THE RED FLAG ASKS: IS THERE A HIGHER LOYALTY IN AMERICAN POLITICS

I swear to Thee, Adolf Hitler,

As Fuhrer and Chancellor of the German Reich,

Loyalty and Bravery.

I vow to Thee and to the superiors

Whom Thou shalt appoint

Obedience unto Death,

So help me God.

SS OATH

A HIGHER LOYALTY PLEDGED BY JAMES COMEY

The FBI is able to do [its] work credibly because it is not--and is not seen as--a tool of the president.  Without that reputation and reality at both Justice and the FBI, a president is left with no way to resolve investigations of his administration, sort of appointment of some kind of special prosecutor.

        This discourse obviously did not appease him.  A short time later, with a serious look on his face, he said, "I need loyalty.  I expect loyalty."

        During the silence that followed, I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way.  The president of the United States just demanded the FBI director's loyalty.  This was surreal.  To those inclined to defend Trump, they might consider how it would have looked if President Obama had called the FBI director to a one-on-one dinner during an investigation of senior officials in his administration, then discussed his job security, and then said he expected loyalty.

James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

James Comey's A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership (2018) is a memoir.  It is a memoir because it offers the interiority of the author mixed with facts/conception of the outside world.  For example Comey's first meeting with President Trump at Trump Tower:

"We gather in a small conference room belonging to the Trump Organization.  ...  This was the first time I'd ever seen Donald Trump face-to-face He appeared shorter than he seemed on a debate stage with Hillary Clinton.  Otherwise, as I looked at the president-elect, I was struck that he looked exactly the same in person as on television, which surprised me because people most often look different in person.  His suit jacket was open and his tie too long, as usual.  His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coiffed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his .  I remember wondering how long it must take him in the morning to get that done.  As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size.  It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.

 

Trump brought his entire senior team into the small conference room.  Vice president-Elect Mike Pence.... As we shook hands, the vice president-elect held the handshake an extra few seconds and said my first name, drawing it out--"Jiiiimm."   It struck me as an odd combination of someone greeting an old friend and consoling that friend....

 

Donald J. Trump was inaugurated the forth-fifth president of the United States on January 20, 2017, before a crowd whose number immediately and famously came into dispute.... Much of life is ambiguous and subject to interpretation, but there are things that are objectively, verifiably either true or false.  It was simply not true that the biggest crowd in history attended the inauguration, as he asserted, or even that Trump's crowd was bigger than Obama's.  To say otherwise was not to offer an opinion, a view, and a perspective.  It was a lie.

 

Near the end of our dinner, [President Trump] asked another question--the first that was actually an effort to learn something about [me].  He wondered how I ended up as FBI director.  In answering, I told him I had been pleasantly surprised that President Obama thought of the job as I did: he wanted competence and independence, and didn't want the FBI involved in policy but wanted to sleep at night knowing the FBI was well run..... President Trump replied by saying he was happy I wanted to stay because he had heard such great things about me from so many people, including his picks for secretary of defense and attorney general.

        He then returned to the issue of loyalty saying again, "I need loyalty."

        I paused again.  "You will always get honesty from me," I said.

        He paused.  "That's what I want, honest loyalty," he said.  This appeared to satisfy him as some of sort of "deal" in which we were both winners.

        I paused.  "You will get that from me," I said, desperate to end our awkward standoff and telling myself that I had done enough to make clear where I stood.

        In that moment, something else occurred to me: The "leader of the free world," the self-described great business tycoon, didn't understand leadership.  Ethical leaders never ask for loyalty.  Those leading through fear--like a Cosa Nostra boss--require personal loyalty.  Ethical leaders care deeply about those they lead, and offer them honesty and decency, commitment and their own sacrifice.  They have a confidence that breeds humility.  Ethical leaders know their own talent but fear their own limitations--to understand and reason, to see the world as it is and not as they wish it to be they speak the truth and know that making wise decisions requires people to tell them the truth.  And to get that truth, they create an environment of high standards and deep consideration--"love" is not too strong a word--that builds lasting bonds and makes extraordinary achievement possible.  It would never occur to an ethical leader to ask for loyalty.

Three-fourths of Higher Loyalty is about the interiority of Comey and the last quarter is his reaction to a shameless narcissistic liar: Donald Trump.  The opprobrium that Comey expresses in Trump personality is expressed in his testimony before Congress:

TRUMP LOYALISTS PAST AND PRESENT

Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse

The most dangerous people in America.

(Steve Brodner)



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Scott Pruitt

Mr. Secrets and Lies

Who is he?
Allied with the Koch brothers and big oil, Pruitt organized opposition to environmental regulations as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Naturally, he was Trump’s choice to head the EPA, where he immediately announced that he did not believe carbon pollution was a major cause of climate change.

Why is he dangerous?
Pruitt is a man on a mission, and he has the political connections to advance it. Closely tied to the industries that have turned the Republican Party into a vehicle for climate-change denial, Pruitt’s appointment satisfies key GOP donors. He’ll have maximum support from the White House and Congress as he disembowels environmental protections.

What’s his weakness?
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had to pull out all the stops to get Pruitt confirmed, as the Center for Media and Democracy had just forced the release of documents that confirmed his alliances with climate-change denialists. He’s also plagued by lawsuits and investigations because, as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says, “This guy ran his own dark-money operation.”


(Steve Brodner)


Stephen

Miller

He Who Will Not Be Questioned

Who is he?
More Bannon than the just-fired Steve Bannon, Miller joined the far right in high school, agitating against diversity initiatives. A former aide to Jeff Sessions, Miller helped write Trump’s incendiary inaugural speech. He shocked the nation when he said on TV that “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

Why is he dangerous?
A rabid supporter of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim initiatives, including the travel ban, Miller was hailed by a prominent white supremacist as someone in the administration who has “a clearer understanding of race.” He knows how to stay in Trump’s good graces; after Miller scared America with his bizarre TV appearance, Trump tweeted: “Great job!”

What’s his weakness?
Miller pushes Trump to extremes and reinforces the president’s worst instincts. He is also dismissive and disrespectful toward mainstream conservatives. With Bannon’s ouster, Miller’s position has become more precarious.


(Steve Brodner)


Mick

Mulvaney

The Director of the Office of the Military-Industrial Complex

Who is he?
A scandal-plagued real-estate developer who joined the House Freedom Caucus as a member of Congress, Mulvaney is now director of Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, where he’s promoting a Pentagon-first approach. The Trump-Mulvaney plan would dramatically increase military spending and pay for it by gutting domestic programs.

Why is he dangerous?
Mulvaney had the difficult task of boiling down Trump’s frequently contradictory campaign promises into a budget plan. His solution has been to embrace a perverse combination of austerity for those in need, tax cuts for the rich, and budget-busting largesse for military contractors.

What’s his weakness?
Mulvaney’s crackpot theories—he claims the Congressional Budget Office is not up to analyzing proposals like the GOP assault on the Affordable Care Act—place him on the extreme end of conservative economic policy-making. He didn’t earn much respect on Capitol Hill, and the response to his budget plan suggests the regard for his abilities has only decreased.


(Steve Brodner)


Kris Kobach

The King of Voter Suppression

Who is he?
Co-conspirator with ALEC in creating the myth of voter fraud, Kobach pioneered the “illegal voting” meme that GOP state legislators have used to enact voter-ID laws and other barriers to democracy. Trump has now named Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, as the de facto head of his Orwellian Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Why is he dangerous?
Viciously anti-immigrant, Kobach has been highly effective at framing the arguments for voter-suppression schemes. Now, enabled by Trump’s delusions about why he lost the popular vote, Kobach is trying to extract voter information from the states in order to take his agenda national.

What’s his weakness?
Kobach always overreaches, stretching facts to the breaking point. Even Republican secretaries of state have resisted his demands for voter information. Meanwhile, the ACLU is pursuing legal action demanding that a federal judge unseal the documents that Kobach was photographed holding when he met with Trump, which may be an outline for rewriting the National Voter Registration Act.


(Steve Brodner)


Sebastian

Gorka

The Jihad Whisperer With the Anti-Semitism Badge

Who is he?
Gorka is Trump’s adviser on “radical Islam” and irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism, and the president really likes what he hears. When it was reported that Gorka had failed to reveal his links to Hungarian fascist groups on his citizenship papers, members of Congress started to call for investigations.

Why is he dangerous?
Trump likes Gorka because he tells Trump what he wants to hear about Muslims. But what Gorka actually knows on the subject has been called into question by experts. “He doesn’t understand a fraction of what he pretends to know about Islam,” says Mia Bloom, a former fellow at Penn State’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism, while Adrian Weale, a former British Intelligence Corps officer, says that Gorka “has never been an operational practitioner of counterterrorism.”

What’s his weakness?
Gorka is plagued by reports about his involvement with a Hungarian group that the State Department includes on its list of World War II–era Nazi-allied and Nazi-directed organizations. Congressman Jerrold Nadler has said “there should be zero tolerance for anyone working anywhere in the Administration who shares the offensive views propagated by [such] organizations.”


(Steve Brodner)


Betsy DeVos

The Investor Who Got a High Return

Who is she?
There is no better indicator of Trump’s disregard for policy expertise than his appointment of DeVos, an unrelenting advocate of school privatization, as his education secretary. A billionaire heiress and the sister of Blackwater mercenary Erik Prince, DeVos and her family have reportedly given more than $200 million to the Republican Party and conservative causes. At her confirmation hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders asked, “Do you think that…if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?” The best reply DeVos could muster was: “I do think there would be that possibility.”

Why is she dangerous?
DeVos is so unqualified and uninformed that only a tie-breaking vote by Mike Pence put her in charge of the Department of Education. She is using her perch to promote the diversion of taxpayer funds to discredited “school choice” schemes and to advance right-wing social engineering under the guise of education policy.

What’s her weakness?
The threat that the DeVos agenda poses to rural schools has already set off alarm bells among Republicans who represent small towns. If Democrats focus on building coalitions in favor of public education, and if the teachers’ unions stay on the case, her plans can be thwarted with smart budgeting and oversight.


Adapted from Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous ..., by John Nichols. Copyright © 2017. Available from Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group.  https://www.thenation.com/article/horsemen-of-the-trumpocalypse/

Views: 31

Comment by mary gravitt on July 9, 2018 at 12:34pm

Loyalty and Trump are a signal of the Fascism that has taken over the White House.  America is a tree rotting from the top down.  What are WE the People going to do about it?

Comment by koshersalaami on July 9, 2018 at 9:26pm

To begin with, we're going to vote out his Congressional base in November

Comment by mary gravitt on July 12, 2018 at 10:30am

I hope Trump and the gang get voted out.  Whatever happens, don't impeach Trump because Pence will move in his place with the same Trump--Koch brother picks in office.  Don't forget that the Voting Rolls were tampered with and the Russian trolls are still out there.  The Tea-Party Republican Congress would rather see democracy destroyed than be out of office.  Power has completely corrupted them.

Comment by koshersalaami on July 12, 2018 at 2:22pm

Agreed. McConnell’s move with refusing to vet Obama’s Supreme Court nomination pretty much proved that. 

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