Standing indivisible against the Trump agenda: The new Tea Party

 

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A crowd yells insults at a Feb. 9, 2017 Town Hall held by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah

 

Anti-Trump Democratic activists are out in force around the country stirring up the kind of public turmoil the media love.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) got the full treatment on Feb. 9 when he showed up to meet with locals at a suburban Salt Lake City high school auditorium. Police estimated that at least 1,000 people jammed into the space and more chanted outside.

Television, newspaper and online channels showed people yelling, “Chaffetz is a coward” and “Do your job.”

Watching from afar, you might think this turmoil is spontaneous and that Chaffetz is in deep political trouble with his constituents. But looks can be deceiving, which is exactly what the protest organizers want.

Chaffetz represents Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. The heavily Republican district is located in the eastern portion of the state and includes Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, and Wasatch counties as well as portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties.

Chaffetz was first elected to the House in 2008 with 65.6% of the vote and has consistently won subsequent races by wide margins. In his 2016 race he won convincingly with 73.5%.

Not only did he win in 2016, but his constituents voted overwhelmingly for Trump in all but two of the counties represented in his district. In Carbon County, Chaffetz took 79.8 percent of the vote. In Utah County, Hillary Clinton took only 14 percent.

In other words, despite the orchestrated chaos in the auditorium, it’s highly unlikely, that the protesters represented the majority opinion in Chaffetz’ district and Chaffetz is pretty damn safe in his seat. But pictures and news stories about the hostile, roaring crowd helped spread the liberal, anti-Trump message.

That’s what Indivisible wants.

Beginning with a conversation between two former congressional staffers for Democrats anguished over Trump’s win, Indivisible is a national movement with a reported 7,000 affiliated groups in every state and almost every congressional district.

Created as a flip side to the Tea Party activists, the group even has an Indivisible Guide, A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.

“Donald Trump is the biggest popular-vote loser in history to ever call himself President-Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the Members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding,” the guide says.

The Guide encourages anti-Trumpers to go to in-district events held by members of Congress (“Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.”), local events members attend (“Don’t let them get photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.”), and to members’ district offices (“Report to the world if they refuse to listen.”).

The overall goal?

Reaffirm the illegitimacy of the Trump agenda,” the Guide says.The hard truth is that Trump, McConnell, and Ryan will have the votes to cause some damage. But by objecting as loudly and powerfully as possible, and by centering the voices of those who are most affected by their agenda, you can ensure that people understand exactly how bad these laws are from the very start—priming the ground for the 2018 midterms and their repeal when Democrats retake power.”

Indivisible is being aided and abetted by Trump opponents within the government’s  vast  bureaucracy. This is illustrated by the highly unusual disclosure to the Washington Post of secret recordings, presumably made by the NSA, of Michael Flynn’s telephone conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. In this case, somebody in the intelligence community was willing to play dirty, even a the risk of being charged with a felony

It’s not clear whether this highly scripted anti-Trump effort will succeed,  but it does signal a new phase in American politics of permanent, organized rebellion against whoever is currently in power. That’s an alarming prospect.

Washout: Hillary’s foreign policy experience does her no favors

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Hillary Clinton and her backers figure she’s got at least one advantage, public trust in her foreign policy experience and judgment.

Hillary tried to highlight that factor when she told a questioner at a recent New Hampshire town hall meeting, “When you vote for someone for president, you’re also voting for a commander in chief.”

But why, exactly, does Hillary, or anybody else, think her foreign policy experience is a plus when you review her screw-ups.

Consider:

Libya

Then: Hillary Clinton urged President Obama to back a military campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, over the opposition of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other national security experts.

Now: Libya has deteriorated into a virtual failed state run by hundreds of private militias. Eighteen months after the initial airstrikes, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in attacks by militants on a U.S. diplomatic post and a nearby CIA site in Benghazi. The North African nation has become a primary outpost for the Islamic State, which has exploited the chaos to take territory, train soldiers and prove its strength outside Syria and Iraq. Washington Post, Feb. 3, 2016

Iraq

Then: On voting in favor of a resolution to take military action against Iraq in the face of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, “I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt,” Clinton said in a Senate speech the day before the vote. “It is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation…It is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein — this is your last chance. Disarm or be disarmed.”

“We’ve ended the war in Iraq,” Obama said on June 25, 2012, at a New Hampshire rally in New Hampshire. “I’ve kept the commitments that I’ve made,” he said in Iowa on Oct. 24, 2012. “I told you we’d end the war in Iraq. We did.”

Now:

Although the Iraq war has technically been over for more than four years, Iraqis are still dying in large numbers. The number of Iraqis seeking refuge in other countries has risen considerably as the conflict between the Islamic State and the Iraqi government and associated forces continues. The U.N. has described the violence as “staggering” and noted the Islamic State may be guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.

A Jan. 2016 report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq also accuses ISIS of holding an estimated 3500 people as slaves across Iraqi territory, using many as human shields, and pressing 800-900 children into military service for the conflict.

Meanwhile, animosity Between Sunnis and Shiites is threatening the Iraq’s stability. Neighboring Iran, home to the world’s largest Shia population, is behind the country’s support for Iraq’s Shia-dominated government.

Syria

Then: Hillary Clinton joined President Obama in declaring that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces would cross a “Red Line” if they used chemical weapons. On Aug. 11, 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Istanbul that it’s clear to the Assad regime the use of chemical weapons is “a red line for the world.” On Aug. 20, 2012, Obama said that the use or movement of chemical weapons by the Assad regime is a red line. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” Obama said. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Now:

Under the banner of fighting international terrorism, President Vladimir Putin has reversed the fortunes of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which were rapidly losing ground last year to moderate and Islamist rebel forces in the country’s five-year-old crisis. Washington Post, Feb. 3, 2016

Today, 4.6 million Syrians are refugees and 6.6 million are displaced within Syria; half are children. World Vision

Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes. Mercy Corps

The conflict is now more than just a battle between those for or against President Bashar al-Assad. It has acquired sectarian overtones, pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alewite sect, and drawn in regional and world powers. The rise of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has added a further dimension. BBC

Russia

Then: In March 2009, Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red button with the Russian text “перегрузка”, which was intended to be the Russian word for “reset”. Clinton explained that she wanted to reset relations between Russia and the United States, to spur a new era of better ties. “The reset worked,” Clinton told CNN in August 2014.

Now: In March 2014, Russia decided “To hell with the reset” and annexed Crimea. This led to the installation of a pro-Russian government in Crimea, the holding of a disputed, unconstitutional referendum and the declaration of Crimea’s independence.

 Russia subsequently:

  • blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution on Crimea’s referendum
  • provided a Russian-made Buk missle to Ukrainian rebels who used it to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board
  • granted asylum to Edward Snowden, who’s wanted in the United States for leaking information about National Security Agency surveillance practices.
  • Provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hillary, a tested,  brilliant, strategic foreign policy expert the American people can trust? I don’t think so.