America is even luckier than I thought

Back in September I wrote:

Given how easy it was in hindsight to wrest the presidency from the grasp of America’s complacent political elites, we should perhaps reflect on how fortunate we are that it was a 70 year old multi-millionaire New York playboy that stumbled upon the gaping hole that led straight to the levers of power.

Consider for a moment who might have got in. What if it had been a young, charismatic unknown who harboured greater ambitions than Trump and a far more ruthless streak that appeared on stage and said all the right things?

Somebody far worse than Trump could have trodden the path he took to power, and Twitter outbursts and trannies in the military would be the absolute least of our worries. Hillary really could be in jail instead of flogging her book of excuses, and the leaders of Antifa and BLM lying in hospital contemplating life in a wheelchair. If you think the decency of the American people and the robustness of the political system would prevent such an outcome, think again. In an era of Executive Orders, a weaponised IRS, politicised appointed judges, and a president with a pen and a phone, there’s an awful lot resting on the decency of Trump. Now there’s a thought.

Now let’s consider the state of affairs implied by the infamous Nunes memo:

Perhaps this is hyperbole, so let’s look at what National Review has to say:

[The memo] does make a persuasive case – pending any detailed rebuttal by its partisan Democratic critics – that flimsily-corroborated Democratic Party campaign opposition research succeeded in influencing law enforcement to spy on a U.S. citizen involved in the political process at the height of a presidential campaign. That may not be an enormous scandal in size, but it is, if true, a scandal.

And Streetwise Professor:

But one thing that this entire sordid episode has demonstrated is that the bureaucracy generally, and the intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies in particular, consider themselves an independent power, a co-equal–superior actually–branch of government, the Constitution be damned. Trump is deemed the usurper.  Indeed, it is clear that many senior members of the FBI, DOJ, and the intelligence community considered it their right to intervene in the election in order to prevent Trump’s election, and failing that, to kneecap his presidency. And virtually all of the political class in the US is on their side. This is the real Constitutional crisis.

This is not the end.  This is at most the end of a beginning. For the acknowledgement that the FBI and DOJ–and the Obama administration–used under false pretenses a dossier paid for by a political campaign and assembled by rabid partisans to obtain permission to spy on an American just raises other questions. Who other than Page was spied on? Were their names unmasked? What use was made of the information obtained from the Page surveillance? By whom?

So far, Trump’s response to the combined efforts of the DoJ, FBI, Democratic Party, and apparently Barack Obama to derail his presidential campaign has been rather benign, preferring to let the wheels of justice turn slowly, assuming they’re turning at all. What few people are willing to acknowledge is that, if Trump were a lot more ambitious and as dangerous as people say, he would have a handy excuse to start rounding people up and throwing them in jail by the hundred, if not thousand.

When malevolent authoritarians take charge of a country, they often need to fabricate a reason to start arresting their political opponents en masse. Consider the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which, whether it was genuine or not, handed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the perfect excuse to jail thousands of opposition figures including politicians, journalists, judges, and military personnel replacing them with steadfast loyalists. Sure, this is mostly banana republic stuff but then so is what is going on in the USA. What else to call it? Imprisoning or murdering political activists is a lot harder to justify if they aren’t actively conspiring to overthrow a sitting president, or scuttle their election campaign using illegal methods. Once it’s been demonstrated that they are…well you’re taking your chances on the decency of the man at the top. Consider this:

How do you think Putin or Erdogan (or even Macron) would react to a challenge like this? If the FSB were brazenly threatening to bring down the Russian president, having been caught red-handed trying to stop him getting elected, heads would be rolling, the prisons would be rapidly filling up, people would be fired, and loyalists installed before the week was out.

I suspect the head honchos in the FBI, DoJ, and other branches of the “permanent government” or Deep State believe they can count on the loyalty of their members to oppose Trump on all fronts, sabotaging any attempt to bring about reform. If so, this puts them on dangerous ground. Trump is meeting resistance only because the people concerned feel safe to mount it; if they saw a few senior people being dragged away at the end of a gun and a new boss they don’t know immediately telling them to get in line or else, the resistance would melt like snow in the spring. How many activist judges or defiant mayors would remain once a few of their number had been arrested and replaced in the middle of the night, their families cast into the street? But they know Trump isn’t going to have anyone jailed or shot, so they act with impunity.

For anyone doubting whether Trump could conjure up a band of loyalists ready to do his bidding consider this: James Mattis inspires a loyalty and following which nobody in Washington could even hope to match. If he called on some former colleagues to take over as head of the FBI, DoJ, and any other branch of the government they’d crawl over hot coals to do so, and do exactly what they were told from thereon. Not that I think Mattis would go along with such a programme but again, we’re relying on the decency of Trump and his key staff members. Anyone who thinks Trump & Co. couldn’t find enough willing servants to do their dirty work should they want to is deluded. Hell, I’d bet 90% of those praising Obama would switch allegiance in a heartbeat if promised greater pay and prestige under a new regime which wasn’t taking any prisoners.

In my previous post, I made the point that the state of US politics in 2016 left the door wide open for some seriously nasty bastard to take charge. Now we’ve learned that the winner was not only handed a government structure thoroughly corrupted and open to obscene manipulation, but he was also provided with a rather tempting excuse to engage in a massive purge which would see hundreds of senior government figures in prison for life. Americans ought to be on their knees praying in gratitude that the person who stumbled into this was a billionaire New York playboy in his seventies with a supermodel wife and a penchant for tweeting and playing golf. Instead, most people seem to be labouring under the impression it was the worst outcome imaginable. This is why they might not dodge the next bullet quite so successfully. If they don’t, they can’t ever look back and say the warning signs weren’t there.

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24 thoughts on “America is even luckier than I thought

  1. Hello Mr Globetrotter!

    In the event the U.S.does not recover its sanity, I’d like to retire to someplace less nutty. Have you encountered such a place? My requirements are minimal: access to medical care, decent infrastructure, reasonably stable government. (All things we used to have, now that I think about it.)

  2. Trump should open up special investigations into the whole stinking lot and let justice take its course. If justice were indeed able to take its course (not a 100% given if DoJ / FBI obstruction / corruption is factored in) then some big names are going to get jail time. Hillary and Obama incuded.

  3. I once told a blog that they were lucky that Trump was just an oaf, not some Man on a White Horse. What’s the left’s response? “Literally Hitler.” Morons!

    As for the FBI and their co-conspirators, I refer to the whole pack of them as the US Securitate. Perhaps Trump can exploit jealousies between the different mobs to protect himself and the remaining shreds of the Constitution.

    It also needs saying that the lust of the Left to deprive him of office and, probably, of liberty, wealth, and eventually life, gives him an incentive to try to cling to office indefinitely. Have the morons considered that?

    @Pogonip: For eight months of the year Queensland is attractive; for the other four months a sane man might prefer to be elsewhere – The Wet, you know. We very much liked South Australia when we lived in Adelaide. Unfortunately the State government has since decided to turn the power off. We also enjoyed living in NZ. Two attractive towns you might consider are Nelson (South Island) and Napier (North Island). If you want a city there’s Christchurch, though it’s been badly earthquaked since we lived there. But it was lovely.

    Tuscany and Umbria are packed with loveliness, and the government is stable in its instability. The Italian lake district is superb. Venice is the most beautiful artefact ever made by man. There’s always France. Some people like Portugal, others Spain. (Will Barcelona remain in Spain?) I’ve heard good things of Slovenia. I’ve always liked visiting Amsterdam. Bruges is a wee gem. Some people find the climate invigorating in Berlin (where the opera is wonderfully cheap).

    If I had a free hand of where to live in Britain it would be a contest between Edinburgh, Oxford and various spots on the south coast of England, with the fringes of the New Forest a particularly favoured area.

    A youngster in our family is keen to try Singapore. There’s a stable government for you.

  4. My globetrotting uncle liked Singapore the best of all places he’d been stationed. I haven’t been there, but video makes it look terribly crowded. (Maybe it filled up with people seeking to escape the nuttiness from whence they came?)

    The admittedly small incident that pushed me over tge edge occurred at U. S. drug store chain CVS. We have one literally right around the corner. CVS uses loyalty cards and issues coupons off them. I picked up a prescription and got a coupon with same. Ah, but at the front of the store I was informed the coupon, 5 minutes old, was Not Acceptable because the Numbers Didn’t Match. Um, you can walk back to the pharmacy and they’ll verify they gave me the prescription and the coupon. Doesn’t matter. The Numbers Don’t Match. Rather cheekily, I suppose, I maintained that it was not my responsibility to solve CVS’s computer problems, and after about ten minutes of discussion, they agreed to accept their own, unexpired coupon, “but this is the last time.” Sometime during that ten minutes, I reached my limit of tolerance for nuttiness, and am thus looking for a less nutty locale, if such exists.

  5. “so pretty well anywhere then?” Looking for a common factor I see a couple. Most of those places are British/formerly British, or are places where young British grandees would visit on their Grand Tours.

    I’m not convinced by Berlin myself, so that leaves the odd men out as Iberia, the Low Countries and Slovenia. So, Hapsburg or formerly so.

  6. Singapore is a fine city. You get fined for everything. The ambience is practically sterile. For fun, people escape to Malaysia.

  7. Venice is a cesspit that, like many once-beautiful Adriatic cities, has been utterly destroyed by Ryanair, cruise lines, etc (as well as the incompetence and graft of its own government). I’d frankly choose Rijeka over Venice. It’s very grungy but it at least has potential. Kotor is another option but also fast going the way of Venice and Dubrovnik, in that there is little left to do as a resident and the place can get totally overwhelmed with shell-suited tourists.

    If money were unlimited I would live in Hong Kong, but probably spend half of my time in other places. If you’re thinking of not dying before 2047, you are of course taking some risks there as well.

    In “Western” Europe I would probably choose Zürich and then, as a close second, Vienna. The only place in Italy I would live (again) would be Turin.

  8. In the event the U.S.does not recover its sanity, I’d like to retire to someplace less nutty. Have you encountered such a place?

    I’ve got to say, for all its faults, I do like France. I especially like Paris, but several places I’ve been measure up. I’ll probably be living in Annecy at some point, and I’ll have lived in far worse places.

  9. I’ve heard Chile described as “California during its Golden Age”. There’s still a deep-seated distrust of anything Communist in the society.

    One thing I find rather odd about your post, Tim, is the insinuation that rounding up these Deep State malefactors and tossing them in jail by the dozens would be somehow indecent. (If there was an unstated “…without trial” intended, then you’d certainly be correct)

    If the allegations in the various security memos are even close to true, we’re talking about an honest-to-God, not-at-all-metaphorical palace coup by what amounts to the US’ Praetorian Guard. That is absolutely terrifying, and a massive purge of the government apparatus in such a case wouldn’t be indecent, it would be necessary and prudent.

  10. Unfortunately you can’t order one arm of the state to attack another, they won’t do it. That’s why sensible tyrants have an Imperial Guard loyal to them personally. They would have come in handy during “Plebgate”.

  11. One thing I find rather odd about your post, Tim, is the insinuation that rounding up these Deep State malefactors and tossing them in jail by the dozens would be somehow indecent.

    Oh no, I think that’s exactly what should happen. The problem is, it probably won’t for the reason Roué le Jour says: the DoJ won’t pursue a case, the judges will be on the defendant’s side, etc. Which means in the long run the end result, short of some Road to Damascus type conversion on the part of the Deep State, is for somebody to come in and put them all to the sword – literally.

  12. Not likely to happen; the citizenry takes 1%’ers corruption for granted. They just shrug and move on.0

  13. Daniel Ream,
    I have seen the three letter agencies referred to as the Praetorian Guard before and presumably there’s some solid reason for that, but I just don’t get it. The Praetorian Guard were the Emperor’s personal bodyguard and answerable to him alone. No US agency has that function.

  14. Just about to depart Singapore form a six day business trip, I have been here a couple of times, nice enough place but no utopia.

    I don’t mind Trump but at the end of the day he is still one of them.

  15. The Praetorian Guard were the Emperor’s personal bodyguard and answerable to him alone.

    On more than one occasion, the Praetorian Guard decided they didn’t much like the current Emperor, deposed him and put their own choice on the throne (cf. Claudius). It was in that sense that I referred to them.

    EDIT: Which, now that I think of it, is even more salient: the only way they got away with that is that the Senate and citizenry didn’t much care that they were ignoring the established rules of succession in favour of force and fiat, and that’s exactly what’s going on in the US today.

  16. Oh no, I think that’s exactly what should happen. The problem is, it probably won’t

    Ah, I see. Yes, I concur that it’s probably a lost cause.

  17. Spot on and yet they keep vilifying him as the uncouth barbarian at their gate.

    Obama and Clinton, plus their lackeys and henchmen certainly should be held accountable, unfortunately it is not politically feasible. The day Obama is forced to do the ‘perp walk’ is the day that the US starts descending into civil war.

    Singapore works perfectly, but, unless you are a robot, it is unspeakably soul destroying in its narrowness of culture, its control and its dullness. People tell me that Uruguay is a shout.

  18. I found the climate in Singapore terrible, but then I don’t like the heat. South of Santiago in Chile was very nice when I visited for a few weeks in 2003 – proper winter and summer seasons, plenty of rain (so not likely to run out of water), not too many people, okay infrastructure and police that to took pride in not being bribeable like others on the continent. Only issue is the occasional earthquake and volcano….

  19. The only type of culture that I could see in Singapore was the splendid remains of when it was a possession of the British Empire’s Greater India. The old town centre with grand colonial buildings, cable stayed bridges made by Glaswegian engineering firms, the Singapore Cricket Club, monuments to the enlightenment and Rafles were the only interesting parts in my books. I had a nice room in the Grand Hyatt in Scott St (not the right way to spell Scot) and expense account but that side of town didn’t do it for me and I ended up wandering down to the esplanade for entertainment and a couple of glasses of Aussie Shiraz at the Fullerton Hotel. What a piss weak move the surrender of Singapore by the Brits to the Japs was.

  20. Pogonip, you could consider revolution. You could lead a violent uprising against the status quo, impose a constitution and reorder the government. Or you could try for revolution via a shadowy conspiracy based on blackmail with drugging politicians and then photographing them in naked, comprising positions (ugly work, I know, but you could outsource the actual photography).

    Alternatively, you could go to Walgreens. (I too have given up on CVS). I looked it up: a pogonip is a frozen fog.

  21. If perp walking Obama would kick off a civil war then that’s exactly what should be done. Provoking the enemy into open war would be an ideal way to start fresh.

  22. On the subject of desirable places to live, Malaysia (mentioned above in contrast with Singapore) is OK. Singapore is upright (corruption-free though authoritarian), and it works, ie it’s very efficient. On the other hand, it’s overcrowded, with a steamy (high humidity) tropical climate, and is ludicrously expensive, especially cars and property; foreigners have to pay a premium for the latter.
    Malaysia has the same climate, but is a more relaxed place in many ways; though there is creeping Islamisation, it doesn’t so far impinge on expatriates. Property is much less expensive than in Singapore, and foreigners can buy with relative ease, though there are restrictions in some states (eg type of land title and value of property). Malaysia has a programme called Malaysia My Second Home (just google MM2H), which actively encourages foreigners to come.

  23. Pingback: Ill-Judged | White Sun of the Desert

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