Sunday, October 30, 2016


I don’t know (who does?) why FBI Director Comey raised havoc with the almost completed Presidential elections. He admits he acted without significant information, but he must have known he was throwing a lifeline to the Trump campaign.

It does make me think about “context”, and some questions that call for serious investigative journalism.  

This election, as no other in the past, has raised the possibility that it can happen here. 

Well before Trump took center stage, ultra (“alt”) right or incipient fascist tendencies penetrated Congress and the GOP,  as well as state governments and the general political landscape. Now Trump has turned the prospect of a “law-and-order” dictatorship into a clear and present danger. 

Assessing that danger, one should keep in mind that only part of government and institutional political power is visible to the public. There is another largely hidden governing power not really accountable to the public and largely insulated from elections and the democratic process.  These are the institutions empowered to employ the various forms of enormous force that define the “security state”: the Pentagon, the FBI, the police, the whole network of enforcement agencies. Has Trumpism and the alt-right found support within these institutions as well?

All these agencies are constitutionally subject to civilian control. But none are outside the climate of political influence, the attentions of lobbyists, monied interests, contractors, and ambitious demagogues. Trump boasts the endorsement of the major police and law enforcement associations. The history of the FBI features J. Edgar Hoover and a tragic litany of extra-legal assaults on immigrants, the civil rights movement, and political activists. It includes assassinations, dirty trick fabrications, and racist blackmail. The Pentagon has spawned more than a few “outlaw” generals who eventually had to be brought down. As to the police, videos have made visible the racist, often deadly, police violence commonly applied in many black and brown communities. This background gives impetus to the ambitions of Trump and acolytes like Jiuliani and Gingrich.

Comey may or may not have acted on behalf of Trump, but pressures from the extreme right must surely have a presence within “law enforcement”. The FBI has no business interfering in an election. Instead of demanding that Comey supply more “information”, the demand should be that he apologize and retract his improper letter to Congress.

This whole election is bizarre. We didn’t need the FBI to make it a nightmare.


  1. Retracting this letter is like unbreaking an egg. These new emails are almost certainly duplicates, since Clinton's server was already examined for both outgoing and incoming messages. While unlikely, the only fair solution would be to examine all these emails within the next few days and confirm that there is nothing new here. The fact that it was Weiner's laptop adds salt to the wound, since it implies, however obliquely, that Clinton at least tolerates sexually illegal behavior.

    My belief is that top Republicans, realizing that the presidency was lost, convinced Comey to do this as a way of saving the Republican majority in the senate, thereby to provide what they call "checks and balances" against a president who they view to be is legally innocent but vulnerable to legislative obstructionism of the kind used against Obama. To obstruct requires that republican majority, though, so there you have it.

    1. Of course you're right about "unbreaking an egg". I guess we can only hope that Comey does no more damage in these final days — and that Trump gets beat despite the sabotage.

  2. maryann zeppetelloOctober 31, 2016 at 5:40 AM

    I watched "Judgement at Nuremberg" on Saturday night. Can Fascism happen here? You betcha. Did Germans know what was happening.? Of course they did. Can "good men and women" become beasts? Feed them fear and the promise of a return to greatness and you can turn a country into the new Germany/USA.

  3. Comey's action tastes like a sting operation. Tis would not be the first time for the FBI which has relied on scandal mongerging throughout its history.

    Even today the FBI investigates the sexual activities of government officials and elected representatives. The spirit of J Edgar Hoover lives on.

  4. I don't think it was an accident because there was pretty strong advice from the Justice Department that it was improper. I also think that the extreme right has influence on a number of governmental bodies. The FBI has traditionally been safe harbor for the right, although it broke with the Bush Administration over torture. I do think the point on control of the Senate is a valid one. God, let this be over!

    Conn hallinan

  5. Hi Leon (I think that my first comment did not get to you),

    In case you didn't see Rosenthal's article on this topic, here it is:

    I think that Comey "broke the eggshell" because of his partisanship. Some say that he had a "difficult" decision to make. I disagree. He could easily have told Republicans after the election that he could not break policy by announcing an investigation before it is completed. Your analysis of pressure by the right seems
    correct. Shame on Comey.

    Thanks for your blogs! Elaine