Putin, Trump, Sanders, and the futile search for national intelligence

Is anyone beginning to wonder if the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse are running amok? Have they always been more than a metaphor?

China, Asia and the rest of the known world are threatened by plague. War and famine is consuming the Middle East. Kenya is tormented by spreading hordes of locusts. And intemperate Donald Trump still comfortably occupies the White House.

For a time it seemed the Democrats would come out fighting when the election season kicked off, dukes up ready to sock Trump in the eye when the campaign officially began. Instead, they turned their considerable energies on each other while the Trumpian menace romped across the landscape.

Examples of Trump’s heavy-handed rule abound. The most egregious of late is that Trump has repeatedly neutered the 17-member United States Intelligence Community by firing Directors Of National Intelligence (DNI), who apparently keep wanting to tell the truth about Russian meddling in America’s elections.

Their misfortune began with the firing of DNI Dan Coats in July after he said the Russians were still interfering with our elections. Trump disagreed.

Snip!

Trump nominated Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe to replace Coats. But Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist, was harshly treated, even by his Republican colleagues, who deemed that he had no actual experience with anything having to do with intelligence. Read that however you will.

After the Ratcliffe nomination was scuttled, Trump floated the name of career spook Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence for the preceding two years, but once she learned that she, too, wouldn’t get the top job, she resigned her deputy role. Trump tweeted that she was “a great professional with a long and distinguished career” for whom he had “developed great respect.”

However, Gordon’s handwritten letter of resignation was very specific: “I offer this letter as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference. You should have your team.” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the bipolar Senate Intelligence Committee, called her resignation “a significant loss for our Intelligence Community.”

Snip, snip!

Then in early August, Trump settled on intelligence analyst and retired Navy Admiral Joseph Maguire to be temporary DNI. Maguire had been the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) until succeeding Coats. He lasted until Trump lost it in late February after Maguire’s deputy told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians had never stopped meddling  to help Trump get re-elected.

Snip, snip, snip!

To put a finer point on things, most of the uncertainty over he DNI job is because people keep telling Trump that the Russians have mounted another disinformation campaign to support him. The Russians are plaguing American social media with pro-Trump disinformation while Trump vehemently denies it on Twitter. Oh the irony!

The president much prefers trusting fellow despot and Russian President Vladimir Putin to anyone else he could put in the DNI job. In Putin, Trump has a former KGB agent who has repeatedly assured him that he would never do such things to his friends. The president simply won’t find that kind of affirmation in anyone else he could hire.

Whether the loss of DNI leadership will adversely affect the National Intelligence Program is hard to measure. In normal circumstances, the DNI quietly advises both the president and the leadership of the National Security and Homeland Security Councils on complex, multifaceted intelligence matters developed by all 17 intelligence agencies. The position was created after 9/11 when President George W. Bush discovered his own intelligence chiefs weren’t sharing secrets with each other because they were too secret. The DNI is supposed to be the gatekeeper.

Last Wednesday, Trump temporarily replaced McGuire with U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a reportedly brash and abrasive person who advised several prominent Republicans on matters of state before serving as the U.S. spokesman at the United Nations in the administration of George W. Bush.

Reuters reports that Grenell has been “a lightning rod for controversy” since his arrival in Germany in 2018, “with an unorthodox style of diplomacy that surprised many German lawmakers and government officials.” One German lawmaker told Reuters that Grenell “was less concerned about building closer ties with Germany than trying to please Trump.”

“His actions have an audience of one: the U.S. president,” the lawmaker said.

Grenell’s temporary job (until he gets back to destroying relations with Germany) is already imperiled. There is already so much bullshit on social media that the uninitiated new intelligence expert will soon realize how hard it is to determine exactly which bullshit smells like Russia. That job of discernment has become even more difficult after reports that the socialists and former communists in Moscow are also bolstering the campaign of self-styled Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders.

Are these reports red herrings, false flags, or true? Any of the above can’t be good news for Sanders. At least for the moment, the paternal socialist millionaire from Vermont is leading Democratic polls.

Being endorsed by a former KGB goon and Russian strongman will have lingering consequences whether Sanders admits it or not. His knee-jerk promise to put a halt to Putin’s nonsense once he’s elected president was about as convincing as claims that 78 is the new 60.

Folks are already taking shots at Sanders for being a privileged phony who preaches that all pigs are equal except the few that are more equal than the others. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is right behind him with his lawnmower-equipped political machine waiting to cut Sanders down. Behind them are the wannabes, all sounding like drones without substance: “Trump is bad.”

No shit, Sherlock, got anything else?

Sanders is a millionaire squabbling with a billionaire over which of them was ever poor enough to claim privilege with the overworked and underpaid wage earners that drive America. Democratic centrists, the always reticent and so far unheard from former voting majority, just want the return of common sense. Instead, they are left wondering if the real madhouse is inside the White House or inside the Democratic RVs out on the campaign trail.

While Trump was dusting up his DNI diversion, the anxiously awaited Democratic attack on the forces of evil pooped out. Not even flatulence was heard. Why haven’t the Democrats started smashing the forces of Trumplandia to smithereens?

Missing in action is the the bigger-than-life Democratic superhero who can inspire the millions of disenfranchised voters to resist the Trumpian menace. Delegate counts are jibber-jabber to the disillusioned. Identifying who can beat Trump is all that matters.

In 2016, 100 million Americans didn’t vote in the presidential election. Who among the candidates can unite that dispirited army to defeat the Republican caricature in the White House?

The best guess is they are not through cutting each other enough to tell.

14 thoughts on “Putin, Trump, Sanders, and the futile search for national intelligence

  1. I guess we are experiencing Trump’s method of “Subtractive Government?” If you disagree with him.., you’re fired. Lots of “snips.” After a while we won’t have any independent thinkers in, and around, the White House.., ergo, no real government other than Trump. Plagues, constant war, melting ice caps, shifting magnetic poles etc. I agree that we may be experiencing, As the Bible suggests, “The End Times.”

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      1. I don’t really want to get into why. If the nominee is someone I can vote for in good conscience, I will. If it isn’t, I won’t. Until probably yesterday I was all “Vote blue no matter who.” Now, I’m not. I live in a red region of a purple state. The most important vote for me in the upcoming election is getting rid of “my” senator.

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  2. Ms Kennedy… please vote your conscience. I will. And thank you for reading us even in passing, you may want to return someday. I like that “sweet cheeks,” you from TX? I’m from TX – just sounds Texas. Happy days. I looked up your blog… will visit it again.

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