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Monday, October 19, 2015

Empty Gestures

… this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
     - David Brooks, The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus, New York Times

 

It’s entirely possible politicians and social media should never mix.

Jeb Bush took a moment out of his ongoing tickle-fight with Donald Trump to brag a little:

image

 

The man who would be president is bragging about Fantasy Football: Ha ha! Look how good I am at this make-believe thing! I should have formed a make-believe league! I’m really good at make-believe!

I went back through Bush’s timeline to see how often he makes similar Look At Me I’m A Regular Joe tweets.

He doesn’t.

His official @JebBush account has sent out roughly 2400 tweets since it came online in February 2010. Every one of those messages are geared towards Bush’s political agenda. Given that, if you look at “Can’t help bragging about my fantasy football team” in context, the message is pretty obvious: his skill at some silly game somehow makes him a better choice for president than his rivals.

Which is hilarious ...

 

… right up until you suddenly realize Fantasy Football is actually a pretty accurate metaphor for the current state of the Republican Party itself and may indeed be a valid criterion for the guy who would rule Conservatopia.

 

Once upon a time (all good fantasies start with “Once upon a time…”), conservatives were serious men in white shirts and brush cuts. They were scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors, and steely eyed veterans.

As staunch conservative David Brooks says in his column in the New York Times,

By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions. They also see the nation as one organic whole. Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.

Like Brooks, that’s the conservatism I grew up with.

That’s the kind of conservatives my parents were.

Those are the conservatives I remember and the ones I miss.

Once conservatives, as a group, were those who believed in science (who often were scientists), they were the engineers, the teachers, the doctors, the scout leaders, the steady steely-eyed vets. Men like my dad.  Once upon a time, they were the practical pragmatic men who landed Americans on the moon and brought them safely back home again – while the liberals of the time were dreaming their long-haired red-eyed hippy dreams in The Age of Aquarius. 

Now don’t get me wrong here, certainly they got it wrong as often as not, those old conservatives. There was war and ideology and inequality, of course there was – same as today. But once upon a time, conservatives in large part were the people who doggedly shoveled shit against the tide and did their best to keep the nuts from working loose and the wheels from falling off. 

As Brooks so succinctly put it: they used to be people who knew how to nurture and run things.

Conservatives used to believe community was something other than an armed camp surrounded by enemies.  

Conservatives used to believe in reform not revolution – and in fact it was the liberals who were the bomb throwers, the revolutionaries, the reactionaries, the ones who raged against The Machine and raised their fists in protest of The Man, the starry-eye pot-smoking dreamers who were always lost in some unwashed fantasy.

Now?

Intellectual humility? Humility isn’t a trait I’d associate with modern conservatism, intellectual or otherwise.

Maybe especially the intellectual part.

A respect for hierarchy? Precedence? Balance? Order? Have you met the Tea Party? The ones waving their assault rifles overhead and praying to their small angry god for bloody revolution? The ones who see shutting down the government as some kind of victory for freedom and liberty? Who would gleefully burn the institution of government to the ground and sullenly squat in the ruins clutching their bibles and guns? Prudent, measured, responsible, those are the very last things I’d call the raging bloody caterwauling coming from what passes for conservatives today.

This is a party whose best candidate for President is a bombastic self-aggrandizing Reality-TV host whose primary claim to fame is a bunch of shady New York real estate deals and who thinks running the country is like managing an Atlantic City casino.

Think about that.

Really think about it.

In what world is Donald Trump even a contender for President of the United States let alone conservatives’ most popular choice?

In a world where being a conservative means absolute contempt for the very institution of government, a sneering dismissal of intellect and science and education, an unabashed hot-eyed hatred of more than half the American population, a near religious worship of guns and violence and war as not only a solution but the only solution to every problem, a philosophy of hopeless despair and cynical pessimism and an endless pervasive obsession with the supposed End of Days, well, in that terrible world, it turns out Donald Trump might very well be the best choice.

Brooks, who I’ll remind you is a conservative, goes on to paraphrase Max Weber’s Politics as a Vocation.  In Politics, Weber lays out the essential qualities of a successful politician, those being passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion.  Thus, Brooks expands, a politician needs passion to inspire action, but that heat must be tempered by cool responsibility and a measured sense of proportion which are necessary to make careful and reasoned decisions in a complex and dynamic world.

If a politician lacks the quality of detachment — the ability to let the difficult facts of reality work their way into the mind — then, Weber argues, the politician ends up striving for the “boastful but entirely empty gesture.” His work “leads nowhere and is senseless.”

Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus.

If I were to sum up the last six years of the conservative caucus, “a boastful but entirely empty gesture” might be the exact words I’d use.

Birthers and truthers, endless futile attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act knowing the attempts were futile, unending obstruction, threats of legal action against the president, death panels, government shutdowns, Jade Helm, sequestration, green eggs and ham, dire prognostications of God’s wrath for one damned silly thing or another, and an endless parade of imagined Nazis – this bizarre fantasy world is what the Grand Old Party of Lincoln has become.  

It has become so bad, so utterly ridiculous, John Boehner – the very embodiment of boastful empty gestures learned at the knee of Newt Gingrich himself – that John Boehner gave up his job as Speaker of the House and announced his resignation from politics altogether and republicans can’t find a replacement.  That’s right, the GOP has become so insane, so utterly rabid, so completely prone to eating not only its own young but its wizened elders as well, so entrenched in this bizarre fantasy they live in, that nobody wants the job other than fringe extremists who are so extreme even their fellow extremists won’t allow them near the gavel.

And now?

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) announced today he intends to start impeachment proceedings against President Hillary Clinton.

 

I’ll just pause for a moment so you can fully appreciate that bit of fantasy.

 

Yes, that’s correct, Brooks (Mo, not David), wants to start impeachment proceedings against Hillary Clinton.

Just incase she’s elected president next year.

Disheartened by the fact that his party's partisan witch-hunt, er, I mean the Totally Non-Biased House Permanent Select Committee On How Hillary Clinton Personally Murdered Four American Heroes In Benghazi And Drank Their Blood While Smacking Her Lips And Laughing Maniacally MuWAHaHAHahaHA has failed to produce any actionable evidence of wrongdoing, and looking at the staggeringly shitty selection of candidates currently offered up by his own party, Mo Brooks concludes Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.

And he may be right.

Especially since as previously noted, it appears out of 300 million Americans, Donald Trump and the associated assortment of religious nutters, science deniers, homophobes, misogynists, birthers, truthers, and Ayn Rand groupies is the very best conservatives can do.

These braying jackasses are literally the best conservatives can do.

And they suck so bad at being conservatives Hillary Clinton is, in point of fact, a better conservative in the traditional sense as defined by David Brooks up above than anything the GOP can manage at this point.

Worse, this is the third time in a row for Republicans.

They don’t like any of their options in 2016, they hated Romney, and they couldn’t stand McCain.

Given that, it’s a good bet Clinton has a better shot at the White House than any Republican.

So, reasons Mo Brooks, conservatives better get proactively started on impeachment proceedings now.

Specifically Brooks thinks Clinton should be impeached for

[H]ow many lives she put at risk by violating all rules of law that are designed to protect America's top-secret and classified information from falling into the hands of our geopolitical foes who then might use that information to result in the deaths of Americans [...] And in my judgement, with respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November, because the day she's sworn in is the day that she's subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Geopolitical foes?

Who the hell talks like that? Outside of some badly written fantasy game, I mean? Could have. Might use. Note the affirmative declaration of that last sentence, she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. She has. Not alleged. She has.

At this point, I am forced to wonder if they’ll dredge up Colin Powell to tell us about how the NSA found yellow cake uranium and mobile germ labs hidden in the Clintons’ basement.

She has.

Committed high crimes and misdemeanors. She has.

This despite the fact Clinton hasn’t even been charged with anything, let alone convicted. And just never mind multiple Republicans freely and openly admit the various Benghazi committees exist at this point specifically to attack Clinton’s presidential aspirations and not to find any alleged “truth” regarding what happened in Benghazi. Mo Brooks doesn’t even bother with the illusion of rule of law or the constitutional right of innocence until enough congressional fishing expeditions finally manage to dig up an unsanctioned blowjob.

They couldn’t impeach Barack Obama, no matter how hard and how often they tried, and it infuriates them, it gnaws at their guts and at their manhood. 

Now they’ve begun to fantasize about impeaching Hillary Clinton on her first day in office – despite the fact that not only hasn’t she won the office yet, there’s good reason to wonder if she’ll beat Bernie Sanders (or Joe Biden) to the Democratic nomination.

It’s pretty obvious these people exist in the same league as Jeb Bush’s imagined football glories.

Then again, I suppose it follows.

After all, these are the very same people who came up with the idea of preemptive war based on a manufactured fantasy and a boogeyman who existed only in their fevered minds.  

Given that, I suppose preemptive impeachment against some fantasy president isn’t all that far fetched.

 

These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.
   -
David Brooks

 

 


Footnote: I highly recommend you read David Brooks entire article. It can be found here.

85 comments:

  1. I can see it now. 2016 will be spent impeaching someone who isn't even President. Now that's proactive for you.

    Dr. Phil

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    1. The sad part is, as with the old Whitewater investigation by Ken Starr way back during Clinton's administration to the present, they have no proof of anything, just allegations and innuendo. There should be at least something tangible, physical evidence, actual man on the scene witnesses, video of said wrongdoings, but they have nothing. To bring up impeachment preemptively shows how insane and unreasonable the opposition has become. It's like peasants already queuing up for pitchforks and torches before Dr. Frankenstein looted a grave.

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  2. I truly enjoyed reading this, Jim. It drives home just how far off the rails "conservstism" has gone, and how mind-blowingly INSANE it is today. From a bunch of rather dull, but efficient, technocrats of the early 70's to the rabid conspiracy theorists and dont-tread-on-me rattlers of today...what the hell happened? I truly believe this is a case of mass hysteria, a kind of mental illness on a grand scale. Why? Is it future-shock? Paxil and birth control in the water supply? Somebody figure out how to fix it, please!

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    1. It's Fox News. A group dedicated ONLY to building and keeping their profit base. They do this by building up these fantasies and telling their followers that anyone who disagrees is an enemy or alien. Like any good cult does.

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  3. Well Jim, I generally am reluctant to share your essays on my social media venues, since they are much too rational and evidence based for all of my conservative family and friends. They are simply unable to process them. But this one... this one, in particular, is simply too rich and too perfect to hold back. I expect that it will generate either fountains of indignant rage or, more likely, crickets. In this case, for them, there is absolutely no escaping the iron-clad indictment of the evolution of their Party.

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  4. Damned good article, damned good points. (Definitely worth a donation.) Thank you!

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  5. "It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around." - And the first one was Ronnie Reagan making a deal to bring social "conservatives" (i.e. evangelical conservatives) into the fold to win in 1980.

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  6. It was JFK who wanted to go to the moon. I liked JFK.

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  7. It's a great article, and, thus, I cried.

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    1. This. What a mess we are in!

      That Other Jean

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  8. Excellent. But the people who need to read it wont, and if they did, wouldn't believe a bit of it. The David Brooks article is great, too. The comments on the NYT article - some are so insightful. Some are so...out there.

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  9. David Brooks administered a good many of the 1000 betrayals himself.

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    1. Indeed he did. Which makes his article all the more amazing. Good God! Igor, bar the gate, the monster has returned!

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    2. Exactly. I had to do a double-take to see whose column I was reading. I generally disagree with the man who seems to painfully tow the party line. This one, not so much.

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  10. Say it loud! When can we get you your own TV station?

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    1. I'm a writer, not a TV personality. I still own my soul.

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  11. Jim, TL;DR -- mostly because you are so spot on I kept hearing echoes in my head of my own beliefs and experiences. What do we have to do to reintroduce these concepts into the body politic?

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    1. At my age, my parents were Eisenhower Republicans and my mother worked for CREEP, much to my chagrin. But even so, at that time, there was some degree of integrity among the body politic.

      My father was proud of working with Edward R. Murrow; I was teased by my college dorm-mates for playing the "Huntley-Brinkley" overture; I remember JFK's funeral and Walter Cronkite and the moon landing. There were much better days, WRT news reporting, then.

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    2. The concepts are already there...in the Democratic Party. Come on over!

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  12. "Idiocracy." It's happening now. And it's terrifying.

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    1. The only movie created as a comedy and is becoming a reality based horror film.

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  13. Another grand slam, Chief. Donation inbound.

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  14. This.

    And, every time I see "Mo Brooks" I want to make it "Mel Brooks." Probably because I desperately wish it were over-the-top social satire, not some anti-democracy, un-American bozo (apologies, etc) whose party has done so much to destroy our country while loudly proclaiming their love for it.

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  15. I love this essay so much I wanna roll around in it. Thanks Jim.
    For years I've been hitting my head against the wall trying to get my GOP corporate attorney husband to see the light. To finally put down the Wall Street Journal and actually look at what's going on.
    One thing about the Republican Party is they are masters of spin. They have Fox News & Rush & according to their faithful followers, they have God too. Kinda hard to argue that when the blinders are on.
    The incredible ignorance of the Internet commenters is scary. One day I got lost down a rabbit hole reading comments about Jade Helm. That might have been the scariest thing ever to think that there are very large groups of people who were waiting for Obama to take their guns away.
    Donald Trump or that zombie Carson could very well be the GOP candidate. I guess they get what they deserve but holy shit for the rest of us.

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  16. On my own blog, I can only aspire to, but will never achieve, such great writing.

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    1. It just takes practice, Sid. Keep at it.

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  17. The excitement of the GOP candidate circus has begun to ebb now that the Media has its focus on the Dems and their dog and pony show. Their debate was a bit closer to debate format and no candidate was outrageous, uncivil, or outright loony and yet surprisingly engaging for me. It seems the ungovernable freedom caucus is getting more reckless in the fantasy that they can have it all. The Benghazi Hearing sham is coming apart at the seams, so old Mo is whipping on another fantasy beast. TN legislature I hear is calling for a constitutional convention to rewrite three parts of the Constitution in an effort to recreate conservatopia. These fantasies and yet there is a country to run. People keep saying this and unless the non-voters get involved, even President Hillary will have nothing to work with.

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  18. Thought I'd leave this, kind of off topic but it all goes back to what the people hear & see everyday on Fox. It's why they think the Dems are so ridiculous for things like food stamps.
    http://www.scarymommy.com/bill-oreilly-the-myth-that-there-are-kids-who-dont-have-anything-to-eat-is-a-total-lie/?utm_source=goodmenproject.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange

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  19. I spent the last week in Tulsa with my best friend while we visited her mother and other family members. Her sister and brother-in-law are raging poop flingin' tea partiers who're convinced that Hillary is a felon. When I asked them what crime she committed, all they could drag out was the damned email and the fact she stayed married to Bill after Hillary. I pointed out that she broke no law and named half a dozen high ranking Republicans who had also used private email servers to conduct sensitive government business. "Well, that's different!", they said. All I could do is sigh and spun the conversation to food and decorating for Halloween. It worked.

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  20. I just shared the news about Rep. Brooks. I have to say, you've been giving me some good talking points on a number of fronts these past few weeks (since I started following you on FB)

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  21. Accute observation as ever. It strikes me, not for the first time, that the major political shift in my lifetime is that in my youth the left was ideological whike the right was pragmatic. Now the tables are completely turned. I am a year or two older than you and British. For me the turning point came with the Reagan/Thatcher years. Ronnie and Maggie were nowhere near the same league as the current crop but it seems to me that was when the tide began to run the other way. The question now is when will we reach high tide and see the waters of madness start to recede?

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  22. Republicans in America stand for nothing but small mindedness. And (most) Alaskan repubs seem to be the smallest minded of them all. It's fine to disagree with opponents, but you have to have an alternate vision, and the GOP definitely doesn't have that.

    For instance, I checked out the AK Repub FB page the other day. They were hating on Gov Walker because he met with Sally Jewell, Dept of Interior Secretary. I guess that was a crime in their book. I perused the page and it was nothing but lambasting Walker. Not a single constructive post of any kind. Just a microcosm of the whole country.

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  23. My parents were old school Republican. My eldest sibling had an epiphany about 15 years back, and understood out parents' Republican party no longer existed. My next older sibling shifted towards the other way, and wonders when I changed. I've been a liberal (D) all my life - I haven't changed, the political climate shifted to the far right. Brooks indeed nails it with the "thousand small betrayals" line - and each one was a calculated choice.

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    1. What my (hippie) mom said years ago: "The whole country is shifting right."'

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  24. Sigh. As you say, it's a fantasy. There were plenty of liberals among the "scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors, and steely eyed veterans." On the other hand, that time had its own conservacrazies: Richard Nixon. William F. Buckley. The 1950s were a time of national panic, just as the 2000s were—Commies everywhere then, Muslims everywhere now. The conservacrazies just love them some terrifying eeeevil enemies: with them can scare people into doing the most damnfool things.

    None of which is intended to slight the conservatism you grew up with. But there have always been dark currents beneath the calm, slow-moving surface of conservatism. At times they rise to the surface, like the Lovecraftian monsters of a Charlie Stross "Laundry" novel, and this is one of those times.

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  25. Good essay. Those of us in the boomer generation seem to supply the revolutionaries, then hippies and now tea partiers. I missed the party both times--too conservative then and too liberal now. My drill sergeant was correct: I don't know my left from my right.

    John in the Boro

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  26. As someone mentioned above the Fox and Rush outrage machine keeps the party energized. And while so far the fanatics haven't had too much impact on the national level they have for 30 years taken control of lesser political groups from states right down to school boards. They have had considerable impact evidenced by changes is abortion access, science denial, teacher vilification, poor shaming and recently revisionist history books. The country is infested and I'm not sure there is a solution. The infestation has brought us the Freedom Caucus and gerrymandering will keep them there. Reason is lost.

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  27. Sorry - while I love your writing, I completely disagree with this essay. Conservatism has always been about getting and keeping power (and money) by those who deem themselves the only ones "worthy" to rule. Any program that benefits or aids anyone not one of the "worthy", including but not limited to social security, medicare and of course, any type of welfare (other than corporate, of course) is loathed by conservatives. Any non-insane person who votes Republican today is only doing it for the money, in the form of lower taxes for themselves, who are, of course, among the "worthy." The current crop of elected Republicans are just like the old time members of the John Birch Society...in reality, nothing much has changed in their point of view....what has changed are the Democrats who have moved right, the insane right wing media and the abysmal lack of any push back by the lamestream media (the one thing Palin was right about, tho, for the wrong reasons).

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    1. I too was a bit taken back by the caricature of liberals as Age of Aquarius hippies. My father and uncle both served in WWII. My father was a life-long liberal Democrat. My uncle was engaged to my aunt, who came from a wealthy family--wealthy until after the war when the government confiscated her father's assets because he gained a good bit of his wealth from selling goods on the black market during wartime. Ever after, my uncle was a staunch Republican who railed against the government. (My aunt was a lovely woman whom I adored.) My father: "You illegally sell things on the black market, you pay the consequences."

      I was reading recently about the Lochner era of the Supreme Court and, before that, the Jim Crow era. What particularly comes to mind were the Southern textile mills fighting tooth and nail against child labor laws. You can continue back in history both in the U.S. and elsewhere. Conservatives may at times seem to be the practical sensible ones, but they're more often on the wrong side of humanity. I'd rather not be on their side, practicality be damned.

      Still, like everyone else, I love your essays! :)

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    2. Conservatives may at times seem to be the practical sensible ones, but they're more often on the wrong side of humanity. I'd rather not be on their side, practicality be damned. Never have truer words been spoken, thank you for this!

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  28. I'm waiting for someone in media to connect a few dots after yesterday's news of the CIA being hacked (true it was individual accounts but sensitive material DID get hacked). Perhaps government servers are more of a target and the law that is NOW in place for Secretary of State NOT to use outside server should be revisited. While some "sensitive" material was on her private server the only time it was leaked is when the idiot in charge of Benghazi leaked it to the media himself. I know that no matter what the GOP would find something to hang her on (killing Vince Foster, not cutting Bill to ribbons for doing what most of the GOP is doing to someone else, etc.) but the e-mail thing amazes me. It was not against the law, the server she used set up for the former POTUS with an international foundation had to be as secure or more so than a government server with thousands of workers using that system world wide. The media continues to pretend the GOP have valid points just as they have done with government shutdowns, sequestration, etc. I believe sane conservatives have gone the way of the dinosaur but my hope actual journalists will once again do their job is my last remaining hope. Sadly the only real reporter I can think of is Dan Rather and that's only because he was destroyed by the Bush family who all hated him. It is interesting that only NOW is a fact stressed that I remember from the original days...when asked about the report type face the commanding officer (and person who transcribed it) said they didn't know about the type face but the CONTENT was correct. I kept telling people that and it was like shouting into the wind. Marlene

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  29. David "Bobo" Brooks is not the sharpest tack in the toolbox. His gushing fanboy fawning over George W. Bush's testicular fortitude during the GWB Presidency, his support of the war in Iraq long after it was clearly a disaster, his complete buying of President-in-actuality Dick Cheney's made-up justifications for the war in Iraq, all are marks of a sub-par intellect given more to fanboy boosterism than to sober rational thinking. When even a dim son like Bobo Brooks notices that his party has degenerated into a circus freak show of radicals, extremists, and anti-intellectuals...

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  30. When David Brooks, a man who occasionally wanders from his gated community to another gated community to "get the pulse" of America, is a voice of reason, we have truly run very, very far down the rabbit hole.

    Obama Derangement Syndrome is quickly being overtaken by Hillary Batshit Insanity.

    Great piece!

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  31. I'll give it up for Brooks on one thing - unlike so many others he didn't wait until he was going out the door to have his little epiphany.

    Peace
    Chris in S. Jersey

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  32. When David Brooks, a man who occasionally wanders from his gated community to another gated community to "get the pulse" of America, is a voice of reason, we have truly run very, very far down the rabbit hole.

    Obama Derangement Syndrome is quickly being overtaken by Hillary Batshit Insanity.

    Great piece!

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  33. Another of Jim's awesome writings. I love it!
    How did it ever come to this? I seen social media as a wonderful thing. A way for people to hear more than just what a state owned or wealth owned media was using to control their minds. Now I am starting to wonder if it is not the problem. Maybe people are just not smart enough or do not have the time to think for their selves. Maybe their thinking needs to be controlled. With all of the different inputs, and needing to be told what to think, they are lost. What is the cause of what Jim Wright is pointing out here? It is as if people do not know how to think for themselves or maybe should not. Maybe it is the reason some are picking up guns and shooting others. I hope that is not the case, but it is something to think about. Is it that people do not have time to do their own thinking or figure out what they are being lied to about? I sure hope that is not what is happening. I always like to get to the why of things. Of course, some times I am completely off base. I hope that is the case here.

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    1. The conservacrazy really got started in the 1990s, before social media was a major factor. I think it's more that the regulation of the broadcast media was relaxed, and that process began under Reagan by Reagan FCC appointees in, IIRC, the late 1980s.

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  34. Jeezuz. If the GOP mouth breathers have lost David Brooks.......they've lost a guy who is consistently wrong and detached from normal reality. Kind like themselves.

    During the last Dem Convention, I remember Brooks' snarky "conservative" arrogance concerning each speaker and how their "liberal" message dragged Obama's chances down. Until the Big Dog spoke. After Bill Clinton took to the podium and did his thing Brooks was almost sobbing because he KNEW then than Romney had no chance after that.

    Now Brooks is throwing in the towel over a year early, before any candidates are selected. Not just that, but he is giving up on the GOP and the "conservative" brand completely as a legitimate participant in government.

    Brooks has been so wrong, so often, on so many topics that I actually hope he is still incorrect re his view of the damage that has been done to the GOP, and that yet to occur. Because these crazy eyed, inbred, Koch sucking, Christo Taliban, Freedumb loving morans will not be content to just shit all over Democracy and crash the economy. They actually WANT to burn the whole house down to prove that a black or female POTUS, marriage equality, abortion, health care, retirement security, etc are all "existential" threats to national security, the 2d amendment and Baby Jeezus.

    This is not Fantasy to these freaks, this is real. And we are all gonna get singed when they self-imolate.

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    1. As if we needed any further proof that RWNJ fundies are mutually deluded children, here's a pretty good piece on their "belief" in the threats to their version of "America" and how they wud rather destroy the USA than let us proceed into the future.

      http://www.salon.com/2015/10/24/benghazi_joe_mccarthy_and_the_witch_trials_trey_gowdys_farcical_hearings_tap_into_a_deep_dark_american_current/

      Semper Fi - to MY America.

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  35. So they want to preemptively impeach "President Hillary>" How 'bout we post-emptively impeach W ?
    Republicans have, at least since Nixon, been better at running for office than they have been at governing. Picture the dog that finally catches the car.
    Hopefully, we will have learned a lesson and will emulate the Canadian example, eh ?

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  36. Great stuff, as usual, Jim.

    The bizarre ex post facto twist to this whole Mo Brook's "idea" boggles the mind. Since Ms Clinton was Secretary of State when the alleged "crime" was committed, the punishment would be to remove her from that office. Done. And not allow her to hold future high office. But since she would have been elected before impeachment, how would they twist this to apply after the fact?

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  37. Piffle on David Brooks.

    For years liberals have been eating poop from conservatives as the Reactionaries took over local, then State and then Federal Control of the Republican Party. The Contract ON America is over 20 years ago. Wall Mondale is a Squish! The Willie Horton Ad? The Welfare Queens and Steak eating Young Bucks? This stuff din't happen overnight. All the Conservatives from the most compassionate to the most contentious stood by, frowned a bit, and said 'Well, we have to win we can't let the Democrats win these offices'.

    The Tea Party, Gun Humpin', Confederate Flag waving, bunch of yahoos is the creation of David Brooks and all those like him who especially after 9/11 used the fear, unrest and confusion to solidify their hold and advance the Agenda of the Republican Party, the creation of a Wage Slave State, the end of regulations on Big Business and the destruction of the American Dream.

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  38. Mr. Wright,
    I always look forward to your essays. May I say that this one is your best.
    SDCulp USMC

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  39. Excellent piece. Thanks for the link to the Times editorial I hadn't seen before which was equally good. Like most Canadians I watch the right wing of the Republican party with some bemusement. We thought it was mildly crazy running (and electing!) the son of a former Prime Minister who doesn't have the world's most impressive resume to be Canada's Prime Minister. That said, Justin Trudeau looks like a seasoned diplomat compared to most of the Republican primary field. Well, at least Justin can give the eventual winner in the US snowboarding lessons (boxing too!). I think knowing how to fall gracefully might come in handy to most of the current contenders for GOP leadership.

    E Coffin

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  40. I'll read the David Brooks piece, and only because of your recommendation. In an English course a couple of years ago, we practiced picking apart various passages for gaps in logic and reality. David Brooks accounted for half of them, and boy, I feasted upon his words.
    When it comes to conservatism, I agree that the leaders of the political conservatives have betrayed themselves a thousand times. It has been so gradual that you can't even point to a single point in time that the right wing started dominating conservatism. But it has been going on for a long time. I'm still a Republican, but the last R nominee I voted for was George H Bush in 1988. The last R Senator was Arlen Spector in 2004. I simply stopped trusting Republican leaders to govern responsibly. You could see the naked ambition 25 years ago.
    The way this conservative views government, it should provide for the common defense (obvious), promote the general welfare (infrastructure and safety nets for the disadvantaged), and (before you think I'm going to sing the Preamble song) serve as a referee between competing interests by establishing regulations covering trade, finance, pollution, etc. I'm off to read David Brooks article, and I'm really curious if I will see it the same way you did.

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  41. Excellent article. Thank you.
    From an Australian point of view the presidential candidates on the Republican side are quite bizarre but they reflect the insanity of the GOP as a whole.
    I read Brooks article when it was first published (yes, we have pretty good MSM here!) and I was surprised at the tone of the article given that he is a died in the wool GOP supporter. Maybe, just maybe some are coming to grips with reality.

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  42. OK, I had a chance to read the column. Two primary thoughts: 1. Where was Brooks when all these betrayals were taking place? It 'snot like they took place behind closed doors. He was probably enjoying the increasing dominance of government by the GOP, while holding his nose at the garbage that was clinging to the ship. 2. Brooks overlooks the total dismissal of reality by the party's leadership. The total disregard of many things including the debt ceiling, the environment, energy, the world outside the bubble... Instead he chalks it up to hyperbole.
    Conspicuously missing is any hint of a clue about how conservatives can get their party back. The Republicans need real leadership to resist the urge to scapegoat, the easy dismissal of reality, and the disregard of everybody else.

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  43. I don't mean to be trying to monopolize your comment board, but if I had thought more deliberately, I may have combined this with a previous comment. I don't know in what world it's a good idea to conduct government business, even affairs of state with your own communications network (server). Hillary Clinton deserves to have her balls busted over this. Just because it was legal, or just because "everybody else did it", seems pointless at best, and childish at worst. How did she secure her communications? McAfee, Norton? An ADT sticker on the door of her house?
    Let me be clear, I don't advocate impeachment over this, but like I said, it is a major foul up and is fair game when attacking her competence. It was a totally unforced error on her part.
    The worst thing is, I can't see what good using her personal server did for her. The only implications are bad ones.

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    1. The point is actually moot since the government servers were and are being hacked pretty much 24/7 anyway. How the US government thought they could do business out on the internet and remain secure is really the bigger scandal. Yeah, the truth is her private account probably was more secure. Nobody hacked my gmail account to get my PII (private info in government acronym language) They hacked the OPM servers. The last hack scooped up all kinds of info about people's security clearances. Let that roll around in your head a minute. Security clearances, something almost every government employee has to have now just to set foot on a government installation. Millions of them were hacked, military, civilians, warehouse workers, office workers, DoD, IRS, Homeland Security, FEMA, NSA, CIA anyone who draws a paycheck from the federal government potentially has had their information revealed. Can they go through it now and target certain individuals for exploitation? You bet ya! Is any of this shit safe from prying eyes, hell no. The government cannot prosecute Hillary Clinton or anyone else who works for government as being "incautious" when the entire system is failed anyway.

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  44. Given that the government server was hacked I think Clinton was smart!!

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    1. That is absolutely childish. You wouldn't have given a Republican the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I remember how indignant many Democrats were when they found members of W's administration using personal email to do their official business and evade archiving rules. Now, suddenly, it's ok now that Clinton did the same thing? Well, I have bad news for you. It wasn't ok for them, and it isn't ok for her.
      BTW, how do you know she wasn't hacked? Do you expect an honest answer from Clinton if you asked her? Amateurs boast about their conquests, but if a rival country hacked her server, they're not going to brag about it.

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    2. So let me get this straight. We have a Republican Party that has gone over to batshit crazy anti-intellectual extremists and the most important issue facing our country is... whether Hillary Clinton's use of the Clinton Foundation email server due to the inability of the antiquated State Department email server to provide email to her smartphone, something completely legal at the time, was *wise* or not? For realz? Are you fucking kidding me? Jesus fucking Christ on a goddamn stick, that's the batshit craziest thing I've heard since good ole' Condi Rice intimated Saddam was gonna nuke New York City with his imaginary nooklear bomb!

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  45. My understanding Steve is that others have used private servers...Colin Powell I think and I also think Jeb Bush. I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong and since I'm not an American, I could be wrong. However, having said that, it does appear that the sole reason for this ongoing saga is to undermine Clinton's election chances. That it is purely a political ploy has been admitted.

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  46. Always, just give anything enough rope... and the leopard will show it's spots. None of it surprises me. Fox News, Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, NRA, Shoot em in the face Cheney, War monger McCain, Apocolypse Cruz, Baby brother Bush... just to name a few of the spots leading the mindless masses.

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  47. Why is it that they never impeached President Obama?

    They've not demonstrated much respect for evidence in the Bengazi thing, so why not impeach the President for breathing.

    I'm reminded of Shakespeare, when I read about the Republicans and their stories; Tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.

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    1. " . . . full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".

      God, I hope you're right. What terrifies me is that these people may signify a rapid and complete disintegration of our country.

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  48. As always, spot on Jim.

    Two things:

    1) John Rogers had some similar thoughts 11 years ago: http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2004/12/i-miss-republicans.html It seems that the situation isn't getting better.

    2) Even though Bobo seems to have had a small epiphany, he's hasn't done much with it since the column was published. He's back to the dedicated "both-sides-are-to-blame" crap that he's been spouting for years. I'm frankly surprised that his editors didn't spike the column given how out of character it was for him to even accidentally touch on the real world.

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  49. I think this way. You have the ability to put it into words and have it impinge.

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  50. I'm not big on labels but consider myself to be conservative - in my personal appearance, my finances and in judiciously attempting to educate myself on each side of an issue before forming an opinion. I'm also a registered, life-long Democrat who has never missed voting in a national election including mid-terms starting with voting for Jimmy Carter in 1976. You see, I had just turned 21 and my (then) boyfriend's father was trying to get me to register (and presumable vote) Republican because, as he put it "the Democrats are the n****r party". My own father, God rest his soul, would have never said such a thing and language like that was not something I'd ever heard at home. And THAT, folks, is what makes up the base of the Republican party. In their little bubble world they learn that Lincoln was a Republican and he freed the slaves, so that means it's really the Democrats who are the racists, and some black people held slaves too and the Civil War wasn't really about slavery anyway, the confederate flag just stands for southern pride and on an on and on ..... In 2015, not unlike in 1860, we are a divided people, polarized by two markedly differing views of reality and understanding of history. I was so pleasantly surprised, shocked really when, after the racially motivated murders in a Charleston, SC church, Republican state senator Paul Thurmond (son of notorious Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond) called on his fellow South Carolinians to "acknowledge our past, atone for our sins and work for a better future". His words, while welcome, were also terribly out of character for those in his political party. Since the subject here is guns, I don't believe that particular shooter was mentally ill, nor was the guy who shot up a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI in 2012 or the guy who shot up a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN in 2008 (because they're, you know, liberals) or the guy who shot up a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS in 2014 and managed to kill three people, none of whom were Jewish by the way. No, these fellows weren't insane - they were, though, all white supremacists. I do wonder which political party they felt most reflected their world view, what TV station they got their news from and who they listened to on the radio. I do just wonder.

    JZ in FL

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  51. A couple comments. The Bengazai hearings aren't really about implicating Hillary Clinton. Clearly she was derelict in ignoring the requests of the ambassador for better security. Yes, the administration covered up the source of the attack. Republicans are angry at Americans for not disqualifying her for president over it and the press for not investigating it. Polls show Americans already know she isn't genuine, is a thoroughly political creature, yet she is still her party's preferred choice. It isn't Congress' job to override people's political preferences.

    The Freedom Causes' main point of contention is apparently perceived despotism in the ranks of congressional leadership. Boehner's grip over the process of introducing bills and amendments led to this revolt. Their demands of Paul Ryan appear to revolve around a more open process. The leadership prefers more control in order to set an agenda.

    Compromise is good within certain strictures. If I want to rob 10 people and you believe robbing people is wrong, should we compromise at 5 people?

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    1. Sure, clearly she was derelict when Congress had cut the State Department security budget...never mind the diplomats that were killed during the previous administration.

      The Freedom Caucus could give a shit less about the perceived despotism, they will be worse...they are grasping for power. As far as introducing bills goes, they only objected when Speaker Boehner did not introduce their own legislation, like defunding Planned Parenthood over fake videos focused on reimbursement for transportation of tissue that was only done by less than 1% of their total clinics nationwide, turning it into a horror story to push their anti-abortion agenda. Any other bills that did not get introduced did not matter to them at all.

      Compromise is not a deviant practice, it is a crucial component of negotiations. There are still rules, laws and procedures that must be adhered to, no matter what 34 men out of 435 voting Representatives seem to think. That is where my mind can't seem to understand the insanity - that is less than 10% of the House, that they are being given the power to be as disruptive as they have been is crap.

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    2. Prett asinine analysis. Ignored requests for additional security? Seems this had been pretty well debunked by recognizing the myriad channels necessary for such to occur. Especially in an outpost like Benghazi, well apart from the usual diplomatic postings. The administration covered up the source of the attack? Really? So the confusion that was exploded]]ing in that part of the world was completely clear to you within minutes the attack? Did you express similar angst in 2001 when the Bush administration went to great lengths to connect the WTC attacks to Hussein and Iraq? And your compromise comment. Can you ell me where it's legal to "rob ten people" and others would comprise and allow only eleven? Your critical thinking skills need some work.

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    3. It was the GOP which cut spending on security at embassies such as the one in Benghazi.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/jason-chaffetz-embassy_n_1954912.html

      There have been at least 8 investigations into Benghazi so I don't understand what you mean by "Republicans are angry at Americans for not disqualifying her for president over it and the press for not investigating it."

      Republicans are angry that they cannot crucify President Obama or Secretary Clinton for the unfortunate deaths of four Americans at the hands of terrorists. They're furious that Benghazi cannot be exploited to keep Secretary Clinton from running for President and most likely winning. They're especially furious that Gowdy and company were shown up when they grilled Secretary Clinton for 11 hours and got nothing but mockery for their efforts.

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  52. Loved your article and I miss those guys too. The government had two parties that cared so things got done.

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  53. Such a well written post which really captures our current day conservative party. Sadly, this country needs an honest, strong opposition party, but alas we are stuck with the Republicans. A party whose Presidential candidates are now whining about how they were verbally manhandled by CNBC moderators at a debate. A party whose Presidential candidates are sending lists of demands to television stations before they agree to attend debates. A party whose Presidential candidates have suggested that debate moderators should prove that they've voted in a Republican primary. A party whose Presidential candidates believe that "journalists" like Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh and Levine should be moderators at Republican debates.

    This is the same party which grilled Secretary Clinton for 11 hours over the Benghazi "scandal" but complains that Presidential debates are too long.

    I look forward to a President Hillary Clinton (or even a President Bernie Sanders) since none of the current Republican candidates (especially those leading the polls right now, i.e., Carson and Trump) are fit to be in the White House and hold the most powerful political position in the world. The Republican party has a lot of growing up to do before they should be back in the White House.

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  54. Jim, this came across my FB feed, thought you might enjoy the crazy. Sorry for dropping it here. Part 1
    What is said below is exactly what is now happening.

    They will kill him before they let him be president. It could be a Republican or Democrat that instigates the shutting up of Trump. Don't be surprised if Trump has an accident. Some people are getting very nervous: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few. It's about the unholy dynamics between big government, big business, and big media. They all benefit by the billions of dollars from this partnership, and it’s in all of their interests to protect one another. It’s one for all and all for one.

    It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich — everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies. But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media, and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened like never before.

    Donald Trump can self-fund. No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business, and political elite understand that Trump is no joke. He could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart. It’s no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy The Donald. It’s because most of the other politicians are part of the “old boys club.” They talk big, but they won’t change a thing. They are all beholden to big-money donors. They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, and multinational corporations . . . like Big Pharma or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock, stock and barrel by foreigners, like George Soros owns Obama or foreign governments that own Hillary with their Clinton Foundation donations.

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  55. Part 2
    These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But there’s one man who isn’t beholden to anyone. There’s one man who doesn’t need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Auto Workers, or the teachers’ union, or the Service Employees International Union, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign. Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat to those people. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slave masters.

    Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama? Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet has never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal executive action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right? First, I’d guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs, or secretly gay, or stealing taxpayer money, the National Security Agency knows everything.

    Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money from his own bank account. The NSA, the SEC, the IRS, and all the other three-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They surveil everything. Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called “racists” . . . so they are scared to ever criticize Obama or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment. Fourth , why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a “good boy,” you’ve got a $5 million-per-year lobbying job waiting. The big-money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose, they win.

    But Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice, cozy relationship between big government, big media, and big business. All the rules are out the window if Trump wins the Presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides — but not Trump. Remember: Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama’s birth certificate. He questioned Obama’s college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university. Now, he’s doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do. He’s questioning our relationship with Mexico; he’s questioning why the border is wide open; he’s questioning why no wall has been built across the border; he’s questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests; he’s questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes, yet are not deported; and he’s questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

    Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick. Good question! I’m certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michelle Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare website. By the way, that tab is now up to $5 billion. Trump will ask if Obamacare’s architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. Trump will investigate Obama’s widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama’s college records. Trump will prosecute Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover up Benghazi before the election. How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election?


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  56. Part 3
    Obama, the multinational corporations, and the media need to stop Trump. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked, telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Trump could wake a sleeping giant. Trump’s election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Trump would dare to prosecute. He will not hesitate. Once Trump gets in and gets a look at “the cooked books” and Obama’s records, the game is over. The gig is up. The goose is cooked. Holder could wind up in prison. Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money. Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails, or for accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State, or for “misplacing” $6 billion as the head of the State Department, or for lying about Benghazi. The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison.

    Obamacare will be defunded and dismantled. And Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters. Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved. That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump. Yes, it’s become open season on Donald Trump. The left and the right are determined to attack his policies, harm his businesses, and, if possible, even keep him out of the coming debates. But they can’t silence him. And they sure can’t intimidate him. The more they try, the more the public will realize that he’s the one telling the truth.

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  57. Interestingly, I have a similar reaction to Brooks' writing, albeit from a different (pretty much entirely) perspective. I've spent a sick-day reading over old Stonekettle posts and comments, and I find little that I disagree with, much I respect...but from such vastly different background/s and perspective/s. I'm starting to think there is a new party (and nothing so stupid as Tea) brewing. It has something to do with Gen-X, though. I dunno. But thanks for a good and oddly productive sick day!

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