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01 May 2017


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William R. Cumming

I did not vote for Trump or HRC! Both represent political currents long past IMO. As to Presidential power the U.S. became a service dominated economy by 1970! The U.S, service economy cannot fight major wars IMO. So we must be expert on military mobilization and national preparedness. Neither are items that can be bought off the shelf.

Jackson's great gift to U.S. History was his commitment to the UNION.

As to Presidential power the application of organized violence is the keystone of a nation-state system devolved largely by organized violence. This is a skill, knowledge, and competency 180 degrees out from being a real estate developer in NYC.


SR Wood

There can be no "test" for elected officials but the vote itself. to do otherwise is to submit to the bureaucracy. pl

Edward Amame

Col Lang

How do democracies collapse? Guys like Donald Trump.



Which collapsed democracies are you citing as historical examples? Republican Spain? Weimar Germany? pl


For what it is worth now, we ALL knew ALL of this BEFORE Trump won the Electoral College. NONE of this was hidden and NO ONE should be surprised.

We also knew that Trump did not excel at running public companies...with actual shareholders. His companies are closely-held family-run companies and he had NO IDEA how to persuade or re-tool or "work well with others." An oligarch was elected to the US Presidency.

Why are we concerned now?


Ike had run a government---WWII was like herding cats for the Supreme Commander. He was actually quite well-prepare for the Presidency. This doesn't mean that most Generals would be well-prepared but Eisenhower's preparation was pretty darn good.


Doug, it will not lose him any part of his base...and will gain him any corporate oligarchs that are still wondering. For heaven's sake, these people don't like EPA regulations that keep our air and water cleaner than they were 25 years ago...they certainly aren't going to understand or care about separation of powers or due process!

The other problem is that over the last 15-20 years in ALL schools, civics has become downgraded and ECONOMICS has become the hot course of study...this is true in high schools all over the nation. So...what has been taught is not a fuller of civics and government but one semester of civics and one semester of economics which in the US is NOT economics but capitalism with a capital C.

We are in trouble.


A dear friend just died of early-onset dementia. I see flashes of similarities and it is quite scary.

When will the Navy doctors at Walter Reed start examining Trump????

David Habakkuk


If we are now talking about the possibility of democracy collapsing, be it in the United States or Europe, perhaps it is time to remind ourselves that ‘republican’ thought was always deeply ambivalent about ‘democracy’.

And, making matters even more ironic, there are the very clear common elements one finds in, among other places, French ‘republican’ thought (read Tocqueville, or Élie Halévy), or the ideas of figures in the German resistance to Hitler (such as Helmuth von Moltke, George Kennan’s mentor), or Russian ‘conservative liberals’ (such as the authors of the 1909 ‘Vekhi’ symposium.)

In some ways, the most relevant today may be the thinking of people like Mikhail Gershenzon, whose brainchild the ‘Vekhi’ symposium was. Whatever the problems of his thinking, he most clearly saw a deep dilemma: that a ‘populist revolt’ may lead to the destruction of ‘liberal’ ideas, and to potentially catastrophic ‘Caesarist’ outcomes, but one does not deal with the problem by simply denying any legitimacy – or indeed rationality’ – to the forces that power it.

And then, many of those dilemmas can be found in classic American writers.

So Herman Melville, so much a product of ‘New England’ culture, produced after the Civil War the most bizarre doggerel poem ‘Clarel’.

In it, some of his deepest anxieties were put into the mouth of ‘Ungar’, the part Indian, I think Catholic, Confederate veteran, turned ‘soldier of fortune’ in the Middle East.

Much of ‘Clarel’ is tedious.

But parts remain both extraordinarily beautiful, and deeply troubling. So, in the course of a discussion where ‘Ungar’ is, very much, in a minority, Melville has him say the following:

"True heart do ye bear
In this discussion? or but trim

To draw my monomania out,
For monomania, past doubt,
Some of ye deem it. Yet I'll on.
Yours seems a reasonable tone;
But in the New World things make haste:
Not only men, the state lives fast –
Fast breeds the pregnant eggs and shells,
The slumberous combustibles
Sure to explode. 'Twill come, ‘twill come!

One demagogue can trouble much:
How of a hundred thousand such?
And universal suffrage lent
To back them with brute element
Overwhelming? What shall bind these seas
Of rival sharp communities

Unchristianized? Yea, but ‘twill come!”
“What come?”
“Your Thirty Years (of) War.”
“Should fortune's favorable star
Avert it?”

“Fortune? nay, 'tis doom.”
“Then what comes after? spasms but tend
Ever, at last, to quiet.”

Whatever happen in the end,
Be sure ‘twill yield to one and all
New confirmation of the fall
Of Adam. Sequel may ensue,
Indeed, whose germs one now may view:
Myriads playing pygmy parts –
Debased into equality:
In glut of all material arts
A civic barbarism may be:
Man disennobled--brutalized
By popular science –Atheized
Into a smatterer”

“Oh, oh!”

“Yet knowing all self need to know
In self's base little fallacy;
Dead level of rank commonplace:
An Anglo-Saxon China, see,
May on your vast plains shame the race
In the Dark Ages of Democracy.”

One does not have to agree with Melville. But it might help if contemporary Americans did occasionally read some of the greatest writers their culture has produced.



It sounds as if you and I are finally singing from the same hymnal as to the competence of the president.

Edward Amame

The severe polarization of American politics is one sign of trouble. Throw in a weak economy for a large part of the country and a president who denies the legitimate outcomes of the democratic system...yet maintains a sizable fanbase and a party that tolerates it and we've got a recipe for sh*t to happen. Maybe all it would take is a Trumpian version of the Reichstag fire. Some examples: yes to yours and Poland in the 1920s too. Not sure that recent events in the Philippines and Turkey are equivalent.

different clue

Babak Makkinejad,

FDR's star was "diminishized" on purpose for decades by the various New Deal Haters who spent decades plotting their revenge on the New Deal by working to repeal and erase every part of it they could.

Perhaps the process of restoring and repairing some kind of present day New Deal would involve re-respecting and re-studying FDR and what the New Dealers of the day really thought and really wanted to achieve ( and in part did achieve).

English outsider

Edward Amame - you ask "How do democracies collapse?"

It's complicated.

The first step is simple enough, however, and was explained by your President Carter last year: get the big money into politics and buy the politicians. I'd say that's the crucial step and after that the world's your oyster.

In no particular order after that:-

Locate your core industries abroad. Bring labour in to compete with local labour - I expect by now you're beginning to see how important it is to buy the politicians. Those two steps don't advantage the bottom 90% so you have to make sure the bottom 90% has no say in the matter.

All Western societies have a large and influential group called intellectuals. They're centred in the universities and the media. The devil finds work for idle hands to do and those intellectuals can be a real nuisance if you don't keep them occupied. Set them to work on gender politics and identity politics and bathroom design. That seems to keep them happy most of the time.

Some of the intellectuals are called economists. They're important. It's their job to tell the bottom 90% that everything's fine. If any of the 90% get uppity about losing their jobs or not having enough to live on, the economists are able to explain to them that that's because they're workshy or uneducated. If any of them get better educated and still find no jobs then it's for the economist to explain to them that that's inevitable in a globalised economy.

So you see the economists really do have an important role to play. As do the riot police, of course, for when the economists fail to convince.

Chuck in a hefty dose of panis et circenses. Wreck your education system. Get stuck into a bit of mayhem abroad. Make sure the politicians have got exceptionally good security. That's about it.

I hope that was some help to you. In fact, when you break it down, collapsing a democracy isn't complicated at all really.



"a president who denies the legitimate outcomes of the democratic system." Whoa! Your party lost the presidency and both houses of Congress to his "fanbase." You claim to support democracy? It doesn't sound like it. pl

William P. Fitzgerald III

Babak, I'm sure you're correct about the giggling coeds. I was referring to Trump possibly confusing in his mind the group of darkish complected chaps who were observed filming and high-fiving in a parking lot in N.J. as the towers were coming down. It turned out that, after their arrest, they were found to be Israelis and, very likely mossad agents. They were released and spirited out of the country very quickly.



Nailed it! BRAVO!


Dependence upon family and emotional lability ...

could he simply be grooming them, giving them the chance to experience the US higher political circus? Like he offered his kids jobs in his business?

It may get more usual. Didn't a former US president offer a special job to his wife too? Well, she failed then, and it was a single task, but it may have prepared her for further tasks in politics. So now it's the daughter and the son in law.


turcopolier -- His attacks on the validity of judicial rulings is certainly an attack on our Constitutional democratic system.



There is nothing wrong with questioning the outcomes of judicial proceedings. Would you not have questioned the outcome of Plessey vs Ferguson? pl

Babak Makkinejad

Ungar (Hugar), together with his brother Magyar (Majar) were the legendary sons of Attila the Hun and purported founders of the Magyar Nation; a.k.a. Hungary.

Western people refer to them as Hungarians, Easterners as Majars/Magyars.


Attention deficits, specifically short attention span, are certainly characteristic of ADHD as are things like the late night tweets. Many learning disabilities fall on the Autism Spectrum. They include things like reading disabilities it seems we see in Trump.

Fashionable or not, when trying to understand behaviors, starting with things we know that commonly cause them is a pretty good practice. Trump's odd sleep patterns, short attention span, and distaste for reading are pretty simple and straight up markers for cognitive processing issues like ADHD and reading disabilities. As noted above, "If it walks like a duck..."

I am not a Trump fan, but I do care that he is functional as President. Understanding the issues that hinder his comprehension and performance is the first step to ameliorating them. When dealing with someone who has access to nuclear weapons (and conventional) that ain't superficial, comic or trivial.


Keith, interesting Buchanon profile by André Chung, well done. Thanks for the alert.

Concerning Pat's reference to Buchanon and Palin in 2008. Which I may have missed. Do you recall the rumor around William Kristol of Weekly Standard fame, or his meeting and support of Palin as McCain's running mate at the time? I even seem to remember the image of an American next to a little Israeli next to an American flag on her desk at the time ... A a more complex scene of themes, influences, money , power and taboos?


Pro-Israel hawks cannot be reduced to their strain of 'exporting the American Dream' of freedom to a resistant world at gunpoint, if need be. Just as Buchanan surely cannot be simply reduced to a racist, xenophobe and antisemite. They may be opposing forces on a lot of other issues too. I find him an interesting character, even though I do not share his nostalgia for the 50s. ;)

Katie Glueck* missed a group of Jewish supporters of Steve Bannon, people like David Horowitz. But she seems an apprentice. Anyway: They strongly share his nationalist and "anti-multiculturalist" agenda on US ground. But may be more open to the R2P "obligations" as city on the hill of the US. ... I have no idea where Bannon stands in that context.

There is this rumor about Bannon clashing with Yared Kushner on the US military response in Syria. The more prominent rumor of course is Ivanka forced her father with her tears about the babies. Is that ruse to polish his image? Or does he share the idea with whomever, left or right, that such a response would need a solid basis in evidence?

* Katie Glueck, catched that Heritage canned Jim deMint without a chance to publish it on Politico. Others were already on the story. But Politico caught what couldn't be easily reduced to rumor anymore earlier.

To be ousted, even though he successfully brought many Heritage People into Team Trump, article end of April?


After DeMint left the Senate and took the reins of Heritage, the group’s advocacy arm, Heritage Action, was converted from a policy-driven vehicle into an aggressive political outfit that waged attacks against House and Senate leaders.

DeMint earned a salary of $1.1 million in 2015 from the Heritage Foundation, according to the organization’s tax filings. (not that it matters)

A DeMint ally who’s worked with Heritage and the Trump administration on policy proposals said the timing of the push to oust DeMint “is ironic, because I don’t think Heritage has been more relevant than they are right now. They were deeply enmeshed in the transition and in a lot of policy in the Trump administration.”

Jim deMint knocked out in a power struggle, or since he drew too much limelight? Check the ends of the two articles:


In 1981, a newly elected President Ronald Reagan distributed The Heritage Foundation’s 3,000-page set of policy recommendations, known as the Mandate for Leadership, at his first Cabinet meeting. As thousands of the foundation’s recommendations were adopted, they made an indelible mark on the administration.

The passing of the baton back to Feulner marks an attempt, both literally and figuratively, to return to those days.

“Heritage's academic credentials were much greater under Feulner than DeMint. Hopefully, Feulner, if he takes over, can help reestablish Heritage as what it used to be during the Reagan years,” Edwards said.

Edward Amame

Col Lang

Not the way he's doing it. He's a demagogue.



I have made up my mind about you. i don't want to see your propaganda here again. pl



If you feel the election was invalid I suggest you call Senator Schumer and ask him why he betrayed America by not signing the challenge to the electoral college outcome made by Representative Barbara Lee of California - or any of the others. Shame, shame, shame. When you are done call the rest of the Democratic Senators and ask them the same thing.

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