempts; but I suggest that whatever the underlying motives are, they are not rational; and among irrational feelings, fear tends to be the most powerful.
You go to the heart of the matter. Why the deep opposition of the Deep State to Trump?
Our mistake is believing that we understand the Deep State. The title shows the problem. Like an iceberg, most of it is hidden from sight. We can guess at what lies underwater, but we should realize that we are guessing.
“I suggest that whatever the underlying motives are, they are not rational; and among irrational feelings, fear tends to be the most powerful.”
I very much doubt that. Almost always irrational motives attributed to smart people reflect a lack of understanding.
My guess: I have no idea.
“My guess: I have no idea.”
Well If you don’t know, we are in deep trouble, or not. Take that as a compliment.
I was a high-priced bookie for two decades, and have made predictions here since 2003. I have a pretty good record, as such things go. But it has taught me humility.
A big part of that comes from having a record. The ones that appear in the top menu bar – hits and misses – are not comprehensive, but show that “pretty good” means “wrong a lot.” Most of the errors come from unknown unknowns. Even the best analysts are usually wrong.
“A fairly persistent pattern is the underestimation of the continuing increases in processing power, storage capacities, and communication bandwidth, and overestimation of the extent to which computers can be made to reason like people.
“A striking example of this dichotomy is provided by J. C. R. Licklider’s book Libraries of the Future, published in 1965. Licklider has the best claim of anybody to be called the “grandfather of the Internet,” as he was the first one to point to computers as being primarily communication devices, not just computing ones, and he set up the program that led to the creation of the Arpanet. In his book, he made many predictions. Some, about development of computer networks, and about digital libraries becoming feasible around the year 2000, are among the finest examples of futurology. But those were based primarily on extrapolations from basic technology trends. Many of his forecasts were wrong, in particular those based on expectations that computers would acquire intelligence.”
— From “Technology Predictions: Intelligence and brute force” by Andrew Odlyzko – prof of math, great historian, one of the top polymaths of our time.
“Another general principle, not as quantitative, nor as well known, contradicts the general expectation that new technologies will replace old ones. Instead, new technologies frequently serve to strengthen their predecessors. (Thus, in the popular language of the last few decades, they are “sustaining” and not “disruptive.”) An excellent example is that of railroads and horses. The rail was expected to kill the horse. This was a common expectation on the part of both proponents and opponents of the new offspring of the emerging metal and steam technologies. Instead, the number of horses grew. In Britain, their numbers did not peak until 1905. The issue was that while transport on rails was fast and inexpensive, the “first mile” problem of getting to the rails required horses. With the general growth of the economy that was facilitated by railroads, there was more and more to carry to the rails. And even railroads used horses extensively, for switching cars in their yards, for example.”
— From “The manifold problems of technology forecasting” by A. Odlyzko in Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter, Fall 2010, p. 7.
Thanks, free food for thought is the norm here. I’ll get to work.
I sent the link by Andrew Odlyzkoto to my computer scientist son, Chris. His reply is way over my head but thought you may find it interesting. By the way, the last link is broken.
“That’s interesting. There have been some breakthroughs over the years but generally I agree with this guy’s point that gains in computing have been mostly incremental due to increases in memory, power, etc. My own interest in AI was sidelined by the realization that algorithm development (where my interests lie) is a rarefied field–only the top architects at Google and Amazon are doing that work. Their work is boxed up into toolboxes (APIs) for other programmers to use in a plug-and-play manner. This is my frustration with a lot of the computing field: it’s filled with fools who have no deep understanding of any of it, they just use what’s off the shelf. And who can blame them? Companies don’t want to spend the money to pay people to develop these things from scratch–especially when a better version is already available from a known brand–and people don’t want to put in the effort when they can call a single line of code that just does the thing instead of spending years studying linear algebra.
The gains that this guy is talking about have really taken off in the past few years not due to algorithmic breakthroughs, but instead due to cheaply available massive cloud storage (Amazon owns like 90% of this market, by the way). The massive improvements we’re hearing about in speech recognition, speech synthesis, and computer vision are leveraging decades-old algorithms for the most part; the difference is that these old algorithms scale incredibly well with the size of the input. Computer vision has gotten so good because everybody uses services like Google Image Search and Facebook. People are doing the work of matching an image with a description of its content, which machine learning algorithms are able to train on. Think of every time a person uploads a picture of their dog to Facebook with a little blurb like “Check out my cute dog!” Now algorithms are able to take that image, know that it has “dog” in it, and become that much better at recognizing dogs.
If you want to read something scary, check these out:
This is a neural network-based language model developed by OpenAI (another Elon Musk venture) that takes a block of text and generates additional text based on the input, and it’s almost always readable, if not always totally sensical. Go to that second link to play around with it. It’s pretty incredible.
The scary thing is, as impressive as the output of this thing is, it’s only using the medium-sized model–the full model has not been released by OpenAI for security reasons. Because it’s too good. And the only difference is the amount of information fed into it.
“Due to our concerns about malicious applications of the technology, we are not releasing the trained model.”
You are right, of course, that we do not have much understanding of the Deep State. However, we can try to understand it by examination of earlier “Deep Events”.
(1) The assassination of JFK
Lee Harvey Oswald might as well have been branded “CIA” on his forehead. He defected to the Soviet Union, and declared that he would disclose the secrets he knew from his military service; and yet when he returned to the US he was not arrested or tried.
The CIA’s motive for killing JFK was that, in the last year of his life, he had turned peacenik. He wanted to end the Cold War, he signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, and he gave a speech in support of the anti-US regime of Indonesian president Sukarno.
All of this was known at the time of JFK’s assassination. Now we have even more supporting evidence, including the activities of an Oswald lookalike in Dallas, and the knowledge of an earlier plot to kill Kennedy in Chicago on 2nd November 1963 (which was detected and thwarted by local law enforcement). In the Chicago plot the fall guy was, like Oswald, a disaffected former marine who worked in a building that overlooked the route of JFK’s motorcade. There were also four professional assassins, of whom two were arrested. Their identities have never been revealed.
See the book “JFK and the Unspeakable” by James W. Douglass for more information.
The most important opponent of Richard Nixon was Bernstein and Woodward’s informant “Deep Throat”, now known to be Mark Felt, the then Associate Director of the FBI. Felt held a personal grudge against Nixon, who had not promoted him to FBI Director when J. Edgar Hoover died.
His identity and motive, although suspected by Nixon, were unknown for decades, and so offered no clues to Deep State involvement in Watergate; but the authors of the bungled burglary included the ex-CIA men E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis.
If Watergate had Deep State involvement beyond the activities of Mark Felt, a rational motive was that Nixon signed the ABM and SALT I treaties, normalised relations with China, and was ending US involvement in Vietnam. History has been unkind to Nixon, and remembers him chiefly for Watergate and for not ending LBJ’s Vietnam War sooner than he did.
(3) Harold Wilson
A group of MI5 officers in the 1960s and 1970s had the nonsensical belief that the then British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a KGB agent. The belief was fed by James Angleton and the Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, and was never backed by evidence. It persisted even though MI5 investigated and cleared Wilson. The story surfaced in the press from time to time, most completely in the book Spycatcher (1987) by former MI5 officer Peter Wright:
Donald Trump has not crossed the CIA or the military-industrial complex, signed any arms control treaties, or attempted to replace military conflict with cooperation. The only exception is that he has refused to begin any more Middle Eastern wars. After Afghanistan and Iraq, I would hope that neither the CIA nor the US military would see this attitude as a sign of weakness.
Also, the opposition to Trump in the 3-letter agencies appears to go beyond a grudge held by one or two individuals. They have an unshakeable belief that Trump is in collusion with the Russians. Any suggestion of evidence, however slight, however questionable, is amplified by confirmation bias. Meanwhile, irrefutable evidence of Hillary Clinton’s “pay to play” corruption is ignored.
See, for example, this report by a former employee of the NSA:
How was the hatred seeded? Possibly by the knowledge that Trump is not “one of us” – one of the educated, vetted and approved candidates who operates within the Overton Window; perhaps compounded by those who fear and despise Trump for his perceived ethnocentrism; and perhaps because of an initial belief in the lies fed to them by Obama’s team, and a reluctance to admit that they had been suckered into doing party-political work for the Democrats.
It hardly matters. The belief is now ingrained, and it is not going to go away. If, as I suggest, it has no rational basis, it will be all the more difficult to change it.
P.S. Today Trump described our Kurdish former allies’ defence of their only home as “playing in the sand”. Maybe the CIA/FBI are right after all, and more far-sighted than the rest of us. Is there any limit to the Donald’s capacity to disappoint his own supporters?