Aug. 12 Open Thread: Russia Helped Unite the Right

Filed in National by on August 12, 2018

There’s little to learn from the weekend’s flood of Charlottesville anniversary stories, except for this one, which has gotten almost no coverage: Rep. Tom Garrett, the Republican who represents Charlottesville in Congress, told CNN the FBI told him the Russians helped promote last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally.

“I sat in a closed session briefing — probably two months ago — about Charlottesville, with the director of the FBI amongst others, and asked if Russian intermeddling had do with fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville,” he said. “I was told, ‘Yes, it did.’ I was asked if this was classified, they said, ‘No, it is not.’”

Pundits love to write columns speculating whether America’s institutions will prove capable of stopping Trump. Anne Applebaum, no liberal, points out that all kinds of institutions — banks, regulatory boards, prosecutors and courts —failed to deter his criminality during his business career of serial bankruptcies, so why wouldn’t he get the idea he’s invulnerable — and why do we think institutions will stop him now?

One of America’s institutions loves Trump — the poorly trained brownshirtsfolks at ICE. Long seen as the red-headed stepchild of law enforcement, the agency has embraced Trump’s agenda with a vengeance. Read Franklin Foer’s Atlantic story about ICE’s radicalization and see if you don’t think repeal and replace is the right solution.

I wouldn’t have seen this story if I hadn’t checked the weather radar maps yesterday. Flooding in central Pennsylvania has washed all sorts of debris down the Susquehanna River and into the Chesapeake Bay, which prompted a Maryland politician to complain about those filthy Pennsylvanians, which prompted Pennsylvania officials to chastise him for showing no sympathy for the people whose homes and belongings are now clogging up the bay. E pluribus unum, y’all.

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  1. puck says:

    I drive over the Conowingo Dam to work every day. The downstream riverbed is normally pretty barren, but when the floodgates were open it was fully engorged and looked like whitewater rapids all the way across the river.

    I don’t know the details of the floodgates, but those large logs in the photos would have had to pass through them. I’m skeptical.

    I haven’t been to any Chesapeake beaches recently, but the pictures look like a whole lot of driftwood and not so much trash, probably washed off the banks of the upper Chesapeake in Maryland. I have spent time on Chesapeake beaches in the past, and they are always littered with logs and driftwood pushed up on land by the tide.

  2. puck says:

    A story about a fatal truck accident on 495 today reports that the truck that overturned was carrying…molten sulfur. WTF? No spill, but I had no idea I was sharing the road with that kind of stuff.

    • meatball says:

      The process of mining sulfer produces it in a liquid state. A customer receiving molten form of sulphur does not have to expend the energy to remelt the sulphur before using it. Also, if spilled it crystalizes pretty quickly.

  3. Alby says:

    @puck: Was the brimstone en route to Washington by any chance?

  4. puck says:

    Well, it was northbound so I guess it was coming FROM Washington.

    @meatball – thanks for the explanation.

  5. Albert S. Jackson Jr. says:

    Nice story Alby.

  6. puck says:

    Matthew Albright wishes Delaware were more like Lousiana.

    Albright is complaining about closed primaries, saying he feels “disenfranchised.”

    Albright reveals he is registered as independent, presumably for career reasons (to protect journalistic bothsiderism).

    Here’s a news flash for the journalist: Primary elections are party business and have nothing to do with your franchise. You and everybody else is fully franchised in November.

  7. RE Vanella says:

    Works in theory not practice.

    If you’re left of the Delaware Democratic Party or if you’re more Libertarian that the Delaware Republican Party you have, in practice almost every time, only two viable candidates in the general election. You can choose a corporate conservative Democratic or a Republican ex-cop. A leftist or libertarian respectively have no real option.

    The solution is to bite the bullet and pick a side. Then do everything you can to drive the thing in the direction you want. That’s how one has agency.

    If you think you’re suppose to exercise the franchise exactly once every two years on the first Tuesday of November, and you have no other responsibility, you’re missing a trick and that’s on you.

    That’s why I’ve had enough of these “astute” political types who have very little clue what’s happening. They want to be spoon fed. If you want to get into the game, get in the game.

  8. Alby says:

    I’m with puck on this one. In point of fact, you either register with one party or the other or you get to exercise the franchise once every two years. The problem comes when people think they have to register with the party that best represents their beliefs. In a one-party state or city,

    “The solution is to bite the bullet and pick a side. Then do everything you can to drive the thing in the direction you want. That’s how one has agency.”

    Most people don’t want to devote that much time and energy to simply get decent government, nor should they have to.

  9. RE Vanella says:

    Why shouldn’t they have to?

    Democracy can be a people’s government if the people decide. This idea that it’s just suppose to happen and one needn’t pay much attention or do anything is the problem. The entire premise is flipped the wrong way round.

    Unless people demand it we won’t get it. Whatever gave people the idea that it just organically happens was a huge mistake.

    I’m not saying most people don’t believe this. They clearly do. I refuse to defend it though. You just let people of the hook because they “believe” they shouldn’t have to do anything.

    Just because people are anesthetized by cartoon media and sugary food and gadgets and are incredibly lazy doesn’t make it right. Stop making excuses.

  10. RE Vanella says:

    I do agree with the one point thought. People get hung up on being labelled A or B. Who cares?

    The only way you make a real impact is to get in the game and play it. Maybe eventually you’ll build a coalition to change some of the rules of the game!

  11. I agree with puck too.

    Hell if I would entertain open primaries. It is the party members’ business to narrow the field to get a general election nominee on the ballot and no one else’s.

  12. RE Vanella says:

    You’ve accepted the idea that only members of two political parties can determine viable candidates and the general position of those candidates. I understand you “agree”. I’m telling you it’s more or less indefensible. You’ve just given up and accepted it.

    I 100% agree, this does actually describe the situation. It doesn’t make it right or good.

  13. Alby says:

    Game theory tells us that any system in which the winner takes all will boil itself down into two competing sides. Heck, playing a game of Monopoly is all that’s necessary to see that.

    Dan Lipinski, the ultra-conservative Democrat in Chicago, would have lost his primary to a progressive challenger except for Illinois’ open primary system, under which lots of Republicans voter for Lipinski in the Democratic Party primary. So instead of Democrats choosing their candidate, Republicans did.

    You’re thinking of this as a philosophical argument. It’s not. It’s a practical one.

  14. RE Vanella says:

    Yes. I understand how things work today. I said that 3 times. I’m not arguing for open primaries.

  15. Alby says:

    Democracy, whether in pure form or ours, is problematic for exactly the reason you identify: The necessity of hands-on participation. Political participation, in societies that allow it, has always been the province of people with the time for it.

    People living paycheck to paycheck and raising families on the side don’t have time or energy for that, so the field is left to the most motivated — which of course means those who see opportunities for profit in it.

    How many people in Congress went there from a 9-to-5 job? I don’t know the answer, but I’d bet I won’t have to take my socks off to account for them all.