Let’s Talk About Election Security (but DON’T TELL TRUMP)

Let’s Talk About Election Security (but DON’T TELL TRUMP) April 24, 2019

The primary job of the president of the United States is to see to the defense and security of our nation, as well as to faithfully uphold the laws that govern our land.

Now let’s talk about Donald Trump.

Has anyone else noticed that from the moment it was revealed that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, up unto this very day, our president has raged against everyone except Russia?

He’s done more than simply ignore a blatant attack against our government by a hostile foreign nation.

He stood obediently beside Russian President Vladimir Putin – after a private chit-chat, that no one was allowed to be a part of – and acquiesced to the Russian talking points, throwing the American intelligence community under the bus, in the process.

Would you be surprised to find out it went even further than that?

If you’ve been paying attention, at all, then no, you wouldn’t be surprised.

In fact, so determined has President Trump been to avoid calling out Russia for what they attempted (and in some cases, succeeded) in the 2016 election, that his staff and Cabinet have been forced to tip toe around the subject, guarding their words, and even limiting their job duties, to keep from sending the friend-of-Vlad into a tirade.

The New York Times explores the case of now-former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

As you know, Nielsen was forced out of her position earlier in April, after only 16 months on the job.

It wasn’t that she wasn’t trying to do a good job. It’s more a case of being surrounded by cowards and having her efforts hobbled.

To that point, she had some real concerns about Russia’s attacks on our elections, and she wanted to put more focus on protecting our electoral process.

Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

Valid concerns, and in any other administration, she would have been given the freedom and respect to move on these issues.

In any other administration. This is the administration of Donald Trump.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Nielsen tried to bring together Cabinet secretaries, in an effort to strategize how to blunt the attacks of Russia for the upcoming 2020 election season.

She eventually gave up, and the administration has ignored (or buried) information on the efforts of the Russian government to interfere in the 2018 midterm election.

The goal of the Russian government has been to sow angst and division among Americans, dividing by partisan and racial lines.

According to the Mueller report, there was a clear preference for Donald Trump by the Russians in 2016.

Now, members of Trump’s circle are downplaying the continued threat Russia poses to us.

“You look at what Russia did — you know, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it — and it’s a terrible thing,” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said on Tuesday during an interview at the Time 100 Summit in New York.

“But I think the investigations, and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years, has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads,” he said.

Seriously?

This is why the pampered and daft Trump clan continue to be an embarrassment.

President Trump is more concerned with crafting a legacy for himself than doing the job. He is surrounded by “Yes” men and enablers.

Nielsen and members of the intelligence community have looked for other ways to talk of the cyber-threat posed by Russia, without offending the president’s fragile ego.

The opening page of the Worldwide Threat Assessment, a public document compiled by government intelligence agencies that was delivered to Congress in late January, warned that “the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections.”

“Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians,” the report noted. It also predicted that “Moscow may employ additional influence tool kits — such as spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and-leak operations or manipulating data — in a more targeted fashion to influence U.S. policy, actions and elections.”

So of course it makes sense that Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, eliminated the office of cybersecurity coordinator for the White House, leaving random staffers and junior aides to deal with the growing threat.

Ms. Nielsen grew so frustrated with White House reluctance to convene top-level officials to come up with a governmentwide strategy that she twice pulled together her own meetings of cabinet secretaries and agency heads. They included top Justice Department, F.B.I. and intelligence officials to chart a path forward, many of whom later periodically issued public warnings about indicators that Russia was both looking for new ways to interfere and experimenting with techniques in Ukraine and Europe.

One senior official described homeland security officials as adamant that the United States government needed to significantly step up its efforts to urge the American public and companies to block foreign influence campaigns. But the department was stymied by the White House’s refusal to discuss it, the official said.

Because Trump’s ego is more important.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is living in an alternate universe, where this administration is actually hard on Russia for their election interference.

“Russia interferes in a number of places,” Mr. Pompeo said. “I don’t think there’s been a discussion between a senior U.S. official and Russians in this administration where we have not raised this issue about our concern about Russia’s interference in our elections.”

“We will make very clear to them this is unacceptable behavior,” he said.

It’s not about raising the issue. It’s about our president taking their word for it and railing against those who bring it up.

Right now, social media and other internet outlets, such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have been doing their part by taking down accounts that have been linked to Russian troll farms or represent misinformation campaigns.

Thankfully, it’s not as if our government is doing nothing.

Before the midterms, the United States Cyber Command created a so-called Russia Small Group of American officials to disrupt election influence campaigns by two groups whose members were indicted as part of Mr. Mueller’s investigation: the G.R.U., which is Moscow’s military intelligence agency, and the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm with ties to Mr. Putin.

The United States disrupted the Internet Research Agency’s servers around the midterm elections in November, according to officials briefed on the actions. A declassified after-action report on the 2018 countermeasures by the United States government was expected to be released early this year but has never been published.

That’s also likely due to the fact that our president doesn’t want to hear about it.

A senior adviser with DHS, Matthew Masterson, spoke of the continued cyber threats posed by Russia.

“We continue to expect a pervasive messaging campaign by the Russians to undermine our democratic institutions,” Mr. Masterson said in an interview. “We saw it in 2018, continue to see it and don’t expect it to subside.”

“For us, we recognize that the goal is to undermine confidence in the elections and sow doubt,” Mr. Masterson said.

So, yes. Their focus isn’t solely on Trump. They want to see countrymen at each others throats. They want chaos and civil war. They want us so divided and in turmoil, that we don’t notice what they’re doing across the globe, in the meantime.

“Russian intelligence’s 2016 covert actions to divide Americans by interfering in our election were so successful,” said Kevin T. Carroll, a former C.I.A. officer who was a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security during the first two years of the Trump administration.

“Putin will amplify them in 2020,” he said.

And unless we have a president who cares more about the nation’s well-being than his own ego – or any potential business deals with Russia, in the future – we will continue to be made easy targets.

 

 

 

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  • chemical

    Susan:

    He’s done more than simply ignore a blatant attack against our government by a hostile foreign nation.

    It’s worse than that. As evidenced by the Mueller report, he welcomed the attack. He specifically asked Russia to find Clinton’s emails, and 5 hours later Russians stole a bunch of documents off of DCCC servers. While Mueller declined to charge Trump with conspiracy, it’s still clear that the Trump administration and campaign didn’t have a problem with Russians committing crimes on his behalf.

    Trump thinks the universe revolves around him, and thinks anything that’s good for him must be good for America. I don’t even think he’s capable of imagining an America without him in it. Russia interfering with the election helped Trump, so in his head, it’s a good thing.

  • fanodan13

    I read these reports from other sources such as Reuters, MSN, Yahoo and many others. I read Ms. Wright’s responses, because she includes context, feeling, and yes her view! I think that maybe the fact the Cyber intelligence budget was cut drastically and underlings we’re left to run the show, after their Superiors were reassigned or cut out completely, leaving it totally disorganized was a major point, She pointedly, made this clear!

  • JASmius

    Trump’s motivations here have always been upfront and long since become old hat, as it were: (1) his ego doesn’t want to believe that he only won in 2016 because of Russian election subversion, but (2) he was clearly eager and welcoming of that Russian assistance and wants more of it next year (because, deep down, he knows how uphill a struggle 2020 will be and will need all the help he can get); and (3) he’s “kompromated” up to his eyeballs by a quarter century of Russian mob bailouts and his lifelong obsession with building Trump Tower Moscow, and knows that if he crosses Putin it’s all over for him – maybe in more ways than just financially and politically.

    But what strikes me, and few if anybody seems to talk about publicly, is why virtually the entire Republican party is scared to death of Trump. Sure, congressional ‘Pubbies outside of the Redcap True Believers (what I call the “hostages”) are irrationally afraid of being primaried, but this blanket, paralyzing fear seems to go beyond that. It’s one thing to not want to lose a job, but it’s not like anybody who’s risen that high in their career couldn’t find gainful post-White House or post-D.C. employment somewhere else. In the same way and for the same reason, it just isn’t credible that such people would be so intimidated by angry tweets (since Trump doesn’t do face-to-face confrontations). The degree of terror we’re seeing, as exemplified by this New York Times story, suggests some thing or things – threats – far worse: blackmail, extortion, abusive criminal prosecution, physical threats, all against them and/or their friends and families. Last fall’s MAGA bomber and the Coast Guard lieutenant-cum-domestic terrorist a few months back are two external examples. Given how the one-time “adults” in Trump’s cabal (Tillerson, Kelly, Mattis, McMaster, etc.) have been purged and replaced with a growing herd of “acting” officials personally, corruptly, and toadyingly loyal to him, such gutter mob intimidation ops might no longer need to be outsourced to the cult.

  • Michael Weyer

    I really do think the worst part is how there are scores of Republicans who know Trump is this petty man, this horrible person, a true criminal and a complete moron totally unfit to lead the United States…

    And they don’t care. They just take the attitude of “he’s doing a couple of things we like and better than a Democrat so we can excuse his Twitter tirades, crass behavior and making us a joke in the eyes of the world.” This is proving “principle over party” died with Reagan and the current GOP will suck up to literally anyone as long as they stay in power.

  • Michael Weyer

    BTW, do you hear of Trump’s latest bout in utter insane ego? He brought the head of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, into the Oval Office for a meeting…where he complained over how he had less Twitter followers than Obama and what Dorsey would do about it.

    It’s absolutely laughable that for eight years the right painted Obama as this huge narcissist…and now they’re backing the most narcissistic man on the planet.

  • chemical

    Do you have a link for that? That seems insane, even for Trump.

  • Alpha 1

    Here you go: https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/23/tech/jack-dorsey-trump-twitter-meeting/index.html

    My hot take is that Trump is no more terminally online than the rest of America’s ruling class, he’s just more open about it. After all, half of op-ed writing now is just complaining about getting owned on twitter.

  • Michael Weyer
  • Michael Weyer

    I never bother with Twitter myself and stay away from about 95 percent of various forums (political and otherwise) thanks to how easily you can get sucked into talks with morons.

    It’s as not as low as, say, the comments section on You Tube but it can still be pretty bad for running into folks who think memes of Michelle Obama as a man and “Killary” are insightful political debate.

  • Alpha 1

    Twitter is the mind killer. It strips communication of all nuance and context and turns people into a raw nerve of reaction, eternally responding to whatever information Twitter throws at them. The one upside to this is that the rich, powerful and well educated are just as susceptible to this phenomenon as anyone else. As a result you can watch billionaires, politicians, journalists and other supposed experts in their field melt down in real time, and see that meritocracy is a lie and they’re just as dumb as anyone else.

  • chemical

    I hear ya.

    The key to Youtube is not to use it for anything political. Personally I use it to watch some gamers who stream at crazy hours and load their games to Youtube after the fact. There are also some good science channels out there (PBS Spacetime, Up and Atom, and Crash Course, which covers more than science)

  • Michael Weyer

    I remember at mass, my priest was talking about how “It used to be, you wrote an angry letter and by the time you got a stamp and an envelope, you were able to reconsider it. Today, all you do is hit a button and anything is out there before you can regret it.”

  • Michael Weyer

    I usually stick to humor stuff on You Tube, funny kid videos, MST3K/Rifftrax collections and video game walkthroughs. Even then, avoid comments when I can.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I think it exposes just how corrupt and immoral ALL politicians in DC have become. I think the long-term lack of character in DC is reaching a nadir that will repulse most voters and WOULD repulse even Trump cultists if the cultists actually had to live next-door to any of these deceitful, petty, immoral, unethical people.

    No one that has any intention of building a business (or running an existing one) that wants to hire a DC politician or consultant for hte purpose of actually adding value to the business or to his/per product would hire any DC consultant, staffer or politician. DC denizens have devolved to the point that (outside of DC) they have no value whatsoever. Their list of acquaintances (and even friends) has shrunk through their own greed to just those that can help them advance their careers – and those are all in DC. They have no real skill, no judgement, little intelligence (formal knowledge), no character, no experience with human nature outside of DC, no feel for ‘normal people’ (having been closeted in DC for decades), and no appreciation or respect for the country that has given them so much and that they are responsible for.

    I think if you consider their lack of prospects if they ever alienate themselves to their DC associates, we can start to see that outside of DC, they are pariah and outcast as their complete willingness to compromise morality, ethics and their demonstrated history of doing just that make them virtually unemployable outside of DC (other than as a lobbyist that is now working on the ‘outside’ and whose acquaintances are as fickle as they are.

  • chemical

    Sure, congressional ‘Pubbies outside of the Redcap True Believers (what I call the “hostages”) are irrationally afraid of being primaried…

    I’ve been seeing some just straight up flip their party affiliation for R -> D, due to being sick and tired of Trump’s antics. The one I saw today was Andy McKean, in Iowa. They tend to be older Republicans who remember when conservative didn’t mean “steal everything while triggering the libs”.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    ‘Meritocracy’ should be what we all strive for.

    The fact that those from Ivy-League schools melt down as fast (or faster) than those from ‘lesser’ schools just proves that the Ivy-League schools are over-rated and hold their positions through patronage instead of through merit.

    In a real ‘meritocracy’, factors other than ‘getting elected’ (possible even by grifters as long as the election is fixed by outside factors) or ‘patronage’ or wealth or looks or fame come into play. In a meritocracy, the factors of ‘personal character’ and ‘ethics’, ‘morality’ and ‘faith’ (faith in God, country, in people, in oneself, in values, in principles, etc) should outweigh the surface values of ‘looks’, ‘fame’, ‘wealth’, even ‘patronage’ as the deeper values determine (and display) the core (level-headedness and judgement) of the man/woman and therefore determine how effective, consistent, and level-headed they will be in any job requiring leadership or (especially) judgement.

  • Michael Weyer

    Saw that. Of course, already the slams from Fox and others on “he was never a real Republican” and even “how much did Soros pay him” line.

    I think it’s more just going independent as they don’t trust the Democratic party either. Still, someone switching parties over Trump (especially in Iowa) should be a warning sign.

  • chemical

    That’s a good point.

    Yesterday, I was reading some stuff on Reddit where someone posed a question specifically to internet trolls about what’s the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) troll they have ever done. The one answer that really enlightened me was this guy made 2 accounts and had them start yelling at each other. Some other people get involved, pick sides, and soon everybody in the forum is screaming their heads off at each other. All over a guy that was arguing with himself. And I thought, “Yup, that’s the internet in a nutshell”

  • Michael Weyer

    I actually think the majority of people who become Senators or Congress (from either party) go in actually meaning well and truly wanting to help people. Then they start making compromises, they start being wooed by donors and special interest groups, they put re-election as key and the next thing you know, they’ve turned into the very “do-nothing Washington types” they once railed against.

    That’s what Trump tapped into, this idea of how “it takes an outsider to change things.” Of course, this ignores said outsider being a complete idiot with a rampaging ego and thin-skinned to the extreme. Yet a key reason Trump won was suckering so many of those frustrated by Washington into thinking a non-political guy was the one to fix it.

  • Alpha 1

    I would say this is a symptom of a fundamental difference in how liberals and conservatives view politics. Liberals see politics as being about bringing people together to build consensus and establish strong norms and institutions to manage society. Conservatives, meanwhile understand that politics is about wielding power to implement an agenda. It doesn’t matter what you have to do to get that power, or how many people you crush to get your agenda through.

    With that in mind, supporting Trump despite everything wrong with him makes perfect sense. The things you lose by backing him are institutional norms and legitimacy, which are secondary to the goal of gaining and maintaining power for conservatives. But what you gain is so much more, since he ultimately uses the power of the presidency to sign off on conservative bills, fill the federal government with conservative underlings, and appoint conservative judges to the courts for life. It’s an ugly conception of politics, but it’s very effective. Trump may be gone in an election cycle or two, but Trump judges will be striking down any sort of left legislation for decades and that’s what really matters to Republicans.

  • chemical

    Keeping Jas’s original comment in mind, it makes a bit of sense to flip like that. Americans love a good redemption story. Hell, I flipped R -> D myself — voting for Bush in 2000 and Obama in 2008.

  • Alpha 1

    Agreed, Ivy League education exists to launder privilege, perpetuate the lie that we live in a meritocracy, and reproduce ruling-class ideology. It doesn’t make people smarter. If anything it makes them dumber, since the reputation of the Ivies gives them undeserved confidence in their own intellect. We may have found the one thing we agree on.

  • chemical

    Hey, you and I agree on something.

    I think your comment here illustrates how us humans tend to look for characteristics in the leaders we appoint that don’t actually make people good leaders. And for the most part I’d agree on your list of good leadership characteristics vs. the bad ones people actually make decisions on.

  • chemical

    I had this jerk engineer I used to work with at my last job that thought because he got his fancy-pants degree at a private college that meant he was a billion times smarter than I was because my degree was paid for by the GI Bill at a state university. All it really meant was that he spent about 4x as much money on his degree as I did — the guy was dumber than a box of hammers and didn’t even understand basic chemistry concepts.

  • Michael Weyer

    I join in, some of those Ivy League elitists can be worse to talk to than some cilche “dumb hick” Trump follower.

    Say what you will about the Star Wars prequels, they have a genius line that’s very true: “There should be more respect for how there’s a real difference between knowledge and wisdom.”

  • Michael Weyer

    Oh, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen some younger person talking smugly about what World War II was like, the causes, the feelings of the country and lecturing on battles….to veterans who fought in the war.

  • chemical

    I used to work with an engineer who got her PhD in chemical engineering from Rice, which is the best university in Texas. She’s an immigrant who originally was from somewhere in South America (I want to say Ecuador, but I haven’t talked to her in a long time), came to the US with barely anything at all, worked her way up. A real American dream type. She was brilliant on a level I’ve rarely seen before — or since.

    These Ivy League / elite schools are capable of cranking out the best, but the rich want to gunk up that machine by stuffing those schools with their spoiled, mediocre, snot-nosed kids.

  • JASmius

    Yes, I did hear about this “summoning to the throne” yesterday – on my Twitter feed, ironically enough. Clearly Trump doesn’t understand how Twitter works, which is its own irony. Whereas his thinking that the CEO of Twitter answers to him is entirely consistent.

    The bitterest irony of all is that Barack Obama was and is a huge narcissist. We (the Right) were absolutely justified in pointing out and ridiculing that objective fact. And what we (or I, anyway) knew the country needed was the antithesis of that malignant personality type. America had had more than enough of the Obamunist personality cult. Instead, most of what I thought were my fellow conservatives didn’t want a return to sanity and humility and constitutional, small government at all, but rather their own version of Obama, their own personality cult. They wanted to be like the “progressives” they still obliviously condemn to this day. “Fight fire with fire,” as it were. Witnessing that was a highly….disorienting experience.

    It does illustrate how Obama “fundamentally transformed” the Republican Party as well as his own, though that was more seed-planting and stage-setting. Trump took that baton and wrought more destruction from the inside of the GOP than any Democrat could ever have dreamed of. It’s why the Dems are going to dominate U.S. politics for years to come after Trump’s ouster next year.

  • Alpha 1

    What made me see that the Ivies were a bad system was realizing that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both had Ivy League educations, but they were also huge morons. If the “best” education system produced an election between the two dumbest candidates in living memory, then clearly there was something wrong with that system. For a more recent example of the problems with elite education, the Tories managing brexit in the UK all seem to have gone to the elite schools there. Theresa May even went to Oxford, but all she seems capable of is self-owning.

    To be clear, I’m a big believer in everyone having an education. I just don’t think it should be the kind of education you get at elite universities.

  • chemical

    In what is surely is a sign of hell freezing over, I think IllinoisPatriot is more right here. He pointed out earlier that people don’t select leaders based on attributes that solid leaders have, and I think that applies to us liberals as much, if not more so, than conservatives.

    You’re right that the system broke, but you’re wrong that is higher education (though that has its own issues): it was the primary system that put forward Clinton and Trump.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Whether your are correct or not is really not material to my point.

    Anyone that is willing to compromise his/her principles in order to win election or to gain popularity is going to have plenty of excuses to do so the longer they are in office. It takes real strength of character to stand by your principles and defend your faith, your values and your decisions (even admitting that some of your decisions were wrong) – a strength that Trump certainly lacks and that too many politicians lack because of the cultural concept that “admitting to having been wrong is a sign of weakness”.

    Ask yourself which is harder: covering up a bad decision and/or trying to shift blame to someone else or admitting that YOU screwed up and accepting/admitting that you are not perfect or that you were wrong or took the wrong action (backed the wrong faction). Then ask yourself whether it is a sign of weakness or a sign of strength to admit to being wrong (to being imperfect in all decisions in life). When a leader is unable to admit they were wrong, the only courses remaining to them are cover-up, blame-shifting, accusations, tantrums, and ‘doubling down’ on their original bad-decision (invariably making a bad situation worse).

    Now ask yourself how many times you’ve heard politicians admit that the policies they pushed in the past have failed or how many laws they’ve passed have failed and need to be repealed to ‘reset’ our legal system to previous conditions. Ask yourself how often our Chief Executive has admitted that he was wrong and try to claim (with a straight face) that Trump is somehow a ‘strong’ (or even a ‘good’) leader….

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I fear you are correct on every count.

    I can only hope that we conservatives will find our voices soon and start a revival, but I doubt that the conservative voting block that Trump and McConnell/Boehner have alienated will trust any new party set up (or endorsed) by name-brand Republicans of the self-proclaimed ‘conservative’ variety. Too many of the self-proclaimed ‘conservative’ Republicans (Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, etc) are now Trumpists and too many others like Eric Erickson (and too many of the writers at NOQ) have been singing Trump’s praises when they should have been sending up warning flares.

    I don’t think the ‘conservative base’ has yet finished its process of ‘purification’ to rid itself of the progressive fifth-column that has finally uncloaked within the Republican Party. It will take some time for the hangers-on to fall away from the principled voters and to realize that they will not be rewarded any longer based on fear-mongering and campaign lies followed by betrayals. Whenever the conservative voters decide once more to put their faith into what will no doubt have to be a new party, I expect that the Conservatives sent to DC from this new party will remain conservative – clinging to principles rather than Congressional seats and answering to the people that send them rather than to lobbyists and petty-tyrants. In the meantime, buckle up – it’s going to get bumpy…..

  • chemical

    Ok, this is twice I’m agreeing with you in the same day, which means either you have gone insane, or I have.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Perhaps the reasoning behind my opinions, my views and my basic values are closer to yours than you care to admit.

    My views and values were built based on reason and a foundational set of principles, ethics and values instilled by the Church and influences I CHOSE to follow while growing up. As far as I know and can tell, they have been refined over time, but not fundamentally changed.

    Perhaps you’d like to argue with my conclusions but cannot find the flaws in my reasoning that would lead to the conclusions you prefer…

    Perhaps you’re just a closet conservative at heart ? 🙂

    Shall we try for 3 times in one day ?

  • AJ

    “Nielsen and members of the intelligence community have looked for other ways to talk of the cyber-threat posed by Russia, without offending the president’s fragile ego.”

    Why worry about offending the man’s HIGHLY fragile ego? Just do your job. Protect and defend America and her Constitution! Your loyalty is not to a man but to your job, to preserving the foundations of this country to which you swore allegiance. And what’s the worst that could happen? Trump’s typical recourse is nothing more than schoolyard bullying: calling you names and making fun of your looks or IQ. He may also fire you. But I ask you: Would this really be so bad? Yes, you may lose any pension you have coming your way, but you just have to know that he’d make your firing such a public spectacle that you’d rate an instant book deal and probably make hundreds of thousands (if not a million or millions) off it, and the press coverage would grant you some fame. Might even find a job with a private company whose CEO or owner wasn’t a complete wackadoo. My point: You’d manage to get through whatever he unleashed. And, best of all, in the end, you would still have your self-respect, knowing you did your best for the country in trying to find ways to combat Russia. And you have to know that the majority of the world would also respect you because we would know you stood up to the tyrant the best that you could.

    So, can we please stop worrying about this man’s ego, pride, or esteem? He’s already into naval-gazing, 24/7. He doesn’t need others to wrap him bubble wrap and proceed cautiously around him. If anything, the man needs people to stand up to him. A steady diet of people who DON’T kowtow to him can’t/won’t hurt him and may actually help. Er, uh, on second thought, probably not. Well, people with backbone can’t/won’t hurt him, but I doubt there’s anything short of a Moses-burning-bush encounter with God that will help. And even then Trump would probably be insulted that God required him to remove his sandals. I can almost see the Twitter tirade now about how Jehovah appeared to him, but He had the temerity to suggest that his shoes weren’t holy enough to be in His Presence! Because, of course, Trump is holy, therefore anything of Trump’s would also be holy. And how dare the Creator make demands of him anyway?

    Worry about your own ego—in other words, consider whether you’d prefer Trump’s approval (which is the very definition of “transient” anyway) or the ability to look yourself in the mirror when the job’s over and he’s out of power. Is tap-dancing around the man really worth it? What about liking yourself in the morning or in five, ten years from now? What about your spouse’s or children’s opinions of you later? When this nightmare is over, those who aligned themselves with Trump aren’t going to be well-thought of, and he won’t take you with him wherever he goes after his time’s up. Despite demanding utter and total fealty from others, HE has no loyalty to anyone (ask his wives) but Russia and Ivanka (for whatever odd reason that I don’t even want to contemplate).

    So, please, for the sake of our country and her defense against our enemies, just do your job. Ego-stroking is a personal, not a business, matter, so let Trump be his wife’s headache. After all, she signed up for it. You do what YOU signed up for: your job.

  • Michael Weyer

    You, me, JA, Susan, Illinois Patriot and others may disagree on a whole lot and perhaps never find common ground on some issues (climate change, LGBT rights, socialism being a crock, etc)….

    But we all are on the same page of Trump being a thin-skinned criminal moron wrecking this country.

    How about that, the man really is uniting America!

  • chemical

    Re: your previous post, about how politicians double down on their mistakes: A while back I was talking to my father about the various biases we have and how people convince themselves they’re right about stuff despite all evidence to the contrary, and I told him

    The easiest person to lie to is yourself, and the easiest lie to tell someone is that they are an intelligent person who makes rational decisions.

    …which is essentially the same principle you were talking about with the politicians. What’s worse is they get validation from the fact that they win elections.

    Let me tell you a little story about myself — I was born in Youngstown, Ohio (one of Ohio’s liberal strongholds due to a strong union presence) to a religious family during Carter’s lame duck session. Reagan had already won the election but hadn’t assume office yet. I never heard of Iran-Contra or any of the scandals that plagued his early administration because I was in diapers at the time. That means I was 8 when Bush the Greater took office and I watched him be a pretty respectable president. Then Clinton took office.

    Meanwhile, during the Clinton admin. the rep Youngstown was sending to the House was a man named James Traficant, who was incredibly corrupt with well-documented ties to the mafia. He was a blowhard and a national embarrassment, and was eventually removed from office by force, and ended up dying in prison. Seriously, look him up sometime. You’ll love him because he’s exactly what you think Democrats are. So, how did this corrupt buffoon keep getting elected? Strong support for unions, when he’s running in a union stronghold.

    That happened during the Monica Lewinski scandal. Every bit of media I was fed was either about how the local Democratic bigwig (Traficant) was a corrupt gangster and the Democratic president is, best case scenario, a mediocre playboy who can’t keep his private parts in his pants. 2000 rolls around, and now I’m old enough to vote, and I’m happy to vote for George W. Bush. Shortly after he takes office I join the military (mostly because I was a giant screw-up with nothing better going on) and get deployed to South Korea before the 9/11 attacks, which ended up removing me from the USA for over 3 years (Originally scheduled for a 1-year tour, but due to the whole War on Terror thing, the army ended up offering bonuses to extend overseas tours, and I thought staying in Korea was worth the bonus). I met a nice girl there (whom I eventually married). I even got to meet my favorite president, in person — George H. W. Bush!

    Then some funny things happen when I’m in the military and shortly after I get my honorable discharge: All the trigger-happy maniacs who signed up to kill Muslims? Conservative Republicans. All of my family who called my (future) wife racial slurs in front of my face? Conservative Republicans. All the politicians who “support the troops” and in the same breath, call atheists a bunch of America-hating communists? Conservative Republicans. 2008 rolls around, I graduate college on the GI bill, and the economy crashes, trashing my future job prospects. My favorite president’s son is president now and decides to give the banks, like infinity billion dollars, and they use that money to give themselves raises and go on lavish vacations. Those bankers? Conservative Republicans. The election happens and I proudly vote for Obama.

    Do I think you’re like every one of those colossal jerks I’ve met in my life, just because you call yourself a conservative? No. But every colossal jerk I’ve ever met in my life, and everyone who has personally screwed me over (including the times when I screwed myself over) was a conservative Republican. My entire adult life, the message I received out of both conservatives AND the church was: We don’t want you, but we’re totally fine with you dying for us in the quagmire that we started in the Middle East today, that we’re too chicken to fight ourselves. It took me a while to learn that it wasn’t the conservative part, but rather the Republican part that made these people into a pack of jerks they were.

    For what it’s worth, I think you and I do have a lot of values in common. You might call those “conservative values”, but I call them “being a mature adult with a basic standard of human decency”, and not something that should be subject to partisan politics. Where you and I disagree is on what the government’s role should be in a citizen’s life. I’ve noticed that conservatives tend not to want to disrupt the status quo whenever possible, and us liberals don’t really care about disrupting the status quo or not. And that’s the main problem I have: The status quo is overrated, particularly right now, because right now the rich can commit all the crimes, ever, without any consequences. It’s not that conservatism permits this or is inherently illegitimate — I just think you’re hamstringing yourself by refusing to disrupt the status quo when it isn’t worth saving (this is usually framed as “liberals trying to destroy America” in various right wing circles).

    Long post, but thanks for listening. And keep up the good work!

  • Alpha 1

    That’s a fair point. I should probably rephrase what I was saying. Ivy League education alone isn’t the root of the problem. I do think that it’s part of a larger problem with the system that produces our leaders, where competence and real intelligence are replaced with upper-class cultural signifiers like a sophisticated way of speaking or a degree from Harvard or Oxford. Getting rid of elite universities wouldn’t solve our problems, but acknowledging that going there doesn’t necessarily make you smart would be a step in the right direction.