This Week In Doom, Sept.9: Crazytown

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 9, 2018

“Real power is, I don't even want to use the word, fear.”

 ― Donald Trump, interview with Bob Woodward, 2016  

This was a week in which the pace of bizarre and unsettling news swirling through the White House could only be described as "epic," a thesaurus full of superlatives thus drained. Excerpts from Bob Woodward's book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” dropped, with the usual eruptions of "Lies!" and "Fake News!" uttered by the usual suspects. The book, which will be officially released on 9/11, promises to be a devastating, meticulously researched account of the Trump Presidency. This is Woodward's eighth book on a President; over 40 years, few have challenged his veracity. The book will be consulted as a first draft of the history of these dark times.

Major takeaways are that the work culture of Trump's White House is so toxic and volatile that many of 45’s top staffers are in the habit of working around a scattered, unstable and uninformed boss.

Trump has been floundering and reacting out of stress as a result of the Russia investigation and related probes. "Fear" was the first of a one-two punch, followed up by the "Anonymous" op ed published in the NYT.

 5 Takeaways From Bob Woodward’s Book on the Trump White House outlines key points, with few surprises:

  • The Russia investigation is a constant source of anxiety for Mr. Trump, and his lawyers.
  • Mueller engaged in lively conversations for months with Mr. Trump’s lawyers.
  • He's as ill-informed as you think: Trump’s advisers are repeatedly stunned by his lack of interest in and knowledge of major issues. 
  • Trump himself was not a primary source for the book.
  • John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, quickly soured on Mr. Trump

White House press secretary perpetual-motion-lie-machine Sarah Huckabee Sanders channeled her best Tammi Wynette with the usual dispatch:

“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad… Democrats and their allies in the media understand the President’s policies are working and with success like this, no one can beat him in 2020 – not even close.”

At least she's consistent. Trump was in rare form:

“The book means nothing, it’s a work of fiction…If you look back at Woodward’s past, he had the same problem with other presidents, he likes to get publicity, he sells some books."

Doubling down, he later tweeted:

Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?

Those quoted rushed to declaim their innocence and to deny that they had said any such thing. Mattis was quoted as saying Trump had the "understanding of a fifth-or-sixth grader." Kelly is quoted as saying of Orange Jesus, “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.” His former attorney, John Dowd, gets credit for “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.” Gary Cohn removed papers from the Resolute desk. Trump is quoted as having called his attorney general "mentally retarded,” and a "traitor." Just a taste: the first ones are free.

Woodward's usual technique is to exhaustingly interview many people people close to or in the White House on "deep background," meaning their anonymity is assured. His books are based on hundreds of hours of firsthand reporting. 

Woodward's reputation is pretty bulletproof. Not every detail is assured, but the gist is that his accounts are remarkably reliable. All 18 of his nonfiction books in the past 35 years have been national bestsellers and 12  have been No. 1 national nonfiction bestsellers. He also takes to the lecture circuit, where my wife and I saw him, and formed a minority-view opinion of his act. Yet for all that, he retains more credibility than the White House's current occupant.

Top appointees are ‘thwarting’ Trump, says ‘senior official’ in administration in New York Times opinion piece

The number two punch is the memo by "Anonymous" published in the NY Times. This really has our boy spun up, inviting him to instruct house hobbit Jeffy Bo to search for the guilty author, even though such an investigation would be patently illegal.

The unnamed author wrote:

“We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

The Times column — headlined “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration”, described a curious flavor of resistance is is indeed:

Ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous…

There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

This ain't a "resistance" I recognize. We're supposed to be somehow grateful?  Charlie Pierce said it best when he called out

… the careerist bleatings of anonymous sources who would like you to know that, by enabling El Caudillo Del Mar-a-Lago and his long, slow slide into howling madness,they are really keeping him from doing some real damage to the country, and shouldn't we all be grateful for their noble, selfless work. 

What the writer wants are Trumpian policies with less baggage, like fewer tweets or porn star payoffs. Trump later tweeted a one-word, all-caps reaction: “TREASON?” The search for the author began almost immediately and continues.

What this op-ed represents is and attempt to build lifeboats for those inside-the-Beltway conservatives who find themselves part of the Trump administration, but who envision the coming endgame, and imagine a life after Trump as part of a ruling Coalition of winners who will inherit power after the Great Man is gone. This is the same technique employed by conservatives after Bush the lesser, in which they shunned Bush, donned tricorn hats, and branded themselves "Tea Party independents." This only works because Americans, as a rule, remember nothing. Not for nothing did Gore Vidal once referred to this country as the "United States of Amnesia."Thus we will we skate on the frozen lakes of hell before Trump offers testimony to the Special Counsel. 

​Short takes

Some other things happened this week, but you may already be familiar with them. The confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh occurred this week featuring a great deal of contention over hidden papers, demonstrations, and debate about whether or not the nominee had lied to Congress under oath..

Senate concludes Kavanaugh hearing

Harris puts Kavanaugh on edge with Mueller question

Sen. Kamala Harris put Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on edge with a surprise question at his confirmation hearing on whether he spoke with anyone about the investigation into Russian election meddling. This after a week of scorched-earth procedures and tactics to prevent Trump from appointing his own judge in a possible future impeachment trial. This includes the Republicans hiding documents proving that Kavanaugh may have committed perjury. Whether any of this will be enough to derail his confirmation is not known.

The Collapse Of Society Is Coming

Michael Snyder sees harbingers in the fact that the rich have their own plans to survive the coming economic collapse (caused by out-of-control algorithms and flash trading) in survival bunkers being shipped from a Texas warehouse to the shores of New Zealand, where they’re buried 11 feet underground. The rich are planning their bolt-holes. Their plans don't include us.

Obama delivers full-throated rebuke of Trump's presidency

BHO returned to the campaign trail ahead of the midterms to rally the troops for the midterms, calling out Trump by name: "He is a symptom, not the cause." Obama is absolutely right, but he's decades too late. 

The loutish, bigoted and aggressively ignorant nature of the Republican base has never been a mystery to anyone… since Lee Atwater unleashed "Willie Horton" nigh on to 40 years ago….except, apparently, to Republican analysts, pollsters, ad-men, every Never Trump Republican now out pimping a book, every conservative think tank, media outlet and the entire Beltway political press. And any right wing troll who wanders into these hallowed grounds.

As noted above, Republicans rebranded themselves as a mighty army of Imaginary "Independents" who always arrive on the verge of saving us all from the Extremes on Both Sides. They are trying to escape the righteous judgment of history by rebranding themselves as some sort of faux resistance.

The "Tea Party" was always an astroturfed fraud. Nothing less than a heavily funded, carefully coordinated political playtoy designed to herd the rubes — the latest layer of Koch-funded, Fox News-promoted bilge splashed over the same goddamn box full of bigots and Bible-thumpers who have comprised the backbone of the Republican Party for most of my adult life.

After they led Poppy away by his drool-cup, there were four kinds of people in the GOP: traitors (e.g. the Kochs), messianic dominionist nut jobs (e.g. Pence), useful idiots (e.g. Tea Tarty), and geriatric bigots on holiday from the John Birch Society. They have always been with us, but we made them wear shoes and leave the room when company came. These people are less conservatives than dangerous, bomb-throwing, vehicular-manslaughter-committing white nationalists and nazis.

In Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean had it exact:

“Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds… They would march American into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result. They have the mentality of ‘old-time religion’ on a crusade and they generously give money, time and effort to the cause. They proselytize; they lick stamps; they put pressure on loved ones; and they revel in being loyal to a cohesive group of like thinkers. And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going to go away.”

They remain a minority, which is why they have to ease into control, one child-kidnapping, sanctuary-denying, flag-worshipping, pro-torture, Nike-burning, intolerant, anti-choice, anti-science, Republiconfederate skirmish at a time. No faux-sincere op-ed can disguise the cornpone, “Aw Shucks” Christopathy that, seen over the course of decades, has bumrushed this country relentlessly towards the coming authoritarian nightmare.

banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because, by making every mistake in the book, he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.


18 Responses to This Week In Doom, Sept.9: Crazytown

  • William Hunter Duncan says:

    I remember when liberalz mocked Woodward as a lickspittle myth-maker after his book on Bush the Lesser. Now liberalz hold him up as unimpeachable (pardon the…um…pun) as former FBI liar for warpigs Mueller, and the never-ever–told-a-truth Intelligence community.

    Then I read that NYT official brainwashing op-ed masquerading as unifying and adult-in-the-room, reminding me to be like that great demigod McCain and drop some metaphorical napalm on those Trumpian women and children and elderly leading shining light America into barbarism, because we don't believe in democracy or the wisdom of the people, we know what is best for empire. Don't call it a coup, call it a comeback…

    Fuck a duck. Liberal Intelligence community deep state unity looks like McCain in drag, war pig globalists on rainbow parade, turn America in LGBTQ loving banana empire absolutist paradise for corp bank and billionaire, to hell with regular working people and the earth, it is all consumer identity now….

    • PleaseSpeakInCompleteSentences says:

      I couldn't understand you.  Are you drunk or high?


      • William Hunter Duncan says:

        Paraphrased: liberals embracing the worst aspects of American empire, ie the deep state, intelligence community, corporatist gloabalization, the eternal privatized war machine with it's eye on the regime change prize aka Russia – to spite Trump; while offering zilch in the way of actual policy that would make rural America and working people not vote for a fake populist like Trump. 

  • Surly says:

    I assume you're referrig to WHD's, uh, discursive comment. My prose is generally clean enough you can eat off it.

    WHD seems to conflate the "deep state" with "liberalz," a locution which he may think confers a modicum of hip, but which is actually just silly. One of the great mysteries of contemporary politics, with which my friend might agree, is how liberals (-s or -z) gave Obama a pass for the same excesses of the alphabet agencies for which we gathered in the street under Bush. Now we've given all that unchallenged and unchecked power to Trump. Lucky for us he's too disinterested and too incompetent to exercise it.

    That luck won't last. Imagine a Pence administration with Michael Chertoff as National Security director, and Newt Gingrich as Secretary of State…

    What boggles me is the inability for people to hold two contradictory ideas in their minds, namely that the so-called "Deep State" may be corrupt, and that they have also turned up evidence of corrpution and treason on the part of a Trump administratrion do venal and without ethics that they would collude with a foreign government for power. Seems self evident to me.

    • PleaseSpeakInCompleteSentences says:

      Yes, I was replying to WHD and I can't seem to understand what he says.  He can't seem to formulate a complete sentence.  I presume english is not his first language.

      In any case, who cares… People who aren't smart enough to communicate intelligently should be ignored.

      As for the current political troubles?  They seem like the usual sorts of idiocy, degeneracy, corruption and ineptitude you would expect from an empire in decline.  Buckle up.


      • RE says:

        You need a Diner Secret Decoder Ring.

        Image result for secret decoder ring


      • Surly says:

        @ PleaseSpeak:

        As for the current political troubles?  They seem like the usual sorts of idiocy, degeneracy, corruption and ineptitude you would expect from an empire in decline.  Buckle up.

        The current "political troubles" are sui generis, IMO. Trump is the apotheosis of the fascist impulse in American life, which has been amply documented by many better observers. This current president and this moment pose an existential threat to BAU. As to an empire in decline, I quite agree; I would just rather have it take longer. The current WH incumbent will have everyone not a billionaire or an energy extractor picking rags by 2020.

    • RE says:

      " My prose is generally clean enough you can eat off it. "

      Does that include prose directed at Moriarty or Watson?


  • Surly says:

    @RE– those missives were clear AF. I do not think anyone has difficulty parsing my meaning.

  • William Hunter Duncan says:

    Well, not everyone cares to understand political poetry from this BA English major. 

    Liberals excusing Obama's drones or the gross inequality created by his economics or the institutionalization of surveillance or his treating whistleblowers like spies, are fascisms kin to Trumpian bluster. 

    And I for one blame Democrats primarily for the rise of Trump, for casting the working class to the wolves. 

    • Surly says:

      William, I give you plenty of credit and earned respect from yourt many years of contribuition to the diner forum. And I accept the fact that Ds may need to face some responsibility for the rise of Trump. I trace that to the rise of the DNC in the Clienton era. People of good will cqna aregue about that.

      But you are WAAY off the beam and subscribing the the same ol' cliche of the "K'rupt Duopoly" and "Both Sides are Rotten" if you fail to note that Trump is the perfect distillation and refinement of Homo Republicanus.As I wrote, this process of reverse evolution has been going on for 40 years, as the Republicans became increasingly the home of white racists with a fascist bent. A mindset which has been with us forever, notably in the 1840s with the Know-Nothings who hated the Irish immigrants and the Catholics. Right down to this year where the people whjo will suffer from lack of FEMA funding transferred to ICE will cheer the Trumpkin's looting of their well being to immiserate brown people because, "'Murka!"

      One of the most disgusting and completely dishonest political positions in this country is the "Both Sides are Equally Bad" meme, which serves only to allow conservatives to forget recent history and rebrand themselves as some sort of "Independent," witness the spate of tricorn-hatted Tea Partiers post-Bush. And the various political movements sponsored by political donors hich emerge every couple of months in the Age of Trump: "No Labels," "The Third Way," etc. Another day, another boutique, another Third Party vanity project by another cloistered plutocrat hitting up his fellow entitled plutocrats for money because Both Sides!

      These efforts, which channel the Matthrew Dowds and david Brookses of the world, are rehabilitation projects for rich conservatives so they can say, one day in the fuillness of time, "i was never with him." 

      Fuck them. Don't believe the hype, and don't fall for the bullshit. I will consider it my mission to burn those lifeboats.

      • RE says:

        ” William, I give you plenty of credit and earned respect from yourt many years of contribuition to the diner forum.”

        What I don’t grasp is why WHD is making this analysis on the WP commentariat, when it is much better suited for discussion Inside the Diner?


  • William Hunter Duncan says:

    Btw Surly, just because I dog on liberals, you aren't going to call out PSICS for his rhetorical slight, gaslighting me, calling me ignorant while ignoring my meaning?

    • Surly says:


      People who throw shade behind the veil of anonymity are really those who ought be be ignored. So give him his due.

      If I had wanted to be a cop, I'd have followed a different path.

  • William Hunter Duncan says:


    In my own state, Minnesota, Republicans and Democrats have stood together, impoverishing the working class, polluting the "10,000" lakes etc, letting corporations foreign and domestic plunder the land like this is a banana republic. They can all settle into history's dustbin, sooner rather than later if that is possible. In economics and foreign policy, both current gubernatorial candidates as example support all the same neoliberal policies, fuck the land and waters, let the working/middle class sink into destitution. But yeah, hey, the dems are better at talking about taking care with things….


    It does seem like my contributions in this thread has made for more comments than any recent article I've seen. Last time I looked commentary inside the diner was quite thin and insular, the usual suspects.




    • RE says:

      ” It does seem like my contributions in this thread has made for more comments than any recent article I’ve seen. Last time I looked commentary inside the diner was quite thin and insular, the usual suspects. “-WHD

      Your commentary here is getting response from the “usual suspects”.  The difference is that SMF commentary is much more searchable and the threads can persist for quite some time, for example the Inflation-Deflation thread which goes back almost to the founding of the Diner.  WP commentary is history a week or two after the article is published.

      I don’t get why you comment out on WP.  Makes no sense to me.


    • Surly says:

      Getting money out of politics is job 1. Ending corporate personhood is job 2. Support candidates who prioritize these, oppose others at all costs, regardless of designation. You DO vote, don't you?

      I take some heart in the primary results in New York, in which a number of nominal Democrats in the state Senate who worked with Republicans to prevent productive change were defeated and swept away. Voting is a binary choice, and sometimes you get half a loaf. Whether that is better than none depends on how hungry you are.

      I offer the example of the current ruling junta as an example of the costs of holding out for the perfect candidate, and to those third party Stein voters, Johnson voters, and others who gve us Trump and Koch Brothers governance, I offer the back of my hand.

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