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Applebaum writes: "There can be only one explanation for this kind of behavior: White House officials, and many others in Washington, really do not feel they are living in a fully legal state."

A protest in front of the White House in July of 2018. (photo: @AdamParkhomenko/Twitter)
A protest in front of the White House in July of 2018. (photo: @AdamParkhomenko/Twitter)


Washington Feels Like the Capital of an Occupied Country

By Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post

09 September 18

 

n nations that have known the horror of dictatorship or foreign occupation, there are often long traditions of what Poland’s national poet once called “patriotic treason.” In Polish history, this kind of activity has ranged from armed resistance — in the 19th century against Russian occupation, in the 20th century against the Nazis — to peaceful efforts by bureaucrats who quietly tried to work “within the system” on behalf of their country. I once researched the story of a Polish culture ministry official who churned out Stalinist prose but also used her position, during the years of communist terror, to quietly help dissident artists.

In occupied countries, large public events can spontaneously take on political overtones, too. When the Czech hockey team beat the Soviet Union at the world championships in 1969, one year after the Soviet invasion of the country, half a million people flooded the streets in a celebration that became a show of political defiance. In 1956, 100,000 people came to the reburial of a Hungarian politician who had been murdered following a show trial. The funeral oratory kicked off an anti-communist revolution a few days later.

I am listing all these distant foreign events because at the moment they have strange echoes in Washington. Sen. John McCain’s funeral felt like one of those spontaneous political events. As in a dictatorship, people spoke in code: President Trump’s name was not mentioned, yet everybody understood that praise for McCain, a symbol of the dying values of the old Republican Party, was also criticism of the authoritarian populist in the White House. As in an occupied country, people spoke of resistance and renewal in the funeral’s wake. Since then, public officials have also described, anonymously, new forms of “patriotic treason” within the White House and in comments to Bob Woodward and the New York Times. As in an unlawful state, these American officials say they are quietly working “within the system,” in defiance of Trump, for the greater good of the nation.

There can be only one explanation for this kind of behavior: White House officials, and many others in Washington, really do not feel they are living in a fully legal state. True, there is no communist terror; the president’s goons will not arrest public officials who testify to Congress; no one will be murdered if they walk out of the White House and start campaigning for impeachment or, more importantly, for the invocation of the 25th Amendment, the procedure to transfer power if a president is mentally or physically unfit to remain in office. Nevertheless, dozens of people clearly don’t believe in the legal mechanisms designed to remove a president who is incompetent or corrupt. As the anonymous op-ed writer put it in the New York Times, despite “early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment,” none of the secret patriots “wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis” and backed off.

You can imagine why this would be. Leading members of Congress might resist invoking the 25th Amendment, which would of course be described by Trump’s supporters as a “Cabinet coup.” The mob — not the literal, physical street mob, but the online mob that has replaced it — would seek revenge. There may not be any presidential goons, but any senior official who signs his or her name to a call for impeachment or removal will certainly be subjected to waves of hatred on social media, starting with a denunciation from the president. Recriminations will follow on Fox News, along with a smear campaign, a doxing campaign, attacks on the target’s family and perhaps worse. It is possible we have underestimated the degree to which our political culture has already become more authoritarian.

Maybe we have also underestimated the degree to which our Constitution, designed in the 18th century, has proved insufficient to the demands of the 21st. In 2016, we learned why it matters that our electoral college — originally designed to put another layer of people between the popular vote and the presidency, or as Alexander Hamilton wrote, to ensure “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications” — has become a stale fiction. Now an important constitutional amendment seems, to the men and women who are empowered to use it, too controversial to actually use.

The result: institutional and administrative chaos; our military chain of command is compromised; people around the elected president feel compelled to act above the law and remove papers from his desk. The mechanisms meant to protect the state from an incompetent or dictatorial president are not being used because people in power no longer believe in them, or are afraid to use them. Washington feels like the capital of a state where the legal order has collapsed because, in some ways, it is.

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+39 # BetaTheta 2018-09-09 10:07
That legal order is collapsing because, as in many authoritarian states, a single party sees itself as the sole legitimate holder of power.

That party uses its power to suppress dissent, circumvent the legal order, and to manipulate the levers of government and of elections, to ensure its continued hegemony.
 
 
+3 # Benign Observer 2018-09-10 08:02
BOTH parties are utterly corrupt. That is why there is no meaningful resistance to the GOP.

Besides, we only have the ability to reform our own party. Blustering about the Republicans accomplishes nothing. Reforming our own party so THEY will fight the GOP is what we can, and must, do.
 
 
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-11 13:12
Benign -- "we only have the ability to reform our own party."


There is no more important statement than this. All the hand-wringing about the excesses and corruptions of the republicans will never change a single republican. And it will do nothing to change the Demo party.

We need to focus totally on reforming the democratic party. And the truth is that a genuine Demo party that represented the workers of America would beat republicans most of the time. So there'd be no republican corruption to whine about.

Wake up people. The future in in your hands. Constant talking about Trump and republicans is actually helping republicans because it it not helping democrats.
 
 
0 # LionMousePudding 2018-09-12 13:31
Beta Theta was not blustering and did not deserve this comment. Their statement is factual and relevant, even though it is important to go beyond it.
 
 
+15 # boredlion 2018-09-09 10:42
That's Caligulump for you ! Welcome back to the First Century, CE.
 
 
+10 # Porfiry 2018-09-09 11:05
Only too true. God save us all.
 
 
+25 # mill valley maven 2018-09-09 11:26
Fear of a "constitutional crisis?" This is precisely the circumstance the 25th amendment was designed for! As more than one late night comedian has pointed out, it's as if your house is on fire, and you can get to a fire extinguisher if you just break the glass. Out of fear of broken glass, would you really let the house burn down? Hey, put out the fire, and then you can sweep up the shards of glass!
 
 
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-09 19:11
Fear of a constitutional crisis -- that's not what the 25th amendment is about. Here it is --

Amendment XXV

Section 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
 
 
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-09 19:14
continued -


Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.


________________

the problem is that Trump is carrying out the duties of his office. He is mentally stable. It is just that very many people in the media don't like his policies or his style. You can't "insanitize" political disagreement.
 
 
-31 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-09 12:08
What drecht. Say anything just to keep the 24 hours of hate Trump at the Wapo going. I've lived in DC since the mid-80s. Back then it was a very open city. You could walk into any government office building and talk openly to anyone you wanted to or happened to meet. Sept. 11th changed all that. Up went the security barriers. All doors were blocked by armed guards with machine guns. Citizens were herded around through steel barriers. Trump didn't turn DC into an occupied city. It was the greatest of all false flag operations -- Sept. 11th and the Bush New World Order, something fully endorsed by the Wapo and Applebaum.

DC has relaxed somewhat since the really bad days of about 2001 to 2012. It may be that now most of the really intense security has been concealed. People are a little more open than in the Bush/Cheney era of "see something/say something." Everyone criticizes Trump openly. Staff in restaurants joke about him. There are often satirical foods like Trump Burgers.

Nothing that Applebaum writes rings true, except for in the media itself, which is in chaos, wringing its collective hands hysterically and screaming that the sky is falling, over and over and over. The Wapo feels occupied because its beloved Bush World Order is imploding.

If there has been any collapse of the legal order it is the rogue elements in the FBI/DOJ/CIA who have arrogated to themselves the authority to remove a president just because they didn't choose him.
 
 
0 # Jim Rocket 2018-09-10 00:43
Yeah, they want him out because they didn't choose him because Trump's doing a pretty good job otherwise, right?
 
 
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-11 11:45
Rocket -- not at all. Trump is doing a terrible job. His meetings with Kim and Putin were good, but he had no follow up and Bolton is undoing all the good he started. Most of what he wants is bad. He's also a standard issue republican.

You are not seeing that the ruling elites who run the intel agencies and the government are a very tight knit club, so to speak. They don't like outsiders unless those outsiders pledge total submission. Bill Clinton and Obama pledged total submission so they were tolerated. Trump is a lot like Nixon; he's naïve enough to think that being elected president means that he is the boss. You can easily see that naïve belief is what pisses off John Brennan.

There's a very good depiction of how this works in the movie The Good Shepard (Matt Daimon and Robert DeNiro). Watch it sometime.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWy0l2fmo_c&index=2&list=PLlrmsWiluSSvI_X-yovL5Lr73Vw3o2kr_


But you can also read it in many books, starting with C. Wright Mills work from the 1950s, The Power Elite. In the 50s, most of these elites still belonged to heredity ruling class families, as shown by William Domhoff, Who Rules America from the 1970s. Or read Old Boys by Burton Hersch.

The CIA and FBI are closed circles. They protect their own and they exclude those they don't choose. They are like a mafia family.

It is really distressing that so few people really understand how the American ruling elites, oligarchs, Deep State, etc. work.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2018-09-12 11:46
Quoting Jim Rocket:
Yeah, they want him out because they didn't choose him because Trump's doing a pretty good job otherwise, right?

Many of us like lower taxes, no war and less onerous regs. The ruling class hates us. This is good.
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-12 12:51
I'm a socialist and I like lower taxes, no war, and less onerous regulations. Fair and honest taxes are OK. But the US is not anywhere near that. Our taxes to mostly to support war and subsidies to billion dollar corporations.

It really is not possible to have an open and honest discussion about Trump. The major media has so poisoned the environment that no one can talk honestly about what he's trying to do.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2018-09-12 19:05
Yes, RR, agreed. But the driver, [read problem] is power. Socialism needs power and control and lots of both. Never has worked.
The ruling class wants to rule. Trump is toast. So are you and the rest of us.
 
 
+3 # davehaze 2018-09-10 08:19
I concur with RR's rational take on DC. Our evident decline is not because of Trump but because of Washington being owned and run by our oligarchs who control Trump and controled Obama Bush Clinton Bush Reagan and will control the next president. Trump sure looks different but he is the same old same old.
 
 
+1 # Robbee 2018-09-10 14:00
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-09 12:08:
Everyone criticizes Trump openly.

- everyone but you, comrade, plus repukes running for office, putin, the nra, nazis, police, the military, scotus, ice, sessions, pence, the cabinet, tens and tens of millions of white evangelicals, faux news, breitbart, wall street, oligopolies, monopolies, the chamber of commerce and so on!

are these few, brave, hardy tens of millions the exceptions that proves your rule, comrade?

but for putin-babble, where would we go next for the next "no-conspiracy" theory?
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-11 15:29
Robbee -- you missed the context. By "everyone" I was referring to Washington DC, a heavily democratic city. There are plenty of republican yuppies but they are pretty well educated and upwardly mobile, not Trump supporters. These people are very critical of Trump in lots of different ways. But I see very, very few people who have swallowed the Russiagate Kool-Aid.

There is no siege mentality, as Applebaum tries to suggest. She's just inside some media bubble and breathing only the fetid air that is emitted from all the holes in other journalists.


BTW -- are you reading the recently release Strzok Page texts about a DOJ/FBI leak strategy. They were specifically leaking false stories to the WashPost and laughing at how easly the WashPost picked them up and published them. They don't seem to recognize that leaking information about on-going counterintellig ence investigation is a felony. Looks like jail time for Strzok and Page. Hope they keep their FBI phones so they can still text.

I wonder how many false leaks Applebaum got and wrote about.
 
 
+13 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-09-09 13:56
& Canada, to me at least, feels like Austria in 1937….
 
 
0 # economagic 2018-09-09 20:42
Sure--and didn't that occur to you in some degree long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away? Say, in late 2002-early 2003?

If you own the copyright to "Pestilent Trump," let me know and I will pay up.
 
 
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-09 20:45
KC -- better batten down the hatches. The US is going to invade and annex Canada any day now. You know, it is the manifest destiny thing.
 
 
+2 # AZerbst 2018-09-10 00:07
[from south of the 49th:] How are you being Anschlussed? Sorry my bozos are short-shrifting you on trade agreements; anything else they're up to?
 
 
+34 # lorenbliss 2018-09-09 14:30
"Maybe we have also underestimated the degree to which" our basic national emotion is hate: hatred for impoverished people, hatred for people of color, hatred for women and LGBTQ people, hatred for disabled people, hatred for immigrants, hatred for the environment, hatred for non-Christians -- all hatreds irrevocably proven by national, state and local policies.

Though we are not quite at Auschwitz yet, we are most assuredly going in that direction, and while I see lots of chaotic opposition to Capitalism's transition to (overt) Nazism, there is absolutely no movement in Moron Nation with sufficient ideological and organizational discipline to truly overcome either the ever-intensifyi ng horrors being inflicted on us by our Capitalist overlords or the endemic (and equally hateful) anti-intellectu alism that prevents most of us from acknowledging our true plight.
 
 
+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-09 20:52
loren -- "our basic national emotion is hate: hatred for impoverished people, hatred for people of color, hatred for women and LGBTQ people, hatred for disabled people, hatred for immigrants, hatred for the environment, hatred for non-Christians -- all hatreds irrevocably proven by national, state and local policies.

Though we are not quite at Auschwitz yet"


This is really true, except for the last sentence. We are well beyond Auschwitz. The genius of the US is that it has always been globalized. The division of labor in the US is really internationaliz ed. The lumpen proletariat of the US lives in the 3rd world making products for the American bourgeoise. These workers are invisible.

The US has created killing camps all over the world. Some estimates range as high as 100 million people killed by the US since the end of WW II. Way beyond Auschwitz. Whole nations are concentration camps. That was Patraeus' great mission in Iraq.

But the labor camps and death camps that support the American empire are invisible to the Americans who wear Nike shoes or Calvin Klein jeans. These camps are filled with dark skinned people. They are mostly non-Christian. They are sub-humans that the US kills outright or works to death just for its own pleasure.

There has never been an adequate resistance in the US. If Hillary had been elected instead of Trump, the same things would be going on.
 
 
-1 # Depressionborn 2018-09-13 03:54
lorenbliss 2018-09-09 14:30

You describe a world that we here in our town do not live in. Perhaps because our town is less than 2,000 and has 5 churches? God, you see, is greater than man. At least here.
 
 
-1 # Depressionborn 2018-09-14 02:03
lorenbliss 2018-09-09 14:30
I fail to understand your hate problem. Why should you care if someone hates you? It makes no sense.
 
 
+13 # draypoker 2018-09-09 17:46
Trump is actually a psychopath. He has no sense of right and wrong. How you get him out of power I have no idea but it would be wise to do it.
 
 
+3 # Mainiac 2018-09-09 20:28
πAnonymous” and his fellow administrators are all Republicans. They can, and should, go to the Republican National Committee and the congressional Republicans and pressure them to pay a visit to Trump for the purpose of telling him to resign.

A, speaks of their duty to our country by informing us of their mole-like actions inside the administration. But their Party has the major obligation. Tell Trump they will vote to impeach him if he doesn’t resign.
 
 
+1 # DongiC 2018-09-10 08:04
We are locked in a struggle now between the Trump stooges and the rest of this fine nation. There is still a majority of people who desire to maintain traditional American values: respect for law, fair play, decent health insurance, asylum for oppressed immigrants, educational opportunities, home ownership, chance to better oneself and one's state in life, preservation of natural resources.

Once again we have to fight to maintain these values taking on the high and mighty of our culture. Maybe, even battling the so called Evangelicos, you know the ones Christ warned us about who place property above the needs of their fellow man.

We have prevailed before. We shall do so again, The Progressives are mounting up and, hopefully, the real fellowers of Christ will soon join us. Together, we will bring about a new birth of freedom and social justice.
 
 
0 # Lgfoot 2018-09-12 09:56
You must mean 'decent health care'. Insurance companies take too much out of the system to allow decency.
 
 
0 # DongiC 2018-09-13 04:55
Yes. Thank-you for correction.
 
 
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-12 12:53
Well said for a Reagan republican.
 

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