The Widdershins

Prognosis:  A Chance of Sanity…

Posted on: July 5, 2016

Thunder over Louisville

How was your weekend of handling small explosives and scaring the pets?  If your weekend included extended family get-togethers, I hope the appropriate rules of non-engagement and détente were in place.  There’s nothing worse than tainting an otherwise enjoyable cookout by having to clear space on the grill for a brother-in-law whose attendance could just as well have been handled by a socially awkward doorstop.

Each 4th the fireworks get a little stronger and our unifying principles seem to become more mottled.  Being the habitual optimist, perhaps we are on course to solving some of the disunity with Hillary’s election, but even with Hillary’s experience and deft hand at working across the aisle, impediments will remain.

If you listen to the “meat puppet resembling a Demon Sweet Potato,” all we have to do is be less politically correct, rip up trade agreements, default on the sovereign debt, and kill the families of suspected terrorists.  Translated that equates to glorifying intolerance, plunging a world economy into free fall, and creating revenge-seeking terrorists whose rage will burn white-hot for generations.

The real question is not what the Demon Sweet Potato says, but why someone who has no political experience, no visible network of support, and can’t even spell the word temperament has license to say them as a presidential candidate?

What has gone wrong?Purple Shots Thunder

And before we get all high and mighty about the Republicans losing their way, we need to come to an honest reckoning with why a Socialist, who wasn’t even a Democrat fifteen months ago, could garner 43% of the primary vote?  Then there was the viperous Texan who was the last candidate standing against Trump who built his career on committing dominicide by killing effective government.

From the article I’m suggesting to you:

Trump, Sanders, and Ted Cruz have in common that they are political sociopaths—meaning not that they are crazy, but that they don’t care what other politicians think about their behavior and they don’t need to care. That three of the four final presidential contenders in 2016 were political sociopaths is a sign of how far chaos syndrome has gone. The old, mediated system selected such people out. The new, disintermediated system seems to be selecting them in.

The biggest obstacle, I think, is the general public’s reflexive, unreasoning hostility to politicians and the process of politics. Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry. Because that problem is mental, not mechanical, it really is hard to remedy.Thunder 5

Chaos syndrome is a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of historical institutions. As the influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualistic and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal—both in campaigns and in the government itself.

A second virus was initially identified in 2002 that between 25 and 40 percent of Americans (depending on how one measures) have a severely distorted view of how government and politics are supposed to work. These people are “politiphobes,” because they see the contentious give-and-take of politics as unnecessary and distasteful. Politiphobes think the obvious, commonsense solutions are the sorts of solutions that they themselves prefer. But the more important point is that they do not acknowledge that meaningful policy disagreement even exists.

Washington doesn’t have a crisis of leadership; it has a crisis of followership. Our most pressing political problem today is that the country abandoned the establishment, not the other way around. 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Thunder 7

My apologies to the author of How American Politics Went Insane. I’ve butchered Jonathan Rauch’s very thoughtful essay in order to provide a taste of his prognosis and cure. It is a long read, but it is a worthy investment of your time. There is no better way to honor the spirit of July 4th than contemplating ways in which we can bring sanity back to governance.

Please don’t limit your comments to the reading. What’s on your mind today?



92 Responses to "Prognosis:  A Chance of Sanity…"

FBI Director James B. Comey said Tuesday that his agency will not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, but called Clinton and her staff “extremely careless” in handling sensitive data.

Comey said the FBI investigations into thousands of emails by Clinton determined that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” The findings now go to the Justice Department.

The announcement — which came only about 72 hours after FBI agents interviewed Clinton — in some ways lifts the cloud that has been hanging over Clinton’s presidential campaign for months.

Can someone please buy BerningBum a bus ticket back to Vermont?

That was a terrific article.
Thanks, Prolix, for linking and calling our attention to it.

Chris Cillizza just put an article on the Post “Why Hillary’s email problem may be worse than we think”. :eyeroll:

How long until Trump sends a tweet about the FBI director? “Corrupt James”. Comey is about to have a firestorm released on him by the RW and media.I hope they all make total asses of themselves.

I wonder why Bernie feels the need to continue SS detail. I want him to be safe of course, but who would want to harm him? Maybe his overzealous supporters accidentally? I don’t think he’s doing big rallies anymore.

Protecting a presidential candidate costs about $40,000 a day, a federal official familiar with the Homeland Security budget told CNN. For Sanders, that’s more than a half-million dollars since the last primary on June 14. The cost could grow by nearly $2 million if he stays in the race through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia later.

Borowitz Report: Congressional Republicans Vote to Abolish F.B.I.

Unlike most House measures, which come up for a vote only after months or even years of sluggish effort, the bill to eliminate the F.B.I. was drafted in a matter of minutes on Tuesday morning, Republican staffers confirmed.

@2, Thanks Sue. I’m glad you enjoyed it. That makes me feel good.

@3, GAgal, he’s already tweeted about the “system being rigged.” They really can’t afford to be too hard on Comey because he’s there courtesy of Dubya. The RNC is pretty close to calling Comey a stooge. Of course there is no floor through which the Republicans won’t claw to go lower.

@4, $40K a day for a Golden Alert avoidance patrol is a bit much.

Hillary and Obama are on the ground in N.C. The face of Mrs. Greenspan, High Priestess of the Concern Trolls, has turned bright beet red since she is clutching her pearls with such fierce aggression she appears close to some type of auto-erotic sexual climax. As a precaution, she seems to be reporting from atop a drop cloth.

@9: Here’s a suggestion: Mrs. Greenspan, Maureen Down and Chris Suhleeze should all get a room together.

How long until Trump sends a tweet about the FBI director? “Corrupt James”

Already done.

Yesterday Trump was (pardon this) all atwitter and outraged about the fact that Hillary was going to ride on AF1 with Obama to N.C. He kept “shouting” Who pays????

Donald, you shouldn’t ask such questions considering the way you are paying for using the 757 on the campaign trail.

All told, Trump’s Federal Election Commission spending reports show payments of $3.2 million to Trump Air Group (TAG), the Florida firm that operates his aircraft. That is almost 10 percent of the $33.4 million the campaign spent through February.

Donations have covered about 29 percent of Trump’s roughly $12,500 per day in aircraft costs. The rest is in the form of loans Trump made to the campaign, which may eventually be paid off with future donations.

So each hour Trump flies his jet to and from campaign events he both relieves himself of part of the burden of the plane’s fixed costs and turns a profit of several thousand dollars.

@10, LOL — trouble is, each of them have such low standards who would be slummin’ with whom?

@12, Trump’s tax returns could tell a very interesting story.

When Trump and Corker were shown together in N.C., Corker is so small, slight, and short, he looked like a mini-me ventriloquist dummy. I expected him to climb up on Trump’s lap.

Prolix that article in The Atlantic was a great read although it was a bit of a slog for me. And, I really don’t know how or if it’s fixable. As Rauch implied, I think there are Dems who would sit down with some Republicans and try to find workable solutions to a lot of the problems in governing but, there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the Republican side that wants to sit down with the Dems because it’s a no-win for them.

It was a great article but certainly not encouraging. 😦

Well, hopefully we are done with hearing about email.

@15, something Rauch didn’t mention was the move toward redistricting being accomplished by non-partisan commissions instead of by politicking. That would be a very positive development because it would moderate voting blocs within congressional districts. Like Rauch mentions, the gerrymandered Republicans only fear being primaried, they don’t have the moderating force of a more objective electorate.

Chris SuLeezy showed his true RWNJ colors when he started hyperventilating about indictment a few days ago in the Post. No one with any legal expertise ever though Hillary was going to be indicted. You have to prove intent and harm, and that was never in question by anyone. Even the Republican Ratf*ckers couldn’t find any evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

@16, Ga6th, I hope that is the case. It couldn’t happen soon enough.

@18, exactly MB. What happened was that the Rethugs so completely convinced themselves Hillary would be indicted when there was never any case to be made, the announcement today becomes a watershed moment.

Rudy Giuliani was all over the cable shows spewing idiocy as a former “prosecutor” — his line is the line the Rethugs are going to use in perpetuity and the legal fact is pretty simple — there has NEVER been a prosecution under Giuliani’s theory in the history of the statute. NEVER — not once has it been used in any court, in any district, in the country.

The defense attorney of Petraeus was interviewed today. What the Rethugs conveniently forget is that Petraeus was caught on a phone wiretap saying he was giving his mistress top secret documents. Then he lied to the FBI about it. Worlds apart from Hillary.

Since I avoided Mrs. Greenspan at all costs today, I missed her exchange with this ex DOJ spokesman:

“I think that type of statement is why the FBI director is not supposed to hold press conferences like the one he held today. If you’re not going to bring charges you shouldn’t insert yourself in the middle of a political campaign the way he did,” Miller asserted.


He continued, “And I can’t remember a time in history when the FBI director or when an Attorney General has reviewed a case, decided that the evidence does not support bringing charges, and still make really reckless statements about an underlying individual’s behavior. It’s really just not appropriate unless he’s ready to back them up in court which obviously as he said today he doesn’t believe is appropriate.”

@21, GAgal, Matt Miller was just about the most sane, level-headed person I saw all day on the cable talkies. He’s right — the FBI should not insert itself through making a political statement. Comey was trying to play both ends against the middle and like roadkill, it’s a lonely place to be.

I wouldn’t normally link to Trumps son in law’s media outlet, but the tweets this employee received after criticizing the star meme are pretty bad. (Warning.. bad)

Ugh, Kim Davis again. But I would like to know more about the Liberty Counsel who represents all these religious political issues for free.

Well that didn’t take long. Comey, when you say things like “extremely careless”, it’s gonna come back to bite you in the butt no matter how much a secret little thrill you got out of that. Let’s waste some more money, people!

@25, obviously, Comey didn’t pay attention to the lessons of “Air Force One,” where the line went, “If you give a mouse a cookie, then he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.”

Comey gave the mice cookies and now they are going to want their glasses of milk. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He should have just followed the DoJ and FBI rules about statements in non-prosecution cases.

Ga6thDem said: Well, hopefully we are done with hearing about email.

Nahgonnahappen. Sadly.

@`17: Prolix said: something Rauch didn’t mention was the move toward redistricting being accomplished by non-partisan commissions instead of by politickin

I so wish that could be done everywhere. But, unless a state has a mechanism to allow the voters to start something like this, such as Cali’s method of propositions, I don’t see happening in many places. The reason I say that is because the state lege folks won’t want to give up that ability to gerrymander districts.

GAgal@21: Oh you left out the good parts:

Andrea Mitchell’s palpable disappointment at not getting the chance to report Hillary Clinton’s indictment was a shameful performance on MSNBC. Fortunately, her guest took the wind right out of her sails and put responsibility on Comey for making one of the most nakedly political statements about closing an investigation I have ever seen anywhere.

Mrs. Greenspan began by asking Matt Miller, ex-spokesman for the Department of Justice how he could “justify the fact that she was this careless with her emails?”

Oh, the vapors. You could almost see them on the screen.

I so hope the next time she covers a Hillary event that the campaign puts her two block away from the location, or if it’s a mountainous area, two mountains away.

Fredster, I saw a clip of that Vicious Harpy mitchell’s interview with Matt Miller and it made me furious. That horrible woman is no journalist. This is why I won’t watch msnbs.

Prolix, great post!!!

Oh good, they already have that clip with Mitchell and Matt Miller up on youtube.

@31, thanks Annie. How are things in the Land of the Meandering Bear?

@31: As you can see they got that clip up on youtube. I can’t believe MSNBC did that because it definitely didn’t put Mitchell in a good light and in fact Miller was able to take her down fairly easily.

Just as an F.Y.I., I”m going to take down the veep poll but we’ll have something new soon to replace it.

Dang, I watched Hillz and Obama’s rally live today and never even noticed the POTUS seal on the front of the podium! Don’t know how to link the tweet I saw.

GAgal, looking at the tweet you saw, if you can find it again, look for four dots underneath it. Move your mouse underneath the dots and a dropdown menu should appear. You should see embed tweet and copy tweet among other things there. If you click on either of them a pop-up should show which has some text about copying the code. Do that and then paste it into a comment here. After you do that just click on the post comment button.

@36, yes, it was very exciting to see Hillary @ the podium with the POTUS seal!

@27 Prolix, thanks for that. I will check those links out tomorrow. The Campaign for Accountability is probably looking for where their money comes from, other than Falwells’ Liberty University. The separation of church and state has become so blurred after Bush Jr, I’m not sure that genie will ever be back in the bottle.

@37, ah, thanks for explaining that! Good to know!

Prolix, what is the meandering bear?

@39, that’s a scary thought! I want the genie back in the bottle!

@38 annie, and I MISSED it dammit! I have to say Obama cracked me up. He loved chanting Hill a ree! Hill a ree! He was having fun.

@42, yes, Obama did a great job!

@37 I’m not on Twitter. I saw it at linked at Upp’s. I don’t know what Hillary supporter posted it but when I clicked on to link, he/she had a first response – Everybody voting for Hillary raise your hand! Now slap yourself in the face with it! Blech. Just ridiculous that goes on. But I did see how to link with the dots so I’ll try it.

Yay! It worked. I had to right click to copy instead of Control + c. Good to know. Thanks! Hillary looks a little short (well she is) from down below. One day soon that podium will be adjusted to HER!! Woo hoo!

@46: YAY! There ya go! Can’t wait for January to see that for her. 🙂

GAgal, one of the comments was pending and when I released it, it’s not showing the complete tweet so I’ll take that one out.

Fredster, I tried embed first. Nooo. Looked so weird. I was glad it didn’t. Heh, you never know until you try. Thanks for teaching me something new today!

@50: No problem at all. As you said, you never know until you try it. I was trying to add the video from Crooks and Liars but it uses something called iframe encoding and doesn’t allow that. I am constantly going here to see what things work with and which don’t:

Remember all those stories about what a wonderful place to work Fox is? How everyone loves Roger Ailes? How everyone is so committed and loyal to Fox News? Well, not everyone.

Gretchen Carlson allegedly got fired for refusing to sleep with the creepy old Roger Ailes.

@40, sorry Annie, I had a friend who lived in California who always referred to it as the “Land of the Meandering Bear,” because of the state flag. Sorry, sometimes my fingers take over for my brain when I’m commenting.

Finally, someone is listening to the drivel of BerningBum. He got booed by the Democratic caucus when he said:

“The goal isn’t to win elections, the goal is to transform America,” Sanders said at one point, according to multiple lawmakers and aides in the room.

Some Democrats booed Sanders for that line, which plays better on the campaign trail than in front of a roomful of elected officials.

@46, I’ve never seen the Presidential Seal look better.

@52 Gretchen came out strongly for gun control recently and caught the expected nasty backlash for it. She probably knew she was on her way out. I wonder if the harassment was before or after that.

@54 I see when Bernie got in front of a group of House Democrats his wording changed from “transform the Democratic party” to “transform America”.

“My message was a simple message: We have got to fight for the needs of the middle class and working families of this country,” Sanders said as he left the caucus meeting. “We got to get people involved in the political process, we got to get a large voter turnout, and if we have a larger voter turnout, Democrats will regain control of the Senate and I believe they’re gonna take the House back.”

They’re gonna take back the House? Well Bernie, if we manage to do that, it won’t be because we had any help from you. Tone deaf as usual.

As the influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualistic and unaccountable.

And so Sanders. And Trump. However I think it’s not so much people’s intense “hatred” of politicians as it is the lack of critical thinking skills and the ability to foresee consequences of various actions. Not that those problems have any easy solution either.

@56, GAgal, from the stories, it looks like the harassment was there for years. Ailes had pitched the idea of them sleeping together on a regular basis. She probably knew she was on the way out when she dared step over the line on guns, but good for her.

@58, Luna, when I read the article I kept thinking about the absence of political discourse. Political debate used to have the secondary purpose of education. Now, all political opinions are mostly informed by emotional opinion instead of fact. That is just untenable to governance.

@53, ah. Well that makes sense. We do have a lot of meandering bears here.

@54, Bernie is such a jerk.

GAgal, great job on the tweet! I will try one soon.

@44, yep, I saw that on the news. There have been a lot of “bears in neighborhoods” stories lately.

From the Politico article:

“When are you going to run as a Democrat? This is the Democratic Caucus,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said to applause.

Excellent question Mr Meeks!

The investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server is over, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said on Wednesday, issuing a brief written statement that she had accepted the F.B.I.’s reccomendation that no one should be charged in the case that has engulfed Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions for more than a year.

“I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation,” Mrs. Lynch said.

Well you knew this was going to happen. (I bookmarked this early this a.m.)

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday night House Republicans would ask FBI Director James Comey to testify on Capitol Hill about his recommendation to not prosecute Hillary Clinton for her private email server use.

Ryan told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, would call upon Comey to divulge more information on how he could square his scalding of Clinton’s decisions with his suggestion that she is not legally culpable.

Jason Chaffetz, yeah, that will be a fair and unbiased hearing.

@65: The investigation may be over but the Repubs aren’t going to let it go.

Rumor has it… Gretchen is not the only one. I wonder if the Murdoch sons can force Ailes out.

An interesting piece about Rep. Chaffetz.

@69, the part of the article about the Congress critters being uncontrollably independent and unalignable is the story of someone like Jason Chaffetz and before him on the committee, Darrell Issa. Never underestimate how the Republicans will overestimate their mandate. The Republicans will overplay their hand on this like they do on everything else. Hillary will play it smart and just let them blow themselves up.

@70: Oh I’m quite certain that they will. But, they’ll get airtime on it.

Also, new poll to the right.

I think it’s hilarious that AG Lynch came out with her statement today before Comey could be questioned tomorrow. I’ll bet they thought they were going to have some sway over the DOJ decision. That burst their little bubble.

@71, excellent Fredster. How complicated is it to do those polls?

Now, all political opinions are mostly informed by emotional opinion instead of fact.

Ain’t that the truth! And that’s what caucus meetings are like. Thank the deities that Hillary will probably urge a swift demise to the caucus system, and that this year the Democratic PTB are in agreement.

The emotional rubbish spewed by Republicans, amongst others, is rarely fact-checked by pundits or the MSM, and certainly not by their party leaders. And among voters, those of us who have reliable sources for our assertions — or who can describe their preferred candidate’s policies — are a minority. Then again, lots of politicians have no coherent and specific policies — for example, Trump and Sanders.

I’ll have to read the whole essay. I shouldn’t really be lamenting without also talking about remedial actions. On one hand I’ve become very cynical. OTOH, we have Hillary winning the nomination!

Tomorrow should be good theater. First, Comey is going to have to defend himself for not indicting Hillary by defending his own legal opinions against his own capricious statements. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Then, Trump goes to Congress tomorrow to try and court the Republicans into lovin’ him long time.

No chance anything will go wrong here.

@75, Luna, excellent point — when I was reading the article, eliminating the caucuses was something I thought Rauch should have mentioned and included in the solutions. You are exactly right, caucuses heighten the influence of the “warrior class” of voters, lessen party discipline and reduces any hope of moderation.

Interesting thing about #TheBernout being booed by House Democrats: it started when he went in with his tired old stump speech. They were expecting him to say he was finally endorsing Hillary. He’s such an @ss.

@76 Will it be on Cspan? Will Ryan turn off the cameras again? We’ll see.

@78 madamab, those lawmakers shouting “Timeline! Timeline!” may be what jarred Bernie. There’s talk of a Hillary/Bernie event next week with whispers of an endorsement. My thought about that – yawn.

I noticed Trump’s unhinged speech was aired on all three big media outlets this evening. Hillary had an event late this morning but I wasn’t watching the TeeVee. Does anyone know if any outlet aired her speech?

@79, it will be on Cspan 3 at 10:00 a.m. EDT

JULY 7, 2016
Hillary Clinton Email Investigation FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers, as well as the decision to not recommend criminal charges against her.

Prolix@74: The polls aren’t that difficult to do. However, if I wanted to add the ability to make comments I would either have to put the poll in a post, or place it on that polls page I made (up at the top). If you try to add in comments and place the poll over on the side it forces the comments to go to a polldaddy page for the poll.

From that MSNBC piece about the meeting:

but then outlined differences he had over trade, climate change and the minimum wage, as well as rules over superdelegates.

We don’t care about your differences you have because this bernie:

@76 & 82: It sounds like an all day popcorn binge.

@85 Indeed! Many opportunities for chortling and exclaiming “Did he really just say that?!” Pity I have to be at work all day.

Sanders, now. He needs to be given a wet blanket and a 1-way ticket back to Vermont.

@86: While not as much fun you’ll probably be able to watch a replay of it online when you get home.

I would be willing to contribute a token amount for both the blanket and the ticket. 😉

Interesting article by Dana Milbank on Comey’s performance.

@87, LOL!

@ Prolix, “warrior class” of voters is right. Participating in the primary process shouldn’t feel like you have to armor yourself against insults, innuendos, shouting, and intimidation from members of your own party.

Heh. Voted, and looks like we’re all too familiar with the Republican agenda. After all, they’ve never seen evidence they can’t ignore!

@90: Face it: we know our opponents way too well. Snort!

@88 Fredster, there was a great piece on the side there too. Even though Benghazi is off the Republican radar, Ambassador Stevens should be honored. GOP took that away. The video didn’t work well for me here, but it’s not needed. I’ll bookmark this because Republicans won’t.

The last time I saw my friend Chris Stevens was at the Benghazi Airport as his body was being transferred to the plane to begin his last journey back to the United States. The great, honorable, gentle man I welcomed to Benghazi only two days earlier now lay lifeless before me on the same tarmac.

Chris had arrived in Benghazi on Sept. 10, 2012, for five days of meetings and to inaugurate an American cultural center at an English-language school under my care. A Libyan by birth and lifelong resident of Benghazi, I had for years taught English and facilitated cultural exchanges with the United States and, upon the resumption of diplomatic relations, served as an adviser and cultural interpreter for U.S. officials — especially Chris. I was also the one charged with coordinating his fateful visit to Benghazi.

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