Home / General / Why Do All of These Authoritarians Keep Ending Up in the Trump Administration?

Why Do All of These Authoritarians Keep Ending Up in the Trump Administration?



My colleague Shakezula has already discussed this, but David Clarke’s appointment assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security is a big enough deal to be worth more discussion. It is almost impossible to overstate how unfit he is for any law enforcement position, let alone one of the top federal ones:

However, if the premature reports are true, Clarke’s promotion to federal office would be a major affront to human and civil rights. In 2013, Clarke received the “Sheriff of the Year Award” from Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, an anti-government organization whose founder, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, believes,“The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists. It is our own federal government.” In 2015, he suggested suspending habeus corpus to charge individuals “on the internet spewing jihadi rhetoric,” and them “with treason,” and “indefinitely” detain them at Guantanamo Bay—a number that he estimates could be one million people. Since last April, four detainees in his jail have died, including a newborn baby and a mentally ill inmate who was deprived of water for seven days. He has faced two federal lawsuits since December for the deaths. Earlier this month, a grand jury recommended criminal charges against seven staff members at Clarke’s Milwaukee jail.

Clarke has called Black Lives Matter a “domestic hate group,” believes that “there is no police brutality in America,” says there is a “war on cops,” and has called protesters upset about Trump’s election “entitled, coddled, petulant snowflakes.” He also called the Women’s March a “creep show.”

Oh, in addition to the many other horrible things his department frames innocent people to cover up their own misconduct.  He will, in other words, fit right in with the Attorney General.

There are evidently a number of different metrics one could used to assess the authoritarian tendencies of the Trump administration. Myself, I would consider “the number of authoritarians nominated to high-level federal positions” as one of the more important.

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  • humanoid.panda

    It’s worth pointing out that DHS put out a (weak) denial that he was appointed. I wouldn’t put it past him torpedoing his nomination by blabbing about it before it was finalized.

    • I can’t see the Senate confirming him, and I can’t imagine John Kelly approving this. Maybe somebody in the WH made him an offer but Kelly didn’t know about it and is trying to quash it. That seems a plausible scenario.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I thought they were going to claim that it didn’t need Senate approval.

        • humanoid.panda

          Yeah- position doesn’t require confirmation ,but I can definitely can see McConnel dropping a line that the administration might want to avoid this particular nomination..

        • Assistant Secretary doesn’t require Senate confirmation? Since when? From Wikipedia:

          “An official of sub-Cabinet rank, Assistant Secretaries are appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate and are assigned to assist a specific Cabinet Secretary. Assistant Secretaries often manage major programs administered by a Cabinet Department.”

          • Sly

            Some positions in DHS don’t require the same kind of Senate confirmation that positions of similar rank in other departments do. It was set up this way to get the department up and running ASAP and was never fixed.

      • Aexia

        The position didn’t require confirmation.

      • humanoid.panda

        This is a not a confirmable position, but I can see how even in this Congress and in this administration, enough people can apply pressure to avoid this particular rake.

      • efgoldman

        I can’t see the Senate confirming him, and I can’t imagine John Kelly approving this

        You’re kidding, right? You forgot the sarcasm font?

  • ema

    OT but this might be of interest: The driver of the car (26 yo Hispanic man from Bronx) that slammed into crowed in Times Square has 2 previous DWI arrests so, so far, it looks like a [horrible] accident.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      How Trumpite brains read that:

      The driver of the car (26 yo Hispanic man from Bronx) that slammed into crowed in Times Square has 2 previous DWI arrests so, so far, it looks like a [horrible] accident.

  • Todd

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m ready for the Trump era in American politics to be over.

  • ema


  • David Hunt

    The post title reminds of the Onion article about the homophobic man who is angry because all those gay men keep sucking his cock. How is it possible that such a thing keeps happening?

  • “There’s no real difference between Trump and Hillary.”

  • Solar System Wolf

    All of Trump’s appointments seem like an epic troll. I can just imagine how people get on the shortlist:

    1. Have you ever insulted women or minorities? Bonus points if you’ve killed any or made excuses for other people who have.

    2. Are you a white supremacist or white supremacist sympathizer?

    3. Have you ever been fired by a Democrat for any reason?

    4. Do you hate the department you’ve been nominated to run, up to and including the fact that it exists?

    5. Do you stand to gain financially from the position you’ve been nominated for?

    6. Are you married to, sleeping with, or a relative of someone already in government?

    • Peterr

      7. Did you duck every possible science course your could, and scrape by with the lowest possible grade in those you had to take?

      8. How many miles per gallon of gasoline does your personal car use? Bonus points if you have to measure in gallons per mile.

      9. How many contractors and subcontractors have you “renegotiated” with after the work they did for you was finished?

    • Ronan

      The thing is, claiming it’s trolling is giving Trump too much credit. More plausibly he’s just a complete idiot who admires people similar to himself.

      • Peterr

        “Complete idiot who admires people similar to himself” isn’t a bad start for the definition of a troll.

        And hen you elect a troll for a president, trolling is what you get.

        • Ronan

          Trolling needs some level of self awareness and intent. Trump doesnt have the intelligence to(intentionally)troll.

          • John Revolta

            Trump knows how to twist a knife. There’s no way, for example, that Rick Perry for Secretary of Oops wasn’t deliberate.

            • Bitter Scribe

              “Secretary of Oops.” I hope you haven’t copyrighted that, because I am so stealing it.

            • Pseudonym

              Perry at least has the (entirely implausible) excuse of being governor of a big oil/gas state. Ben Carson was appointed head of HUD strictly because Trump thought he looked “urban”.

      • This. I was thinking last night that Trump & Clarke appear to have very similar personalities.

      • petesh

        More precisely, Trump picks guys he’s seen on Fox.

        Rosestain (I love autocorrect) apart, and obviously he’s a big mistake, can anyone here name a single competent Trump appointee that he has not seen on the big 60-inch?

        • tsam

          I’d guess McMaster is the closest to that definition. He seems reasonably competent, as military monsters go.

          • petesh

            Good point. There is video of him pontificating, but it doesnt seem like Trump-bait.

          • Pseudonym

            Among cabinet-level appointees AFAIK Mattis, Haley, and at times McMaster (whatever their politics) are about the only remotely competent ones, and the latter doesn’t even count since Trump’s first choice was out like Flynn.

        • efgoldman

          Rosestain (I love autocorrect) apart, and obviously he’s a big mistake

          Wasn’t he a holdover?

    • CP

      Cleek’s Law.

    • Warren Terra

      4. Do you hate the department you’ve been nominated to run, up to and including the fact that it exists?

      I assume you’ve seen something about the leaked Education Department budget, that basically says “let’s not spend money educating or helping children”?

      • Pseudonym

        𝕴𝖋 𝖙𝖍𝖊 𝕶𝖎𝖓𝖌 𝕵𝖆𝖒𝖊𝖘 1611 𝕭𝖎𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝖜𝖆𝖘 𝖌𝖔𝖔𝖉 𝖊𝖓𝖔𝖚𝖌𝖍 𝖋𝖔𝖗 𝕵𝖊𝖘𝖚𝖘, 𝖎𝖙'𝖘 𝖌𝖔𝖔𝖉 𝖊𝖓𝖔𝖚𝖌𝖍 𝖋𝖔𝖗 𝖔𝖚𝖗 𝖘𝖈𝖍𝖔𝖔𝖑𝖈𝖍𝖎𝖑𝖉𝖗𝖊𝖓.

        (Though if any happen to actually be named Jesus they should be deported.)

    • ChrisS

      Don’t forget the ties to Russian paymasters as well.

      Clarke has enjoyed a few vacations paid for by the NRA and the Russians.

    • Phil Perspective

      All of Trump’s appointments seem like an epic troll.

      Which is why it’s very logical that Droopy Dog(aka Joe Lieberman) would be in the running, and very possibly the top choice, to replace James Comey.

  • Warren Terra

    My favorite Clarke story – because it involves no dead bodies, it’s almost funny, except for its implications – is the time a guy shook his head at Clarke in passing while boarding a flight to Milwaukee, and two hours later when the plane landed Clarke had a half-dozen officers and two K9 drug/bomb-sniffing dogs detain and arrest the guy, to ensure Clarke’s safety.

    When the guy complained, Clarke posted to Facebook a picture of the guy suggesting that if he’d intended to bother him, he’d have murdered him.

    I don’t know whatever happened with the lawsuit (thoughit just stated Feb 2, maybe it’s far too early to say). I assume (knowing nothing of the law) the guy can’t lose on the facts, but maybe also can’t prove any damages.

    • kped

      My favourite is from just yesterday, as a military veteran brought to attention that Clarke wears a bunch of pins on his clothes to make it appear he has earned medals, possibly in the military. These are in fact not military medals (he didn’t serve)…just read the thread:


      • rea

        Obviously dyed beard, too.

      • D.N. Nation

        A 9/11 NYPD badge. What a clown.

        • kped

          He heard about 9/11 on the TV, it was almost like he was there.

          • CP

            He heard about 9/11 on the TV

            I wonder if I heard about it from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

      • artem1s

        so basically an Idi Amin wanna be. FFS

        • CP

          As somebody in that Twitter thread said in response to that comparison:

          “Except Idi Amin spent 16 years in the British Army and at least wears his fake medals correctly.”

          (Mind you, I’m not entirely clear how you can wear “fake” medals “correctly.” Unless fake medals come with a Simarillion sized expanded universe, there’s no etiquette to breach, is there?)

          • ringtail

            It depends what “fake” means. If it’s not even a valid or authorized award, like it’s some shit out of a crackerjack box, then there’s no “correct” way to wear it.

            In the other hand, if “fake” means medals that exist and are valid or authorized for wear but you don’t rate them, that’s a different story. You can display the medals correctly and just not be authorized to wear them.

            My casual consumption of stolen valor youtube videos leads me to believe that the latter type of “fake” is more common than the former, probably because it’s really easy to go online and pick out a bunch of valid awards.

            Also, it probably seems really petty to be upset about the incorrect wear, in addition to the unearned awards, but it’s part of the military culture. It’s a terrible added insult to not even wear the stuff correctly.

      • Harkov311

        I’m always deeply amused when grown-ass men literally award themselves medals they haven’t earned, or try to make it look like they have. Hermann Göring was apparently so tacky about this that even Himmler once commented on how ridiculous it was. And Brezhnev famously gave himself the Hero of the Soviet Union as a birthday present to himself (for comparison, imagine if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could award himself the Medal of Honor just for shits and giggles).

  • Matty

    Clarke is on my top 5 of political actors who I want to see go down in flaming ignominy. There are people doing more harm overall, or harming more people, but I am going to take immense pleasure in his eventual downfall.

    • I don’t know whether to place my bets on an eventual suicide just in front of a federal indictment for something unbelievably embarrassing, or on getting ventilated by Russian mobsters for trying to stiff them on payments.

      • getting ventilated by Russian mobsters for trying to stiff them on payments.

        This comparison is a terrible affront to Alonzo Harris.

        • Domino

          That was my thought reading that as well!

  • lahtiji

    My money had been on Clarke for FBI director.

    • Ronan

      Potential future vice president ?

      • lahtiji

        I wouldn’t put it past anyone.

        I doubted he’d be confirmed by the Senate for the FBI director, and had thought the DHS post might be a way to get over that hurdle. From what previous posters said, that wasn’t an inaccurate guess on my part.

        • Ronan

          A swansong as UN Secretary General !

      • Jean-Michel

        His skin color is the only reason I can’t see him winning the GOP nomination for the big job. A significant chunk of the Republican base simply couldn’t get over that no matter how much of a fascist he is.

        • Ronan

          Interesting question,though, is does assholery+stupidity eventually negate race? Is there a moment when someone becomes such an authoritarian asshole that the racists accept him as one of their own?

          • Solar System Wolf

            It’s nice to have a token “good one” around to deflect charges of racism.

          • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

            Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Dinesh D’Souza, etc.

            • lahtiji

              Ken Blackwell, Michael Steele, J.C. Watts…

    • ChrisS

      I went into a rabbit hole of sorts on twitter the other night and ended up on some conservative online mag where they proposed nominating Mike Flynn as the new FBI director because it would piss off the demonRats. And commentors thought it would be great idea, but wouldn’t happen because the spineless republican senators wouldn’t approve it.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        If this here joint is smart and well-informed and funny, imagine what the bizarro world version of it is. You may have found one.

        *Oh, and self-congratulatory, like what I just wrote. I susppose that happens on both sides — but one side is wrong, I tells ya!)

  • Peterr

    It is almost impossible to overstate how unfit he is for any law enforcement position, let alone one of the top federal ones

    He’s clearly aspiring to Arpiao-hood.

    Meanwhile, Kris Kobach continues to pout in Kansas.

    • Kobach probably isn’t pouting much, since Trump has him working on plans to ban black people and Latinos from voting. :/

  • rpick

    I know a bit about this subject, but I am wondering, would David Clarke be a worse choice than Joe Arpaio. Because I have heard a few sources call Clarke, America’s worst sheriff but is he worse than Apraio

    • Chetsky

      From what I understand, Arpaio at least had a modicum of managerial ability, since being sheriff of Maricopa County is a nontrivial job. Clarke is sheriff of Milwaukee county, and my understanding is that essentially the entire county is the city of Milwaukee, which has its own police. Clarke just runs the county jail. Badly, to boot.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I once knew a dumb person who had decided at some point in life that the best defence was a good offense, and if he just stampeded around loudly and kept people reacting to him, they wouldn’t notice how dumb he was, too.

        (It didn’t work.)

        I suspect something similar is going on with this fellow.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Why keep your mouth shut and have people think you’re stupid when you can open it and have them know you’re stupid?

    • rea

      Clarke, not Arpaio, is America’s worst sheriff, but the fact that Arpaio lost his bid for re-election and isn’t a sheriff anymore is a big part of that.

  • Scott Mc

    Shhh. No one tell Corey Robin.

    • Brad Nailer

      Not sure what that means. It sounds like a slam and I wonder why.

  • David Hunt

    I trying to look on the bright side of the whole Trump Era. So far, all I’ve got is that after he’s gone, he’ll be used as the example of why we can’t go back in time and change things, so we’ll finally be able to fire up the time machine and kill Hitler.

    Side note, this about the only good Hitler joke I’ve ever heard:

    Hitler did do some good things. After all he did kill Hitler.

    • rea

      My theory has long been that President Cruz would have been a huge disaster, so time travelers made sure that Trump won.

  • ASV

    I’m happy for all the people he won’t murder in the future in Milwaukee County lock-up.

  • varmintito
  • Dennis Orphen

    If that picture doesn’t make Jerry Glanville do a complete 180° and start dressing like an extra in a LMFAO video, I don’t know what will.


  • Bitter Scribe

    I want nothing better for this guy than to have a confrontation on a lonely highway with the meanest, most bigoted redneck deputy sheriff in the Deep South. Then let’s see what he says about “there is no police brutality in America.”

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