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Chaos Theory

January 5, 2017

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Have we ever seen a transition like this one?  The inauguration is still two weeks away, and already Washington and, indeed, the whole country are in complete turmoil.

Trump is defending Putin and Russia while pissing on the US Intelligence Community and its unanimous finding that the Russians are carrying out an extensive and sophisticated covert cyber operation against the US that goes well beyond hacking the Clinton campaign to influence the election.  General Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, testified to that effect in Congress this afternoon.  Can’t wait to see The Donald’s revenge tweets on that! Early in the week, Trump claimed to know things that nobody else knew, which he would reveal on Tuesday or Wednesday.  It’s now Thursday, and bupkis.

Trump has tweeted appreciation for WikiLeaks guru Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since August 2012 to avoid arrest on charges of sexual assault in Sweden.  (Hmmm, a little mutual sympathy between the boys?)  Assange is now claiming that the leaked documents didn’t come from the Russians, while in the past he has stated that WikiLeaks did not try to determine who was giving them the material they disseminated.

Meanwhile, the Republicans’ first act of the new Congress was an attempt to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.  When forced by public outrage to drop that effort–for now—they segued immediately into the far bigger objective of repealing ObamaCare as the first step toward shredding the social safety net that has been painfully cobbled together since the Roosevelt administration.

With a couple of notable exceptions (John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who convened the Clapper hearing today), the Republican congressional leadership has been remarkably silent about the Russian cyber issue.  (Come to think of it, why isn’t the media calling this “the Russian cyber scandal”?)  So far the attitude is “nothing to see here, folks, keep moving along.”  Had the roles been reversed, surely there would be a Special Prosecutor by now!

So what’s really going on here?  It’s like “The Americans” meets “House of Cards”, only far more confusing and complicated.  Is there a pony for the GOP somewhere in this pile of shit?

Here’s my working hypothesis:

I’m not yet convinced that Trump has a master objective beyond becoming il capo di tutti capi.  His views are so malleable and situational, changing according to his audience. His actions and words seem tactical, not strategic. We’re seeing a truly gifted con man (hey, that’s what Rubio, Perry, and Romney all called him!) at work.

It’s the technique of multiple distractions. He puts up such a shit storm of jaw-dropping outrageousness that no one can focus on any one thing. The media and his adversaries can’t follow up on it all because there’s just too much!  Maybe he gets caught out on a couple of things, but meanwhile he gets away with lots of others.  And his fans just love the show!

The congressional Republicans are scared of him.  They have seen him toy with Mitt Romney and then dismiss him after Mitt humiliated himself by begging to become Secretary of State.  They have seen Trump reduce Chris Christie to a pathetic lickspittle and then contemptuously kick him back to Trenton.  Marco Rubio, watch your back!

But the congressional Republicans do have a strategy and a plan.  They see Trump as the performer, while they are the suits.  He will keep the nation entertained, transfixed, and even horrified, providing smoke while they go about their business of dismantling the federal government or monetizing parts of it for private profit.

Trump is Tony Soprano, and the Republicans are the Bolsheviks.  They can do business!

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