Sunday’s Forum

It's hard to dance with the devil on your back.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Bill says:
  2. Kathy says:

    Related to Qatar Airways’ threat to dump both Airbus and Boeing, Airbus is threatening to sue airlines over deliveries.

    Aviation had been expanding globally for the past decade, so there were a lot of orders for new planes. Now that demand has collapsed, well, the problem is obvious.

    1
  3. Bill says:
  4. CSK says:

    And…James Mattis has betrayed the United States and the Marines. Sebastian Gorka says so in American Greatness.

    3
  5. James Joyner says:

    @CSK: I think he’s violated the somewhat murky norms of civil-military relations but being on the side opposite Seb Gorka is generally the right place to be.

    18
  6. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: Weren’t we talking about fascists yesterday? How did we miss Mr Gorka?

    5
  7. CSK says:

    @James Joyner: @JohnMcC:

    Indeed. Didn’t Gorka wear a medal (belonging to his late father) to one of Trump’s inaugural balls that some Hungarian scholars associate with Nazism?

    4
  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Yes. IIRC he also is/was alleged to be a member of a neo-Fascist organization in Hungary.

    @James Joyner:

    murky norms of civil-military relations

    With Mattis retired, he is a civilian and is free to make his opinion known. While speaking out so strongly is atypical, we’re in atypical times. IMO Mattis is being a patriot.

    11
  9. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    Sebastian Gorka Made Nazi-Linked Vitezi Rend ‘Proud’ by Wearing Its Medal

    BUDAPEST, Hungary — A group with alleged historical links to Nazi Germany has told NBC News it was “proud” when President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant wore its medal.

    Controversy has swirled around Sebastian Gorka, one of Trump’s top counterterrorism advisers, ever since he attended the president’s Jan. 20 Inaugural Ball wearing the honorary medal of Hungarian nationalist organization Vitezi Rend.

    …During the war, the State Department listed Vitezi Rend among a group of “organizations under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany.”

    2
  10. MarkedMan says:

    On another thread, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative came up, and someone (de Stilj?) commented that they go there once a month and come away vowing not to go back as a waste of time. Me too! But he is fascinating in so many ways. And he reminds me so much of Andrew Sullivan. Super strong opinions and a real desire to find bright line subjects From Which He Will Not Be Moved. But at the same time he is very intelligent and wants to be seen as a thinking rational person and so, dilemma. Unlike Sullivan, though, he is ruled by his fears. Whether it’s gay cooties or men wearing bras, he gets creeped out by things and then can’t let them go. When you read him you can sense the ceaseless roil in his brain as he comes back over and over again to his fears. Should we ally so strongly with the Saudis? Well, there’s this and there’s that and, but, yes, what about the gays who are DRIVING US ON THIS PATH!? Did Flannery O’Conner have an interesting perspective on a changing Ireland? Well yes, for al these unique reasons, but of what use is it IF A HAIRY MAN CAN WEAR A BRA AND CALL HIMSELF A WOMAN!? His latest obsession is the riots and the breakdown of society. His commenters say, yes, rioting and looting is bad but the vast majority of the marchers are peaceful and the cops are assaulting them. And his answer is, but can’t you see there is rioting, can’t you see there is rioting p, can’t you see there IS RIOTING!

    Sullivan was much more interesting when he had his blog and was challenged daily by positions that were not just different from his own, but that came from perspectives well outside his cloistered intellectual community. I know he’s not a favorite of many here, but you have to admit that during the heyday of blogs, when one print magazine after another wooed him with fistfuls of dollars, he insisted that a good chunk of those dollars be spent on staff and then proceeded to hire smart young writers and editors who disagreed with him and wasn’t afraid to argue back. You can say what you like about him, but there are damn few people of any stripe who would have done that.

    15
  11. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    General Milley was making a political statement by wearing his combat fatigues to a publicity stunt.

    7
  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Good news on a Sunday Morning…

    The Trump Regime Is Beginning to Topple

    Over the course of his presidency, Donald Trump has indulged his authoritarian instincts—and now he’s meeting the common fate of autocrats whose people turn against them. What the United States is witnessing is less like the chaos of 1968, which further divided a nation, and more like the nonviolent movements that earned broad societal support in places such as Serbia, Ukraine, and Tunisia, and swept away the dictatorial likes of Milošević, Yanukovych, and Ben Ali. …

    … “Obedience is at the heart of political power.” A dictator doesn’t maintain power on his own; he relies on individuals and institutions to carry out his orders. A successful democratic revolution prods these enablers to stop obeying. It makes them ashamed of their complicity and fearful of the social and economic costs of continued collaboration.

    Worth a full read.

    4
  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Since you mentioned Sully, he didn’t have his typical Friday post at NY Mags Ingelligencer blog. His only comment via twitter, was that there would be no column yesterday. Then the rumors started that the Intelligencer editors spiked his column because they didn’t like what he had to. With the rumors drawing a strained connection to Cotton’s screed in the Times.

    I’ve read Sullivan for years and it would shock me that he would have a piece spiked and not scream about it to high heaven. And MarkedMan, yes I much prefer Sully over Dreher who I avoid when I to TAC.

    4
  14. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Dreher is so terrified about a theoretical future “loss of religious freedom” that he’s willing to crawl in bed with Trump to have his fears assuaged. Oh, he’ll claim he doesn’t “want to”, but his fears will rule him.

    It’s surprising that on one hand he insists on his beloved BenOp and the right of societies to control their members through moral suasion, and then throws a hissy fit over BlackLivesMatter and the people who support them. Yesterday he posted a back-and-forth of a talk radio show host on the Isle of Man and a BlackLivesMatter supporter and has been wringing his hands in panic over the fact that the talk radio show host has supposedly lost his job over said dialog. (The fact that the talk radio show host may have been on the verge of being fired anyway doesn’t seem to enter his mind.) Also–Isle of Man? Dreher continually roots out stuff that is going on in the U.K. or the Commonwealth (or their dependencies), draws conclusions, and then jumps onto the Chicken Little “the sky is falling” bandwagon. You’d think that someone who in fact believed in a deity and Ineffable Plans would have a little more faith that things would work out…..

    6
  15. mattbernius says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Unlike Sullivan, though, he is ruled by his fears.

    Well said.

    Sullivan, on the other hand, is ruled by self-interest. If a law infringes on him, then it’s clearly discriminatory, evil, and should be flaunted. If it infringes on others, then it’s a social institution that must be protected.

    15
  16. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Great post. I concur on Sullivan.

    2
  17. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius:

    I’m not a regular Sullivan reader, but I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff. He has seemed fair to me.

    My question would be is this a consistent trait, or more of a blind spot?

  18. Mikey says:
  19. CSK says:

    On June 2, Dreher wrote a column positing that Trump’s stunt in front of the church would cost him the election in November. He has since updated the column to end: “If these riots continue, none of what I say here will matter in November. Trump can be as bad as he wants, but if ordinary people see the Democrats and their media lackeys making excuses for the rioters, they’ll vote for Trump.”

    I hope that won’t prove true. I doubt we can survive another 4 years of Trump.

    1
  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, it certainly looks now like most of the country saw Trump’s “stunt with the church” as over the top. But then, this is a man who thinks gold-plated toilets are a good idea. Over-the-top is his go-to. It got him this far.

  21. sam says:

    @grumpy realist: @CSK:

    Well, you know, there’s all those books to sell.

  22. Erik says:

    @Sleeping Dog: in addition to Mattis being a civilian now, Trump himself brought him into the political sphere by making him SECDEF. Moreover, that move required an act of Congress since he had not been a civilian long enough for eligibility to hold that post.

    3
  23. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “Dreher is so terrified about a theoretical future “loss of religious freedom” that he’s willing to crawl in bed with Trump to have his fears assuaged. Oh, he’ll claim he doesn’t “want to”, but his fears will rule him.”

    Dreher also has the problem that he refuses to engage when people point out that nearly everything he is afraid will be done unto religious conservatives has been done by religious conservatives unto others, in many cases within the lifetimes of many of his commenters. It is as if The Golden Rule has no place in his religion.

    @Kurtz:

    “My question would be is this a consistent trait, or more of a blind spot?”

    I would call it a consistent blind spot. I doubt Sullivan is doing it intentionally, but he tends to find excuses for it when others point it out, which often contradict his positions when it does affect him.

    3
  24. JohnMcC says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Thank you so much for that refreshing article. Could I suggest it would be a kindness to show the place that the link takes one? I love and subscribed for decades to the paper version of TheAtlantic but do not subscribe broadly now-a-days. I lost one of my treasured ‘free reads’ — boohoo.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Moosebreath: I’ve noticed that when commentators point out Dreher’s hypocrisy his standard response is a snarky (and irrelevant) attack on the commentator. Rarely does he see the 2×4 in his own eye.

    2
  26. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “I’ve noticed that when commentators point out Dreher’s hypocrisy his standard response is a snarky (and irrelevant) attack on the commentator.”

    Yes, that is a frequent way in which he refuses to engage.

  27. CSK says:

    Headline from Reuters:
    “President Trump Orders the Pentagon to Remove 9500 Troops from Germany by September–But Denies It Has Anything to Do with Angela Merkel Rift.”

    Well, of course it has everything to do with the Angela Merkel rift. Additionally, it will make Putin happy. What could be better?

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It’s surprising that on one hand he insists on his beloved BenOp and the right of societies to control their members through moral suasion, and then throws a hissy fit over BlackLivesMatter and the people who support them.

    Not all that surprising. Consider the question in what way are Black Lives Matter and the people who support it members of the society for which he is willing to support the virtues of moral suasion. Aren’t they, rather, interlopers who are seeking to upend an established society that exerts moral suasion on its members with a senseless anarchy that seeks to destroy that society?

    I mean, imagine the temerity of those people trying to assert that their lives matter as much as his. Who do they think they are?

    1
  29. wr says:

    @JohnMcC: “Could I suggest it would be a kindness to show the place that the link takes one? ”

    Don’t know what browser you’re using, but generally if you hover your cursor over the link it shows you what the link is. Particularly useful for ascertaining that the email from your bank that demands you click to log in right now is actually sending you to igor@russianmobster.com.

    2
  30. Kurtz says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I lost one of my treasured ‘free reads’ — boohoo.

    I subscribe to WaPo and NYT, and even that is probably too much for my budget. So, I try to limit my free reads as well. Assuming you’re on a smart phone, the Pocket app is helpful…:wink:

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: Going back and re-reading the transcript and the report, it’s not even that the talk show host has been fired. He’s been suspended, while his bosses look to see whether they consider he has crossed the line. (My own personal impression is that he’s a clueless idiot.)

    (Look, as a Caucasian female I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America. I’ve read enough reports of careless racism and heard enough comments from my non-Caucasian friends to know that itlookslikewegottaproblem. And at least I have enough intelligence not to wander around with a clueless look on my face when said friends bitch and say “I don’t know what you’re complaining about; I don’t have a problem.” Which is what that idiot talk show host did.)

    1
  32. MarkedMan says:

    Talking Points Memo is reporting that on the day Trump called on governors to dominate protestors, it started with a phone call with Putin. After that he came to his military advisers and demanded 10,000 active duty troops deployed in cities of his choosing. The phone call was an attempt to get him to move away from that idea.

    1
  33. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    So Trump spoke to Putin, and came away from that conversation with the idea that he should demand 10,ooo troops to be deployed to cities of his choice. The military people of whom he made this demand then tried to distract him with a phone call to the governors.

    Have I gotten that right?

  34. drj says:

    Didn’t see this coming:

    “Black Lives Matter” — Mitt Romney

    1
  35. reid says:

    @drj: Good for him. He sometimes does the right thing, at least. Nearly all the rest of the GOP do nothing out of cowardice or are actively doing the wrong thing. Such a dysfunctional party.

    2
  36. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: That’s my understanding. Here’s the TPM article. I’m not sure if that’s included in their free coverage, so here’s the nut:

    It was part of the story we knew as the day unfolded that the President and his top military and national security advisors had held a conference call with the nation’s governors in which Trump berated them for looking weak and contemptible in the eyes of the world. He demanded they call in the National Guard to “dominate” the streets and threatened to deploy regular military troops into their cities. Trump told governors: “Most of you are weak. You have to arrest more people” and said Minnesota authorities were becoming “a laughingstock all over the world” for not dominating protestors. Esper and Milley referred to American cities as a “battlespace”.

    We now learn that there was a meeting earlier in the day with Trump and the same group of advisors which provided the context for that call. Trump demanded that the Pentagon immediately deploy 10,000 regular military troops into America’s major cities. Esper and particularly Milley allegedly resisted this demand heatedly. And there was something of a standoff. The two Pentagon leaders then used the subsequent call to get them out of the bind of resisting or even refusing Trump’s orders by imploring the governors to do the job for them. They demanded the governors call out their Guard troops or risk having active duty troops sent into their states in the hopes that this would get Trump to drop his Army deployment demands.

    What has gotten lost in the mix of this evolving story is another detail that was actually reported on Monday but quickly fell by the wayside. Monday morning President Trump had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, initiated by Trump. It was first reported by the Kremlin. The White House said the call was about oil prices and coronavirus. But it defies credulity that the nationwide protests enveloping the United States didn’t come up, particularly given Trump’s longtime admiration for Putin’s “strength” and Putin’s own success standing down nationwide protests in 2011-12. Perhaps the most important reason to doubt the topic didn’t come up is Trump’s well-known and total inability not to bring up whatever topic is on his mind even in contexts in which it is highly inappropriate to do so.

  37. MarkedMan says:

    @drj: You know, Romney has become the new McCain. Terribly flawed, but in comparison with the rest of the national Republicans, the only one in the room with any honor or integrity at all.

    4
  38. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: George Romney was a big supporter of civil rights. He tried to use his position at HUD to desegregate suburbs. He marched with civil rights leaders.

    I certainly have major disagreements with Mitt and George, but they aren’t complete pieces of shit like so many Republican politicians.

    1
  39. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Thank you. Very interesting. I can just hear Vlad telling Don not to be a pussy…

  40. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    And Cult45 has a seething hatred of Romney. That says something interesting about them.

    1
  41. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You know, Romney has become the new McCain. Terribly flawed, but in comparison with the rest of the national Republicans, the only one in the room with any honor or integrity at all.

    True. Romney’s the second biggest liar to ever run for Prez, and it’s a long step from first to second. BUT. He’s also a very fine windsock. If Trump continues to shite himself and his polls continue to drop we can expect a pretty good run of Republican rats to abandon LZ Trump. If Biden wins, a year from now there won’t be a single GOP who wasn’t the sole voice of reason, sucking up to Trump just to be able to moderate him. Even Barr and Graham. Never let them forget they created Trump. Vote Blue, no matter who.

    2
  42. gVOR08 says:

    WAPO reports that James Bennet has resigned from NYT over the Tom Cotton Op Ed. Everything Trump Touches Dies. Maybe Tom Cotton also.

    I’ve tried for some time to make sense out of NYT. I get that they’re still the voice of whatever remains of the east Coast Establishment. I get that they’re deathly afraid of being seen as liberal, but I’m not sure why, especially as the right thinks they are anyway. I get that they’re in the business of peddling papers not crusading for the truth, but how many Cotton supporters in Arkansas are going to subscribe? I suspect that as a corporation owned by a wealthy family they hate taxes. I get that they want to report without taking sides, but they seem averse to exercising any judgement whatsoever about anything. Example – why the hell did they take Barr’s memo “summarizing” Mueller’s report at face value? Are they into some form of post-modernism and rejection of objective reality?

    Trump has, in the Federal Government, the world’s greatest panopticon, and he refuses to use it. NYT has maybe the second best, and beyond reporting some of what they find, they seem incapable of learning anything from it. Tom Cotton? Sure. He’s a Senator. He might run for Prez, what else do we need to know? Fascist views? Well all points of view are equal.

    Hopefully this will hasten Baquet’s departure.

  43. James Joyner says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    With Mattis retired, he is a civilian and is free to make his opinion known.

    There’s an intense debate about that in civ-mil circles. Retired officers, particularly retired generals, are technically still subject to the UCMJ. More importantly, retired generals—especially ones who served recently and thus have a lot of former subordinates in high places—are perceived as speaking for those who still serve.

    While speaking out so strongly is atypical, we’re in atypical times. IMO Mattis is being a patriot.

    There is no “atypical times” exception to civ-mil norms. I agree that Mattis is a patriot and agree with what he’s saying. But he should have stopped at calling out the use of the military to put down demonstrations and left his political opinions unsaid.

  44. @James Joyner:

    There is no “atypical times” exception to civ-mil norms.

    I understand your position and will admit that I am not an expert on civ-mil norms and you are.

    However, is it not the case that as a general notion that norms of any kind can break down once times gets sufficiently atypical and the argument is really about whether these current times are sufficiently atypical to warrant Mattis violating them?

    And, of course, the root of this specific problem is that he was given a waiver to serve as SecDef in the first place.