No Heroes Will Save Us

WaPo is running an excerpt from the book A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America that shows us what happened when the adults in the room tried to explain foreign policy to the Creature. The Joint Chiefs and other top military brass were there.

Mattis, Cohn, and Tillerson and their aides decided to use maps, graphics, and charts to tutor the president, figuring they would help keep him from getting bored. Mattis opened with a slide show punctuated by lots of dollar signs. Mattis devised a strategy to use terms the impatient president, schooled in real estate, would appreciate to impress upon him the value of U.S. investments abroad. He sought to explain why U.S. troops were deployed in so many regions and why America’s safety hinged on a complex web of trade deals, alliances, and bases across the globe.

All of this went right over Trump’s empty head. Skipping to the end of the meeting …

“I want to win,” he said. “We don’t win any wars anymore .?.?. We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore.”

Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.

“I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.

Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

Here was Cadet Bone Spurs insulting a room full of officers who had fought real wars and had given their lives to national defense. They were devastated, the text says. Do read the whole thing if you haven’t already. The only one who talked back was Rex Tillerson, who flat-out told Trump he was wrong. Flat lot of good that did.

Now, let’s skip to what Paul Waldman wrote about this:

… one thing their account makes clear is that there are only two kinds of people in Trump’s orbit: the utterly morally compromised, and the slightly less but still profoundly morally compromised. …

…Reading this account, one is tempted to honor Tillerson for his courage in standing up to the president. The story recounts that others thanked the secretary of state for doing so, and he did it again at a subsequent meeting.

But here’s what Tillerson didn’t do. He didn’t call a news conference to announce that he was resigning and explain that he could not in good conscience work for a president who had such dangerous ideas about how to wield power and held the military in such contempt. Instead, he stayed on the job for another eight months — until Trump fired him.

And ever since, Tillerson has been practically silent. So too has Mattis, who stayed in Trump’s employ for nearly two years, then resigned and sealed his lips shut. We’ve heard stories about how Mattis tried to calm Trump down or, at times, simply ignored the president’s more erratic orders, such as the time Trump called him after Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack and said “Let’s f—ing kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f—ing lot of them.”

It’s certainly a good thing that Mattis, like others in the administration, at times quietly kept Trump from acting on his most abhorrent impulses. But Mattis chose not to take an extraordinary opportunity — and still makes that choice.


One of the central values of the American military is that they are subservient to civilian authority, and civilian authority is personified in the Commander in Chief. So exposing the POTUS as a monster would be extraordinarily difficult thing for them, no question. But more difficult than, say, storming Normandy Beach?

Further, the Right would publicly eviscerate them, no doubt. They’d be subject to vicious  scorn and ridicule for the rest of their lives. Their right-wing friends would disown them. But these are not stupid men (and they are pretty much all men). Surely they see that something is terribly wrong that cannot be allowed to continue. Yet they stay silent.

And who is talking? A mid-level mobster named Lev Parnas. And Parnas is talking, he says, because he felt disrespected by his former colleagues who didn’t defend him when he was indicted. Plus, he is afraid of Bill Barr.

“They’re trying to scare me into not talking,” Parnas said of officials in the Justice Department, adding that “My wife is scared. My kids are nervous.”

He’s not waiting around to be asked to testify in court. He’s showing the world everything he’s got. They can’t shut him up if he’s already talked.

Parnas, who is free on bond, described a tense meeting in jail with his former lawyer John Dowd, who also represented Trump. According to Parnas, Dowd and Kevin Downing visited Parnas in jail to try to talk him out of cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry.

“Were they telling you to sacrifice yourself to protect the president?” Maddow asked.

“That’s the way I felt,” Parnas replied, adding that he told the two lawyers, “If you don’t get out of here right now, something bad is going to happen.” He then fired them. His current lawyer, Joseph Bondy, was at his side for the interview.

Well, you take what you get. The logical step for the Trumpers is to try to undermine Parnas, but so far all they’ve come up with is to deny knowing him …

Parnas also released a video showing himself and Trump together at some function at Mar-a-Lago.

The Right appears to be falling back on the “so what?” defense.

It has long been obvious that Republicans would ultimately converge on this final defense of President Trump: Even if he did everything he has been accused of doing, and perhaps a lot more that we don’t know about, it’s absolutely fine!

We now have a particularly ugly preview of what this defense may look like, as Trump’s Senate trial gets underway. On Sean Hannity’s Thursday night show, former Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus said:

Sometimes the best defense is the ‘so what’ defense. If everything the Democrats said is true, it’s still not impeachable. If everything Lev Parnas said is true, it’s still not impeachable. That’s what this is about.

Hannity endorsed the argument. Parnas is the former accomplice of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani who just revealed explosive details about Trump’s scheme to extort Ukraine into doing his dirty political deeds.

See also

Last week on Fox, Brit Hume said the quiet part loud when trying to explain the GOP senators’ actions:

Just for the sake of discussion. If John Bolton comes in and he says: “Yep the president wanted the Bidens, and he withheld the aid for a time to try and get that done”—I don’t think that adds anything to the sum of our knowledge. I don’t think very many senators are going to say that they think Trump did that or that he’s guilty of that but I think most of them think that he did.

Okie dokie then.

The weird thing about this is that Hume seems to think that by admitting that GOP senators privately know the president pressured a foreign government to launch a sham investigation against his political rival, he’s providing cover for the senators rather than revealing their dishonesty.

There are two kinds of Republicans now. The worst of them believe that any dirty, underhanded, unlawful thing Trump does to get re-elected is righteous, because otherwise liberals will win. And that is unthinkable, because … well, because. The rest of them know that Trump is guilty and depraved but don’t turn on him because doing so would destroy the careers and connections they’ve spent a lifetime cultivating.  And they’re afraid of Trump.

Patriotism? What’s that?

Chief Justice Roberts probably doesn’t want to go anywhere near this. He’ll want to appear to be nonpartisan, but in our current political landscape that isn’t possible, and no matter what he does, he will piss off a lot of people. He’s expected to defer to the will of the Senate in all things. However, in the case of a 50-50 vote, he’s the tie-breaker, not the Vice President. Oh, I bet he’s hoping there’s no 50-50 vote.

Steve M found a tweet about a woman who caucused for Sanders in 2016, then voted for a Trump. She supports Medicare for All but plans to vote for Buttigieg, and if Buttigieg isn’t nominated she plans to vote for Trump again. Yes, this woman is a flaming idiot, and I would dearly love to smack her. But here’s the point —

It’s politics as lifehack. She’s looking for One Weird Trick that will solve all of America’s problems. Revolution! MAGA! A gay millennial! The only surprise is that she’s not supporting Andrew Yang, the ultimate lifehack candidate.

There will be no one wierd trick that will fix our politics, folks. There is no magic wand, no magic bullet. There’s not even a Magic Candidate. Even if your favorite candidate is elected president, the policies that person is promising won’t get through Congress intact. Even if a minority in Congress, Republicans aren’t gong to come to their senses and behave like normal people by 2021. And there will be no heroes who will come forward to save us from Trump and stop his re-election. We have to do that ourselves.

13 thoughts on “No Heroes Will Save Us

  1. All the sin and corruption is worth it if we get to save all  the those  babies by appointing right to life judges. Making abortion illegal doesn't stop it, just risks women's lives.

  2. So trump doesn't know Lev. So why did he send his lawyer Dowd( who isn't cheap) to "defend" Lev? A guy he doesn't know!

    The absurdity.

    Sorta like repug talking points: it's not impeachable, you don't have testimony. .egregiously absurd.

    I'm with Monica: fucking kidding kinda day.

    You know it is all like mcsally: insulting the reporter, jerk. Trolling behavior.

    I noticed during the impeachment hearings there was A lot of "you hate us, you hate trump".

    But really they hate us. It is all projection. Rotten people don't like admit they are rotten.

  3. “ There’s not even a Magic Candidate. Even if your favorite candidate is elected president, the policies that person is promising won’t get through Congress intact.”


    I see Bernie as the magic candidate. He has consistently pushed good policy that has existed for over 100 years. 

    Warren also pushes good policies. And she has plans that are more than “political revolution… <something > .., utopia “ (underpants gnomes modus operendi)

  4. Again, if I am innocent, why do I send my expensive lawyer to 'defend' someone I claim to not know, to tell him to shut up? 

    The President admitted what he did.

    The acting Chief of Staff and head of OMB, admitted what was done.

    On it's face, we have a farce.

    If Trump, through Giuliani , his personal representative, is only interested in Biden investigations, why are Giuliani and Lev including Toensing in their texts? Why is therefore, Firtash relevant to their activities or their activities relevant to Firtash?


  5. I agree that  there is no one weird trick that'll suddenly defeat the madness. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon.

    It's not really necessary to destroy Trumpism. It destroys itself; that's how it works. What is necessary is to survive Trumpism.

    How? By defending your own sanity. It's hard work, but worth it.

  6. … one thing their account makes clear is that there are only two kinds of people in Trump’s orbit: the utterly morally compromised, and the slightly less but still profoundly morally compromised. …

    Is it not true that Trump's advocates are the same kind of people in pyramid, supporting formation.  A minion of the morally compromised.  Not minions that are not as cute or lovable as the cartoon ones, but people using Trump's shadow to obscure or mitigate their own inner evil.

    There will be no one weird trick that will fix our politics, folks. There is no magic wand, no magic bullet. There’s not even a Magic Candidate.

    Amen, the solution is a bootstrap operation that needs a different sort of minion base.  Not an evil base but one promoting more noble values.  Might I suggest but a few that are quite supportable: tolerance, sustainability, empathy, appreciation of fine art, harmony, fiscal responsibility, and the like.  Right now the value I seek most avidly is sanity, which the minions of the morally compromised seem to abhor. Come to think of it, they seem to abhor all the values listed and more.  

  7. Fifty plus years of Republican's using racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia as political ice-picks to fracture the American people, slowed down any progress dramatically, and led inevitably to tRUMP as POTUS.

    The Republican's brain-washed their followers over those years by demonizing liberals, and as part if that created a Manichean political outlook where conservatives are good and pure – example:  "Christian" family values – and liberals are purely evil – DFHism still riles the right and rules their mindset.  Heathen liberals worship Satan, want to kill babies, let brown people come in and allow them to vote, and support all forms of non-heterosexual behavior to give them easier access to alter children's sexual orientation. 

    NO cooperation with liberals allowed, lest the purity of conservatism be compromised.  Pure white conservatism will be tainted by anything else other than purity.  Any shade of gray brought on by compromise and  cooperation, taints the purity of conservatism.  

    It's all utter nonsense:  Conspiracy-level illogical, and batshit insane!

    But this is the political environment we face:  About 1/3rd of Republican pol's are true believers who buy all of this bullshit; a 1/3rd who buy some of it, but use the bullshit for political advancement; and the last 1/3rd, who are a mix of those who know it's all bullshit, but have to stick to tRUMP and the BS lest mobs of their voting Frankenstein monsters turn on their Doctor Frankenstein's creators' asses.

    tRUMP, to no one's surprise, will not be convicted and ousted.  Either Moscow Mitch finds a way to a quick dismissal, or there'll be a semblance of a trial, but with the result, preordained.

    A victory for us, will be if at the conclusion, there are 50 or 51 Senators who find him guilty.  Sure, not the 67 needed to oust this psycho, but enough to further taint him.

    It'll be tougher for him to get reelected if there is a bipartisan majority which found him guilty – even if he didn't get forced from office! 

  8. If Michael Bloomberg says he's going to spend 1 billion dollars to defeat Trump regardless of whether he gets the nomination or not, then maybe now would be the best time to attack Trump. When he is most vulnerable before or during his impeachment trial. He could do so by targeting all GOP Senators with political ads questioning the integrity those who enable or look the other way when it comes to tolerating Trump's criminal behavior. 

    Trump is on the ropes now, and if he is allowed to succeed in dominating the GOP through fear of political reprisals then his ability to continue with that method will only increase if he successfully weathers the impeachment trial. If enough of the Senators decide it's time to bail on this clown and reclaim the Republican party then Trump would left completely in a position of disgrace without the possibility of ever rallying in any sphere. He would be wiped of the board. Done! The only power Trump would hold would be the power of example that the GOP defended and saved our democracy in its darkest hour against the criminal element called Trumpism that infected it.

    And Trump's so called base has nowhere to go except back into the arms of the new and improved GOP whether they like it or not. For the religious right…Was lost but now we're found!

  9. No one will be able to undo the damage Trump and his mob of freaks have done and are still doing. Just as important as presidents are their nominees and appointees to governmental departments. Lev Parnas pointed out in his interview that appointing Barr to the DOJ consolidated Trump's iron grip on all Republicans.

    For more examples, a new Trump USDA rule will deprive nearly one million poor children of automatically qualifying for subsidized school lunches, and party hacks are reversing Michelle Obama’s nutrition standards. Also, Trump's OMB has delayed, cut, and attached onerous restrictions to disaster relief for Puerto Rico.

    Then there are the now more than 50 right-wing federal judges Moscow Mitch has confirmed on his Senate conveyor belt. If the republic can be saved it's going to take years to restore anything like normalcy, and it's much more important to vote against Republicans than for any particular Democrat.


      • We can hope, grannyeagle.

        Sorry about the subject/verb disagreement below, everyone. Next time I'll count to 10 first.


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