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The lives of others


Ten days before the 2016 presidential election, the FBI attempted what turned out to be a successful coup d’ etat.

In the comments to Scott’s post clarifying exactly how a domestic intelligence agency threw an election by choosing to intervene against one candidate, when it had vastly more significant information at its disposal it could have used to intervene against the candidate’s opponent, MDrew quotes Scott and then asks the following question:

Trump is not a legitimate president and should not be treated as such.

Very honest question. How, exactly, is this done, concretely?

I have a rough idea with regard to Democrats in Washington, though would appreciate clarification.

But how is this done among the rest of us, exactly?

It’s a good and important question.  I’m going to try to give only the beginnings of an answer.

First, it’s important to internalize the reality of what has happened.  Rewenzo ends his/her excellent summary of the current state of affairs by noting that “this is the second straight Republican president who was awarded the presidency by an organ of the state, and not by voters.”

The theft of the 2016 election by the FBI was, however, exponentially worse than the theft of the 2000 election by the SCOTUS.

In 2000, the relevant state organ did not interfere with the election until after the fact.  This is a crucial distinction.  A legitimate election actually took place, although the candidate who actually won the vote was denied office by ex post facto intervention.  As bad as that was, it wasn’t nearly as bad as immensely powerful state actors attempting (successfully it turned out) to rig the outcome ahead of time, via an equally illegitimate intervention into the electoral process.  The latter act means that no legitimate election ever took place — only something that looked at the time like a legitimate election.

Furthermore, the 2000 election was, legitimately, extremely close.  The 2016 election was not close: Clinton got nearly three million more votes, and “lost” only because the FBI found a way to detonate successfully the unexploded bomb that is (or was) our electoral college system, via a grossly unethical and probably illegal ex ante intervention, that beyond any reasonable doubt threw the electoral college to the candidate who lost the popular vote by a large margin.

In short, Trump’s presidency is, from both a democratic and procedural standpoint, no more legitimate than the Pinochet regime in Chile, or the Ulbricht regime in East Germany.

So, first things first: figuring out how to live in a place that as of today resembles at a very fundamental level East Germany in 1951 or Chile in 1973 requires coming to grips that this is where we live now.  (Obviously there are still various differences between these places.  For example I can still publish this post.)   Where we live now means that the appropriate attitude of patriotic citizens is one of resistance to the regime: not merely resistance to its particular political goals and initiatives, but resistance to its purported legitimacy.  How is the latter sort of resistance carried out?  That will depend entirely on the particular position of each individual who is part of the resistance.  But the first step is to recognize the political and social reality of our present situation.  Suggestions for further steps are most welcome.


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  • N__B

    Preface, not a recommended form of resistance: I’ve been watching Olbermann’s “The Resistance” vlog.

    Same old Keith: generally on the right side of the issues, very full of himself, nearly unhinged. He ends every video with an openhanded salute while saying “Resist.” I thought this was a particularly annoying piece of theater, but this post makes me think he has a point. We need to keep the idea of resistance to the coming tsunami of horseshit and worse foremost in our minds.

    I’m still working out what that means for me. I suspect it may involve helping a number of my employees who are not native-born, white, or male.

    • elk

      I’m not much into ritual, or even joining, but something that keeps us all tied together and knowing that we’re all still aware and fighting seems useful.

  • rea

    For example I can still publish this post.

    It remains to be seen that you can get away with publishing this post.

    • dogboy


    • rm

      And people aren’t yet being thrown out of airplanes into the sea, and although the shitgibbon has threatened to torture foreigners, we don’t yet have a domestic mass torture program ready to go.

      We do have American conservatives pushing their agenda behind the scenes, so there’s a distinct similarity.

      • seedeevee

        we don’t yet have a domestic mass torture program ready to go

        It is called the American Justice System.

      • theforeignhistorian

        To be fair, it was the Argentine military Juntas, not Pinochet, who threw sedated dissidents to their watery graves from military planes. Pinochet simply shot them and buried their bodies in secret, unmarked, collective graves.

  • Hercules Mulligan

    I’m skeptical of this. What about the mass purging of Florida voters? Does that not count as an organ of the state interfering with an election prior to the fact?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly glad that more people are acting like Trump is illegitimate than acted like Bush was (really quite shameful how fast people rolled over in 2000). I agree with most of this post, I just think that we should have treated Bush the same way Paul recommends we treat Trump.

    • Gregor Sansa


      • Wamba


    • Nobdy

      The Florida thing was somewhat different because it was done by a state (as opposed to federal) government. We have had bad state governments interfering with elections throughout our history.

      I mean if we want to bring poll taxes and literacy tests into this then there have been many more illegitimate presidents in the past due to higher levels of voter suppression (I think this view has some merit, but it’s not super useful.)

      I would add that in 2000 the “state interference” in the form of the Supreme Court was A) Open and relatively transparent, in that we knew there was a court case and we knew what the outcome was and the effects it would have, there was even a (bullshit) written decision and B) the ‘right’ organ of the state to interfere, in that we expect courts to resolve controversies, including those over elections, so even if the outcome was illegitimate the process itself was not necessarily.

      Both those things are different from a federal law enforcement agency interfering.

      I’m not fully on board with the claim that Trump is illegitimate because we have such a history of election interference that some Russian propaganda and Jim Comey’s awful comments kinda seem like part of the game to me, albeit rulebreaking, but I think that if people want to press this the number one thing they can do is keep talking about it. Every time Trump does something wrong or says something terrible bring up the Russia stuff (which has more traction than Comey IMO) and what was done to HIllary. Keep the anger alive and make Trump supporters feel embarrassed for having been bamboozled.

      • rea

        There have been actual coups d’etat at the state and local levels–seizures of the government by force.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “B) the ‘right’ organ of the state to interfere, in that we expect courts to resolve controversies, including those over elections, so even if the outcome was illegitimate the process itself was not necessarily.”

        No. It was not the ‘right’ organ of the state to interfere.

        The presidential election process, with all the “if A then do B” is set out in the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has no role in it.

        Such controversies are *supposed* to be decided by States, and then be resolved by the House. The result would likely be the same, but the 2000 “Bush v Gore” ruling was still an usurpation.

        • Nobdy

          And if a state ignores the constitution in its electoral process who do its citizens have the right to petition for redress then? Certainly the Supreme Court has the right to interfere in elections when there are civil rights violations.

          These bright lines just never work. Your argument boils down to “the supreme court shouldn’t have taken this case because it didn’t have the right constitutional hooks.” I wouldn’t disagree, but that is too thin sliced for this argument.

          The point is that courts resolve controversies, including electoral controversies, and they do so in a relatively transparent matter. The FBI is specifically supposed to stay out of elections and its decision about what to do here were totally opaque.

          That is a significant difference.

      • timb

        Do you read right wingers, Nobdy? Mush like their hero, our allegiance to facts and belief in empiricism causes them to laugh at us. These people do not feel shame. Shame is just a dirty media trick caused by leftists

        • Joseph Slater

          “Mush like their hero” = typo of the day.

      • VCarlson

        B) the ‘right’ organ of the state to interfere, in that we expect courts to resolve controversies, including those over elections,

        As I recall, that misbegotten decision was made illegitimate in my mind by their emphasis on “not to be considered precedent.” I am not a lawyer, but I thought “setting precedents” was pretty much the Job of SCOTUS.

        And it was nakedly partisan. I don’t think I will ever forgive Sandra Day O’Connor, because I had thought she was better than that.

    • seedeevee

      The difference is that Gore votes were not being counted while every Clinton vote was. Trump won. No one should be “glad” that so many Americans are acting delusionally.

  • Attezz

    This may just be the thoughts of someone who just came to the realization that Obama will no longer be our president about 15 hours ago, and therefore is rather out of sorts today, but…

    What if we started calling the government by the name of the president, like they do in Australia and probably other parliamentary systems? I think as a messaging thing this may make a bit of a difference. If you say that it was the “Bush government” that fucked up Iraq and Afghanistan and had 9/11 happen and ruined New Orleans, rather than just the “federal government”, or the “Obama government” that did a lot of great things over 8 years, and now it’s the “Trump government” that’s going to ruin everything?

    I don’t know that it’ll move the needle, but a lot of people just generally distrust and fear the government, because it feels like some shadowy organization for them (rather than being made up of loads of their neighbors, and the their postman, and their kid’s teachers).

    I don’t know, I haven’t really thought this whole thing through, I just think that saying “Trump government” or “Obama government” rather than just government may remind everyone that there are legitimately large differences in how the government is ran depending on who is in charge.

    • N__B

      Certainly worth a try.

    • Ramon A. Clef

      Interesting idea, but I’d refer to it as the Trump junta, or something like that.

    • Booger

      “The Trump Regime.”

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Regime/junta…both imply a bit too much legitimacy, I think.

        Now, Dubya was clearly a “Caligula” type leader (= “little boots”)

        So Trump should be called “Cestula” for “little gloves”

        Okay, so it sort of rhymes with “incestuous”, but so what?

        Maybe “Fistula” for the latin-challenged.

        • so-in-so

          My preference is “Grifter in Chief” or, if I need to be PC for some reason, “current occupant of the White House”, intended overtones of mail that is addressed to “occupant”, or of a “hostile occupation”.

          Classical references are fun, but if understood at all just make you one of “those elitists”.

          • wjts

            I’ve decided to adopt an old Republican tradition and simply call him “that man”.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            Mine are just “Donald” and “Blithering Butthole.”

            • N__B

              I’m thinking that, in honor of my youth, I’ll go with “short-fingered vulgarian.”

          • Wamba

            In my book, it ain’t “Trump” it’s “Chump”. Dump Chump.

        • Monty

          Now, Dubya was clearly a “Caligula” type leader (= “little boots”)

          Bush was president only for the last half of his second term. If that.

          Likewise, Trump will be a figurehead president at best: grabbing headlines while the ‘minor’ pieces go to work under cover of our glorious free press: “Don’t look at this or that bill/ruling because OMG Trump just took a dump on MLK Jr’s tomb!

          The mass of Republicans are dumber than a bag of frozen snot, but when it counts a significant percentage of them are slicker than oiled shit. That’s really all it takes.

      • Hogan

        “The Trump Malfeasance.”

      • VCarlson

        I’ve used “current occupant of the White House” and “Little Boots” for the Nasty Little Fratboy.

        But a meme turned up that may allow me some peace of mind – a caricature of the Vulgar Talking Yam (h/t Charles P Pierce) with “Piece Of Totally Useless Shit” as the caption. So when I refer to “POTUS Donald,” I know what that initialism stands for.

      • Dagmar

        “Dear Leader”

    • My feeling is that there is a substantial percentage of the deep government that is not the Trump government, and will merely be discouraged by being labeled as such. There are many key administrators and government people who need our help and support fighting back against the leadership Trump has selected for their various departments and divisions. They are not the enemy here. The Trump leadership is the enemy.

    • timb

      Limbaugh spent the last 8 years calling the government “the Regime.”

      As much as I hate Trump, I don’t want to sound like Limabugh

    • David Chop

      I think you’re on the right track, but calling it the Trump government lets the rest of the Rs off the hook. It isn’t Trump policy that’s going to screw the pooch, it’s Republican policy. Ryan and McConnell and all the tea party know nothings need to shoulder their share of the blame. The albatross hung around their necks should be an R, not a T.

    • seedeevee

      Maybe you should give Congress a little more credit for the actions of the Government.

    • liberalrob

      But we already do this. We call it “the Trump Administration” just like we called the federal government under Obama “the Obama Administration” and before that “the Bush Administration.”

      • Wamba

        The Chump Administration

  • Gregor Sansa

    Resistance means:

    -Organizing to take the country back. This means building up the Democratic party and pushing out the concern trolls of various stripes who hamper it.

    -Keeping the flame burning. I think this means supporting honest civil servants in resisting the pressure to push them out.

    -Supporting each other. Reach out to vulnerable groups and offer them whatever real support you can. Go outside your comfort zone.

    -Staying strong. If you are feeling vulnerable, get the emotional support you need. If you are actually under attack with more than rhetoric, get the logistical support you need. Know the difference.

    -Ridicule and contempt for Trumpism in all its forms. No, having a pro-racist president does not mean you get to be racist now. Yes, we can damn well be intolerant of intolerance; public bigotry and aggressive ignorance should carry consequences, and we’re allowed to be creative in bringing about those consequences.

    What did I miss?

    • Hayden Arse

      I agree with the foregoing, and for most people, (like me, middle aged with grade-school children), who are too tied to the status quo to engage in any radical protests:

      1. Be a consistent voice in the ear of every elected official who represents you, local, state and nationally, to remind them that no piece of legislation will escape notice.

      2. Engage with people in your community to both support resistance and challenge those with whom you disagree, by identifying false information and providing factual information.

      3. Communicate with publishers of false and misleading information, and encourage advertisers on those platforms to pull their advertising dollars.

      4. Boycott companies who support Trump, or whose leaders support Trump and let them know why.

      5. Keep an eye open for gross violations of civil rights, we don’t need our tax-payer funded stadia filling up like Estadio Nacional with political prisioners.

      • vic rattlehead

        This is great. You don’t need to be a radical to organize. In fact quite the opposite.

      • Rob in CT

        6. If you can, give $$ to worthy causes, whether they are political campaigns or charities whose work is politicized (Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and so forth).

    • gmack

      I linked this in the other thread too, but Frances Fox Piven is useful here.

    • Wamba

      Ridicule and contempt for Trumpism in all its forms

      To me this is the only way we can reverse the decline. We are going to have to shame and humiliate these people until they learn to feel shame and humility again.

      That means we will have to be confrontational with friends and family. That may make you uncomfortable and it bucks the trite popular wisdom but that is what morality requires. No one said the moral path was easy. Take a stand. Don’t back down.

    • MDrew

      Though I appreciate this, it answers the question of how to resist. The question was how to treat a president as illegitimate in whatever the ways are that matter. Your good suggestions for resistance could equally be used to resist a legitimate but odious and dangerous president, which we could well have had with slightly different baseline conditions and Comey not writing the letter or giving a speech to explain not charging Clinton.

  • vic rattlehead

    Today I’m trying my best to keep in mind the (apocryphal?) last words of Joe Hill-Don’t mourn, organize!

    It helps that literally everyone in my office hates Trump. Thank god.

    • Attezz

      I’m lucky enough to work close enough to DC that the one Trump supporter in my office took off to go to the inauguration. She brought her daughter in yesterday on her way to the 3 Doors Down concert.

      If her daughter wasn’t there, it would have been everything in my power to not tell her I hoped that someone grabbed her by the pussy, and then just shouted that “IT WAS JUST A JOKE, STOP BEING SO POLITICALLY CORRECT!”

      With hat tip to Stewart Lee of course.

      • liberalrob

        Getting yourself fired for sexual harassment probably wouldn’t help the cause.

  • Nick never Nick

    This is just my two cents — from living in Thailand, where corrupt elections that the government interferes with at will are just elections, I made the following observations.

    It’s very hard to keep people interested in government when they don’t see the point — policy and services fall onto the back burner, and patronage comes to the front. The US is too big for this to take place in just 4 years, but we have the culture war instead. Trump is going to try and convince as many people as possible to vote based on this.

    One reason that this election was as close as it was is because Americans have been fooled into forgetting that the function of the government is to provide services. Somehow the resistance to Trump has to teach them this — not to ask whether cops are sufficiently safe from black communities, but whether everyone has health insurance and maternity leave.

    Finally, most resistance fails in the end, or takes far longer than people imagine. Trump has four years to ruin things, the first two with Congressional majorities. Find the appropriate scale so that you aren’t disappointed — maybe success happens at the school board, which can do things locally that the destroyed NEA no longer will nationally. Basically 80,000 votes spread over three states means that all Americans will be dealing with the awful effects of this for decades.

    • Wamba

      You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry

  • The FBI did not steal the election. They have no power to steal the election. They did not alter the count of the electoral college, hack the voting machines, rewrite the vote count, or any other direct attack on the physical machinery of the election (that we know about). That would be stealing the election.

    What the FBI did do was illegally interfere with the election in possible violation of the Hatch Act. This is a serious action that needs to be investigated, and for which people need to be put in jail. But the public still evaluated the information presented to them and legitimately cast their votes, which were subsequently legitimately recorded, legitimately tabulated, and legitimately scored, voter suppression tactics aside (which wasn’t done by the FBI, but by the Republican Party). And the people in the urban areas were not fooled, remember, by some three million votes. It was the rubes out in the red states, who would have voted for Trump regardless.

    I am not in any way defending the FBI. There’s a reason we have the Hatch Act. But, really, who’s going to listen to the FBI again after the stunt they pulled? The fools who are asking to be fooled again? Indeed, if the FBI does try this again, they have presented us with a big fucking hammer to squash that shit. I’m really not worried about the FBI turning another election.

    Personally, I feel this is a distraction. We have other fish to fry, and we need to come together to fight what is coming, not the least of which will be a sustained, coordinated attack on civil rights by the Justice Department and the Republican Party. Those are our enemies and who we need to be fighting.

    • Rob in CT

      I agree with your 1st & 2nd paragraphs .

      Your third… hah, that would require the public have a memory longer than the lifespan of a fruit fly.

      Your fourth I completely disagree with.

      • I’m not saying that we don’t need to come together and make sure the FBI is investigated. We will certainly need to do that, or the FBI will try this shit again. But right now I’m more worried that the Justice Department will unleash a coordinated attack on civil rights, including pushing for more voter suppression, which does constitute election theft in my book :-)

        • Rob in CT

          Fine, you be more worried about that. That’s definitely something to worry about!

          We need energy & anger. And this (Comey/NY FBI ratfucking) is legitimately something to be angry about. I quibble (mostly internally) about the “coup” language, but the rest of it is good.

    • vic rattlehead

      What is the point of this comment? It seems to simultaneously misread the post and concern troll how to comment on the election. This goes back to the “ur resisting Trump wrong.” Events can have multiple causes. No one is saying Comey was the sole factor.

      • The point of this comment is to clarify (my belief, at least) as to what constitutes ‘stealing’ an election. The FBI certainly illegally interfered with the election, but they did not steal it. It may be slicing hairs, but I think it is an important hair to slice when it comes to determining the legitimacy of the election and what we do about it.

        Case in point, if evidence were to come about that the FBI did in fact tamper with voting machines or the vote count, that would without doubt invalidate the election. However, if their influence ‘merely’ helped to sway an election that was already being swayed by many other sources, does that constitute theft? If so, then there are many more thieves out there than just the FBI (Hatch Act violations aside), such as the many Republican politicians who did use their influence to suppress voter turnout, improperly purge people from the voting lists, and so on.

        • liberalrob

          The FBI certainly illegally interfered with the election

          Really? What law did they violate? I don’t think it’s ever been alleged that “the FBI” did anything illegal. It’s been alleged that the Director of the FBI may have violated the Hatch Act, but that hasn’t been proven in court.

    • CaptainBringdown

      The evidence is pretty strong that absent the FBI’s illegal interference in this election, the outcome would have been different.

      So the question of whether or not the election was “stolen” is beside the point. Illegal interference by an organ of the state is easily enough to judge the outcome of the election illegitimate.

      • The evidence is pretty strong that absent the FBI’s illegal interference in this election, the outcome would have been different.

        Do you really think that anyone who was swayed by the Comey report would have voted for Clinton? Really? There are thousands of people out in the red states that have come forward and stated that they would have voted for Clinton if Comey had just kept his trap shut? I guess I must have missed that.

        If the report did anything, it merely strengthened the resolve of people who would have voted for Trump regardless. Personally, I have more blame for the news media, whose relentless horse race coverage set the stage for the FBI to come in and do their last minute bullshit.

        • CaptainBringdown
          • Scott Lemieux

            Not only is there very strong evidence that the wave of negative media coverage swung the outcome of the election, the marginal states that allowed Trump to win the Electoral College aren’t “red.”

            And this framing of 66 million voters as urban elitists in a bubble isn’t becoming any less silly, in addition to being irrelevant to the FBI’s actions.

        • Quaino

          If you’re of the belief that human beings cannot be swayed by the FBI coming out and claiming that Clinton is up to no good, a week before the election, I’m not really sure why you bring up the media at all. Americans are going to be swayed by news reports, but not a government organ coming out to repeatedly claim Clinton is a criminal?

          • yet_another_lawyer

            Americans are going to be swayed by news reports, but not a government organ coming out to repeatedly claim Clinton is a criminal?

            This would appear to be some of that dreaded fake news. Here’s the Comey lettes in their entirety. Nowhere is she called a criminal, let alone “repeatedly.” The letter itself isn’t even really inflammatory, although coverage of it was.

            In previous congressional testimony, l referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.

            In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.
            Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.

            And his follow up exoneration letter before the election:

            I write to supplement my October 28, 2016 letter that notified you the FBI would be taking additional investigative steps with respect to former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a personal email server. Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.

            Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.

            I am very grateful to the professionals at the FBI for doing an extraordinary amount of high-quality work in a short period of time

            • Little Chak

              Um, yes, thanks, we all know what he wrote.

              The part you are leaving out is why he chose to comment on one ongoing investigation related to one of the candidates, but not another related to the other candidate, knowing that commenting on either would attract media attention that would influence the election: “I know the rule is not to comment close to an election because of the possibility of swaying the outcome, but in this case, there is an election, and I think it is important that we sway it”.

            • Nick056

              That first letter was widely interpreted as indicating that the FBI had re-opened an investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified material — an investigation often referred to erroneously as a criminal probe focused on Clinton — on the eve of the election. The letter itself followed Comey’s highly unusual decision to testify to Congress about the investigation, and to publicly remark on Clinton’s alleged “extreme carelessness” in July.

              The gap between the impact and forseeable interpretation of that letter and the underlying reality is so vast and staggering that our entire country has fallen into the chasm. In reality, the FBI had obtained a cache of emails on a laptop that they had not even begun to review, and which largely duplicated emails they had already reviewed. In reality, the FBI was undertaking a far more consequential investigation into collusion between Trump advisors and Russian operatives about which they said nothing and about which they even, later, lied to the press. (See the NYTimes story that the FBI saw no links between RUS and Trump’s campaign, which we now know is untrue.) In reality, while Clinton should not have maintained a private server for official State business, virtually no classified material was ever located on the server because separate channels exist for classified documents and there was never remotely any basis to consider indictment. Comey released his letter against DOJ advice and guidelines knowing all that, apparently because he felt it was his duty to generate innuendo about Clinton that the GOP and media could magnify.

              Consider: Comey is a Republican who acted with some integrity during the Bush administration, but who also pursued baseless investigations against the Clintons decades ago. And he persisted in casting the review of Clinton’s email server in the most damaging possible light for her until the end, occasionally, e.g., overestimating the number of agents involved. Consider, finally and most bleakly, that the FBI agents who pushed this nonsense were reportedly motivated by a toxic hostility to Democratic views on police violence against black Americans, and now the AG will be Jeff Sessions.

              • Scott Lemieux


                However anodyne the text of the letter in isolation, it was inevitably going to be widely covered as implying that Clinton was a liar and a crook, and Comey knew this.

              • Scotian

                Watching from the outside, this, This, THIS!!!

                I lurk mostly these days on American blogs, but I was a regular on many back in the GWB years as a commentator before moving to lurker, and I have followed your federal politics in detail for over twice as long as that. Being Canadian I, like my entire nation, are at the mercy of American voters when it comes to our security and stability because you aren’t just our closest neighbour, or most powerful neighbour, but you are the only one in close proximity at all, and the only other really is Russia on the other side of the North Pole from us.

                So I pay attention, and growing up a child of the Cold War in a known first strike target only added to that.

                I simply cannot fathom despite having watched it in real time what I have been seeing, and what you so simply and directly described. The Russian and FBI aspects are so terrifyingly out in the open to me, it isn’t just that they exist, but that they exist so openly that really freaks me out, because of the implications inherent in that being possible.

                The difference between the reality I have seen, that you described so well, and the sheer inability of so many to see it, has been something beyond my words to accurately describe, and I am well known in my circles online and off as being a bit on the wordy side by nature.

                HRC is in my view and books a truly great human being for what she has been through, what she went though, and what she always has fought for and through. What it took to force an election against her was obvious, blatant, and indisputable in my view. While the “whys” may still be open to multiple interpretations, the fact that they took place is not I would submit.

                Russia acted in open ways to aid the party which historically denounced Russia. But EMAILZ, amirite? *sigh* The FBI not only intervened on Trump’s behalf 11 days out, they also buried the Russia involvement for as long as they could and then slowrolled what they could not stop during the same election period.

                How exactly is that NOT supposed to be taken exactly as it sounds?

                If Dems and liberals think they are freaked by all this, imagine what it is like for the rest of us in the western world seeing this same and watching the lack of apparent impact nor awareness on the majority of Americans and their regulatory institutions so far, especially after the FBI revelations.

                You truly have a President with real legitimacy issues, the first since Nixon in his latter days. The difference being Nixon was on the down side of his tenure, Trump is literally now on day one. We all need to be able to resist what is coming our way, not just Americans, I’m sad to say.

            • ColBatGuano

              Your hair splitting is especially fine.

          • xq

            Americans are going to be swayed by news reports, but not a government organ coming out to repeatedly claim Clinton is a criminals?

            I think it’s much more plausible that Americans are swayed by the net effect of news coverage over years or decades than that large numbers change their vote preference as a response to individual stories.

            • kvs

              You’re assuming people changed from Clinton to Trump voters rather than from voters or not-voters to the reverse. Yes, partisanship is shaped over time.

              But there are loads of evidence saying that people’s decisions about whether to vote in the first place are significantly more malleable. That is the whole point of GOTV, after all. And something that has been studied and tested.

              • xq

                I’m not assuming that.

          • If you’re of the belief that human beings cannot be swayed by the FBI coming out and claiming that Clinton is up to no good, a week before the election, I’m not really sure why you bring up the media at all.

            Because I do think people are swayed by the media, who had already created a bonfire with their relentless need for a horse race, and to which the FBI ‘merely’* added more fuel to the fire.

            Remember how Clinton would see a huge surge in the polls right after a debate with Trump, only to mysteriously see the gap close again within a couple of week? The FBI caused that? The news media set the stage. The FBI ‘merely’* closed to deal.

            *I’m using fear quotes here to point out the ‘merely’ isn’t really merely. The FBI does have substantial power to sway people, but I think by the time Comey opened his trap there was probably less swaying involved than we like to think.

            • Rob in CT

              This is all true – the skids were greased. Though Comey’s final push was key.

              We’re talking about an election that swung on ~80k votes in three states.

        • Rob in CT


          Elsewhere (can’t find it right now – I think it might’ve been in someone else’s article, quoting Silver from twitter), Silver agreed that the Comey letter seems to have cost her ~2 points.

          And we know that she was particularly hurt by portions of the D-leaning electorate who stayed home. Now maybe they would’ve stayed home anyway. But “ugh, see, MORE of this Clinton email crap” did not help. Neither did thinking she’d win anyway, so no need to bother (and sully your pure self).

          If the report did anything, it merely strengthened the resolve of people who would have voted for Trump regardless

          Which could easily have boosted turnout in the demographic that put him over the top: whites w/o college degrees.

        • djw

          Do you really think that anyone who was swayed by the Comey report would have voted for Clinton? Really?

          The kind of thought experiment you’re engaging in is a terrible way to evaluate the electoral impact of specific events. We have much better ways, and they point toward a roughly 2% swing.

          • We have much better ways, and they point toward a roughly 2% swing.

            Yes, but there are reasons, the media specifically, for why she was within 2 point of Trump to begin with.

            Trump was the worse candidate to run for president not just in modern history, but probably the history of the country. It took a lot more than just FBI interference to get Clinton within 2 points of that.

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              See also: Every third post Scott’s done since the primaries ended.

              • paul1970

                Yes, but the other 2 posts have been about the two percent

                • ΧΤΠΔ

                  Yes, but Scott’s opinion is that in isolation Comey’s ratfucking was necessary but insufficient.

                • Robz

                  Two points lost to Comey plus the 2 points she won by, makes me question why was Trump within 4 points of Clinton.

                  Then I remember: The Media with their Clinton hard-on. The voter fatigue that followed eight years of a single party holding the Presidency. The Russian hacking. The Obama administration not doing enough for people who were losing their houses. People inaccurately claiming that that “Bitch stole the Primary.”


                  Those things I mention above were all insufficient causes. Given how close the election was, all were probably necessary.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yes, but there are reasons, the media specifically, for why she was within 2 point of Trump to begin with.

              Uh, she ended up 2 points ahead of Trump. She was more like 4-5 up before the Comey letter. That margin is overperforming the fundamentals (which favored the GOP) by something like 6-7. Given current partisan allegiances, what possibly could be the basis for the idea that Clinton should have been significantly better than that?

              • MDrew


              • Scotian

                What could be the basis you ask?

                Why, the basis of how horrible Trump obviously is, obviously. Or so such would argue. The problem of course being that entirely ignores context, the political environment, culture, and long term dynamics that have been present and indeed reinforcing towards this sort of pattern for some time now. Which you correctly underscored. The idea that once Trump became the official GOP nominee that he would even at his worst implosion do under 35-40% was seen as far fetched because of this.


                Not because Clinton was so weak would be one way to answer it! No, that was because of how hard core the GOP base has time and again proven itself to be when it comes to elections over many cycles, and how they elect more on the basis of stopping those they hate than putting those in power they like/desire for active purposes of their own. (not unaware of media role/aspect/element, just not including it for purposes of this specific argument)

                I find this maddening watching, reading, and occasionally having to deal with in my own circles up here in Canada both online and offline. Clinton was doing a remarkable job against the most extreme headwinds I have ever seen a candidate face at this level, and she still nearly won, even with the massive black swans working against her and showing up in one case 11 days from the end.

                So, in truth, nothing could be the basis for that in fact/reality, but perception/misperception, right? Well, we are clearly seeing that in action on this point in far too many people that should by now if nowhen else see the underlying honest truth/reality of that. Trump is so bad and evil, therefore he should have been crushed, and only an inferior candidate could ever lose to something like that, sounds great, and sounds just like the same sort of fiction that helped create and sell the modern conservative movement to itself for all the connection to reality it actually has.

                Thank you for being one of those refusing to let all this go with Comey, because it should NEVER be let go of, any more than the Russia/Assange involvement should either IMHO. This was a corrupted election, pure and simple. I won’t say stolen, yet, but clearly it was not clean, nor was it even by American standards (which are really bad compared to the rest of the democratically electing world) free and fair. This is a corrupt result because of these actors and actions putting all else aside, and that cannot be allowed to be forgotten.

        • liberalrob

          There are thousands of people out in the red states that have come forward and stated that they would have voted for Clinton if Comey had just kept his trap shut?…If the report did anything, it merely strengthened the resolve of people who would have voted for Trump regardless.

          It didn’t have to sway that many people to swing the electoral college vote. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that the letter did cause some amount of swing; while I haven’t seen conclusive proof that that swing was directly caused by the letter, and to my knowledge there hasn’t been a study done on what effect the letter had on individual voters in the swing states, I think it’s highly unlikely that there was *no* effect. And again, it didn’t have to be all that large an effect to be effective.

    • Wapiti

      I’m taking the view that, part of the reason for the Hatch Act is to ensure our elections are legitimate, free votes, not interfered with by the power government.

      If the Republicans or Trump are offended by the suggestion that the election were illegitimate, they need to look at the sources of that perception of illegitimacy. Gerrymandering. Voter Suppression. Overt violations of the Hatch Act.

      Trump and Sessions should come down on Comey like a sack of bricks. The Republican House should be looking at impeachment for the joker.

      Methinks the Republican value power more than legitimacy. So we should not surrender legitimacy, but instead, use it against them.

      • yet_another_lawyer

        I’m taking the view that, part of the reason for the Hatch Act is to ensure our elections are legitimate, free votes, not interfered with by the power government.

        I’m not a political scientist and I’m sure this has been puzzled out:

        What exactly is the theoretical foundation here? I understand in theory that the government has to keep some secrets because there’s no way to tell the public without also telling the enemy– there’s obvious mischief there, but at least it is in some instances a valid point.

        But what, exactly, justifies government ostensibly by/for/of the people keeping an investigation secret? It seems to me that the ideal outcome wasn’t the FBI keeping quiet about Hillary but, rather, releasing what was known at the time about both (that wouldn’t damage the actual investigation). The voters can then consider the information appropriately and make a judgment. If the voters can’t be trusted to do that, then what exactly justifies democracy over some other system of government?

        It’s true the media did a shit job of covering it, but “Information a candidate would have preferred remain secret becomes public, doesn’t like the way the media covers it” is pretty much true of every election.

        • rewenzo

          But what, exactly, justifies government ostensibly by/for/of the people keeping an investigation secret?

          I’m not a political scientist either, but I’ll take a stab at it:

          1) Government is a big, segmented, multifaceted thing, and has its fingers in a lot of pies. Government is not only justified in keeping secrets if national security is involved, but even for far more prosaic reasons. For example, various organs of “the government” know your social security number, your birth date, how much money you’ve made, what medications you’re taking, how many people live in your house, etc. Private individuals have a legitimate privacy interest in not having their information be disclosed without their consent.

          2) Particularly in the context of law enforcement, you don’t want the government to publicly reveal the process of their investigations into potential wrongdoing. Even just disclosing an allegation or accusation has the potential to ruin a person’s reputation, livelihood, or career. This is part of the reason why law enforcement generally keeps this stuff close to the vest. They often go public with some elements, but it’s almost always a conscious decision that weights the benefits and risks under the particular circumstances of the case. Because of the potential for great harm here, it’s imperative for law enforcement, in making the decision to disclose, to act in a non-biased manner.

          3) This is even more true in the context of investigating candidates for office because (a) the consequences are so much more wide-ranging and affect so many more people, and (b) democracies are particularly susceptible to having “free elections” be interfered with by people with guns. In many societies, including our own, the people who have most of the guns work for the government. It’s trivially easy to have an election but have the government put its finger on the scales of the process so that the election isn’t really free.

          4) So you’re not going to disclose everything. OK, but if you are justified in disclosing something about an investigation, it’s very hard to decide how much to disclose and when. How can you be sure you’re not favoring one party over another? It’s really hard and pretty soon you’ll find yourself in an impossible situation. Better to keep silent, and avoid the issue altogether.

          5) Relatedly, it is important that the concept of “law enforcement” and “crime” not be considered partisan concepts. A world where members of Party A got away with crimes, but Party B is harshly punished, would be disastrous. So it’s vital for the rule of law that the people entrusted with enforcing the law not be partisan hacks.

        • Little Chak

          There are very, very good reasons for the FBI not to comment, absent an indictment, close to an election.

          The FBI didn’t give voters any useful information! They did give the media a loaded gun, however.

          And if you’re going to say that the FBI was right to comment on the discovery that Huma Abedin had used her husband’s laptop, and not in the same breath say that they were wrong not to give us continuous updates of their investigation into the Trump campaign’s commections to Russia (letting the media fill in the blanks there, as well), well, then, I guess I don’t know what to say.

      • If the Republicans or Trump are offended by the suggestion that the election were illegitimate, they need to look at the sources of that perception of illegitimacy. Gerrymandering. Voter Suppression. Overt violations of the Hatch Act.

        Agreed. 100%.

        Trump and Sessions should come down on Comey like a sack of bricks. The Republican House should be looking at impeachment for the joker.

        I’m not holding my breath on that one!

        Methinks the Republican value power more than legitimacy. So we should not surrender legitimacy, but instead, use it against them.

        Agreed again. 100%

    • CP

      But, really, who’s going to listen to the FBI again after the stunt they pulled?

      Well, a lot of people. But they’ll all be on one side of the aisle.

      That’s the problem. It’s always been well known that the personnel in various government departments would lean more to one side than the other, and even that this would color their worldview to some extent or other. But that’s different from being an explicitly partisan institution which takes its orders from the Party and not the lawfully elected authorities. The FBI’s just dispelled any notions that it was anything else. That sort of thing is absolutely toxic for public faith in its institutions.

      • That sort of thing is absolutely toxic for public faith in its institutions.

        Indeed. And I think that has consequences every bit as bad as the election of Donald Trump. We could perhaps weather the storm if people still had faith in the institutions. But its a very dangerous thing when the people no longer believe in the legitimacy of the government itself, regardless of who is in power.

    • Wamba

      Delivery man comes to my door with a package. “Are you Mr. Smith?,” he asks. I am Jones. “Why yes!” I say. “Here’s your package” says the man in the brown truck. “Why thank you sir!,” says me.

      Did I not steal the package despite not altering/rewriting the address label on the package or hacking the UPS man’s computer? Indeed I did.

    • Wamba

      Any time someone presents some “clever” rhetoric meant to show that something obviously momentous, like a stolen election for example, is just “a distraction”, I pat the back of my ass to check for my wallet.

  • jpgray

    This blog seems inclined to let the media off the hook, focusing on the bad actor who was likely decisive in the short-term (Comey) over the bad actors who made his actions decisive in the first freaking place (the media).

    Look, if Colin Powell had run in 2008, the coverage of EMAILS!, assuming it came up similarly in an investigation relating to State, would have the narrative frame of “seriously misguided and dangerous blunder.” No one would be calling out “Lock him up!” No one would treat a revelation that maybe some new emails from his tenure were discovered and would be investigated as a major blow to his candidacy. It would be seen as a moderate annoyance. The whole thing would hurt him, but it would be very far from decisive. It’s doubtful that the Comey letter would even be sent in that scenario, and if it were, it’s impossible that it would have anything like the same effect, or receive the same above and below the fold, 24 hours, natural-disaster-level coverage.

    Absent the public and the media already having decided that they know what to think about HRC and corruption/secrecy, because they both have repeatedly heard and have said she was horribly corrupt/secretive for thirty years, the whole Comey thing just would be impossible. It would either not have happened, or it would have had negligible effect.

    I’m not sure how you resolve that, but focusing so much on Comey (or authoritarian mooks in the FBI generally) who merely followed and exploited what was there already and truly decisive, a thirty-year media narrative attack, misses the point, in my view.

    I bring that up to say that we disregard media narratives at our own extreme peril. If I were messaging czar, unless and until events or we ourselves have driven the narrative in the right direction, I would prefer “this president is a dangerous crook” to “the usurper illegitimate unpresident is a dangerous crook.” Not respecting the fact of his election, as opposed to not respecting the manner of it or his use of it, would seem to play into the hands of Trump himself and his party, who love to portray themselves as the eternal Real America martyrs of establishment and elitist persecution. Denying the fact of the election gives him and ~37% of the country an excuse to disregard the opposition they would not have otherwise – the media narrative would be “Dems call Trump illegitimate and deny him traditional symbolic respect, GOP violates all norms of governance, SEE IT’S BOTH SIDES.”

    Depending on further revelations of corruption, or early disasters once in office, I could be completely wrong on this. I may be completely wrong about it now. But my feeling is, if at his first joint address of Congress, for example, if nothing major has changed, some symbolic resistance act like our delegation all turning their backs to him or walking out would be played by Trump for better gain than we would get out of such a gesture.

    Interested to know what others think about it. Certainly Trump has done nothing to deserve respect – for example he himself treated Obama as illegitimate throughout his entire presidency – but I just don’t see the “not to be treated like a REAL president” approach working well at the moment. The reason it wouldn’t is that the media are not going to play along, or even play fair, on illegitimacy now that the positions are reversed.

    • Crusty

      The media is important, but the media is not the government. Comey is the government. The media has tremendous power to influence. Comey has actual power to deprive of liberty. The government is accountable to the people. The government, not the media, is what gets elected.

      • jpgray

        But that whole accountability thing is all tied up with the media. We know what to say about a hack like Comey decisively influencing the election. It’s hard to know what to say about an entire necessary institution like the media setting the stage and creating an environment in which Comey could have that decisive impact.

        But I know enough to say this: we have to stop pretending that we’re playing the same game with the same rules. Some things are narratively possible for the GOP to succeed with that we could simply not succeed with ever.

        It’s like a football game where the refs only penalize holding for one team. We have to strategize around that fact. We shouldn’t try holding ourselves in imitation of the other team’s success in this biased environment, then look around confusedly at each other every time the flag gets thrown.

        This is worldwide in the tabloid/”infotainment” media – conservatives are held to a different standard. You’d never see Theresa May get front page scandal hype for bowing too slightly at the Cenotaph, right?

    • Rob in CT

      I do agree that the way the news media reports on politics is central to this (though sometimes I think it all circles back to American citizens and how they think – that is, the media coverage isn’t the chicken, it’s the egg).

      I also agree with “POTUS is a dangerous crook” as the #1 message. He is the President, and he did win the election. But he’s a conman, a grifter, and isn’t nearly as smart as he thinks he is. He and the rest of the GOP will fuck up everything they touch.

      • Gregor Sansa

        What is being the egg supposed to mean, again?

        • Rob in CT

          Sorry, I’m not firing on all cylinders this morning.

          The result. The chicken lays the egg.

          Does the media follow a shallow public, or is the public shallow because the media is (more likely it’s a vicious cycle, I guess)?

          Put another way, does the media not produce much quality reporting on politics because people won’t read it and of the small # that do, half will scream bloody murder about librul bias?

          What’s the root cause of this media failure?

          • so-in-so

            Making news organizations into “entertainment” profit centers? Then blurring the lines between real news and ET! type drivel. Both Yahoo and Google news feeds alternate between real news and the latest in the Kardashian/Jenner family goings on as if they are of equal importance. (Sill me, the Kardashians are WAY more important to getting advertising clicks).

      • jpgray

        People will take what they are given, and if there is little to no room for competition some of it will be “popular” among viewers just by default, because popularity is relative. We aren’t measuring people who don’t watch cable news when we determine the most popular cable news channel, and people might gravitate to a channel they completely despise because it is still the least despised provider of a needed service – reporting the news.

        To get away from the media (uh, somewhat), nobody says “Wow look at all the people using Comcast and Time Warner! I guess that’s just what the public wants from a cable provider.”

    • djw

      This blog seems inclined to let the media off the hook

      What the hell are you talking about? See here, here, here for starters.

      • yet_another_lawyer

        I’m guessing “this blog” meant “this blog entry” rather than “this weblog.” “Blog” is used both ways (in addition to being a verb!), which I have seen lead to confusion like this roughly a million times.

      • jpgray

        Yeah I should have said “blog post” as y_a_l guessed. The media problems have definitely been acknowledged here. Sorry about that.

    • This. x1000.

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      Regarding the messaging: David Brock’s reportedly hired Sirota for his ratfucking media subterfuge outfit. (Also, what djw & y_a_l said).

    • Scott Lemieux

      This blog seems inclined to let the media off the hook


    • Wamba

      Bad argument. We can do more than 1 thing at a time.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I feel slow, but I just realized that all of the FBI entrapment schemes of angry young Arab/Muslim men will be but a drop in the bucket of what a liberated/crazy as they wanna be/Trump-unleashed/politicized FBI will be giving us, as TERROR CELLS of anti-fascist agitators are continually found around the nation and thrown into the gulag.

    • so-in-so

      Our hope is that the infighting between Trump and the IC deepens enough that they don’t go that route.

  • Slothrop2

    With all due respect, this is just bullshit. The Democratic Party nominated the wrong person. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • Ramon A. Clef

      Are you this tedious in person?

      • N__B

        Is there any doubt?

    • Abbey Bartlet

      Twice in one morning: “The Democratic Party” didn’t cast my vote, motherfucker.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Preach it.

        I voted for Sanders in the primary but goddamn it Slothrop2 is a fool.

        • Slothrop2

          You did what you should do. There is nothing else you could do. It was not the FBI or the Russians or Toby Keith who stole the election; it was the Democratic primary voter for HRC who betrayed themselves and the rest of the country. The people who voted for HRC in the primaries are about as stupid as the Twinkie-eating Meth addicts in Arkansas who voted for Trump. Thanks a lot.

          • Gregor Sansa

            Fool, you just agreed with a comment calling you a fool.

            • Scott Lemieux

              With all due respect, this is bullshit. Merle Haggard’s neoliberalism stole the election.

              • Slothrop2

                Blaming the media is particularly stupid. This isn’t 1948. The sources of information are highly fractured. If anything, you should blame social media/networking.

                • liberalrob

                  “Social media” isn’t part of “the media”?

                  Anyway, the media is certainly blameworthy. The sources of information may be highly fractured, but they all participated in furthering the narratives damaging to Clinton whether those narratives had any basis in fact or not.

            • Slothrop2

              What are you complaining about, then? Christ. You’re not Napoleon. You’re not some world-historical figure. All you have is one vote and maybe some limited influence as an opinion leader. You didn’t vote for HRC in the primaries. Good for you.

    • Origami Isopod

      With all due respect, this is just bullshit. Waffles are better than pancakes. Why is this so hard to understand?

      • Abbey Bartlet

        A friend and I just had a conversation about that topic, and this was our conclusion: A really good waffle is better than a really good pancake, but an average pancake is better than an average waffle.

    • rea

      Fuck off, asshole.

    • pillsy

      Because it’s farcically irrelevant.

      The GOP unquestionably nominated the Wrong Person, and they won.

      • Slothrop2

        Bernie Sanders would’ve won. The people who voted for HRC in the primaries basically elected this lumbering pig.

        • brad

          Masturbate in private.

          • Slothrop2

            What say you, Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy?

            • brad

              Ok, look, your dick is huge, ok little man? Now stop showing it to everyone.

        • pillsy

          Bernie Sanders beat expectations during the primary race, and good for him for doing so.

          However, he didn’t beat Hillary Clinton. You can spend the next four years pretending that he was robbed by intimidating perfidy of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or you can figure out how the next Great Left Hope can actually improve on Sanders’ performance and win the nomination.

          • so-in-so

            Well, they should have done the democratic thing and simply declared him the nominee!

            • ColBatGuano

              He was a man after all!

  • David Hunt

    Steven Attewell, if you’re reading this, I’d be really interested in your view of the foundations of legitimacy in the modern U.S. Based on your writings on ASOIAF and the how te various factions vie for legitimacy in their claims, I think you’d have something worth saying.

    • liberalrob

      It’s really an important topic. I think the legitimacy of the federal government has been in question off and on since its founding. There have been a number of crises where that questioning has erupted into actual violence. We may be approaching (or already be in) one such era.

  • dfgrote

    Dems are wimps and need to learn from the Reps playbook. For example, Dems should have loudly and consistently called for the impeachment of the Rehnquist 5 following their 2000 Bush decision which was as much a coup d’etat as Trump’s 2016 victory via the FBI. Presently, Trump is incredibly vulnerable to the claim of being a traitor, and all the Dems need to do is to loudly and consistently demand that he both denounce Putin, and release his tax returns to prove he is not traitor. Wouldn’t the Reps have been doing this a year ago if HRC were as cozy with Putin and the Russian oligarchs as Trump has been, for years? Also, use George Lakoff’s suggestions, to call him a loser and minority president at every opportunity. The public needs to be constantly reminded that the majority did not and does not support his agenda. Trump does not have a mandate. Moreover, filibuster everything, and file a bill of impeachment on Monday, Jan 23, for all his anti-constitutional conflicts of interests and violations of the emoluments clause. That’s just for starters. All we have now is John Lewis, God Bless him, saying Trump is illegitimate. We’re pathetic.

    • rm

      Indeed, though I am not sure they could actually propose impeachment if the Speaker controls what comes to the floor of the House . . . ? But they could write up the impeachment bill they WANT to file and publicize the hell out of it relentlessly — if they had any strategic sense.

    • Wamba

      THIS + infinity

      • Dagmar

        THIS + infinity + infinity

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    How does the fact that the Spooks and the Feebs distrust and dislike each other feed into this?

    What do you get when you combine COINTELPRO and Kompromat?
    I suspect we will find out.
    And just when do we change the name from FBI to STASI?

  • DanW

    But how is this done among the rest of us, exactly?

    We’ve watched the opposition party do that for most of the last 8 years, no?

    Seems like a good template to begin with and expand upon

  • isurewould

    Finally, liberals are starting to have the same contempt for the U.S. government that many on the right do. The “Deep State” has taken control against the will of the people, etc. Tinfoil hats for everyone! The difference is that when Mr. Campos talks of an “illegitimate president” and promotes “resistance” and calls for suggestions on how to mount such a campaign, it sounds like a veiled threat of a violent revolution. And using terms like “unexploded bomb” he is just begging the NSA to catch him in their net.

    • liberalrob

      Don’t mistake contempt for the current occupants of the U.S. government for contempt for the institutional concept. Liberals still believe that government has an important role to play in bringing about the “good society” that we envision.

  • Just_Dropping_By

    The theft of the 2016 election by the FBI was, however, exponentially worse than the theft of the 2000 election by the SCOTUS.

    This is probably the single stupidest sentence ever written on this blog (and that’s saying a lot). The Supreme Court’s machinations in 2000 actually arguably invalidated the results of an election in a manner wholly uncontemplated by the Constitution and was done in a way where a known outcome was directly orchestrated by their intervention. Comey’s actions at worst were an effort at publicly influencing voters prior to casting their votes — the voters retained the free will to decide what they were going to do after being exposed to Comey’s actions and even Comey himself could not have predicted what the net impact of his actions would have been. (He would presumably figure it would hurt Clinton, but I highly doubt he was running polling models to calculate if the effect would be sufficient to make her lose.)

    • Slothrop2

      1000 times, yes.

    • Wamba


    • Scott Lemieux

      One obvious problem, though, is that Bush was going to become president no matter what the Supreme Court did. No matter how the recounts turned out, the Florida legislature was going to send a pro-Bush set of electors and Congress would have declared those electors legitimate.

      This is not to say that the Supreme Court’s intervention was unimportant. The Republicans should have had to have stolen the election more openly. And there is no defense of the Court’s lawless decision, which was every bit as lawless and partisan as Comey’s letter. But Comey swung the election; the Court merely legitimated what was going to happen no matter what.

      • Paul Campos

        Right, the Bush Five behaved atrociously, and did at least some damage to the court as an institution, but they actually had no effect on the ultimate outcome of the election.


    I normally agree with a lot of what Prof. Campos says, but here I cannot.

    “Resistance”, in the sense of resistance against an occupation or a dictatorship, means killing and/or willing to be killed. That’s what it means.

    You have to be ready to ambush cars in the middle of the road with machine-gun fire and grenades.

    You have to be ready to raid armouries and seize public buildings.

    You have to be ready to fight off armoured vehicles with mining tools.

    You have to be ready to do things that will have you tortured and imprisoned for life.

    You’ve got to be ready for 22-hour-long torture and beatings.

    No-one is ready to do these things. Trump has not done anything to justify doing these things. “Resistance” in the real sense of the term is not justified.

    I’ve lived in one dictatorship (China) and a couple of former ones (Poland and Taiwan) and I can tell you that the vast majority of the time life under a dictatorship is not onerous. You will not notice you are living under a dictatorship. You can say and do as you like nearly all the time – and that portion of the time when you cannot, the link to the system you are living under is not so obvious. Because of this, almost no-one resists.

    Instead: act as though you still live in a democracy, because although the US is imperfect, that is what it still is.

  • Wamba

    In 2000, the relevant state organ did not interfere with the election until after the fact. This is a crucial distinction. A legitimate election actually took place, although the candidate who actually won the vote was denied office by ex post facto intervention. As bad as that was, it wasn’t nearly as bad as immensely powerful state actors attempting (successfully it turned out) to rig the outcome ahead of time

    Generally a well-intentioned post but I have to disagree with the part above. We should not minimize the seriousness of the stolen election in 2000. A few points:

    1)it is worse to steal it “ex post facto”. The “rigging” the Repubs did in 2016 was not certain to succeed. What the Supreme Court did in 2000 was.

    2) Its not ex post facto until the election and all appeals are over. So it wasn’t ex post facto until after Bush v. Gore.

    3) A legitimate election did not actually take place in 2000 because you can’t have a legitimate election until it is over and by the time the 2000 election was over, it was illegitimate.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    I take some comfort that the US has been resilient
    and has survived Buchanan and A. Johnson as well
    as GWB and Nixon. I think it is giving Trump to
    much credit to think he will be as bad as those were.

  • Tom Paine Caucus

    One idea I’ve been kicking around is that Democratic elected officials and candidates should say at every opportunity that one of their top priorities upon gaining power is the prosecution of every member of the FBI found to have participated. The idea that interference in elections by organs of the state needs to be normalized and members of those organs need to legitimately fear jail, or at least a lengthy and terrifying prosecution.

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