As his polling figures sag, the chaos of his presidency increases exponentially, and the news turns ever grimmer (for him), President Trump faces growing opposition nationwide. As TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer reports today, from boycotting businesses carrying his products to jamming the phone lines of his hotels, an expanding, if somewhat uncoordinated, set of anti-Trump organizations are focused on how to divest America of its 45th president. They are, in particular, aiming at what he undoubtedly cares most about (other, of course, than himself): his business dealings and those of his children. (And just wait until such anti-Trumpism gains traction abroad and those businesses with the giant golden letters become ongoing targets of protest — or worse — globally.)
And yet these days, believe it or not, that may be the least of his problems. There seems to be another Resist Trump movement growing right in the heart of our nation’s capital in what has become the unofficial fourth branch of our government, the one not written into the Constitution but funded as if it were the only thing that Constitution contained: the national security state.
Among the many missteps (a kind word under the circumstances) of a president who clearly thought the worst was over when he won the election, none may prove more disastrous than his — you can’t call it a decision, but perhaps an impulse — to take on parts of that state within a state. He began memorably by comparing the CIA and other intelligence agencies to so many Nazis and proceeded from there. That he evidently never imagined such institutions, which now surveil the world in a way that might have amazed George Orwell and stunned the totalitarian regimes of the previous century, having the power to respond to him should amaze us all. That he fired James Comey, for instance, without any sense that the FBI director or his supporters inside the Bureau could or would strike back was perhaps the ultimate in blind self-faith. (Of course, in these years, America’s intelligence agencies have often seemed like the proverbial gang that couldn’t shoot straight, as with the recent — possibly North Korean — ransomware attack on computer networks globally that was based in part on hacking tools pilfered from the National Security Agency.)
Now, from secret memos about “pledges of loyalty” to leaks of every sort, the national security state may be in the process of trying to divest itself of President Trump. It looks like some of its professionals have stopped collecting intelligence for him and started collecting it on him. If his recently tweeted threat — “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — wasn’t so much hot air (and he does have a past history of taping phone conversations), he might turn out to have done their work for them. If so, he better hope that such tapes turn out to have an 18-and-a-half hour gap.
At the moment, the scandals seem unending. Campaign collusion (or was it confusion?) with Putin’s Russia, the Comey firing, the never-ending disaster of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, including the president’s possible request that the FBI director shut down the Flynn investigation, and the sharing of “highly classified” information with the Russian foreign minister just head a list that seems to grow by the day, as congressional muttering about “obstruction of justice” and “impeachment” grows. Meanwhile — signs of the times — the president’s aides are reportedly polishing their CVs and joining the crew leaking about him, while he remains angry with them for his own crazed behavior.
If this isn’t the potential script for a modern Dr. Strangelove, what is? Only the nuclear weapons are missing (so far). Tom
Can a Movement to Hurt the President Financially Change the Political Landscape?
By Mattea Kramer
In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of The Handmaid’s Tale from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president’s penchant for grabbing women “by the pussy.” Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.
Since Donald Trump’s election in November, and especially since his January inauguration, hundreds of small and not-so-small organizations have sprung up to oppose the president. They joined the ranks of established left-leaning and liberal groups already revving up their engines to fight the administration. Among all the ways you can now voice your dissent, though, there’s one tactic that this president will surely understand: economic resistance aimed at his own businesses and those of his children. He may not be swayed by protesters filling the streets, but he does speak the language of money. Through a host of tactics — including boycotting stores that carry Trump products, punishing corporations and advertisers that underwrite the administration’s agenda, and disrupting business-as-usual at Trump companies — protesters are using the power of the purse to demonstrate their opposition and have planned a day of resistance against his brand on June 14th.